2017 NBA All-Star Weekend

February is one of my favorite months for sports because of the Super Bowl, pitchers in MLB report to spring training, college basketball is starting to get down to the wire, and NBA All-Star Weekend. This year, the festive event will take place in New Orleans. I took a trip to New Orleans in May of 2015, and that was one of the best experiences of my life. The culture in “NOLA” is truly one of a kind. The original destination was Charlotte, but due to anti-gay laws within the state, the NBA elected to change locations. The NBA just hosted the All-Star Game New Orleans in 2014.

Besides Kyrie Irving’s belief that the world is flat, the most intriguing headline of the weekend is Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook reuniting as teammates. Their brotherly friendship has been derailed since KD’s departure to Golden State. The two has yet attempted to patch things up so that should make way for an interesting interaction in the locker room. 

The events for Saturday includes the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, JBL Three-Point Contest, and the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest. I’m picking Isaiah Thomas for the Skills Challenge, Nick Young for the Three-Point Contest, and Glenn Robinson III for the Slam Dunk Contest.

As for the NBA All-Star Game itself, I have Anthony Davis as the MVP. With that being said, I hope all the events live up to the hype! 

The People’s Champ

Not to be confused with former WWE Superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (even though that was my favorite wrestler growing up)

Who would’ve ever thought we would see a player like Stephen Curry in our generation? Think about it… the players in the NBA today compared to when I was a kid growing up are more athletic, but not as fundamentally sound, or have the overall IQ. Anthony Davis is a freak of nature but you don’t see the post game foot work like Kevin Garnett or banking in 15 footers like Tim Duncan (yet). James Harden took Manu Ginobili’s Euro Step to another level but the man can’t defend a parked car with a boot attached to the front left rim. LeBron James and Kevin Durant are once in a lifetime type of players. There’s no one with LeBron’s size and strength combination. There’s no one with Durant’s height, wingspan, and to be a pure shooter. Russell Westbrook’s athleticism attributes are not even comparable to any one (Derrick Rose before the injuries). Usually NBA Superstars have something or multiple abilities about them that you just can’t teach… that basically the average person doesn’t possess. Curry, on the other hand, is different.

Steph Curry doesn’t have the power and speed combination of LeBron. He doesn’t have the athletic makeup of Westbrook. He doesn’t have the height and wingspan of Durant. He’s not the fastest or strongest player at his position and definitely not the most explosive. What separates him is the fact that he’s a perfectionist with a legendary work ethic. His ability to exceed expectations and raise his game to new heights are due to the long hours of commitment that he has produced. I watched him at Davidson and became a fan during his junior year when his school made some noise in the middle of March Madness. Davidson ousted Gonzaga, dropped Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green, and the rest of Georgetown, stomped Wisconsin, and was 2 points shy of reaching the Final Four after a loss to a deep Kansas team featuring Mario Chalmers. The man used to be double and triple teamed on a regular and was still scoring at will. He’s been doing this at every level. Scouts were saying that his game wouldn’t translate to the next level. They also said he wasn’t a true point guard. The fact that he’s doing whatever he wants in the NBA is beyond remarkable.

Another crucial point that needs to be made is that anybody can be just like him. The average person doesn’t have to jump the highest or run the fastest or become the strongest to have the same skill set of Stephen Curry. You’ve seen an abundance of kids practicing their ball handling or shooting all over social media because of what Curry can do. Mark Jackson said that Curry’s style of play is hurting the game… and I would have to disagree. Yes, Curry shoots a lot of 3’s in transitions but, those are good shots for him. And of course they teach you the opposite during basketball practice. The thing is when you’re that good of a shooter and you’re in rhythm, those are good shots. Also, the fact that he can freeze the defense and space the floor in transition is a bonus. Even with his high volume shots behind the arc, kids looking up to him are starting to become more fundamental, and watching the Golden State Warriors team in general are exposing them to selfless basketball (along with San Antonio).

The scary thing that I didn’t even mention yet is that Steph is getting better. Initially, ankle injuries delayed his growth in his first couple of seasons. However, once he was finally healthy, you started to see the birth of a superstar. He shattered the record for most 3 pointers in a season 3 years ago and has beaten his own record every year (currently on pace to beat it again). The Carolina protégé is on pace to have a higher scoring efficiency than Wilt Chamberlain and is scoring more points in the paint than Blake Griffin and LeBron James… Let that sink in… ESPN has ranked him the 4th best point guard of all time behind Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, and John Stockton. Initially I thought it was too early to have him in the conversation but when you’re constantly watch him perform, it’s hard to overlook his greatness. I still don’t know how I feel about him ranked higher than Isaiah Thomas, Steve Nash, and Jason Kidd (all 3 of them are above extraordinary), but all I can do is sit back and appreciate the baby face assassin take over the league. LeBron used to lead the league in all star votes, effortlessly, for the past decade. Now, Stephen Curry is trumping him and the separation between LeBron and whoever’s next isn’t wide. Eventually, you would have seen the transition of dethroning the king because of father time… and if it was to be this soon, nobody expected it to be the current reigning MVP… except the MVP himself.

