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Throwin' 'Bows - The Mailbag





/ April 13, 2004

The Mailbag

Just a quick note. They don't speak German in Belgium. Besides that, nice work. - Marijn, Holland

My apologies to all German and Belgian readers. In fact, to all readers. I am dumb.

NBA Minor league is just stupid. Chris Kaman is a great player, which most people do not see because he is on the LA Clippers or the fact that the prima donnas on his team do not really ever give him the ball. Chris is doing quite well for a rookie, so basically saying that he should not be in the NBA but in some minor league team is insulting. Every rookie in the last draft is living in the shadow of Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony. - Alexa, Michigan

Thanks for writing, Miss Kaman.

I didn't mean to say that Chris Kaman hasn't done well for a rookie. He has, but low standards are part of the reason for that. We're talking about 6 points and 5 boards per game. I know you love him, but he's quite Wilt the Stilt yet, okay? I do think he can turn into a very good player. I also think that he, and a lot of other guys, would be better off if they were getting big minutes every night playing against a level of talent just a notch below the NBA. But don't let me keep you from your Kaman worship.

Along the same lines as your McGrady tirade, I'm just wondering -- how do you think Allen Iverson classifies as a leader? I mean, we all know Iverson gives 100% on the court, and we know he doesn't quit, regardless of the deficit margin. If Iverson and Kobe switched places, would the Sixers have gone to the finals in 2001? Would they be in the finals in 2002? 2003? Would Shaq and the Lakers still be showing off three rings in a row? There's no doubt the talent's there. Is there the drive? Also, I'm wondering how you feel about the zone defense. It's obviously hurt penetrators and slashers like AI and Spree -- both of them have resorted to taking jumpshots. When the slashers get into the lane, they get more bumps and bruises than ever. (MORE bruises on Iverson?) But on the other hand, the zone has forced players to perfect their jumpshot (except Iverson, who's still asking about PRACTICE*), which is widely known as the lost art in the NBA. So what do you think? Is the zone helpful or harmful? - Andrew, L.A.

That's a good question about Iverson. As much as I love him, I don't see him as a leader. A leader has got to lead by example, and that example has to be set at all times. Playing hard in games is not enough, there's got to be a commitment to practice, conditioning, rehabbing, and doing what the coach says, whether he's right or wrong. But I don't see it as a lack of drive, I just see it as a lack of understanding. What AI has to understand is that his way is not always the best way. Things like being on time, being at practice, and off-season conditioning are important. Michael Jordan never felt like he could do without them, and if he did, he never let his teammates know it, because even if he didn't need those things, they did.

About the zone defenses, I'm all for them. If a coach can come up with a way to win a game, he should be able to use it. The ban on zone defenses limited coaching. That's how I see it. And at this level, you've got the best and most gifted players in the world, along with the smartest basketball people in the world, so why would you want to limit anything? The worst NBA ball ever played was the era of constant isolations and one-on-one basketball, and bringing back the zone has cut that down dramatically. Zones definitely limit penetration a little bit, but the toughest guys will still slash through the lane and take a few bumps, and the reward for that is the collapse of the zone and a wide-open three for someone else. I hope the zone defense is always legal.

The Raptors and not just Toronto's team but also Canada's team, they are so embarrasing. What do you think needs to be done in the off-season to get things turned around (free agents, draft picks?) please don't say they need to trade Carter, he and Bosh are the only two productive players on the team. - Ryan, Vancouver, B.C.

The first thing they need to do is hire a GM who will keep Kevin O'Neill around. I'm sure he's not a pleasant guy to play for. He might be a little bit crazy. But he knows what he's doing, he's a great defensive coach, and he demands a tough team. These are qualities the Raptors need.

As for personnel, it's not going to be easy to bring big-time free agents to Toronto. If a guy's also got offers from Miami and LA, it might be hard to convince him that it's more fun to hang out at the hockey hall of fame than it is to party with the honeys in South Beach. But maybe that's just me.

First, they need a big man. Counting on Chris Bosh to hold down the 5-spot is not good. I love Chris Bosh's game. At some point, he'll be a great 4. But he's not strong enough or good enough defensively to be playing center right now. It's ridiculous to do that to him. Top priority is a center who can rebound and defend. Upgrades are needed in the supporting cast, too. It doesn't have to be all-stars, but a few veteran role players who know how to win and are committed to working hard can go a long way to changing the mentality of a team.

Ha ha ....just wanted to say (sort of late) that Antonio Davis should be on the all ugly team. He looks like a dinosuar. Seriously, a stegasaurous or something off Turok. Darius miles looks like a Lemur and if Vlade Divac doesn't look like a Muppet then I'll be damned. Tyron Lue and Stojackovic are both missing chromosomes by the way. - Chef, Chicago

Thanks for sharing, Cheffie.

