20 Second Timeout is the place to find the best analysis and commentary about the NBA.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

One Last Reminder About BEST, Then Back To Regularly Scheduled Programming

The NBA Draft is over and we have a little time before the summer leagues begin and before Team USA plays in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, so while all is quiet on the NBA front please indulge this one last reminder: if you like the style and content of the NBA commentary on this site then you should check out (and bookmark) my new site, BestEverSportsTalk. That is where I will be offering regular commentary and analysis on a wide range of sports topics. In addition to the debut post about Frank Thomas, I have also explained why Bjorn Borg is the Sandy Koufax of Tennis and still deserves serious consideration as the greatest all-around tennis player of all-time.

That said, 20 Second Timeout will now return to its regularly scheduled NBA programming.

posted by David Friedman @ 4:34 AM


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At Sunday, July 01, 2007 11:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2
i notice you like bjorn bjorg alot he was pretty good player too he won 5 straight wimbledons 4 straight french opens. the thing is he retired at 26 he could of won like 17 18 grands slams, the catch was mcenroe was starting to beat him consistently so he got out before it seems obvious to everybody.

that could of been a russell vs wilt evert vs navitilova i couldnt spell her name right, but you know could of been a great rivalry. too bad he got out too early, whats your favirote sport outside of basketball mine is boxing mike tyson before he went crazy was my favirote.

At Sunday, July 01, 2007 3:30:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

The thing is that even in 1981, Borg's last full year on the tour, he beat McEnroe in the Tennis Masters tournament and took the first set in each of their meetings in the Wimbledon and U.S. Open Finals. What happened was not so much that Borg could not beat McEnroe but that Borg was getting burned out from tennis period. He also did not like the new rule that if he (or anyone else) did not play in a minimum number of Tour events then he would have to play in qualifiers in order to play in the Grand Slams. As the four-time defending French Open champion--and someone who had played in the last six Wimbledon Finals--Borg did not feel like he should have to play in qualifiers just to be in the field.

McEnroe once told Mike Lupica that he missed the challenge of playing Borg after Borg's retirement and that if Borg had continued to play that they each would have won their share of matches, pushing each other to new heights. If you look at what happened in the 1980s, McEnroe never dominated to the extent that Borg had, winning only two more Wimbledons and never winning the French. If Borg had not retired--and if he had remained mentally fresh--then he would have most likely kept winning the French and very well may have won more Wimbledons, too. One wonders if he might have finally won the elusive U.S. Open title as well. Unlike Sampras or Federer at the French, Borg did not have a problem with a particular surface, nor did he have a problem with a particular opponent (like Federer does with Nadal on clay). Borg was almost always in contention at the U.S. Open but it just never worked out, for whatever reason. Some have said it was because of the lighting at the night matches or the raucous New York crowds but looking at Borg's record it is hard to believe that those things would really impair him; what's more, he made the Finals four times, so he came within one match of winning it on several occasions.

At Sunday, July 01, 2007 3:39:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

My favorite sport outside of basketball is pro football. I also like college basketball and college football (they really are almost like different sports compared to the pro versions). I like to watch the best compete in any sport, even sports that otherwise don't interest me as much. I'll watch Tiger play golf or Alison Fisher play women's billiards, etc. Auto racing is cool, too.

Boxing is fascinating, a brutal form of chess (many boxers, like Lennox Lewis and the Klitschko brothers, actually play chess). Tyson made for compelling theater but it looks more and more like history will view him more as a bully who never had an answer after someone stood up to him (Buster Douglas, Evander Holyfield) than a great champion. I actually think that he did have the potential for greatness--he was, after all, the youngest heavyweight champion of all-time--but poor training practices and out of ring distractions curtailed all of that. I remember that years ago, when Tyson was still viewed as a great fighter, Arsenio Hall asked Ali who would win between those two in their primes and Ali pointed to himself, later explaining that Tyson did not have it upstairs (he made the universal hand motion indicating that someone is crazy). Ali was such a smart fighter--and he proved against Foreman, Frazier and others that he could take a punch--that he would have beaten Tyson, even the 1987-88 Tyson who was knocking everyone out.

