Does Anyone Want Brandon Jennings???


Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks

Brandon Jennings can’t be a happy camper right now. He hit the free agent market with the hopes of getting a lucrative, long term deal.

As I write this, he has yet to be signed. Aside from the qualifying offer Milwaukee made of 1-year $4.5 million, he hasn’t gotten a sniff from any other team. His own team went after another young pg in Jeff Teague rather than offer him a multi-year deal.

That would make me feel some kinda way. I can’t help but think of that episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Will’s biological pops showed up, only to ditch him again.

I can see Jennings in his agent’s office teary eyed, lip quivering asking “how come nobody want me man?”

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Bballbreakdown has a thorough video that shows part of the reason why NBA execs just aren’t interested, check it out…

The numbers are pretty mindblowing. Coach Nick was on point and the numbers don’t lie. The fact that a player like Jennings, with quicks and sick handle doesn’t get more shots in the paint, shows he relies too much on his jumpshot.

Its one thing to be a volume shooter, its another to be a volume shooter of bad shots. Allen Iverson shot a lot, but he also got into the paint and went to freethrow line more than anyone other than Shaq.

Jennings needs to take a page out of the AI book. He should live in the lane. If he really made up his mind to attack the paint continuously, it would change the way the Bucks played ball. It would open up the floor for his teammates and create easier, more makeable shots for himself.

These days, with more and more teams hiring numbers people, rather than basketball people to make decisions, the name of the game is efficiency. Teams are looking at PER and +/- numbers more than ever. Its a metrics driven league now. If he drove more and settled less, his percentages would rise and he’d be a much more attractive option.

The guy has all of the ingredients to be a really good lead guard in the NBA. What he makes with those ingredients is entirely up to him. At this point, he’s definitely not a candidate for Top Chef, but he’s young and he’s far from a finished product.

This is your wake-up call Mr. Jennings. The NBA has spoken and they don’t like how you play ball.

Now stop crying, go hug Uncle Phil, and go get your game in order.

– N.D. Face

 

UPDATE – It turns out Joe Dumars wants Brandon Jennings. The Bucks and Pistons pulled off a trade last night and Jennings is heading to Detroit, while Brandon Knight is heading to Milwaukee. With the recent signing of Chauncey Billups, Dumars must believe Billups can help mold Jennings into the star point guard some people expect him to be. Oh and he got a 3 year $24 million deal in the process. What looked like a disastrous summer for Jennings, has turned into a breath of fresh air and a new beginning. No one is happier than his agent right now…whew, that was a close one!

Hip Hop Crooners V: Missy Elliot


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I remember the first time I saw Missy Elliot rap. It was on the Puff Daddy Remix for Gina Thompson’s “The Things You Do”.

She took the world by storm with that slide dance she must’ve learned from Ginuwine and that now iconic “HeeheeheeheeHow, HeeheeheeheeHow”.

Everyone was wondering who was this chick? Where is she from? How do I do that slide dance? Was she signed to Bad Boy? Is Puff gonna rob her too? The questions were endless, but we all wanted to hear her again.

Didn’t have too wait long. Puff did another remix, this time for New Edition on the Bobby Brown featured “You Don’t have to Worry”. This time she hit us with a little bit of her vocal skills to along with the “HeeheeheeheeHow”…

Good Lord, was this Video Jukebox? Wooooow……

After saving Aaliyah’s career with her producer pal Timbaland, we found out she was putting her own album together and the world was giddy to see what came of it.

What we got was one of the most innovative hip-hop/R&B albums ever made.

“Supa Dupa Fly” was released in 1997 and gave us a sound we’d never heard before. She blended her crazy lyrics over Tim’s staccato beats and showed she really had some vocal skills.

Not only that, her wild and imaginative videos changed the way people did their clips.

One of my favorite songs and video was “Sock it to Me” featuring Da Brat.

Missy showed she wasn’t just a rapper, she was a legit vocalist. The Megaman video game theme took us all back to our Nintendo, blow in the cartridge days. Love this….

17 years later, this song still goes hard! Tragic Johnson Salute to Missy Elliot

– N.D. Face

Is Greg Oden Worth the Risk?


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So let me get this straight. Teams are lining up to bid for the services of a former #1 overall draft pick, who’s had 3 micro-fracture surgeries, has only played in 82 career games since being drafted in 07, and has not played in an NBA game since 2009.

It’s amazing how the NBA center is now an endangered species. Kind of like the Blue Whale. At one-point they were everywhere, dominating the oceans. Now you rarely catch a glimpse of one. I guess the old adage of “you can’t teach height” is true and still relevant in today’s small ball, uptempo NBA.

