Knicks Tickets for a 4 Seed

Most of the nation did not know it, but the New York Knicks had a must-win game this past Wednesday night. The basketball team, 4-0 under the new direction of Mike Woodson, traveled to Philadelphia to play the Atlantic Division’s current leader, the 76ers. The 82-79 win closed the gap from the number three spot to the number one spot in the division (and the number four seed in the Eastern Conference) to three games.

Despite the barrage of comments from fans, there is no way the Knicks roster is going to be able to upset the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat. Thus, if the basketball fans want to enjoy New York Knicks tickets for a second round, the team has to embrace the message of defense preached by the emissary Woodson and find a way for isolation plays favoring Carmelo and Stat to co-exist with the efforts of Jeremy Lin. Lin proved quite capable of holding his own with all three on the court in the win, scoring 16 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.

The Knicks only have a game between them and the Celtics. Boston is reeling, desperately in need of a backup center or power forward to give KG a break. If Carmelo and Stat are willing to let Lin play, is Tyson Chandler continues to do his thing in the middle, but with a little help from the superstars, then the New York Knicks could creep up the Eastern Conference standings over the course of the last 19 games. (I forgot to mention the slow, atrophying state of the 76ers that makes all this possible).

The rest of the Knicks schedule is far from a cake walk. They play the Magic twice, the Bulls twice, the Heat once, the main competition – the Bucks – twice, the Celtics once, and the longshot – the Cleveland Cavs – once. Essentially, this is a 19-game section packed with five games against the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference and four games against the immediate competition.

This is going to be a heart-pounding final month of the 2012 NBA season, so find your Knicks tickets at OnlineSeats to catch basketball that means something at Madison Square Garden.

New York Knicks Tickets: The Demise of Carmelo and Amare and the Rise of Tyson

As New York Knicks tickets continue to be among the best-selling amongst NBA teams, the team and its perhaps more-famous fans are bemoaning the foretold demise of a Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire duo. Pundits who existed outside of New York warned of the dangers of putting two players on the court who can only play in isolation. Now as the first long losing streak of the 2012 NBA season enters its sixth game, the Knicks fans are coming to terms with the latest flawed team building exercise.

Fans have taken to celebrating the latest “John Starks-type”. Last season Landry Fields igniting the fanbase, giving them a working man hero. He, like Starks, was a second round draft pick. Now he is starting at shooting guard. The latest hero in the making is Iman Shumpert, a point guard and the 18th pick in last year’s draft. Shumpert is not a second round draft pick, but he is not a lottery pick and he has had enough success to inspire some group of basketball fans at Madison Square Garden to proclaim him the best point guard in the league.

That praise for both players may not be quite warranted in the basketball universe outside of the media vacuum that is New York City, but at least this gives them some sort of hope. Instead, the fans should be falling all over Tyson Chandler. He is the sort of glue guy whose production is far more valuable than his statistics suggest. He is averaging a mere 9.9 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game, 1.38 blocks per game, and a 66.7 shooting percentage.

His most valuable asset may be his aversion to scoring anything but lobs and put backs. He also allows Stoudemire and Anthony to hang out on the perimeter on offense and defense. Imagine just how bad the Knicks defense would be without him manning the middle. For remember, Chandler may have been the most important piece to the puzzle in the Dallas Mavericks 2011 NBA Championship series win.

Of course, as the Knicks continue to fall under .500, the New York basketball fans are in search of the next big star to be given the task of leading the New York Knicks to their first NBA Finals since 1999 and the perhaps win the franchise’s first NBA Finals since Phil Jackson was a basketball player back in 1973.

The NBA: Knicks Tickets for the Finals and Other Surprises

After the first weekend of NBA play, it appears all is well. The slate of games actually increased from 6 million to 6.2 million from last year to this. Many feared repercussions similar to those after the NBA lockout in 1999. However, the players and owners proved most wise to save the Christmas dates. Besides, it is rare that the league enjoys much national attention (read – a national broadcast) until the holiday weekend.

