Saturday, May 31, 2008

Success...There Is A Fine Line

This is the trophy that is bringing clubs unstuck.

Well anyone who follows basketball would know that this week the NBL has been making national headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The Brisbane Bullets and the Sydney Kings are on the verge of collapsing and the players are having to fight to get the dollars owed to them.

The ironic part of this whole situation is that these are two of the three clubs, the Melbourne Tigers being the third, who have regularly been championship contenders at one point or another in this decade. Not only have they been contenders, but each has at least one ring. These clubs have triumphed on the court, but this success has not translated to the bottom line: the business of making money.

The definition of ‘success’ in the world of sport can have many arms or elements and which of these you choose to set your focus on can mean the difference between staying afloat and sinking .

Because we are talking about sport, the first and most obvious measurement of success is that which is recorded in the win/loss column or by the number of championship rings on your players fingers.

However it is this second measurement, that being the bottom line, the dollar figure, that sometimes appears to become somewhat skewed in the sporting world in Australia. ‘How secure is your club financially,’ is a point often washed over by a tide of love for your sport and/or passion for your club.

Take the current NBL drama as an example. Clearly both teams in the centre of controversy have demonstrated their on-court success, but any professional sporting organisation is more than just the men or women running around on the court or field week in, week out. It has been that tricky but equally important business end that they have failed to keep in check and could potentially be their demise.

Many armchair warriors who have followed the progress of these clubs would say that there could be some karma coming back around to them. Both the Kings and the Bullets franchises have pushed the envelope when it comes to the salary cap, particularly in the last five or so years.

So now, would you brand either the Kings or the Bullets as a success, keeping in mind that there is a distinct possibility that neither will be participating in the upcoming NBL season? No. Again I will reiterate my point, their teams have been successful, but success of the club as a whole hinges on more than just 10 guys on a court.

Let’s, for the sake of comparison, take a look at the Crocs.

True, the franchise has no championship rings on fingers or trophies in the case since their inception in 1993. Patience by the people in charge and from the fans can begin to wear thin on this matter.

I, however, take comfort in knowing that the Crocs will stand the test of time and will bring a team to the NBL each and every season. I also sleep easy each night knowing my family and I will see the money that is owed to us, on the exact day it is owed to us each and every month that I am contracted with the club.

In this day and age of Australian sport, a player often has to take a gamble, or educated guess on what the best thing for their future is.

Take someone like Sydney Kings player Russell Hinder. The Crocs were in the recruiting race for him a few years ago. Hinder weighed up his options and decided to sign with the Kings. He gambled (albeit correctly) that playing under Brian Goorjian on a daily basis could lead to experience on the National Team.

He got that opportunity. You can never begrudge an athlete for having aspirations to represent his country. Good for Rusty.

However, all week Hinder and his family, which includes a wife and two young children, have been running around in circles trying to meet their monthly budget because he has not seen a payment in his bank account for the past few months.

It would be interesting to hear his response to the question of whether he feels like the Kings are successful.

Would I say the Crocs were successful? Well, I get paid and we will have a team on the court that will take another shot at the championship this season, and for a few more seasons after that. You have to be in it to win it.

You can find my weekly column in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bites and Pieces - Lakers In Final


The Los Angles Lakers are heading back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2002 when they last won it all.

They defeated the defending champs, San Antonio Spurs 4-1. I would have never have thought this series would have ended so quickly.

After watching the series (thanks ESPN) the one area the Lakers matched the Spurs in that no other team seems to be able to do is mentality.

Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson must take the credit for this. Firstly, Phil must have all the guys believing that they can get the job done, then Kobe delivers the killer blows on court.

You can see the positive reaction in his teammates body language when Kobe gets on a roll and just takes over the game. All of a sudden these guys start making plays and then the Spurs have to worry about more than Kobe.

Vladamir Radmanovic is probably the best case of this. Sometimes this guy can look completely lost out there but when he creeps to the baseline for a spot up three and drains it, it becomes active all over the court. Rebounding and defense become part of his package.

Throughout the past decade this has been the Spurs doing this to opposition teams. Certainly not a one man wrecking team like the Lakers, but their brilliant team play just ate away at oppositions over the course of a series.

It will be interesting to see what the Spurs will do to their roster to improve during this upcoming summer. They are no longer "Top Dog" but I have them retooling to have another run at the title. (They usually win in odd years.)

Congrats to the Lakers on advancing and I cannot wait for the Finals, whether it is the Pistons or the Celtics from the East.

Doug Collins seems destined to coach the Chicago Bulls for a second stint. During his first time round his roster had names such as Jordan and Pippen on it.

With a young team and the #1 draft pick the Bulls will improve immediately under Collins.

His record will show that he can get improvement straight away from his teams but where he is questioned is how long can he maintain a groups focus? Already there are non believers out there as far as this hiring goes.

I look forward to seeing what Collins can do second time round in the Windy City.

NBA's Daily Dime

Melbourne Tigers owner Seamus McPeake has added his two cents worth into the drama of the Kings and Bullets.

Former Bullet Mike Hill may be forced into early retirement. All former Bullets players are scrambling to find jobs with new teams. The trouble some of the players face is the number of available spots left around the league and their own player points value.

Greg Vanderjagt will probably have to try and secure a deal overseas as he is rated a 7. There are a few spots remaining for the big man, but most teams only have a points value of 4 left.

The league has painted itself into a corner on this one. If they allow these players to sign at reduced points, teams that have completed their rosters will be all over league CEO Chuck Harmison like a cheap suit.