This also tells me that the teams in pursuit really have a lot of faith in their medical teams. Because this is a project unlike anything the NBA has ever seen. He’s the NBA version of Mr Glass. So the question is, is he worth taking a shot on? My 1st reaction is “it depends”.

If you’re a legit championship contender (Spurs, Heat) I say jump in freely. The Heat’s glaring weakness is inside. If you have the personnel, you can take advantage. Indiana took them to 7 games and the Spurs were a Ray Allen 3-pointer away from winning it all.

Chicago+Bulls+v+Portland+Trail+Blazers+ZR-Fp-mxdAtlIf the Heat or Spurs can get anything out of Oden that’s close to what he potentially should’ve been, it’s an improvement over what they currently have at center. He was the #1 pick in the draft for a reason. Chris Bosh would be the happiest person alive, if he could get the 7’0″, 275lb (reportedly) Oden to team up with Inside.

It might extend Tim Duncan’s career if he could have an Oden helping him to protect the rim. I don’t see any flaw in a contender going after the guy. They can afford to take the risk.

But the Pelicans, Hawks, and Kings??? I have no earthly idea why they’re going after Oden. They are not contenders, not even close. At least the Pelicans feel they can contend for the 8th side, but Atlanta and Sacramento? Why?

Why use a roster spot and resources to try and put this guy back together? Those teams should be building for the future. I don’t see Oden as a long-term investment. He’s either going to produce in the next year or two or his career will be over.

The only reason I could see Oden considering these lesser teams is because they have more money to offer him. The Heat and Spurs can offer their mini mid-level exceptions, which is just over $3 million, but Riles and Pop aint giving this dude more than the vet minimum for 1-2 years.

But these other teams have much more cap space to play with. Oden could probably get an offer of $3-5 million per. The Bynum deal showed that teams can be creative if they have the space and the cojones to take a huge risk.

Where ever he lands, I will be actively rooting for him. I was one of the guys who would’ve taken him #1 over Durant. I thought he was a can’t miss prospect, but the only thing he can’t seem to miss is the operating table. A damn shame because he was truly talented with tons of potential

I’m hoping there’s something, anything left in those legs and he gets a few full seasons under his belt, hopefully with a contender. Otherwise, he’ll go down as a legendary bust. The ultimate bad luck story.

Let us know where you think Greg Oden should go and do you think this guy will ever be healthy long enough to help anyone?

– N.D. Face

Disrespectful…


It’s a lazy Sunday here in South Florida. I wanted to go and play golf, but Mother Nature is not having it.

So I decided to hit the internets and see if I could find some basketball content that was interesting.

I think I found something…

Oh…My…Goodness!!! Somebody cue Starbury….

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That was just downright disrespectful. I might even give dude a pass if he decided to fight, because at that point, your life is over. Somebody call the First 48 because this man was just murdered!

The murderer is G-Smith from the BallUp Streetball Tour. He is definitely a high-riser, but I guess buddy on the receiving end of this vicious dunk, doesn’t have access to the internet or cable.

You sir, have just been baptized. Please remove your uniform and proceed to the exit. You are not allowed to watch or play basketball for the next 3 months.

– N.D. Face

Pilgrimage to Rucker Park


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For some of us, basketball is like a religion. Our love for the game is on a deeper level.

For us, basketball is our escape from the realities of the day-to-day grind. Whether we’re playing or watching, we immerse ourselves in the action and we have a deep understanding and appreciation for the history of the game.

A large part of that history has taken place at a park on 155th Street in Harlem, Holcombe Rucker Park.

Dr J at Rucker Park

Dr J at Rucker Park

Rucker Park has hosted a summer basketball tournament since the 1950’s. Some of the greatest NBA and streetball players have grace the court with their presence.

For years, streetball legends like Joe “The Destroyer” Hammond, PeeWee Kirkland, Bone Collector and Rafer “Skip to my Lou” Alston have crossed paths with NBA legends such as Julius “Dr J” Erving, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant.

Its hallowed ground in basketball circles. Some of the best to have EVER done it, have laced them up and played in this park.

The Entertainers Basketball Classic (The EBC) has called Rucker Park home for the last 30 years. They’ve done an excellent job of merging entertainment, hip-hop, and basketball.

When you go to an EBC game, you’re going to be entertained whether the game is good or not. When I had the opportunity to catch a game, I didn’t hesitate to head from Manhattan over to Harlem to see if Rucker could live up to the hype.

