Hoop Logic

Hoop Logic with God Forbid’s Doc Coyle: A Stern Talking-To

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For such a young NBA season, there sure has been a lot of drama! Perpetual injuries, stalled returns, controversial coaching punished by huge fines, weird hair, a sane J.R. Smith … It’s like freakin’ Thunderdome on a 94 x 40 court! Now more than ever, we need a heavy metal NBA expert to make sense of this chaos. O wherefore shalt we find one? Ah that’s right — our hero Doc Coyle of awesome God Forbid is standing by like a much cooler John Clayton to dig in to the madness!

This is Hoop Logic. Take it, Doc!

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Injured 76ers C Andrew Bynum has yet to suit up for his new team, but was set to resume practicing on Dec 10 — until it was announced that the former Laker is sidelined indefinitely after having further damaged his bad knees by bowling in his spare time. Doc, what’s your take on Bynum, who entered the NBA at age 17? Unfortunate or fuckheaded?

Doc Coyle, God Forbid: Andrew Bynum is a giant fuckhead, which just happens to be unfortunate. Obviously, the red flag for him is his injury history due to bad knees. This is especially worrisome for someone so young — only 25 — who should be entering his prime, one that seemed to arrive last season with his stellar, All-Star-level play.  The injury history is not his fault, but it made this trade very risky. And so far, it looks like a complete bust. I feel sorry for the Philly fans because the team they broke up had a lot of promise, and pushed the Celtics to seven games in last year’s playoffs match-up. Sure, Bynum could eventually return and turn the whole thing around, but a fan just prays this doesn’t turn into a Greg Oden/Yao Ming situation where huge potential is never fulfilled due to injury.

But on the other hand, Andrew Bynum is the poster child for the rich, spoiled, immature modern athlete. To me, his personality was summed up when he viciously elbowed 5’9″ JJ Barea in the last game of the Lakers’ 2010 playoffs run. Bynum’s a brat who would rather flip the board than take the loss like a man. And worst of all, he bullied the smallest guy on the court; and that’s when he’s not saying arrogant, ignorant things to the media, avoiding team huddles, and showing up former coach Mike Brown by taking three-pointers in important game moments to just to make a point.

His newsworthy haircuts are entertaining (especially the brand new pimp slickback), but I just hope for the Sixers that the trade pans out soon. Bynum has the talent to be the best center in the NBA, but if his health and maturity don’t make some serious strides, it will be a long, rough road. Keep in mind, that Philly has not re-signed him yet. If they get cold feet, Bynum could be history at the end of this season. Acquiring talented injured guys has not worked out well of late. Look at the Eric Gordon and Andrew Bogut situations.

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Speaking of bad behavior, Celtics PG Rajon Rondo was suspended two games for a scuffle with Nets Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace. It started with a hard foul on Rondo’s teammate Kevin Garnett, and spilled into the seats. Doc, can u speculate on something? Do u think Rondo overreacted because he’s aware that Garnett is brittle, and that a Garnett injury — resulting from, say, a hard foul — would doom the Celtics to missing the playoffs?

DOC: Rondo is a warrior, and so is Garnett. They go to war and they have each other’s backs. Rondo explained that he was injured on a similar play in the playoffs a couple years back, and it set him off when he saw the hit. When a player is up in the air like that, he’s susceptible to dangerous injury — especially when he can jump really high. Frankly, I don’t think the Humphries knock-down was too serious, but the Celtics do not like Kris Humphries. The fans do not like Kris Humphries. I DO NOT … never mind. He’s a pretty good player, great rebounder, and likens himself to be something of an enforcer. So hard fouls are his trade. So what if he has a jerkoff face and talks like a valley girl?

Yeah, I guess I don’t like him either.

Rondo has to learn to cool it out. This is his third suspension in 2012 and it costs the Celtics wins. The Celtics obviously need Garnett to win, but that’s the coach’s job to monitor his minutes. Perhaps play him less at Center, so he takes less of a beating down low. They turned it on second half of last season, and I expect the same this this year. For some reason, this new group has not clicked just yet. New additions Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, and Jarred Sullinger have yet to show the prowess displayed in the preseason. Perhaps it’s just chemistry slow to coalesce. This team has a lot of talent, but people are not playing their best. Coach Doc Rivers put the ball in Rondo’s hands literally and figuratively. He’s the leader now. Rondo needs to stop starting fights and padding his assist numbers, and run the show by leading by example. He is too good not to.

