Posts Tagged ‘LA’

Many would agree that the Miami Heat will make it back to the NBA Finals. If you look at the Eastern Conference there are some roadblocks but those blocks may not be sturdy enough to contain the Heat. The Pacers have exploited their weaknesses over the past two seasons and now look like the favorite to beat them out of the East. Now when I say favorite, I’m only saying that they have beaten them in a more convincing manner than the other top teams in the East. With that being said I don’t expect to see LeBron James tweeting from home during the finals.

If Miami makes it to the finals I expect them to win. I know that they’re lacking size and depth up front but looking at the big’s on the top teams the only team that could pose a threat is the San Antonio Spurs with Tim Duncan and likes of “Tiaaago Splitter” like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith likes to say. But recent trends have shown that the San Antonio Spurs will dominate the regular season and fall short in the playoffs. With that being said it’s hard for me to expect them to make it to the finals this season especially seeing how great western teams are playing this year.

The Oklahoma City Thunder has shown that they miss the presence of James Harden and along with that, missing a post player forces them to play a run-n-gun style constantly. Sure Perkins is a great defender but when he has to guard either Bosh or Shane Battier he’s forced to leave the paint further than he would like to, rendering him to almost being ineffective. Ibaka might have a good scoring output one game but don’t expect that to be a constant variable in a seven game series.

The Clippers are tricky. Sometimes I look at them and try to figure out how they even lose games then other times their weaknesses are too much for them to overcome. They have two strong athletic big men who can pose a threat to Miami but at some point not being able to fully get a post-game going can hurt them. Blake Griffin has an advantage on most power forwards in the NBA because of his speed. If they’re in the finals against Miami whoever is going to be on him, probably Battier and LeBron at some point, will be able to keep up with him. He can back people down but without true post moves he’ll basically be aiming for the backboard hoping that it goes in. True post players are now becoming extinct; either you’re a face-up player or an athletic slasher. But that’s an article for another day.


Memphis and Utah both have good big men that could start for any team in the league but they’re missing too much on the wings. Memphis just doesn’t seem to play with the same energy they had before the Rudy Gay trade and let’s face it; Utah won’t even make it out of the first round. Utah might not even make it to the playoffs with the Lakers right on their tail. Houston is also in that mix but unless they hit a ton of three’s like they did against Golden State for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs they’ll be sitting at home for the second round.

But let’s say the Heat don’t make it and a team like the Pacers can reach the finals or even the Celtics or Knicks can get over their struggles and turn things around. How would they match up against the over powered West in a seven game series? If you check Hollinger’s playoff odds for this this year a lot of the western teams have a shot at winning 60+ games. The odds show that the Pacers would finish second in the Eastern Conference with a record of 52-30, which isn’t bad but if they were in the Western Conference that would only be good enough for 7th place… 7th place. So can an Eastern team that isn’t the Miami Heat really be a challenge to a Western opponent? I know records are just more numbers but sometimes they are hard to argue with. Sure the Pacers can beat the Heat but how do they match up against teams like OKC and the Spurs who they’ve struggled with in the past.


Indiana’s game is inside-out. They attack the high post with David west and Hibbert is there to beat defenders with rare jump hooks and to clean up misses with put backs. Sometimes the wings get too carried away and forget about the clear advantages that they have in the paint. But a team like the Thunder would be more comfortable with that matchup because their big men can stay home a little more. David West is a hard cover for anyone but if you ask Serge Ibaka who he would rather be chasing around between possible finals forwards (David West, LeBron James, Shane Battier, etc.), without a doubt he would say West all day.

The Knicks have shown shades of being great and have shown that if Melo is off you can’t count on the supporting cast to pick up the weight. The main reason for their inconsistencies on the offensive end is because of their high three point attempts. “You live by the three and you die by the three” is a quote that seems to come out of every commentator’s mouth when talking about the Knicks. They don’t exactly have an all-around game on offense. They can get up and down with anyone but when it comes down to the stretch and you need easy baskets it’s hard for them to get.

Carmelo can get a last second shot to win a game but why even be in that situation where you need one. One thing I love about players like LeBron is how he can take over a game before things get too tight. When that clock is running down he’s already done his damage on both ends of the court so that when that clock gets down to just seconds remaining all they have to worry about is playing defense. The Knicks usually don’t have that option when facing a formidable opponent. This is a very dangerous team but their flaws can be dissected easily.

