I know nothing about the stock market. Actually, that’s not completely true. I have some experience watching Mad Money with Jim Cramer just because I find it oddly entertaining when he goes all kinds of ballistic during the lightning round of the show. So I know a little bit; bull market, bear market, buy or sell, etc. Regardless, I don’t feel as though I need to have an extensive background of the stock exchange in order to take a look at the stock watch of the NBA right now.
UP: Chris Paul… So Paul was stifled in Game 3 at Memphis, but that doesn’t change the fact he’s still the Undisputed Point Guard Champion of the World. The evidence: Game 2. With Memphis rallying late in the fourth quarter and a 1-1 split in Los Angeles looming, Chris Paul made the executive decision that the Clippers weren’t going to be losing on their home court in Game 2. Paul took every big shot down the stretch, finished with a 24 point and 9 assist stat line, and delivered the just about at the buzzer dagger off the glass over Tony Allen. There are very guys in the history of the game who can make it an art form to appropriately toe the line between floor general and late game assassin. Chris Paul is the prime example in the league right now.
DOWN: Tim Grover’s Credibility… I could be talked into the idea that MJ could play 10 to 15 minutes per game in the NBA right now—hell, if Jeff Adrien, Chris Duhon, Luke Babbitt, and a 38 year old Jerry Stackhouse could do it, I’d bet that Jordan could. But Jordan’s trainer Tim Grover saying that a 50 year old MJ could average 20 points per game in the NBA right now seems like a rather large stretch of the imagination. With that being said, a Jordan comeback would give me that same tingly feeling in my stomach that I got when I was five years old on Christmas Eve.
UP: Kevin Harlan… BREAKING NEWS: An exorcism will soon before performed on Kevin Harlan. Harlan was reportedly possessed by Gus Johnson right before Game 2 of the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks series, and this happened.
DOWN: Lottery Teams… I’m always up for a challenge, but I can’t guarantee I’ll always succeed in tackling that challenge. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks looking at the upcoming NBA Draft, and I cannot do anything to get myself excited about the draft class. I’ve tried listening to upbeat music while looking at the prospects. I’ve tried eating a delicious snack while I evaluate the prospects. Nothing works. The only two players likely to go in the top 10 that I’ve talked myself into are Trey Burke (poor man’s Chris Paul potential) and Victor Oladipo (a more offensively talented Tony Allen). Otherwise, in my opinion there are a bunch of future let downs and one potentially great interior defended with a torn ACL.
DOWN: Lakers Backcourt… Maybe the only thing going right now that is more uninspiring that the 2013 NBA Draft class is the Lakers backcourt. You know the phrase, “Don’t take a knife to a gunfight”? That’s what the Lakers have done, and not by their own choosing. Kobe tore his Achilles right before the playoffs, and that was compounded with injuries to Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks (Not the most inspiring backcourt crew to begin with). Now the Lakers are forced to rely on the backcourt crap sandwich also known as Chris Duhon, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris and… wait, that’s it? Seriously? Oh lord. Someone get Smush Parker on the phone.
UP: Andre Miller… Congrats to all of those who in 2005 made the bet that in eight years 37 year old Andre Miller would be a decisively more important player to his respective team during the 2013 playoffs than 39 year old Steve Nash, or 40 year old Jason Kidd… you can now cash in your vouchers at the nearest Off Track Betting facility. Someday Andre Miller is going to become the greatest OMRL (Old Man’s Rec League) player of all-time, but right now his game winning layup in Game 1 has kept the Nuggets from being in a disastrous 2-0 hole.
UP: Tom Thibodeau… After giving up a surprising 106 points to Brooklyn in Game 1, a lot of pundits were immediately writing off Chicago. That’s understandable. The Bulls aren’t going to score 100 points and beat any teams in a shootout. Games 2 and 3 were a completely different story. The Thibs led Bulls defense stymied the Nets thanks to a gutty effort from the injured Joakim Noah, and a grandiose individual defensive performance from Kirk Hinrich, who has played a major role in holding Deron Williams to 7 for 23 shooting in the last two Bulls wins.
DOWN: Cleveland Cavaliers… I guess when they couldn’t sell Phil Jackson on their coaching gig, Mike Brown, the same guy they fired 35 months earlier, is naturally the way to go. This is like breaking up with your longtime mediocre looking girlfriend, flirting around with the hottest girl you know, realizing she never had any interest in you, and then settling on getting back with your ex-girlfriend. This won’t end well for Brown or the Cavaliers.
UP: Phil Jackson… Did anyone seriously think that the greatest basketball coach of all-time was going to coach in Cleveland solely because there is a sliver of a chance that LeBron James might return to Cleveland in the summer of 2014? Why would he do that? Let’s assume hypothetically that LeBron James does return to Cleveland 14 months from now, a move that would likely break Twitter. If Phil really wanted to coach LeBron he could just meet with Dan Gilbert at any point in time after LeBron signed, flash those 11 championship rings and presto chango, Phil would become the new coach in no time. Why risk it and deal with coaching a young Cavaliers team for a year without LeBron?
