Monday, October 27, 2008

Kevin Garnett and The Boston Celtics Need to Prove Last Season was No Fluke

In sport, it’s said that the greatest challenge is not to become a champion, but to remain a champion. Anyone can win something once, but to do it all over again proves to any doubters that the initial success was fully deserved and did not come about by chance or any other mitigating factor.

Right now, the Boston Celtics once again sit atop the basketball world.

Boston’s playoff victory over the Lakers last June gave the Celtics its seventeenth NBA championship. No team has won more.

Winning the title capped a remarkable turnaround. After not making the playoffs at all two seasons ago when they won only 24 regular season games, the Celtics won 66 games last season en route to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1987.

The 42-game spike in regular season wins was the most ever by a team from one season to the next in NBA history.

The change in fortune didn’t come as a huge surprise to basketball followers. Two summers ago, GM Danny Ainge glowed as he announced that the Celtics had acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play alongside the team's restless All-Star, Paul Pierce.

Ainge still had work to do though. He knew that as good as Garnett, Pierce and Allen were, they wouldn’t be able to win it all by playing 3-on-5 basketball, they’d still need help.

What Ainge did know was that it would now be easier for him to entice the much needed role players to compliment Boston’s new ‘Big Three’. He correctly assumed that there would be no shortage of veteran players who could be lured by the opportunity to play for a championship ring immediately.

This offer would likely outweigh the chance of making a few extra dollars on offers elsewhere.

It didn’t take a basketball genius to figure out that Boston was going to become a much better team, very quickly. Still, not everyone was convinced that the Celtics would return to the Promised Land straight away.

They proved any doubters wrong.

So where does the 2008 Boston Celtics team rank? After one championship win, it’s far too soon to immediately elevate this team to the same status as legendary Celtics teams and players of years gone by.

As a proud basketball franchise, the Boston Celtics have a long history of winning and boast some of the most well-known players and teams ever in the NBA. Most recently was the 1980s squad which featured the original ‘Big Three’. The trio of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish appeared in five NBA Finals series, winning three of them.

Going back a little further into the late1950s and early 60s, during Bill Russell’s time, the city of Boston got used to celebrating NBA championships like it was their own summertime event. Russell won an incredible 11 titles in only 13 seasons as a member of the Celtics.

Those glory days came to a halt in the 1990s and the early part of this decade, but now, they might be on the way back.

That is the challenge now for this Celtics squad. They need to create their own history. Winning one championship means that Garnett, Allen and Pierce at least won’t join the long list of great players who never won the NBA’s ultimate prize.

After watching Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls deny players like Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley even one championship (while his airness hogged six), it showed that no matter how good an individual talent a player was, there is never a guarantee of reaching basketball’s Holy Grail.

It might not be fair, but that’s the way it is.

Any young player currently in the NBA would probably happily accept winning one championship for their entire career if it was offered to them right now.

A funny thing happens too in the NBA though. Occasionally, all winning one championship does is have the team compared to other one-championship winning teams. Sometimes, we’re told, it’s bad teams that can only win one championship.

Instead, it’s only the very best teams that win the title again and again.

With the talent now on the roster, the only way this Celtics team is going to be regarded as true greats is to keep on winning. They need to stamp their authority on the league over the next few years and prove that last season wasn’t just a one-off.

Celtics fans got what they wanted – another championship. They don’t care how it happened, they were just sick of waiting and sick of hearing how their beloved Celtics were constantly ‘rebuilding’.

Now they want more.

The good news for the Celtics is that for the most part, the same players from the championship team are returning. James Posey bolted for the New Orleans Hornets and Boston will definitely miss his presence. Posey was probably the most effective role player on the team last year. His niggling of opponents at the defensive end and his clutch three-pointers leave a huge gap that really hasn’t been filled.

Patrick O’Bryant was the most significant addition after he spent two idle seasons at the Golden State Warriors, but apart from that it’s more or less the same team.

So can the Celtics do it again?

There are many reasons which contribute to make maintaining the level of success such a difficult challenge. Obstacles appear that the team didn’t face during the initial triumph such as the champion team automatically goes from being the hunter to becoming the hunted.

Opponents consider the regular season match up to be a measuring stick of sorts - how you fare against last season’s champs gives you an idea of where your team is at now.