Imagine my giddiness, as I hopped in the yellow cab. Cabby asked in his African accent “Where to sir?” and I proudly say “Rucker Park!”. The cabby looks at me through the rear-view mirror and says “Where?!?!? What is that???”. Thank goodness for Google Maps.

After almost driving into the Bronx and asking a kind stranger for directions, we finally get near the park. I see the scoreboard in the distance and I know I’m in the right place. I’ve made it to the Mecca of Streetball.

ruck 4While paying for my ride, I see a kid flying down the street on a 4-wheeler, doing a wheelie. For a second I thought I was in a Ruff Ryders video. I looked around to see if DMX and Drag-On were going to come out, but neither made an appearance. Nonetheless, it further confirmed I was in the right spot.

The 1st thing you notice when walking up to the park, is the strong police presence. There will be no acting of the fool out here. The EBC has their own security out there as well, so after being patted down nightclub style and having my bookbag checked, I went inside.

Once in, I see that the 1st game just ended and legendary announcer Hannibal the Electrifying One was entertaining the crowd with a freestyle verse. He was wearing his signature championship belt and holding his diamond encrusted microphone.

I didn’t want to sit down right away. I wanted to take in the atmosphere, see all the comings and goings, so I stood near the court and just observed.

Popular streetball player Randy “White Chocolate” Gill had just finished playing. His team had won and the park was buzzing about his performance. His team was victorious and he was dapping up all of the security guards, who were congratulating him on a great game.

HannibalHannibal was giving the details on the nightcap game, Team Ohh Way vs The Xmen. The teams came out for warm-ups. Ohh Way were led by former NBA player Kenny Satterfield  and former St John’s product Dwight Hardy.

The Xmen were led by former Syracuse star Paul Harris and Eain Davis aka Mr. Electrifying.

The game was nothing special early on, but the crowd was in full go mode. Exactly what I expected from an NYC crowd, the heckling was Grade A. Eain Davis received the brunt of it. With his 90’s haircut, the crowd went in on him a few minutes after the tip.

“Yo son, who cut your hair yo??? Yo stop letting your aunt cut your hair B! You look like Booby Brown son! Yo Bobby, where you get those raggedy ass shoes from son?”. It was relentless and hilarious. The laughter from the crowd seemed to encourage the heckler even more.

ruck 1Davis looked over, but didn’t say anything. He let his game talk for him. He dribbled down and made a spectacular crossover, followed by a scoop layup over the defender. He instantly stared at the group of trash talkers and the battle was on. It seemed as if every time they said something to him, he came down and made a play. Each time glaring at them.

I figured these guys were rooting for a particular team since all of their venom was directed at the Xmen…wrong!

One of the guards caught the ball on the block. Hit his defender with a jab-step, took one dribble towards the paint, elevated, and 2-hand slammed one with contact. The crowd erupted with “ooooh’s” and “daaammn’s”. E-Jay, the co-announcer with Hannibal, screamed out “that was so disrespectful right there!”. I’m high-fiving strangers in the stands because as Mark Jackson would say, that was a “grown-man move”. After the chatter dissipates, we hear the voice that has now become familiar to us all…

“Yo…you a baby, son! You need to eat your Wheaties, fam! Yo, don’t even play no more B, go home yo!”

The game action really heated up in the 3rd qtr. Hardy was having a really good night. His jumpshot is flawless, nailing 3’s from all over. He also showed his strength taking it inside to finish in traffic. You wonder why he isn’t in the league.

Between the 3rd and 4th qtrs, with the action heating up and the DJ going hard, all of a sudden a dance battle breaks out

Only at Rucker Park….

Back to the action. With Hardy balling, Paul Harris also picked up his play, showing why he was once a 2nd team All-Big East selection. Xmen fought back from 11 down to take the lead in the 4th. With 4 minutes to go, the back and forth action was amazing. With every basket, the crowd seem to get more into it. Everyone realized we were watching a great game and we all were hoping for a memorable finish.

Down by 1 with less than a minute to go, Hardy had the rock. Guarded by Davis aka Bobby Brown, the crowd was on their feet, screaming “ooooohhhhh” continuously. This was the match-up we all wanted.

Hardy takes one dribble and pulls up from some 3-4 ft behind the 3-point line….SWISH….crowd goes bananas! I turn to the dude next to me making the Stephon Marbury face because that was just stank and nasty…

Marbury

Xmen turn the ball over a couple of times and now they’re down 93-88. After a missed FT, Harris gets the rock and he races up the floor. He goes behind the back to allude one defender, then crosses between his legs to shake free from another. He gets to the top of the key and pulls up for 3…SPLASH…93-91 with 4 seconds to play! Crowd is hysterical at this point, wondering if we’re going to see a miracle win.

