Celtics – Lakers: Regular Season Revenge (For Now)

The Boston Celtics¬†beat the Los Angeles Lakers yesterday afternoon, returning to the Staples Center¬†for the first time since their heartbreaking defeat in Game 7 of the NBA Finals last June in the same building, yet for this fan it was really a showing that was bittersweet.¬† The¬†1st half of the game stayed rather close, of course that is what should be expected in a game between two of the league’s top 5 teams…of course those expectations were helped by Joey Crawford and company giving every call to Derek “Flops Around Like A” Fisher, and creating a new type of foul in the NBA called, “Kobe bitches, get him to the line*.”¬†

Going from the 1st to the 2nd half was like reading halfway through a really good book and stopping in favor of reading a much better story.¬† The C’s outscored their biggest rival 54-42 in the 2nd half leading to their impressive 109-96 victory, and dropping the Lakers to a sad 1-5 against the top teams in the league.¬† Paul Pierce hit a streak circa 2001-2006 where he just could not miss and ended with a team high 32, Ray Allen added 21 including 3 more 3’s to inch closer to Reggie Miller and his record, Rondo somehow had a quiet 16 assists and 10 points, KG did not tap anyone in the package and finished with 18 and 13, and Grown Man Davis made another push for 6th man of the year with 13 and 8 including drawing yet another offensive foul.¬† Everyone mentioned above played well, but our best offensive weapon was none other than Kobe Bryant, scoring 41 with 0 assists for the game, taking 7 consecutive shots late in the game, with at least two of those leading to fast breaks ending in a KG lay-up and a Ray Allen 3 pushing the lead back up to 12 and sealing the game.¬† If you would like you may go into the archive and see the last post I made about a week ago under my original name SAKEOFLOGIC…it was about Kendrick Perkins and the difference he would make on the glass.¬† That difference resulted in the Celtics, ranked in the bottom of the league in rebounds per game, outrebounding the Lakers 43-30…that is not a typo…and while I’m still on my knees in front the Celtics let us not forget that they shot 60% from the field, which will only keep them alone by far at the top of the league**.

Ok I have finally stood up and will discuss what I wanted to really mention and what I was¬†eluding with the word “bittersweet” at the beginning of this post, and I am going to list them the way I have become accustomed to:

1 )¬† I just looked at the calendar and was utterly disappointed to see that it is only January 31st.¬† I just take a lot of joy when the Lakers perform poorly, and since it is such a rare thing I need to take my shots when I get the chance.¬† Trust me that I FULLY believe when it is all said and done there will be a vicious rematch between the Celtics and Lakers when we enter June, only this time we will start and finish in Boston…and by finish, I mean done in 6, banner 18.

2 ) Kobe Bryant has easily been in a certain category for 5 or 6 years now.¬† That category has a title that one way or another says “List of athletes whose greatness we do not truly appreciate until we do not get to see them anymore.”¬† If I was not in love with the Celtics, Kobe may just be one of my favorite players to watch because of what the man can do with a basketball, and many, like myself, will not appreciate it until it is gone***.

3 )¬† Here is the really painful one.¬† We lost in Game 7 last year for a few reasons****, but while watching the game the glaring difference became rebounds….rebounds, rebounds, rebounds.¬† That is why Kendrick Perkins has almost become as indispensable as any other member of our starting team.¬† Grown Man Davis hustles more than anyone, but at the end of the day he ends up being too undersized to compete for all of those boards.¬† There are always keys to winning titles, a healthy Perkins cleaning up the glass is the lock.

* ÔĽŅI would love to show what should be the appropriate hand gesture for this call, but here at NTCF we think about the kids.

**The Celtics, as a team are shooting .501 from the field!¬† Next closest is Phoenix at .472…then the Lakers, Spurs, and Heat at .471 … that is ridiculous.

***I’m guessing because I just had a Will Ferrell “Old School” moment when he debates James Carville and then blacks out…

****No way will I get into this…after that game I took a 3 month hiatus from this blog and from thinking about the Celtics because they hurt me so badly…but I will always take them back.