Team chemistry can change. Having secured a championship, sometimes players don’t play with the same level of desperation or commitment. The things that were sacrificed before might not be met with the same effort in the following years.

Sometimes, things and circumstances can just change dramatically - look at the Miami Heat. Two short years ago they were the NBA champs, now, Dwayne Wade aside, there are barely any remnants of that victorious team.

Expectations are elevated and fans are fickle. They want and expect to see winning and exciting basketball each and every season. A championship success might allow for one losing season later on down the track, but anymore than that and it’s open season on everyone and anyone associated with the team. Fire the coach, the players, the GM – anyone, just fire someone.

When it comes to winning championships though, for the Boston Celtics and their fans, it’s never a case of how, it’s only a case of how many.

That is what Ainge hopes for now. When he combined Pierce, Allen and Garnett together, he wasn’t looking for a Las Vegas style elope, rather a long-term marriage.

Whatever happens this season, Ainge just doesn’t want a hangover.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eight Ways For David Stern to Improve The NBA

I love the NBA. For me, it's the best sport to watch. I love seeing the big dunks, blocked shots and the crazy athletic abilities.
What else I like is that my wife enjoys watching it too. The NHL and NFL guys are too covered up to see who's who, but in the NBA, you get a close up of everyone.

It's also an easier game to follow, understand, and explain. I'm not dissin' the other sports or their players, but the NHL is a bit of a blur and the NFL has heaps of zany calls and rules that make it too stop-starty. But that's just me.

Most aspects of the NBA are pretty good. The salary cap and draft keeps the league relatively even, and at the start of each season, you can only really write off a few teams that are likely in for a bad year. This year we'll say those teams are Minnesota, New York, Indiana and the Clippers. (Oh, the Clippers!)

Most other teams could—could—have a winning season. Anyway, the point of this article is that while the NBA is great, it's not perfect. Here are eight things that I think the NBA should do to maintain its status as the world's best league:

1. Floppers needs to be punished
Basketball is a physical game. Floppers might as well admit “I’m not good enough to play D properly, so I’m going to ask the ref to bail me out.” MAN UP.
Real defenders play real defense. Tough defense. You can defend a guy hard without being dirty and without being a flopper.

If you can’t defend like a man, then you don’t deserve to be guarding the player you’re on.
Soft players—who fall over as if they’ve just been shot, then pump their fist as if to say “what a great player I am,” when all they did was con the ref—need to be punished.

In soccer we see it all the time—players diving and falling all over the place trying to "win" a penalty or a free kick. It sucks in soccer and it sucks in basketball.

So what’s my solution? Assess floppers with a non-unsportsmanlike T. Embarrass them.

2. Cut the amount of time-outs in the last two minutes of the game.
If a game is tight, let the players use their brains and talents to try to figure something out. The stop-start nature of trying to orchestrate every last play takes the spontaneity out of the game.
Two time outs—MAX—per team in the last two minutes. Let the multi-squillionaires think on their feet for a change.

In fact, while we're on this one, lets scrap the TV time-outs too. I know this is a business and these time-outs make the league a lot of money, but the league is very healthy financially right now. They could afford to stop milking the fans for every penny.

3. It's time the NBA acknowledges that star players get star calls from refs.
Nothing bugs me more than watching a game when the refs don't call a foul on johnny-no-name, only for All-Star *insert name here* to just look at the hoop and get the call.Dwayne Wade in particular gets a free ride from the refs.

Now, don't get me wrong, D-Wade is a tough guy who attacks the rim a lot, but sometimes the whistle gets blown if he just thinks about going to the hoop.
The NBA continues to deny it happens, saying they have evidence to prove otherwise—but any real fan knows that it whatever the name says on the back of the shirt affects the way some calls get made.

KG set about a million moving picks at the top of the circle during the Finals last year and the refs always ignored them. All I'm hoping to see is that fouls get called the same for everyone. These players are good enough, they don't need any favours.

4. Any pre-arranged trade side deals should void the whole trade.
I believe the NBA were going to do something about this in the summer anyway, but I'm not sure if they have done or not yet. The whole saga with Jason Kidd going to Dallas last season, part of which had Jerry Stackhouse going to New Jersey only to be waived to enable him to return to the Mavs, sucked.

