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Are You Ready for Some Basketball.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Posted by jaygross
Comments: 0

Last night was the start of the 2006-07 NBA season, and I am suprisingly getting pretty psyched. To open things up, there were two pretty big games.

The Bulls certainly made a statement - winning by 42 in Miami and holding Shaq to 7. Boy does this look like a Scott Skiles type team - lots of overachievers who are going to play some serious defense. Hinirch is such a gritty leader and a much better pro than I expected. Tyrus Thomas reminds me so much of a young Antonio McDyess on Denver (pre knee injuries), with the size and superior raw athletic ability. Earth to the Toronto Raptors, this is who you should have taken #1. There will be some serious toughness with him, PJ Brown, Nocioni, and Ben Wallace up front, I know I'd think twice about driving the lane.

The Lakers overcame a 19 point deficit to beat Phoenix without Kobe. Andrew Bynum (from St. Joe's in NJ) had a big game and should get a nice chunk of minutes this season. But the story of the night was Lamar Odom's 34 and just how good he can be when he is on his game - too bad that's only once a month.

So here are my predictions (this means you should immediately bet against all these teams):

Atlantic Division:
Best Team: New Jersey Nets - the division is weak and Kidd/Jefferson/Carter/Krstic are talented
Team I'll Root for: Boston Celtics
Story of Interest: The Over-Under for wins for the Knicks, and how long until Isiah is thrown out like a losing lottery ticket.

My prediction is by some miracle the team wins 30 games (23-59 last year), and Dolan lets Isiah stay. And then I can taunt the Knicks fan for yet another year.

Can you say Renaldo Balkman... I still have visions of the draft with Steven A. Smith so flabbergasted with the pick that couldn't even speak. And Spike Lee so delusional that he was actually calling it a "sleeper" - and not because watching the Knicks trail by 30 in the 3rd quarter at home every night put fans to sleep.

added on 11/2... I read a funny article on ESPN about the process a lifelong Knicks fan took in choosing a new team to root for

Central Division:
Best Team: Chicago Buls - although the lack of a go to score concerns me
Team I'll Root for: Cleveland Cavs - Lebron is just too good, and a healthy Larry Hughes will be big
Story of Interest: There are 5 pretty good teams here, all with legitimate playoff shots. Milwaukee is quite good, and most everybody has them finishing 5th in the division. I'm interested to see how Detroit will take a step back without the toughness and defense of Ben Wallace

Sotheast Division:
Best Team: Miami Heat
Team I'll Root for: Washington Wizards - Gilbert at the end of games is amazing
Story of Interest: Dwight Howard is a beast and very well could be the best big man in the NBA, this year

Northwest Division:
Best Team: Denver Nuggets - picking them by default
Team I'll Root for: Portalnd Trailblazers - only because of Nate McMillian
Story of Interest: Will George Karl be driven crazy by his team

Pacific Division:
Best Team: Phoenix Suns
Team I'll Root for: The Clips - Shaun Livingston is unbelievable
Story of Interest: How good will Amare be this year?

Southwest Division:
Best Team: Dallas Mavericks - this is by far the best division and is the toughest call
Team I'll Root for: Houston Rockets and Chris Paul (I mean New Orleans)
Story of Interest: The Dallas vs. San Antonio games should be good.

NBA Finals Pick:
Dallas over Chicago

There you have it, Dallas wins.... and Mark Cuban goes completely nuts and begins the world's greatest trash talking session that would win any episode of Yo Momma. And after David Stern fines him yet again, he'll just buy the whole NBA.

And by the way, I officially apologize to the Mavs and thier fans for jinxing their chances.

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My Favorite Collecting Sites
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Posted by jaygross
Comments: 0

A lot of people ask what sites I like (other than SportsCollectors.Net), so I figured I'd share with everyone. The list below represents the ones I visit most often (but that doesn't necessarily mean they are the best).

eBay eBay

The undisputed king for finding anything... especially for sports related stuff. Now you do have to do your homework to make sure the item and seller are trustworthy.

Mark's Signing Bonus Mark's Signing Bonus

When it comes to an individual running a site dedicated to autograph collecting by mail, this is the best. For the past 6+ years this has been a staple for collectors as my friend Mark is passionate about the hobby and diligently keeps the site updated. His site was a huge inspiration for what SCN has become.  
Auction Capture

Although this site hasn't officially launched, it is quite helpful. Along with some nice tools, it tells the market value of auction items based on keywords - so you have a barometer on how high to bid...
Signings Hotline Signings Hotline

Now this is a really cool idea - this site lists just about every in person athlete appearance. It's a great compliment to the resources found here.
Zabasearch Zabasearch

Even though there is a LOT of outdated information (bad addresses that won't work), I sometimes use this site when I can't find an address in Harvey Meiselman's list (which isn't too often).

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It's a sad day as basketball just lost it's greatest
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Posted by jaygross
Comments: 0

I will start by saying that I am a huge Celtics fan and I am completely biased, so please bear with me. But today is a tough day as Red Auerbach passed away at 89.

Bill Simmons said it pretty well:

As a GM, he helped the C's win 7 more. He traded for Russell, Parish, Archibald and Walton. Drafted Havlicek, McHale, Cowens, Maxwell, Sanders, Ainge, Heinsohn, White, Sharman, Lewis and the Jones boys. Drafted Bird in '79 with the sixth pick in the entire draft, even though Bird wasn't eligible to play for another season. Coached nine championship teams and built the foundations for seven others. You could argue, successfully, that Arnold "Red" Auerbach is the greatest winner in the history of sports.

Just go to the Fleet Center and look up at all the banners and retired numbers, more than any of team. That's an easy indicator of just how great he was. You could make a strong argument for the Yankees and Canadiens, but I'd say Red's run would beat them all - and he was single mastermind behind all of it (unlike those other teams).

As a coach, he won 9 titles in 10 seasons - only the great Bob Pettit catching fire and scoring 50 in Game 6 of the 1958 Finals stopped him from making the clean sweep. When he stepped down, Bill Russell took over as a player/coach won 2 more in 3 years with the team Red built.

As great as Phil Jackson is (also with 9 titles in many more years), he had GM's like Jerry Krause and Jerry West to build his teams. Free agency let Phil get players like Shaq and Dennis Rodman. Red not only coached the dynasty, but was the mastemind behind building it.

Trading two future HOFers for the rights to Russell was a gutsy move - that turned out to be as good as any trade in sports history (11 titles in the next 13 years). A close runner up must be the rights to #1 pick (Purdue's Joe Barry Carroll) for Robert Parish and the rights to Kevin McHale - which resulted in 3 more championships and 2 more HOF careers. A year later he steals Dennis Johnson from Phoenix for Rick Robey.

Even though I am too young to remember the 50's and 60's teams, I have Red to thank for my Celtics teams of the 80's. How has it been 20 years since the last title - wow does time fly. If only Len Bias hadn't OD'd, Bird and McHale wouldn't have fallen apart from playing so many minutes and we'd have won a few more.

Even though his health had been fading the past few years, Red was signing often for his fans c/o his Washington DC home. I was lucky to obtain his autograph in this time.

ESPN's Ken Shouler wrote a nice article this morning about Red's style and  impact.

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