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Must be Tough to be a Celtics Fan

I wasn‚Äôt going to write a post today about the Celtics because some of my co-bloggers are much more into the NBA than I am.¬† But, after logging on to Facebook this morning and seeing countless statuses all saying the same general, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs ok that Boston lost because they weren‚Äôt expected to go that far anyway,‚ÄĚ I felt a rant coming on.

The now ‚ÄúMediocrely sized three‚ÄĚ (MST) were brought to Boston for one purpose and one purpose only, to win championships.¬† They certainly lived up to those lofty expectations in 2008, but have failed to regain that same form since then.¬† Granted they are two years older, but their all-star point guard is two years smarter, their bench is two years more experienced, and they have added Rasheed Wallace and Nate Robinson.¬† So, maybe the MST aren‚Äôt what they were in 2008, but I would argue that the talent level of the two teams (2008 vs. 2010) is similar.¬† That being said, to accept anything less than a championship as being a good season is an irrational act.¬† Since 2004, the Boston Red Sox are expected to compete for a World Series on a yearly basis.¬† Anything less that getting those rings would be considered a disappointment.¬† Since 2001, the New England Patriots are expected to compete for a Super Bowl on a yearly basis.¬† They went 18-1 in 2007 and people were pissed that they didn‚Äôt win the title.¬† Anything less than a Super Bowl is a disappointment.¬† Since 2008, the Celtics are expected to compete for an NBA Championship, and until Garnett, Pierce, and/or Allen are no longer a member(s) of the team, anything less than a championship IS a disappointment.¬† I don‚Äôt want to hear any more of this shit about how we are still happy for the Celtics that they just made it to the Championship game.¬† I don‚Äôt want to hear how we are happy that the ‚Äúold guys‚ÄĚ mustered up the courage to push the series to seven games.¬† And I certainly don‚Äôt want to hear how it‚Äôs ok that the Celtics lost because they still beat Dwight Howard and Lebron James.¬† You know last night you were pissed that the Celtics lost.¬† You know that their lack of offensive production in the 4th quarter was the sole reason they lost.¬† You know that they looked old last night.¬† But, you know they could have easily won that game.¬† So, cut the shit‚Ķanything less than a championship is unacceptable‚Ķand as we all know, the second place finisher is the first place loser.

Another thing that is pissing me off this morning is people complaining that the NBA fixes games.  The referees blatantly made calls all series to force a seventh game.  Cut the shit!  David Stern knows that if word ever got out that he was fixing games, the NBA would cease to exist.  On the court last night was probably 13 of the 100 best players in the world (may be a bit bold, but not too far from the truth).  To expect the series, with that level of talent, to not go to at least six, if not seven games, is pretty outrageous.  The so-called experts were even saying all along that it would be tough for teams to win back to back games, many predicting a seven game series.  On top of the level of talent, NBA referees have by far the toughest officiating job in all of sports.  NBA officials are forced to be very subjective.  In the MLB, a strike is a strike, an out is an out, a homerun is a homerun.  Granted there is a little wiggle room with strike zone size, or the occasional missed call, but the duties/job of an umpire is pretty clear cut.  In the NFL a hold is a hold, a fumble is a fumble, and a personal foul is a personal foul.  Again, there is a little wiggle room with what is and is not allowed, but it again is pretty cut and dry.  Not to mention that the MLB started implementing replay, and the NFL has been doing it for several seasons now.  In the NBA, 75% of whistles (if not more) are dedicated to fouls.  Your idea of a foul is much different from my idea of a foul, which is even more different than Joey Crawford’s idea of a foul.  These referees are put in a position where they need to make an instantaneous judgment call in front of 25,000 screaming fans, where undoubtedly they are going to get one fan base pissed off at a call.  So, to even entertain the idea that the referees blew the game for the Celtics is outrageous.  To even entertain the idea that the NBA rigged game to force the series into seven games is ridiculous.  To even entertain the idea that David Stern told Joey Crawford that the Lakers should win the series in game seven is downright stupid.  The referees made as many bad calls against the Celtics as they did against the Lakers.  The series was lost by the Boston Celtics and their inability to capitalize on the Lakers’ mistakes, and their unwillingness to show up in the fourth quarter.  Any explanation other than that is a true display for your inability to accept defeat and innate desire to create an excuse to lessen the pain that failure brings.

