Houston: We Have A Finals

James Harden

by Yusuf Gadlin
There is something special about the Houston Rockets this year. They are currently the third seed in the NBA’s Western Conference with a 30-9 record trailing the Golden State Warriors 2.5 games for the overall seed in the Western Conference.

Do we thank James Harden or Rockets coach Mike D’ Antoni? Seriously.

I’m really feeling this free flowing offense spear headed by James Harden who is thriving tremendously (28ppg, 8.2 reb, 11.8 ast) basically reenacting the great Steve Nash Phoenix Suns days. Nash won two most valuable player awards playing in coach D’Antoni Ak47 style like Offense (shoot,shoot,shoot.) Nash and D’Antoni made two back to back Western conference finals (2004,2005) losing in both appearances.

Similar circumstances may play out in 2017, but then again, nobody feared Steve Nash the way some, if not most, fear the beard(James Harden)in today’s NBA.

The left handed Two-God not two guard cannot be stopped with the basketball in his hands, period. Just watch YouTube highlights if you don’t believe me. Where I start to raise my eyebrows, yes both, is that James Harden is leading the league in assists at 12 dimes a night.

I love the roster construction of this team too. The veteran sharp shooting of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon both averaging 14ppg and 18ppg respectively. The experience/inexperienced physical toughness combination of NeNe Hilario and my favorite, Montrezl Harrell. The gritty and grimy thug life defenders in Patrick Beverly , Trevor Ariza (NBA champion) , and Corey Brewer (NBA champion). And to top it all off, a nice solid athletic x-factorish center in Clint Capela (11ppg, 8rebs.) Theres no doubt about it, this Rockets team is oozing with talent .

The key for the Rockets making the NBA Finals is a premium on health, hunger, and chemistry. Sounds cliche, but if this team can be as silky smooth as those 2004, 2005 Phoenix Suns, NBA Finals here they come. The difference is those Phoenix Suns teams couldn’t, didn’t, acted, or probably was instructed not to play defense. This Houston team has the defensive Dogs to make enough stops even though anything remotely close to Defense was shredded in the coaching book of Mike D’Antoni years ago. Just a small inference on Defense should be implemented in the game plan and I’m picking the Rockets to go the NBA Finals.

#HoustonRockets #JamesHarden #NBA

Bad Bad Fit, For Rajon Rondo

rondo

by Yusuf Gadlin

CHICAGO —  The Chicago Bulls organization faces another tough decision. This time with one of thier”prized” free agents, ironically, bull-headed Rajon Rondo.

The creatively imprisoned guard is on his way out of the Windy City, it’s just a matter of time. After being suspended for throwing a towel at an assistant coach, and being told he looked old and slow by Bulls second year head coach Fred Hoiberg,  Rondo now finds himself glued to the bench and reduced to an angry cheerleader.
Rondo says he was told the team would play a certain way and that he would be able to create , improvise, and unveil masterpieces on nightly bases with the basketball in hands. Twenty-nine games in with the bulls who currently sit as the eight seed , the relationship s over before it ever really started.  Rondo is currently shooting a career worst 36% from the field while averaging peanuts, 7 points and 7 assist.
This was just a bad fit.The cool , laid back, high I.Q,  extremely cerebral point guard doesn’t  mesh well with orders or being told how to create with a basketball in his hands.  ESPECIALLY FROM FRED HOIBERG  who has no clue as to what an NBA coach is. Every coach , in any sport, on any level, needs to be able to compromise with any and all  of their players . You have to be so secure, so self assured and understanding enough  as a coach to realize your player is not defying your authority when challenging your philosophical principles but yet wanting you to be flexible and work to their strengths Coach Hoiberg doesn’t  understand this, at all. That is why he chose to flex his muscles and bench a talented player like a Rondo rather than relinquish some power or take the simplistic route and just compromise with a player that has an NBA championship on his resume.
This inst the Rick Carlisle situation in Dallas even though the ending will be the same for Rajon Rondo, a untimely and a relief-like exit. those were two champions butting heads.Here in Chicago , there is a coach who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. Everyone knows it, but somehow Rondo will be made the scapegoat.
Rajon Rondo needs a championship coach that is willing to compromise and confident in his coaching abilities . That is clearly not Fred Hoiberg or with the Chicago Bulls.
#NBA #ChicagoBulls #RajonRondo #FredHoiberg

Happy New Year!