While the league must be ecstatic about these developments, the fans should be just as thankful the NBA season is destined to challenge any notion of favorites. The Lakers are 0-2 and Dwight Howard has looked like anything but the best two-way player in the NBA. New York is already abuzz, ready to coronate the Knicks as true contenders. Of course, it is far too early for anyone in Los Angeles, New York, or any other basketball-obsessed city to expect a championship. That discussion has to include the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the San Antonio Spurs, and even the Denver Nuggets have to be mentioned. Knicks tickets, Heat tickets, and Lakers tickets oh my!

Ignoring the flurry of early predictions, the beginning of the NBA season also had a few surprises. Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio lived up to every expectation. He only played 26 minutes, coming off the bench and scoring 6 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. Rubio ran the break like a magician and discovered seams in the half court only a player like Magic Johnson could see.

The other Los Angeles basketball team provided the fire power with power forward Blake Griffin and point guard Chris Paul. These two will be one of the best combos in the NBA. They may just steal the spotlight from Kobe and the Lakers.

Last season was one of the best in the history of the NBA, and this season is shaping up to be an even better one. The powers are shifting and we the fans get to watch traditional powers burned and the youth rise like the sun.

Guess What NBA, The East Has Arrived

Now that Carmelo Anthony has arrived it appears the balance of power may have shifted from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference for the first time since Michael Jordan was shooting Space Jam.

Think about. The Orlando Magic made a huge trade to essentially reinvent themselves as the East Coast Dallas Mavericks, the Big Three are partying it up in Miami (yes they are struggling this season, but it is the first season Wade and LeBron have had to work together), Boston remains at the top of the conference with four all stars, and Chicago appears to be a piece or two from officially arriving, and Carmelo finally arrived in New York, making Knicks tickets finally worth buying.

Meanwhile, back West, the Spurs, Mavericks, and Lakers are the only realistic title contenders this season. The Spurs are playing a more guard oriented offense which may diminish the team’s chances since Tim Duncan was just so good in the postseason when the game slowed down and became a half court marathon. The Mavericks can be counted on to implode like the drunken uncle at a Christmas party. Only the Lakers appear to have the pieces to remain championship contenders for more than a season longer.

Sure, the Oklahoma City Thunder are loaded and are perhaps the next young team to be considered serious title contenders, but there is little else to count to fill the void on West of the Mississippi River. Only if Dwight Howard truly decides to go West will the East suffer a loss they cannot brush off, but that team is likely going to be the Lakers and that will not make the West any deeper.

Of course, all this potential in the East will be for naught if the NBA goes into lockdown mode next season.

Knicks Tickets 2011: Is Carmelo Finally Coming?

An NBA trade, or the events leading up to the completion of an NBA, can be compared to many arduous or inclement events. It can be compared to building a pyramid over several generations or surviving a Category 5 hurricane. I like to think of it as a grotesque front office marathon. The talks begin a month into the season, ESPN prematurely reports and laments on potential deals, and the team that ends up with the coveted player is the last one mentioned in February. This February the player is Carmelo Anthony and the team appears to be the New York Knicks.

Now yes, I am going to source ESPN here (which may invalidate the rumor before it begins turning into a real boy!), but the late rumor is that the Knicks, Nuggets, and Timberwolves may be embarking in a ménage a trios that includes at least five players and a draft pick and is one piece from becoming a done deal.

The Knicks would be shipping Anthony Rudolph and Eddy Curry’s expiring eight–figure contract to the Timberwolves and Wilson Chandler to the Nuggets. The Timberwolves would send Corey Brewer and a first round draft pick to the Nuggets. The Knicks would receive Carmelo and Carmelo would receive a three-year $65 million extension.

So who wants the one piece? The Minnesota Timberwolves do. Really, how does a team with Kevin Love and Michael Beasley at the forward spots benefit from the addition of Anthony Randolph? Sure they will be able to keep their eight figures in cap space thanks to Curry’s contract, but what good does this do when no one wants to play in Minnesota? So, the question is: What will the Timberwolves receive to make this deal happen and will this bring in a fourth team?