Wollongong Hawks have sharpened their claws and are ready to pounce on the one time favourite son, Glen Saville.

Somehow I think they will welcome "Sav" back with open arms.

Steve Carfino and his two cents worth.

Anthony Stewart is thinking like Warren Buffet right now. Get in while the price is low. Good luck to Stewie and your Little Red Head mate!

Does Tim Johnston equal Christopher Skase? Tim Morrisey answers the question.

Paul Roos (Sydney Swans coach) knows how the Kings players are felling.

The U/19 Emus squad was announced this week. Townsville junior Damon Heuir gets his chance in early June to be one of the final twelve to make the team.

I can only hope he continues to learn from one of the best every Wednesday night when we scrimmage.

All the best Damon but remember to carry a hand!

I usually do not stray from the sport of basketball on here, but I do make exceptions.

Townsville tennis product JP Smith has just finished his freshman year at the University of Tennessee. Qualifying for the NCAA tournament Smith went onto to the championship game before losing to the #1 seed Somdev Devvarman of Virginia.

Smith will return to Townsville in the next few days and I cannot wait to bump into JP and see if he has picked up the art of trash talking. The soften spoken Smith is a hard man to get a word out of during a gym session.

This is quite an accomplishment and I'm sure Smith will look forward to going one better next year.

Lakers/Spurs Game 5 Highlights

And It Continues

Reality is Hinder and his family may lose their house.

When I was deciding on what to blog about today I was thinking of leaving the NBL alone. I checked my comments page and noticed all the comments were left by fellow bloggers. Good to see another person's opinion so it led to me not being able to leave the state of the NBL alone.

Now my man Glockers believes the league cannot survive with out Sydney and Brisbane. This is what I have to say in reply. would be great to have both Sydney and Brisbane in the league. Especially due to the points you make.

On the otherhand they have created their own fate. Whether you want to point your finger at the utter disrespect for the salary cap or loss of sponsors, they have dropped the ball somewhere.

What needs to be remembered, this is a business and the business is sport. Businesses come and go, just as players come and go. It might sound ruthless but this is the world as we know it today.

Sure we have the issue of TV rights and major sponsors but if your market is changing, seek out sponsors that fit your landscape.

What would help out the league right now is some positive, feel good stories and the NBL making a statement about what is happening with the rest of the teams in the league.

You look at the remaining teams in the league, all are on the upswing I believe.

Wollongong I'm not sure about and/or if they are recovering from their financial problems of last year but I would think they would be moving forward since they are currently recruiting an improved roster.

The Razorbacks I have no idea about but if they move to Penrith at least they are trying to improve their situation. They are looking at ways to make the club stronger. Whatever your personal feelings towards Penrith are at least the Pigs can start to build a regular fan base that would live in close proximity to the gym. Something they could have never achieved at Homebush.

Take a look at the rest of the franchises and you have your rock solid teams (Melbourne, Townsville, Cairns, Perth). Crowds and sponsorship seem to be ticking over in these locations.

Adelaide seems to have got it back on track and with coach Scott Ninnis adding a healthy diet of locals to the roster, the Croweaters will come out and support their team.

New Zealand is making a splash and should build on their playoff debut of last season.

New kids on the block Gold Coast have made a few subtle changes and are looking to crack the top 4.

That leaves the Dragons. With Brian Goorijan back in town I'm confident in saying the Dragons will get support from the Melbourne community.

Sure it would be tough to lose a couple of high profile franchises but the foundation they have been built on was not rock solid.

I feel if you have solid franchises and a good product their will always be a market for your business.

Time will tell but the sport of basketball is not in as bad a shape as what has been portrayed over the past three days.

NBL Articles:

DJ Leon Smith was ahead of us all. Check this article out.

Best Off Ground has his say.

Former teammate Russell Hinder may lose his house.

Ebi and Sam only remaining Bullets.

Some Big Wigs have there say on it all.

Tim Morrisey thinks the NBL needs to start from scratch.

NBL season to go ahead.

Super League anyone?

On a lighter note, watch out Tim Gunn, Greg Vaderjagt is coming after your job! Please watch and enjoy what the one time Brisbane Bullet gets up to in his spare time!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What My Research Has Found Out & Kobe Close To Championship

We'll start the bidding at $50 for the trophy.

Today I worked the phones a little and did my research. Here is what I have found out about the Brisbane and Sydney situation.

Lets start with the Bullets. For the guys (Greg Vanderjagt, Adam Gibson, Stephen Weigh, Anthony Petrie, Cam Rigby) that signed contracts under the David Kemp consortium, they have all become free agents.

They have been left to scamper around and secure one of the few roster spots still available. I have a felling some will be left out in the cold as their points value is too much for teams to accommodate.

Maybe the NBL should look at extending rosters to twelve to accommodate the 16 potential new free agents. Just my idea to help out a fellow player.

For all those Adam Gibson fans, look for the Tasmanian to become a South Dragon in the near future.

The Dragons also seem to have settled on their import spots. It is going to be a high octane backcourt with Cortez Groves and Ebi Ere if this rumour is correct. No wonder Brian Goorjian is trying to get pass first point guard Gibson to sign with the Victorian franchise.

Now to the Kings. The players are doing whatever possible they can do to get their cash that is still owed to them. Rightly so to. They have held up their end of the bargain. They deserve a pat on the back for keeping their mouth shut for so long.

Once the dust settles from the players jostling for positions in their dash for cash (they may find a few other athletes in line too), look for some of these players to find new addresses for the 2008/09 season. Who could blame them, would you want to go through another year or two of that?

