Posts Tagged ‘Kobe Bryant’

Yup. I feel you Kob.

When I was a kid, I believed in imaginary things. I would talk about them with a vigor and reality that you would think that they were as real as air we breathe or Herman Cain’s ridiculousness. It was fun though, and somehow to me it made valid sense that Stone Cold Steve Austin could punch The Rock in the face 15 times in a row, and Dwayne’s nose did burst into a pizza sauce style platter. It made sense that the winner of Batman fighting Superman had more relevance than the Easter Bunny arm wrestling the Tooth Fairy. These things were real to me, so they really mattered.

Somewhere along the line, the NBA jumped the fence into this zone. And actually it happened in late spring when they decided to not play basketball until business became “fair” (fair remaining the most ridiculous word ever created, right before “equal”). I’ve been down this path with David Stern and his guys before. Back in ’99, when I was transitioning out of my imaginary stage still, I was a HUGE NBA fan. I sat on the edge of my seat and waited out every detail of the Lockout and rejoiced when it was worked out. I was thankful for that horrible little piece of a season they tossed us, and hoped it would never happen again.

Well, again happened, and I’m not up for playing the fool two times in a row. But this presents a huge dilemma for my inner sports fan: because the NBA has the most interesting subplots of any league. It’s easy to compare, fun to talk about (even if morbidly repetitive) and fills in the weeks between football Sundays masterfully. Eventually, it’s going to really suck not having it to both debate, complain about and be in awe at.

However, I’m grown now. I don’t believe in imaginary things, and right now the actual NBA, and any topics around it’s play, is just that: a figment of our very vivid and starved imaginations. BUT if I was going to talk about the NBA around this part of the year, this MAY be what I would be talking around…

 

1. Will the Lakers get right? Like the Yankees and Patriots, you feel like they can do it any year they take the court. Kobe is still there, he’s mad and he’s more well rested than he’s been in like the last half decade. Time for that late career push, time to go for Mike’s numbers, time to cement that legacy for good baby!!!

No, wait, it isn’t. Because the best player the game has since the Jumpman took off his kicks and put on his zoot suit pants isn’t playing in LA, rather he’s watching soccer in Beverly Hills and deciding if he wants to go hoop in Borat’s homeland. So I can’t talk about any of that other stuff, so I won’t.

2. How long will Dwight Howard be in Florida? Hell, when will his time start in Florida again?

3. Do the Mavs have that in them over a whole season? They’re the champs, but come on now, they just got hot at the wrong time. If Dirk played like that over the whole year, he’d be the best player in the game, and we all know that isn’t true…not at this point in his career. But, hey they are the champs, and they beat Kobe, Durant and Wade/Bron to do it, so let’s see if they do it again.

And wait we shall, because….

So let me get this straight: if the season doesn't start, are they the 2011 AND 2012 Champs? I mean nobody else won it in that time, so....I'm just sayin.

4. Who’s better at the point? Best debate in the league: who’s the best at the point? Well, I dig D. Will, cause what doesn’t he do? But Rondo hands the rock around like nobody else and plays the best D. But nobody since Stockton has got the ball around like CP3, and he almost took the Lakers out last year. Russ Westbrook can’t be guarded, and once he picks his shot better…man! But hold up though, you gotta miss me with all of that because D. Rose had the best record in the League AND won MVP, he gotta be that guy.

Well….guess what? We’re all right and we’re all wrong right now.

5. Is Kyrie the answer? The Cavs where flat out terrible last year, but yo, they landed two picks in the top 5 of the Draft. They GOTTA be at least fun to watch now, right? I’ll get back to you on that.

6. Why doesn’t St. Louis have a squad? I mean I’m only explaining this because I live here and a whole lot of folks don’t get why that isn’t happening until either a) either the Rams or Blues are gone and/or b) ever rolls around on the calendar. But since cities that have them already aren’t even watching their squads, I’ll chill on that too.

7. Will Melo and Amare over a whole year be a problem? I would talk about how the Knicks are putting up numbers and giving up a ton of em on the other end. I mean, with Melo and Amare, somebody’s getting cooked and they gotta be one piece away from rocking with the Heat and Bulls right? Well, actually no. No they aren’t.

8. Did you see Blake Griffin last night? Nawl, I didn’t see Blake dunk the entire Staples Center last night, including the championship banners that don’t belong to the Clippers at the roof. Nope, I missed all of that. Shoot me the You Tube link if you come across it though.

Nawl, I didn't see this last night. And you didn't either.

9. Who’s going #1? It’s going to be an amazing college basketball season, but why would I talk about if Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Percy Jones or Austin Rivers is going #1. Why would they go anywhere? So they can chill and play rec games and flag football? Nope. I’m just gonna let them live on their college games like they have four whole years to do it.

10. The Heat: No matter how annoying it gets or how many good points you I’d see, I won’t be able to talk about LeBron being the best player in any game he’s in until (insert your own choke line here). Or why comparing him to Kobe (or anybody else) is (insert another line of choice here) as well. I can’t talk about what would happen if the Heat and Lakers finally played a game that mattered. I can’t see them take on the Dallas again and try to pick their faces up off the ground. Nor is there any point in the constant “What if’s” about who should be doing what, who’s squad it is or if Chris Bosh even has a pulse.

 

Nope. I can’t talk about any of that. So I won’t until a gym is actually unlocked and/or a check is cut. Peace.

 

Follow me on Twitter as continue to rebel against any and all things imaginary at @CheapSeatFan.

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As expected, neither side of the NBA’s power structure, the acts or the management could come to an agreement yesterday and they became the second major pro sport to “lockout” its talent. With that said, the issues that are separating the NBA are much more radical than the one’s facing the NFL. The NBA has essentially become the most segregated (financial) league in the game, even with a salary cap in place. And whenever dollars being discussed, sense goes out the window, and pushing every single issue as far as it can be shoved in order for every side to have their grievances aired is the order of the day….or month….or year.

Essentially the NBA has closed ranks on everything around it and won’t even be beginning discussions for weeks. When they do start they will be essentially be wiping the structure of the League clean and reformatting it. This could, and will, take a long time to sort out, and an abbreviated season is guaranteed. Even when they locked out for lesser issues in 1998-99 they still only played 50 games and by many accounts this one will be much tougher to sort out.

So what if it’s off the board completely? David Stern is going to be highest paid custodian in America trying to clean up the mess his league is headed into. No NBA for the next 12 months…what issues on the court get altered? How do some careers take the fall with lost time on the court…but increased age picked up in the process? Does the very direction of the League itself get altered due to what is decided in the indefinite amount of meetings that are on deck? While it’s too early to say how exactly it shakes loose, here are 10 issues and scenarios that could come to play out if the NBA debates win out over the game itself.