Did you see ESPN Classic's marathon of Tyson fights on Sunday?

At Sunday, July 01, 2007 9:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

far as bjorg my dad told me he was great player. and he had mcenroe frustrated when he won the 5 straight wimbledon 76-80, i always heard that he kindof ran out before mcenroe was about to dominate him. but seeing and reading your piece i see it wasnt true. he was burned out about tennis at that time and as you said if he was mentaly motivated he could of still been dominant he was only 26 as you said.

I just dont see anybody beating roger federer mcenroe, sampras, courier agassi, bjorg he just seems so unbeatable and it seems like they hit the ball alot harder today than when you watch from the 80's. but to be fair mcenroe played him connors nastas ivan lendl, a young sampras and agassi. federer only reall plays nadal i mean roddick is okay but okay at best.

At Sunday, July 01, 2007 10:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

as far as tyson dang he could of been the best ever heavy weight if he had mental toughness. youre 100 percent right even though us tyson fans hate to admit it he was exposed vs douglas and holyfield that if you werent scared had a good jab and could duck punches you could wear him down and beat him up. most of his opponets were scared before the opening bell especially micheal spinks lol you could see it his face he didnt want to fight.

teddy atlas said it best if you dont have it inside it shows outside and it did for mike, i agree he was not an all time great but he was a great fighter at that time. ali would kill him in his prime he was a way better version of buster douglas, he was too fast for tyson even the 1988 tyson considered the best tyson. also joe louis and jack johnson would beat him maybe rocky marciano i dont know though rocky was only 185 pounds.

do you think ray robinson was the greatest fighter ever? i do with ali close second also guys like willie pep ray leornard marvin hagler etc i always thought hagler beat leornard that night but of course leornard was great still. boxing needs guys like prime tyson in the heavy weight division or a delahoya leornard type to bring life back in the sport, the delahoya mayweather was a good step we need more of those though

At Sunday, July 01, 2007 10:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats your take on barry bonds and the steriod situatuion. bonds is great no matter what to me he had 3 mvp's in the early 90's when he was skinny and he was the player of the decade in the 90's to me. over frank thomas and griffey but thats just me

At Sunday, July 01, 2007 10:16:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Don't forget that guys today are using rackets that have totally different technology from when Borg/McEnroe ruled the courts and wooden rackets were state of the art.

Borg was fantastically fit and often wore down his opponents, as illustrated by his record in five set matches; he also seemed to be immune to pressure. If he played poorly in a game or set it did not usually affect him; if someone made a good shot against him he did not get dejected, because his philosophy was that someone has to make a lot of good shots to beat him.

A matchup of Borg-Federer in both of their primes would be interesting. It's so hard to predict what would happen because there are so many variables: rackets (as I mentioned) and playing surface to name just two. I cannot picture Federer having a chance against Borg on clay. In theory, Federer's game is better suited to grass than Borg's, but Borg dominated the best grass court players of his era with a game that was, in theory, not suited to grass (Borg played on the baseline and was not a classic serve and volleyer like McEnroe).

My point in the article was not so much that Borg would beat Federer head to head (no one can really say definitively what would happen if they played each other in both of their primes) but that Borg's career achievements--particularly the percentage based ones--still surpass what Federer has done and that Borg was a multi-surface champion (Wimbledon grass, French Open clay) in a dominant way the likes of which no one in tennis history has yet matched. Just look at how Sampras and Federer struggle in the French and how Nadal cannot win Wimbledon and then look at Borg's record on those surfaces playing at a time when the men's game had a lot more depth in talent than it does now. Borg was going against Connors, McEnroe, Ashe and Vilas, all of whom are in the Tennis Hall of Fame, plus many other really good players. After Federer and Nadal, who are the all-time greats who are playing today?

