Triple Double Sports

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If you were looking forward to a more exciting and (slightly) less predictable NBA season, then you are about to get your wish thanks to the shakeup that free agency has caused throughout the league this offseason.  Immediately after the NBA Finals, matters intensified and all eyes were on big names such as Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James when he actually decided to opt out and deliver “The Decision Pt. 2”.

As we all know, LeBron broke the mold first and decided to head back to his hometown of Cleveland (for reasons bigger than basketball) where he first made a name for himself. The savior of Ohio has returned and undoubtedly feels the love of all his fans, friends, and family, but there’s a different kind of love that encompasses this franchise now.  After much free agency hysteria that actually started with all-star forward Kevin Love (and Carmelo as well when he decided to opt out early on during the season), it culminates with him as well.  Kevin Love was officially anointed a Cavalier on August 23rd when Wiggins reached the minimum amount of days for a rookie signee to be under contract before any trade can be made final.  The trade was sickeningly inevitable from the moment rumors started, and now he will rejoin his Olympic teammates LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to complete the “Big Three”.

The Cavaliers are easily the front-runners in the Eastern Conference now, and they’ll have very few roadblocks until they eventually have to deal with powerful Western Conference teams. A finals trip is highly imminent, but people I’ve talked to and other experts and analysts aren’t ready to crown the Cavs obvious NBA Champions just yet.   In fact, they still have to prove themselves and develop chemistry, play legit defense, and of course stay healthy.  Even more importantly, they’ll have their work cut out against top tier Western Conference forces such as the Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder who will look to exploit the newly formed team. It all remains to be seen, and without a doubt Cleveland will be the most exciting team to watch this season.

Nonetheless, the Cavs aren’t the focus of this article; instead the microscope is centered on other teams that have added to their roster in order to improve their chances at contending for a title as well.  Other teams that can chalk up Ws for their offseason efforts include organizations such as the Wizards, Bulls, Knicks, Hornets, Raptors, and even the Miami Heat came away with some much needed additions.  Ironically, from my point of view at least, it seems like the powers in and among the Eastern Conference have shifted tremendously.  Just by looking at that its immediately obvious to draw a contrast to the Western Conference, which did nothing outstanding or noteworthy to better its chances this upcoming season, although that doesn’t mean that their power, experience, and level of play has been diminished.

If we take a look at the Eastern Conference and the improvements made within it, it is easy to get excited over what is to come.  While Cleveland seems to have an easy path to the NBA Finals this year, lets not forget that they only won the Eastern Conference Finals once during LeBron’s first stint there, granted they didn’t have nearly as good as a roster then as they do now (and their adversaries were much better).  Nevertheless, Cleveland is going to have to show and prove, bottom line.  Their biggest competition will certainly be the Chicago Bulls if Derrick Rose can stay healthy this year.  The Bulls have proved to be a good team without Rose on the floor, making the playoffs and competing in the playoffs as well, and they have great leadership and direction under head coach Tom Thibodeau.  Key additions of Pau Gasol, Aaron Brooks, and rookie Doug McDermott only better position the Bulls to vie for the second or maybe even number one seed in the Eastern Conference once they work those players into their already fine-tuned system.  There’s certainly a lot to talk about with this organization, but their play and performance this season will speak for itself and surely land them a top Eastern Conference spot, especially with the Pacers now out of serious contention due to the season-ending injury of Paul George during a USA scrimmage game.

The Washington Wizards and Miami Heat are not far behind.  The Washington Wizards will definitely be higher than a six seed this time around, and that’s because they’ve resigned a well deserving Marcin Gortat to a sweet deal, and also acquired veterans Paul Pierce and Kris Humphries.  However, the real X-factor with this team is if they can get Otto Porter Jr. rolling and following in the productive footsteps of teammate Bradley Beal who has already efficiently established himself in the league as a perimeter threat.  If they can get some output from Porter, this team definitely won’t miss Trevor Ariza (they still have Martell Webster who did well last season) and they’ll find themselves in the top 4 of the Eastern Conference easily.  Rounding out that top 4 will probably be the Miami Heat.  They only lost LeBron James, and since have added Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts, and probably their new starting point guard Shabazz Napier (LeBron’s parting gift to the Heat, yes that was a compensational gesture by LeBron to the organization he knew he was going to leave after losing in the Finals).  Regardless, the Heat will still be driven and focused at competing and proving that they can stay at an elite level even without LeBron James, and it’ll be interesting to see how those parts function without him despite their depth issues.