10. Big men rest big injuries for longer: Greg Oden and Yao Ming have been two of the biggest shadows looming over the NBA for the last few years, but haven’t given anything back at all. Combined they have played a total of 91 minutes across 5 games last year (belonging to Yao). However, height is the one thing you don’t give up on (unless it’s Eddy Curry), so both of these former #1 overall picks still have some value (and apparently its $8.8 million for Oden already). Both are due to see freedom of the restricted variety soon, and with some extra time to heal up they could manage to glue their potential back together.

With some extra time to heal, perhaps it won't be too late for Oden to deliver on promise (no guarantees though).

9. Study Abroad: Could there be more instances of Josh Childress-like moves across seas from free agent NBAers? It’s not completely likely due to the fact that it all could get resolved sometime mid contract for anybody that goes across seas, but it wouldn’t be completely unlikely to see a few guys in need of a payday head across the pond.

8. The Raptors get their guy earlier: The Raptors draft Jonas Valanciunas with the intent on waiting for him to fulfill his contract in Lithuania and join them in 2012. Well now with the NBA potentially not even starting up until 2012 itself, he could have been the steal of the Draft as he could be right on time showing up now. This could be a stroke of drafting genius, as landing a 7 footer with athleticism and the ability to stop the ball at the rim is always a benefit in today’s NBA where that is becoming more and more rare.

7. The end of the Tim Duncan: If somehow a shortened season happens, then forget all of this about him. He’ll be ready to go next year and in a leading fashion unlike he has served in the last few years most likely, due to not having to save himself for as many games. However, if this lasts over a full season, then what’s left of Timmy could be lost in time, as he definitely has a very short leash left in his reserves.

With a prolonged lockout, the chances of more Duncan become slimmer and slimmer.

6. Boost to the College Game…at the right time: Basketball fans are going to get hungry for the game. And while there are some hardcore NBA fans who could care less about the college game at all, by the time February comes around and there is no All-Star game, they thirst for some kind of basketball will be overwhelming, and the turn will go back to the college courts. With more talent returning to school this season than in any other recent season (largely because this now real lockout was looming), the college game should be better than it has been in many years.

Teams like North Carolina are returning extra talent this year, and could be the stars of the basketball universe next year.

5. Double the kids: Speaking of the youth, there could be a double dose of that hitting the league at once if this lasts into next summer. Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis or Perry Jones could be joining Kyrie Irving as a double debuting #1 pick next year. Take the NHL for example: when their season was missed in 2004-05 they had a totally open Lottery with position based on most frequent times choosing #1 and Playoff appearances over the last three years. This would be really bad for the Cavs, but could spell money for the Clippers, Wizards and Timberwolves of the world. At any rate, that could raise the comp for Rookie of the Year to an epic level…whenever it may be competed for.

4. Kobe’s run up the record books: He reaching rarefied air in the NBA record books, but he’s also 14 years in and at over 48,000 minutes played at the demanding guard position. So while time isn’t over yet, it’s definitely nowhere near endless anymore. He just had plasma therapy done on his knee and it is the third procedure within the last year to ease what has become a constant issue for him. #24 would be best served by not having any of his time wasted away from being on the court. Plus, he’ll be charged with rallying what will be a much different Laker club around himself, and having the certainty of when he’ll need to take to that task would definitely help.

3. The balance of power in the East: The East will look really different in one way or another when this is all resolved, and either way it won’t end up like it was projected to before the books were opened and revised. The Knicks attempt at following the Heat’s talent stocking model will probably be capped (no pun intended) at Carmelo and Amare. The Heat themselves may even have to drop one of their marquee names (bye Bosh). The Celtics will feel the burn of the sands of time more than any other club that isn’t based out of San Antonio. They were biding their time already with the Big Three, and they are the only contender in the division that is pushing for the title with a completely past their prime core. Either way, the future is looking good for teams that are already set.

2. The Biggest Olympics since ’92: If no basketball happens until the Olympic tip-off in July 2012, it will be the most anticipated moment in U.S. basketball in a long time. It will be a matter of national pride on the biggest stage and the return of NBA ballers of the highest caliber. It won’t be Jordan, Magic and Bird linking up for the first time and they definitely won’t be destroying the opponents 40 points, but it will definitely be Heaven on Basketball Earth to say the least.

These guys won't be back when the Olympics tips off, but it could feel like it.

1. What really changes what would have been: The communist v. proletariat way the NBA was headed in is over. This could lead to a lot of “What if” scenarios along those lines to not happen, simply because how funds (and how much will be available) is simply an unknown. One thing that is for certain is the majority of NBA owners are going to do everything in their power to spread money out more even to ensure they don’t continue to lose on their investment (only seven teams made money a year ago). Also, the small market owners are going to see to it that it’s much, much harder for their franchise saviors to jump ship to more attractive teams and larger markets.

The post-lockout Chris Paul race could look much different than how it was looking beforehand.

The value of the dollar is going to be reshaped tremendously, and will likely favor keeping teams intact. So Dwight Howard to LA could get considerably tougher without the Lakers moving out nearly everything. The Knicks extra piece may not be Chris Paul or Deron Williams, and speaking of Williams, this could mean a definite stay in Jersey. Looking ahead at other guys not on contenders that could be looking to jump into future mixes such as Kevin Love and Blake Griffin, it won’t be as easy to go from the cellar to the penthouse, and a promotion up the ladder of success may stop with the Orlandos, Indianas and Houstons of the world.

Overall, the times are changing, both the past is very subject to the future.

The word following up the NBA Finals hasn’t been in the spirit of celebrating the victors; rather it has been towards the promise unfilled by one LeBron James of southern Florida fame. There has been a world of talk and example made about his shortcomings, and I’ve already addressed that here, so I wont’ go any further into that. Rather lets take a look back at some the fails that took place over the course of the entire season here.

Jennings couldn't recapture his rookie magic, and the Bucks couldn't continue to grow either.

From the a much discussed free agent carnival in the summer of ’10, all the way through a quite unpredictable season on the court, the 2010-11 NBA was full of all sorts of highs and lows, deliveries on promise and M.I.A. missions as well. While there were a few teams and players that came up short on what was called for them this year (the Bucks, Rockets, David Lee and Deron Williams/Jerry Sloan to mention a few), below are what I see as being the biggest “WTF?” moments and performances of the season. On Monday, we’ll take a look at the biggest surprises and overachievers from the year past as CSP moves into NBA Draft week….and perhaps some off court struggles that could be the #1 moment on this list next year.

 

5. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers seemed like they were on cruise control all season and never really showed the flare to have the push that everybody was waiting to see out of them. Even Kobe kind of seem to go through the motions this year (which still lead to him being a top 5 MVP finalist). In the end, they caught a sweep in the Western Semifinals, and ended it in a classless manner that proved they were only the team they had been the previous two seasons in appearance only.

In the end, even Bryant couldn't will his Lakers to finding their stride for long this year.

