The Ups and Downs of the Lockout

Since the beginning of the lockout, less than a month and a half ago, several NBA stars and rising stars have started to play in pickup and Pro Am games around the nation. There have been some highlights and also some lowlights throughout the summer.


Kevin Durant: The Oklahoma City forward and NBA scoring champ tore apart anyone who stepped in his way at Rucker Park in Harlem last week, a day later Durant tied up the laces again and dropped 41 at Baruch College and then two days dropped 29 in Washington Heights. Kevin Durant has denied to talk to the media but his reps spoke for him "He doesn't want to talk about it. He doesn't want any publicity. He just want to ball." If you haven't already seen his 4th quarter performance at Rucker Park then take a look: Kevin Durant

John Lucas III: The 5'11 Chicago Bulls point guard put up 60 points vs Kevin Durant and his team, The Franchise, when they played each other at Baruch College. Durant might have stolen the show with some gravity defying dunks but Lucas shot 22-41 from the field and hit 6 three pointers. Take a look at some of the highlights from the night: Lucas vs Durant

Brandon Jennings: The star point guard for the the Milwaukee Bucks has joined the likes of Durant and Lucas and has started to play in street ball and Pro Am games in his free time. Jennings has pulled off some incredible moves throughout the summer and one included bouncing a ball off of a defenders head. Take a look at some of his moves: Brandon Jennings

Rookies Josh Selby and Alec Burks: Selby, 39th pick in the draft, had 48 points for his team vs Brandon Jennings in a Pro Am game. Take a look at the two throughout the night: Selby vs Jennings. Meanwhile Alec Burks, 12th pick, showed off his skills at an Pro Am game in Indianapolis. Take a look at some high flying highlights from his game: Alec Burks


Kobe Fiasco: The rumors about Kobe headed to Turkey ended up being fake yet were consistently headlined on ESPN and other sports websites and took die hard Lakers fans on a roller coaster. There is a small population of NBA players headed overseas so far and as of right now Kobe is staying in the sates.

Yao Ming: The Rocket's big man finally called it quits over the summer. Most of his reason to retire was nagging injuries but I think the imposing lockout also seemed like a good time for the Chinese legend to called it a quits. More on the All star here: Yao

Matt Barnes: Barnes has been know for his overly aggressive style throughout his career in the NBA and it came out when he was playing in a Pro Am game in San Fran. Barnes dealt with the fan all night then snapped and shoved the heckling fan in the face. Barnes said "He elbowed me and pushed me, so he got one."

Michael Beasley: The Minnesota Timberwolves forward and former 2nd overall pick shoved a fan in the face during a street ball game in New York. Beasley was playing in Washington Heights with Kevin Durant but stopped during free throws and went over to push the fan in the face. Beasley later went over to try and shake hands with the fan but it just got worse. Take a look at the incident:  Michael Beasley


This has been a very fun summer for basketball fans who have been able to watch these games. Fans have packed parks, street ball courts and gyms around the country to watch some of these NBA players play and to see them up close. I hope this continues the rest of the summer and into the fall because it doesn't look like the NBA and NBAPA are close to reaching an agreement.


Kobe doesn't talk with Besiktas

Kobe Bryant finally silenced the rumors saying that he will not be playing for Turkish basketball team Besiktas for the 2011-2012 season while the lockout is on going. Besiktas reported that they were going to have a meeting with Kobe's agents on Saturday July 30th but it was reported that they didn't meet and "haven't spoken in weeks."

The 5 time NBA Champ reportedly wanted 1 million dollars a month to sign with Besiktas. The club already dished out loads of money for fellow All Star Deron Williams, who has already signed a deal with the Turkish Club worth somewhere in the 5 million dollar range. Williams tweeted a picture of the contract and his signature back when he signed in mid July.

Bryant is still open to options about playing overseas but said his chances of playing for the club were at "zero percent."


Yao Retires

After nine seasons in the NBA with the Houston Rockets the 7'6 center decided to call it a quits. Yao had missed all but 5 games last season and missed all of the 09-10 season with various leg and foot injuries. Over the 7 year period when Yao was healthy he was the arguably the most productive center in the league. He lead centers in scoring and was 4th in rebounding in an area where a dominating center is very uncommon.

Yao came into the league as the #1 pick but was little known other than being a 7'6 center. The center had a surprising touch and left with being one of the best shooting centers in NBA history, shot 83% from the line and had a nice fade away jumper. Yao averaged over 19 points per game over his career and grabbed 9.2 rebounds.

Yao also helped change the NBA." Yao came to the NBA...and brought 2 billion fans with him." The center was overwhelming voted, by the fans, to the all star game every season...even when injured. He was the pride of China and even carried the Chinese flag at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. Many believe he was a bigger impact on the NBA's growth than Micheal Jordan and the NBA hopes these followers don't leave with Yao.

Deron Williams headed to Turkey?

