Posts tagged: Ben Wallace
Yesterday, Dime Magazine published an interview with Rodney Stuckey in which Stuckey was quoted as saying, “On paper, we are the best team in the League.”
Stuckey then explained why he held such a radical belief. “We are deep and athletic,” he said. “All we have to do is play to our abilities. We don’t have the biggest roster, but if we share the ball, we’ll be alright.”
By the way, Ben Wallace’s corpse figures to be Detroit’s starting center. I don’t know what world Stuckey’s living in, but I imagine these are his beliefs:
On paper, Vinny Del Negro is the NBA’s best coach
Stuckey: “Most people think there’s only one thing worse than Del Negro’s hair cut: his offensive sets. But I’ve got to be real with you, folks. Del Negro’s just two steps ahead of every other coach. He’s a visionary. Ten years down the road, when every coach’s playbook becomes marked by confusion and hysteria, remember when I told you there’s no better X’s and O’s coach than Vinny Del Negro. Once Del Negro’s players come to understand his confounding genius, he’ll be alright.”
On paper, JaMarcus Russell is the world’s greatest quarterback
Stuckey: “Never mind that Russell was recently cut, or that he admittedly used codeine, or that his passer rating might as well have been in the negatives. All he has to do is play to his abilities. Russell doesn’t have the smallest waist, but if he ever learns how to stay sober and throw the ball to his own teammates, he’ll be alright.”
On paper, Hassan Whiteside is frontrunner for Rookie of the Year
Stuckey: “Look, guys, I know Whiteside’s offensive game can best be described as ‘non-existent.’ I know even the slightest breeze would blow him over. I know the only thing longer than his arms is the length he needs to climb to become a halfway decent NBA player. Whiteside doesn’t have a clue how to play basketball, but if he ever learns how to put the ball in the basket, he could possibly be alright.”
On paper, Vince Carter is as tough as they come
Stuckey: “Carter gets a bad rap. He mailed in games while playing for Toronto, hasn’t hit a clutch shot in decades, wastes his talents, and could never lead a contender to a championship. But you know what? If I was going to war, Vince Carter would be the first guy I’d want by my side.” (Editor’s note: If I ever went to war with Vince Carter, I’d probably jump on a grenade just to get it over with quickly.)
On paper, the Los Angeles Clippers are the NBA’s greatest franchise
Stuckey: “The Clippers have never won a championship. They rarely ever make the playoffs. Every player they draft either gets perenially injured or sucks major ass. But you know what? People talk about them, all the time. Donald Sterling knows exactly what he’s doing. And things are looking up — they just hired Del Negro!”
On paper, Sam Cassell is gorgeous
Stuckey: “Say what you want to say about Sam. Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.”
On paper, Michael Sweetney is thin
Stuckey: “Just kidding with this one, guys. Not even I can try to argue this.”
At least one Orlando Magic writer really, really let his imagination get away from him after Orlando’s clean sweep of the first two rounds. Josh Cohen has already anointed Orlando as one of the greatest teams of all-time. (OrlandoMagic.com)
I know the Eastern Conference Finals hasn’t even started yet, and I know to be categorized as a “superior” all-time team you must win the grand prize first.
But, after two rounds of the playoffs, it may be reasonable to believe that the Magic have the opportunity to be remembered as one of the best Eastern Conference teams of the past decade and even one of the greatest in NBA history.
Let’s take a step back there, Josh Cohen. This proclamation of yours is quite a bit premature, to say the least. Kind of like that dude in American Pie with that Nadia chick.
What have the Magic done so far? Won eight straight playoff games? Sweet, Josh Cohen. That doesn’t automatically make them the greatest thing since Bagel Bites. Let’s just recap why:
- The Magic weren’t even the #1 seed – Lest you forget, Josh Cohen, the Cleveland Cavaliers had the NBA’s best record and the East’s #1 seed. Hell, Orlando didn’t even make it to 60 wins. They finished the season stuck on 59, 13 wins less than Chicago’s record. By my count, 42 teams have won at least 62 games. 20 of those teams won titles. What, exactly, makes Orlando better than those 20 teams? Even if Orlando wins a title, why should they be considered greater than those teams?
- Who have they beaten? – Not to belittle their “epic” eight-game win streak to start the postseason, but who have the Magic beaten? A mediocre-at-best Charlotte Bobcats squad and an Atlanta Hawks team that was a perfectly bad matchup for Orlando. Atlanta’s best attribute is its athletic frontcourt, but playing against Dwight Howard completely mitigated that characteristic and makes it a disadvantage. Sure, sweeping both those teams was still impressive — I’ll admit that. It just wasn’t anything to bow down and kiss Orlando’s feet about. The Magic were supposed to smoke those teams.