4. Milwaukee Bucks: This was a team a year ago that made a surprisingly strong push behind Brandon Jennings major debut, and even touched the playoffs after some good trade deadline moves around John Salmons. However, a year later after adding to that core and getting a monster year out of Andrew Bogut around the rim, they got worse in a division that got much worse too…very strange.

3. Carlos Boozer: He was brought in to give the Bulls a front court scoring threat for the first time since Elton Brand was jettisoned, but often was more obstacle that asset. Running in the pick and roll based attack Jerry Sloan deployed in Utah, his jump shot based offense was perfect, but he was asked to create more of his own offense this year and struggled to do so against the variety of athletic forwards in the East. Either the Bulls have to tweak their attack or Boozer has to find a way to get new openings because he wasn’t brought over for 17 points and 9 rebounds a night.

2. San Antonio Spurs: It’s rare that you see a veteran team just absolutely lose their way like the Spurs did down the stretch; let alone one that has the championship pedigree this squad does. The Spurs raced out to what remained an insurmountable start to be the best club in the West all season. They lost 21 games on the season, but 10 of them came after March 1. By March that was just by record as they began a collapse that followed them into the Playoffs and showed them an early door. What’s more alarming, yet shouldn’t be surprising, is that the young Grizzlies pushed them to several clutch moments in their first round matchup that should have favored the Spurs, but they couldn’t capitalize on them and became the third #1 seed to lose in the first round ever. Never has a team began to look it’s age so quickly over the course of a season.

1. The 2010 Draft Class: Blake Griffin’s success in his debut masked the fact that his fellow rookies (that he wasn’t even drafted with mind you) did little to nothing. John Wall had a solid debut and shows exactly what he can be for the Wizards, but the rest of the group? It was nothing to write home about if you like to give good news. Of the All-Rookie team, Gary Neal was a free agent signing and Landry Fields was a second rounder. Of all Draft picks from last April, only Wall and DeMarcus Cousins managed to average double figures. While it’s still early to doom them to complete Bustville, they could be the first leg to the worst back to back years of new talent in NBA History. Stay tuned.

Wall showed up all season in D.C., but the rest of his fellow true rooks didn't have the best attendance.

 

 

Don’t see the biggest failure of the season from your seat here? Somebody taking an extra amount of heat they don’t need here? Comment and let me know. Also follow-up over on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan AND @STLSport360

NBA season is a wrap, but taking a look ahead is never a bad thing. So I’m taking in some of the best questions I got sent in from Twitter in the last few days and answering them here today. I may do this again, especially around Draft time next week, so if you have more you want to discuss here in the CHEAP SEATS, shoot me a Tweet over at @CheapSeatFan and we’ll chop it up here.

Until then, let’s get into it.

 

WAS THE MAVERICKS RUN A “ONE AND DONE”?

Hard to say, it will be struggle to get back to that level again for a few reasons. Number one is that they are in the West, and coming out of a division where the eight seed could have nearly 50 wins is a beast. Also they have to resign a lot of their key pieces (Chandler, Barea, Butler, Stevenson, Stojakovic), and coming off of a championship run, they’ll be able to command larger salary demands than usual. Plus the core of Nowitzki, Kidd and Terry are all over 30 and this could have been their great motivated push to justify their careers.

The Mavs took the title in the first year of Dirk's new contract...and perhaps second career peak.

However, it’s always easier to say why it can’t be than why it can. While Dirk’s show was often the big attraction, he Mavs playoff run was the finest overall team efforts in NBA history. The Detroit Pistons of the mid-00’s were written off after claiming their title over the highly favored Lakers, yet that jump started a 5 year run of being one of the best overall teams in basketball. These Mavs display all of those same elements right now. The chemistry this team displayed won’t disappear overnight, and Dirk seems to have found a second prime out of nowhere. They already aren’t the favorites in their own division in Vegas for next year already, so one of the great underrated teams ever already has another chip in place to knock off again.

 

 

WAS THAT AS GOOD AS THE MIAMI HEAT CAN BE?

Actually from a supporting cast standpoint, this was the worst team they’ll be able to field this year….maybe. Under the current (yet very likely to change) salary cap structure, they’ll have more money under the mid-level exception to add greater talent to their long-term core of LeBron/Wade/Bosh/Haslem/Anthony/Miller.

Everything around just how this team will be able to proceed, however, is up in air, as they have more money committed longer than any other club ($70 million through 2013-14), but they also will be in the position of dropping a lot of dead weight from their roster as well immediately. They may not bring back anybody from the majority of their bench, and if nothing else, they may can adjust and make another run with some more useful pieces acquired with the free money and cap alignment they could have. However, for a team that took a long time to mesh after a complete face lift a year ago, bringing in another vastly different cast could be a major concern once again. The soap opera continues on Days of the Heat…

 

CAN MIKE BROWN LAUNCH THE  LAKERS INTO ANOTHER RUN?

I’ve said it on repeat, but I’ll do it again: there’s no job I would’ve wanted less than this one. The Lakers have a world of expectation that’s in place regardless, but after a season that ended with a sweep to conclude their three consecutive trips to the Finals, the retirement of the greatest coach ever and not to forget the ugly fashion surrounding it all, there’s a lot of clean up that needs to be done here. This all hinges on if Kobe accepts a coach he apparently didn’t favor having guide him, if the team makes the necessary additions to its structure (getting faster and adding some shooters) and if they can synthesize all of this at once. Then yeah, Mike Brown can do it. But best of luck not aging double time in the process my man.

 

WHAT KIND OF IMPACT CAN RICKY RUBIO MAKE?

All eyes will meet Rubio from the moment he takes controls of an NBA game for the first time.

Well it’s the  Minnesota Timberwolves, so any type of boost offers some sort of hope. As for now, the young Spanish sensation has the brightest spotlight of any new NBA-er shining over him. Rubio has digressed some evidently since being the best non-American performer in the 2008 Olympics, but he also hasn’t played with players the caliber of even what the Wolves offer in the NBA to help him capitalize on greatest gift: making himself better by making others better. His fellow draft mate in 2009, Johnny Flynn hasn’t panned out and been able to lead the Wolves to more than 32 wins over the last 2 years, but they probably have more talent on their roster now than they have since Kevin Garnett was at the driver’s wheel, and adding a legit play creating PG to the mix is needed here.

As with all foreign guys, especially young ones, the potential for being lost in translation is always there. And despite his heavy experience at the pro level already, Rubio is still only 20 years old. However, he brings a level of professional familiarity at that age that many other young PG’s that have been saddled with franchises in bad shape upon their NBA debuts (see Wall, John and Rose, Derrick) did not have yet. Plus, in a rare wild card scenario, he’ll be spending time with the perfect example of what NOT to do every day after coming over from Europe with some amazing expectations: Darko Milicic. So maybe it’s not too late for Darko to give something back to the league…maybe. Praise Joe Dumars.

 

ARE THERE ANY FREE AGENTS THAT CAN CHANGE A TEAM LIKE LAST YEAR’S GROUP?