The New York Knicks will reflect its recent years – either being pretty good or pretty bad.  Hopefully they can prove myself and many others wrong this season after all that President and “Zen Master” Phil Jackson has put into place and maintained since he took over the reigns.  With Carmelo Anthony locked in faithfully in favor of the Jackson regime, and ample roster changes, the Knicks will be heavily tasked with stringing together their chemistry once again with a promising and talented roster.  New additions include solid point guard Jose Calderon (who has one of the best assist/turnover ratios in the league), explosive young point guard Shane Larkin, former Baylor standout Quincy Acy, veteran Travis Outlaw, big men Jason Smith and Samuel Dalambert, and two young rookies who should turn out to be decent role players in an offensive system.  Other key pieces are still intact as well (for now) such as J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Amare Stoudemire, and Andrea Bargnani who will hope to play a full season after exiting early last season.  With the help of their new coach Derek Fisher, the Knicks hope to establish an effective system and strategic approach this year that translates into wins, especially against the teams that they should have no trouble with.  For now, there’s not much light to shed on the Knicks and speculation can’t be accurately made until they play and show their skills on opening night at home against the Bulls, and the very next night in Cleveland.  Nonetheless, I’m absolutely sure that Phil has more up his sleeve along the course of this season as hopes on making the Knicks a unanimous Eastern Conference threat and potential championship contender as soon as possible, despite the recent sentiments of Carmelo Anthony who remarked that this isn’t the Knicks year.  Nonetheless, I at least expect a trip to the second round in the playoffs from the Knickerbockers. 

The bottom of the Eastern Conference likely goes to the Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets, and the Detroit Pistons potentially.  With Drake (Toronto’s Ambassador) pitching like he’s a baseball player (in reference in trying to court KD), the Raptors have been relevant in the tabloids and talked about more so than before.  The real reason they’ll go back to the playoffs will be because of their ample backcourt, which recently attained Lou Williams and retained Kyle Lowry.  Demar DeRozan will again be an all-star, and this team should play hard night in and night out.  All they’re really missing is a big man similar to a Tyson Chandler type caliber (the Knicks should’ve traded him there instead).  As for the Hornets, the addition of Lance Stephenson beside Kemba Walker and the other young talent they have there should be interesting.  Now that he will start, their depth gets boosted slightly and he will add an aggressive and experienced level of play to their squad that might just help them run teams out of the gym on any given night if they’re not ready.  This team is only a superstar or elite big man away from shaking things up themselves believe it or not. Way to stick with it MJ.

As a whole, the Eastern Conference will be fun to watch, and with the NBA schedule recently released, most of the marquee matchups and must see games revolve around the Eastern Conference.  On the other hand, many teams despairingly stood idle in free agency, bringing into question their true chances and intentions at coming closer to realistically contending for a title.  Ironically, as I mentioned earlier, the majority of the teams that deserve shameful recognition happen to be from the Western Conference.  It seems like the West really took the offseason off, because no real key moves were made unless we are talking about the Minnesota Timberwolves.  I’m not sure if this was the NBA’s inconspicuous attempt to collectively revive the East, shift attention to it, or even the odds among conferences, but regardless the West raises my brows because it doesn’t seem like its top tier teams are trying to increase their own chances of winning an NBA Title.

This is such a big deal because in a division that is so competitive, you must evolve to get a different result.  Premier teams like the Warriors, Clippers, Rockets, Blazers, and Thunder (who all have championship aspirations) have virtually the same rosters with no real improvements.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and is good for team chemistry purposes, it could still have negative implications.  For teams like the Spurs (who are looking like this year’s Western Conference favorite), what I’m saying is null and void, but for other teams like the Warriors or the Clippers for example, sometimes your clock runs out and that same team you’re trying to get over the hump with needs some more horsepower or a total cleanse.  So since that didn’t happen across many teams, what should we expect?

In my serious opinion, this is my firm stance on the West and its kind of disappointing because the conference feels imminently predictable unless things like unfortunate injuries occur (hopefully not, get better PG), or mid-season trades occur.  But even so it leaves many questions rightfully unanswered.  Will things pan out the same? Will the teams that couldn’t get over the hump fail once again since nothing new was implemented?  Is it safe to fast forward the season and assume the Thunder and Spurs will face off in the Western Conference Finals once again?  I sure hope not, but that’s the way things seem in a stagnant yet powder keg like Western Conference.  The standings and ensuing playoff seeding will be more revealing, but unless something drastic changes, the West won’t because it hasn’t.  Honestly, besides the Timberwolves (and the Spurs who I’ve excluded) can you really sit there and discuss another team in the wild wild West who’s bettered its chances at reaching the Conference Finals or even NBA Finals?!