The Timberwolves desperately need help at the point guard spot. Ricky Rubio is never coming over to play in the Land of a Thousand Lakes and Jonny Flynn has been usurped by Luke Ridnour as the starting point guard. Do the Nuggets or Knicks have any point guards Minnesota could whet their lips over? Yes, his name is Ty Lawson, but he is the heir apparent to Chauncey Billups.

Part of the Nuggets plan to rebuild the franchise post-Carmelo is to start Lawson. Alas, these are the cracks that quickly grow into impassable canyons over the course of NBA trade talks. So, how does this deal continue?

Well, Carmelo does not have to initiate this trade before the end of the season, but he wants a max contract and Denver does not want to become Toronto 2012. Both these key pieces want this deal done. Then, add the pressure the Knicks GM is receiving from the majority owner to complete this deal (despite it being cheaper to sign Carmelo after the season is over and possibly after the CBA negotiations ends any hopes of a 2011-2012 season). So, one of these teams is going to cough up a piece it does not want to, whether via the addition of a fourth team or with these three.

As a Chicago Bulls fan I would be ecstatic if the deal falls apart. While I was one of the throng of voices that did not want Carmelo ruining the Bulls team chemistry, I fear he would be the piece to put the New York over the top and transform them from a 6-8 seed and into the top four. I want no part of Knicks tickets for a second round series after Carmelo and Amare have had half a season to learn how to play with each other in Mike D’Antoni’s system. I want no part of them in the first round either (they have the Bulls number), but would choose the latter if forced.

So pay attention to every rumor over the next two-plus weeks and see if the Knicks or Nuggets are willing to give up a player key to the long term liver function of the franchise and complete this marathon. As a Bulls fan I hope not.

LeBron’s Decision: T-Minus Seven Months until the Future of the NBA is Decided

When do we know that a sports query or sports story has truly resonated with the public? When a group of guys over 25 gets together for a mini-reunion and manages to talk about them between embellished stories of debauchery. My buddy Bill came back from New York this Holiday season and there were two sports topics discussed: the ever-escalating Tiger Woods sex saga and whether or not LeBron James will stay in Cleveland or bolt for New York. As interesting as it was pretending to be the PR team for Tiger, the most interesting question had for me was the LeBron talks.

The LeBron Relocation Project has been hypothesized for two solid years now thanks to countless sports blogs and ESPN’s need to put up fresh sports content and somehow make the NBA interesting to barely casual fans. There are two schools of thought for this argument: LeBron will sign with the New York Knicks or King James will remain the majestic leader of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Leaving for New York

The Knick contingent argue that LeBron will have a bigger media market in the Big Apple, he wants to play on the big stage (Madison Square Garden), and he wants to play for Coach Mike D’Antoni. Those are all very good reasons but only one of them has any kind of traction: wanting to play on the big stage.

Tiger Woods ($110 million), Kobe Bryant ($45 Million) LeBron James ($40 million), Phil Mickelson ($40 million), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($34 million) are the active American athletes finishing in the Top 10 in the Forbes annual list of highest paid athletes. Quick question, how many of these guys live in a major market? Answer: one guy, Kobe Bryant. As the list goes on it becomes apparent that the only sport where a terrestrial location matters is baseball (A-Rod and Jeter were the only two MLB players in the Top 20).

Media market does not mean anything with regards to money or national media exposure in these modern times. Check the national listings and TNT, ESPN, and ABC are more likely to have a Cleveland Cavaliers game on than a New York Knicks game. The star defines the coverage, not the city.

As for all the talk about LeBron wanting to play for Coach Mike D’Antoni after his experience with Team USA, this is simply ridiculous. The only time I have heard a player caring about his coach is in college, when a coach can help shape a player’s game and increase the player’s chance of making it to the NBA. King James is already in the NBA and playing for D’Antoni does not mean he will be playing for Team USA in the context of the NBA.

The salary cap is expected to fall from $57.7 million to between $50.4 and $53.6 million after this season. The attendance figures have not been all that great so teams should assume the lower end of that estimation. This means that the Knicks would have around $20 million to sign LeBron and play him beside Eddy Curry, Jared Jeffries, and a bunch of young players. That number drops significantly if David Lee and Nate Robinson are resigned. Suddenly James is playing for a team with very little talent for another year before maybe being competitive (take a look at HoopsHype to find the salary numbers for every team in the league).