None. Not one whatsoever. And with the entire financial picture of the NBA up for redefinition as well, we could be in store for seeing a holding pattern on all major signings, similar to what is happening in the NFL right now. The top unrestricted, completely available guys on the market are Tyson Chandler, Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler, JJ Barea, J.R. Smith, Shane Battier, Andrei Kirilenko and the high risk, “are you sure about this?” tandem of Yao Ming and Michael Redd. Other names that could throw their hats in the ring with termination options are Tim Duncan, David West, Nene and Shannon Brown.

Crawford is a definite scoring boost, but doesn't bring a franchise direction shift.

With the exception of Duncan (who is going nowhere…we’ve been here before), none of these guys can change the entire direction of team by himself. However, it is a good year for teams that need to pick up that one piece to get over the top. So for the Knicks, Bulls, Lakers, Thunder, Heat and Pacers of the world, it’s a great year, but not so much for any club looking to redefine themselves with one player. Whenever it gets to that point, which brings us to…

 

NBA LOCKOUT: What’s going on with the NBA finances and what’s it all going to lead up to?

The NBA is in a bad place right now financially, competitively and harmonically. There are a lot of things on the table that need some adjustment and all are coming to head at once. Some teams are losing their only attraction and therefore losing money. Other teams are gathering together much of each All-Star team in one place and in a way contracting the competition in the league. Other teams are laughing in the face of the league’s “salary cap” and going around it or flat out paying luxury taxes for going over, simply because they can afford to. Well a change is a-coming to the NBA, and it seems that one half is completely fine with holding off any more tip offs until it is resolved.

Cleveland's Dan Gilbert is one of several owners that are looking for a way for top talent to stay put.

One thing is for certain, the NBA will not go to full free market, Major League Baseball “buy what you can afford” method. And although they have what appears to be the most orderly method of managing team assets and spreading the wealth around now, recent trends have shown there is much more to it than meets the eyes. Peep:

Currently the NBA has no hard, absolute salary cap. In 2010-11, the cap was just over $58 million per team. While there is a penalty for going over it, there are plenty of ways to get around it. Mid-level exceptions allow players to be signed at the average NBA salary of all other players without it counting against the cap. Bi-annual exceptions can be spread across two years and used on multiple players. First round rookie signings don’t hit the cap. But it gets even more confusing that this: teams can absorb player salaries they trade for even if it takes them over the cap for a year (which makes the “sign-and-trade” deal so crafty) and a basic minimum salary can be signed if it takes a team over the cap, as long as it is for two years. There’s a lot going on here which makes the idea of a “salary cap” transparent as it gets.

Basically, the way things are right now, it’s not overly difficult to sign a few, high talent guys to massive contracts and then figure out ways to budget the rest of the team around them. Especially if the other players, who just want to be surrounded by those main talents, are willing to be creative with when and how they are compensated.

Many owners want to wipe this away and set a hard cap that has little wiggle room, which will keep players from having as many options on where to go get their money from. Which you can obviously see would be a problem from the player’s perspective. However, it could also be used retroactively to break apart high salary teams to a small number of players so that they could manage to field a full team (pay attention Heat and Laker fans), so it would end the potential of future alliances of superstars AND break apart the ones at work right now. Basically, the times are changing and nothing else will probably go into motion until they decide what time zone they want to work in now. We may need to start praying right now for next October.

 

I’m not even going to try to introduce these guys. Basically cause they don’t need it. I’ll just say this:

– 44 Championships

– 27 MVPs

– And the reasons for every dynasty in NBA history

Enjoy, and the review is coming up next week.

10. JERRY WEST-Shooting Guard-1960 to 1974-Los Angeles Lakers

THE NUMBERS: 27 ppg, 6.7 apg, 5.8 rpg, 2.6 spg, .474 FG%

THE HONOR ROLL: 1 Championship, 14 x All-Star, 10 x All-NBA, 2 x All-NBA 2nd, 4 x All-Defense, Finals MVP (1969), All-Star MVP (1972)

THE +/-: Greatest perimeter based guard ever….who’s place in history is hurt by lack of markers to recall it

As player well before his time, West was the first great distance shooter in league history, but it was when range didn’t improve points. This didn’t stop his productivity, as he averaged better than 30 points four times. Far from a one trick show, at barely 6’3, he snatched at least seven rebounds a night four times, and finished his career with 3 consecutive years of 8.8 assists a game or better. His greatest all-around effort came in the form of a 44 point (on 16 of 17 shooting and 12 of 12 free throws), 12 rebound, 12 assist and 10 block game. Considered one of the greatest defenders ever, but it is largely unnoticed since until the end of his era, All-Defense teams didn’t exist. In the postseason, he earned his title of “Mr. Clutch” by averaging 29.1 points per game over his playoff career. He also holds the record for highest scoring average one series with 46.3 in 1965, and set another record that year by averaging 40.6 points for the entire playoffs. He led the Lakers to 33-game winning streak in route to his first championship, and two years before that effort he became the only player to ever win Finals MVP….while playing for the losing team.


9. OSCAR ROBERTSON-Guard-1960 to 1974-Cincinnati Royals, Milwaukee Bucks

THE NUMBERS: 25.7 ppg, 9.5 apg, 7.5 rpg, 1.1 spg, .485 FG %

THE HONOR ROLL: 1 Championship, MVP (’64), 12 x All-Star, 9 x All-NBA, 2x All-NBA 2nd, 3 x All-Star MVP (’61, ’64, ’69), Rookie of the Year (’60)

THE +/-: Most uniquely talented guard ever….who often pushed too hard to win single-handedly

A unique blend of physical power, scoring prowess and court vision, the Big O has inserted himself in history on an overall level like no other player. He is the only player to average a triple-double for a season, when in 1962 he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists. Overall, his total numbers from his first five seasons averaged out would equal a triple-double as well. Overall his 181 triple-doubles are by far the NBA record, better than 40 from the runner-up. He had five seasons of averaging 30 points and at least 10 assists, and is the first player to ever average more than 10 dimes a night in league history. Robertson averaged eight assists or better for 11 consecutive seasons. Off the court, his challenge of the NBA contract structure via an antitrust lawsuit led to what has resulted in free agency and what built up into today’s contractual levels.