Regardless, it is going be an exciting season with plenty of stories and drama to discuss.  I’m sure Rondo could be traded, Phil uncovers other things up his sleeve (when everyone thought the Knicks options would be limited), Kobe’s return will be interesting, the Bulls are back, Wiggins may just be an all-star out the gate, the all-star weekend will take place in New York, and Jason Kidd will valiantly attempt to vie for coach of the year (insert crying face emoji here), among other things.  Either way you slice it, from every angle, the NBA looks appetizing and I can’t wait for it to begin and I’m very glad we have the FIBA World Cup to hold us over for a bit.  Nonetheless, consider my lengthy analysis and compare it to what you see and hear as the season approaches and think of my take on it, as I strongly feel that the East will be accountable for the majority of headlines this season and steal the spotlight.

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If its not sports that I’m tuned into, its something educational or inspirational to steer me clear of the reality nonsense that actually isn’t reality at all.  Shark week was fascinating as always, and now that it’s over I’d like them to do a “Tiger week” because I’m sick and tired of hearing about anything else that has to do with Tiger when its mentioned on television because it’s referring to the plight of Tiger Woods. 

To say the play of Tiger Woods has been disappointing is a tremendous understatement. The harsh reality of it all is that it’s embarrassing at this point and quite morose. Never have I witnessed a bigger mental and psychological collapse in professional sports than the one Tiger Woods has gone through since his scandal was publicized.

We all know what happened back in late 2009, but the aftermath and repercussions made matters worse and casted a gloomy cloud over Tiger.  As a slight pick me up and rebuttal to Tiger’s cloudy aura, Nike started a “Winning takes care of everything” campaign after that, but Tiger barely won anything, and certainly not a major.  The injuries weren’t to blame, the time away from golf neither, nor were the swing changes, etc.  The fact of the matter is Tiger destroyed himself and none of his coaches (like the one he recently fired) is to blame.

The shameful predicament that transpired 5 years ago changed his entire public image and made him a blemish.  Because of who he was and the magnitude of his positive reputation, Tiger’s image suffered a huge blow.  Sure others have been caught doing the same thing, but this was Tiger Woods.  Consequentially, Tiger embraced the ensuing ignominy and accepted what was being thrown around in the media as the true image of himself and who he actually was more than he probably actually should’ve.  It’s actually quite sad and you almost feel bad for him and his tragic fall from success and stardom, but most of the blame should be on himself and how he dealt with the aftermath of his infidelity issues. Depression, scorn, uncertainty, scrutiny, and many other emotions followed and kept him down even after he returned to the golf course and tried to resume his career.

Since the incident, Tiger hasn’t been the same, including the frustrating injuries.  He allowed the distractions and setbacks to corral his game and gift of godly golfing.  His therapy didn’t work. He brought more baggage than his caddy and golf clubs back onto the course with him, and it directly affected his performance.  To add more insult to injury, poor play caused him to be a focal point in the media again and it put even more pressure on him ever than before to win tournaments and majors.  He was trying to win for all the wrong reasons and ultimately displace his clout by smiling and raising trophies, but as we see it didn’t pan out that way and won’t until he has a successful mental purge and pause from the game.

There are people who don’t golf who can hit the ball straighter on the fairway than Tiger right now and that is unacceptable.  It’s unfathomable to be the world’s number one golfer for so long and have such a lasting breakdown such as this one.  Something is still terribly wrong.  He’s trying to hard and he’s thinking way too much.  He’s fooling himself by saying he expects to win and finish first because I’m sure if he took a lie detector test, he actually doesn’t even believe that himself.

The turn around for Tiger has to be soon. If not I think he needs to seriously disappear from the game for two years and find himself again spiritually and mentally.  Tiger desperately needs to clear his mind and get back to simply and purely enjoying the game of golf and tuning out everything that surrounds it right now.  What happened, happened years ago and no ones talking about it now, but what they are just talking about is Rory McIlroy.  It’s obvious that McIlroy has stolen the spotlight due to his stellar play and Tiger is falling way out of the picture.  However, Rory is more of an aid to Tiger than an adversary because the two are actually friends and McIlroy will fuel Tiger to perform well again in order to reclaim the number one spot someday.  Tiger recently went on record with a competitive vow to stop McIlroy from sporting a green jacket after the Masters in 2015, but I certainly wouldn’t wager that at the rate Rory is grooving right now.

All in all, I don’t know how much worse it can get or we even want to see it get, but it’s detestably ugly and unbearable at this point. I hope Tiger has the ability to bounce back and get a real rhythm going that puts him in contention often because that will be a better story to write than an even higher amplified tragedy than this one.  He’s currently resting and recovering from injuries fully (as he should be) and probably won’t return to the course until the winter.  It’s going to take a 15th major win for Tiger to make a major comeback in 2015, otherwise the legacy will continue to deteriorate.  No doubt Tiger is something the game of golf has never seen, needs, and loves, but the stud needs to get his shit together, point blank period. No more excuses, injuries, mental, or fictional, it needs to stop and he needs to put his big boy slacks back on and the fierce red polo.  Get em’ Tiger…

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Hello readers and followers. It’s been a little while since the last update, but that’s because I’ve been observing a lot, and analyzing the game like a scientist in order to present diligent findings and information.  Now I wasn’t the brightest chemistry student, but I knew it well enough to ace a couple of exams and apply it to the real world and other things in life (which is really what you’re supposed to do). Anyway, the 2013-2014 NBA season was a pretty decent one, but a very predictable one as it closely mirrored the previous season.