If the lockout continues and the 2011-2012 season is skipped there will be at least one player still playing and that is Deron Williams. The Nets all star point guard, who had played for the Jazz in years past and lead Illinois to the National Championship berth said that he will be headed to Turkey this winter if the lockout is not lifted in time. The contract is a one year five million dollar deal for the Turkish club, Besiktas. Besiktas is the same club that signed Allen Iverson for a brief period last season and is looking to bring up a contract possibility with Kobe Bryant. After the news broke several other NBA players, such as Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony looked at playing overseas as a possibility. The possible loss of key players overseas should defiantly help the NBA come to an agreement.


NBA Draft 2011

#1 overall pick Kyrie Irving
While March Madness ranks as my favorite sporting event of the year, the NBA Draft is a very close second. The generic terms, stellar broadcasting crew, and outrageous draft day wardrobes add to the overall upside of the draft. This year is widely considered to be the worst since the Kenyon Martin-Stromile Swift debacle of 2000. Of course Cleveland is lucky enough to pick first in this draft. Jon Barry tells them that "If you believe Kyrie Irving is the best player in the draft, you take him. If it's Derrick Williams, you take him." Uh, thanks Jon. As far as I'm concerned, both of these guys have huge risk factors. Kyrie played well, but he did miss three quarters of the season. Also, is there any doubt that Irving is nowhere near what John Wall was as a prospect? With the way Wall struggled this year, you have to be a little nervous about how he's going to play this year. Williams on the other hand, has a little bit of a Michael Beasley tweener factor going. However, Jay Bilas was quick to mention that his wingspan more than makes up for that.
Top International pick Enes Kanter

The next five picks of the draft brought us the foreigner/overvalued guy from Texas who didn't accomplish much in college and won't be very good in the pros phase. The highlights had to be Enes Kanter joining the only team in the league with multiple Turks, and Jan Vesely's girlfriend. You gotta love how after Dirk wins Finals MVP, teams go overboard trying to find his second coming, not realizing that for every Dirk or Tony Parker, there are a dozen Darko Milicics, Pavel Podkolzins, or Nikoloz Tskitishvilis. Kanter is a guy I actually like, though, mainly because of the way white guys thrive in Utah. He's joining a team that already includes Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur, Kyrylo Fesenko, and Gordon Hayward. On a serious note, I really think that Utah has one of the best collection of bigs in the NBA. They have Al Jefferson (19 pts, 10 reb), Paul Millsap (17 and 8), Mehmet Okur (former all star), Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter (the last two #3 picks). Pretty solid core to build around. The Raptors snag Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas to their global roster that includes players from France, Brazil, Italy, and Spain. Next we get to Jan Vesely, one of my new favorite NBA players. From his kiss to his calling out of Blake Griffin, he is the first European in NBA history to have a personality. Not really sure what he can do on the court, but he will definitely be popular. Bismack Biyombo went 7th to Charlotte despite the fact that he has no offensive skills whatsoever, and nobody knows how old he is. I personally see him as a cross between Hasheem Thabeet and Saer Sene.

Jimmer is headed to the Kings
Next up is the point guard trio of Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, and JIMMER. First prediction: Brandon Knight is going to come into the league with a major chip on his shoulder from being passed up in favor of guys named Enes, Tristan, Jonas, and Jan, and will win Rookie of the Year in Detroit. Charlotte grabbed Kemba, which was probably a good pick as they needed someone with proven skills after grabbing the King of Upside, and trading any nearly every decent player on the roster. Jimmer unfortunately will not be playing in Utah, which breaks my heart. His biggest problem will be the culture shock of the California lifestyle, especially if the Kings make the expected move to Anaheim in 2012. For some reason, I can't see Jimmer and Orange County going well together. He'll be in Utah where he belongs in 2 years.

Kawhi Leonard
Two of my favorite players in the draft went next at 11 and 12 in Klay Thompson and Alec Burks. Of course it makes no sense for Golden State to pick a sharpshooting two guard, but he is a good player offensively at least.The more I think about it, the Warriors could potentially be the first NBA team in history to average 125 points per game and still have a losing record. The Jazz were unable to get a white guy with their second pick, so at least they got tattoo-less Alec "Not Jimmer" Burks from Colorado.

The rest of the draft was not quite as eventful, but still featured the Morris twins going back to back (including Markieff going to Phoenix, the team that swung and missed on Robin Lopez and Taylor Griffin), Kawhi Leonard (a legitimate future all star who should have gone top 10) getting drafted and traded so IUPUI legend George Hill could return home, the Knicks booing yet another pick, and Jordan Hamilton falling at an Aaron Rodgers-esque pace. Denver got Kenneth "Relentless" Faried, who prompted this Jay Bilas quote: "He's just a relentless player. You can't teach relentless. You don't have to say, Kenneth you need to be more relentless, because he's already so relentless." Relentless. Duke legend Nolan Smith also went to Portland in this range, easily the biggest reach of the draft. You know you made a bad pick when the draft analysts talk about "what a good citizen" he is. Miami went a step further torturing Cavs fans by landing hometown hero Norris Cole from Cleveland St.

All in all, while the caliber of the players in this draft sucked, it was still just as entertaining as ever. Watching future busts get raved about by Jay "Wingspan" Bilas, Dickie V going on 70 second on camera rants from his living room, and Spike Lee booing another busted pick by the Knicks just never gets old. Only 364 days until David Stern gets back up on that podium.
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