At Sunday, July 01, 2007 10:26:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Greatest fighter ever is probably an even tougher question than the Borg-Federer one. I think that most boxing experts would give the greatest ever pound for pound title to Sugar Ray Robinson. Ali's career really went through three stages: the one right before he was banned, when he had electric speed and reflexes plus power, the period right after he came back, when his speed and reflexes had been dulled and then the period at the very end, when he lost some fights (Larry Holmes, Trevor Berbick) that should never have been sanctioned in the first place. Even when he fought Leon Spinks he was already past his prime. The only two guys who ever beat Ali when he was even close to his prime were Joe Frazier and Ken Norton. My heart would put Ali as the greatest of all-time but I know that the people who are truly boxing experts generally give that title to Sugar Ray Robinson. The reason that it is so hard to compare is that Ali and Robinson could have never fought because of the weight difference, whereas Borg and Federer could theoretically play if their primes had coincided.

At Sunday, July 01, 2007 10:29:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Bonds will be the subject of a BEST article that will go up around the time of baseball's All-Star Game.

At Monday, July 02, 2007 12:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

youre right i didnt think about the factor of the racket and his fitness winning the 5 set matches. and also he was great on all surfaces, where federer is great on all but one sampras was like that too but he better than sampras he got to the last two french open finals. nadal is just too great on that surface for him right now but i think he will break through and enventually win in the french. bjorg was smart player i remeber mcenroe saying that he played the power game when he had to and was great when he came to the net.

best fighter ever yeah ali was definetely up there he was fast and had power. and was very smart and was a showman, the only guy who beat him at his peak was frazier yeah. even though ali came back to beat him twice. the last two fights was terrible i tottaly agree boxing shuldnt of sanctioned the last two fights, just like they shouldnt be sanctioning holyfield fights right now they should force him to retire becuase clearly he could not decide to do it.

you watch pro football my favirote player peyton manning i was glad to see him get his ring the crticism of him was not fair to me. tom brady was great but he had a better defense than peyton had for a long time. to me peyton a top 5 quaterback all time with montana unitas elway marino sonny fran tarketon, and probably some other he goes ahead of marino to me he won a championship marino hasnt and i think when it is all said and done he'll have alot of his records. my favirote team is the raiders im from oakland it sucks the downward spiral we went into the last few years hopefully our new quarterback russell could restore the raider pride from before.

but alot of people just say al davis need to go though

At Monday, July 02, 2007 3:56:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I was a kid when Ali fought Holmes and I didn't see that fight when it happened. I don't remember if it was on too late or on cable but I eventually saw it on ESPN Classic as a young adult and I was shocked to see what condition Ali was in before the fight even started. His movements had no fluidity and if you look closely he already seemed to have a slight Parkinson's like tremor. His face did not have its trademark expressiveness. There is no way that Ali should have been allowed anywhere near a boxing ring. Sadly, that wasn't even his last fight. Though he was unable to get an American license, Ali went to the Bahamas and fought Trevor Berbick. I can only imagine what condition Ali was in by that time.

I think that Holyfield has been slurring his words a bit for quite some time, although he speaks clearer in some interviews than others. Seeing the footage from his recent win, it can certainly be said that he still keeps himself in great shape physically. I wonder what a CAT scan of his brain would show after so many years in the fight game. Also, at that age, the internal organs are more susceptible to damage. Few of these guys seem to age well--at least the ones in public view. One retired boxer who seems to be whole mentally and physically is Hagler; whenever I see him on TV he looks and talks like he is completely together--maybe that is because he retired once and did not keep coming back.

Manning's a great player who will probably own most, if not all, of the passing records if he stays healthy. I don't have anything against him but he's never been a particular favorite of mine, either, though I'm not sure exactly why. I respect his talent and his work ethic. Brady strikes me as more of a winner, although I realize that is very subjective and has a lot to do with the players around him (including his defense). I think that, for the most part, Brady is less rattled in pressure situations than Manning; again, I realize that is subjective and a good case could be made for Manning as a competent player under pressure. Manning doesn't "feel" like a top five all-time QB to me but at the rate he is going his numbers are going to just about force his inclusion in that group. One guy you left off your top five list is Otto Graham--10 championship game appearances in 10 seasons, seven titles won, effective both as a passer and a scrambler. You contradict yourself a little when you absolve Manning for not winning a title in previous years because he didn't have a good enough defense but then place Manning ahead of Marino, who never had a defense or running game as good as Manning had in his Super Bowl year. The best arms that I've seen (on QBs that I saw play entire games, not just highlight footage, which limits the discussion to roughly 1978-present) are Marino, Elway, Favre, Randall Cunningham and Vinny Testaverde. Marino had absolutely the quickest release that I've ever seen. Elway and Favre threw missiles, albeit not always on target, particularly in their early years. Cunningham and Testaverde used to always amaze me in the QB competitions when they would throw the ball 78-80 yards. The funny thing is, a guy like Steve Young could barely throw it 60 but I'd take him any day over either of those two, although each had good careers in their own right.

