Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk: See You In New York, Derrick Rose!

I'm so glad that the Kansas Jaykawks won the NCAA Championship.

You can make fun of me for hopping on their bandwagon after my bracket went down in flames (I had picked UCLA to win it all), or after reading my Facebook "ballad" to Stephen Curry after watching him torch the Georgetown Hoyas, or after hearing me predict a team that shot 59% from the charity stripe (Memphis Tigers) to win the championship on my radio show Real Talk: Sports Talk last week. Yes, go ahead and toss the laughter at the comment box below.

(Side Note: My boy Obi even caught me yelling out an audible "we won!" during the post game fracas. Ouch.)

While I was walking to watch the game on Monday in a packed KU alumni bar in downtown DC (we'll get to that later), I realized two important facts. First, if Memphis wins, then everyone in America (including all those draftniks and hyped-up websites...yes, I'm talking to you would undoubtedly be yammering on about Derrick Rose and his legendary performance in the title game. He'll immediately be catapulted above Michael Beasley to the top spot in the June draft, destined to ride on 24's in Miami while playing for the Heat.

If you haven't noticed, the NBA's has completely transformed into a league of extraordinary point guards. When Commissioner David Stern implemented his "new rules" back in 2002 due to the extremely agonizing '99 Finals (Knicks-Spurs) that had an extremely unfair amount of unwatchable games for the casual NBA fan. In the new rules, Stern made sure that NBA teams hoisted up a significantly greater number of three-point field goals, that fast break basketball became the standard, and defiantly established the "Defensive 3 Seconds" rule - a rule that prevented coaches from parking their big men in the paint to contain the proverbial "super-athlete" ('07 Lebron, '06 Kobe, '03 T-Mac) keeping them from running to the rim and dunking/getting fouled every single possession.

The use of a hand-check? Over. Guys like the legendary Charles Oakley policing the paint with body blows to the sternum? Done. Simply put, perimeter players now get the benefit of all calls. That's why players like Ben Wallace and the Pistons of '04 - a team without a recognizable superstar - were able to hang onto Shaq's arms during the entire NBA Finals without fear of fouling out. That's why a guy like Tim Duncan (who averages 20-10-3 blocks every year) will never again win the League MVP. That's why Steve Nash (an superior offensive PG but a utter liability on D) is winning MVP awards well into his 30's.

That's why "His Airness", MJ, will always be the G.O.A.T.

To test this PG theory, let's just look at the current NBA Playoff teams and their point guards, shall we?

Western Conference
1. New Orleans Hornets:
MVP-candidate Chris Paul. He's averaging more than Steve Nash did in his two MVP campaigns. Between his season and all those New Orleans' vacation commercials he's shooting, it almost makes you forget that he's the college player that punched a guy directly in the balls. Almost.

2. San Antonio Spurs: Tony Longoria Parker. Even though Tony only missed two weeks earlier this season, the Spurs panicked and picked up a half-dead Damon Stoudemire for 20 cents on the dollar. When the Spurs hit the panic button - you know a PG is important.

3. Los Angeles Lakers: Derek Fisher. He serves as the coach on the floor (comparable to Ron Harper/B.J. Armstrong role during the Bulls three-peats), and is the only guy that Kobe truly respects.

4. Utah Jazz: Deron Williams. And they though this guy lacked speed and talent after college. Jerry Sloan's laughing from his office.

5. Houston Rockets: Rafer Alston. During Houston's 22 game winning streak last month Alston posted season-high stats. "Skip to My Lou" dropped 18ppg, stroking 38% from three, stepping up in Yao's absence. If he can keep this up, Houston's a real contender.

6. Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash.

7. Dallas Mavericks: Jason Kidd. Mark Cuban DESPERATELY wanted to hit RESET on his video game ownership season once he saw that an unstable PG (Devin Harris) was leading the Mavs down the road to disaster. Well, why not roll the dice with an aging J-Kidd to pair with your team MVP, Dirk? (Easy, because Jason's going to be 36 years old next year, that's why...yikes.)

8. Denver Nuggets: Allen Iverson...still the best pound-for-pound player at his size ever to play in the NBA. He was the first to really, REALLY exploit Stern's new rules. (See: '01 Sixers and the NBA Finals)

With a healthy but overused Baron Davis (40+ minutes in Don Nelson's system) leading the Warriors into playoff contention, we see that the league is top-heavy with PG talent. That's why the Celtics - a team that has led the league in victories since Day 1 - drooled over the prospects of snatching an aging Sam Cassell from the lottery-bound Clips. (You know that Sam-I-Am is due for a clutch dagger in at least one playoff game this year.)That's why I wanted Derrick Rose and "Los Tigres para Memphis" to go down in flames once I got to the KU bar in downtown DC. Well, plus the fact (Reason #2 if you were paying attention to my 3rd paragraph) that I was drowning in a sea of drunken Jayhawk diehards that piled into the tiny (but well-vented) establishment near Dupont Circle. It's never fun watching a huge fan base get denied on a national scale. That's why I immediately flip the channel when ESPN Classic decides to show "the bloody sock game" and Kevin Brown's historic Game 7 meltdown to cap off the debacle of October '04. Every fan bases deserves to enjoy some semblance of hope and joy, right?

Derrick, we've already set aside the #23 (take the jersey off, Quentin) for you. As Spike Lee would echo, do the right thing and come to the Big Apple.

David Stern, get to work on fixing the draft lottery. Thanks.