8. TIM DUNCAN-Power Forward-1997 to present-San Antonio Spurs

THE NUMBERS: 20.7 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 3.2 apg, .507 FG %

THE HONOR ROLL: 4 Championships, 2 x MVP (’02, ’03), 13 x All-Star, 9 x All-NBA, 3 x All-NBA 2nd, 8 x All-Defense, 5 x All-Defense 2nd, 3 x Finals MVP (’99, ’03, ’05), Rookie of the Year (’97)

THE +/-: The most consistent player of all-time…who’s reserved demeanor often shields him from scrutiny other high-profile stars receive

The best overall power forward ever and the most decorated defender in League history, Duncan is perhaps the steadiest Championship-caliber player ever. Duncan has averaged over 11 rebounds and 20 points nine times, respectively, and 2 blocks a game 10 times. All while never putting up higher than 25.5 points, 12.9 rebounds or 2.9 blocks in any one season. He has headed, quietly of course, one of the most successful teams in the last 20 years since he debuted in 1997. His 13 overall selections to the All-Defensive Team are a record, and he is the only player in history to be chosen for both an All-NBA and All-Defense Team for the first 13 years of his career. Among those selections, he is one of four players to make the All-NBA First Team for first eight years. An underrated in the clutch, all of his career averages are higher in the course of his 176 Playoff games.

7. LARRY BIRD-Small Forward-1979 to 1992-Boston Celtics

THE NUMBERS: 24.3 ppg, 10 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.7 spg, 496 FG %, .886 FT %

THE HONOR ROLL: 3 Championships, 3 x MVP (’84, ’85, ’86), 12 x All-Star, 9 x All-NBA, 3 x All-Defense 2nd, 2 x Finals MVP (’84, ’86), Rookie of the Year (’79)

THE +/-: The most well-rounded forward ever….who’s back injuries robbed him of his game early.

The perfect blend of shooting touch, court vision, toughness and clutch flare, who could seemingly will his way to victories using his wide variety of talents. There never was, and has never been, another Larry Legend. He dominated the mid-80’s when the NBA was at its strongest, and won 3 consecutive MVP awards, becoming one of three to ever accomplish this. In ’84 and ’86, he added Championships and Finals MVP nods as well. In NBA history, only Bird has averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, and his 59 triple doubles are fifth most ever. In addition, he was best trash talker ever, and would often tell opponents where and how he would score, before doing it.

6. KOBE BRYANT-Shooting Guard-1996 to present-Los Angeles Lakers

THE NUMBERS: 25.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.7 apg, 1.5 spg, .454 FG %

THE HONOR ROLL: 5 Championships, MVP (’08), 13 x All-Star, 9 x All-NBA, 2 x All-NBA 2nd, 9 x All-Defense, 2 x Finals MVP (’09, ’10), 4 x All-Star MVP (’02, ’07, ’09, ’11)

THE +/-: Nearly unparalleled overall talent….who is one of the most polarizing figures in history as well.

A tour de force of talent and owner of one of the most complete games ever. Bryant has had a career that has been dominant statistically, in addition to being a near fixture in championship scene for the last decade. From 2000 to 2010, he played in 7 of 11 NBA Finals, and currently has the 3rd most postseason points ever. He is the most successful prep-to-pro player of all-time, and made his first All-Star team while still a teen. His 81 point outburst in 2006 is second most prolific performance in league history. Overall, he has five 60 point and twenty-four 50 point efforts. He is the only player to score 600 points in 3 straight postseasons. On the other side of the ball, his 9 All-Defensive 1st team selections are tied for the most ever.

5. MAGIC JOHNSON-Point Guard-1979 to 1991, 1996-Los Angeles Lakers

THE NUMBERS: 19.5 ppg, 11.2 apg, 7.2 rpg, 1.9 spg, .520 FG%

THE HONOR ROLL: 5  Championships, 3 x MVP (’87, ’89, ’90), 12 x All-Star, 9 x All-NBA, 3 x Finals MVP (’80, ’82, ’89), 2 x All-Star MVP (’90, ’92)

THE +/-: The most versatile player in history….that was taken from the game too early due to HIV contraction

No player has ever made the players around him better, in more ways, than Earvin Johnson. He revolutionized the game as a 6’9 guard that could create and impact a game from anywhere, and in every way possible. As a rookie, he switched from point guard to center in the decisive game 6 of the Finals and put up 42 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists (and threw in a game winning hook shot as well) to seal the series for the Lakers. From there he launched the fast paced “Showtime” Laker squads, and was often the decisive factor in many of their showdowns with the Larry Bird-led Celtics, in what was the greatest head-to-head rivalry in league history. His 1982, his averages of 18.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 9.5 assists are the closest a player has come to averaging a triple double since Oscar Robertson did it. Magic’s total of 138 triple-doubles are the second most in league history, but his most consistent impact was as a distributor of the ball, especially on the fastbreak. His 11.2 assists per game is the highest average in league history, and he led the league in total assists four times. From ’83 to ’91, he never averaged less than 10.5 a night and t0p 12 per game five times, with a high of 13.1 in 1984.

4. WILT CHAMBERLAIN-Center-1959 to 1973-Philadelphia/Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers

THE NUMBERS: 30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg, 4.4 apg, .540 FG%

THE HONOR ROLL: 2 Championships, 4 x MVP (’60, ’66, ’67, ’68), 13 x All-Star, 7 x All-NBA, 2 x All-NBA 2nd, 2 x All-Defense, All-Star MVP (’60), Rookie of the Year (’60)

THE +/-: The most dominant overall low post player ever….who didn’t get the results from his stats/talent that he should have

No player had dominated the box score and record books of the NBA like the Big Dipper did. He was apart of the first great one-on-one rivalry in sports history versus Bill Russell, who he struggled to overcome in the Finals often. He holds 72 different records, and has been retired for nearly 40 years. His 50.4 point per game average in 1962 is single season record that will never be approached. As a matter of fact, it is only approached by his 44.8 average his followed that season up with the next year. During the course of that historical ’62 season he scored 100 points in a game, which remains perhaps the greatest feat in pro sports history. He scored 50 points or better 45 times that season alone, and also holds the record for rebounds per game in both a season (27.2) and for a career. As a measure, he averaged better than 20 rebounds a game 12 consecutive times. He led the NBA in rebounds 11 times, holds the record for highest single season field goal percentage (72.7% in 1973), he even led the league in assists once and had 9 consecutive triple doubles in 1968. While blocked shots were not recorded during his career, it would be another category that Wilt would be far away from the pack in as well.

3. KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR-Center-1969 to 1989-Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks

THE NUMBERS: 24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 3.6 apg, .559 FG%

THE HONOR ROLL: 6 Championships, 6 x MVP (’71, ’72, ’74, ’76, ’77, ’80), 19 x All-Star, 10 x All-NBA, 2 x Finals MVP (’71, ’85), 5 x All-Defense, 6 x All-Defense 2nd, Rookie of the Year (’70)

THE +/-: Most durable and effective player of all-time….who’s greatest successes came when joined by amazing point guards only

Kareem is the most prolific scorer of all-time, and performed at higher level, for longer, than any other player. His records for most points (38, 387) and minutes played (57,446) are testaments to this durability. He didn’t just stick around either, and was highly productive for his entire career, averaging 21 points or better for 17 of his 20 seasons. Many of these points came on his unblockable skyhook shot, that very few players could even attempt to reach. Standing at 7’4 and jumping with his arm fully extended, he deployed this shot often and with great accuracy. He had 3 consecutive years of averaging at least 30 points and 16 rebounds from 1971 to ’73. He also blocked at least 3 shots a game for seven consecutive season, and retired third all-time in the stat, although it was recorded until his fifth season. No player was elected an MVP or an All-Star more than Abdul-Jabbar. Among his most remarkable feats over his long and distinguished career is that he won his Finals MVP honors 14 years apart, in 1971 at age 24 and again at 38 in 1985.

