Lebron to Opt Out


31f76-dad2527s2bback2band2bbrought2bhis2bbeltSo LeBron has advised the Heat that he’s going to exercise his early termination clause in his contract and become a free agent.

This is not a surprise. If you’re a Heat fan, you should’ve expected this. The bigger surprise would have been if LBJ opted into the deal. That would’ve been a shocker and bad for business.

In order to “retool” the roster as Pat Riley stated in his rant the other day, the Big 3 all need to opt out and take less money to get better players.

But if the players are going to take less money, owner Mickey Arison has to be willing to venture into the luxury tax zone. The meetings between the Big 3, Riles, and Arison are going to be critical to the Heat’s future.

All of these guys took pay cuts to get guys like Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller on the team. When push came to shove, Arison and Riley cut Miller because Mick didn’t want to pay any luxury tax. If I’m part of the Big 3, LeBron especially, Arison is going to need to assure me that he’s all about winning and not making a profit.

They took pay cuts to win and Mick got cheap and let a key member of the team go in order to save money.

If I’m LeBron, that decision flies in the face of all of the rhetoric Riles was spittin’ the other day about sticking it out and having guts. Don’t talk about family, having guts, and sacrifice when the owner cuts a key player to save some cash.

Arison is going to have to put up or shut up in order to keep this trio together.

In the end, I believe LeBron will stay in Miami and the team will do all possible to build a winner.

But I also never thought LeBron would sit on TV and utter the now infamous phrase “I’m taking my talents to South Beach”, so take that for what you will.

Its all a guess, but I’m guessing the King remains in South Florida, otherwise Heat fans will be falling out on Ocean Drive and not from the alcohol…

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– N.D. Face

 

 

Michael Beasley’s Redemption Song


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There’s nothing more frustrating than wasted talented.

To see someone naturally gifted squander their gift is infuriating. But the most talented among us seem to always get a 2nd and/or 3rd chance, especially athletes.

But at some point, you will run out of chances. Who would’ve thought at age 24, Michael Beasley would be on his last chance at an NBA career.

The former “can’t miss” prospect couldn’t seem to stay away from that herb and was in basketball purgatory.

That is until Pat Riley pulled him off of the Island of Misfit Hoopers and gave him his chance at redemption. So far, the results have been pretty good.

He’s averaging 11ppg’s in only 17 minutes per game, shooting almost 55% from the field, including 53% on 3’s, and if you watch him on the bench, he looks to be having the most fun he’s ever had playing basketball.

The comfort level with his role is growing by the game and he’s starting to flash all of that talent that made him the 2nd overall pick in the draft.

The game is starting to look easy to him again.

Now comes the hard part. Handling success in Miami.

His name is buzzing in the 3-0-5 again. People are even asking if he’s better than Bosh. He’s not, but they’re asking. Inevitably, the Miami nightlife will come beckoning. Calling his name like he’s Pookie from New Jack City

I think the Heat have the structure and leadership he needs to reach his potential. The Big 3, Spo, and Riles are great influences for sure. But being around true professionals like Ray Allen and James Jones, plus having a hard nosed assistant coach like Juwan Howard in his grill daily will do wonders for him.

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So will he stay on the path to basketball salvation or will he have another mug shot and be a candidate for ESPN’s 30 for 30?

What say you?

 

– N.D. Face

The Ultimate Guessing Game


nba-draft-3-4_3_rx513_c680x510Most of us start playing this game of basketball at a young age. While working on that jumpshot at the park, we dream of one day sitting in that greenroom with our families, wearing a suit with 28 buttons, waiting for the commissioner to call our names.

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Bonzi…my goodness, WTH is that?!?!?

That’s why I love watching the NBA draft. Its the culmination of all the hardwork a kid has put in over the years up to this point. Seeing a guy hug his family and realize HIS dream is great television.

There’s a ton of analysis and predictions leading up to the draft. But seriously, the draft is the biggest guessing game there is. You look at a player’s track record and you try to predict how good someone is going to be, but who the hell knows???