Right now, Raiders' fans are like Browns fans, comforted only by memories of past glories--granted, Raiders' glories are more recent. Al Davis was such an innovator and so successful for such a long period but it does seem like the game has passed him by in recent years, perhaps because of his health problems.

At Monday, July 02, 2007 5:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

marino elway had great arms no doubt. i forgot about otto graham also jurgenson and sammy baugh were great too. i respect manning also for the fact he calls his own plays, and has so much responsibility with his offense no other quarterback has.

tom brady great he like joe montana nuber arent like 37 td 4000 every year but when you need a big play he always makes it. whats your take on terrell owens some people try to compare him to kobe or say kobe is like him in basketball. ridicolous kobe previous too this summer has never really made his stuff public he never disrespected his coach like owens, organization and teamates pubicly like owens has. he is a great player but a terrible teammate and football the ultimate team sport but he's never learned i guess.

too me another guy disrespected is arod this maybe the best player ever when it's all said and done, perieod and all these people do is nitpick everything he does. while to me derek jeter gets no critcism for doing the same thing. jeter numbers in the playoffs the last two years were the same as arod but arod is considered not clutch and jeter is. i know jeter won 4 rings but those yankees teams were stacked if he played for minnesota or the royals or the a's you wouldnt no derek jeter. on the contrary arod could play in any team in any city and he does the same thing he does know.

im a college football fan love the cal bears. but they need a playoff series, this bcs is crap to me it's only worked a couple years out of like 8. they should have two extra games the bcs is 8 teams then the winner would be in the semifinals, then they should have the natinal championship. not let computers dictate it there the only major sport like that.

At Monday, July 02, 2007 6:13:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I thought that you mentioned Jurgenson originally; otherwise, I have no idea who you meant by "Sonny" in your first listing of great quarterbacks.

Brady has actually had a 4000 yard season and five straight 3000 yard seasons; his numbers are probably a little bigger than the casual fan thinks, even if they are not quite where Manning's numbers usually are.

Owens is an interesting case. He acts cocky but he is actually insecure and wants to be appreciated; this comes from his childhood, when he was often picked on and beaten up (I'm not making this up; his background has been reported in major articles that have been written about him). He always works hard. When he got hurt, McNabb said something to the effect that the team had to move on without him. McNabb was probably trying to just rally the troops but Owens took that as a slap. Owens came back and played in the Super Bowl with a broken ankle and was the best individual player on the field. If Favre had done that he'd be up for sainthood. Again, Owens felt that he never really got the credit he deserved for that. Then he said some things about McNabb and the whole thing went south. If you look at what happened, a lot of Owens' Philly teammates seemed to side with Owens; they certainly were not running to McNabb's defense. The whole Hugh Douglas thing was stupid; a self appointed "Bad-ass-ador" who was going to straighten T.O. out and got beat down. I have no idea what the whole thing was about in Dallas with the overdose. I do know that he played with a broken finger and still led the NFL in TD receptions. Yeah, he dropped some balls but he was also very productive; other guys drop balls and are not productive at all.

A Rod never had a chance with the media or fans after he signed that $25 million/year deal. He is not treated fairly but he is certainly well compensated for his suffering. If you are going to make that much money people are going to resent you unless you win championships and/or are considered very likable/approachable (Shaq does both, so no one resents that he makes almost as much as A Rod).

The BCS and its predecessors were supposed to eliminate the injustices from the polls but all that really happened is the destruction of the history and tradition of the bowl games in exchange for big payoffs for the schools and TV networks. The original system was not perfect, either, but it does not make sense to get rid of decades of tradition and not improve things at all--except for the fact that the BCS generates big $$$$. That is why a lot of people call college sports "sham-amateur," because the idea that they are amateur sports is a sham.