2. BILL RUSSELL-Center-1956 to 1969-Boston Celtics

THE NUMBERS: 15.1 ppg, 22.5 rpg, 4.3 apg, .440 FG%

THE HONOR ROLL: 11 Championships, 5 x MVP (’58, ’61, ’62, ’63, ’65), 12 x All-Star, 3 x All-NBA, 8 x All-NBA 2nd, 1 x All-Defense, All-Star MVP (’63)

THE +/-: The greatest winner in sports history….who didn’t dominate both side of the court like his other contemporaries.

Saying that Russell is the just the greatest winner of all-time is both simple and an understatement, simply because the margin isn’t even close. His impact exceeds pure statistics, he is the ultimate team player of all-time so his impact must be measured well outside of just what his individual numbers indicate. In a 13-year career, he won 11 titles and made his Celtics clubs the greatest professional dynasty ever. The other most winningest players of all-time (#’s 50 and 18 on this list) built their legacies by association with him. His dominance is the reason why  no other player in the 60’s won more than one title while he was active. His career record in game 7’s stands at 10-0, so he knew how to close it down and get the tough win.

Far from being just a team figure, on his own he is the greatest defensive player in history, all without his greatest contribution (blocks) being kept track of during his career. He was the definition of  a stopper at the rim; His 22.5 rebounds per game are the second most ever and he never turned in a season with a total below 19 rebounds a game. He once grabbed 51 boards in a single game, and his record of 32 in one half will most likely stand forever. In addition to his accomplishments as just a player, he became the first African-American coach in professional sports history in 1968, and won his final two titles as a player-coach.

1. MICHAEL JORDAN-Shooting Guard-1984 to 1993, 1995 to 1998, 2001 to 2002-Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards

THE NUMBERS: 30.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.3 spg, .497 FG%, .835 free throw %

THE HONOR ROLL: 6 Championships, 5 x MVP (’88, ’91, ’92, ’96, ’98), 14 x All-Star, 10 x All-NBA, 9 x All-Defense, 6 x Finals MVP (’91, ’92, ’93, ’96, ’97, ’98), Defensive Player of the Year (’88), Rookie of the Year (’85), 3 x All-Star MVP (’88, ’96, ’98)

THE +/-: The greatest overall player in NBA history….who came back one too many times

No player in NBA history has ever combined individual dominance and team success at the level Michael Jordan did. Not only is he without a doubt the greatest overall offensive player in history, he has claim to being the greatest defensive guard ever as well. He won a total of 10 scoring titles, with seven coming consecutively. He is both the top scorer per game all-time in the regular season and playoffs (33.4). He averaged better than 30 points eight time, and seven times in row, with a high of 37.1 in 1987. He once scored 23 consecutive points in a single game as well. His combined 14 MVPs between the Finals, regular season and All-Star game make him the most decorated player of all-time. In 1988 he became the first player to win the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, and remains the only guard to achieve this. He is the all-time blocks leader for guards, and his 2,514 steals are the second most in history. His 9 All-Defense First Team nods are tied for the most ever.

After leading the Bulls to a three-peat championship run in the early 90’s, he retired only to return a year and a half later and restart another three-peat run his first full season back. Jordan led the 1996 to a single-season record 72 wins and took home both the MVP and the first of title of his second three-peat in his return season. Looking at his full body of work, what sets Jordan apart is consistent and unparalleled effectiveness at the highest level of the game. He was Finals MVP in every championship series he reached, was 6-0 in Finals play and never reached a game 7 in the course of his Finals career.

In the end, its more than just on-court success that defines Jordan. His style, legacy and impact on the game simultaneously redefined the standard for the NBA and professional sports as a whole. It placed him in an elite place among not just athletes, but as popular figures in American history. Not bad for a kid that cut from his high school club, right?

For reflections on this, the NBA Playoffs and even what I’m having for lunch, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

I was going to write this days ago, but there really was no need. Even as you read this, the debate, defense and predictions of what happened, is happening and will happen with the Los Angeles Lakers is still being constantly debated. Anytime a champion is knocked off, especially with all of its same pieces intact (especially a widely considered best player of his generation at full speed), there will be some eyebrows raised. So while the pro-Laker crowd and the anti-Laker groups have it out like a Presidential Primary five days after the 2010-11 version of the Lakers because a moot point in this years championship picture, I’m going to share some of the things I’ve taken from them, what’s going on right now and what will be. Is this a temporary bump in the road? An issue that was bound to happen anyway? Or is this a forecast that moved into place much quicker than anybody foresaw? Let’s go.

What happened? I’m not exactly sure how that happened in Dallas and L.A. a week ago. As I said before, the Lakers had the best first round draw of any team in the West, and while they didn’t exactly blow the Hornets away, there certainly was no indication that it was a team on the verge of a quick and embarrassing sweep. In many instance, championship teams wait it out and strike late, but that seems to be what everybody was waiting for from the Lakers all season, and it never came. The March blowout win over the Spurs seemed to be a statement game that this team was finally hitting its post season stride and would be ready to make a sprint back to the Finals, but after who the Spurs revealed themselves to be, in hindsight that doesn’t mean very much. They had already started a downward slide and had long since peaked, and the Lakers simply revealed that in a brutal fashion.

Is Kobe looking at an impassable task in restoring his Lakers this time?

What ended up happening in the end is that Mavericks did the same thing to LA that they did to the Spurs, revealed them as not being who they were in the past. The Lakers finished with the same record they did a year ago, when they took home their second championship in three years, but from the jump this team didn’t seem to have the “dig down and take it when we have to have it” that last year’s club had. And really the only thing it can be placed on his complacency and believing their own headlines. When that seeps in, it hits the egos of the guys on board. And while Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson have the composure to ignore these things, that can’t be said for many of the others. Ron Artest needs no introduction, Andrew Bynum showed how thick his skin was when it was all said and done, Lamar Odom is taking a jump step into Chad OchoCinco-reality land and Pau Gasol’s house was apparently on fire the whole time. Now whether these elements are valid reasons for the implosion of the club is up for debate, however what is not up for debate is that the Lakers were the most talented club in the Western Conference still this year, but what was happening behind the curtain kept that from every fully re-insert itself this year, and got exposed in final act.

But the biggest test for this cast (if it returns…) is what’s next? Will this be a catalyst for them to return to form and dominate, similar to how the ’95-’96 Bulls reacted to losing early in the Playoffs in the Jordan #45 season, or will it serve as second dose of what ended the previously Laker dynasty, where in-fighting and chemistry issues tore the team apart? A few crucial issues hinge on which reality is up next….

