Kobe Bryant on players he appreciates: “There’s a few of them. I really like KD (Kevin Durant) quite a lot and what he does and how he plays and how he works. There are several other young players I really enjoy, (Russell) Westbrook being another one and they just both happen to be on the same team.”
Colin McGowan for Sports On Earth: “This is true enough. After all, the Thunder are one of the very best teams in the league, but what’s implicit in Ziller’s insight is that having a position-confounding player like Westbrook necessitates having a gaggle of positionally strange players, or, optimally, one Marion-like fixer who can do a bunch of things well. With Durant playing a recognizable position — “pure” small forward, small-ball power forward –the role of fixer used to fall to James Harden, who was so comfortable playing part-time playmaker that he allowed Westbrook to self-actualize. Russ was able to invent his own position, call it “hell-raiser” for all anyone cared. Without Harden, Westbrook is no longer the black metal terror he was born to be, and sometimes he’s just an anchor. Russ is a problem, in other words, because he’s so idiosyncratic that he requires another equally idiosyncratic running mate. He might be a less talented version of LeBron, in that he demands to be built around, if he and his team are ever to reach their full potential. Until then, Westbrook is stuck trying to play an ill-fitting quasi-point guard position, which is like the evil spirit from Christine inhabiting a wheelbarrow.”
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop: “Teams foul to stop layups. They foul to stop showy dunks. They foul to send warnings, they foul to please coaches, they foul because it’s the playoffs and they foul because the game is important. They foul to stop fast breaks, or to get the ball back when trailing in crunch time. Mostly they foul because, sing it with me, it’s HoopIdea’s anti-theme: “This is the way we have always done it.” It robs us of real basketball a dozen times a game, at least. A scene from the end of the first half of Game 5 between the Pacers and Knicks. The Pacers inbound from the far baseline and we, as fans, are due for something. The ball’s in the middle of the floor, the seconds on the clock are down to 2.8. Ten amazing, creative, brilliant players are on the move, with three seconds to cook something up. It’s mathematically impossible we won’t get a 3 or a dunk or a lob or something. Best of all, for us as fans, we know the defense isn’t set, so whatever shot arrives will likely have a good chance.”
Abbott on if anyone is doing things better than the Heat: “These days? Not even close. That’s the thing about this super simple analysis. Of course, it misses a lot of nuance. But when the results hit you over the head like this, there simply isn’t room for nuance to change the conversation much when the Heat have nearly double the wins of the second-best franchise. Not even an injury to Russell Westbrook can account for that.”
Congrats to TBJ on episode 1000. And bravo to Brent Barry on the tribute video.