This raises another question: Why would Phil even want to do this? The only possible explanation is that he would get the chance to be able to say that he coached three of arguably the top five basketball players of all-time (MJ, Kobe, LeBron), but does he really need another cherry on top of the sundae that he calls his career? He’s unequivocally the greatest coach in NBA history and has 11 titles to back it up. Plus he’s 67 years old and wasn’t exactly holding up with the grind of an NBA schedule when he was coaching in Los Angeles 2 years ago. Phil will always be in demand because he’s Phil, and he can afford to be extremely picky because, well, he’s Phil.
DOWN: Jeremy Lin… Watching Jeremy Lin go head to head with Russell Westbrook during this 1st round series gives me the same uneasy feeling I get whenever I watch the Apollo Creed/Ivan Dragofight from Rocky IV. It’s a complete and total mismatch by any definition of the word, and it’s a shame that Lin needs to be subjected to that kind of abuse. Lin left Game 2 with a muscle contusion in his chest, stayed out of the game with hurt feelings, and Patrick Beverly stole his late game minutes, likely for the remainder of the series.
UP: Paul George… You better buy Paul George stock before it’s through-the-roof expensive, and I would suggest not taking your sweet time on that either. The Paul George era in Indiana started with a triple double in Game 1 against Atlanta, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility for George to continue playing at such a high level. Buy this stock now!
DOWN: Boston Celtics… That gong sound you hear is not The Undertaker’s music. It’s coming from the not-so-far-down-the-road funeral of the Garnett/Pierce era Celtics. I’ve never been a fan of the Celtics (although I did have a really cool Paul Pierce/Antoine Walker poster when I was like 10 years old) but I’ve learned to respect the hell out of that team since 2008. They’ve been a thorn in the side of LeBron James, and indirectly myself for the last five years, and although I’m happy that the thorn is being removed, it’s also a bit of a sad day. It was fun for me to root against the Celtics. I had to root against the Celtics out of principle, but in their heyday it was a blast to watch them play great defense and unselfish offensive basketball on a nightly basis. I suspect that when Rondo returns next year the Celtics will still be in playoff contention in the East. But that feeling that you could never count Boston out no matter what the circumstances were are gone now. It’s a new, slightly less frightening era in the NBA.
UP: Russell Westbrook’s fashion sense… Granted I’m not a fashionista, and I sure as hell couldn’t pull off any of those outfits, but I’d be willing to bet since Russ is wearing all of these outlandish threads to postgame press conferences that it means they are pretty cool in the world of fashion.
DOWN: Joe Johnson’s Stink of Irrelevancy… It’s a real thing. My theory is that a team featuring Joe Johnson in a prominent role will never make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs, and it will take at least 5 years for any team he’s played for to wash off said stink. So that means Atlanta is on the hook of irrelevancy until at least 2017, and Brooklyn is in trouble for even longer than that.
UP: Manu Ginobili’s bald spot… It has become its own entity; therefore, its stock is rising.
DOWN: David Lee… I’ve had my bouts with hip pointers in the past (all were self-diagnosed, but still), so I can’t imagine the pain that David Lee is going through with a complete tear of his right hip flexor. The only pain that might be worse in Oakland right now is the pain of Warriors fans who understandably believed that Golden State could make an extended run in the playoffs before Lee went down. Conventional wisdom would say the Warriors would be done without Lee, but I would advise not letting go of that hope just yet Warriors fans…
UP: Stephen Curry… You’ve got Stephen Curry! Rejoice! Curry’s first two career playoff games have to be incredibly pleasing for Warriors fans (starving for a contender that they can cheer their faces off for), Warriors ownership (making them look good for the four year $44 million contract extension they gave Curry before the season), Curry’s ankles (survived a scare in Game 2, but healthy for the most part), and me (I’ll be rocking the Davidson Curry jersey this weekend). If it wasn’t for a David Lee hip injury and an Andre Miller layup, we could easily be looking at Golden State leading this series 2-0 heading back to Golden State in large part to the single season leader in three pointers. Although Curry got off to slow starts in both games, he kept on shooting—a great strategy when you’re the best shooter in the entire solar system—and eventually shot himself out of the funk he was in. Curry came through with the game tying 3 in Game 1, and a brilliant 30 point, 13 assist performance in the Warriors offensive explosion in Game 2. The series is back in Golden State, and there is no telling what Curry is capable of in front of a frenzied Golden State crowd.
DOWN: NBA… No Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, or David Lee in the playoffs. Plus there have been very few dramatic moments so far. What the hell is up with that?
UP: NBA… It’s the playoffs people! Sure, it’s unfortunate that Kobe, Rose, Rondo and Lee are all absent due to season ending injuries, but that doesn’t change the fact that for the next two months the NBA’s stock is at an all-time high. This is a fantastic time to be holding NBA stock, and an even more fantastic time to be an NBA fan.