1. There is no Phil to glue it together. Phil Jackson is done. He has no incentive to try to rebuild a club at this point in his career, and with his accomplishments combined with his health issues and the general way this season played out, there has to be little attraction to him returning. Whoever inherits this club, whether it be Rick Adelman, Brian Shaw or even Professor Xavier, has a core of guys that are used to handling things a certain way under a certain guard, and there could be major resistance to change in that formula. Greats like Kobe Bryant have a certain amount of deference and stubbornness to their way of doing things that must be adapted to. This is far from the most desirable position to insert yourself into on the sidelines.

The most important figure from two past Laker resurrections won't be around this time for the task.

2. Something has to give in their approach. For a long time the Lakers have won with a great balance of scheme in the triangle, superior match up problems due to their size and having the best player in the NBA to bail them out on both sides of the court. Well some of these factors will remain intact. Kobe will still take, and hit, shots that most guys won’t even have the courage to try. But him and Derek Fisher are getting older, and they are living on reputation on defense. While for a long time Kobe has been one of the toughest perimeter defenders in the league, his numbers fell across the board this year in addition to his overall range slipping. They have to get younger, more active defenders everywhere on this club, but definitely in the backcourt. This problem is compounded by the fact they will probably lose Shannon Brown, who is their most active and bouncy player to free agency this summer, so they have to work free agency and acquire some new blood for what will most likely be a new scheme. And they have to get that Steve Blake stuff out of there, he isn’t what they need at all. A quick ballhandler that can push defenses off the bench would change everything about what they can do, and add a wrinkle they haven’t had in many years.

For all the Jordan/Kobe comparisons, here is one that the Lakers management should pay attention to. In the end, Michael was still a great defender, but he didn’t have to be all the time. He could focus on maximizing what was his easiest gift to give on him physically at that point: buckets. Extend Kobe’s effectiveness and let him play his classic focused defense only when he has too. He’s still the key to how far this club goes, so make it as simple for him as possible.

3. Get Back to the Draft. Last but not least, don’t disregard the Draft. If all else fails, you have to prepare around what you have now, and the Lakers have always been a solid drafting club despite getting some pretty bad picks. This has always been the case for all of their recent championship runs, crucial players have come from the amateur ranks. Jordan Farmer, Sasha Vujacic, Ronny Turiaf, Devean George, Andrew Bynum and even Kobe. They have all been June pickups, and they have to get back to that. They need a new shooter and ball handler, in addition to shot blocker, 6’10 + type of guy off the bench. Even in this year’s so-so at the very best Draft, they can hit the floor running (perhaps literally) a lot quicker with some really appropriate draft picks now.

4. What the next big move? For a long time the Lakers have had no issue with making the biggest acquisition to put themselves in place to either go over the top in the League or move back into the spotlight. From Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaq, they have shown the willingness to go make a big move to bring a guy from a dying situation in a small market, out to the big lights of both LA and the post season. Well, the time is now for them to follow in their own footsteps again. I have no doubts they could run this team back out there and continue to be a high seeded Playoff threat, however if they really want to take it back to the next level, they have to add that next piece that can carry them long-term. Like Magic did for Kareem, Kobe for Shaq, it’s time to bring that piece in for Kobe.

GM Mitch Kupchak has to make a Obama vs. bin Laden type statement in restocking this Laker lineup.

What is great for them right now is that they have no shortage of guys that fit that bill spread around the league. The name of the game right now is to bring big names together and pair them up in nightly All-Star Games. Well there’s a Version 4.0 of the “Big Man in Need” in the NBA right now, by the name of Dwight Howard, so be proactive Mitch Kupchak. Don’t let him hit free agency. He’s already getting upset with the national media about how they are discussing his free agency to be next summer, and now the local media is applying pressure too. Go save the guy and pull him out now. If Dwight knows the Lakers are coming full speed for him early, he’ll start laying the full court press of power plays on Orlando GM Otis Smith, and by late summer he’ll be dying to trade him and just get something in return to save his franchise (which would go down at epic speeds with Gilbert Arenas and Jameer Nelson left to guide them. Think Cleveland, 2k12). Package up Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and 2 two of those soon to be irrelevant, “we’ve got Kobe and Dwight” late first round picks, and change the direction of your franchise in a manner that they have historically adhered to.

The situation is far from “Game Over” in LA, and they are not short on assets in any way. But handling these issues immediately ensure that next year doesn’t repeat this year, and then really give the Western Conference justifiable ammo, and hope.

This has been one of the funniest weeks on TV that I can remember recently. First Kirk Douglas was resurrected from the dead to give a rambling speech at the Oscars that even the drunkest college party chick would have been proud of. Then Charlie Sheen took the Mel Gibson Exception to the next level and brought ridiculousness back to the forefront, with a string of catch phrases and images that won’t soon be forgotten (or sadly, stop being tweeted about. #BiLosing). Finally, Chris Bosh finally entered the old Contra from Nintendo, 30 lives code to create unlimited slander on him by actually CRYING after the Heat coughed up a 300 point second half lead to lose to the Magic. Truly classic television everywhere these days.

However, the focus and amazement at Sheen’s public implosion made me think, I’ve seen this before, and many times at that. When you’re a sports fan, you’re used to seeing somebody light them self on fire in public with one statement or act. I mean the “flagrantly dumb moment” is as common as a dunk or touchdown highlight now.  Everybody remembers the race Gilbert Arenas and Tiger Woods had last year to see who could out stupid who quicker. And now look at them? Both are in various stages of early retirement/rigor mortis in Orlando. Ugly stuff there.

But the crazy scale? Man, that’s everywhere. And I’m not talking about the borderline diva antics of the Chad OchoNegro or Captain Bucky O’Hare (Eric Williams), I mean legitimate “get this guy the hell away from me” crazy. The type of crazy you can feel even when you’re sitting in the last row of the stadium. Yeah, those are the guys I’m honoring here today. They type of guys Vince McMahon pays big money to some lucky television writers to create (even though he created one of the guys coming up below himself). If you feel yourself displaying any of these upcoming symptoms, please stop what you’re doing immediately and check yourself into the nearest “Wilt Chamberlain Memorial Treatment Center” and relieve yourself of some much built up stress immediately.

10. RYAN LEAF

Symptoms: Severe disillusionment and failure to know when to say when.

I think it's safe to say Peyton was the safe pick now...

It’s hard to believe this guy could possibly make his personal life worse than his on-field one, but man he did it with flying colors. After his hilariously futile run as a media piñata as one of the biggest busts in NFL history (JaMarcus Russell barely saves him from top honors there), he moved on to what seemed to be a noble turn as a volunteer quarterbacks coach (???) at small West Texas A&M University (I suppose even he realized he’s stolen enough money by then). This feel good story comes to an end with him being suspended from his post at A&M for soliciting pain pills from his players and escalated to indicted for burglary and drug trafficking. This proves it is possible to be a bust in life as well as football.

