Layups 02.07.12

When Shaquille O’Neal tweeted his congratulations to Kobe Bryant for passing him on the all time scoring list in the NBA, he also thanked his teammate for making them the greatest one two punch in Lakers history.  Maybe Shaq was short a few characters to say “one of the greatest,” or otherwise he’s just wrong.  I’m not going to do a drawn out comparison but the Lakers duos of Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West as well as Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar compare quite well to Shaq and Kobe.    I’m not scolding, however, I don’t know the history of sportswriting well enough to quote Ring Lardner or Red Smith at the drop of a hat, so I don’t expect athletes to know the history of their game.  But when you talk Lakers one-two punches, it’s a little like Boston Red Sox Leftfielders or Green Bay Packer Quarterbacks, for greatness the bar is high, very high.


A few weeks ago after the 76ers traded Maresse Speights to the Memphis Grizzlies a friend   of mine railed at me, “how do you just dump, a 24 year old who is six-ten two hundred and fifty pounds.”  Speights is providing the answer.  Although the pivotman initially looked like the kind of solid pickup who would help the Griz survive the absence of Zach Randolph, he now looks like his game has deserted him.  In February, he’s averaging 26% from the field and grabbing a shockingly meager 2.3 boards per game.  The Griz have lost three in a row and seven out of nine.  By the time Randolph returns–he’s currently on pace for a March comeback from a knee injury–Memphis may be out of the tightly contested Western Conference playoff race.


Philadelphia’s win over the L.A. Lakers last night was seen in some circles as a validation of the 76er’s contender status.  Such notions are ridiculous.  The Sixers have played 25 games, won 18 of them, they have outscored their opponents by a whopping 10 points per contest.  They are for real.  The folks who are looking for credentials as in a superstar player have the cart before the horse.  When teams win, their best players become well known, not vice versa.  Yes, that was Lou Williams taking over the game down the stretch in Philadelphia’s 95-90 win over the Lakers.  Get to know him and his game; he’s  solid candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.  


About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
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2 Responses to Layups 02.07.12

  1. frightwig says:

    Philly and Denver, as well as Indiana and Atlanta, I guess, seem like the big surprises to this point. I’m not sure that anyone in the Sixers lineup will ever become famous, as long as their leading scorer averages 15 ppg (and doesn’t even start for the team). Seeing that they lead the league in in opp ppg, I take it that their success is based on team defense. An effective way to win, but not a sexy marketing angle to sell.

  2. jmartin437 says:

    The Sixers lack of sex appeal goes deeper than that. It’s how they play defense: cutting off the paint and chasing shooters off the three point line that is particularly unsexy. Also their offensive excellence is based on an unusually unsexy concept: ball security. Most teams turn the ball over one out of every six or seven possessions; the Sixers kick it away once every nine or ten. OTOH, you’re absolutely right: the big stories are these less glamorous market ensemble teams. What’s happening in the NBA is that the coverage has become so character driven that they don’t know what to do with a team driven story. The structure of the coverage will have to change.

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