Tag Archives: Phoenix Suns

Charles Barkley Should Be Rolling Over In His Grave

As the legendry Phoenix sports figure Charles Barkley might say “First of all Ernie, let me tell you something. The Phoenix Suns are turrible. Charles Barkley should be rolling over in his grave.” Now that the near miraculous Arizona Cardinals season has ended in disappointment, the only teams we have currently playing are the Suns and the Coyotes.

The Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks have had pretty similar paths over the past several years. The Suns have finished at or near .500 in three of their past five seasons, with one decent season in 2013-14, and a terrible campaign the year before. The team has not even made the playoffs since 2009-10. The Diamondbacks have also finished exactly at or very close to .500 in three of their last seasons, with 2014 being a very forgettable year.

While this comparison does not seem very encouraging at first, what we have learned from the Diamondbacks is that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. This offseason the D-Backs shook up the baseball hot stove with their huge signing of right handed pitcher Zach Greinke, and also signed RHP Shelby Miller from Atlanta.

During the offseason the Phoenix Suns did everything they could to try and sign coveted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge, but they did not succeed. It seems as if they will need to do something similar this year to try to get a big free agent that can turn things around. At this point the team would be best off trying to tank and lose as many games as possible so they can get more ping pong balls in the draft lottery. If they can get a high draft pick and a big name free agent, the Phoenix Suns might get back to being respectable faster than Charles Barkley can yell for their hated rival “Ginobili!”

 

Cavs Remain Average On The Road

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 29:  Tristan Thompson #13 of the Cleveland Cavaliers grabs a rebound against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on December 29, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Cavaliers defeated the Nuggets 93-87.   (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Tristan Thompson
DENVER, CO – DECEMBER 29: Tristan Thompson #13 of the Cleveland Cavaliers grabs a rebound against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on December 29, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Cavaliers defeated the Nuggets 93-87. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Tristan Thompson

Two wins and two losses. That is how the Cavaliers finished their four-game road trip out west during the holidays.

Even though the team was unable to be home for Christmas, Cleveland was most certainly with them when they faced Golden State on Friday. We were unable to defeat the Warriors on their home court, but there were other small victories to be celebrated.

Most notably was the final score of 89-83. The Cavs were on the short end of that score but the big news is that not one opponent has held Golden State to 89 points in a game this season.

Personally, I think that Steph Curry and company were reminded of the level of defense that our team brings to the table and they were intimidated by it. They have felt invincible this year with the one exception being their loss to Milwaukee.

Every time I have seen the Warriors play, they seem to hit shots whenever they feel like it. This was not the case on Christmas as the Cavaliers disrupted their shots and dove into their passing lanes.

Cleveland’s downfall in the game was their poor offensive performance. Golden State has good defense but we were the ones who caused most of our own misses.

We did not look like an elite offense at all. Iman Shumpert scored zero points in 29 minutes of play while Kevin Love was only able to contribute 10 (but 18 rebounds) in 39 minutes.

So there were some results from that night that were cause for hope. Then they stunk up the court the next night against the Portland Trailblazers.

The Cavs were only able to score 34 points in the first half of play and went on to lose 105-76 to drop their second straight game in as many nights. The thing that bothers me the most is that Portland seemed vulnerable as their star, Damian Lillard, was ruled out for the game, but Cleveland could not capitalize on it.

This is exactly the type of game that championship teams need to be able to win. It doesn’t matter that it was a back to back because they will not be able to use that excuse in May and June so why should it be allowed now?

After a day of rest, the Cavs arrived in Phoenix to battle the Suns. This was the opportunity for the Cavaliers to redeem themselves and they took advantage of it.

Kyrie Irving started to look like the old Kyrie putting up 22 points in 24 minutes and he was helped by 17 points from JR Smith and 14 from Love. Irving’s shooting, especially down the stretch in the fourth quarter resulted in a 101-97 Cavs win.

The final stop, and second back to back in five days, for the Cavaliers landed them in Denver to face the Nuggets. Which version of the Cavs would show up in the Mile High city?

It turns out that the matchup against the Nuggets would be the best performance of the road trip. Lebron scored 34 points on the eve of his 31st birthday to lead the Cavs past the Nuggets 93-87.

I think that it is fitting that the team went 2-2 on the road trip as about half of what they did was great and half was a let down. I, for one, hope that the shortcomings are being worked out of their system in anticipation of a stellar January.

That is what we need to get the city excited and ready. I just don’t feel that way with the performances we have seen lately.

