For the past week we’ve watched the story involving Tom Izzo. One day we got the feeling that the courtship of Izzo by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was a desperate attempt by an owner to get a big name coach. Then, as time went on, the sentiment was that Izzo was actually going to take the job, and that Sports Geek was going to have Christmas in June (for those who don’t know, Sports Geek has a man-crush on Izzo and actually wrote a piece on him earlier this year). Finally, shortly before the NBA Finals game began Tuesday night, Izzo announced that he would bypass a chance to coach in the NBA and would become a “lifer” at Michigan State.
I don’t think many people were shocked at this decision, but TSD thinks there is some debate as to whether or not it was the right decision. That’s where Sports Geek and Bleacher Fan come in.
Sports Geek will argue that staying at East Lansing was a wise decision while Bleacher Fan will argue that Izzo is making a mistake by not taking the Cleveland job.
I’m looking forward to reading both of their arguments, as they both have tremendous insight to both the Cavs and the Spartans!
The NBA has certainly made an effort to improve its image. I was personally glad when the NBA set a mandatory dress code for its players several years ago. Quite frankly, the NBA was beginning to earn a reputation as a league of thugs. The dress code went a long way in slowing that trend down in my opinion. There have also been other methods suggested to improve the overall image of the league, as well as the overall quality of the play. One of those ideas was the focus of yesterday’s debate.
As it stands now, players are allowed to enter the NBA at the ripe old age of 19, as set forth in 2005. The goal of this was to slow the “watering down” of the league’s talent. In other words, many high school players jumped to the league that weren’t ready. Take a look at the list of players who have gone pro straight out of high school. There are some notable names, like those mentioned by Bleacher Fan, and some other notables I had forgotten about like Amar’e Stoudemire and Jermaine O’Neal. There’s also some notable players who haven’t done so well, guys like Kwame Brown and Darius Miles. And then there’s a whole list of guys you have probably never heard of.
LeBron James averaged 20.9 points per game during his rookie season and helped engineer a quick turnaround for the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise. Dwight Howard is another positive example. He averaged a double-double during his rookie season, averaging 12 points per game and ten rebounds per game. He’s the youngest player in the NBA ever to do that. He also started all 82 games that season. To me, Howard’s accomplishment is quite telling. To average a double-double just one year removed from high school is remarkable. It’s one thing to score a lot of points, and guys like James are to be commended for doing so as rookies.
Bleacher Fan highlighted some of the accomplishments of the “high school” players in their first few seasons in the league. But to average double digit rebounds against very physical frontline players on a nightly basis like Howard did shows that talent indeed should have no age limitations.
Bleacher Fan also brought up the fact that having four years of collegiate playing experience does not necessarily improve a player’s chances of making it as an NBA player. Ed O’Bannon is the perfect example. He led his UCLA Bruins to the NCAA championship, and now… you’d be hard pressed to find anyone under the age of 25 who even recognizes that name. As both arguments stated, having playing time in college didn’t exactly help out Ron Artest, as he was in the center of the league’s most glaring disaster of the past decade.
Babe Ruthless does correctly say, however, that 19-year old kids aren’t necessarily ready for the rigors of the NBA lifestyle. That may well be the case for many of the kids. But no one is forcing the teams to draft these players. It is up to the organizations to do their due diligence and decide if drafting these kids is the right thing to do. From a player’s standpoint, if they have done their own due diligence and feel they are ready to step up to the professional ranks with a high school degree, then who are we to prevent that from happening? However, they must do so knowing the trade offs and risk. They will not have a college education to fall back on if the NBA doesn’t work out.
Recently, Hall of Fame, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reopened an old argument regarding the minimum age limit for the NBA. Athletes used to go straight to the NBA from high school (see Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, etc.) before the age minimum was set at 19, back in 2005.
Still, many players declare for the draft after even just one year in college (see John Wall, Derrick Favors, etc.). The 2010 NBA Draft is a little more than a month away, and with so many underclassmen choosing to stay in the draft this year it’s sure to be a discussion filled topic in the coming weeks.
Today’s question is simply: “Should the NBA increase the minimum age limit to 21?”
Bleacher Fan will argue that the age limit is just fine the way it is now, while Babe Ruthless will argue that the limit needs to be raised to 21.