This means the only possible reason LeBron would come to New York would be to play in New York at Madison Square Garden. When these rumors began the assumption was that the cap would go up and James and another superstar would be coming to redeem the Knicks franchise. That is no longer the case and no matter how many Yankees caps James has in his collection, I cannot see James wanting to play a bleak Knicks team to potentially disgrace his career just because of a venerable basketball venue.

There is another option here that need to be discussed though. LeBron has a player option to stay another year in Cleveland for $17 million. He could stay, let Curry and Jeffries contracts run out and then join the Knicks (after they resign Lee, Robinson, and maybe another decent young talent with the cap space they have in 2010). This would mean that the Knicks would have to wait another year and take a huge leap in faith by not going after another big name and assuming that the Cavs will not win him over in that year.

Staying in Cleveland

The reasons for staying in Cleveland are pretty evident. The front office is willing to do just about anything to keep him. They will trade for Shaq to give them some big bodies to beat Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, they will sign Mo Williams so LeBron is not the only player capable of creating his own shot, and they will trade for a great 3-point shooter or wily defensive veteran late in the season to fill any holes in the roster.

This is all being done because LeBron has repeatedly said he wants to win a championship. If he signs with the Knicks he will only be taking steps backward. This was already covered in the section above. The Cavaliers desperation to keep him puts him in the best possible position to win an NBA Finals, so if he really wants to win then this could be his only choice (more to come on that later).

In addition to a supposed love of winning, LeBron James supposedly has a serious love affair with his roots. Those roots are not just his family and friends, but his hometown, Akron, OH. Cleveland is only an hour from Akron while New York is over seven hours away. This might be the one terrestrial argument that matters in this debate.

There is another aspect here that I have not seen written about nearly enough. LeBron is such a powerful figure in the desolate Cleveland sports scene that he essentially has control over the Cavaliers and can actually affect the other teams in town.

The Browns half-jokingly said they would love to see LeBron in their uniform. This could actually happen. Not just because LeBron is 6-8 and 250 pounds of muscle and the Browns are terrible, but because of the same reason the Chicago White Sox gave Michael Jordan a chance to play baseball (I hear about the White Sox doing this as a PR move all the time, but rarely hear about the reality that Chicago without Jordan in the early- to mid-1990s would have been a depressing decade in the Windy City). The city as a whole needs James and this gives him infinite opportunities to do whatever he wants.

The New Jersey/York Nets?

There are, of course, other possibilities, including a move to the New Jersey Nets, who have the cap space (money factor), the new arena approved to be built in Brooklyn (Yankees factor), a minority ownership by Jay Z (cool factor), a crazy-rich Russian billionaire owner (excessive money factor), and a team with a number of young pieces in place (competition factor).

There is also the historical relevance factor that LeBron would be ushering in a new era for the Nets, bringing them back to New York City (they were forced to move to New Jersey as part of the ABA-NBA merger). He could draw comparisons to Doctor J in a football players body and become the savior of a franchise in need of one since giving up all there talent in the same merger that forced them to find a new home.

Ultimately, the decision is LeBron James and sports fans and writers can only guess what will happen. We do not really know him. We do not know how serious he is about winning, how much he actually wants to stay near Akron, how much he actually cares about money, etc. He will show us who he actually is over this summer when he finally decides how to spend the rest of his career.

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What Will Kobe’s Legacy Be?

Subtract a major part of the offense, add an opponent who does not play defense, and what do you get? Kobe Bryant posting 61 points at Madison Square Garden. Bryant hit 19 of 31 shots, including 3 of 6 threes, and sank 20 straight from the stripe. He did not do much else – only three assists, one block, and zero rebounds-, but he did manage to score the most points in basketball’s Mecca history.

New York Knicks fans had tickets to watch an obscenely entertaining game in which the Los Angeles Lakers won a close game by Mike D’Antoni standards (126-117) and Kobe scored with smoothness not scene since Jordan learned to hit a jump shot.