- Who’s their go-to guy? – Do the Magic even have a go-to guy? Does anybody trust Vince Carter when the lights are brightest? I know Dwight Howard isn’t going to get Orlando any crunch-time buckets and — if Vince’s career is anything to judge by — he’s not very reliable come crunch-time either. I know it doesn’t seem like Orlando has missed Hedo Turkoglu too much yet, but there will come a time when they will. He was their best play-maker and always seemed to make big plays in the fourth quarter. Who does that now?
- Can’t they win a title first? – I know Josh Cohen mentioned that you can’t be mentioned as a “superior all-time team” until you “win the grand prize,” but this needs reiterating. Orlando hasn’t done anything of note yet. They came in second in the Eastern Conference in the regular season. So they swept two overmatched teams in the first two rounds. Big whoop. Does anybody think last year’s Cleveland Cavaliers are a “superior all-time team?” They had more regular season wins than this year’s Orlando squad, finished the regular season in first place, and swept the first two rounds of the playoffs. Want to know why they aren’t considered one of the best teams ever? They lost in the third round. Let’s make Orlando win something first.
Cohen then continues his ridiculously absurd column, posting all the Eastern Conference champions from this past decade that this season’s Orlando team would beat.
If you look at the past decade alone, I am already close to conclude that this Magic team is one of the most complete, most dynamic Eastern Conference teams in the last 10 years. Let’s take a look at the last 10 East teams to reach the NBA Finals:
I am confident the Magic would beat the 2000 Pacers, 2001 76ers, 2002 Nets, 2003 Nets, 2004 Pistons, 2005 Pistons, 2006 Heat, 2007 Cavaliers and last year’s Magic team in a seven-game series.
First of all, let me say that — of all these teams — only the 2004 Pistons and 2006 Heat won titles. Secondly, I’m not so sure the Magic beat either of those teams. Think about the 2006 Heat: Shaq in his almost-prime cancels out Dwight Howard, and Dwyane Wade that postseason was one of the best players in history. If you don’t remember, Wade was on an absolute mission that year. Do you think he was going to let Vince Carter or Matt Barnes was going to stand in the way of his title? Yeah the Magic are a more balanced team, but Dwyane Wade was an absolute serial killer that year. Throw Miami’s regular season record out the window that year — they didn’t care during the regular season, not even a little — and all of a sudden the Heat might have been better than Orlando.
As for the 2004 Pistons, I’m not sure they lose to this Magic team either. Ben Wallace was the world’s best defender at that point, and Rasheed Wallace was no slouch at either side of the floor. He wasn’t the Sheed we know and “love” today. On top of that, that Pistons team was balanced offensively and terrific defensively. They had weapons at all five positions and played incredibly well together. Are we SURE that Pistons team doesn’t beat this year’s Orlando squad, even though they took down Kobe and Shaq when both players were in their primes? No, we aren’t. Not in the least.
If the Magic wouldn’t definitively beat two of the weaker NBA champions in history, how can we say their one of the league’s best teams ever? Especially when they haven’t even won a damn title or even a regular season conference championship? WE CAN’T!, Josh Cohen, you damn fool.
Cohen then goes on to question whether the Magic might have been able to beat the 2008 Boston Celtics.
The only big question mark I would have is the 2008 Celtics. But remember, Boston that season was tested in every round. Atlanta and Cleveland forced the Celtics to seven games in the first two rounds and then Detroit and the L.A. Lakers took them to six each before they won the title.
I’ll save Cohen the time thinking about whether this year’s Magic are better than those Celtics: No, not a chance. It took the Celtics some time to get their playoff sea legs but they still won every necessary game. When the stakes were biggest, that Celtics team was at its best. They had one of the best defenses in NBA history and three superstars on offense. No way Orlando is better than that team. The 2008 C’s won 66 games and a championship, beating Kobe Bryant in the finals. So you can shove all your “tight series” talk up your ass, Josh Cohen, because Orlando isn’t better. It’s not even close. Again, all the Magic have done is finish second in the East and sweep two perfect matchups. Nothing to rewrite history over, I assure you.
Cohen then finishes up the piece with his biggest faux pas yet.
I am someone that loves to discuss what it would be like if all-time great teams from different years or different generations competed in a series. For instance, what would happen if the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72 wins) faced off against the 2000-01 Los Angeles (15-1 in playoffs)? Who would have a better series, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant? Would the Bulls have any answer for Shaquille O’Neal? Which Ron Harper would show up (he played for both teams)?
I hope we can ultimately have this discussion about the 2009-10 Orlando Magic. It would be pretty awesome if in two months we start projecting what would happen if the 1995-86 Boston Celtics, for example, took on our Magic. Pretty cool, right?
No, Josh Cohen, it wouldn’t be cool if you projected what would happen if the 1985-1986 Boston Celtics took on your Magic. You wanna know why? Because your troops would get waxed. Stomped. Pulverized.
