UPDATE 8:32 pm: Amare Stoudemire tweeted this tonight:
I want to say thanks to all my SUNS Fans. Thanks to my PHX SUNS teammates, an the Coaches. I love you guys, sorry It didn’t work out. Gone!
5:43 pm: Amare Stoudemire now gets to live up to the fun of being the Knicks big off-season signing. And he seems ready for it, based on what he said at a press conference tonight (via Alan Hahn’s twitter account):
Amar’e puts on Knicks hat and says “Yeah, the Knicks are back!”
Several sources — Newsday’s Hahn was first with other reports confirming quickly — say that the Knicks and Amare Stoudemire have reached a deal.
It was pretty clear this was going well when Stoudemire’s image was on the Madison Garden Marque, in a Knicks uniform, including it saying “STAT City.”
But before everyone agreed the lawyers got to earn some extra money. Amare Stoudemire and the Knicks had the framework of a five-year, $100 million deal in place when they walked in the room together this afternoon. But the Knicks made a more formal presentation to the guy they already had sewn up, and then started working the details. All while the lawyers are on the clock.
We also all know there are a lot of questions. After the All-Star break last year Stoudemire was as good a player as there was in the league, but he still has had microfracture surgery on a knee and had major eye issues in the past. There’s also the question of if he can carry a team, if he can be the same guy when Steve Nash isn’t feeding him the ball. And how will he handle all that in the New York marketplace?
Still, the Knicks got one of the game’s elite power forwards. That is a good place to start rebuilding. Now we have to see who else this influences to come to NYC.
The battle has, stupidly, raged on between supporters of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Both sides seem to believe their preference is irrefutably the choice for the best player in NBA history.
And because they did not play in the same era, the question will never be answered. No doubt in 50 years they will write columns about Jordan vs. LeBron, just like their fathers, and their father’s fathers before them.
James has certainly seemed to take a bit of a leap in the eyes of the NBA community this season, likely because of his wonderful performance at age 33. He’s also single-handedly won two playoff series this year. It’s been incredible.
But LeBron rising above Jordan has also brought out some more reasonable takes. Former Chicago Bulls legend and Jordan running mate Scottie Pippen spoke up recently about the debate, giving a measured analysis that I think is pretty strong.
In short, Pippen basically said you can’t compare the two because of the eras, the style, and the fact they just don’t play the same position (if LeBron even has a position, that is).
That sounds right to me.
Chewbacca was at Game 3 in Cleveland Saturday. Sitting courtside.
Why? Because growing up on Kashyyyk he played a little hoop and admires LeBron James‘ skill? Because Drake gave him the tickets? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like that was just a clever little publicity stunt for a movie.
After the Cavaliers’ win, Kevin Love decided to make a little joke of it with noted humorist Kendrick Perkins, and it went over as well as expected (with Dave McMenamin of ESPN catching it).
That’s vintage Perkins.
Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.
Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:
“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.
Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”
Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.
From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.
Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.
When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.
Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.
Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?
That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.