... I never thought I'd say this, but not only was Denver Stiffs Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement recipient Bernie Bickerstaff the best coach that the Los Angeles Lakers had all season, he might deserve the Coach of the Year Award after seeing seeing Mike Brown (1-4) and Mike D'Antoni's (11-16) ineptitude at coaching a high-maintenance team with supreme talent. In his five games as Lakers interim head coach, Bickerstaff produced an impressive 4-1 record.
... pardon my language, but the NBA schedule makers royally fucked the Nuggets in two ways. First, they served up a historically onerous schedule with 22 of the Nuggets' first 32 games to be played on the road (with many back-to-backs and games against plus-.500 teams in the mix). And second, by playing 15 of 18 games at Pepsi Center in January, it makes for a tough sell for the Nuggets' marketing brass to fill the arena - producing less than full and less than enthusiastic crowds.
... the NBA should absolutely relocate to Seattle, but not at Sacramento's expense. Sacramento is no Seattle, but it's not exactly a tiny city either. In fact, the metropolitan area of Sacramento is bigger than NBA cities such as Orlando, Cleveland, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Memphis, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City. If the Kings move to Seattle as rumored, it will leave Sacramento as the largest US city without a major league sports team.
... it's going to be fun watching Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett start together for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. After Garnett allegedly talked trash about Melo's wife Lala during a recent Knicks / Celtics game, Melo hunted Garnett down outside the Celtics locker room and later outside the team bus, getting himself suspended for one game. It's a good thing Melo didn't take my Lala rants too seriously during the "Melodrama" of 2010 or I might've found him waiting for me outside my apartment one night.
... the Lakers should trade Dwight Howard for Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki's Mavericks aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and the superstar German power forward probably has two good seasons left. Howard's Lakers aren't going anywhere, either, and the big baby of a center probably isn't re-signing with Los Angeles at season's end and has often flirted with being a Maverick. Moreover, Nowitzki and Lakers point guard Steve Nash are former teammates and close friends. This would give the Lakers a season-and-a-half shot at an NBA Finals with Kobe Bryant, Nowitzki and Nash before stealing Kevin Love from Minnesota.
... speaking of the Lakers, Bryant is having the best "old man" basketball season we've ever seen. Too bad it's going to complete waste.
... the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to make out like bandits on the James Harden trade. Yes, Harden is having a phenomenal season in Houston (good for him, by the way), but the mighty Thunder seem no worse off with Kevin Martin in Harden's place - evident by having the NBA's best record - and now have two future first round picks to help round out their future rosters.
... in my fantasy basketball draft, I over-reached for Ty Lawson (second round) and Anthony Davis (third round), but made up for it by stealing Tim Duncan, Nicolas Batum and Andrei Kirilenko late in the draft. If you know anything about fantasy basketball, those guys have been having tremendous seasons fantasy-wise.
... a rookie guard hasn't competed in an All-Star Game since Michael Jordan in 1985. Could Portland Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard break that streak?
... as if you didn't know, the Nuggets are on a five-game winning streak, have won eight of their last 10 and are just three games out of the Western Conference's four spot. Yeah!
... even though they're a division rival, you have to feel somewhat bad for the Minnesota Timberwolves due to the assortment of injuries they've succumbed to this season. And now their superstar power forward Kevin Love is out for two months with another hand injury. Does the arrogant David Kahn still run that team? He does? Okay, check that. I don't feel bad for them at all.
... am I allowed one Broncos comment in the wake of their disastrous Saturday playoff loss? Of all the things the Broncos did wrong on Saturday night, I found John Fox's not-going-for-the-field-goal with 31 seconds remaining in regulation and two time outs most objectionable. All quarterback Peyton Manning had to do was connect on a couple passes to put kicker Matt Prater in position for a game-winning field goal (which, who are we kidding, he'd have probably missed anyway with the way things were going for the Broncos that night).
... okay, one more Broncos comment. Manning might be considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but he - and his coaches like Fox, Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell - has turned four or five Super Bowl appearances into two and three or four Super Bowl victories into one over his amazing career. If you give me one football game to win, I still want John Elway out there.
On to the links ...
An impossible war: The Sacramento Kings relocation and fairness - SBNation.com
Another great article by the amazing Tom Ziller, who writes that business is not fair, and sports are business, and Sacramento is quickly learning that, no, sports are not fair.
Mark Cuban says Dallas Mavericks won't trade Dirk Nowitzki - ESPN Dallas
Mark Cuban says he plans to keep star Dirk Nowitzki even though the Dallas Mavericks have their worst record since a few months after he bought the team in 2000.
Scott Skiles Was the Least of the Milwaukee Bucks' Problems - The Triangle Blog - Grantland
Zach Lowe writes about Skiles exit from Milwaukee and the Bucks' myriad problems.
Hochman: Four power forwards dominate NBA news - The Denver Post
Benjamin Hochman on the latest issues surrounding premier NBA power forwards.