At Tuesday, July 03, 2007 5:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

i missed i said sonny already my bad, anyway owens just needs to play and let everything else take care of itself. one of my favirotes is randy moss too even though people rip him for not always playing hard every athlete takes a play off now and then.

arod yeah he makes alot of money. but alot people make alot of money and dont produce. people should appreciate his greatness more, but i understand your point.

who are columnist you look up too before you got in buisness my fav columnist are sam smith , mike lupica , bill simmons, jon saraceno, ian o connor, bob ryan, bill gallo, dave anderson bill rhoden selena roberts mitch albom. these guys understand the sports and make great sports observations i always read there columns. alot of sports coplumnist older ones dont really write that much on pro basketball, there main sport might be baseball but they they write alot of colums on pro football but not basketball. maybe im forgetting that pro basketball really didnt get popular to the 80's and these columnist grew up on baseball and boxing and football and dont have as much intrest in basketball.

im debateing with somebody right now he thinks that the 96 bulls were the best basketball team ever i think the 86 celtics and 87 lakers were better teams. the 96 bulls had the benefit of 29 teams there were 23 when bird and magic won it in 86 and 87. they moved the 3 point line in for 2 seasons in the mid 90's 95-96 and 96-97 it was the same distance as the college line those years. bird and magic didnt have that benefit, the seattle super sonics were okay but they werent better than the 87 celtics or the 86 houston team. I think jordan was a better player than bird and magic because he had one hall of famer they had 2, he did more with less. but they had better teams both those teams win 70+ games with those circumstances.

i remember bob knight said jordan was the greatest player ever to play team sports. he won the espy for athlete of the century. but too me he should of been 4 1. ali 2. ruth 3 wayne gretzky 1000 points ahead of anybody in his sport 9 straight mvp's. then jordan

At Tuesday, July 03, 2007 5:42:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I've never liked Moss as much as TO because TO always plays hard. Moss has admitted that he takes plays off and he actually left the field early one time instead of being on the "hands" team for an onside kick. That said, since Belichick and the Patriots signed him they must believe that in the right environment he will play hard all the time.

I agree that people should appreciate A-Rod more; I was just explaining why they don't.

All the columnists you listed are good. Lupica's book (with William Goldman) "Wait til Next Year" is a classic, as is Sam Smith's "The Jordan Rules." As you suggest, many of the older sports writers started out writing about baseball, boxing and, believe it or not, horse racing. Look at an old Sports Illustrated (late 50s, early 60s)--baseball, boxing, horse racing and golf were the big deals. Football grew in the 1960s and basketball picked up interest in the 1970s, dropped off and then really took off with Bird and Magic.

I've actually met Sam Smith, Bob Ryan, Bill Rhoden and Mitch Albom in the course of covering various games. I've had the most interaction with Smith because he was the President of the Pro Basketball Writers Association. He's nice and has a good sense of humor, as you can tell if you listen in to some of the questions he asks at the Finals press conferences. I interviewed Ryan for my Antoine Walker articles and he was also very nice. Rhoden and Albom I've just spoken with in passing a few times but both seemed down to earth. Two of my all-time favorites, Dick Schaap and Ralph Wiley, passed away before I had a chance to meet them. Frank DeFord, Pete Axthelm and Tom Callahan are each outstanding. It's hard to pick just one favorite.

The 86 Celtics were not actually that deep of a team (other than Walton at sixth man); that is why KC Jones was always playing his main guys 40+ minutes. The '87 Lakers were pretty deep. Once MJ understood what he had to do to win and got a taste of winning he won championships in every full season the rest of his Bulls' career. That '96 Bulls team had a singular focus unlike just about any other team I've ever seen (other than maybe the '83 Sixers, who were an older team that had to back off on making a run at 70 wins in order to be healthy for the playoffs). The NBA three point line was never as close as the college line. The college line is 19-9; the NBA line now is 22 feet in the corners and 23-9 at the top. In the years in question, the NBA flattened the arc to 22 feet all the way around. I'm not sure how that change would favor one team or the other. I think that the '96 Bulls would probably beat either the '86 Celts or the '87 Lakers but that it would be close. That '96 Sonics team won well over 60 games. Payton will likely be in the Hall of Fame and Kemp could have been if he had kept himself on track and the Sonics had other very talented players as well. As a regular season squad, it was just as successful, if not more so, then the '86 Rockets or '87 Celtics that lost in the Finals.