This was his fourth game that he managed to score over 60 points, his first since hitting the water mark on March 22nd in 2007 against the Memphis Grizzlies. It is more proof that though Kobe may not be the most complete player in the league he does have one of the most determined games in the league.

I often forget about him when I think of the new stars. LeBron James has turned around a struggling franchise in the Cleveland Cavaliers and now has the entire league trying to dump salaries to try and pry him away from his hometown team in the summer of 2010.

The list of great players under 30 is growing and they are starting to help overshadow Kobe’s career. He has had the misfortune of the being the bridge between the old guard led by MJ and this new collection of supremely talented players.

Kobe’s game was held up against Jordan’s after just a couple of seasons. Then he was too young and most arguments were made on pure speculation. Now Kobe is being compared LeBron for his dominance. King James is a genetic freak even by NBA standards. He is a small forward with body of an undersized power forward, the vision of a point guard, and the quickness of a wing player. Now Kobe’s game is being overshadowed by a game by an unfathomable player.

This may be a little of my own speculation, but the future for one of the most analyzed and criticized players in the game may be one giant attack on his legacy. He will be the greatest player at a time when nobody was watching the NBA. The new beginning of a golden age in basketball will be when King James suddenly became better than Kobe in many people’s eyes.

The memory of his 81-point game will be replaced by the highlights of younger players proving their potential and besting Kobe and the Lakers. It is unfortunate that such a talent will have played with a target on his back his entire career, but, if anything, this reminds me that timing is everything.

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The Curious Case of Eddy Curry

Eddy Curry began his career as a big boy for the Chicago Bulls with a lot of potential. Now he is a big man for the New York Knicks with the world around him falling apart. He has dropped out of the rotation, been accused of sexual harassment by his former male limo driver, and recently found out that his former girlfriend and mother of his three-year-old son has been murdered.

The latest tragedy, understandably, may the be the pinnacle event that sends Curry over the edge. Imagine that you have been struggling to perform at work, your boss has been riding you and is now leaving you out of key meetings, a lawsuit has been made public that shames you in front of your family and friends, and then you lose a person you once cared for and had a child with. I know I would lose it, Michael Douglas – “Falling Down” style.

It may help that he has a guaranteed contract worth nearly $10 million for the next two years, but, as a professional athlete, his ego is a very important part of his game and temperamental part of his life. Professional sport is littered with guys who have struggled on and off the field with personal demons and unthinkable tragedies. These athletes are never able to keep these things secret for very long and stadiums full of thousands of people look down on them, judging there every move.

One of the most extreme cases is former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Alonzo Spellman. Spellman came into the league in 1992 as a first round draft pick. He played well, but did not excel in his first five seasons. He had 30 sacks and was a presence against the run, but injuries limited his performance on the field and soon his personal issues became evident.

Spellman became increasingly erratic and his life became increasingly troublesome as he dealt with the inability to perform to his own standards on the field. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder during his time with the Bears.

He refused to take medication and threatened suicide when a doctor was late to an appointment, after his career ended with stints with the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys he again went off medication and forced a flight from Cincinnati to Philadelphia to make an emergency landing after becoming violent and insisting that the plane was crashing, and just last year he became involved in a car chase with police after an altercation at a convenience store in Tulsa.

Some players, like Pittsburgh Steelers great Terry Bradshaw, were able to hold it together on the field where he won four Super Bowls, but fell apart into a blend of tears, three marriages that ended with the wreckage of a plane crash, and drug abuse to avoid his anxiety attacks that eventually were diagnosed as clinical depression.

The lists of athletes with severe personal problems that were rooted in social anxiety (which many find hard to believe since they play in front tens of thousands each game) and deep depression goes on and on, much like people in the general population. Sometimes they are rooted long before the player takes the field as a professional athlete and sometimes they come as public pressure begin to shatter their psyche.

I am a Bulls fan and used to hiss, boo, and be generally outraged once Eddy Curry stepped on the court, but now I feel the utmost sympathy for him. I hope that he is able to get his life back in order and that he is strong enough to keep standing while dealing with a career in disrepair and a personal life compounding his frustrations with tragedy and crippling allegations (I can not say whether they are true or not, I was not there).

