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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shaq's Phoenix Debut

The big time game atmosphere for Shaquille O'neal's debut was clear from the moment ESPN switched to the NBA coverage. The Big Cactus--Shaq's chosen moniker, not mine--wasn't as good as he said he would be. He wasn't as bad as Bill Walton made him out to be either.

It's hard to fault Walton because Shaq's first half was about as bad as Walton had predicted. His first attempt was a point blank miss off the front of the rim. He also appeared lost in the offensive scheme at times.

Shaq didn't lack for effort. He left the game 3 minutes in, shortly after that first miss off the rim. When he returned with 4 minutes remaining in the first he fired up another shot. After missing that second attempt, he sprinted back in time to catch Lamar Odom and tip his attempt--though Odom's shot still went in, the hustle was evident.

Shaq eventually got his first bucket on a dunk. However it was a catch-22. He also got fouled. Shaq's Phoenix premier at the charity stripe would not be nice. O'neal missed horribly; the ref's decided it was funny and called a lane violation. We watch O'neal shot-put the ball again; this time so many guys are in the lane they decide to just jump it at mid-court. Thanks, ref's.

Shaq wrapped the first half with 3 fouls and a handful of points and boards. Walton let it be known how unimpressed he was after the half. He let it be known so clearly, in fact. Eternal ranter Stephen A Smith commented"You are making me sound like a nice guy"

Second half action was a little kinder to O'neal. He was a little more active and appeared to actually know what was happening in the Suns offense. On the defensive end he got a few blocks and altered a few more shots. Shaq even teamed up with Amare Stoudemire for a block. You could pretty much hear Mike D'antoni praying that was a microcosm of the next 30+ games.

One occasion where O'neal's hustle was a problem, he crossed the lane to help on Kobe Bryant. In the course of shooting his arm forward to block Bryant he hit teammate Raja Bell in the back of the head. Bell was dazed if not knocked out as he lay on the floor. By the time they got Bell up off the deck he had a racquet ball sized knot forming on the back of his head.

The Lakers maintained a lead most of the game but never got too far away. Shaq was the biggest focus for the home team; On the Lakers side Pau Gasol was impressive as a new addition. The Man I used to call Pau Ga-Soft caught the ball on the break and took it up over Stoudemire and Raja Bell. Having Gasol, a number one, playing as your two, or your three even, is great. In a situation that hopefully foreshadows some future fourth quarters. Kobe received all the focus as they worked for the final shot in the third. He then passed of to Gasol who calmly took his man across the lane for a running right hand hook.

Kobe clearly no longer feels he has to do everything. On a play late in the fourth Bryant was leading the break with a defender in front of him. Bryant would have taken that in and forced a shot from a tough angle in the past. Tonight he pulled the defender with him towards the wing, turned, and dished to Gasol who rose and threw it down.

Shaq will receive all of the attention coming out of this game, but Gasol once again showed why he will be the piece that puts that Lakers on top of the heap that is the Western Conference.

While the game was very entertaining. Shaq's post conference was, as usual. the most entertaining part of the evening.

When discussing his athleticism he said.

"I was the first big man to run up and down the court, over the last few years I get a couple of knick knack injuries and you earthlings start to think I can't run"

  • Apparently Shaq is no longer an earthling. He also appears to be unaware of any big men prior to 1990. I am guessing that if Wilt were alive he could probably beay Shaw in a foot race even now.

"Steve Nash told me to get my Randy Moss on"

  • The last thing Randy Moss needs while he is trying to negotiate a contract is his speed and Shaq's speed in the same sentence

While discussing his first three chapters(teams) in his book(career) he referred to them as "Dramaful"

  • I Misremember; is Dramaful a word?