Celtics V Lakers Game 7

The title says it all.

The best rivalry in all of sports has reached its zenith.  A game seven between the Celtics and the Lakers is what David Stern and basketball purists across the nation had hoped for at the start of this season.  Anyone with a pulse and an affliction for the game of basketball will be glued to their television sets tonight. 

There is an interesting contrast between the two teams playing tonight.  The Celtics play a more team-oriented brand of basketball, the Lakers ebb and flow are dictated by Kobe Bryant.

The whole team for Boston must contribute in order to win this game.

 I fully believe that we are going to see something special from Paul Pierce tonight.  Game five was great to see, and I think game 7 will be a similar performance from the pulse of this team.  Rajon Rondo needs to be mindful to get Pierce involved early so that he can get into a groove.  If Pierce starts hot it will open up the rest of the offense.  Spacing is so important, and if Pierce can get going early it will open up passing lanes for everyone else. 

I think Ray Allen needs to be special.¬† He has proven that he likes the rims in LA better this series, tonight, he will need to love them.¬† KG will need to be on with his long-range¬†jumper.¬† He needs to get Gasol¬†out of the paint on defense so that there are second chance opportunities for the C’s.¬† Davis will need to knock down jumpers when he gets his chance.¬† I think that LA will make him prove he can hit a few before he sees any pressure.¬† With Garnett and Davis possibly pulling out the bigs for LA, the second chances could prove huge throughout the game.¬†

The glaring hole in the paint tonight for the Celtics in the absence of Kendrick¬†Perkins will not be filled by one man.¬† It is going to take some minutes from players who have not seen much of the floor, one who hasn’t put on a jersey in weeks.¬† After Rasheed¬†Wallace and Glen Davis, the Celtics will need Sheldon Williams and Brian Scalabrine¬†to step up tonight, frankly they need them to not screw up.¬† I feel more comfortable putting in Scal before Williams personally from a pure effort standpoint.¬† As awkward as he is he has shown in the past that¬†his hacking mentality can be¬†disruptive and his effort is something I believe the team can feed off of.¬†

Rasheed Wallace could very well be the¬†X-factor in this game.¬† ¬†As¬†I said earlier I see¬†Davis getting the start tonight.¬† However, I think Sheed’s contributions on defense will be crucial to the Celtics winning the battles down low. Wallace has proven he can play solid defense in the post and his experience in big playoff games should serve him well to keep an even keel mentally, ( even keel for him of course).¬†¬† The key is how long can he stay on the court and be effective.¬† I am not as worried about the fouls as everyone else seems to be, I know I should be, but I’m not.¬† I think the refs let the payers play a little more than normal given the levity of this game.¬† Wallace isn’t used to playing big minutes, and this is the concern I have versus the foul-trouble argument.¬† Back in January he was playing 30-35 minutes in games, so it can be done.¬†

I think that Doc has done a masterful job managing his veterans minutes down the stretch of the regular season.  With one game left I think he will run them all ragged.  I think they are all aware of that fact.  The experience on this roster should allow them to keep mindful not to get too high too early and to stay within the flow of the game.

¬†The Celtice are 6-1 after a loss this year in the playoffs.¬† This team needs to be resilient, it needs to be fierce, it needs an outright herculean effort from¬†every man in green tonight.¬† There are no more second chances, no more second guessing, no more we’ll get em next time.¬† This is what all athletes¬†dream about when they are children.¬† A chance to play in this kind of game does not come along that often.¬† You can look at the Celtics roster for prime examples.¬† Ray Allen has never been in a game seven, nor has Garnett, not even Pierce.¬† Not in the finals, not on this stage.¬† The last game seven in the finals was in 2005 between the Spurs and Pistons (Wallace was on that roster),¬†before that it was 1994¬† between the Rockets and Knicks.¬†

Tonight I am looking to see the Celtics fly to loose balls, take care of the ball, and rebound.  The team that wins the rebounding battle has won every game so far this series.  Without Perkins this will no doubt be tough,  but it can be done.  Boston needs to work hard down low and make every shot difficult.  The defense will need to eliminate second chance scoring from the Lakers every chance they get.  The defense needs to set the tone for this team, it needs to be the focus of every Celtic to play above his ability tonight.  Something special will happen tonight, history will be made, and in order for Boston to be on the right side of that, they need to play as a team. 

