Ian and Tony Take On the NBA, Part 9

Coach, first I have to say, nice call on Byron Scott. Yes, at least one of us knows what he’s talking about.

On that note, I’m going to disagree with the rest of your assessment of the Hornets. I’ve already made my affinity for a good one-two-three punch clear, so it should come as no surprise that I’m excited to see what Okafor can add to the Paul-West combo. I think Okafor is an improvement on Chandler in defense, and I think Posey still has a year of solid defense in him. It’s not a championship-winning combo by any means, and so I too feel bad for Chris Paul. He’s one of the few players in the league that you can build a team around, and there are only 5 or so players with that special brand of all-around talent in the NBA at any given time. (The other ones right now? I’d say LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Garnett. I’m tempted to add Carmelo Anthony to the list, but let’s wait to see what he does this year. Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan used to be in that category, but Shaq could do more with less than Duncan. In any event, they’re both past that point now.) From my parenthetical remarks, it’s obvious that the key part of that sentence is build a team, as Wade hasn’t been able to reach the top without Shaq and Garnett needed Pierce and Allen. No matter how much I’m looking forward to the Hornets this year, David West and Emeka Okafor are no Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. I’ll bump them up to #7, but no further.   Continue reading “Ian and Tony Take On the NBA, Part 9”

Ian and Tony Take On the NBA, Part 7

by Ian Kollar

2996I apologize for not getting these Western Conference previews up sooner. You see, I have been infected by volleyball fever.

I’ve been following a true feel-good story about a small private school’s girls’ volleyball team, the program just six years, making a championship run. During my coverage, I made a few different references to volleyball as the ultimate game of momentum, and to a point that’s true. It’s also true of the NBA’s Western Conference, where momentum will be key to deciding who’s left standing at the end of the regular season.

All of the contenders made significant moves to bolster their rosters. Each is coming to a realization that whoever is the healthiest at the end of the year and playing the best has the greatest opportunity to go all the way. So basically, what I’m saying is this: expect a lot of rest for guys like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol and anybody else who shows a little limp or makes some winces. Health is of the essence to each of the top teams since so little separates them talent-wise.

At the bottom though, it’s where the poor got poorer for the most part, a sad but true reality of most professional sports these days (boy, do I sound about 60 or what?).   Continue reading “Ian and Tony Take On the NBA, Part 7”

Ian and Tony Take On the NBA, Part 6

I have a flaw. Shocking, I know. (Just one? Yea, yea, I know that joke. Flaws aplenty, my friend, flaws aplenty.) But you know my kryptonite, Coach: I’m competitive.

On the basketball court, not a bad thing. In sports predictions, a shortcut to bankruptcy, guys named Vinny coming after you with a baseball bat, all that good stuff. There’s a fine line, you see, between rooting for a team and betting on them. And when you’re publishing your predictions for all the world to see, you might as well be forking over the mortgage.

You can root for bad teams all you want, and the only downside is you spend many grouchy mornings cursing the sports section. When you’re asked for a prediction, you’re supposed to put that aside and pick the team that you think can win. Not the one you want to win. The one you expect to win.

The neurons don’t fire in that part of my brain. There’s a short circuit. I make the incredible leap of logic that if I want them to win, then they’re going to win. No wonder I keep buying lottery tickets.

So let’s be clear: I want the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA Championship. I have been a Shaquille O’Neal fan since I started playing this sport, and when you put him with the best player in the league, my brain starts doing jumping jacks. Forget all the complications. My brain has an astonishing ability to suppress what it doesn’t want to hear. The Cavs are going to win the NBA Championship. That’s called T.O. Logic, and it’s right because I said so.   Continue reading “Ian and Tony Take On the NBA, Part 6”

Ian and Tony Take On the NBA, Part 5

by Ian Kollar

shaq_cheatsheetI actually didn’t find picking the top 5 very hard. It is pretty clear-cut in my mind that the best four teams are Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and Orlando in no particular order. Miami might fall and Chicago, Philadelphia or Washington could take their place, but that’s neither here nor there.

This is about contenders.

There are only three legitimate teams primed to compete for the title in each conference. Barring freak injuries or mid-season blockbuster trades, that isn’t going to change. Some teams are willing to take the year off and wait to reap the riches of next offseason; others are hungry but just aren’t there yet. The teams that were at the top last year are back again this year, and have used a variety of ways to improve (or so they think). If the moves pay dividends, the Larry O’Brien Trophy may be back on the East Coast before long.   Continue reading “Ian and Tony Take On the NBA, Part 5”

Ian and Tony Take on the NBA, Part 2

Ian—Can I call you “Coach”? No? Well, I’m the editor, so you don’t really have a choice.—Coach, first call me “Tony.” You’ll remember my alter-ego from our basketball days: Anthony by day, Tony by night. That’s right, if you’re going to use your retirement to tell our audience about the NBA, then I’ll just have to sit them on my knee and tell them a few war stories of my own.

Second, I should apologize for how the text formatting got screwed up in your post. It turns out I’m not a very good editor. So I should apologize. But I won’t. Like I said, you don’t really have a choice in these matters.

Frankly, Coach, I’m not happy. Really, I’m angry at myself. You see, I could have picked some windbag sitting at a bar to write the sports posts on this blog, but instead I picked you, the one person who knows so much about the NBA that I’m afraid to disagree. See what I mean? Not a very good editor.

But rumor has it that once in awhile women come across this site, so I’ve got a reputation to uphold. What do men play sports for, if not to impress women? Heck, can you think of any other reason why men do anything we do? I can’t back down and admit that your predictions are the definitive take on the sport I used to play. So, Coach, consider this a challenge. I have come to reclaim my manhood. Let’s start with your predictions for the bottom of the Eastern Conference.   Continue reading “Ian and Tony Take on the NBA, Part 2”