It just makes the league look tacky—and David Stern doesn't like tacky. While we're on this, including players who have obviously retired (Van Horn, McKie) in trades shouldn't be allowed either. It doesn't matter who holds who's rights—if you're not actively playing anymore, you can't be traded.

David Stern should have voided Kidd going to the Mavs for at least two seasons as punishment.

5. Anyone who plays in the All-Star game must have played at least 30 games during the season.
This wasn't so much of a problem last year—more the year before when Shaq, was voted in when he had barely touched the ball. It's not an anti-Shaq rant—I love Diesel as much as anyone—but being selected into the All-Star game isn't a right, it's a privilege.

6. Qualifying for the playoffs and the structure.
This is the area that requires the most change of all. Last season, out West we had the Golden State Warriors at 14 games OVER .500 which would have had them in fourth place in the East, yet they missed the playoffs altogether!

In the East, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks were both under .500, yet were in the postseason. Atlanta won ELEVEN games LESS than the Warriors. Atlanta by no means disgraced themselves in the playoffs, and pushed the eventual champions Celtics further than both the Pistons and the Lakers did, but that's not the point.

The point is that if a team won that many more games during the regular season, then they deserve to be in the playoffs.
Something needs to be done, because it sucks to see such an exciting team like Golden State miss out just because of where they are geographically located. It really shouldn't matter.

I'm all for making it the best 16 teams into the playoffs, then setting it up like a Tennis Grand Slam format. Seed and rank the teams based on the amount of games won. If there's any ties, go by the margins of victory.

I know that there will still be some un-evenness with the schedule, but I still think my way is better than the current set-up.

If it means that an East Coast team—say, the 76ers—have to play a series against a West team like LA in the first round, then so be it. There is no sane argument to say that a team can qualify to make the playoffs eight games BELOW .500 while a team 14 wins OVER doesn't. And make the first round best-of-five again.

7. Taunting on dunks should be allowed.
If someone like Andre Iguodala crushes one over somebody, then he should be allowed to let that player know about it. The game needs it. Like last year, when Rodney Carney smashed one on Dwayne Wade and then Wade came back and hammered one on Carney. That was great to watch. More of it please!

8. Players should be banned from kissing the centre court logo of their former or current team.
When Allen Iverson bent down to smooch the 76ers logo on his first return as a Denver Nugget, it was cool and a sign of respect, a "no hard feelings guys, but my time here was up" type statement.

Unfortunately, it started a trend that became cringe worthy. Morris Peterson did it on his return to Toronto and then Kevin Garnett did it—in Boston. Now, KG is a classy guy in almost every other way, but if he was going to do it anywhere, he should have done it back in Minnesota as a sign to the fans that he still loves them, in the way that AI did.

By kissing the Celtic Leprechaun, he was kinda sticking it to the Minny fans in a way. As Mark Jackson would say, "KG, tou're better than that." And he is.

So those are my suggestions to improve the league. Am I right or wrong? Did I miss something? Any other rules that we could change to improve this great game? Let me know.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mike D'Antoni - Wrong Coach at the Wrong Time For the New York Knicks

New York Knicks General Manager Donnie Walsh has long been a fan of Mike D’Antoni. When Walsh was GM of the Indiana Pacers, he wanted to add D’Antoni to the teams coaching staff, only for then Pacers’ head coach Isiah Thomas to block the move.

It took eight years and a move to New York City, but Walsh finally got his man in the summer when he hired D’Antoni to become head coach of the Knicks.

D’Antoni’s arrival in the Big Apple comes after just over four seasons with the Phoenix Suns where his record was 253 - 136. He was coach of the year in 2005 and twice took the Suns to the Western Conference finals.

Despite what sounds like an impressive resume, his hiring is still a surprise move by Walsh because of the style of game D’Antoni plays. He’s an offense first coach who pays about as much attention to defense as he does the 24-second shot clock.

After years of chaos and turmoil at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks need a coach with a firm hand, someone who preaches defense and discipline first. Any basketball coach will tell you that a good offense is only good if it has a solid defense to back it up.

D’Antoni’s Suns breezed through the regular season while he was in charge. In the four full seasons he was coach, his team never won less than 54 games during the regular season and had a winning percentage of .707.