Steph Curry is a special player and you shouldn’t take what we are witnessing for granted. A couple of years ago, he was just known for being a great shooter. Since then, he has won an MVP and a NBA Title, and is currently on pace to winning back to back MVPs (like Jordan 96,97) with the leagues best record. He has become a hero to the Bay Area and now is becoming a global icon. There’s not too many people who doesn’t discredits any of his accomplishments. The sky is truly the limit for him. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next from number 30… He still has a long career ahead of him, but in the present, he is the people’s champ.


The Come Up Podcast 3.0

Every last Sunday of the month, I have the privilege of joining The Come Up Podcast to talk about sports. This past Sunday was all about the upcoming NBA season. We talked about NBA stars such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Kevin Durant, the 2015 free agency, our predictions of the season and more!

You can listen to the podcast below!


Also, check out their Youtube Channel and Twitter Page

YouTube Channel

Twitter Page

NBA Preview Part 7: Predictions

Season Predictions

Rookie of the year: Jahlil Okafor

Sixth Man: Isaiah Thomas

Defensive player of the year: DeAndre Jordan

Most improved player: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Coach of the year: Fred Hoiberg

Most valuable player: Anthony Davis

Eastern Conference
1. Cleveland
2. Chicago
3. Miami
4. Milwaukee
5. Toronto
6. Washington
7. Atlanta
8. Indiana

Western Conference
1. San Antonio
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Golden State
4. Oklahoma City
5. Houston
6. New Orleans
7. Memphis
8. Dallas

NBA Finals: Los Angeles Clippers vs Cleveland

Note: These predictions are made as of October 27, 2015. Some things are subject to change due to injuries or trades. I will revisit after the trade deadline.

NBA Preview Part 4: Southwest Division

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks
Key Additions: Wesley Matthews, Justin Anderson, Zaza Pachulia, JaVale Mcgee, John Jenkins
Key Subtractions: Monte Ellis, Tyson Chandler, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jameer Nelson, Rajon Rondo
Outlook: The Dallas Mavericks have continued to strike out in free agency when it comes to big name stars. That whole DeAndre Jordan situation was foul but slightly embarrassing. How much better did Dallas really get by adding Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews but losing Tyson Chandler and Monte Ellis? Honestly, Mark Cuban and that front office has to do better if they really want Dirk Nowitzki to make a run at another ring. They may be slightly better, slightly worse, or the same. Either way, they are not a real contender in a stacked Western Conference… not right now at least.

Houston Rockets
Key Additions: Ty Lawson, Sam Dekker, Marcus Thornton, Montrezl Harrell
Key Subtractions: Josh Smith, Nick Johnson, Joey Dorsey, Kostas Papanikolaou
Outlook:  This offseason James Harden requested that they find a point guard that could facilitate the offense, and ultimately take pressure off of him. The Houston Rockets found Ty Lawson. With that being said (and like the same question I asked about Dallas), how much better did the Rockets get? If this was the Eastern Conference, they would be favorite to go to the NBA Finals. James Harden led them to the Western Conference Finals with Dwight Howard on the shelf for a good amount of time. But seriously, are they good enough to be Golden State, San Antonio, LA Clippers, or Oklahoma City? We’ll find out if they are as seriously as a lot of people are making them out to be.

Memphis Grizzlies
Key Additions: Brandon Wright, Matt Barnes, Jarell Martin
Key Subtractions: Kostas Koufos, Nick Calathes
Outlook: Probably the one team that nobody wants to play in a 7 game series when completely healthy. They have perimeter defenders, paint protectors, scorers on the low block and a formidable sixth man. The only thing missing from this masterpiece is a consistent perimeter scorer. Matt Barnes isn’t that guy but he adds depth and another feisty defender. Can Jeff Green evolve his game to the next level and become that missing link? Their window is closing so it’s almost now or never for this team who plays in the toughest division in the league.

New Orleans Pelicans
Key Additions: Kendrick Perkins, Alonzo Gee
Key Subtractions: Toney Douglas, Jimmer Fredette
Outlook: I view Anthony Davis as this generation’s Kevin Garnett. His post game is not on par with KG’s but his impact on the court is definitely comparable. He can do it all (Inside, outside, rebound, pass, block, steals, etc). The only thing left is to elevate the post game, become more consistent from the outside and rack up some NBA hardware. This team will either continue to hover around the 8th spot  or climb up the latter to around a 5th seed. A healthy New Orleans Pelicans will turn a few heads this season but it is Anthony Davis or bust.

San Antonio Spurs
Key Additions: LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, Ray McCallum, Jonathan Simmons, Boban Marjanovic
Key Subtractions: Tiago Splitter, Cory Joseph, Aron Baynes, Marco Belinelli
Outlook: How often have we said that Spurs were done heading into the season because of old age (I’ll wait while you count)? To end that thought process, the San Antonio Spurs resigned Kawhi Leonard and lured in LaMarcus Aldridge and David West. The team still has it’s long established future hall of fame core as well. When this team is healthy and in rhythm, there’s no other team that’s better overall. They have the talent, the depth, the coaching, and the experience to win another title. Don’t be surprised if Tim Duncan wins ring number 6.