Back Where We Belong, Almost

I have a few thoughts to share about the Spurs, the Celtics, Allen Iverson, and maybe some Real World/Road Rules Challenge if I feel up to it.

I will start with Iverson because, well, why not? It isn’t technically “news” anymore, but Iverson inked a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, with whom he made his Hall-of-Fame case and MVP-worthy status seemingly forever ago. That dynamic will be interesting, but not as much as the events that preceded it.

Iverson, in a matter of weeks, went from being the bellyaching selfish player who couldn’t recognize his own basketball skill mortality to being the kid that nobody else would let play in the sandbox. I am still not sure how he managed to pull this maneuver off, although I am glad he did (probably had something to do with Larry Brown being on his side).

He has become this sympathetic character who desires only to play basketball and to win games, something that nobody could disagree with. When he retired, although I can’t think of one logical person who believed he would stay that way, the typical highlight reels were played on SportsCenter and the sports world remembered exactly what made Allen so great.

I became nostalgic, as did most NBA fans that tuned in anytime after 1996, and longed for Allen to come back and cement his legacy. This isn’t exactly what I had in mind seeing as how the 76ers aren’t on any radar screen right now; however, it is a tremendous runner up.

Now Allen can finish his career where he belongs, in a city that will cherish his remaining minutes on the court and appreciate the tremendous impact that he has made, not only in Philadelphia, but also around the league. That is, as long as he doesn’t have to come off of the bench.

The 76ers have to start Iverson, right? He is certainly a better scorer than Williams at this point and they serve primarily the same function of scoring point guard. He comes to a team with already defined roles, well, I am not sure what exactly Elton Brand’s role is anymore with Eddie Jordan preferring to rest the big man down the stretch. Still, he can come in and contribute to a team that needs Allen as much as he needs them.

Speaking of the 76ers, I underestimated the impact of Andre Miller on the teams he plays on. He isn’t going to be a Baron Davis type of scoring threat or as flashy as Nash or Paul, but he is as solid as they come. Without him, the 76ers are nowhere near as capable (although they did have to deal with injuries), and the Blazers are a far better defensive team.

Okay, on to the next one: the San Antonio Spurs. I watched the Spurs and Celtics game last night while studying for exams and a few things struck me. The first of which is that I must have overestimated Richard Jefferson as much as I underestimated Andre Miller. I managed to forget the impact of age and wear and tear on a player after they have spent around a decade in the league. I thought that Jefferson could breath some new life into the aging Spurs and be a more productive Bruce Bowen.

Well, so far, I have been wrong about that. He hasn’t been a tremendous defensive player and he has resorted to shooting threes more often than driving. There is nothing wrong with playing that way, it worked for Bowen and the Spurs, however, he isn’t as good as I thought he was. Now, this can all be turned around by a winning streak of 8-10 games which is nothing less than typical for a Popovich coached Spurs team.

The Celtics were clearly the superior team last night, at least from what I saw. Kevin Garnett had one of his good days and his knee seemed to hold up nicely. If the Celtics are going to contend late in the year they will pray that Garnett’s knee doesn’t become troublesome down the road. Anyway, he played with his usual fire and passion and displayed that outside shooting touch that made him impossible to defend when he was an upstart in Minnesota.

Now this has become trite at this point, but Garnett single-handedly impacts this defense more than just about any other player in the league (for me it’s a toss up between KG and Howard just because of the fear he puts into players when they think about driving into the lane). He makes everyone around him better and brings the intensity that you need in order to play great defense.

Also, Ray Allen is probably the most eloquent speaker that I have seen on the basketball sidelines this year (including Stan Van Gundy). He acts like he plays: smooth, calm, collected, introspective, and you never doubt for a moment that he is going to deliver. Long live Jesus Shuttlesworth.

Also, when Matt Bonner matched up with Brian Scalabrine I thought that my TV was going to explode. Not only are these two white NBA basketball players who aren’t exactly sculpted, but also they each sport the fire hair. I couldn’t believe what my eyes were telling me to be the truth. A matchup like that doesn’t happen too often, kind of like a solar eclipse in both rarity and magnitude.

And I feel really dumb and shallow about this, but I can’t stand Kendrick Perkins. I mean, I love his play and think that he has developed into a worthy starting center that plays tremendous defense against some of the best in the league, but there is something about him that irks me beyond all comprehension. I think it is his King Tut beard that he is trying to grow, sort of like Rashard Lewis only not as suave. Plus, he just looks angry all the time, when really, he has no reason to be. If he would just shave that chin music then I would love to watch Perkins play at all times.

This is where the Real World/Road Rules challenge stuff would go, but I don’t have the energy to delve into the dilemma on the Champions team. However, I am so glad that Casey was finally sent home and I am really rooting for the Challengers to overthrow the Champions, even though I know that this is a hope beyond all hopes.

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