What Was Learned in Los Angeles

To no one’s real surprise the Celtics and Lakers are coming back to Boston for Game Three tied at one game a piece in the 2010 NBA Finals.¬† The first two games taught us a lot about the matchups and the how the rest of the series will play out.¬† Here is what I learned from Games One and Two:

*The Lakers¬†can’t matchup with the Celtics backcourt.¬† Derek Fisher can’t guard Rajon¬†Rondo or Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant can’t guard both guys at the same time.¬† In Game 2, Ray grilled Fisher to the tune of 27 points in the first half.¬† In the second half Kobe was on Ray and Rondo baked Fisher to the tune of a triple double and getting into the lane at will.¬† The only way the Lakers¬†can stop the Celtics backcourt¬†is by doing what they did in Game 1.¬† They need to get Ray in foul trouble so he can’t find a rhythm.¬† My off the wall bold idea for the Lakers¬†would be to stick Ron Artest¬†on Rondo for a few possessions¬†to shake things up.¬† In the same breath I say that, I don’t know who would guard Pierce who is yet to really go off in this series because of Artest.

*How does that Ray Allen for Monta Ellis or Ray Allen for Kevin Martin trade look now?  Big ups to Danny Ainge for being patient and understanding there was no need to panic and trade an important piece of this squad.  Amazing how different sports can be.  The Bruins lack of movement might have ultimately cost them a trip to Chicago for the Stanley Cup.  The Celtics sit back and relax and they are playing for the NBA crown.

*In Game 1, Kobe got to the rack, was able to score in the paint, and create for his teammates with his penetration (No pun intended, honestly).  Game 2 was quite different as Kobe was forced to take many fall away jumpers from all over the court.  Sure, he will hit two out of five because he is the best player on the planet and you have to tip your hat to him when he does so.  However, I would rather give up points to him in that fashion, rather than him getting to the free throw line and getting the Celts in foul trouble.  What was lost in Game 2 was the great defense Ray played on Kobe, all the while carrying the Celtics in the first half on the offensive end.  Rondo deserves credit here as well.

*Yes, Kevin Garnett is injured.  I do not care what he or Doc Rivers says.  I admire the man for trying to play through his injuries but I also think Doc needs to be smart in how he uses KG.  KG was, as Mark Jackson said at one point, "gross" in Game 2.  However he did hit a huge shot with 1:20 left in the game to pretty much guarantee the win.  I think Doc should use KG for 20-25 minutes from here on out.  Throw different looks at Gasol.  Sheed has been the best defending Gasol and Glen Davis has played hard as well.  Garnett is a veteran and understands his role.  To expect him to be anything better than a mere presence on the court is expecting too much.

*Last year in the playoffs Glen Davis was a pleasant surprise.  This year he is being just as productive in an entirely different role.  Celtics fans everywhere have to appreciate how hard he works in the paint, chasing down offensive rebound after offensive rebound when he is the smallest player in the front court for both teams.  He keeps possessions alive and also has the ability to spread the floor with his 15 foot jump shot.  Baby has been the unsung hero for the Celts this postseason.

*At this point, I would love for the Celtics not to have to go back to LA.¬† I would love to not see anymore of the celebrities in Hollywood at the game.¬† I don’t want to see Jack Nicholson, Hillary Swank (yes, she is hot), or Rob Lowe.¬† I am all set.¬†¬†But I’d be naive to think the Celtics can close this out at home.¬†¬†Also I am well aware the NBA loves money.¬† I think the Celtics win Game 3 and Game 5.¬† The Lakers¬†take Game 4.¬†¬†The Celtics will fly west for Game 6 and if necessary Game 7.¬†¬†In 2008 I’d of hated that, but the Celtics are actually better on the road than they are at home and I am feeling confident that the Celtics have to many questions that the Lakers can’t answer.

Game One: Knee Jerk Reactions

Lakers-102  Celtics-89

* I would be lying to you if I said I expected to see the Lakers execute their game plan as well as they did and the Celtics to play as poorly as they did.