Because of a league imbalance due to the dominance of specific teams, primarily the Miami Heat, folks in Vegas and experts knew who was slated to head back to the Finals in the East for the fourth straight time.  With the West, its always competitive and we saw great teams battle and go through adversity all year long to get the chance to face off against Miami and prove their worth.  I for one thought the Spurs didn’t have it in them, but I was certainly wrong and am giving them all the praise in the world in this piece.  Their hunger for more and desire for revenge against Miami fueled them to another extremely successful season and a title shot.  However, more so than ever before, and perhaps any other title before this one, the Spurs showed why and how absolute effective team basketball will put you at the top regardless of anything else. 

We are now in an era where (in the majority if sports) two main players aren’t enough to seal a championship anymore. Let me rephrase that: Since the end of the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls era, and more or less the Kobe/Shaq era, championships have been won by complete team efforts.  Competition has elevated and shifted a bit, and superstars need all the help they can get if they’re going to go the distance.  The component I am implying that completes the championship formula for today’s game is that third guy, which can either be that one other person that completes a big three and is always there to aid the main two stars OR instead (and even better), a group of hardworking role players and bench players willing to make sacrifices for the benefit and betterment of the entire team.

If we rewind time and look at the championship teams of the past decade like the San Antonio Spurs, ’04 Pistons, a veteran’s Mavericks team,’08 Celtics and the resurgence of a “Big Three” importance, Kobe and the twin towers (Pau & Bynum) with D Fish, and now Miami – it is evident that these rosters were a bit more hefty and much more cohesive than the rest.  Hell, the fact that only 6 different NBA franchises have won in the past 14 years indicates that the league isn’t just up for grabs year in and year out.  The times of one player imposing their will entirely (as MJ did) is over; neither Melo nor KD nor Kobe (now) nor even LeBron (as beastly and unstoppable as he is when he wants to be) can lead their teams to the Promised Land completely alone.  Again, a unified effort must be present and the saying “There is no I in team” has never been truer in today’s game.

By looking at an atrocious example such as the New York Knicks this past season it is very easy to see why this team wasn’t successful, even though it may be hard to understand at times because of the talent they actually have (and had) roster-wise.  The Knicks are a team that relies heavily on its superstar Carmelo Anthony, and regardless of whether he scores 62 (unless its against Charlotte), 44, or 18, they still found a way to lose game after game this past season because they do not play as a unit.  In their first 30 games last season, the Knicks were giving teams fits and running them out of the gym because they were effectively sharing the ball and playing together.  Despite the fact of not actually having a true distributive or demonstrative point guard (good riddens Raymond Felton), it is still evident in the way this team played and operated that potent chemistry and a true offensive and defensive systems were missing.  The inverse of this catastrophe would be a team with less talent that meshes well and uses what they have to the best of their abilities, such as the Portland TrailBlazers, Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards, and Toronto Raptors – two tough Western Conference teams, and two Eastern Conference teams on the rise. 

The difference there is that teams with less talent are forced to play harder, smarter, and together in order to overcome more talented and well-meshed opponents.  Its simple logic and I’m not writing anything that you shouldn’t already know, but instead I’m trying to bring it to light in a more intricate way.  Hard work and cohesiveness definitely beats talent when talent fails to illustrate the intangibles.  Of course even talented teams who do play hard can’t win every game or every matchup, that’s not the way sports works.  In every sport there are different factors and equations that go into every game and whomever executes better as a whole often wins.  However, that still doesn’t take away from the fact that if a team plays like a cohesive unit with or without a superstar, they can do great things.  College basketball is a good example of that if you look at teams like the Wichita State Shockers this past season and what they accomplished as a team that is usually not in the top tier and didn’t have a premier superstar even though Ron Baker definitely held it down with the help of Knicks rookie draft pick Cleanthony Early, who wasn’t a known name or face of the team but was the only one from the Shockers to land himself in the NBA.