Bleacher Fan and Babe Ruthless, you are now on the clock.
The longest postseason in sports – the NBA playoffs – begin Saturday afternoon. Today, we’re giving a little preview by talking about the matchups we’d like to see. Sports Geek is desperately wanting to see the Cavs and Celtics battle, mainly because he wants to see the hate each team has for each other come to the surface. Bleacher Fan wants to see Lebron and Kobe do battle, and I think that’s the matchup that would draw the biggest ratings. That doesn’t leave me with a lot to choose from, so being a Loyal Homer, I’m going to choose a series that most of you probably wouldn’t care to see. I want to see the Hawks rise to the occasion and take on the Cavs. Bear with me now.
The NBA playoffs is easily the postseason out of the big three (MLB, NBA, and NFL) that I am least passionate about. It’s too long and drawn out and loses my interest, especially in the early rounds. Plus, my home-standing Hawks have been terrible for much of my lifetime. But the last couple of years I have followed it more intensely and have every intention of doing so this year. That’s because the Hawks have been in there. I’ve always followed them, so don’t call me a bandwagon, fan but the interest has definitely picked up of late. Two years ago they took the defending champion Boston Celtics to seven games in the first round. Last year, the Hawks were swept in the second round by the Cavs. This year, what’s going to happen? It remains to be seen. During the regular season they won 53 games and are the third seed in the Eastern Conference. I get the sense, however, that no one takes them seriously… nor should they. What have they accomplished on the national stage? Not a thing. During the regular season they were 2-6 against the Cavs and Magic, with one of those wins being a meaningless game on Wednesday against Cleveland. What will the Hawks have to do to get some national love? Beat the Cavs.
The Cavs enter the playoffs with the bulls-eye on their chest. They are the team everyone expects to make it to the Finals, and they are the team everyone wants to see play. Heck, all three of us are writing about them today for different reasons. Anything less than a Finals appearance would be a disappointment, and quite frankly, a choke. They will have to be prepared to take the best shot from everyone and that’s exactly what they’d get from a team like Atlanta. As I stated, the Cavs went 3-1 against the Hawks. But the three Cavs wins were closely contested. They were just able to close the deal in the fourth quarter in those three wins, which, as we all know, separates the “haves” from the “have nots.”
I’m not convinced the Hawks have the confidence to beat a team like Cleveland in the postseason. But that’s exactly what they are going to have to do to take it to the next level. Atlanta is known for its night life, and that’s why visiting players like to go there. What it’s not known for is its passionate fan base. I went to a game a couple of years ago and let me tell you, I’ve heard more noise at a cemetery. But a victory over the Cavs could light a fire in the city of Atlanta and give the Cavs yet another rival.
The NBA trading deadline has come and gone. Several teams made moves, with some making moves to improve the team and make a run at this season’s championship. Others, meanwhile, made moves to essentially throw in the towel for the season and begin the rebuilding process. Some of those teams made moves to clear cap space for the free agent bonanza. Perhaps you have heard a thing or two about it. Possible free agents you have heard include LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. But the team that made the biggest move at the trading deadline was, in fact, a team that did nothing. And that is a good thing. That team is the Phoenix Suns.
For weeks, we heard about all the places that Amare’e Stoudemire could be traded. Would it be the Miami Heat, where he would team up with Wade to power an underperforming team? Would it be with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he could be on the same team as King James? Would it be Dallas? Every day we heard or read different rumors. I often wondered why the Suns would be so eager to part with a talent like Stoudemire, who is quite the force on the court when healthy.
Obviously, there is some risk involved. Amare’e (he is one of those players you can refer to on a first name basis) could choose to opt out of his contract after the season and decline the $17.7M option. Perhaps he wants to throw his hat in the ring this offseason. If that is the case, then maybe Phoenix regrets not making a move. Amare’e has stated that he is leaning toward NOT opting out of his contract. That would be welcome news for Suns fans, and welcome news for Suns general manager Steve Kerr, who would take some serious heat if the opposite happened.