2017

Here’s wishing all of Yusuf On Sports readers and subscribers a wonderful new year. Since becoming the sports editor of Blackhawk News, I’ve been on a hiatus from posting sports updates here. But I plan to be back in the coming weeks with my unique perspective on sports! #2017 #HappyNewYear

 

Yusuf

Jesus, Come to the Garden

by Yusuf Gadlin
If 41-year-old Ray Allen wants to put an epic ending to his stellar career, New York City is the place for him. If Allen wants to contribute, mentor, motivate, and provide guidance, then he should take a bite out of the big apple.

Allen, a two-time champion and the NBA all time leader in three pointers made would fit perfect with New York Knicks. From a mentoring stand point, imagine the shooting secrets Allen could provide for the 7 foot baby giant in Kriptas Porzingus. Yes the kid is working on post moves this summer but let’s be honest, Porzingus won’t be bullying anybody on the block anytime soon unless it’s some type of fade-away or one legged step back. Porzingus is bound to launch a lot of three pointers this season, why not have a legend like Allen in his ear transforming his silky jumper to God like.
From a motivational standpoint, Ray Allen can help push Carmelo Anthony in ways he has never been. Allen has been on the same floor with the greatest player ever in Michael Jordan. Allen has also been teammates with with this generations greatest player in LeBron James. Let’s not forget,in 2013 it was Allen who provided the biggest and gutsiest  three pointer in NBA history. That shot not only ensured Ray Allen  with his second championship ring but also saved King James’ legacy from being perceived as an all-time finals loser. If Allen can save LeBron’s career, why can’t he save Melo’s? Ray Allen can show Carmelo Anthony what it takes to be a champion, what it takes to be a leader, and as a teammate provide the Knicks as a whole the blueprint to the Larry O’brien Trophy.

Knicks die hard Spike Lee is desperately recruiting Ray Allen because he knows at age 41, Allen still got game and more importantly still got aim. The three pointers that Ray Allen connect on will send the New York crowd  bananas in ways that nobody could ever imagine. Ray Allen would provide hope to the New York faithful and would be the missing ingredient that proves something special is cooking in NYC. If Allen is looking for one more magical ride, then Jesus come to Garden.
#RayAllen #NBA #Knicks #MiamiHeat @RayAllen

Friendemies

by Yusuf Gadlin

 

At some point in time we all will lose a friendship that we thought would last forever. In some cases (particularly the one I’m about to address) rather than cutting the person off forever, we tend to engage that former bestie dis-ingenuousness with a side of alternative motive.

You don’t wish harm or death on your former “right hand”, you just want them to fail miserably at everything that they attempt. You salvage enough of the fake relationship to pat them on the back and offer them bootleg condolences. In Russell Westbrook case, it’s very simple, He hopes his former best bro Kevin Durant never captures that elusive championship ring.
Friendemies are the worst.
After five seasons of close but no cigar, Kevin Durant flipped on the city of Oklahoma. Durant took his talents to the Bay Area  to join forces with the Golden State Warriors in hopes of finally having his ring finger fitted. But most importantly, Durant betrayed his best homie, Russell Westbrook.

In turn, Westbrook signed a three- year $85 million dollar extension to continue to play for the Thunder while flexing his loyalty to the entire city of Oklahoma. Kevin Durant says he plans to congratulate Russell on securing his extension but couldn’t because everything is touchy? How?  Aren’t they best friends? Oh that’s right!, their friendemies now. Or have they always been?