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For the last game of a string of six road games in nine nights — including four in five nights — Spurs mega-coach Greg Popovich rested their trio of superstars and young stud Danny Green against the Heat on Thursday. On Friday, NBA commissioner David Stern fined the team $250,000 for this “disservice to the league and its fans.” Doc, is your vibe on this basically “Are u fucking kidding me?” Is Stern’s message to coaches basically “Do not fuck with NBA ad revenues and ticket sales”?

DOC: I actually see both sides of this debate, but this is a very important conversation to have. Much like the rescinded Chris Paul trade for “basketball reasons,” this decision seems to follow no strict set of rules. David Stern comes off as tyrannical in this case because there is no precedent for the penalty. Is he King Stern, Emperor Stern? It’s public perception of the commissioner’s power reach and arbitrary policing that frustrate media and fans. I think this would not have been blown up so much if they would have waited after the game to announce the grievance, or just done it quieter in general. It came off as a knee jerk, emotional reaction.

From Popovich’s perspective, he has every right to rest his aging players whenever he wants. That’s his prerogative as head coach. And if anyone deserves leeway, it’s Greg Popovich: He is the longest tenured head coach in all four major sports in the USA and has won four NBA Titles. Also, if you followed this team the last few years, you would know that this is nothing new: Pop periodically rests his oldest players to keep them fresh for the postseason. Although I’m still not sure why he rested Danny Green …

Pop’s error was the timing of his decision to rest these guys. Sure, it was the fourth game in five nights, but the Spurs know there is a national TV game with Miami on the schedule. These are two championship contenders that only meet twice per season. Pop should have known to rest the guys the night before against Orlando — or in any of their previous three games against lottery teams. Coach Popovich broke an unwritten rule. Now they may have to write a rule.

Pop’s actions displayed a lot of hubris in my opinion. As a fan, it pissed me off. This is supposed to be one of the best games of the year. Although it ended up being a competitive game, we were robbed of the match-ups that we want as fans. Yes, do not fuck with ad revenues and ticket sales because that’s what pays salaries. People buy tickets and companies buy advertising time with an expectation of a certain product. If a guy is truly hurt and can’t play, people are disappointed, but they understand. This undermines the NBA brand.

This has brought up another debate about whether the NBA season is too long with too many games in a short space causing injuries and fatigue. I think the season could stand to drop 10-15 games. It would protect the players better, and make the games more meaningful.

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On the other side of the coin, are u proud of J.R. Smith these days, whose apathy and immaturity of seasons past is being replaced with focus and smothering defense? How gratifying is it to u that Smith has been vital to the Knicks’ early-season success?

You have to keep in mind, I was a huge fan of Nuggets team of a couple years ago with Melo, Chauncey Billups, Nene, K-Mart, Birdman, and of course Mr. J.R. Smith. He was always one of my favorite players for his instant energy and instant offense. He had so much fire, and you knew a highlight reel dunk was on the horizon. But then his evil twin would appear, and Bad J.R. doesn’t get back on defense, takes bad gambles in the back court, getshit with technical fouls for bitching at refs, gets into fights, and shoots you right out of a game with off-the-dribble fadeaway three-pointers with 16 seconds left on the shot clock.

He hasn’t really changed that much, but a big difference is his relationship with coach Mike Woodson. Yes, J.R. is a couple years older, but Woodson really has a way of stabilizing Smith. He is very tough, and will chew J.R. out if he lazes on the defense , but he also has enough confidence in Smith’s offense to give him a virtual free reign. That was never there in Denver. There was always a short leash. He and Nuggets coach George Karl would butt heads constantly.

Woodson is a father figure for J.R. and that emotional connection goes deep. Smith actually signed with the Knicks below his market value because New York is where he wanted to be. That goes a long way. When you have guys that are on your club with a real sense of loyalty to the team and city, you have a distinct advantage. Money can only motivate you so much. I really hope he keeps it up because he has enough physical talent to be an All-Star.

— Doc Coyle, God Forbid

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