As for this season, I think it is an excellent move for the Suns to stand pat. It is not like the Suns are competing with the Nets for the number one pick in next year’s draft. They are right in the thick of things in the Western Conference with a record of 34-23 through Sunday. That currently puts them sixth in the conference, but just three and a half games back of Denver for second place. Are you really helping your team by trading away a guy who is averaging 21 points and nearly nine rebounds a game? He is still young at only 27-years-old (he is younger than all four TSD writers) and, when healthy, he is absolutely a nightmare for defenses to deal with on the court.
Suns fans have to be pleased that Kerr did not pull the trigger on any of the trades that were thrown his way over the past few weeks. He decided to roll the dice a little and see how the situation plays out with Amare’e. I think it is a gamble that will pay for the Suns in the short run, obviously, but also in the long run.
Before I begin, let me first welcome our newest colleague and fan persona, Babe Ruthless, to the Sports Debates – a welcome addition to our team. Today will actually be the first article from Babe, so I am looking forward to reading the argument. I also have a feeling that our two personas will have some intense battles over the coming months because they are quite opposite of each other. It should be pretty entertaining!!!
Did you know the NBA had a rule called “traveling?” If you are a fan of the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s or a current fan of the Los Angeles Lakers or the Cleveland Cavaliers, then no, you might not be! But, yes, there is a rule against traveling in the NBA! (Obviously, I am being sarcastic!)
And this season, the wording on “traveling” has been changed. The section of the NBA rulebook dealing with traveling used to allow players to “use a two-count rhythm in coming to a stop.” It has been reworded this season to say players “may take two steps in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball.” The NBA has repeatedly stated that the actual rule has not changed. That is another debate in itself.
The NBA season is just two weeks old so it is a little early to tell if this “rewording” of the rule will have a major affect of the game. The Sports Debates is taking it a little further. We are debating: Is the “new” traveling rule good for the NBA?
Bleacher Fan will argue that the new rule adds very little to the game and that it is not good for the league. Meanwhile, Babe Ruthless, will, in a debut article on The Sports Debates, argue that the new two-step rule is good for the league.
I am very curious to hear both sides of this debate. And, I am even more curious to hear what the fans have to say on this topic. Please comment and give us some feedback. I guarantee that at least one of us will respond to your comments! We always do.
The basketball court is yours, and Babe… it is sink or swim time!
It is definitely early in the season, and there is still plenty of time, obviously. Perhaps the biggest early surprise of the 2009-2010 season is Manu Ginobili being able to knock this bat down during the Spurs-Kings game on Halloween night! Kidding! Seriously, I know everyone thought the Orlando Magic, along with the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, would be a threat in the East. However, I thought the Magic might struggle in the beginning of the season for a variety of reasons, and that is why I believe the Magic are the biggest early surprise.
Now, I know what you are saying. I hear you loud and clear. You are saying, “Loyal Homer, have you gone crazy? How can the Magic be a surprise when the team made the NBA Finals last year?”
As you probably know, forward Rashard Lewis is suspended for the first ten games for testing positive for an elevated level of testosterone. The other impact forward from last season’s version of the Magic, Hedo Turkoglu, has taken his show north of the border to wheel and deal for the Toronto Raptors. That is two postseason stars that are not in the lineup for the Magic right now.
Also, new addition Vince Carter has essentially played only a game and a half due to an ankle injury he suffered against the Nets on Friday. Add all of that up and there is a team that is playing short-handed and should be playing out of rhythm, right?
The Magic have been very much in rhythm. Check the scoreboard. The team is lighting it up, averaging over 113 points per game to this point. Two of the Magic’s first three games have been on the road… and did you see who scored 27 points yesterday? Do not laugh like I did, it is none other than former Duke shooting guard, and one of Loyal Homer’s least favorite players of all-time in any sport, J.J. Redick. Big props go out to him, though. And how about the play of Ryan Anderson, another player who came over in the Carter trade from the New Jersey Nets? He is averaging 16 point per game after averaging 7.4 PPG last season. Do not forget about Jameer Nelson, either, who missed extensive playing time last season. He scored 30 points in the win over Toronto yesterday. All of these guys, combined with the usual solid play of Dwight Howard, have kept the Magic undefeated despite not having Lewis and adjusting to life without Turkoglu.
I know the Magic are the defending Eastern Conference Champions. I know it is a team that still has Superman in the middle. But with many changes in the lineup at this point of the season, I do not think anyone could have expected the Magic to look so good, so early!