Yes Melo can hit a shot from anywhere on the court but when it’s late in the game you need easy buckets and often we see Melo put into a one-on-one situations with minimum off-ball movement from the other players. When he’s in the game his teammates tend to stand around and watch Melo go to work. In today’s NBA you need more than one guy as your focal point. Even if you have one amazing superstar player it doesn’t matter how much he scores; if no one else is contributing that team will never get close to a championship.

The Chicago Bulls are a team that has shown us a couple things. They’re excellent on defense and will fight you to the end. But with Derrick Rose being out for this long there’s no way they’re in the championship talk. If he comes back they’ll be a better team but it’s a little bit too late to try to piece things together and make an historic run. The Celtics are in that same category. Yes they have played better since Rondo has gone down but to make a serious playoff push without him is a bit farfetched. Barbosa is out as well and without these guys who can really push the ball the Celtics won’t be able to fully gain control of some games.

Early in the season it was even a question if they would make the playoffs or not but now we’re seeing a clear drop off from the 8th seed Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the conference. Boston will have to really stink it up to miss the playoffs and let the Bucks surpass them and to let a team like Detroit Pistons or Toronto Raptors in. But that just won’t happen. At the bottom of the Eastern Conference it’s not really a horse race. It’s more like three snails trying to keep up with tortoise. In other words it’s not too competitive.


At the end of the day I think we’ll see a repeat of last year’s finals. The Miami Heat will Face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder and they will dismantle them like they have done time and time again. The West will be Hell to get through and OKC will earn more respect throughout the league for doing so, but In the end they will just fall short. Their up tempo game is good enough to get past those western teams but getting in that type of game with Miami is exactly what they want. They will stretch them out on offense, then force turnovers and cause frustration on defense. LeBron James has shown us why he’s the best player in the league and having a shot at winning a consecutive championship will only motivate him even more. KD will have his turn but right now it’s clear that LeBron and company are just too much to handle.

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Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. was born August 14, 1959.  He’s one of the most recognizable figures not only in the NBA but in the sports world. After having successful campaigns in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1979 NBA Draft. In his rookie season he did what no other rookie had done by winning a championship and being named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (Had to start at center due to Kareem Abdul Jabbar being out with an injury).He went on to win four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s. But no playoff series that Magic played would be harder than what he went through with the HIV virus.  

Before 1981 there wasn’t anything in medical publications about HIV. It was around before then but it wasn’t as much of a serious issue to the world. The only way that people thought you could get this was to have intercourse with the same sex. People had this idea that if you weren’t a homo-sexual you wouldn’t have anything to worry about. You might get something that is curable but as far as HIV you won’t get that. This sounds crazy now but back then awareness for this was low.

 L.A., in the 80s, was the spot for high profile celebrities. It was known for being the entertainment capital of the world. But no movie star, music artist or producer was bigger than Magic Johnson. With his play on the court and infectious personality he took the people of L.A. by storm. It was his town and if you were around him in public you knew that. But when you have fame and power you sometimes think that you are invincible. Magic found out the hard way that he wasn’t.

With the success of the Lakers and the big star that Magic had become, the Forum Club (located at The Forum where the Lakers played) became one of the hottest night clubs in the city. According to Chris Rock you could compare it to Studio 54 in Las Vegas. (The Announcement, ESPN Documentary) Anyone who was anyone would be there after the Lakers home games. Rock later on goes to say that it was “The Groupie Capital of The World”.

With the Forum Club becoming the spot for groupies it gives us an idea of what went on there and also what happened after club hours. Magic didn’t just get the virus out of nowhere. He was a big star and women threw themselves at him every minute that he was in the public light. It was a carefree time during the 80s. Have fun at night and don’t worry about it the next day. Thoughts of getting AIDS and HIV didn’t bother anyone. Once again, those diseases were thought to only be something homo-sexual men could get.  

While taking a nap before a pre-season game with the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Utah, Magic received a phone call from the team doctor, Dr. Michael Mellman. Mellman told Johnson that he needed to come back to Los Angeles because he had something important to tell him about the physical that he had taken before the pre-season. After the call Magic hopped on the first flight back to L.A. Back in Utah his teammates thought that he just didn’t want to play because it’s not uncommon for a veteran player to fake and injury or sickness to get out of playing. So they had no idea at all that Magic had HIV.

Dr. Mellman told wanted Magic to come back to L.A. because he felt that telling someone that they have something as serious as HIV over the phone was inappropriate. After Magic’s arrival at Mellman’s office he sat Magic down and told him that he had HIV. A whirl wind of thoughts went through his mind after hearing this. He was not only concerned for his health but also the health of his wife Cookie and his unborn baby.