The NBL has been taking it up the "you know what" for the past 24 hours but I agree with what Hall of Famer Andrew Vlahov said. (please read)

Although it is disappointing that two of the more recognizable franchises are on the brink of extinction, there are many clubs out there making good. We should not lose sight that all is not bad with the NBL.

Fox Sports show "The Back Page" gave it to the league last night. It is amazing how two clubs can paint a pretty bleak picture for the rest of the franchises.

I'm not saying the league is where it was in the late 80's and 90's but I actually sensed some good coming from last year. Franchises have begun to turn it around and heading in the right direction.

It is a trying time for the NBL right now but I feel that the competition may be a better product with less teams. You never like to see the death of a franchise but life goes on.

Season 2008/09 tipoff cannot come soon enough.

NBL Articles:
Some positive news..Perth has money to sign Darnell Hinson.

This is how Greg Vanderjagt spent his birthday. Lucky him.

Blaze have some love for the Bullets.

Former NBL player Anthony Stewart is running a camp for kids. The emphasis on the camp is how to become a real pain in the ass - Anthony Stewart style.

Boomers begin their Olympic build up this weekend.

D-Mac will not be signing with the Bullets any time soon!

Kobe Bryant an the Los angles Lakers edged to within one game of the championship series. They go 3-1 up on the San Antonio Spurs.

Spurs do not cry foul.

Daily Dime

Is Robert Horry a Hall of Famer?

Orlando Pre Draft Camp started.

Ford has Nathan Jawai at 29.

TNT Playoff Mix - Not bad marketing!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm Confused....I Need More Help Than The NBL

Will the NBL ever witness 15000 at a game again?

Sometime early this morning my phone began "blowing up" with text messages. "Have you heard what is going on?" was the common theme of these messages.

So if you have not heard the Sydney Kings are still in trouble about player payments while the Brisbane Bullets are still owned by Eddie Groves after the "new" consortium led by businessman David Kemp decided it was not for them.

I have wasted a few hours reading and listening to all what has transpired during the day's action and I'm confused. I can only imagine what Chuck Harmison's head is feeling like right now.

(I will list all relevant articles on these topics below.)

Lets take a closer look at the Kings first and see if I can make anything of their situation.

It has been rumoured for months that this franchise has been forgetting to pay their players on the 15th of every month. Until Jason Smith decided to take this matter future who knows when the bleeding might have stopped for him.

Supposedly Smith has now been paid something, just enough to keep the Kings heads above water for now. Although May has nearly ended he is still owed for this month.

As for the players who remain contracted to the Kings they live in hope for now. One player has as little as a few hundred dollars to his name right now.

"I have few hundred in the bank and I have no idea where our owner is and whether he gives a s--- to pay us," said one player. (The Age)

Mark Worthington may find himself in court in the near future.

"Mark Worthington is being sued for breach of contract by the Firepower owners. Worthington, now with the South Dragons, is destined to fight the matter in court as current Sydney Kings players fumed about their poor treatment by controversial owner Tim Johnston." (The Age)

While former teammate Russell Hinder is hopeful of seeing his cabbage.

"I am hopeful that I'll get paid," Hinder said. (The Age)

This has to be hard on the players mentally. Many NBL players cannot afford to go a month without pay let alone several. With families and mortgages that need to be looked after skipping a pay can send absolute chaos into the family dynamic.

I'm very thankful that I can rest my head very easily tonight.

Hopefully for the Kings players sake this issue can be resolved and the franchise can move forward. Is this wishful thinking?

Now the Bullets. Talk about taking something for a test drive.

The Kemp led consortium has been looking over things for quite some time now (about 1 month) but have decided the Bullets are not for them and their cash.

This means Eddie Groves is the owner, again. (Yes I'm confused to, but you have this thing called "due diligence" in business and the Kemp consortium exercised their right. They got out of there quicker then Pero Cameron to a buffet breakfast once they realized work had to be done.)

Bullets new/old owner Groves freely admits that the consortium has every legal right to do what they did, but he just questions the time frame they worked under.

I'm hearing Eddie here, as you would think a few phone calls early on in the buying process and you would realize what sponsors and cash flow are going to be looking like.

I will leave that side of this story for Eddie and his people to figure out and hopefully find a new buyer in time for the Bullets to remain in the competition.

June 30 seems to be the deadline for a new buyer. (If you are an interested party I can russell up the Bullets number for you. If that is not your style or just a little out of your price bracket, this wonderful site might be the right place for you to market your business!)

Where this situation has me baffled is what happens to the players that signed a contract under the Kemp consortium?

I use Greg Vanderjagt as my study case.

Vanderjagt has signed a two year deal with the Bullets franchise. When he signed, it was under the banner of the new but now defunct consortium.

Now if Groves was correct in what he said in his interview (it can be found below and it is worth a listen), Vanderjagt is not his responsibility. If he is not Eddie's responsibility he must be a free agent, surely.

Why I throw this out there is NBL CEO Chuck Harmison reminded franchises today about tampering with contracted players. Is Vanderjagt contracted?

If he is, the NBL needs to take some responsibility in this situation. The NBL has allowed the Kemp consortium to go and sign players when he (Kemp) has never officially signed off as owner of the Bullets.

Is it Greg's and his agent's responsibility to know that this ownership group has a chance to say no to Eddie?

If it is, how can the NBL office sign off on Vanderjagt's contract.

Wow, time for an aspirin or 250 and then bed.