Perhaps he can use these realities as motivation to get into the weight room and attack the court and the boards with a renewed sense of purpose. Hopefully he can make the most of himself out of this tragedy. I do not want to read an obscure story in the news about a former NBA player robbing a gas station or holding a gun to his head.

Boston Celtics: Repeat Champions, Maybe; Best Record in History, No Longer

The Boston Celtics started 27-2 and looked like they were going to be the team to beat the Chicago Bulls historic 72-10 season in 1995-96. The season looked like one long holiday, but Christmas Day began with coal in their stockings and by New Years Eve it looked like Boston would have to make a resolution to play better defense.

Including that 83-92 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the team has lost five of its last seven games. The latest loss was to the Bobcats in overtime 106-114. At first people were saying that the subsequent loss to the Golden State Warriors was just a hiccup in the long season. Well, this funk can still just be a momentary lapse, but the team seriously has to find out what is going on.

The defense that used to contain penetration is allowing everybody from point guards to lumbering centers to get passed defenders. The offense that used to operate with the smoothness of the conductors wand at the Boston Pops is stagnant. Every team wants a piece of this club and Garnett, Allen, and Pierce are letting every team, good and bad, knock them down.

Rajon Rondo is playing very poorly. He had an awful line of 3 points off 1 of 7 shooting, 3 assists and 2 turnovers in 26 minutes in the Knicks game. Against the Charlotte Bobcats he had 16 points and 6 assists, but also had 9 turnovers.

Paul Pierce is showing up on the box score with nice scoring numbers, but they resemble the types of games he had to have when he was just trying to keep the Celtics playing .500 ball, before the arrival of KG and Ray Allen.

There has been talk of adding Stephon Marbury to the bench, but I do not think a combustible element like Starbury would do much to quell any mounting tension in the locker room.

I have heard it said that the team is just coming down off the high of winning an NBA championship and a 27-2 start, and having watched the Chicago Bulls during that incredible 72-10 season I recognize a simple slump when I see one. Though Boston will probably wake up soon and go back to blowing away teams, I think that the dream to catch the first Jordan-Pippen-Rodman team gas faded away.

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Ode to the Rebound, My New NBA Obsession

The glorious world of the NBA has fans who adorn their walls with pictures of tremendous athletes who can work magic with an orange leather ball. How many guys have LeBron James posterizing some poor second string guy trying to earn a multi-year contract and not be remembered as a cringing face on a highlight reel? How many have people have Dwayne Wade on the wall twisting and contorting his way through the lane for level of basketball awe and impossibility.

It’s not just scorers. Plenty of fans have Steve Nash slow driving past some poor susceptible guard and throwing a no look pass across his body to the right while looking left. There are millions of posters of Chris Paul tossing up an alley-oop to Tyson Chandler just about to go air born in the middle of the lane.

These are the sexy players with the sultry moves that David Stern wants to sell desperately to bring back the NBA to its former glory. Unfortunately, the blue-collar big boys only get some love on the Sportscenter top ten when they are catching a 12-foot lob a couple of feet from the rim.

No, these guys need some respect and their bread and butter needs some attention too. I am talking about rebounds. Twenty four players average more than 20 points a game, but only 9 players average over 10 rebounds a game.

Dwight Howard is leading the league with his performance in the middle for the Orlando Magic with 13.6 boards. He is a big name. There are plenty of other players. Marcus Camby is crashing the boards for the Los Angeles Clippers along with Zach Randolph. Andris Biedrins is becoming the sweet shooting lefty every coach desperately wants on the roster. Emeka Okafor is solid in Charlotte and David Lee has excelled in the new D’Antoni coached world of the New York Knicks.

Even Andrew Bogut is redeeming himself as a complete first pick bust at the Bradley Center for the Milwaukee Bucks. Yes, most of this list of power forwards and centers get to man the lanes without much love from the crowd, instead hearing more boos when they pick up a clumsy foul than cheers when picking up an errant missed free throw.

I declare that I will try and appreciate the box out as much as the buzzer beating three. I declare that every fan should encourage their seven footer, whether they are lumbering around the lane or sealing the block for a quick right jump hook.

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