I thought Greg Oden was that dude. I would’ve taken Oden over Durant. I watched both guys through high school and their 1 year in college. I thought both players would be great NBA players. I would be an unemployed GM right now.

Pat Riley wanted Chris Kaman in 2003. He had to be talked into drafting Dwyane Wade. Now he looks like a genius, while Dumars looks like El Stupido for drafting Darko.

I really hate mock drafts too. If anyone tells you they know who is going where, karate chop them in the throat. No one knows for sure where anyone is going, especially this year.

So there will be no Tragic Johnson Mock Drafts, sorry. You can go on any blog and get that if you’re looking for it. I’ve seen 5 different #1 picks so far in the drafts I looked at.Its a guessing game I refuse to play.

Now we will bring you a few re-drafts over the summer. We’ll look back at some previous drafts and with the benefit of hindsight, do the draft all over Tragic Johnson style. So no mock drafts, I don’t want to sit here and try to predict what these people are going to do.

Now lets look at the players in this draft. The coach/scout in me loves evaluating talent. Looking at film and breaking down a player’s game is fun. You pick up so many tendencies and you really see what a guy is made of when you watch game film. So today I will let you know who my favorite players are in this draft.

At first I wasn’t all that crazy about this class. This isn’t a crazy upside/potential draft like 2014 will be. The potential ‘one and done’ guys next year have tons of potential. But I believe there are a lot of quality players in this draft who’ll be on NBA rosters for years to come.

Will they be all-stars? I have no clue. A guy could have all the talent but you can’t predict a guy’s work ethic and you have no idea how the situation he lands in will affect him.

So who do I love in this draft….

Victor Oladipo

Love his athleticism. Love his work ethic. Even if he never develops a consistent jumper, he should be able to find a niche in the NBA based on defense alone. Its great to see a guy improve every year they’re in school and its hard to find a guy who’s improved more than him. I think the D. Wade comparisons are a bit much. Although he’s extremely explosive, I don’t know if he’ll ever be the scorer that Wade is. He gets to the hole and finishes around the basket nicely. Plus he should be a beast on the break. I’ve enjoyed watching him play and develop as a player. Can’t wait to see how his game evolves on the next level. I’ll be watching him closely and you should too. I’d love to see him in Orlando or Charlotte.

Tim Hardaway, Jr.

For those of us who live in Miami, we’ve seen Timmy, Jr. grow up in front of our eyes. A lot of people thought he was crazy for leaving school early, but I thought it was a great move. He’s a legit 6’5″-6’6″. He can shoot the lights out, either off the dribble or catch and shoot. Plus he’s more athletic than he gets credit for. Some had him rated as undrafted, now I’m reading he might go 1st round. Where ever he goes, he should produce. Another guy who improved every year in school and he’s been around the NBA his whole life, so he won’t be in awe of it. As the Heat have shown, you can never have too many shooters on your roster, so there should be some roster spots available to him. Timmy, Jr. can shoot the hell out of the ball and is not afraid of the big shot. If he could land on a team like the Bulls, Nets, Lakers or Trailblazers, I think that’d be perfect for him

C.J. McCollum

A rare 4-year player in the mix. These days if you stayed in school 4 years, you probably have a ton of flaws. I don’t see many flaws in McCollum’s game. Outstanding off the dribble, he has a beautiful pull-up J. He ran a lot of pick and rolls in college and if you watch any NBA games you know how common it is. He isn’t the greatest athlete, but neither was Sam Cassell or Sherman Douglas. The guy can shoot, create for himself and others, and has supreme confidence. You see him with the pill and you have no worries. Something good is going to happen. He’s also a nice finisher in the paint, he’s not a afraid of contact. I’d love to see him in OKC backing up Westbrook or in LA learning under Nash. But he’d also fit in nicely with the Knicks or Spurs. Either of those spots would be ideal.

So these were a few of my favorite players from this year’s draft class. I have no idea where they’re going though. What I do know is this….some of these players will be busts, some will be pleasant surprises, and there will be an ugly suit or two in the building…count on it.

Enjoy the draft!

– N.D. Face

What Now Lebron?