After a timeout, Team Ohh Way has to go the full length of the court. Hardy breaks long and they throw it to him. He catches it in stride, takes one dribble and ices the game with his 39th point on the layup. I couldn’t believe he was able to get behind the defense, but that’s basketball for you. Great game!

The EBC at Rucker Park definitely lived up to the hype. It was an incredible atmosphere and the comp was serious. Current D-1 college players, lots of guys who are currently overseas, and some D-league guys. The games are legit. If you’re ever in the city, you need to go check it out. I will definitely be back in the future. Hopefully, they’ll give me a jersey and let me get some minutes…

I want to thank Director of Media Relations, Tasha Stoute, for coming out to meet me and introducing me to the commissioner Greg Marius. I also want to thank her for not leaving me in Harlem to fend for myself at 10:30pm, thanks for getting that cab!

If you want to see my pics and video from my pilgrimage, follow us on Instagram “Tragic Johnson Blog”. For more info on the teams and players from the EBC, check out their website ebcsports.com

– N.D. Face

#basketballworldwide


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All of the champagne bottles have been popped, all of the confetti has been dropped and the World Champion victory parade through Miami has been completed without LeBron getting decapitated by one of the bridges along the parade route, so another NBA season is in the books.  Are the Miami Heat really the World Champions?  I know that they beat a San Antonio Spurs team that has the most international NBA roster containing players from the USA, U.S. Virgin Islands, France, Argentina, Brasil, Australia and Canada, but does make Miami the best team in the world?  The NBA is certainly the most advanced and the highest revenue-generating league in the world, but does that make it the most competitive league in the world?

Although the USA is the birthplace of basketball, it is not the only place that it is played at a high level.  Let us not forget the 1992 Croatian silver medal team made up of NBA players Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc and Dino Radja that played extremely well against the U.S. Dream Team losing by the narrowest margin in the 1992 Olympics (32 points) or the 2004 Argentine Olympic Gold Medal Team made up of NBA players Carlos Delfino, Andres Nocioni, Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto, Walter Hermann and Luis Scola or the 2004 Italian Olympic Silver Medal Team that had ZERO NBA PLAYERS.  Yes, you read that correctly.  To remind you of recent history, the USA got the Bronze Medal in 2004 and lost to Italy and Argentina.  It is amazing how little that part of basketball history is discussed in the USA.

If we are going to discuss basketball outside of the USA, there is only one other place where it is played at an extremely high level, Europe.  Well, Europe is a continent and not a country, so where in Europe, right?  Almost every nation in Europe has its own national league.  There is no uniformity in the number of teams or the stature of each nation’s professional league.  Nearly all of the leagues have the system of promotion and relegation.  To put it in terms that the average NBA fan could understand, imagine that the two worst performing NBA teams each season were demoted to the NBA D-League and were forced to play as a D-League team until eligible for promotion.  That is relegation.  Promotion would mean that the top 2 NBA D-League teams would get promoted to the NBA each season. Relegation would certainly be a very strong incentive against LeBron Bowl or Stink for Wiggins campaigns.

The most important leagues in Europe are found in the following nations – Turkey, Spain, Italy, Greece, Israel and Russia.  Americans should have some familiarity with some European basketball teams like Maccabi Tel Aviv or CSKA Moscow.  Maccabi Tel Aviv has been the one time home of the following NBA players — Jordan Farmar, Jeremy Pargo, Tom Chambers, Omri Casspi, David Benoit, Will Bynum and Anthony Parker.  In 2005, Maccabi Tel-Aviv became the first European team to beat a NBA team, Toronto Raptors, and it happened on North American soil.  To give some insight into Maccabi’s dominance, it has won the national league in Israel 50 TIMES!

Another famous moment in European basketball that should have captured the American hoop fan’s attention was this hugely popular video of a game in the Adriatic league — Cibona vs. Partizan Belgrade.  It has one of the greatest endings in basketball history.  It speaks for itself.  Enjoy!

The winners of the various national basketball leagues as well as teams picked using other criteria play in an annual 24-team competition called the Euroleague. The winner of the Euroleague is the continental champion of Europe.  The two-time reigning champion of the Euroleague is a team from Greece, Olympiacos Piraeus.

Olympiacos (pictured above) has been led the past few seasons by former NBA first round pick, Acie Law IV as well as Vassilis Spanoulis, and Kyle Hines.  The Euroleague has been increasing in popularity.  In fact, NBA 2K14 released by video game producer, 2K Sports, will include 14 Euroleague teams.  Basketball video game junkies will have the ability to develop greater familiarity with Euroleague players. The Americans who play abroad should start to feel less isolated.