*Kobe was Kobe and that was to be expected, getting his 30 with 7 boards and 6 dimes.

*Do you think Pau Gasol has taken exception to being called everything but a pansy over the past few days?  He flat-out dominated the artist formerly known as KG to the tune of 23 points and 14 boards while registering 46 minutes.  While Kobe was magnificent, Gasol was the MVP of Game One.

*I am never one to get on referees.  But I will say this.  If the refs decide to blow the whistle every other time down the court, the Celtics are done.  Being physical is apart of the game and if the refs limit that then the Lakers will cruise.  The other problem with the constant whistle blowing is there was no flow to the game at all.  This affects players like Ray Allen and Paul Pierce greatly because they need to get into a rhythm.

*The Celtics were 1 for 10 from downtown.  This is an area of the game they have a distinct advantage over the Lakers in.  Credit the Lakers defense for closing out on shooters and seemingly making every possession difficult for the Celts tonight.

*I felt Rondo never got it going tonight and that was evident by the lackluster performance of the C’s.¬† It is no secret, as Rondo goes so go the Celtics.¬† He had 13, 8, and 6.¬† That is a solid line but maybe I just expect more because he has spoiled me the past two seasons.

*Kevin Garnett was awful with a few promising bits of terrible tonight.¬† He didn’t rebound.¬† He didn’t play defense.¬† He basically looked like Betty White out there.¬† The 2 missed layups¬†from point-blank range toward the end of the game illustrate that.¬† There is nothing more I can say about him other than I was wildly disappointed with his play.

*Ray never really had a chance to get going.  In the beginning of the game he nailed two jumpers and had the smile going as if he was feeling it and ready to explode.  The officiating crew of Joey Crawford and company had other ideas as Ray quickly got into foul trouble.

*Hopefully this was a wake up call for the Celtics and they will be motivated for Game 2.¬† They seemed flat from the tip and the Lakers made them pay.¬† If they can’t find the motivation to play like the team they have been playing like this postseason, then Pierce can get his room broom ready because Kobe will be sweeping the remains of a team with no heart off the TD Garden’s floor.

*It isn’t the end of the world for the Celtics.¬† The Celtics weren’t going to sweep the Lakers anyways.¬† They just have to refocus and come out hard in Game 2 and leave LA with a split.

2010 NBA Finals Preview

So here we are.¬† After a long 82 game season followed by an exciting postseason, the Celtics are where they said they’d be, The NBA Finals.¬† They have knocked out superstars galore in Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard.¬† Now it is time for them to knock out arguably the best player in the game today, Kobe Bryant.¬† And if not for a Kevin Garnett knee injury last season, the basketball world would certainly have this same script for a third year in a row.¬† Without further adieu, I give to you, my NBA Finals preview.¬† (Rhyming not intended.)

With the NBA, one has to look at matchups.  That is how I will go about this post.  The in-series adjustments that will be made will come down to coaching and can very easily determine who wins this series.

Rajon Rondo vs. Derek Fisher

Rondo has been far and away the most valuable player for the Celtics this postseason.  He has constantly out hustled his opposition and run the Celtics offense fluently.  

Derek Fisher is the old veteran who is solid as a rock and has a knack for hitting big shots.  Thus far in the post season he has been able to slow down Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, and Steve Nash.   I think that Phil Jackson will start him out covering Rondo but if Rondo starts abusing him like I think he will, Kobe will come over and guard Rondo much like in 2008. 

The problem here is, in 2008, Kobe stayed off of Rondo and was able to help on Pierce and Allen.¬† He won’t be able to do that this year as Rondo has refined his game since 2008 and has the ability to hit an open jump shot.¬† If Rondo can get into the teeth of the Laker defense consistently, this will be a short series.