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LeBron has done it again. After an amazing 7-game series vs the Spurs, LBJ once again elevated his play on the biggest stage and is now in the rare company of all-time greats.

Only two players have won the championship and regular season MVP award in consecutive years and that’s Michael Jordan and Bill Russell. Does it get any greater than that? The G.O.A.T and the greatest winner in the history of sports.

I don’t know about you, but when I see the pic of LeBron holding the trophies with that pose and that face, I feel like he’s telling all of his haters/doubters/detractors/critics to “kiss my royal, ultra-athletic, 2-time champion ASS!”.

To everyone with a joke about having no rings…kiss it! If you’ve ever called him “LeChoke”…kiss it! For everyone talking about his hairline…kiss it twice!

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Can you blame him for being defiant in that moment? I don’t, he’s earned the right to do so.

Think about it, has there ever been a great player who’s had his game and mental toughness micro analyzed as much as LeBron? No matter what he does, the pundits and analyst always want more. After every lost, everyone feels the need to tell him how he should play the next game. People like Bill Simmons are always talking about “his legacy”. Every game is a “legacy game”…. who gives a damn about a legacy? We can worry about his legacy when his playing days are over.

I’m focused on the here and now. Right now we just watched this man win an NBA title, then carry Team USA to an Olympic gold medal, come back and win another NBA title after that. Throw in the back-to-back MVP’s and I think this qualifies as a nominee for the Best 2 years Ever award.

At this point, what else is there to hate on? People will now nitpick and try to find the smallest thing for their hate to cling on to. I’m pretty sure a lot of people hated Jordan and Magic Johnson too, but with the advent of social media, any and everybody can throw their opinion out there for the world to read, no matter how idiotic. I saw a post on Twitter that said LeBron should’ve thanked Ray Allen and Chris Bosh for their heroics in game 6 #noclass….wow, really? That’s where we are now America?

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, & The Miami Heat celebrate NBA Championship at STORY Night Club

The one thing he won’t be able to escape are the Jordan comparisons. I’m trying to figure out when Michael Jordan became this mythical creature, who never played bad and never lost a playoff game. This from a guy who LOVES MJ. But Mike didn’t win every game he ever played. He didn’t make every clutch shot he ever took. He didn’t always shoot when the game was on the line, cue John Paxson and Steve Kerr. He was not perfect, but over time his exploits have been magnified to a level that’s unreal.

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This is what LeBron now faces in his battle with the media and its a battle he won’t win. Even if he wins 7 rings, those obsessed with MJ will find reasons to discredit LeBron’s rings. They’ll point out the level of competition and they’ll always bring up the fact he left Cleveland to get his rings, so he can’t win there.

But I hope he keeps the attitude he showed on that championship stage. He has no worries. All he can do is go play basketball and continue to improve. The scary part is he CAN improve. His postgame can improve, he can be a better freethrow shooter just to name a couple of things. I still think the best of LeBron is still to come.

Some of you will hold “The Decision” against him forever. Others will bring up “not 4, not 5, not 6” until he walks into the hall of fame and that’s their right, but they’re missing out greatness.

As for me, I’ll be watching every game. Appreciating the talent and skill of a guy who will go down as one of the 3 greatest players who’ve ever played this game we love.

Don’t believe, me just watch….

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– N.D. Face

Can you hear me now, haters?


Congrats to the 2013 NBA Champions, The Miami Heat!  Ever wonder what a Two-Time NBA Champion’s voicemail account sounds like?  NIKE Basketball just provided you with the answer.

Social media will be buzzing with this video all day on Friday.

-GPABaller

Everybody Hates Chris…


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There are certain things in this world that I just don’t understand. Dwyane Wade’s wardrobe and Joe Johnson’s salary are a couple of them. But the one thing has me the most perplexed is the extreme amount of hate thrown Chris Bosh’s way.

I’m really having a hard time wrapping my head around all of this Bosh Bashing. This isn’t the typical “I hate LeBron, therefore, I hate the Heat” type of venom. The hate I’m speaking of is coming from supposed Heat fans.

