Welcome to this week’s edition of Full Court Press where we will cover:
- The Metta World Peace Suspension
- How the Spurs Stay Competitive Every Year
- Kobe’s Pursuit of the Scoring Title
World Peace Exhibits Violence, Receives Suspension
When Ron Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace, he was no doubt thinking about the new, positive image he was going to be showcasing. He was determined to be a changed man, and a role model for our kids. Well, one lockout-shortened NBA season later, Metta World Peace is back to being Ron Artest. His name might not have reverted back, but his dirty, thuggish play sure has. In case you haven’t seen it yet, below is the video of his vicious “celebratory” elbow to the head of James Harden.
The blow came with a seven game suspension for MWP, which will extend into the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Harden has yet to be cleared by doctors after suffering concussion-like symptoms as a result of the elbow to his mohawked head. I think that seven games should just be the start – and every game that Harden misses as a result of his injury, should be tacked on to the suspension. If Harden misses a total of three games, MWP should be out for 10 (7+3).
Aging Spurs Lock Down Top Seed in West
With all the brilliant young stars in the NBA, somehow the San Antonio Spurs seem to keep winning games with an aging core of players. How do they do it? With Tim Duncan at 36, Manu Ginόbili at 34, and Tony Parker at 29, the Spurs have one of the oldest core groups of players in the NBA this season – yet they just locked up the #1 seed in the West.
Their success starts at the top, with Gregg Popovich. Year in and year out, the Spurs are a competitive team, always in the playoffs, and at least mentioned in championship discussions. With Phil Jackson retired, Popovich is the undisputed leader among NBA coaches. Nobody can adapt players and schemes to the rapidly changing NBA quite like Popovich. He knows how to play and rest his older stars, and he knows how to ensure that the younger role players on the team are put in positions to succeed. The Spurs’ big three might not be around for forever, but as long as Popovich is the head coach, you can rest assured that the Spurs will be a dominant basketball team.
Another Scoring Title for Kobe?
Well that depends on how badly he wants it and whether another trophy on his mantle is more valuable than rest for his aging legs. The scoring race comes down to two players – Kevin Durant and Kobe, and since the scoring title is based on average points per game, it matters not that Durant played in 7 more games than Kobe this season. What exactly needs to happen for each player to come out on top?
Scenario 1: Durant Sits – Kobe Plays
If Kevin Durant sits his final game against the Nuggets, Kobe will need to score 35 points or more to overtake the scoring lead. It seems pretty doable since neither team can improve or lower their seed and the Lakers play against the lowly Kings.
Scenario 2: Both Kobe & Durant Play
A writer from the Oklahoman laid out the following scenario, which saves us a lot of work and puts in perspective just how close this race really is.
“…if Durant scores less than 30, Bryant will have to top Durant’s output by at least seven points. If Durant posts more than 30, Bryant must outscore Durant by at least six. The necessary differential would narrow more the more each player scores. The discrepancy is caused by Bryant playing seven fewer games. The scoring title is determined by scoring average.”
Anyone who claims that Kobe doesn’t want this is insane. Kobe is one of the most competitive players that the league has ever seen and that’s not something that you can just turn off. He will play tonight, make no doubt about that and if he sees that the title is within his reach, you can bet that his coach will give him free reign to shoot and his teammates will back off and let it happen – even if they end up losing by 50.