Comparing athletes within a sport is tough enough but comparing them between sports is almost impossible. Ali had more societal impact than MJ. Was he a better boxer than MJ was a basketball player? I don't know how to answer that. Ali lost his prime years to a suspension and MJ quit to play baseball before coming back to win more titles. If you go purely by numbers, it seems like Gretzky was further ahead of the other top players in his sport than anyone else was in their respective sports--but is being the best hockey player as significant as being the best heavyweight boxer or best basketball player? I probably am biased in that regard, because I don't follow hockey closely and am a huge basketball fan.

At Wednesday, July 04, 2007 9:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

yeah moss has to act great this year he has no leverage. but if he has a great year this year get leverage how will he act will be the big question.

sam smith has alway intrigued me with him being funny and his brutally honest columns same with lupica as well. did jordan have a big problem with jordan rules book i wonder how was his relatinship with smith after that. has a player ever came to you and said he didnt appreciate something you wrote. ive always wondered how much do they pay attention to the pappers with the busy life they have?

marv albert my favirot broadcaster all time in basketball, joe buck goos tim mcarver al micheals dick vitale. but the way marv calls games is better than those other guys i like especially when he used to call jordan games when he was at his peak.

barry sanders is the most entertaining athlete i ever watched and the best running back ever to me. he gave the most yards all time to emmith smith or else he would have well over 21000 yards. some people or most say jim brown but jim brown played againts middle linbackers that were 240 pounds and he was 240 pounds. oj another but he had like 4 or 5 dominant years and thats it.

you think 96 bulls beat 86 celts and 87 lakers my thing is who gonna guard mchale and parish and james worthy. jordan was jordan but he never faced a great center in his prime in the finals kareem wasnt then but still formidable it would be intresting though.

you think any perimeter player will ever pass jordan up. of course the two best guys are kobe and lebron, lebron is alot younger than kobe and kobe accomplished more. they will have to win a few mvp's finals mvp's and few more rings. kobe plays both ends like jordan but doesnt shoot a great fg% lebron shoots a pretty good fg% percentage but doesnt play d like kobe or jordan. both got a long way too go.

did you always wanna be a sports journalist, i ask because i wanted to be unfortunately wasnt great in school so it didnt work out and im a yard duty for elementary kids

At Wednesday, July 04, 2007 4:31:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Smith has written in his column a few times about the aftermath of the Jordan Rules book. He just talked about it in one of his recent "mailbags," which you should be able to find at the Chicago Tribune online. Jordan did not like the book, even though it is pretty tame by today's standards. Smith wrote that since the book came out, MJ has kept his distance from Smith but would always answer Smith's press conference questions in a professional manner.

I think that back in the day it was easier for players to keep up with "everything" that was written about them if they were so inclined. Now there are so many networks, so many magazines and so many websites that I don't think players can keep up with everything that is written. I've never had any confrontations with anyone about anything that I've written and I don't expect that I will have any confrontations because I am fair; I don't misquote people and I don't take gratuitous shots at anyone. I call it like I see it. Someone may disagree but no one can say that I took a cheap shot at anyone. Also, I stick to writing about what happens on the court. A number of people have told me that they appreciate the way that I write and the manner in which I cover things.

I'd still take Jim Brown as the best running back ever; eight rushing titles in nine seasons is a record that will never be broken. He was far ahead of anyone else in rushing yards and TDs when he retired and he did that in 12 and 14 game seasons.

Don't forget that the '96 Bulls swept the Shaq-Penny Magic in the Eastern Conference playoffs, so they showed that they could beat a well rounded team that had a great center (the Magic made it to the Finals the year before). Pippen guarded Worthy OK during their careers. Rodman could guard McHale. Parish was not a guy who was going to go off for 30 or 40 points; Longley could do a decent job on him. The '87 Kareem would not have been a big problem for the '96 Bulls.