Are the Cavs ready for their January 18th rematch with the Warriors? Will our home court advantage be enough to swing the momentum in their favor?

Obviously, we are back where we started with more questions than answers.

20 Years Ago Today, He Said Two Words That Changed The NBA

It was the night of June 20, 1993. The home team: The Phoenix Suns. The visiting team: The Chicago Bulls. The Phoenix Suns were led by league MVP Charles Barkley. The Chicago Bulls were led by Michael Jordan. The Bulls go into the sixth game of the NBA Finals with a 3-2 lead over the Suns..

With 14.1 seconds left in the 4th quarter, the Bulls are down by two, 98-96; the Bulls have possession. Jordan in bounds the ball in front of the Bulls bench; the ball goes back to Jordan to run it up the court. He gets to the three-line and sees Horace Grant. Grant makes a move towards the basket to tie it up, but then sees John Paxson wide open for a three. Grant passes it to Paxson. With 3.9 seconds remaining, Paxson nails the three to go up by one, 99-98. The Suns calls a timeout.

The Suns’ Kevin Johnson in bounds at mid-court. Johnson gets it back and drives up the middle. Johnson goes up for a lay-up, but is blocked by Horace Grant, and the Chicago Bulls win their third straight NBA Finals.

You see a shot of MJ on the ground and hugging the ball in an emotional scene. You go backstage for the celebration, and you see MJ hugging and kissing the NBA Championship trophy and crying while he was doing it. What an emotional celebration it was for ‘The Airman’. During the offseason, tragedy strikes ‘Sir Airness’.

On August 3, 1993, the body of Michael Jordan’s father, James Jordan, was found floating in a South Carolina creek with a single gunshot wound to the chest. James had been missing for three weeks.

On August 5, two days later, James’ red Lexus was discovered being stripped of everything in a wooded area in Fayetteville, NC; his tires and stereo speakers, both the front and back windshields were broken into, and his personalized license plate that read ” UNC0023″ in reference to his son playing at North Carolina University, and his number 23. Police would later arrest two teenage boys, Daniel Green and Larry Demery, in connection to the homicide, in which they were later found guilty and are now serving a lifetime sentence in a North Carolina prison.

On October 6, 1993, Michael Jordan announces his retirement citing the loss of desire to play the game. Jordan later stated that the loss of his father persuaded his decision to step away from the game. This announcement definitely sent out shock and ah throughout the NBA and it made front-page news throughout the world.

On February 7, 1994, Michael made another announcement that made the front pages, and sent shock waves throughout the sports world. Michael Jordan became a baseball player by signing a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox. He reported to spring training in Sarasota, Florida, and was assigned to the teams minor league system on March 31, 1994. Jordan stated that his decision to become a baseball player was a dream of his late father, who always wanted Michael to pursue a career as a Major League Baseball player. In 1994, Jordan played with the Birmingham Barons, a minor league team affiliate with the Chicago White Sox. Jordan’s stats include a .202 BA, 3 HR, 51 RBI, 30 SB, and 11 errors. Later that year on November 1, 1994, his 23 number was retired by the Bulls in a ceremony.

During Jordan’s retirement, the Bulls would go onto a 55-27 record during the 93-94 season, and would lose to the New York Knicks in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. The 1994-1995 season saw a different kind of Bulls that were far from what you saw two years prior. The Bulls were 31-31 mid-March. But then something happened on March 18, 1995 that needed to be done in order for the Bulls to make the playoffs.

Back then, there was no such thing as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever have you. Back then, the only way you could get on the internet was with a floppy disk through American Online software. AOL reached its peek with 1.5 million subscribers in February 1994, but those users only had limited access. Can you imagine what the millenials would think about how we lived back in those days? They probably wouldn’t survive.

The fastest way possibly to break news throughout the world at the time was via fax, and did Michael Jordan take full advantage of the fax machine.

Michael was handed a couple versions on how to break the news to the world, but he wanted to do it his own way. So, he grabbed a pen and paper, and simply wrote those two famous words: “I’m back.”

Michael’s decision to come out of retirement was because the MLB had gone on strike and he has cited that he feared that he was going to become a replacement player. The next day after his announcement, he was seen wearing a Bulls jersey that dawned the number 45, his number with the Barons.

After his announcement, many people began to think to themselves ‘Does he still have his wings to fly?’

He took to the court the very next day facing the Indiana Pacers, his first game back since that faithful night on June 20, 1993 against the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals. He would go onto score 19 points that evening. The Bulls would go 19-4 in Jordan’s return and make the playoffs that year.

