Saturday, August 7, 2010

The State of the NBA According to Charles Barkley and The Attic Fan

When Charles Barkley talks, I tend to listen. I am not sure why that is, but every time Barkley has an interview on TV or is doing the pre-game show for TNT, I focus harder than Danny Torrance watching Roadrunner. Barkley has been made out to be a comical figure, usually by his relentless ad campaigns with random cell phone providers, and the fact that he gets ripped on by Kenny Smith on a nightly basis (Really? How does Chuck let this happen? Any guy with the career that Smith had should be torn about by one of the NBA's 50 greatest players). Barkley has arguably the worst golf swing in the history of mankind, another reason for his being made fun of.

But Barkley usually has good things to say. When he was on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption last week, he seemed to almost make a State of the Union address, although Barkley is not the commissioner of the NBA or anything close to it. A lot of what he had to say was really spot on and made a lot of sense. Well, not all of it. He did reveal that he was becoming a lefty golfer and just bought a lefty driver. That actually may prove to be a genius move on Barkley's part, because there is no real way that he can get any worse being a righty golfer.

When you think about the NBA right now, one thing comes to mind and that is LeBron and the Pips down in Miami. Barkley had a few things to say about LeBron:
3 in Miami = 1 in Cleveland

I'd have to say this is absolutely true. You cannot tell me that winning one in South Beach, with that all-star cast, is the equivalent of winning one in Cleveland with Mo Williams and Antwan Jamison. It just isn't. The NBA is such a star-dominant, top-heavy league that any team with two stars is guaranteed at least a spot in the Conference Finals. Of course, LeBron was the exception to the rule. He had brought basketball prominence to Cleveland literally all by himself. Everyone thought give him a few more years there, maybe get a few more role players, and Cleveland would be the Chicago of the 2010's. This is not the case, as LeBron left for greener pastures. One in Cleveland would be huge, that city has been championship dry for almost fifty years now. Technically, according to Barkley's math, if LeBron were to win this year, it would count as only a third of a championship. And I could not agree more.

LeBron should have had people come to him.

LeBron James, the league's two-time regining MVP, could not get anyone to play with him in Cleveland during his tenure there. This was probably because he never signed a long-term deal with the club, so anybody who ever thought about going there knew there would still be a chance that LeBron would leave town. You could not get anyone high-profile there, because LeBron's contract situation that he created an instability within the orginization.

The problem I have with LeBron (and there are many) is that he should have been making the moves. He is the best player in the NBA, and instead, this free-agent season was really determined by where a power forward who will be forgotten in ten years will go. James let Chris Bosh basically tell him what to do, and there is no real denying that. LeBron made a half-hearted effort to get Bosh to come to Cleveland, but Bosh was in love with any city near a major media market. Cleveland is no longer a major media market. Bosh is obsessed with his "brand", whatever that is. I guarantee if you ask any little kid to name five NBA players, Bosh will never be mentioned. Although that may not be the case anymore, as Bosh is now a member of the most hated franchise in sports (Finally, the Yankees are off the hook!).

Barkley also said that he was "disappointed" in LeBron. He went on to say that he should have given Cleveland some more time, and that playing with all the other greats in the NBA today is not something he would have done or any of the other great players from his and previous generations would have done. When Sir Charles is disappointed in you, well, you must have done something wrong.

T-Mac Needs to Learn to Come off the Bench

Another interesting topic Chuck brought up was Tracy McGrady's inability to come of the bench. T-Mac, in the convoluted brain that he and cousin Vince Carter share, believe that they are still and always will be superstars. Tracy, would you look a quick look at your statistics, because obviously you have not looked at them since 2006.

2006-2007: 24.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.5 APG, 43% FG, 33% 3P, 35.8 MPG

Tracy's last truly dominant season, and this was in his third season with the Rockets. McGrady was 27. Look at his numbers. Solid across the board, he even had his last good shooting season. His minutes per game was up, but of course none of this translated in team success. And why would it? He is a McGrady-Carter.

2007-2008: 21.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5.9 APG, 41% FG, 29% 3P, 68% FT, 37.0 MPG

In the main statistics; points, rebounds and assists, there are only subtle drops from where they were last season. But look at his shooting, numbers and they are absolutely putrid for a guy who regularly takes 20 shots a game. He played in only 66 games this year, and that number will continue to go down.

2008-2009: 15.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 5.0 APG, 37% 3P, 80% FT, 35 games played

T-Mac's numbers were down all across the board, except for his shooting which went up dramatically. He also played in 35 games, yet another injury for a 29-year-old aging superstar.

2009-2010: 8.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.3 APG, 25% 3P, 30 games played, 22.4 MPG

McGrady's recent season were he played off the bench, shot terribly and had some of the worst numbers of his career. And this guy still wants to paid like a superstar? He should look at the most recent example of this. Allen Iverson wanted to be play and be paid like a superstar, but he found himself playing for the Grizzles and coming off the bench. He could not grasp the concept that his best years were behind him and defer to his other teammates. Unless McGrady can grasp this concept, he will be forced to a the rest of career being miserable and unhappy. He needs to take a page out of the book of...

Shaquille O'Neal

When this episode of PTI aired, Shaquille O'Neal aka Shaq had still not been signed by a professional team. The point that Chuck was trying to make was that he felt that it was crazy that Shaq, one of the greatest big man of all-time, had still not been signed by a team. Chuck felt that Shaq was still relevant, even though that he is now the oldest player in the NBA (Is it just me that thinks it weird that the NBA's oldest player is only 38?) Chuck brought up Shaq's playoff numbers from last postseason and said he played well. I looked up his stats (11 and a half points per game, five and half boards) and they were okay. They are not as good as they used to be, when Shaquille had people comparing him to Wilt Chamberlain, and not just because of their free throw shooting and bad rapping.
Shaq, now a Boston Celtic, still seems to have enough in the tank to be a relevant player off the bench. Shaq has sort of embraced the big-man-off-the-bench role, something that T-Mac will have to do wherever he goes (although he is not a big man). My only issue with Shaq going to the Celtics is this:

If he has to start for the first few months of the season due to the abscene of Kendrick Perkins, are the Celitcs in trouble? Because I think they are. Shaq's health is declining and you are not sure if he can play half a season starting. He won't be as dominant, but he is still a prescene down low. With the loss of Perkins, the C's are not really losing that much offense, but they are losing a prime rebounder and one of the better low post defenders in the Association. I think Shaq can help the Celtics if the gameplan when Shaq is in is not to get him his touches. That will throw the offense out of whack and halt Rajon Rondo's development as a budding superstar.

There you have it. The State of the NBA offseason includes three superstars and two former superstars. But isn't that what the NBA is about? Superstars?


  1. Well said, as always. I liken the Shaq acquisition to the C's critical pick up of Walton in the '80s. Of course, that may just be wishful thinking.

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