Advantage: Celtics

Ray Allen vs Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is the best player in the game.¬† He has solidified that notion this postseason.¬† There is almost no way of stopping him.¬† He wants to win and has the ability to inflict his will on a game at any point.¬† In Game 6 of the Suns’ series, the Suns came to within striking distance and that was as close as they got.¬† Kobe poured in 37 points and most of those points came with Grant Hill in his grill.¬†

In 2008,¬† Doc Rivers switched off between Pierce and Ray Allen as to was covering Kobe.¬† Look for much of the same this year but with a little help from Tony Allen off the bench.¬† TA was great against D-Wade and LeBron¬†earlier in the playoffs and I have faith that he¬†can’t at least slow Kobe down.

Ray Allen is the best pure shooter in the game today even at the ripe old age of 34.¬† It is aggravating¬†to me that the Celtics offense won’t go through Ray.¬† He will scorch the net from downtown 2 possessions in a row and wont see the ball again until the next quarter.¬† If Kobe is forced into guarding Rondo, I think that Ray can run circles around Derek Fisher.¬†

Advantage: Lakers

Paul Pierce vs Ron Artest

This is without a doubt the biggest matchup of the series.  Whoever can get the better of who here will dictate who will be wearing another ring.  In 21 games against each other head to head, Artest holds the advantage being 11-10.  Artest is one of the best defenders in the game and he knows he has to stop Pierce at all costs. 

Pierce is coming off a series where he roasted the Magic because no one could match up with him.  Pierce averages 20.5 ppg against Artest in their long history.  Yet during the regular season, Artest held Pierce to 15 and 11 respectively in the two games they played each other.

Any offense that Artest¬†offers the Lakers¬†should be seen as an added bonus.¬† His responsibility will be keep Pierce at Bay for the¬† entire series.¬† If he can accomplish that, the Lakers will win the series.¬† It is my opinion he won’t be able to do that.

Advantage: Celtics

Kevin Garnett vs Pau Gasol

Garnett punished Gasol¬†back in 2008 to the extent that the LA faithful were calling for Gasol’s¬†head.¬† He played with no heart and backed down all series long.¬† Last season he manned up and played Dwight Howard as physical as anyone in the league.¬† Against Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals, Gasol¬†disappeared¬†again, a true Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.¬† The question here is which Pau will show up.

While KG is not the player he once was, he does still have that vintage intensity and he has refined his offensive game somewhat.¬† He can bury the outside jumper at will and this helps open the court for Rondo and company.¬† KG was what was missing from the Celtics team a year ago.¬† His presence¬†alone makes this team very tough to play.¬† He is physical and will get into Gasol’s head two minutes into Game 1.¬†

Advantage: Celtics

Kendrick Perkins vs Andrew Bynum

Bynum is consistently injured and Perkins is consistently in foul trouble.  Bynum is usually good for helping out around the rim and Perkins is usually good for clearing everyone out so Rondo or Pierce can grab a rebound.  This is as even as it gets.

Advantage: Even

Celtics Bench vs Lakers Bench

The Celtics bench consists of Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Tony Allen, and Nate Robinson.  The Lakers have Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, and Shannon Brown.  Rasheed and Odom pretty much cancel each other out because they are so much alike in the fact that they can show up and have a huge impact on the game or they can fade into irrelevance.  Overall I feel that the Celtics have the better bench because of Glen Davis and Tony Allen.  Both provide a spark, Tony with his defense and occasional dunks and Davis with his mid range jumper and ability to rebound.  The only thing worthy of note off of the Lakers bench is the soccer like flopping ability of Vujacic.  He has the ability to get under the opponents skin and also the ability to get a crowd riled up.

Advantage: Celtics

Doc Rivers vs. Phil Jackson

Those of you that know me, know that I think Phil Jackson is the most overrated coach in the history of sports.¬† I find it very easy to coach the greatest players in the game and let them do all your work.¬† Never once is he challenged to make an actual decision that could impact a game.¬† It is easy to coach the Michael Jordan’s and Kobe Bryant’s of the world.¬† Is it easy to coach young talent such as Al Jefferson, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and Tony Allen and develop them while constantly losing?¬† No.

I think that as much as Phil is overrated Doc is underrated and is one of the best "x’s and o’s" coaches in the league today.¬† As I mentioned before this series may come down to who can make the necessary adjustments as the series goes along.¬† Who can get the maximum production out of their rotations and who can find mismatches to exploit.¬† I am well aware that Phil has his abundance of championship rings, one for every digit on both hands I believe.¬† How many has he won without the best player in the game at that time on his roster? Zero.¬†

Advantage (and call me a homer): Celtics

 

This series will ultimately come down to three things.  Pierce vs. Artest, if the Lakers can contain Rondo, and which coach will make the correct adjustments throughout the series.