I'm going to dedicate tomorrow morning to finding out more on this situation, then the afternoon will be spent with a tooth comb and my contract.

Oh and by the way Greg, hope you had a happy birthday today.

It is interesting times ahead for these franchises and the sport of basketball in this country.

While we talk about the bad all the time, there are some very successful franchises out there (Townsville being one I can think of) that give this league a good reputation world wide.

Also remember Australia is ranked 2nd in the world so it cannot be all dome and gloom for the sport.

There is no doubting though that the ship needs to be pointed in the right direction so the game can compete in the Aussie sporting marketplace once again.

Articles of Note
Fired up Eddie Groves audio interview..worth a listen
Harmison audio interview
Kings fear for mortgages
Kerle has "No comment"
Boti and his view on the days play.
Hawks safe......could Sav return?
Kings players begin to comment
Groves, Eddie not Cortez worried about NBL's future.
More about the Bullets and Kings.
Singapore bound Castro wins MVP again.
NBL CEO comments
36ers finances are OK.
NBL not in crisis

In the NBA today the Pistons tied up the series at 2 apiece. The series heads back to Boston for Game 5 on Wednesday.

Pistons/Celtics Game 4 Highlights

Monday, May 26, 2008

Weekly ABA Wrap - Gruber Gets Call Up

Manu just followed his nose to the hoop against the Lakers in Game 3.

We have our first ABA product getting the call up to the NBL. The West Sydney Razorbacks have signed Frankston Blues import Dave Gruber for next season. The Northern Iowa product has been tearing the SEABL up with averages of 27 points to go with 15 boards.

Last weekend also saw Michael Cedar drop nearly 100 points in two games. The Townsville Heat went 3-0 on their southern Queensland road trip. Cedar took it easy on the Ipswich Force, only tallying 16 pts but exploded for 53 against my home town Toowoomba Mountaineers and then 41 on the Northside Wizards the next afternoon.

Mike it will not be that easy when we match up this week!

Queensland: Mackay's Colin Oriard goes for 22pts and 27rebs.

Waratah: Imagine the conversation that Bruce Bolden and Butch Hayes had after their game. These young players aren't like they were back in the '70's when we used to ball as teenagers then go and get our hair faded.

Big V: Damon Lowery has zero free throws. Finally someone notices he is the greatest flopper this country has ever seen.

Western Australia: Geordie Cullen drops 41 to remind NBL coaches he is still around.

South Australia: No stats from the Woodville/Norwood clash. Rumour has it Paul Rees was a little hungry.

SEABL: Greg Vanderjagt was not the answer for the struggling Southern Districts Spartans.

Other News:
Rick Rickert (what was his parents thinking!) is hoping to pass a Kirk Penney lead physical so he can rejoin the New Zealand Breakers this season. Rickert was struck down with a back injury (apparently he tried to piggy back Tony Ronaldson) which cut his season short.

Q & A with Nathan Jawai from the USA.

Luke Cooper has signed with Kilsyth in the SEABL. My sources tell me he is playing very well in some scrimmages in Melbourne. Look for him to be a Dragons development player.

Q & A with Rob Beverage. Got to love the Red Nut.

Kings still looking for help. Bring back The Snake, The Moose and The Man Mountain. Imagine the promo nights you could have!

Wollongong Hawks assistant coach Matt Flinn is not happy, Jan.

NBA News:
San Antonio Spurs get on the board against the Los Angles Lakers but still trail 2-1.

Billups to play through injury.

Noah caught with weed, Josh Howard nowhere to be seen.

Kobe and the Jackass Boys!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pistons Pathetic and Too Much Cox For Chinese Taipei

Rahnee Cox and the Opals sweep Chinese Taipei

A few days ago I wrote how I believed that the Detroit Pistons will take care of the Boston Celtics in this series. How wrong I was? The Celtics ran away with an easy 94-80 win today to take a 2-1 lead.

It was one of the most complete team efforts (outside the San Antonio Spurs) I have seen from an NBA team in quite some time. Kevin Garnett had a strong all round game (22pts, 13rebs, 6ass) to be the Men in Greens best.

To go along with Garnett's performance, 5 other Celtics cracked double figure points. I would never have thought the Celts would have been able to win comfortably with Paul Pierce pulling the trigger just six times but with solid contributions from many he is afforded a slow night.

For the Pistons is was Rip Hamilton trying to keep the home team in the game. He had a game high 26, but he had only two other teammates in double figures.

The Pistons would be happy with rookie Rodney Stuckey's play (17pts, 4ass, 4 stls) but Chauncey Billups is who they need to ride at this point of the season. Stuckey needs to keep being that spark off the bench while Billups has to lead from the front.

I have never doubted the Celtics defence and if they continue to share the offense as they did today, I will end up with egg all over my face.

Check out Chris Sheridan's (No relation to my teammate Brad, but they do share the same hairline.) Daily Dime.

A look at how the Celtics can turn it around on the road.

Lakers/Spurs Game 3 Preview

A look at what Mavs Jason Terry gets up to in the off season.

80 million reasons why Andrew Bogut will not join the Boomers until right before the Olympics.

Congrats to the Brisbane Bullets for going up the Torres Strait and working with the children there. It must have been a buzz for both the Bullets and the Torres Strait people. The children would have loved getting some tips from the sporting superstars that visited. While the visitors would have seen a piece of this great country that not all of us get to see. You can invite me any time Brian/Joey.

Kiwi's are supporting their local league.