In the end of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic, Magic guard, Nick Anderson, would strip Jordan of the ball and go on to make the game-winning shot to defeat the Bulls. Anderson was quoted after the game as saying “he didn’t look like the old Michael Jordan.” The very next game, Jordan came out wearing his old number 23, and would go on to average 31 points a game for the rest of the series, in which the Bulls lost in six games. The Houston Rockets would go on to win the NBA Finals to repeat from the following year.

Starting the following season, which was the 95-96 season, the Bulls would go on to make a second three-peat during the 90’s.

My favorite childhood memory was of when I had the pleasure of seeing Michael Jordan play in person. It was back in October of 1997, which would later be his last season with the Chicago Bulls. It was a preseason game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with my best friend Caleb Harris and his family. The starting roster was Michael Jordan, Luc Longley, Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper, and “The Worm” Dennis Rodman. One of the things I remember about that game was that Rodman didn’t dress due to injury or illness. When he came out of the locker room to sit on the bench, he was wearing sweats with a neon leopard skin top hat.

The thing I remember the most about that game was when Michael Jordan had a break away; there was nobody within 30 feet of him. He goes up for a dunk, does a 360…he bricked it.

It doesn’t seem like it’s been 20 years since he came out of retirement, and thank God he did with that now famous fax he sent out. To me, the NBA wasn’t worth watching. Michael leaving was like having a piece of me amputated, like my childhood would never be the same again.

I remember that every single shoe he came out with, I had to have them. I remember going to school wearing my first pair of Jordan’s, the Jordan V that were named “The Fighter” back in 1990. I remember wearing the Jordan VI, the Jordan VII, the Jordan VIII (which my parents did buy me a pair of 3 years ago for my birthday), the Jordan IX, the Jordan X, the Jordan XI (Oh, how I would love to get a hold of another pair of those that my sister in law bought for my brother a couple Christmas’ ago), and so on and so forth.

Thank you, sir Airness. Thanks for the great memories growing up while watching you play on television and in person. It certainly feels great that I share a birthday with a historical moment in sports history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around the Association: Merry Christmas

First off before I release any rankings, I would like to say to all of those reading to have a joyous Christmas with their families. It’s a special time for me and I want to share the Christmas spirit with you all and I hope you enjoy your Christmas traditions, new and old, and celebrate a great day with everyone. Merry Christmas!

NBA Christmas Gifts

The 2015 Ford F-150: Golden State Warriors (22-3)

Ford

The Warriors are the shiny and sexy new team in the NBA and continue to have success without the defensive presence of big man Andrew Bogut. The Warriors have topped out at number one each week of the NBA season and don’t seem to be pressing the brakes out of the top spot anytime soon. Sure, the Grizz loss was valid, but not enough to drop the Dubs from #1. The bench has plenty of horsepower headlined by rising star Draymond Green and other key component Marreese Speights, but these two can only give so much as others seem to sputter.

 

Microsoft’s Xbox One: Portland Trail Blazers (22-6)

Xbox
Yes, the Xbox One was 2013’s big gift and both the Xbox and the Portland Trail Blazers were just scratching the surface of potential. With new upgrades and game styles, both find themselves in great positions this time around Christmas again. The Blazers had an awesome start in 2013, but this season may trump last season’s early success, as they could arguably be considered the second best team in the Western Conference. The Blazers are known for their high scoring offense, but the defense has been phenomenal ranking third in defense just behind Golden State and Houston.

 

Stocking Stuffers: Phoenix Suns (15-14), New Orleans Pelicans (14-13), and Miami Heat (13-15).

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 3.40.36 PM
All three teams are around a .500 record and all three are capable enough to give a few smiles when being pulled out of your stocking on Christmas morning. Phoenix has young talent and continues to develop, but the Western Conference will not get any easier as they still continue to struggle. Fortunately, the Suns grabbed Charlotte and New York out of the East before Christmas. New Orleans is attractive and won’t be the gift that gets put in the corner Christmas afternoon. New Orleans has a strong point with also young talent and a superstar in the making. This stocking stuffer could be valuable in a few months. Miami has potential and are still attractive even without LeBron James. I mean they only have three less losses than the Cavs right now. So, there’s that.

 

The Gift Card to the Local Bar: San Antonio Spurs (17-11)

beer

Even though it’s nothing special, but just something an in-law could grab quickly due to frantically rushing through gift shopping the day before the family gathering, it’s still effective and comes into play at the right time. The Spurs haven’t been anything special in 2014 with some great wins, but also some weird losses. The Spurs have suffered four overtime losses in the past month, but like that gift card or drink, the Spurs will come in the clutch when it matters most.