Does Vince Carter guard Larry Bird? Does Rashard Lewis guard Kevin McHale? I’m literally laughing out loud as I write this, thinking about the absurdity of even wondering whether the 1985-1986 Celtics would beat the 2009-2010 Orlando Magic. Yes, they would beat them. In fact, they would pound them. They would probably beat them almost as badly as the Magic just beat the Hawks.
As well as the Magic played in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they haven’t won a single thing yet besides the right to play the Boston Celtics. If they end up winning a championship, we can start talking about their place among the NBA’s best teams. Even then, they won’t be anywhere close to where Cohen is saying they are. This Magic team is a good team, very good even. But great, historically great?
Hell no. Josh Cohen must be thinking about the wrong 2010 Orlando Magic.
Count Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman as one person who considers the Boston Celtics to be major underdogs against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He compares 2008 to this season.
“It’s a whole different ballgame,” Celtics forward Glen Davis said of this year’s matchup.
That Cleveland team was comprised of LeBron and a bunch of spare parts.
There was Ben Wallace, in the twilight of his career, starting up front alongside Zydrunas Ilgauskas – who could barely move and rarely gets his worn-down 7-foot frame off the bench these days.
Delonte West has also been relegated to a reserve role, and the final starter, Wally Szczerbiak, is now retired and doing television work.
Now, James has plenty of help.
Shaquille O’Neal isn’t in his prime, but he’s still a major upgrade over Ilgauskas. The Cavs dealt for guard Mo Williams before 2008, and he was an instant All-Star with James by his side. Anthony Parker has been a valuable piece, and the Cavs established themselves as arguably the favorites to win the title when Danny Ferry added Antawn Jamison on Feb. 17 for what amounted to a late first-round pick.
The Celtics aren’t the same, either.
Garnett was a machine just 24 months ago, a 31-year-old relentless and athletic freak who was a virtual lock to put up 20 and 10 during the playoffs.
Now, he’s just another player after battling knee injuries that forced him to watch the entire postseason a year ago and also had him miss a significant portion of the 2009-10 regular season.
Allen was money.
Now, he’s a soon-to-be 35-year-old whose shot is as unpredictable as the New England weather.
Pierce was capable of exploding for 40 on any given night.
Now, he’s more likely to be held to single digits.
Sure, there have been significant improvements in Rajon Rondo’s game, but this is a mismatch.
My first reaction: Wait, Wally Szczerbiak is doing television work? For what station?
My second reaction: Ray Allen’s shot is far from “as unpredictable as the New England weather.” Actually, since the All-Star break Ray’s been on the money. He’s one of the game’s best shooters. If you recall, Goodman, Ray had one of the worst stretch of games of his life against Cleveland in that series two seasons ago. The chances of him being that bad this time around are as slim as Calista Flockhart. He averaged 9.3 points per game, and shot 16.7% from three-point distance. So let’s not pretend he’ll be worse this series, especially after he just spent five games throwing darts against Miami.
My third reaction: Other than the Ray Allen discrepancy, Goodman is just about right. The Celtics are underdogs, and should be.
But they aren’t toast, and one of the reasons Celtics fans can be a little confident is that Lebron has never won a championship. Until the Cavaliers win something, they still haven’t won anything.
What do you guys think?
I’ve spent a long time on Twitter debating the great Dan Shaughnessy’s latest article for Sports Illustrated. Shaughnessy writes that the Boston Celtics will beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round, backing up his opinion with a few reasons. (Down below, Sports Illustrated emails the controversial piece to at least one Cleveland sports blog.)
The Celtics have the same starting five as the championship team of 2008.
Very true, Dan. Also valid is that Rajon Rondo is better, to make up for the declining Big Three. Unfortunately, Cleveland DOESN’T have the same starting five. The Cavs no longer have Wally Szczerbiak or Ben Wallace in their starting lineup; in the NBA, subbing those two guys for Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison is known as “a very good thing.” On top of that Shaq, as old as he is, gives them the added dimension of a go-to low-post player and still commands a double-team. And Anderson Varejao is approximately 2,742 times better than he was in 2008.
“No back-to-back games and plenty of down time — helps the old bones of Boston.”
Again, true. Boston is peaking at the right time, and part of that is the downtime of the playoff schedule. Of course, Cleveland doesn’t mind the rest, either. Shaq-tis’ old bones will be just as revitalized by rest as the Big Three’s. Still, the downtime helps the Celtics more than Cleveland because their stars are aging, while Cleveland’s star is a 25-year old combination of an airplane and a Mack Truck.
“But the Celtics know they can beat LeBron. And they know they can win in Cleveland (see Oct. 27, 2009).”