The Australian Opals have been conducting a clinic on the NSW Central Coast over the past week. The lucky recipient has not been kids from the local area but the Chinese Taipei National Team.

The Opals handed the visitors a 3-0 series sweep, with none of the scorelines very flattering to the opposition. Click here for a write up and boxscore of all three games.

Celtics/Pistons Players Post Game Comments

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Murray Deserves Some Credit

No happy ending for Murray!

The events of this week ended any and all speculation about an early departure of Cowboys coach Graeme Murray as he decided to leave on his own terms. Only a select few will ever have had the luxury of experiencing what truly went on as the entire picture unfolded and I am not one of those few.

However, I would like to talk about is the difference I feel Murray has made to the Cowboys franchise since he took over from Murray Hurst.

Before Murray’s arrival in 2002, the Cowboys had never been considered a finals participant, let alone a genuine championship threat. Murray has consistently raised the level of expectation each and every year to a point where simply making the finals is no longer good enough. Winning your way through a few games of the finals is the new bar.

In Murray’s case, did making that Grand Final in 2005 and falling one game shy of repeating this feat in 2007 lead to the formation unrealistic expectations? I think we have to consider that possibility.

Look at the rosters Murray has successfully made his way to the finals with. Let’s face it, he was able to find some way to bring out the best in some of these guys. Take someone like Ray Cashmere for example. This guy could not get a run anywhere 18 months ago. Under Murray, he has developed into one of the Cowboys most consistent performers.

Luke O’Donnell has raised his level of play to a point where his name is regularly thrown out for an Origin or Australian jumper, assuming he is healthy. Before he made the move North, he struggled to find a spot week in and week out with the West Tigers.

Last but not least, we have to consider Jonathon Thurston, the Bulldog castaway now considered the world’s best player.

Don’t get me wrong, a player has to have talent to succeed at the level we are talking about. It just appears to me that many of the current Cowboy players have come to the club in hopes of becoming a regular first grade player. Murray seems to have a knack for taking these types of guys and getting them to, what many would consider, ‘over-achieve’ as a team.

Whether you look back at Graeme Murray’s track record with Illawarra, Sydney Roosters or now the Cowboys, Murray has always left the place in better shape then when he arrived. And you have to look beyond one year’s win-loss record to get my point.

As a fierce competitor myself, I fully comprehend the concept that championships are a professional organization’s bottom line. But trust me, I also know that the odds of achieving our ultimate goal are tough. In fourteen years I have been on top of the world only once and been a bride’s maid twice, and I would be considered on of the lucky ones.

If you can’t win titles for your club year after year, the very least you can hope for as a coach is that you keep the momentum moving in a forward direction,…keep making progress. Murray succeeded at this for the Cowboys until recent times and, as I mentioned earlier, only few are privy to what occurred in these times of which so many of us have speculated on.

It is a shame to see this partnership end the way it has. It feels to me like Murray went out without getting the recognition he deserved for the good times. I am hopeful that when the dust settles Graeme Murray will find his place in Cowboys history where he will be appreciated fittingly for his time as coach of the Cowboys.

You can find my article in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.

A Little Of This And That From Around The Traps

Jesus Shuttlesworth was back in the building.

The Detroit Pistons levelled their series against the Boston Celtics at 1-1.

It was vintage Pistons basketball that won them the game. Rip Hamilton running like a madman then knocking down the shot. When he wasn't knocking down his mid range "J", it was Chauncey Billups or Rasheed Wallace's turn to hit a key three.

The Pistons executed well on offense then continued to play their smoothing "D" at the other end.

If the Celtics are to remain in this series (next two games are in Detroit) they need to find a way for the "Big Three" (Garnett, Pierce, Allen) to all contribute on the one night.

Ray Allen got back on track in the second half so he seems to have awoken from his coma. While Allen is getting his groove on, Garnett and/or Pierce become spectators.

If the Celtics dream of a championship they need to find a way for all three to be factors in the same game. This has not happened during the playoffs for Doc Rivers and his Celtics.

In saying this I better give the Pistons some credit. Their game plan probably centres around limiting one of the three and their impact on the game.

I'm sticking to my original call of the Pistons in 6.

The hot gossip from Chad Ford. Who is working out well and trade rumours.

NBA Daily Dime

Isiah Victor has become hot property after breaking out during the playoffs for the Sydney Kings. Victor has multiple teams chasing his services, while Wollongong have joined the cue in chasing his autograph.

I feel Victor would be a good fit for many teams in the NBL. What he showed me in limited minutes is his versatility at the four position. Playing behind Mark Worthington restricted his court time at the Kings but I could see him becoming an All NBL Team calibre player if his playing time increased elsewhere.

He would be a good addition to any of the teams that are chasing him.

The Brisbane Bullets have offered Darryl MacDonald a playing contract for next season. The Bullets are hoping to hear back from him in the next few weeks. That should give D-Mac enough time to see how interested the South Dragons are in him.

Are the floodgates for Filipino hoopers about to open in the NBL?

Julius Hodge is still chasing the dream. Sorry 6er fans, Adelaide is not in the dream!

"It is the most over-rated thing in basketball, height," he said. Words from new Singapore Slinger Sam Harris.

Sam, I will gladly take some of those 221cms off your hands and put them to good use.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Winner, Winner....Chicken Dinner

I know there are a few Kobe Bryant haters amongst my readers, but surely if you watched the game today you have to at least respect his game.

For those of you who are in the dark the Los Angles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs played Game 1 of the Western Conference Final today. The Lakers come back to win after being down by twenty points mid way through the third quarter.