I’ve heard these fans say they’d rather have Birdman starting over Bosh. Another said he’d rather have Demarcus Cousins over Bosh. I had to double-check to make sure we were actually talking about THE Demarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings. And indeed he was talking about THAT Cousins aka Crazy Cousins aka King Ejection aka Baby Sheed.

Some have even stated that if the Charlotte Bobcats were to offer the 4th pick in this weak 2013 draft for Bosh, the Heat should take it…are you serious??? Now I see why other fanbases laugh and mock Heat fans, because this type of thinking is ridiculous if you asked me.

Chris Bosh has always been a great player. McDonald All-American in high school. Freshman phenom at Georgia Tech. He was the 3rd pick in the much celebrated 2003 draft (we don’t count Darko). Is a perennial all-star and an Olympian, yet for some reason Bosh is the whipping boy of the Big 3.

I don’t get it. Here’s a guy that averaged over 20 points/10 rebounds in his last 2 seasons in Toronto, including a career high 24 his final season. He took less money, along with a lesser role in Miami because he wanted to win. Not to mention he’s playing out of position. Yeah he’s been having a horrible postseason, but the short memories in Dade County are alarming. They tend to forget his contributions to last year’s championship run.

Bosh has picked up his play as of late, with 3 straight double-doubles in the NBA Finals. Some are saying Game 4 was his best game in a Heat uniform and he still can’t get any credit from the extreme haters. I wanted to delve into this and see if we can figure out why everyone hates Chris.

So we decided to get scientific. We hired a firm to go around South Florida and conduct surveys so we can get to the bottom of this….ok maybe we didn’t go that far, but I did throw the question out there on Facebook and got the thoughts and opinions of some Heat fans.

Looks like the main reason people hate Bosh is….

Reason: Bosh doesn’t play like a “real big man”. He’s too perimeter. He’s soft!
Rebuttal: So what exactly does a “real big man” play like? Traditional bigs live in the paint. They post up. They protect the rim and they tend to grab a lot of rebounds. With the way this team is built, there’s no room for a traditional big offensively. Your two best players are Wade and LeBron. They slash and attack the rim. A traditional big would just clog up the lane. Think OKC and Kendrick Perkins

To paraphrase Denny Green, Bosh is who we thought he was. He’s a big who helps space the floor. If you watch the games, the threat of Bosh’s jumper helps get guys open. The defender has to rotate from a little further away because he has to respect the jumper. Now I’ll agree that this season/postseason he has been more perimeter than he’s ever been in his career. But don’t you think that’s by the design of the coach? He wouldn’t be out there on that 3point line if Spo didn’t encourage it. He is who he is, people need to start excepting that.

He’s NEVER going to be the prototypical big man we grew up watching. It’s a different era, it’s a different game. But I think last game was a turning point for CB on both ends of the floor. Instead of pick and pop, he rolled to the basketball. When Wade or LBJ drove to the paint, instead of spotting up for the short jumper, he dove to the rim. That opened up offensive rebounds and dumpoffs. He still mixed in his midrange game and protected the rim better than I’ve ever seen him do it for the Heat. You saw why he’s so important to this team and what he’s capable of on the biggest stage.

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I personally love the guy. Great player, very intelligent dude, with a great sense of humor. He’s never been in trouble on or off the court, yet he gets destroyed in the world of social media. He can’t seem to do anything right for some people.

I know one thing, these delusional Heat fans need to stop taking Bosh for granted. 3 Finals appearances in 3 years and on the verge of back to back titles if they can somehow win this series. That doesn’t happen very often and Bosh is a huge part of the formula that makes it happen.

If Heat fans don’t want him, there will be teams lined up to take him. Imagine him on the Bulls next to Noah or in New York or Brooklyn with Melo or D-Will. Imagine if OKC had Bosh teamed with Ibaka instead of Perkins. Having Bosh in your lineup makes your team better.

With a pivotal Game 5 tonight in San Antonio, I hope Bosh has another great game to silence his critics and have the last laugh.

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– N.D. Face

Hey Wade, Where You Been???