Even more so, now that the NBA Finals are over, the Champion San Antonio Spurs ONCE AGAIN serves as a testament to my thesis.  Sure there were plenty of other formidable teams (in the West at least) that had a fair chance at going to the Finals but they didn’t have that extra component or overall team effort to get them over the hump.  Maybe things would have been different had the Thunder not lost Ibaka, but they’ve been playing with multiple lineups all year, no bench, and too much output from KD, even though the MVP posted monster numbers all throughout.  Regardless, earlier I talked about the “third guy” being important and crucial to aiding the superstar and your second best player, but in some cases that “third guy” can be teamwork instead of another individual and the San Antonio Spurs certainly proved that.  When Tony Parker didn’t have huge statistical nights, it was guys like Danny Green, Patty Mills, Marco Bellinelli, and even other tough role players stepping in to aid Parker, Duncan, and Ginobili.  There are very few teams, if you can truly name any besides the Spurs that have had the sheer ability to carry on without big superstar performances against stiff competition and younger talent.  As a unit they got the job done professionally and executed on all levels consistently, which only bred a winning habit and the confidence to beat other great teams along the way.

The equation of chemistry ultimately boils down to different, but proper compounds effectively and unselfishly coexisting for a successful end result.  You can have a nice car with a great sounding engine, but it has to be oiled well and the other parts that don’t get as much attention and allure have to function for the sake of the whole to run as it is modeled to be. The teams that use their chemistry and translate them into wins night in and night out through adversity usually go the furthest and that’s what you saw with the Spurs.  The Heat who haven’t been challenged much all year, especially in the postseason, broke down in the Finals.  Their parts and role players weren’t there to help LeBron James, and the back-to-back champs got dethroned and destroyed by a better team (that should’ve beat them last year too in an epic Game 6 that Jesus left his mark on).  Because of the debacle, and supporting my point about a true team entity, the Miami Heat had a quite interesting offseason, as implications were that they would need to make big changes with virtually no cap space unless players took less money to help rebuild a better roster and stay at a championship caliber.  Nonetheless, hats definitely go off to them over the past 4 years, doing what they set out to do by dominating the league and winning two out of four NBA titles, but all good things must come to an end in an ever evolving and competitively growing league.

Teamwork makes the dream work, and with the way free agency has shaken up the league this offseason, changes will be evidently seen for the teams who have indeed made key moves.  We saw back in 08’ that all it took was that one year for a “Big Three” to form and prosper, and again when LeBron joined Miami and went on an NBA Finals tear every year.  With all the changes that were made this offseason during free agency and throughout the draft, (which will be discussed in my next article) we look ahead to a more interesting season all throughout the league and one that I believe is going to be the best in the past decade without question, and of course, I’ll explain why…. [See free agency article].

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Will he stay or will he go?  Carmelo Anthony’s future has been heavily talked about within the past weeks, and for New Yorkers and Knicks fans especially its been nerve racking and worrisome.  The hot topic of Melo’s future is similar to LeBron’s big decision 4 years ago, and the curiosity of what’s to come is as foggy as an Amsterdam “coffee” shop.

Without a doubt, Carmelo Anthony has been SPECTACULAR to Knicks fans.  Most refer to him as the Knicks’ savior, and even though he certainly is in a sense, Carmelo Anthony won’t save the Knicks this season and it’s not his fault.  That alone is why I can’t and won’t blame Carmelo Anthony if he decides to leave New York after this embarrassing, atrocious season.

For a guy that goes so hard night in and night out and has been extremely healthy, it’s very frustrating to lose with a team that should be winning.  Tyson Chandler recently echoed the same sentiments when he let out his frustrations and declared his uncertain future with the Knicks.  For the Big Apple faithful, it’s very unfortunate that things turned out this way and the Knicks have backtracked this season after slowly progressing the previous two.  After this season ends without a playoff appearance, or an embarrassing one, it’s back to a drawing board with virtually no utensils for the Knicks who have no draft picks to look forward to and immovable and unwanted pieces (Amare Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, and whoever else angry New Yorkers want to throw in the fire).

As for Melo, he’s the pinnacle of it all and the center of attention.  The Knicks want to keep their superstar and there’s no doubt in my mind that Carmelo Anthony is comfortable in New York and actually wants to stay and succeed in the Mecca, but his window is seemingly closing and the future looks dim and uncertain unless he (and now new Knicks President Phil Jackson) can attract players to come to the Garden.  Nonetheless, it’s no secret that Carmelo wants to win a championship title more than anything else, and that’s exactly what it boils down to for athletes nowadays in sports – they want the glory and they want the precious ring and allure that comes with it.  LeBron James made the necessary move and decision and look what happened, 3 straight NBA Finals appearances and 2 rings.  Alliances and good personnel form for the common goal of winning at any cost, and for Melo specifically, winning isn’t revealingly imminent in the Big Apple even with Phil Jackson new to the front office.