The second half was the Kobe Show. Lets not even worry about the 25 points he had after the half. I'm looking at the spoon fed layups he gave Pau Gasol. Greg Vanderjagt would have looked like an All Star out there.

Then there is the "D". He hawks the lanes and gets his hands on a lot of balls creating "easy basket" opportunities for his team.

The one basket I will talk about though is the game winner. Everyone in the building knew who was going to shoot it. Cool and calm as you like, Kobe waited until he had the space to take Bruce Bowen to his sweet spot. Giving a little nudge with the shoulder he created enough space in the lane to get a good look at the rim from 10 feet. Sweet as a nut the shot went.

As I wrote yesterday, this will be a chess match series. It lived up to that today. The Lakers played Tim Duncan one on one to start the game, but come the fourth quarter they where doubling in a hurry. It became very disruptive to Duncan's rhythm. No coincidence this lead to a Spurs scoring drought.

Both teams will make minor changes for Game 2. This will continue to be a ripper series and I can't wait for more KB24.

Other Hoops News:
"Plane debacle" is how Spurs coach Gregg Popovich put it.

Daily Dime

Beasley or Rose for the Bulls?

Stephen A Smith on the OJ Mayo situation.

Scott to stay with Hornets?

Bill Simmons on KG.

A bit of Boti Nagy.

The NBL needs this guy. Anyone interested in helping our game needs to be contacted, fast.

Adelaide get their "Aaron Grabau".

In this article ESPN'S Chad Ford talks about teams making a "promise" to players. Has Joe Ingles been the recipient of a "promise"?

Crocs keep assistants on board.

David Barlow wins another weekly award.

Western Conference, I Speak..Did Anyone Listen?, Jawai On The Rise

Bulls win Lottery.

The Boton Celtics take a 1-0 lead over the Detroit Pistons but the action turns to the Western Conference today. The Los Angles Lakers take on the defending champs, San Antonio Spurs.

How do I see this series going?

Kobe, Kobe, Kobe will do it again. (Bad joke for those Toni, Toni, Toni R&B fans) I just sense that Bryant is on a solo mission to win the championship this year and if anyone else (Odom, Gasol) wants to help out, it just makes that Lakers that much harder to beat.

I feel that Odom is a the key guy to this series. He has been great for the team all season and if he can continue to play efficiently the Spurs are in for a long series. The Spurs will have a problem matching up on him.

Bruce Bowen will need every super power possible to stop Kobe, but then who do the Spurs stick on Odom. If you go with Manu Ginobilli, Odom will post him all day long. Tim Duncan does not have the footstep to contain him on the perimeter. I will be interested to see how this develops over the course of a series.

As for the Spurs, Tony Parker has been tough to date. Keeping him out of the paint will fall onto the shoulders of Derek Fisher. I'm sure he is looking forward to slowing the Frenchman down. If not, it will be left up to Kobe to do a number on Mr Longoria.

Ginobilli and his flopping antics will not work with Kobe. I will give the Argentinian credit though. His spirited play quite often keeps the Spurs around the mark when they go through a scoring drought or two.

Duncan will be looking forward to his matchup against Gasol. He should get some better looks and might even get Gasol into early foul trouble. I'm looking for an aggressive Tim Duncan early in this series.

As for the benches, the Lakers are looking for energy. Ronny Turiaf and Luke Walton are the main providers, while the Spurs a looking for spot up shooters (Brent Barry and Mike Finley) to spread the floor and give Duncan the room to operate down low.

This will become a chess match of a series. Two good teams that are both well coached.
Lakers in 7.

Tonight I was invited to be the guest speaker at a Channel 7 function in my hometown of Toowoomba. Ch 7 were launching their Olympic campaign and asked me to talk about my experience in Athens.

Before I took the stage they showed a brief DVD of memorable Olympic moments. In the highlights there was footage of defining moments in Athens and the memories of some of these events came back like it all happened yesterday. Talk about triggering the emotional buttons.

It truly is an unbelievable experience to have. Words can never really do the Olympic experience justice. You do have to be there to believe it.

I just hope the people in attendance left there thinking, "I cannot wait to see who the next great Aussie athlete will be". History shows that this great sporting country always unearths some hidden talent at the Olympic Games.

After talking about my experience in Athens and watching the DVD footage I left there wishing I could board a plane for Beijing immediately and feel those same emotions I did four years ago.

Good luck to all our Olympians and make the most of the experience.

Changing speeds here. Nathan Jawai has landed in the USA and he is off to a flier with his NBA workouts. He is currently working out in Las Vegas with other potential draft picks and NBA veterans and the feedback has been positive. Check out what ESPN'S Chad Ford had to say.

Chicago Bulls were the winners in the race for the Number 1 pick. The Lottery was held today and here is how the ping pong balls fell.

Cairns guard Dwayne Vale has surgery on his dodgy wheel. He will be out for the rest of the ABA season.

For all those diehard Kings fans, is "Mouse" Robilliard looking for a roster spot on next year's team?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Eastern Conference Final, Ingles Says No To NBA

Sheed needs to stay focused if the Pistons are to advance.

The Eastern Conference final sees the #1 seed Boston Celtics take on #2 Detroit Pistons. The Celtics have already survived two seven game series, so do they have enough left in the tank?

The Pistons have been there, done that before, so it is business as normal. As for the Celtics they have had to expend a lot of energy to get passed Atlanta and Cleveland so the physical Pistons will only put more wear on their already used tyres.