I don't think that anyone will pass Jordan as a basketball icon any time soon. Kobe is the closest to MJ strictly as a player but I'd take MJ over Kobe. If Kobe led a team to back to back titles, giving him five total with two as the main guy, then he would be in the discussion with MJ in my opinion. I think that Kobe is capable of doing this but it is not entirely in his control; he has to be on the right team, which was also true of MJ, who had a Top 50 sidekick in Pippen. Give Kobe a Top 50 sidekick and he would look even more like MJ than he does now.

I wanted to be an NBA player but I've always enjoyed writing and I am much better at writing than I am at playing basketball.

At Thursday, July 05, 2007 9:29:00 PM, Blogger vednam said...

I'm not sure why most people seem to think the best Celtic and Laker teams of the 80s were the 86 and 87 versions (respectively). I think maybe it has to do their popularity peaking.

I think the 84 Celtics were deeper than the 86 team and, with Parish and DJ younger, better. They didn't blow through the playoffs like the 86 team, but I think that's because they faced better competition: a loaded Lakers team, and an overachieving Knicks crew with an unstoppable Bernard King. I think the best Lakers team was the 82 version because they had two guys who could orchestrate the break (Magic and Norm Nixon), a still dominant Kareem, the underrated Jamaal Wilkes, and Bob McAdoo giving them their best PF play of the decade.

I think the 96 Bulls (or any of the Jordan-Pippen Bulls teams) would have been beaten by a team with a dominant inside presence. They may have had a shot at the 87-88 Lakers due to Kareem's decline, but I think the Lakers of 80, 82, and 85 would have beaten them decisively because the Bulls had no one who could contain Kareem. I also think the 67 76ers, the 71 Bucks, and the 72 Lakers would decisively prevail. I think a matchup with the 84 or 86 Celtics would also give the Bulls lots of trouble (though the Bulls MIGHT win). In my opinion, McHale was too big and too long for Rodman, and he'd drop 30 whenever he wanted.

I'm less confident of how the 83 76ers would fare. The Malone-Rodman battle for the boards would have been very interesting to watch. I also think Rodman might have had a chance at guarding Malone (since the size gap wasn't THAT big). Doc would have to have a big series. I'm not sure who would guard Jordan. Cheeks was probably too small, and I don't think the 83 version of Doc (with the bum knees) was laterally quick enough. Perhaps the biggest flaw that Philly team had was a lack of depth. I think their 81 and 82 teams were deeper (with Dawkins, C. Jones, Hollins, and Mix) though they lacked the inside consistency Malone provided.

At Friday, July 06, 2007 1:47:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I agree that the earlier Celtics and Lakers teams were stronger but the question posed to me was how I thought that the Bulls would do against those particular teams. Someone 30 or younger may have vivid (or at least decent) memories of 86 and 87 but little or no memories of 82 or even 84; there is a fairly stark dividing line for me between which 70s sports events I remember watching and which ones I learned about later.

I would take the '84 Celtics as a stronger team than the '86 Celtics. The '82 Lakers are one of the most underrated teams of all-time in my opinion; they went about two months without losing a game (some of that was due to time off between playoff series but that was because they kept sweeping teams). They did not have a dominant regular season record but they got a tremendous boost by signing McAdoo in the middle of the season. A very good Philly team led by Dr. J finally broke the Lakers' winning streak, preventing them from racing through the playoffs without a defeat; the Sixers took one more game but ultimately lost in six.

This is all hypothetical of course but, as I said in my earlier comment, I think that the '96 Bulls would have beaten the '86 Celtics or the '87 Lakers. I don't know that the '80, '82 or '85 Lakers would have beaten the Bulls "decisively" but you are right that the further back you go the greater a matchup problem Kareem would have posed; in '80 he was the regular season MVP and in '85 he was still spry enough to win the Finals MVP.