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Looks like the search party that was out looking for The Real Dwyane Wade found him in time for Game 7. Just when you’re ready to say this guy is done, he’ll never be an elite player again, he goes and plays like he did in game 7.

The zig-zag eurostep was back, he actually used a crossover move for the 1st time all series, and he had one of the plays of the night, looping the ball over Stephenson’s head before going in for the two-handed slam.

I’m willing to bet this was the song he had bumping in the highly equipped luxury vehicle he drove to the arena…

A lot of people were predicting the Heat’s downfall last night. Stephen A Smith proclaimed the Big 3 era over. But once again, Wade proved them wrong and bought himself some time in the sunshine until he has another bad game.

The opinions on Wade seem to change like the ever flowing tide on the South Florida beaches.

dwayne-wade-twitter-3When he plays well, people are screaming “Yeah baby, Wade County!!!”.

When he plays like he did for most of this Indiana Pacer series, its “His ol’ tight pants wearing ass needs to be on the bench!”.

You’d think Wade would be untouchable in S. Florida. He brought the Heat their 1st NBA title. He was the mastermind behind the Big 3 assembling. He’s one of the most popular sports figures in S. Florida history, right up there with Marino. You’d think he’d get a pass, but it seems clear that he’s been surpassed by LeBron.

I wonder if that had anything to do with his lackadaisical play.

The ego is a powerful thing. We all know Wade is a sensitive dude. In fact, they all are. I’ve gotta think he’s a bit annoyed hearing about how great LeBron is and how he’s an aging sidekick.

Makes you think, was Wade getting his Kobe on? Trying to prove a point on the court by doing much of nothing? Basically saying, ‘yeah LBJ is great, but you still need ME to win and I’m going to show you how much’.

You’re looking at your computer screen thinking “this guy is nuts!”, I can feel it.

Call me crazy, I know its a bit farfetched, but I’m sure Heat fans were sitting in front of their televisions last night wondering…”where the hell has this been all series?”. Honestly, I have no clue how he went from Super Scrub to Superman in 48 hours.

There were no strategical adjustments Spo made for Wade. He got the the ball in the same spots he’d gotten it every other game. The difference…he brought some passion and energy on both ends of the floor. Where did this burst come from?

Maybe the trainers did a special tape job on that knee.

Maybe he ditched the xtra-smedium pants.

Maybe he put some special insoles into those cheapass shoes.

Or maybe he said ‘ok, let me stop playing my little game and play forreal’.

Whatever it was, it worked. Now the question is, will he bring that energy into The Finals.

If I’m Coach Spo, I pull him to the side and say “point taken, don’t do that again” and begin preparations for the Spurs Thursday night.

What do you guys think? Am I thinking too much into this or is there a C-O-N-spiracy going on? Let us know how you feel about it.

– N.D. Face

Heat vs Pacers: Eastern Conference Finals


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When I think back to last season’s series between the Pacers and Heat, the image of Udonis Haslem taking out Tyler Hansborough in retaliation for his hard foul on Dwyane Wade sticks out. Psycho T went HAM on D-Wade’s head and drew blood.

0523heat2This foul and Haslem’s revenge signified an extremely physical, hard-fought series between the two teams.

Wade was struggling last year, having some of his worst playoff games of his career. Even arguing with Coach Erik Spolestra on the sidelines during a loss in Indiana. Maybe that was the moment that sparked him, but from that game on, Wade played like the guy who Shaq nicknamed Flash.

Lost in the struggles of Wade was LeBron James’ brilliance. In game 4, LBJ had a 40 point, 18 rebound, 9 assist game on the road with his team down 2-1. No one in NBA history, other than Wilt, ever had a game like that.

But its a new year and I think both teams are better than they were last year. The Heat added Ray Allen, Chris Bosh is healthy this time around, Norris Cole has improved immensely, and they’ve added Chris “Birdman” Andersen.

The Pacers don’t have Danny Granger, but Paul George has grown immensely as a player, Lance Stephenson has emerged as someone the Heat must pay attention to, and we now know how important George Hill is to everything the Pacers do on both ends.