Final prediction:  Celtics in 6

 

The Real Superman: His Airness

Shaquille O’Neal has a problem. Keep in mind that I do not have a degree in psychology, my diagnosis would have to be along the lines of a multiple personality disorder. Shaq-fu, or the Big Aristotle has tried to reclaim a nickname he had supposedly given himself roughly ten years ago…and the one only to be lost in a long list of names he has dubbed himself through the years. Dwight Howard 2 years ago in the slam dunk contest apparently had proclaimed himself, at least to my knowledge, as the newest Superman to lace up a pair of kicks and play ball. The problem for these two supposed owners of this supreme nickname is that Superman has already existed in the NBA…and was better than either could ever hope to be, as his name struck fear in those that opposed him while now the name has become equated with greatness…

That name is Michael Jordan…

In my opinion to be unfamiliar with his name, face, or logo is the same as not recognizing your father or mother…it just should not happen. Michael Jordan changed the way we view sports. You always had your great players in every sport before Jordan; obvious examples being Russell, Chamberlain, Howe, Orr, Yaz, Fisk, Bradshaw, Rose…naming a few. The greatness that is paralleled with these, and others, is undeniable; deservedly so. The difference between these superstars and His Airness is how Jordan was able to take his art form and transcend the world of sports and how people viewed athletes.

First, looking at his career numbers, Jordan is the greatest of all-time. He has EVERY major record for the Bulls, most which will not be even slightly touched. In all-star games MJ always brought out that competitive fire because he knew he was the best while playing amongst those considered to be the best in the world. Those numbers do not lie either; having the most points, field goals made and attempted, total steals, and is the only player to ever post a triple-double. Now, while these numbers speak for themselves, they do not truly mean anything compared to NBA records. In the regular season Jordan holds records for highest scoring average (30.1), most scoring titles (10), most consecutive scoring titles (7), most defensive first teams made (9), and most consecutive games with 10 points it more (866!). The regular season statistics are nice…now it is playoff time…
Here are the playoff records His Airness has set:
1,463 – FTA
4,497 – FGA
5,987 – Total Points
63 – Points in a single playoff game
6 – Finals MVP Awards
33.4 – PPG in playoffs
…and the ace in the hole…
41.0 – PPG in a single NBA Finals (1993)
…enough said, right?‚Ķwrong.

These are the hard figures as to why Michael Jordan was the first and last “Superman” the NBA will ever see. But Michael Jordan holds an intangible having to do with the basketball and non-basketball world alike. Jordan alone was able to do for basketball what game 6 of the 1977 World Series between Boston and Cincinnati did for the world of baseball: made it relevant to the country. The overwhelming difference is Michael made basketball relevant to THE WORLD. When the Dream Team was formed in 1992 it immediately became the greatest basketball team that did and would ever touch a court together. Yet, with all those stars combined to make a powerhouse, Michael Jordan was the one fans in Europe wanted to see and be around. He became the basketball pope with the crowds that would gather to see him.

In my view Michael Jordan became “Superman” when he sealed North Carolina’s victory over Georgetown in the NCAA Championship game. He proceeded to keep the title by taking 2 dunk titles. He continued by using his superpowers to overcome his nemesis, Isaiah and the Pistons, and winning his first title over the legend Magic Johnson. Following that up with 5 more titles in the next 7 years, which would have been 8 consecutive if he had decided to not play baseball after his fathers death. He never lost a Finals series…the aforementioned other two “super men” cannot say that. You can agree or disagree with the decisions he made about making two comebacks, but you cannot argue with the impact he made in the game and his status as the greatest player to ever lace them up, on or off the court.¬† Those other two players are going to have to find other nicknames.

When the list of the greatest players comes out again and the arguments start to ensue at the end of the careers of Kobe and LeBron about whether or not they were better than Jordan, it would be better to leave Michael off that list all together.  There is only one list for the best.