As a one season team, the '83 Sixers are pretty hard to beat, in my opinion; I think that some people's view of them gets downgraded because the Sixers fell off so much the next year but they were clearly not the same--for whatever reason--in '84. They were a machine in '83. Malone was the MVP, Doc was in the top five in MVP voting, Cheeks and Toney were All-Stars and Jones was an All-Star caliber player whose numbers were down only because of his diminished role on the team. Malone was just as tenacious a rebounder as Rodman and he was much bigger; Malone had that same ability to jump as high on his second jump as his first that Rodman had. I know that Rodman guarded Shaq at times, so in theory one could say that he could guard Malone, but Malone was a beast in '83. Malone was actually bigger (heavier) than McHale. It would be interesting to go back and see how Rodman did against McHale in the late 80s, though my memory is that Rodman mainly guarded Bird while Mahorn or Salley guarded McHale. Nobody could really stop McHale when he had it going circa 85-87 but I don't think that McHale would singlehandedy beat the '96 Bulls. The '96 MJ would give the Celtics' guards as much trouble as he did in '86 and it would be harder to help against him with Pip and Kukoc and Kerr and the others by his side. I mean, look at how much trouble the '86 Bulls give to the '86 Celts when MJ had basically no help. The '96 MJ was less athletic but no less deadly and he had tons of help. The '84 Celts were deeper than the '86 Celts but then you have to also remember that the '84 McHale was not the same player as the '86 McHale.

All of this is very fascinating to consider and quite impossible to prove.

At Friday, July 06, 2007 7:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

see i didnt start watching the game until the 2000's when i fully understood it. talking about basketball, im 22 years old so i remember the 2nd 3 peat of jordan and the lakers and spurs. but i diint really pay attention to stats and didnt watch the regular season with the bulls i just watched the playoffs. i dont go back all the way to the 80's so i have to research this cause i didnt see it live.

i always hear about the 86 and 87 lakers and celtics. maybe the 84 celtics were better than those teams, bird was younger they had maxwell still and gerald henderson and mchale and parish were younger, 85 lakers were great too and 82 and 80. see too me 01 lakers would have a chance against them shaq was a beast then and kareem cant guard him. kobe was a beast give magic a hard time too, but of course the lakers teams were deeper bob mcadoo james worthy bryon scott micheal cooper, vs derek fisher rick fox robert horry and ron harper.

you would take jim brown clearly a great player he did it in 12 14 game seasons. you said you really didnt feel like manning was a top 5 quarter back i feel the same about emmith smith to me a very good player but nuthing spectactular like payton brown sanders and oj. he played with the on of the greatest offensive line's ever sanders and oj o line was terrible and walter for a long time too. dont get me wrong he was great just not to me in there class.

did you think what tiger does is more immpressive in golf then what federer does in tennis, i ask because this question has been posed. they both play individual sports and are so dominant ive never played golf or tennis in my life so i dont know but just giveing my opion slight edge to tiger because tennis players have dominated before bjorg mcenroe sampras aggassi. only golfer too dominate was jack nicklaus at tiger rate, 10 grand slams in 4 years 2 french open finals pretty good for a guy i never heard of 3 years ago.

yeah kobe could pass jordan up if he win back to back titles 3 more scoring titles a copule mvp's and finals mvp's which is possible for him to do. the lakers got to get the right mix for him. but if he go to chicago with deng if they can keep deng i think he would be a perfect compliment to what kobe bryant does. he could avg 20+ good defender run the floor and does the stuff sometimes odom has not done with the lakers.

At Saturday, July 07, 2007 9:36:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Emmitt was a plough horse and I mean that in the best possible way: he was tough and durable and got the job done even when he was hurt. He broke Payton's all-time rushing record but I agree with you that I don't consider him the best running back ever or even necessarily in the top five; I think that most experts feel that way about him, too.

It's tough to compare Tiger and Federer in terms of legacy for several reasons. First, they both are still active, so their legacies are both subject to change. Second, Federer is a lot closer to the end of his career than Tiger. Tennis players generally don't have great longevity at the top, although there have been some exceptions--and even if Federer keeps going for five, six years, Tiger could still be winning majors 15 years from now. Third, in golf you are really playing against the course and not in direct competition against the other players; you can't affect how they perform (except perhaps through psychological pressure). This is really almost an impossible choice but if forced to pick I'd go with Tiger because Federer has a definite weakness--the French Open clay--whereas Tiger does not have an equivalent golf weakness (he has won every major in his sport).


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