Come playoff time though, it was a different story and when Phoenix was forced to play defense, D’Antoni either refused to, or simply didn’t know how. His win percentage dipped to .510, showing that it’s not how many games you win, rather when you win them that counts.

To exemplify the point further, under D’Antoni the Suns were eliminated by the NBA’s benchmark for defensive standards, the San Antonio Spurs, three times in four trips to the post season. The only time San Antonio didn’t knock Phoenix out was in 2006 when the two teams didn’t face each other.

It was the same again last season when the teams met in the first round of the playoffs. The supposedly re-tooled Suns with Shaquille O’Neal, would finally be able to compete with teams like the Spurs at both ends of the court. The addition of O’Neal proved only to be a band-aid solution as his impact was minimal and the Spurs prevailed yet again, easily in five quick games.
Ironically, it was the only time San Antonio defeated Phoenix in the playoffs, yet didn’t go onto win the NBA crown, which suggests that the Suns were actually weaker with O'Neal last season than previous years.

D’Antoni just didn’t get it; sure his offense was fun to watch, but defense always won out in the end.

And there is no doubting that D’Antoni’s made watching basketball fun. Phoenix’s games were often high scoring contests, full of highlight reel dunks & alley oops, offense without a conscience - it was real life Playstation.

With Steve Nash at the point, it was easier for D’Antoni to implement his so called ‘Euro-style’ game. Quick ball-movement and quick shots was the order of the day and if in doubt, just shoot the ball anyway.

Like two greyhounds chasing a hare, Nash didn’t even need to look up to know that he had either Shawn Marion(for most of the time) or Amare Stoudemire racing down the court to finish the fast break.

With this New York Knicks roster, D’Antoni will find it difficult to play the same way he did in Phoenix. Instead of Nash, Marion & Stoudemire, he now has Chris Duhon looking up to see Zach Randolph or er, Eddy Curry. We know that Eddy isn’t the most agile big man in the league & has difficulty handling the ball at the best of times. His lofty 285lb frame makes it hard for him just to make it from one end of the court to the other, let alone trying to finish a fast break.

For Curry, playing D’Antoni’s high speed offense will feel like he’s being sent to the NBA’s version of a training school for fat kids.

D’Antoni might be able to employ his fast paced game if he can bring in some players more suited to his style and he’ll be hoping Donnie Walsh can unload some of the ugly contracts the Knicks took on during the Isiah Thomas shipwreck era.

This figures to be the toughest job of all though for Walsh. It’s hard to see him being able to convince anyone to take on the $22m remaining owed to Stephon Marbury, so barring a buy out, he’s probably stuck with him. Zach Randolph has shown that he can score & rebound well enough, but his attitude and an apparent allergic reaction to playing defense makes the almost $50m owed to him over the next three seasons a tough sell.

The most attractive asset the Knicks have on their roster is probably the one guy that both Walsh and D’Antoni want to keep most, Jamal Crawford. He was one of the few positives to come from the Knicks last season. Along with David Lee and the energetic Wilson Chandler means that it’s not all doom and gloom in Manhattan, but equally, there’s no need to think the Knicks championship drought is about to end either.

So D’Antoni’s high-speed, highway game descends on the horn-honking traffic jam of Manhattan. Despite what’s gone on there in recent years, Madison Square Garden remains basketball’s biggest stage. The Knicks have that special appeal that oddly, teams would rather beat a good Knicks team than beat up on a bad one.

The fans there have endured a lot of losing lately and are desperate to see a winning team again. If he can survive his first season, D’Antoni should at least bring excitement back to the Garden, but he won’t last long if the Knicks are scoring a lot, but ultimately still losing.

Mike D’Antoni has said before that he loves a challenge, so he’s certainly got his wish in New York….but as the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for Mike !

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Rocky Time Ahead in Denver

The Denver Nuggets are playing the NBA's version of "Survivor". The contestants are Coach George Karl and players Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson. At least one of these guys WON'T be with Denver at seasons end. Guaranteed.

Tension has been building between Karl, Anthony and Iverson for a while now and it will only be a matter of time before it boils over.

The Nuggets have a team loaded with offensive weapons and are always fun to watch, but come playoff time, Denver's defensive shortfalls get exposed and we all know that defense always wins out in the end.

Teams that rely too heavily on offense get found out in the playoffs. Just ask the Phoenix Suns.