 

Clothes… (from a kids’ point of view): Boston Celtics (10-15)

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They are never the gifts wrapped in the Toy Story, Cars, or Barbie wrapping paper (if they were, your parents were just cruel), but just a white box in the plaid paper. The clothes are never the highlight of Christmas morning, but are appreciated later in the year. The Celtics dealt Rajon Rondo to Dallas for a great trio of players: the much-improved Brandan Wright, the veteran point guard Jameer Nelson, and the young effective power forward Jae Crowder. No matter how much you hate the gift of new blue jeans and a polo top, they are always around and come in handy, whether you want to admit or not. The Celtics are a legitimate playoff contender in the East, and so am I! 😉

 

The One I am Going to Leave Behind: New York Knicks (5-25)

Ugly-Christmas-Sweater-6th
The gift of giving is great and all, but just some cash will do sometimes instead of giving out a Christmas sweater, socks, or chocolates. New York is the one gift you want to forget you ever got. New York leads the league in losses at 25 and they are 4-16 in games decided by single digits. It might be the time to take the gift back (hopefully you have the receipt) and get some in-store credit to gain a high draft pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Jalil Okafor would look mighty sweet right now in orange and blue.

Biased Observer

guinnessbeerThe Beer

My last Guinness. After St. Patrick’s Day leaves us in the rear view mirror, I seldom continue to partake in stouty Irish fare. (Unless I’m out at a pub, then it’s shepherd’s pie, corned beef, and every drop of alcohol that even remotely looks like there could be a clover on the bottle)

If it ever stops snowing in Cleveland, I’ll be moving on to lighter spring/summer brews. Not everyone one of the various shandies or lagers I drink during the summer is glamorous or snob-worthy, but I’m drinking them IN THE SUMMER. That’s good enough for me.

NBA Race for the Bottom

This past March weekend is the one time every year when I pretend that NBA basketball doesn’t exist. For four days, college basketball actually trumps professional basketball. It was a great ride, but we’re past the first two rounds of March Madness (I don’t care what all those marketing suits say, there were play-in games and the FIRST ROUND started THURSDAY. Sheesh. Next thing you know people will be calling the Jake something else) and I’ve been catching up on the NBA.

The drama at the top of the league is largely gone. There are probably only three teams that have a shot at drunkenly passing around the Larry O’Brien Trophy like a tobacco only pipe in a nightclub. But there will still be some dicey moments heading into the draft lottery for the very worst teams in the league as Charlotte, Orlando, Cleveland, and Phoenix duke it out for ping-pong balls.

We have plenty of time left for NBA Draft 2013 talk, but I’d like to dispel one common opinion held when talking about terrible NBA teams; that they’re tanking.

I don’t think any of the worst teams in the NBA are tanking, I just think that between inferior rosters and injuries, the bad teams are just really bad. That’s it.

Kemba Walker and Aaron Afflalo are leading the Hornets and Magic in scoring. That’s two guys that you couldn’t pick out of a lineup unless you work as an NBA publicist leading teams full of guys like Josh McRoberts and Tobias Harris. These guys are all good enough at basketball to be in the NBA, and that means A LOT. It doesn’t mean that their coaches need to do anything extra in order for them to lose tons of games.

That brings me to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and their particular brand of maybe manipulating the injury report in order to “keep super-mega-holy-crap-star Kyrie Irving healthy” and somehow maintain Alonzo Gee’s starting status. When Damien and I sat in on North Coast Speakeasy that the Cavs were also engaged in a conspiracy to lose games by keeping a healthy Anderson Varejao out of the lineup. I don’t remember this caller’s name (you can listen to the show by clicking on the link above), but he has no idea what he’s talking about. Andy was put on blood thinners for a blood clot. Blood clots are life threatening things, and the risks of being on medication for them and doing heavy physical activity isn’t something that stops in a couple of days or weeks.

Even if Kyrie comes back before the end of the season – as Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal reports he may – I don’t think Cleveland is going to have to tank to be one of the worst four teams in the NBA. Where that will land the team after the draft lottery will depend on how many weighted ping-pong balls David Stern slips into the machine. And that’s okay. The 2013 NBA Draft is pretty much a crap shoot right now.

What a coincidence, that’s what the 2-9 since March 1st Cavs have been doing; shooting crap.