Q: With Yi Jilian narrowly missing out on being a starter for the Eastern All-Stars, Bruce Bowen coming in third at forward for the Western All-Stars, and A.I. and T-Mac robbing both squads of a deserving player, is it finally time for the NBA to wrestle voting control away from the fans?
AM: Maybe not completely, but definitely in part. Some kind of hybrid "Fan votes count for 33%, Media votes for 33%, and Coaches for 33%" might work. Having it as a popularity contest is not fun. I thought we had gotten to the end of this a few years ago when Vince Carter was voted in despite being injured for the entire first half of the season and not having played a single game. Unfortunately, it is simply not that big a deal for folks. In the age of the internet and the global NBA, it does not work to do it the same way they have been doing it!
Q: ESPN recently started taking fan's votes for the "Mount Rushmore of Sports." If you were to select the four faces for the NBA version, whom would you have "forever etched in stone"?
AM: For me, this isn't terribly difficult. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Those four players are the best at each of their respective positions in the history of the game, when you consider it as a combination of individual production and championships won. And, if things continue on their current path, they need to leave a space to throw LeBron up there someday.
Q: With the recent retirement of Alonzo Mourning, many pro hoops chat rooms have been buzzing with fiery banter regarding whether Zo should be bound for the Hall of Fame. Your call?
AM: I like Zo - I really do. But he was never more than a complementary player on any good team he played for. In the best statistical year of his career (1995-96), Mourning's Miami Heat team barely cracked .500, and in every other year he was basically Robin to someone else's Batman. I just don't think that is Hall of Fame worthy in terms of stats. Now, Zo was a good soldier, a fiery competitor, and obviously noteworthy for his battle with life-threatening illness, but on pure merits and without the kidney situation, I'm not sure it is as much an argument.
Q: Many scribes have given Kobe Bryant the title of "The most clutch performer in a late game situation"(even though Manu Ginobili has statistically proven to be more effective). Let's leave that debate alone and instead flip it. If you could pick any defender to stop Bryant from making that last second shot, who would it be?
AM: Can I pick Kobe Bryant? If so, I take him.Obviously, back in the day, a Bruce Bowen pick would have made sense here. But Bowen has lost a step and is not anywhere near as effective as he once was. My selection is going to be Tayshaun Prince. With his length and intelligence on the defensive end of the floor, I am confident that he would make life difficult for Kobe, and I feel good that Bryant would not be able to post Prince up with ease.
Q: If you were Danny Ainge, do you roll the dice on Stephon Marbury? How about if you were Mitch Kupchak of the Lakers?
AM: A big double no. My colleague at the IMG Basketball Academy, and NBA analyst for Hoopsworld.com, Mike Moreau, calls Marbury "Tatoo-Head." I simply call him, "Head-Ache." There is nothing that Marbury brings to either team that they don't already have, and he brings so many cons to the table that I can't imagine either of those teams want to add such a volatile personality, despite their strong locker-rooms. I would not do it... but the quest for a ring makes you do strange things, so we'll see what they do.
Q: In honor of the new poetry section we have here at Wicked Info, I've decided to create some NBA haiku:
Please shut up Garnett
Cease the incessant chatter
Win with dignity
LBJ the best?
No, he needs a jumper first
Then he will be "King"
Wow, what's with the hair band dude?
Make shots, not fashion
Care to serve up a bit more haiku for our collection?
AM: The Magic are good
Can they win it all this year?
Get a rebound first
Q: Lebron James is the runaway favorite for the MVP, so let's go in the complete opposite direction: Who's the NBA's least valuable player (LVP)?
AM: The player who means the absolute least to his team? Wow. This is a tough question because there are a ton of guys in the league that don't play at all. However, most of the time we look at the top of the league standings to find an MVP, so the LVP might be found down toward the bottom. In fact, the LVP should come from one of the bottom five teams in the league: Memphis, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles (Clippers), Sacramento, or Washington. I am a fan of John Hollinger's PER, and according to that tool, the worst player on the list from one of those five teams is... Ricky Davis. Davis is ranked #325 in PER, with a pretty abysmal 4.31 score. In 21 games this season, Davis is averaging a blistering 5.0 points, 2.4 assists, and 1.7 rebounds, while shooting a scorching 30.3% from the floor and 26.4% from downtown.
Q: At what point do you predict that we'll see corporate logos/advertising space on the court jerseys that the players wear?
AM: That is a pretty acceptable practice in Europe and other places around the world. I don't see the NBA going that route, mainly because of the player's union and the notion that individual players have endorsement deals in the league that could create a conflict. There would need to be pretty strict rules on it, and I'm not sure the NBA wants to go down that road anytime soon.
Q: 15 years from now, who will have had the better NBA career: Andrew Bynum or Greg Oden?
AM: Now that is a tough question. It will all come down to injuries - which one of these young men ends up staying more injury-free. I love the things I am seeing from Greg Oden, I think he is showing flashes of being the kind of player that averages 20 and 10 for a substantial part of his career. I'm not sure Bynum has that kind of explosive ability in him, but he is the safer bet to have a solid career.
If I have to pick one, I'm going with Oden. But it's not by much, and I reserve the right to change my prediction based on future results (which defeats the purpose of a prediction, but hey, what the heck).
Q: Let's finish with something really arbitrary. Our favorite Michael Jordan commercial is this one. Got a better selection?
AM: There is no better selection than that one. It gave me chills the first time I watched it, and it still does now. But I am a fan of these two, which would be up there on any list:
And, while this isn't really a MJ commercial, it does have MJ in it and was well-done:
Q: Will Kobe's new low-top shoe cause an outbreak of twisted ankles?
AM: You know, there are various opinions on the effectiveness of high tops in preventing ankle injuries. Some actually think they lead to weak ankles because they do the support work for those muscles. Personally, I can't play without high-tops for fear of an ankle injury, and that is maybe the worst thing. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when you are continually worried about injuring your ankle.
With all that said, I don't know if there will be an outbreak of twisted ankles. The bigger question may be whether people will actually wear Kobe's new shoes to play hoops... only time will tell.