And when it comes to losing in the playoffs, Denver are the team version of Tracy McGrady, boasting a pitiful record of five first round failures in a row. It's time to shake things up in the Rockies.

There has always been something that seemed out of place with George Karl coaching this Nuggets team anyway. He's an old school coach, who preaches team fundamentals and basics first and above all, respect for the game.

A quick glance at the Nuggets roster and it's all tattoo's and earrings, selfish players with me-first attitudes, but, that is typical of what basketball and a lot of sports are today.

Denver has only made one significant change since last season....they gave their only real defensive presence - Marcus Camby - to the LA Clippers under the pretense of a trade. It was a salary dump and nothing more.

It now leaves Denver with a gaping hole in the middle and robs them of a player who had overcome an injury-prone career to push for All-Star selection. The Nuggets will miss Camby and should have brought someone to provide support for him, rather than get rid of him because of his salary.

I suspect it will be Coach Karl who gets the chop first. It's easier to boot and blame a coach for a teams shortcomings, because a team doesn't need to find a taker for him. Iverson would be next most likely to go as he is in the final year of his contract whereas Anthony is still owed about $65m over four years.

Whatever happens, Denver's opening night roster will be vastly different from its roster at the final game of the season. The Nuggets will battle for that eighth playoff spot out West again and might just sneak in again, but given their struggles in the last five years once they get there, it's probably better that they don't.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Finally, Some Sizzle From the Grizzle

The Memphis Grizzlies haven't really done justice to their team nickname. "Grizzlies" normally conjure up thoughts of huge, fearsome beasts. Not exactly the kind we've seen in Memphis in recent seasons. Instead we've seen a timid group of NBAers that were toothless and anything but scary.

This year should be different and the Grizz should start winning. I say "should" because this team is very, very young and more often that not, young teams lose a lot before they figure out how to win.

There is SIX rookies and only three guys with more than five years of NBA experience and the ones that have been around the league for a while are Marko Jaric(six), Greg Buckner(nine) and Antoine Walker(12). These guys are really only there because of trade throw-ins too and don't exactly get the turnstiles turning by themselves !

In Rudy Gay, Memphis has its genuine star. Not a superstar just yet, but Gay doubled his scoring average last year and in doing so cracked the coveted 20 point mark. He should have won the NBA's most improved player too, but that went to Hedo Turkoglu. ppphhh - Turkoglu, he won the award because of other players on his team (Howard, Lewis) where as Gay improved because he is a good player and became the man.

Memphis has made some good moves since last season. They swiped OJ Mayo from Minnesota in a draft day deal and added former favourite son Pau Gasol's hermano Marc as a part of the deal that sent Pau to the Lakers last January. They also wiped their hands clean of Kwame Brown, not that KB was ever part of the long-term plans in the first place.

Point guard Mike Conley struggled in his rookie season with injury, but all reports are that he's fit and ready to go this year. He'll compete with Kyle Lowry for the starting spot, but Lowry's poor shooting lets down his otherwise solid game. Conley is the guy Memphis want running the show.

The Grizzlies also added the intriguing Iranian giant, Hamed Haddadi in the summer. Iran isn't known as a country that produces top quality NBA talent, but they did make the Beijing Olympics so basketball must be on the rise in the Arabic state. Haddadi stands at 7'2" and his numbers were solid in five games at the Olympics averaging 16ppg, 11rpg and an impressive 2.6 blocks per contest.

The Grizzlies young guys will be fun to watch this year, even though there will still be more losses than wins, but only just. For the punters out there, here's your smokey to slip into the playoffs out West.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Still No Heat On South Beach

Don't expect things to Heat up anytime soon in Miami.

Last year, the Heat were a woeful 15-67. Two seasons prior and Miami was NBA champion. Last year was a good, old-fashioned tanking by the Heat. For a Pat Riley led team, it was a surprise. His teams never used to quit in the past but that all changed last season.

They had some injuries - but all teams do - so that's no excuse. Phoenix Suns rookie GM Steve Kerr did throw Miami a lifeline when he bailed them out of Shaq's monsterous $40million contract and in return, gave up the springy Shawn Marion-and-only-a-year-remaining-on-his-contract.

Riley must have had some incriminating photo's of Kerr.