Let's take a deeper look as to who I think will win the series and advance to the NBA Finals.

The Pistons success in this series will sit squarely on the attitude of Rasheed Wallace. Wallace is one of the most talented players in the NBA at both ends of the floor but if he manages to get sidetracked he becomes detrimental to his own team.

The Wallace/Kevin Garnett (Celtics) matchup is going to be a cracka to watch. Each player has the ability to take the other out of their respective comfort zone. Wallace can defend Garnett down low and challenge his array of fake aways, while Garnett has the tools to play Wallace on the perimeter, especially when the Pistons go to their pick and pop offense.

As for the backcourt matchup, someone needs to wake up Ray Allen from his deep sleep if the Celtics are to be at all competitive in this series. To date Allen has just been plain disappointing in the playoffs.

You can argue that the championship winning Pistons backcourt of Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton is the best in the league so Allen and Rajan Rondo better come ready to play. It is key that Rondo makes Billups play at both ends of the floor. Rondo will do his best to make Billups earn everything he gets at the offensive end, but on the flipside, Rondo better stay active on "O" so Mr Big Shot cannot rest.

I feel Allen will come alive in this series because he will have to chase Hamilton around on "D" so he should naturally be more involved in the game. Plus I'm sure he is feeling this is his chance to amend a poor display to date.

Paul Pierce needs to have a huge scoring series for the Celtics but this will be difficult as Tayshaun Prince will love the challenge of locking him down. I feel Pierce is the only guy on the Celtics that can consistently produce offense by his own means. You need this factor when it becomes a grinding style of game.

James Posey is going to be a key player off the bench for the Celtics. His defensive prowess will be required to harass Hamilton and/or Billups while his three point shooting will need to be on target to keep the Pistons defense stretched.

On the other side the Pistons have been getting great service out of rookie Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell throughout the playoffs. Stuckey gained valuable experience in the last two games that Billups missed through injury. Look for these two young promising players to bring some energy of the bench.

The benches for both teams will have their moments but this series is going to come down to which team's "Money Men" come up bigger.

There is no doubt in my mind that Ray Allen will bust out of his slump, but I'm not betting against Chauncey in this situation. Pistons in six.

NBL News:
Joe Ingles puts his NBA dream on hold while he chases his Olympic dream. This would be a tough decision to make when you are young. In Joe's case he still has next year for the NBA draft. I hope Joe knows best and if he does, he might just have his cake and eat it to. Ah, to have options!

36ers coach Scott Ninnis is still hopeful Julius Hodge is his man but in the meantime he is looking at other players. I just hope he is not watching his highlight tape and thinking of making a comeback.

Former basketball player wins rising star nomination.

Jason Crowe looking to get back in the NBL.

NBA News:
Spurs finally win on the road. They advance to the Western Conference final where they play Kobe and his Lakers.

Daily Dime

Draft Lottery is today.

Celtics/Pistons Preview:

Monday, May 19, 2008


You need more than a hand LeBron!

Here is my around the grounds look at what happened in the ABA this past weekend.

Queensland: Former Croc Andrew Goodwin makes one shot all game. The most important one though. Game time.

Waratah: "Plastic Man" Goran Veg has 33 and 19. 13 "o" boards for this Croatian Sensation.

Big V: Melbourne Tigers David Barlow is getting ready for Boomers camp. Has a lazy triple double.

Western Australia: Cockburn too much for Mark Worthington to handle.

South Australia: For anyone that was wondering, former Cairns Tiapan Kane Oakley still plays.

SEABL: Bradley Knuckles goes for 38 and 24. Spectres have a miserable weekend in Tassie!

Paul Pierce and LeBron James try to repeat what Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins did in 1988. Celtics win another Game 7. Now they get the Detroit Pistons.

Daily Dime

Hornets/Spurs Game 7 look ahead.

D-Wade buys his Mum a church.

A Gilbert Arenas blog entry.

Not quite the NBA, but take a look at what former Adelaide 36ers championship winning coach Ken Cole is up to.

Celtics vs Cavs - Game 7

Sunday, May 18, 2008

How I Handled My Weekend

Will Lebron let Paul Pierce take centre stage today? (Game 7)

This weekend was pretty quiet up here in the 'Ville. A little pictionary (kicked ass), some under 10's hoops and another Cowboys lose.

The most productive thing I accomplished over the two days was read HANDLE magazine. The May/June edition can be found in your favourite newsagency.

This edition is a good read if you are NBA inclined. Kobe on the cover with Chauncey and Rip inside. Also included is the top 10 small forwards in the NBA. There is no doubting that LeBron is number one, but I would argue that Caron Bulter could move up to three, just behind Paul Pierce. Bulter is a very complete player and showed in the absences of Gilbert Arenas he can carry a team.

Shawn Marion would slip in my rankings (still in top 10). Since the trade from Phoenix to Miami no one can argue that he is a very good complimentary player, just not a franchise player.

One player that missed the cut but will become a regular is Indiana Pacers Danny Granger. Playing on a bad Pacers team does not help your stock but watch for this talent to rise over the next few years.

Kiwi CJ Bruton talks about who he feels will make the Boomers Beijing Olympic team. Talk about sitting on the fence. CJ, grow a pair and put yourself in the team.

On the local side of things there is a breakdown of the best 25 male juniors in the country.

The thing that impressed me the most was the amount of prizes you can win. Anything from a Pat Mills signed jersey to AND1 shoes and messenger bags. I would give anything to be a kid again.

Somehow I think my 3 kids will be putting in some entries!