After Magic found out about having the virus he missed a string of games before even holding the press conference. To cover up being HIV positive he just told everybody that he had the flu. But the longer they strung this out, the more skeptical the media became.  A day before Magic decided he wanted to make it known to the public about his situation his agent got a call from a local radio station and they had a source that claimed he was going to retire from basketball because he has AIDS. They couldn’t keep it a secret anymore and his agent knew that. So he called up Magic and suggested that he hold the press conference that day.

November 7, 1991, Johnson made a public announcement that he would retiring from the NBA.  Dr. Mellman didn’t want him playing because he wasn’t sure if the grind of a long NBA season would weaken his immune system or not. Also they didn’t know if the virus could be spread by anything else other than blood. They did not want to take that chance.

At the press conference Johnson let the world know that his wife Cookie and their unborn child did not have HIV. He also went on to say that he was going to dedicate the rest of his life to help raise awareness for the virus. When this was announced people thought for sure that he’d be dead in months. People were saddened because they’d never expected someone like Magic to get something as horrible as HIV. This press conference, in a way, was one of the first key events where people around the world realize that contracting HIV could happen to anyone.

To further provide awareness for the virus, Magic, not very long after he made his announcement, admitted to having unprotected sex with multiple women throughout his career. At the time, it was uncommon for anyone to contract such a virus from heterosexual sex. The initial thought was that Magic was having relations with other men. He believed many of those rumors were spread by then, Detroit Piston’s star, Isaiah Thomas

Before the press conference it was a lot of tension in the room. When I was looking at clips it was obvious that media was kind of fed up with the whole situation. They just wanted an answer. For Magic to be out two weeks and all of a sudden have a press conference was odd. There was a lot of speculation on what exactly was going on.

A lot of the media didn’t seem to be overly sympathetic towards Magic. When watching the news you’d hear “Earvin “Magic” Johnson has contracted the AIDS virus” after he clearly said he had HIV and not AIDS. They said that Magic was now a statistic. To me that sounds like they were not only anticipating death but also trying to say “we knew that it was only a matter of time before an athlete gets this”. A lot of people in the media twisted his words.  

The regular media differed from the sports media. Obviously the sports media was going to be more sympathetic towards the situation. Their job wasn’t so much to raise questions on how he got the virus and if he was going to be ok. Their role was more so being a comforter. For sports fans’, finding out Magic had HIV was up there with tragedies like the Kennedy assassination. People knew for sure that they were losing their hero and they didn’t want to hear negativity from the sports media.

I think Magic and his camp handled this in the best way possible. They didn’t want the team’s play to be affected by thoughts about Magic having HIV and if he was going to live or not. Also he was able to avoid the bombardment of questions early on. Also he was already stressed out enough about the state of his family so having the whole world knowing early on would be too much for one family to handle. Avoiding the truth gave them some time to gather their facts so that when the time comes for them to make a public statement they’ll already have some answers for any question thrown their way.

When questions were being asked at the press conference you might as well say the reporters were fitting him for his casket suit. He was constantly telling them that he feels great and that his life has changed but he plans on living for a long time. The way people thought about HIV and AIDS back then was that it’s a ticket for the grave.  Everyone was skeptical but really you can’t blame them for thinking the way they did. There were no cases of people who beat it. All you hear was the high percentage of mortalities after getting HIV.

I love this story because it changed the worlds view on sex and how important it is to be cautious about how you handle your sex life. Now we see campaigns to raise awareness, not only for HIV and AIDS, but for many other sicknesses. Magic, even through immorality, still comes out as a hero. His flashy play style, awards, and lovable personality may have put him on top of the sports world  but his mistakes have had a long lasting effect. He said that God gave him the disease for a reason and that reason was to let the world know about this disease and let them that anyone could get it. I think he has done a great job in doing so.

 

The Laker’s Pau Gasol has scored a low 16 points in their first two games against the Hornets. After game one when he only scored 8 i thought that he would turn it around for game two. To my surprise he ended up with the same exact scoring total. After the Hornets Arron Gray went down i thought for sure we’d see more production from Gasol in the paint. Carl Landry Oakefor stepped up big time. Their toughness made up for the size that they were giving away against the Laker bigs. They may not have gotten the win but they did play great defense throughout game two. I think that they’ll be able to get at least one more game on the Lakers. I honestly don’t see the Hornets beating them in the manor that they did in game one. I don’t think the Lakers need to be concerned with Gasol’s slumps. A player like him will turn it around and come back strong.