9. MILTON BRADLEY

Symptoms: Bursts of anger that put Lou Ferrigno to shame & advanced team chemistry destroying abilities.

I could list a bunch of ways that Milton (who has the greatest name ever this side of Coco Crisp) has destroyed virtually everything he’s touched in Major League Baseball (he’s played for eight teams in 12 years), however just listing them is far more hilarious:

2004-Cleveland: Gets into a fight with his manager and is traded before the season starts

2007-San Diego: Breaks bat over leg and hurts himself. Later tears ACL while arguing with an umpire. Nice.

2008-Texas (my second favorite): Leaves bench to go up to press box to fight an announcer he believed made unfair comments about his play.

2009-Chicago (my ABSOLUTE favorite): Suspended for “detrimental conduct” (not MB! Never!), and proceeded the say “You can see why they haven’t won in 100 years here”, which is the single greatest quote ever issued by a player about his current employer.

2010-Seattle: Leaves in mid-May to go deal with personal issues (again, Milton? No!)

2011-Seattle: Arrested for making criminal threats to a women in his home.

Of the two prominent Milton Bradley's, this one is just as fun as the other one.

Man, you can count on 3 things in baseball: Albert Pujols hitting 30 home runs, the Cubs losing and Milton Bradley going absolutely ape shit at some point. I can’t wait for next year’s addition.

 

8. TY COBB

Symptoms: Severe hatred for all-things living (especially of color).

I could definitely spin this into a “Cobb hated blacks” thing, but Cobb was at his most crazy when in 1912 He climbed into the stands and beat the breaks off a heckler…who happened to have lost both his hands in a factory accident. His reply? “I don’t care if he got no feet!”. The heckler wasn’t black though, just to show that Tyrus Raymond Cobb’s crazy knew no racial limitations.

 

7. KOBE BRYANT

Symptoms: Major disregard for geographical, sexual and severely bad eyesight.

This is still an odd little scenario, since Kobe admitted the affair, but at the same time didn’t admit his own guilt (scratches head). This could easily be classified as stupid, but while I’m not saying he raped the girl (if Kob won’t, I won’t either), I’m playing the crazy card here because a) if you’ve ever seen Vanessa Bryant, you know this way a ridiculous move completely, b) 6’7, worldwide icon, NBA superstars shouldn’t be sexing up 19 year old hotel workers, regardless of how many times its worked before, and c) he’s lucky his wife didn’t have the Elin Nordegren example to work off of in 2003, or Kobe would still probably be taking up part time work changing spreads in hotels himself just to make ends meet now. Also, nicknaming yourself anything (especially after a snake) is semi-crazy in my book too.

Dude, what more do you need? All those rings < HER. Easy.

6. RAY LEWIS Symptoms: Being one big scary mofo, that wears eye black in everyday life most likely. There are a lot of things to be scared of surrounding Ray Lewis, but the fact that he might actually kill you in real life, just as easily as on the field, is what separates him from Marvin Harrison here. Also, the fact he does what looks like a tribal rain dance, that he says he got from his Moms no less, before each game helps this claim too.

 

5. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR

Symptoms: Look up “Ultimate Warrior interview” on YouTube for all the proof you need here.

Behold the poster child....

10 seconds of interviews from this guy seal the deal. Imagine overly tanned Charlie Sheen, only with a violent voice swing that says “I grind up steroids in my breakfast daily & I haven’t slept since 1990’s Wrestlemania”. Also the fact that his legal name is “Warrior”, and he’s a motivational speaker now, seals the deal. (His theme music should also be played while reading this entire column. It enhances it by at least a thousand fold.)

 

4. DENNIS RODMAN Symptoms: If you remember anything about the mid 90’s you know these symptoms when you see them. Think tall Sisqo. While I think everything he did was a sort of very effective publicity stunt, including Madonna and Carmen Electra, it still takes a solid level of craziness to commit to it as long as Dennis has. The underlying thing with Rodman was that there was a sense of “Dude, don’t touch me!” to him the whole time. Kind of like he set those questionable picks The Revolution was doing while “Prince” destroyed Charlie Murphy on the Chappelle Show.

What more can I say?

3. ALBERT BELLE

Symptoms: A surly nature that would make even Clubber Lang/Mr. T say “This foo is crazy!!!”

Albert “Joey” Belle had his reputation as the biggest bastard in baseball sealed (see video of how nearly shattered Fernando Vina, Mike Singletary style at second base in 1996) long before he jumped the shark completely chased down some trick or treaters in his truck and actually hit one of them. He was like a black Stone Cold Steve Austin, only paid to carry a baseball bat. Scary.

 

2. RON ARTEST & STEPHEN JACKSON

Symptoms: Keeping it so real you become a literal cartoon. Yeah, it’s possible.

I can’t separate these two, it’s just not fair to have to. Ever since they freaked out and kicked everybody’s ass in the Palace in Detroit back in 2004, they have been the modern standard bearers for sports insanity. Stephen Jackson doesn’t get the same headlines as Artest since he’s somewhere between Charlotte and a holding cell these days, but the image of his throwing haymakers and being showered with every loose item in Michigan, all while he stands in a Mortal Kombat-worthy victory pose deserves a statue somewhere one day. As for Ron-Ron, he’s nationally broadcast “I’d just like to thank my therapist” comment after winning the NBA Finals last year makes him the poster child for functional insanity in my book. His retirement villa in Arkham Asylum is already on reserve.

This guy's face pretty much defines this whole article.

1. MIKE TYSON

Symptoms: Naturally impaired speech, facial tattoos and the potential to scare entire rooms just by walking in them.

I could list all the reasons why Iron Mike is the craziest athlete in history, but quotes can do greater justice than I can. However, I would like to point out that Mike’s combination of physical and verbal fear-inducing ability is unmatched. His highlight reel is the greatest of any athlete ever, just from in the ring. However, his interview highlights easily defeat the boxing ones, and that’s saying a lot. I mean, you can’t make stuff like this up:

 

“I guess I’m gonna fade into Bolivian”

“All praise is to Allah, I’ll fight any man, any animal. If Jesus were here, I’d fight him too.”

“I don’t want to be grotesque, but when you’re 330 pounds, it’s hard to wipe your ass. You know?”

“He called me a ‘rapist’, and a ‘recluse’. I’m not a recluse!” “I used to kill pigeons, rip their heads off. ‘You dirty rat pigeon!’ I don’t even have the heart to kill an animal no more. I just changed my whole life in general.”

“My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious! I want your heart! I want to eat your children! Praise be to Allah!” *Walks off*

And I will too…thank you and tip your usher. (All due respects to Stephon Marbury, Delonte West, Tonya Harding and  Leonard Little as well, you were all thought of in the making of this guide.)