Not to be negative Nancy the analyst or anything, but the last time I checked Phil Jackson was not an active NBA player.  Even if he was, (besides from being a little too old to currently play) in his prime we all know Phil Jackson was an off-the-bench role player in the background of superstars such as Willis Reed and Walt Frazier.  On the other hand, if he decided to coach again, it’d be a completely different story because everyone knows what Phil brings to the table as a coach, and certainly that in itself would lure players to the Mecca.  As far as luring players from the front office and making the best possible moves for the Knicks, I simply question, “How?”  The Knicks have big salary cap issues, no draft picks like Shumpert or Hardaway on the way, and players that other teams would not want in trade proposals or future deals.  I have no doubt that Phil Jackson IS the right man to help the Knicks franchise turn their fortune and reputation around, but as far as an instant and significant change I’ve got to see it to believe it this offseason and next season.

This very predicament has led to the debate of will Melo fight or flight.  Other suitors that could land the all-star forward have been names like the Los Angeles Lakers (Clippers too), Houston Rockets, and Chicago Bulls, even though every team that can offer him will offer him one way or another.  If he does jump ship, wherever he goes will presumably be a title contender automatically just like the Miami Heat were when LeBron came to town.  Sadly for the Knicks, there are other teams out there with better personnel and team chemistry that need a Carmelo Anthony to ultimately seal the deal and push further than they have in recent years.

Melo in L.A. has been implied for a while, but it doesn’t seem likely.  It would make a lot more sense if Kevin Love went with him too, but Love declared otherwise when he noted that the Timberwolves were a better team.  Nevertheless, a Melo/Kobe tag team doesn’t scream a championship right away, but it could be something that would be scary if it actually meshed together and worked.  Think about it.  Although both stars primarily occupy the ball most of the time, if they attacked from separate wings with Kendall Marshall at the point, and some more interior help, you have a classic Lakers title team.  In addition, Bryant and Anthony are basically best friends and I’m sure they could make it work better than most people initially assume and Kobe would surely sacrifice a bit to get one more ring and help Melo get his first.  It’s a long shot that doesn’t seem to fit on paper, but with an organization like L.A. that always makes moves and attracts players, I wouldn’t completely turn my cheek.  The fact that Jeanie Buss and Phil are engaged still wouldn’t mar a deal because they’ve been put on notice by the NBA, and Jeanie doesn’t deal directly with the basketball operations anyway, so there is a slight possibility.  With Nash and Kobe basically being the only players signed through next season, this team has a lot of upside and room to grow, and it would ultimately be Melo’s team to inherit in a season or two anyway with the exit of Kobe Bryant and shedding of his major contract, which would allow them to continue to sign and gain more high profile players to contend as they always have.  A long shot scenario, but not too farfetched.

Two other sensible places that will probably offer Carmelo would be Houston and the L.A. Clips.  These two teams already have their main pieces and superstars in place, but by adding a primary focal point and veteran whose ready to win ASAP in Carmelo Anthony, they’d be virtually unstoppable and a Western Conference Finals front runner automatically.  While the contract situations and roster scenarios may be a little cloudy with these two teams and their ability to sign a high profile player like Melo, if they can they will certainly attempt to do so. I’m sure the Rockets would trade Asik, Parsons, and Terrance Jones in a heartbeat, and the Clippers would clip anyone but D.J., CP3, and Blake to add another Jordan Brand athlete to the mix.  But of course, we’ll have to wait and see how realistic those two destinations could really be in terms of logistics.

Lastly, the most sensible and possible place Melo could be playing for next year is the Windy City.  With the Chicago Bulls I think an instant championship is imminent.  He would join a team who is strong and can win games without their superstar point guard.  Despite having to let go of Carlos Boozer in order to acquire Melo, the Bulls would still boast a stronger interior and frontcourt than the Knicks with all-star center Joakim Noah bringing his hard-nosed intensity every night.  The shedding of Luol Deng’s contract also helps because that freed cap space to sign someone else in the offseason and make more moves to add to the frontcourt.  Even more so they have great role players and a team system like the Miami Heat do and all they’d need is a solid backup big man or two, and possibly a stretch two guard. 

All Carmelo would have to do is come in and be the same superstar talent he has been for the Knicks.  Rose can take tons of pressure off of himself by catering to Melo, and players like Noah, Jimmy Butler, and whoever else they acquire would help round out a great group of championship contenders.  It makes the most sense for Melo to go to Chicago because of what they already have in place, and the likelihood they’d have in winning the East and subsequently an NBA Championship.  With the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony is currently wasting his efforts by putting up career numbers and percentages while the rest of his teammates post subpar seasons and numbers.  With the Bulls, Melo would get paid 4 million less (which he’s stated he doesn’t mind) and would be with a better squad, coach, and fans.  He and Rose could be the first to bring them a title since Jordan left, and we know Melo loves to embrace and take on challenges, so it wouldn’t be a lost cause leaving New York because he’d be doing the same thing for Chicago upon landing there.  This would be the perfect place for him to naturally fit into and chase a realistic championship ring with other hungry guys and an outstanding coach also looking for their first. It’s really a no brainer: if he leaves the Knicks, he’s going to Chicago. The deal is just too sweet and it makes so much sense.