This was my favorite point of Shaughnessy’s. The Celtics have done it before, and they’ve done it as a unit. As accomplished as Lebron James is and as dominant in the regular season as the Cavs have been, they’ve never won when the lights shine brightest. “Deep down,” Shaughnessy wrote, “the Cavaliers know the Celtics can beat them.” I’m not sure how true that is, but I DO KNOW that the Cavs have never won a championship. King James has already been crowned, but never earned his throne. That’s not to say he won’t this year, but the Celtics have come through when it counts and the Cavs haven’t. That much is true.
“The Celtics have added veteran snipers Michael Finley and Rasheed Wallace. As much as it hurts to say this, the mercurial ‘Sheed might be the difference against the Cavs.”
First off, I’m not sure how Rasheed Wallace qualifies as a “sniper.” That’s like saying Shaq is “a pure shooter.” Secondly, Sheed won’t be the difference against the Cavs any more than he has been against the Heat. Third of all, the best Shaughnessy does to back up his prediction of Sheed being the difference is, “We haven’t seen much of ‘Sheed during the Miami series, but the Heat have been so bad, it’s hard to notice any Celtics’ shortcomings. Maybe ‘Sheed will finally shine at the Q.” Look, I’m fine with him saying Sheed will make a difference against Cleveland, so long as he backs it up.
Shaughnessy did nothing to back it up. Literally nothing. John from Red’s Army agrees that Sheed will play a bigger role in the potential Cleveland series, and backs it up by saying Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are immobile enough to overshadow Sheed’s own immobility. I can see his point; it’s weird, but Sheed will actually be more athletic than the Cleveland frontcourt. I disagree that Sheed will make a difference, but at least John has a reason.That’s more than Shaughnessy gave us.
I don’t think Sheed will give the Celtics anything against Cleveland. Doc Rivers has lost all faith in him. Sheed can’t hit the broad side of a barn, and can’t slide his feet for the life of him. If Doc Rivers doesn’t have the confidence to play Sheed against Jermaine O’Neal and Joel Anthony, do you think he’ll have the confidence to play him against the Cavs? No chance. Not unless Sheed gets hot one game. Unfortunately for Sheed and the Celtics, he has about as much chance of getting hot as I do winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. (Okay, maybe that’s a bad example… even though I can’t dunk, I could have won this year’s slam dunk contest.)
Sports Illustrated emails piece to Cleveland blog
Not only did Shaughnessy write an attention-seeking piece probably designed to piss off some people and infuriate others, but Sports Illustrated actually wrote at least one Cleveland sports blog an email to notify them of the article. I’m not even kidding. Here’s the email from Time Inc., as received by Waiting For Next Year, a very good Cleveland sports blog:
I wanted to let you know of an article that appears on SI.com today that takes a close look at the likely matchup between the Celtics and Cavaliers in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. SI.com contributing columnist Dan Shaughnessy believes that the Celtics can exploit Cleveland’s weaknesses despite the NBA’s reigning MVP and the Cavaliers astounding record at Quicken Loans Arena during the regular season.
Shaughnessy writes: “The Celtics have the same starting five that won the championship two years ago. OK — Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen are not better than they were two years ago, but Rajon Rando is a much better player than he was in 2008, and Kendrick Perkins is two years stronger. Glen “Big Baby” Davis contributes much more than he did two years ago and the Celtics have added veteran snipers Michael Finley and Rasheed Wallace.”
If you have any questions or would like any other information, please feel free to contact me. The article is on SI.com now. Thank you.
Really, Sports Illustrated, you are THAT interested in stirring the pot? THAT interested in driving a little extra traffic to your website? You’re Effing Sports Illustrated, aren’t you a little beyond that? You shouldn’t have to stoop to that level. You’re better than that, SI, come on. I think we can all agree that Sports Illustrated should be A LITTLE past the point where it has to stir up the pot by personally emailing articles to sports blogs that might be offended by them.
Alas, this Shaughnessy piece wasn’t that bad. As far as predictions go, it’s a bold one, but most of his points make sense (clearly excluding the Sheed one). I’ve certainly written worse articles, I’m sure.
Shaughnessy is now the clear-cut leader of the Celtics bandwagon, and Sports Illustrated the clear-cut leader of hyping controversial articles via email. But I’ve got a plea for Shaughnessy and everyone else talking about Cleveland…
Let’s just get by the Heat first, eh?
After finishing fifth in the voting for the Defensive Player of the Year, Rajon Rondo has now tied for 12th in the Most Improved Player Award voting (tied with Andray Blatche). Rondo received two first-place votes and a third-place vote. Aaron Brooks won the award.
The problem with the Most Improved Player is that there is no real criteria for choosing it. Should you vote for a rising star who makes the next leap? A star who tightened up his game to become a superstar? A young buck who went from miserable to decent?
But no matter what the criteria is, I think we can all unanimously agree that Ben Wallace, in the year 2010, should never be mentioned in the same sentence as “Most Improved.” We all agree, that is, except for the one voter who gave him a third-place vote.