You are right on with your opinions about McGrady. As a resident of Orlando, I've been treated to watch him do his thing for the last three years. In my opinion the guy has scoring ability that I've have never seen before. This may sound like blasphemy but Jordan didn't even score as EASILY (he scored more but not with the ease) as this guy does. He can get 30-35 without breaking a sweat. This brings me to my point. What if he did really try hard every night? What if he wasn't so mentally weak? Could he average 37 like MJ did? The difference between T-Mac and Kobe is all mental. During the losing streak early in the year I told anyone who would listen that there was no way that Kobe would have let his team lose that many games and that he would have stolen at least one of them!! Also I guarantee that Kobe or KG or AI wouldn't be talking about retiring becuase people played a zone to try and slow him down!!! I do respect the man's ability and I truly respect that he is never in the news for any of the stupid off-court/field crap that many other athletes are but his mental game is so far from his physical game it frustrates me to no end. That's it. Shout to my man the Youngin' in Detroit who put me on to your site. Thanks for your time! - KA, Orlando via Detroit

Thanks for writing. Excellent letter, and I'm glad you dig.

I am a huge Dallas Mavericks fan, and I can't stand anymore to see the best offensive team in the league plunge into mediocrity. Their defense make me sick. In my opinion, they should dump Walker after this season (his contract runs out, right?) and look at some upcoming free agents. They need a tough big man like Kenyon Martin, Erick Dampier, Marcus Camby, Stromile Swift, or hell, even Mark Blount. They have plenty of offensive weapons; Nash, Nowitski, Finley, and Jamison, and Daniels and Howard can score and defend. What Mark Cuban needs to understand is that no matter how many points you score, you have to play defense to be champions. Your thoughts? - Ben, North Carolina

If I'm the GM of the Mavs, I keep Nash, Finley, Jamison, and Najera and blow up the rest. It always baffles me that Najera doesn't get more playing time. He's all about defense and hustling for reasons other than trying to get himself 2 points, and the Mavs are always better with him in the game. Always. As a GM, I could do without Dirk. He's almost a 100% offensive player. His post defense is porous. It's great to have him on the floor for scoring, but if he gets 30 a game, how much is it really worth when the guy he's guarding will have his way with him on the other end of the floor? I like Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard, too, and they're definitely worth holding on to. I hope they play under another system soon before they learn all the Mavs' bad habits.

The bottom line is that the Mavs are just not going to win an NBA championship until a massive overhaul is made. No defense, no title. That equation is pretty simple. Mark Cuban and Don Nelson have tried the all offense/no defense philosophy, and it's been proven not to work. It's time to move on.

MJD, whaddup! As Hammer used to say "Let's get it started!" It' s playoff time baby! Time for the real season and time for me to call out everyone who thinks championships (league and conference) are won in the regular. Translation: Piston and Pacer fans and media alike. I am surprised that so many who claim to know and watch the league continue to write off NJ. NJ is easily the most talented basketball team in the east and they actually play basketball, not wrestle ball. They've won the East the past 2 years and the regular season is a long, boring grind for a team that has been to the Finals (Just ask the Lakers). They're better at many positions (Jason and RJ) and just as good at others (K Mart & Kittles) than Detroit and Indiana. I know Jason's health is a big factor but he'll be fine and so will the Nets. Since acquiring Rasheed the Pistons are definitely a contender. So basically the East comes down to Detroit and NJ. I fully expect the Pacers's reg. season success to not translate into postseason success just like the Pistons experience last season. Carlisle in building his coaching resume places too much emphasis on the regular season. As Magic used to say when every year someone wanted to say it was Portland's year, until they beat somebody real in the real season, they ain't the team to beat. So I'm rolling with the Nets. I can handle being wrong but if Detroit beats NJ, I want everyone to join me in praying daily that they don't meet Indiana. As much as I love the league, I will not be a witness to one of the nation's top wrestling teams winning a conference final game 63-62. THAT IS NOT BASKETBALL! Yeah, I know 'D wins titles' but the teams that made that a true statement were also talented enough to also AVERAGE at least 95 on the offensive end. Only the Nets are capable of that in the East! - Youngin', the D

We can never have too many Hammer lines in The 'Bows, but I gotta disagree with you about a few things. I just don't know about the Nets. It could be that they peaked too early, or it could be that they just don't have it this year, but either way, with 2 games left in the regular season, you'd like to be playing your best ball, and the Nets just aren't. Kidd and Martin are finally both back in the line-up, but I don't know if either of them will be getting close to 100% from here on out. Kidd at 75% is still better than most point guards in the league, but Kidd is the Nets. Without him doing the things he does, the Nets become a very ordinary team.

And I don't see any comparison between Rick Carlisle's Pacers this year and Pistons last year. Detroit was good last year, but it was clear that they just didn't have the offensive firepower to get it done. They could beat good teams last year, but they couldn't compete with teams that were better than good, like the Nets were. They just didn't have the tools. They didn't have a Jermaine O'Neal.

The Pacers play some of the toughest defense in the league, they have a nice bench, and they also have one of the best post scorers in the league. That's a pretty tough combo, and it's taken them to the best record in the league. Better than Minnesota, Sacramento, LA, or any other team. Best record in the league. That is not something to be slept on.

Got a question, comment, problem, tirade, hate mail, love note? Send it along here.

M.J. Darnell runs

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