As a Knicks fan it KILLS me to say that, but it’s the ugly truth.  In order to stop that from happening, hopefully Phil Jackson and a huge offseason move or signing could influence Melo’s decision sooner, but if it’s not an elite point guard or someone demanding to be a Knickerbocker it’s going to be a sinking ship for the Knicks if Phil alone can’t persuade him to stay, and everyone’s going to wonder why James Dolan didn’t trade Carmelo Anthony before the deadline if he really does leave.  On the other hand, if Carmelo actually does stay after he’s had the joy of testing out free agency, whatever that means, that loyal factor would positively boost his character, image, and integrity, and earn him even more respect in a sense.  Him returning and being part of a major conquest for a desperate New York championship would be significant, and if he eventually gets it, it would be asterisked and weighted like a challenging college course or seminar.

When it comes down to it, the acquisition of Zen Master Phil Jackson may have allowed the force to be with us, and saved Melo from running away from a despicable, incomprehensible team.  I commend Phil Jackson for returning to his roots and his love of basketball by taking on the challenge to clean up New York’s mess.  I have no doubt or worries that New York is headed in the right direction within the next 2 to 5 years, and the fact that Melo has been reassured that he is the focal point of those plans may be all that is needed to keep the superstar in the Garden for good.  Its all depends on fate and the basketball gods now about the future of Carmelo Anthony, but if I were Phil Jackson, I’d just say “Thank me later.” 

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Given there were one, and now there IS one through TripleDoubleSports very own MONSTER OF THE MONTH SERIES, the Monster of the month AWARD without a doubt would have to go to KD, the “Durantula” -  Known to be from the arachnid animal class, this spider-like species dominates the court with his ability to use his advantageous size and his silky smooth features – similar to that of a Tarantula, its kin.
If you haven’t noticed what the noise is about, its not because superstar Kevin Durant is silently killing, its because you’re not paying attention.  Iceman Slim is echoing the boisterous sound that thunder brings by making noise all around the league with his tremendous play.  It seems like every time KD laces up, it’s going to be a BIG game.
Kevin Durant is undoubtedly a top 3 player in the NBA.  Even though he’s very young, his upside is scary and he’s rarely fails at torturing defenses that dare try and stop him.  The kid goes out for 30 every night, but isn’t afraid to push it past that and get you oh lets say 48 and mmm…maybe 54 on a given night as he did recently against the Warriors.  In KD’s post game interviews he often stresses how he can do more for his team and is always willing to – a modest but respectful statement.  Even more fittingly, his favorite player is known to be Larry Bird, whom he has a lot of similarities to on a personal level, professional level, and legacy level. 
It is no secret. From the look you decipher on Durant’s face, to the way he plays the game with a combination of competitive urgency and genuine passion, it’s clear to see he wants to go back to the Promised Land.  For certain, Kevin Durant realizes winning is priority to him, especially when you have a supporting cast like he does, it just makes the time that much more prestigious and opportune.  OKC is currently 4th in the league  in points per contest and 2nd in the league in rebounding.  Correlatively, their efficient rebounding combats the opposing team’s second chance points, which, is why they’re 7th in the league in points allowed per contest.  There’s just no doubt about it, the Oklahoma City Thunder are a cohesive, deep unit (even with Westbrook out) and will go deep into the playoffs this year as they try to earn a trip to their 2nd NBA Finals appearance in just 3 years.
So far, in the month of January (10 games) KD is averaging 36 ppg on 50% shooting from the floor, 6 assists, and nearly 2 steals.  His numbers are productively high, across the board, and they are definitely no magic tricks even those his performances may seem like magic shows (similar to the one he put on at Rucker Park when he netted 66).  This is the same animal that posted 3 straight scorning titles, not to mention his first (30 ppg) came in his 3rd year of the league. He was the youngest player to do that so it just goes to show and prove naysayers wrong that KD isn’t ready, because obviously the stud is young and very much ready.
With all that said sign him up for MVP honors. He deserved it two years ago when he first took OKC to the Finals (and yes captured the scoring title), and he’s matured/improved since then.  His first NBA MVP should be in the bag due to the type of season he’s having WITHOUT fellow co-star PG Russell Westbrook (who will be back soon), and don’t be shocked if his first title comes sooner than later as well.  The Heat have tremendous pressure to 3-peat and become legendary, and they have bigger competition with the likes of the Pacers sitting on top of them in the East right now, so anything can happen come late April and early June.
Its still early, but this is a primed Thunder team that went on an 8 game winning streak, lost one, then went on a 9 game winning streak to go 17-1 though 18 games.  In their last 10, they’ve won 6 and they are trying to build on a 3 game win streak since defeating Houston, Golden State, and Sacramento.  They’re next two games are against Portland whom they’ve yet to defeat, and then the Spurs.  In a another week, KD will get a chance to go at LeBron on the 29th, so stay tuned to continue to see what this team is made of and what they’re fighting for.
All in all, KD is destined for greatness and all throughout the rest of his career he is a player who will surely be mentioned in NBA title talks year in and year out. He’s a certified all NBA 1st Team pro, and deserves the respect, recognition, and every ounce of allure he gets because he IS that great and will continue to be as a team leader and elite franchise player.  Look out for Kevin Durant to take home MVP honors this season and really make a case for himself and his team in a Finals run and return.  Don’t sleep on OKC, you’d be a fool. 