What's Happening in the USA:
Today the Celtics and the Cavs play for all the marbles (Game 7). The reward for winning this game is a rested Detroit Pistons. Here is a breakdown.

MVP Kobe Bryant leads his Lakers past the Utah Jazz. I watched this game. Did anyone else think Okur should have passed it back to Kyle Korver for a three in the corner?

Terry Porter gets interview with Suns.

Kevin Love getting ready for the draft. (Watch the video to see what he's going thru.)

Award winners of the playoffs so far.

Stephen A on new GM Donnie Walsh and the Knicks.

The smartest but worst team in America?

News from Around Here
Jawai trimming down to get that PHAT cheque.

Conner Henry is now officially the head coach of Perth.

Nicholls St touring Australia.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Timing Is Everything

Scott Prince did not get the thumbs up from the Queensland selectors.

State of Origin will be dominating the sporting headlines for a good portion of the next month. It has already gotten off to a flying start this week with debate about the exclusion of Scott Prince from the Queensland team.

Well, I’ll weigh in on the debate right now. Should Prince have made the team? I’m sure I’m not alone when I say our home and work place has mapped out every possible ‘what if’ situation already. The truth of what happened is simple: Sometimes players become victims of circumstance Prince is one of those players this time around.

As some wise person once said, “Timing is everything,” and Prince’s timing is just a little unfortunate, having to beat out the guy that most footy experts rate as the best footballer in the world, Jonathon Thurston.

The way the Gold Coast Titans have performed early this season, there is no doubt that if the Dally M Medal was given today, Prince would be a shoe in. It does seem unfair that a guy showing career best form and carving up the competition cannot get a start.

When you are second in line behind the best in the world, life is going to seem a little unfair more than once. Maybe Prince should commiserate with a guy like Stuart MacGill. This guy has the best strike rate of any modern day leg spinner, but had to try to topple the likes of Shane Warne in order to consistently play for Australia. Talk about an up hill battle!

Right now, I guess all a guy in this position can do is concentrate on what makes him successful week to week, in Prince’s case, it is leading the Titans forward. I also think mentally he needs to be ready for the possibility of a call up for game 2 and/or 3. If that opportunity presents itself, he better make the most of it.

The NBA draft is 40 days away and Australia has a few young players putting their hat in the ring. There is still plenty of time before the draft for these players to either do themselves and their dreams of playing in the NBA some good, or potentially even some damage. Here is a run down of the candidates:

Nathan Jawai: This Cairns Taipans product has started to make some NBA scouts take notice. Once considered a second round pick, it seems as though Nate could sneek into the first round. I look for Jawai to be drafted; the big question how high.

Joe Ingles: I look for this guy to take a similar path to Brad Newley. Ingles will use this time around in the lead up to the draft as a learning experience and will give it a real crack next year. He is currently rated anywhere from a second round pick to not being drafted at all this year.

Aleks Maric: This may not be a name that many Australians are familiar with, because this Sydney-sider has been working his game in the American college system for the last four years. His productivity at the University of Nebraska puts Maric as an outside chance of being drafted. Unfortunately for those fans of the NBL, I think Maric will pack his bags for Europe if the NBA does not have room for him.

It is exciting to see Australian born players in a position to make the NBA again. Not since 1997, when Crocs own Ben Pepper along with fellow NBL stars Chris Anstey, CJ Bruton and Paul Rogers put their names in for the NBA draft, has Australia had multiple players drafted in the same year.

Last but not least, Go the Maroons next Wednesday night.

You can check out my article every Saturday in the Townsville Bulletin.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dmac To Dragons? and Jawai Moving Up

Nathan Jawai is being compared to Charles Oakley.

Less than 24 hours ago Darryl MacDonald was retired from basketball. Now my sources have informed me he is heading to the South Dragons!

Yesterday a few media outlets hinted that MacDonald was heading to the Brisbane Bullets on a three year deal. One to play, then two more as an assistant coach.

MacDonald has played for Brian Goorjian before so the move across town is not out of the question.

I will keep my ear low to the ground on this one and keep you informed as we go.

Nathan Jawai has skyrocketed up the draft board to number 28 in the 2008 NBA draft.

It is still 42 days to go before the draft so a lot can happen but here is a look at what Big Nate has in front of him.

He is heading State side this week and all his focus will be on the Orlando Pre Draft Camp. This camp in Florida runs from May 27 to the 30th. This is where Jawai needs to shine as this is the best forum before the draft happens. During his time at the camp he will be put through drills during the day and play games at night, all under the watchful eye of NBA execs. (Check out the above link for a full run down on a days activity.)

After the camp is over Jawai can then go and work out for teams individually. This year is the first time this has happened. Previously players could workout before and during this camp for teams.

Rumours have Jawai working out for 19 teams. It could easily escalate to well into the twenties if his camp goes well.

All the best to Nate and fellow Aussie Aleks Maric who will be attending the Orlando camp as well.

Other NBL News:

Dusty Rychart is getting no love at the moment.

Kings owner shows the way!

Is CJ Bruton the right fit for New Zealand?

Former NBL MVP Brian Wethers still hasn't found a shot he doesn't like!

State Side:

Celts win again at home. They lead 3-2 against the LeBron's.

Lakers back to winning ways. Take 3-2 lead over Jazz.

Bill Simmons with a classic.

Ainge wins Top Exec award.

Marbury is practicing for new style.

Sonics future is not clear. (DJ Leon Smith will be having some sleepless nights!)

NBA Daily Dime