Russell in all likelihood probably will receive that call from Durant.But that doesn’t mean the word “traitor” won’t appear on Westbrook’s phone followed by Westbrook sending Durant straight to voicemail.
Kevin Durant chose the opposition over eight years of friendship. All Durant had to do was finally man up and tell the aggressive/volatile Russell Westbrook to stop shooting the basketball so damn much. Rather than keeping it real with Westbrook and strengthening thier bond in the long run, Durant walked away quietly, leaving those rumors of Westbrook’s ball hoggish ways as the reason he left still floating out there.
That’s not a friend, but a friendemy.
One could surmise  Kevin Durant resented Westbrook for always slicing and dicing thier championship aspirations. But never Durant never spoke up and more importantly never spoke to. Both will publicly wish each other success on their future endeavors, but the thing about friendemies is that only one person will mean it.

It Is Time For Carmelo’s Magical Run

Melo

by Yusuf Gadlin

YusufonSports.com

Thirteen long reminiscent years have passed since we last saw New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony on a championship stage. Back then he was baby faced with long flowing cornrows. It was the 2003 National Championship game to be exact. Carmelo Anthony was a freshmen in college, his offensive game was unmatched, his knees were not bothered, the NBA world was put on notice.
After capturing the National title for Syracuse as a magical freshmen in college, and as a professional for the New York Knicks now, it is time for Carmelo’s final act.

On the NBA level, ‘Melo has carved out an fantastic career in terms of putting the ball in the basket. At one point in time he was the best pure scorer in the game until Kevin Durant snatched that title from him. At one point in time people actually debated as to who was the better player between he and Lebron James . We all know Lebron is the better player but still, Carmelo used to be in those type of endless conversations.

The truth is Carmelo Anthony has gone from must see to “washed up” in the eyes of many. Nobody is checking for him anymore , nobody cares. To be fair, Melo in all likelihood will win his fourth Olympic Gold medal this summer as a member of Team USA, An amazing accomplishment.But no matter how many Gold medals he wins they will never equal or fill the void of a championship ring.

The Knicks have now positioned Melo an opportunity to at least fight for a ring With the summer acquisitions of redemption players in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. He has a ~uber talented 7-footer in Kriptas Porzingus that can one day be the best player in the NBA. This isn’t the 2009 Denver Nuggets that Carmelo Anthony led to the Western Conference finals. Carmelo’s 2017 teammates are better than that cast.
This by far is Carmelo’s best chance to become relevant again, His best chance to be that lightning in the bottle and to strike again. This is his chance to get the better of LeBron James for once. Quite frankly It’s Melo time to swipe a ring like a thief in the night.

It’s time for some of that Syracuse magic.

Don’t Ever Get Too Comfortable

King James

by Yusuf Gadlin

The Cleveland Cavaliers took game 3 of the NBA finals 120-90 in resilient fashion Wednesday night. The Cavs played with toughness and pride while letting the Golden State Warriors know…  Don’t you ever get to comfortable.
LeBron James was amazing, totaling 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. We have been begging King James to be aggressive and he finally delivered the goods with this performance. James also received major  help from Kyrie Irving who was sensational dropping 30 points on Stephen Curry head including 8 assists and 4 rebounds.
While the  Cavilers  finally played like grown men, The Warriors Stephen Curry continues to play like a little boy. Through three games the two-time reigning MVP has played below average. Chef Curry tried  to cook in the third quarter of this game scoring 12 points but it was meaningless to say the least. At some point in this series Curry will have to show the world why he was voted the first ever unanimous most valuable player. With a knee injury excuse tucked in his back pocket, Curry will likely be given a pass for his finals short comings if his embarrassing play continues.

The key for the Cavilers in game 4 will be to continue to play with passion and focus. The Cavaliers have to be ready for the Warriors ball movement in game 4 and paying attention to detail will be critical. Steph Curry will be out for blood and so will his splash brother Klay Thompson. I like Kevin Love as the Cavaliers new 6th man and he should thrive in his new role. I believe the Cavs even this series on Friday in the toughest battle they ever had.
 Game three was about the Warriors getting to comfortable and taking this stage for granted. They are more than capable of rebounding with a victory but let’s give credit where it’s due, the Cavaliers are here to fight for their lives to the very end.