Key questions for me in the series:

1. How hobbled is Wade? If Wade is severely hobbled and is unable to be effective, that puts a strain on Miami. But Bosh is there to help pick up the slack. I think Bosh is in line for a huge series and they’ll need it even more if Wade can’t resemble his normal self. Wade’s health is a big question mark.

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2. How will the Heat handle the Pacer bigs? Indiana is the best rebounding team so far in the playoffs, Miami is one of the worst. If the Pacers can dominate the boards, they’re in good shape. Miami is going to get out rebounded in this series, but if its only by 7-9 rebounds, they’re ok.

Indiana’s bigs are extremely skilled. If the Heat go small, I’m looking for the Pacers to go to David West a lot. The Pacer guards must be patient and make crisp passes when Miami inevitably begins to front the post. Indy is the worst team in the playoffs when it comes to turnovers. Turn it over vs Miami and its dunk city. The openings will be there and they’ll need to be sharp to capitalize on them.

3. How much of a difference does having Bosh make? Before Bosh got hurt in game 1 last year, he had 13 points and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes of action. His ability to stretch the floor was sorely missed once he went out with that abdominal injury. He’s back and had a pretty good series vs the Chicago Bulls. How will the Pacers play him on P&R? Are they going to give him that 15-18 ft jumper? Is Hibbert or West going to guard him? Bosh creates so many openings and you have to believe that Indiana will live with him shooting jumpers, rather than having Wade and James living in the paint. So look for Bosh to have a great series.

I love this match-up and I think every game will be relatively close, but I don’t think Indiana has the firepower to win 4 games vs Miami.

Miami’s shooters and Bosh show up to help LeBron and the Heat take it in 5 physical, fun games.

What do you all think?

– N.D. Face

With No Regard For Human Life….


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If you’re like me and GPA Baller, you’re glued into the NBA Playoffs. The games are so intense and the players are playing ball at the highest possible level.

There’s 4 games tonight on the ESPN family of networks and other than Hawks/Pacers, I’ll be tuned in to each of them.

One of the things that gets overlooked are the announcers/analyst who call the games. There are some great ones who add knowledge and excitement to the telecast. When great moments occur, its amplified if you have a good team in the booth.

I’ve always thought being an NBA announcer/analyst would be the perfect job, but its got to be hard not to react like a fan when something amazing happens.

Take the LeBron over Terry dunk. Had I been in the booth when this happened, I probably would’ve lost my job and been fined by the FCC….

Props to Mike Tirico, that “Jaaaaaaaammmmmeeessss!!!!” was minimal but on point.

Tirico has been fortunate to be around for a few great plays, like that monster jam from Baron Davis over AK47 in2007. Again, another great call and another moment where I would’ve lost my job.

But there are others who I enjoy watching. Tirico is a “in the moment” guy, Kevin Harlan has a couple of catch-phrases we all know and love. None better than the title of this post….

Same call, different dunk….

2 amazing dunks, enhanced by the call. How do you not curse after seeing those two plays? Just seeing those plays makes me want to type curse words, but that’s a technical foul on Tragic Johnson and I’m not Rasheed.

The great calls don’t stop on the pro level. Have you ever watched Gus Johnson or Bill Rafferty call college games?

One of the best calls of a dunk ever, was Rafferty’s on this monster slam by Jerome Lane…”Send it in Jerome!!!”

Gus Johnson could be calling a middle school hoops game and I’d watch it…..

I must also show love to Stacy King who calls all of the Chicago Bulls games. If you have league pass and haven’t heard King call a game, here’s a taste of what you get…

That is phenomenal! “Did you not get the memo???” what a fantastic call. Whether you care for the Bulls or not, that dunk was stank and the call was hilarious.

And finally, we can’t leave without showing some love to the King, Marv Albert and his booth mates Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller…

Yes, I cursed after watching both of those, sorry Mom.

So we’re reaching out to Tragic Johnson Nation. What are some of your favorite moments? Post your links and/or comments below.

– N.D. Face