The Americans who have played abroad have managed to develop nice lives for themselves.  In fact, Deron Williams played for Turkish club Besiktas during the 2011 lockout and was reportedly paid $200,000 per month for his time in the league.  Besiktas was the same club that Allen Iverson played for during his failed attempt to resurrect his professional career abroad.  One thing that should be clear from this blog post — European basketball is growing rapidly.  Don’t believe me, then you should believe the NBA General Managers as 14 European players were selected in the 2013 NBA draft.

If the NBA were smart, it would agree to have an annual game between the NBA champion and the Euroleague champion.  The winner of that game would have a better claim to the title of World Champion.  That is one game that I would definitely watch!

-GPABaller

Hip Hop Crooners IV: Lauryn Hill


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I can’t be the only person who was in love with Lauryn Hill. She was beautiful, could sing her ass off, AND spit a mean 16

She was like LeBron James in Cleveland the way she carried the Fugees. Don’t get me wrong, Wyclef and Pras were cool, but on “Fugee-La”, do you remember any of Wyclef’s verse? Yeah I thought so. I remember her verse and the “Oh-la-la-la” hook is legendary…

The multi-talented artist is the poster child for Hip Hop Crooners. She could’ve put out a pure hip-hop album or straight r&b album and either one would’ve killed the charts.

“The Score” had everyone drooling with anticipation. People couldn’t wait to see what she’d do on her own. Well all she did was create one of the greatest albums ever. A musical masterpiece, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” still gets heavy rotation in the Tragic Johnson offices.

L-Boogie was ill on the mic….

Then she could flip it and just sing you to tears…listen to this woman’s voice…

And no auto-tune or lip-syncing required…

It’s a shame she never followed that up with another studio album, but things happen. A little bit of Marley here, a couple of babies there, with some tax issues and now jail time.

It always seems like the most talented among us have the most “issues”. I just know I’m keeping my daughter away from any and all Marley’s.

My hope is that she can turn it around and get her life together. Even if she never makes another song, her footprint in the game looms large and we truly appreciate what she’s given us.

Tragic Johnson salute to Miss Lauryn Hill aka L-Boogie!

– N.D. Face

Let us know in the comments section which Lauryn Hill song is your favorite.

Dwight Howard, Time to Man Up!


dwight-howard-nba-free-agency-2013 The pitches have been made. Cases have been stated. Anybody who wanted Dwight Howard has done all they can do at this point. Its now up to D-12 to decide on where to take his talents for the next 4-5 years.

If I was his agent, I’d hire that buff brother Terry from the Comcast Xfinity commercial to follow Dwight around all day saying “Its time to man up!”…

That’s right, listen to Terry! It’s definitely time for Dwight Howard to finally “Man Up” and make a decision that’s best for him and his basketball future.

In my eyes, this means heading to Houston and teaming up with James Harden and Kevin McHale. This is the best fit for him, for his game, and for his sanity.

Lakers fans will scream, “he won’t leave $30 million on the table”. I say if he stays in LA, it’ll be the most miserable $30 million anyone has ever made.

Why stay under the tyrannical rule of Kobe Bryant. Who did nothing but punk Howard all year long?

Why stay and play for a coach who’s more concerned about his “system” than getting wins?

Why continue to play for fans who blame him for everything that went wrong with that disastrous season, which was doomed from the jump?

Houston is the place to be.

Houston is where he can be his carefree, fun self and not have Kobe giving him the Death Stare every time he cracks a joke in the locker room…

kobe_stare

Houston is where he has the best chance to win, because there is no winning anytime soon in LA.

Some may say Golden State is a better spot to win now, but Golden State would need to give up some key pieces to make a deal work so that knocks them back. Plus I think Harden is better than Steph Curry. The Harden/Howard combo is a lot more formidable than a Curry/Howard combo.

All of the positives in this situation point to Houston, especially on the basketball side.

I’d like Laker fans to chime in and give me any basketball related positives they can find, that would entice Howard to stay.

You’ll have a hard time finding one, if any. All LA has going for it is that extra $30 million, that’s it. Old roster, dumb coach, inept front office, and an aging superstar, who while great, is difficult to play with and coming off of a major injury.

Man Up Dwight and say goodbye to Los Angeles. This is not the time to allow guilt and feelings to come into play as they did in Orlando, when he foolishly signed that one year deal.

The time is now, he’s gotta man up and take control of his basketball future. If he wants that future to have any relevance, if he has plans on ever being an elite player again, he will become a Houston Rocket.

dwight-howard-houston-rockets-1

– N.D. Face