As active and energetic as Marion is, his contract was what Miami was after. The Matrix makes the most of his talents. Considering he can't create his own shot, he's averaged a tidy 18ppg for his career. Most of those points came from hussle on the offensive glass through tip-ins, alley-oops & fast-breaks, with a few, wide-open 3's thrown in.

But Miami need someone who can take the er, heat of star Dwayne Wade. They need a guy who can score and give D-Wade support at the offensive end.

They drafted Kansas St big-man Michael Beasley 2nd overall last June. Riley wasn't sold on Beasley, but neither could he pass him up. Beasley should be solid this year, but he can't be expected in his rookie season to be consistent or to instantly become a consistent scoring threat.

The Heat also took PG Mario Chalmers. Again, he should produce solid numbers in a few years time, but this year he'll struggle for the consistency that all rookies do.

If that wasn't enough, Miami then signed journeyman C Jamaal Magloire. Magloire's career has come to a halt. From being an All-Star in 2004, Magloire was just hoping any team signed him. He got his wish with the Heat. He'll have no significant impact this year or ever again in the NBA.

To top it all off, Pat Riley has handed over the coaching reigns to former fitness trainer - Erik Spoelstra. Who ? I say again - Erik Spoelstra. Even Larry Brown or Isiah Thomas would have been a better option for the Heat.

A lot of talk is about the 2010 year of free agency when LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Wade are all eligible to sign elsewhere. Riley has no doubt got his eye on trying to grab James or Bosh then but he might be forgetting that Wade might have had enough of losing by then and decide to bolt somewhere else himself.

Whatever happens in two years time, the Heat are going to struggle again this year. Wade showed during the Olympics that he looks healthy, but his body is fragile and it won't last long if he has to carry Miami all season.

Wade does get a free ride from the refs, but he'll need his team mates to help him if Miami is to get back to the playoffs, but it won't happen this season.

As much fun as it must be to play in a city like Miami, losing still sucks and Miami is going to do plenty of that this year.

Houston.....You Have a Problem

There's good news for Houston Rockets and Tracy McGrady fans - there will be no first round playoff exit this year.

Simply put, Houston won't make it that far. The Rockets championship window of opportunity has closed. Slammed shut. Bolted, locked and then sealant has been put over the frame, just to make sure that no air of hope can breeze in.

With a suffocating 0-7 playoff record, Tracy McGrady has shown - beyond doubt - that he simply isn't capable of taking his team to the next level.

McGrady's best days are behind him. He lacks the explosiveness he once had and while he still has a smooth jump shot, his body is worn out. Hell, he's already booked in for surgery on his shoulder NEXT summer !

Entering his 12th year as a pro, McGrady has never played in a full 82-game season. The closest he came was four years ago - his first in Houston - playing 78.

Then there is Yao Ming. No athlete in the world - including Tiger Woods - has as many demands placed on him as Yao does. He always handles himself with class and dignity, but his body is also succumbing to injury. In the last three seasons, Yao has missed 82 regular season games with various ailments.

Yao will battle again this year. He's 28 now and each year, he recovers just a little bit slower than the last. Certainly 28 years old is not over the hill, but because of his unusual height and size, his 'real age' is probably closer to 32 or 33.

Houston then went and added Ron Artest to their roster in the summer, believing that his experience and toughness was what the team lacked last year.

Bad move.

The Ron Artest act has worn thin. Yes he can defend and yes he can provide an offensive punch, but he is not the guy the Rockets need.

Before he even arrived in Houston, he was jawing with Yao.

Artest's downside heavily outweighs his upside. He is never too far from saying or doing something that distracts himself or his team. Signing him is a desperate move but one Houston was prepared to make because he is entering the final year of his contract, so they aren't stuck with an ugly, heavy contract if (when !) things go wrong.

The Rockets tried to re-energize former star man Steve Francis last year by bringing him back to Houston. I for one, thought he still had some miles in the tank, but apparently, he doesn't. Sure he had some injury concerns again, but even when Francis was healthy, he just has forgotten how to play the game of basketball.

It's been sad to see him fall so far, but one has to wonder if karma has played a part in his career after seeing Francis' reaction when he was drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the 1999 draft.

So that's it Rockets fans, no need to fret about failing in the playoffs this year, your team isn't good enough in the tough Western Conference to even make it.