Given there were one, and now there IS one through TripleDoubleSports very own MONSTER OF THE MONTH SERIES, the Monster of the month AWARD without a doubt would have to go to KD, the “Durantula” -  Known to be from the arachnid animal class, this spider-like species dominates the court with his ability to use his advantageous size and his silky smooth features – similar to that of a Tarantula, its kin.

If you haven’t noticed what the noise is about, its not because superstar Kevin Durant is silently killing, its because you’re not paying attention.  Iceman Slim is echoing the boisterous sound that thunder brings by making noise all around the league with his tremendous play.  It seems like every time KD laces up, it’s going to be a BIG game.

Kevin Durant is undoubtedly a top 3 player in the NBA.  Even though he’s very young, his upside is scary and he’s rarely fails at torturing defenses that dare try and stop him.  The kid goes out for 30 every night, but isn’t afraid to push it past that and get you oh lets say 48 and mmm…maybe 54 on a given night as he did recently against the Warriors.  In KD’s post game interviews he often stresses how he can do more for his team and is always willing to – a modest but respectful statement.  Even more fittingly, his favorite player is known to be Larry Bird, whom he has a lot of similarities to on a personal level, professional level, and legacy level. 

It is no secret. From the look you decipher on Durant’s face, to the way he plays the game with a combination of competitive urgency and genuine passion, it’s clear to see he wants to go back to the Promised Land.  For certain, Kevin Durant realizes winning is priority to him, especially when you have a supporting cast like he does, it just makes the time that much more prestigious and opportune.  OKC is currently 4th in the league  in points per contest and 2nd in the league in rebounding.  Correlatively, their efficient rebounding combats the opposing team’s second chance points, which, is why they’re 7th in the league in points allowed per contest.  There’s just no doubt about it, the Oklahoma City Thunder are a cohesive, deep unit (even with Westbrook out) and will go deep into the playoffs this year as they try to earn a trip to their 2nd NBA Finals appearance in just 3 years.

So far, in the month of January (10 games) KD is averaging 36 ppg on 50% shooting from the floor, 6 assists, and nearly 2 steals.  His numbers are productively high, across the board, and they are definitely no magic tricks even those his performances may seem like magic shows (similar to the one he put on at Rucker Park when he netted 66).  This is the same animal that posted 3 straight scorning titles, not to mention his first (30 ppg) came in his 3rd year of the league. He was the youngest player to do that so it just goes to show and prove naysayers wrong that KD isn’t ready, because obviously the stud is young and very much ready.

With all that said sign him up for MVP honors. He deserved it two years ago when he first took OKC to the Finals (and yes captured the scoring title), and he’s matured/improved since then.  His first NBA MVP should be in the bag due to the type of season he’s having WITHOUT fellow co-star PG Russell Westbrook (who will be back soon), and don’t be shocked if his first title comes sooner than later as well.  The Heat have tremendous pressure to 3-peat and become legendary, and they have bigger competition with the likes of the Pacers sitting on top of them in the East right now, so anything can happen come late April and early June.

Its still early, but this is a primed Thunder team that went on an 8 game winning streak, lost one, then went on a 9 game winning streak to go 17-1 though 18 games.  In their last 10, they’ve won 6 and they are trying to build on a 3 game win streak since defeating Houston, Golden State, and Sacramento.  They’re next two games are against Portland whom they’ve yet to defeat, and then the Spurs.  In a another week, KD will get a chance to go at LeBron on the 29th, so stay tuned to continue to see what this team is made of and what they’re fighting for.

All in all, KD is destined for greatness and all throughout the rest of his career he is a player who will surely be mentioned in NBA title talks year in and year out. He’s a certified all NBA 1st Team pro, and deserves the respect, recognition, and every ounce of allure he gets because he IS that great and will continue to be as a team leader and elite franchise player.  Look out for Kevin Durant to take home MVP honors this season and really make a case for himself and his team in a Finals run and return.  Don’t sleep on OKC, you’d be a fool.