NBA Where Debut-tiful Happens

After Mike Bibby's debut last night, as well as Shaquille O'neal and Jason Kidd putting sweat on those new unifroms tonight, it should be an interesting couple of days. Mike Bibby's performance against the Lakers was certainly not what he was hoping for. You can't jump to conclusions after one game. That will also be the theme after Shaq's debut tonight. Kidd on the other hand, might "be who we thought he was"(Thanks Denny Green)

Mike Bibby and the Atlanta Hawks were in LA for the Lakers Home return from a 9 game road trip. The Hawks played like they were the ones that were road weary. Through a series of turnovers and poor shot selection the Hawks gave the Lakers a 73-37 edge at the half. Mike Bibby certainly wasn't an exception to the Hawks poor play. Managing 5 points 3 assists to 2 turnovers. I'd blame this on him only logging 16 minutes, but he seemed plenty capable of racking up 4 fouls in that short time.

It is just one game. Without even seeing Shaq's performace tonight I know it will produce the same mantra. It is just one game. Shaq will come out like gang busters; showing the pride and passion he has been missing all season. He is old though, that body can't give him that game-in and game-out. The new team has always brought out the pride and passion in Shaq. Tonight he will have that as well as the revenge motivation. Shaq wants nothing more than to prove that Kobe and the Lakers were wrong to send him packing.

Jason Kidd is the likely exception tot he just one game rule. He still has the body. He has played unmotivated basketball all season and still managed quite a few triple doubles. He is right now getting a whiff of the ring that Dallas fell short of last season. He will step up his effort and intensity--which is a scary thought--and be best fitting missing piece out of all three of these deals.

Kidd can't help but be motivated when he hears team owner Mark Cuban saying things like "..He is the reason I bought season tickets and started watching the Mavs". The unspoken end of this statement is "...and then I bought the team"

New York Giants Offseason

The best part of the Giants Offseason is how it started; with a Superbowl parade. Now comes the difficult task of repeating. While much of the offense seems set; I would say deep at some spots. The offensive line could use a little work. The defense has question marks throughout.

The offensive line isn't truly a huge need. The Giants experienced some injury issues toward the end of the regular season. They held up well with their backups, but as the age of their line creeps up, they could start to look for the next crop.

Since their offensive needs certainly can't be described as pressing they are more likely to look to their defense. The lack of a primary need on defense is less about the Giants over all talent and more about the numreous question marks. Both cornerbacks played well-when they weren't hurt. Safety James Butler stepped up in the post season-but his week to week play isn't good enough for a starter. Linebacker Mathias Kiwanua seems to be fitting into defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo's, plans well. Linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor played well all season, but both are unrestricted free agents. This is where Giant fans find out if ownership is commited to building a dynasty.

Since they are likely to keep one, but not both of them. The Giants draft starts here. They could get quite a steal here if Dan Conner(LB-Penn St.) is still on the board. Linebacker is not a real area of need for the teams choosing shortly before the Giants #31 pick. In a turn of luck, the Giants would likely have missed out on him if the Patriots had been able to keep their pick. It was forfeited as a penalty for the Spygate incident.

If you are interested in the Offseason plans of the rest of the league check out this list

Not Suitable for Mamz (NSFW)

It's tough to hold the world up with 4 tiny strings

So my girl popped her head over my shoulder and saw me "reviewing" the recent photos of the Sacramento Kings Dancers(WithLeather). I stammered out "I was simply prepping for a post". To keep that true, I need your help.



Linking up with RonDean

I love it when writers admit they were wrong, apparently "Mea Culpa" is Latin for "This Blows"(Sports Illustrated)


Wikipedia: not as cool as your friends at starbucks think(SportFrog)

As the trade deadline approaches ESPN has the list of players that could Devean George potential deals(ESPN)


TrailerparkTrysts.com and MethLabMatchUps.org teamed up for a new spinoff MeetMeAtTheRaces.com

Can't pass an opportunity to mock Florida(EveryDayShouldBeSaturday)

Looks like Devin Harris is happier to be out of Dallas than he is disappointed to be going to the Nets(Star-Telegram)

First Florida now UCLA getting blasted, this post is getting better and better(SportsbyBrooks)

The Draft is coming people(ESPN)


The story is semi-interesting; the headline is amazing(umpbump)