Tag Archives: Oklahoma City Thunder

Russ is the NBA MVP. Case Closed!

Russell Westbrook has done the unthinkable and passed Oscar Robertson for the most triple-doubles in a single season. Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

It’s no longer a discussion. The name Russell Westbrook should have been engraved on the Maurice Podoloff Trophy the moment his buzzer beating 3-point shot swished in to defeat the Denver Nuggets 106-105 Sunday night. He finished the game with 50 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. That’s his third 50+ triple double of the season, which is the most in a career in NBA history. His overall case is just stronger than any in of the other candidates.

The Thunder are 33-9 when he gets a triple-double. So you know it’s not empty stats. The 42 triple-doubles in a season passed Oscar Robertson for the most in a single season in NBA history. Those 42 triple-doubles also helped him pass Wilt Chamberlain for 4th place on the all-time list. Two times this season he had streaks of 7 consecutive triple-doubles. He’s also the first player to record a triple-double without missing a shot. His 31.9 points per game average leads the league.

Westbrook’s current player efficiency rating (PER) of 30.58 is tops in the league this season by almost 3 points, and it would rank 16th on the all-time list for a single season according to Basketball-Reference.com. FYI, the highest PER for a season is 31.82 by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962-63. So Russ isn’t that far off.

Westbrook doesn’t have the same quality of teammates, as say his closest competitor for the award, James Harden. The Thunder were delivered the blow of losing arguably the second best player in the NBA in July, after they spent the month of June making trades for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to play with him and Kevin Durant.

Harden has the extra benefit of playing for the leading candidate for coach of the year in Mike D’Antoni. He also plays with two of the leading candidates for Sixth Man of the Year in Eric Gordon and Lou Williams. Two defensive aces in former champion in Trevor Ariza and an all-defensive team performer in Patrick Beverly surround him on the perimeter. The Rockets have a better system built around Harden and had a whole offseason to transition into it.

In 2014-15 when Durant missed 55 games with a foot injury, Oklahoma City didn’t even make the playoffs. Many “experts” predicted the same or a down to the wire fight for the eight seed without him in 2016-17. Westbrook has the Thunder solid in the sixth seed.

He doesn’t have the shooting and scoring around him like the other MVP candidates. OKC shoots 45.2% from the field. That is 14th in the league. They’re last in the Association in 3-point shooting at 32.7%. Only 3 other Thunder players are averaging in double figures, while Houston has five to play along side Harden.

Any other season Harden or even Kawhi Leonard would run away with the award. But, how can you not reward the guy who’s doing something that hasn’t been done, or come close to being replicated in fifty-five seasons?

Maybe it was Durant who was holding Westbrook back all these years when the pundits kept saying he was getting in Durant’s way.

If you thought the Thunder we’re going to easily make playoffs before the season began, you’re lying. Yet here they are. That’s because Russ has single-handedly carried them there. Scary to think of what he and this team can become when they can build the team around him with complimentary pieces.

Robertson averaged a triple-double over the course of five seasons, and Russ could very well be in the midst of having a similar run and winning a couple of MVPs to add to his trophy case. This could be just the beginning. Why Not?

Westbrook exits the Pepsi Center after notching his 42nd triple-double and 3rd 50+ point triple-double. Both NBA records. Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Advertisements

Here’s How You Solve The MVP Race, Give Out More Awards

The Maurice Podoloff Trophy shouldn’t be the only trophy handed out for a player having a great season. Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

The 2016-17 race for NBA Most Valuable Player is as close as any we’ve seen in recent memory.  Four players have a legitimate claim that they deserve the award. Russell Westbrook who is doing something that hasn’t been done since 1961-62. James Harden who is having a redemption season leading the Houston Rockets to 50+ wins and the third seed of the Western Conference playoffs after they only won 41 games last season, finishing in the 8th seed and he didn’t make any of the three All-NBA teams. Kawhi Leonard who has ascended into the conversation as a top five player in the game in the absence of the retired Tim Duncan. And LeBron James, who like the most famous 23 he’s chasing, is still the best player in the game and showing no signs of slowing down.

It’s going to be a tough choice for those who have a vote. Should I vote for the guy who is exceeding expectations along with his team? Or should I vote for the guy who is having the best season statistically? What about the guy who is having a breakout season while replacing a first ballot Hall of Famer and the team isn’t missing a beat? What about the guy who is the most valuable to the entire League?

It shouldn’t be this difficult because they should have more options. The NBA should add more individual awards to specify what they’re voting for.

Here’s my idea.

Keep the Maurice Podoloff Trophy and award it as the Most Valuable Player in the way it was intended, to go to the player who was the most valuable to their team’s level of success.

For example, if you took Russell Westbrook off his Oklahoma City Thunder team this season it’s very likely that they would be on the fast track to earn the most Ping-Pong balls to gain the number one overall pick in the 2017 Draft. I guess I just told you who I hope wins.

But I also think there should be a Player of the Year award given to the player who is the best regardless of their team’s success. I’d call this the Michael Jeffrey Jordan Trophy. I even have an idea of what it should look like. Despite what many would believe it shouldn’t be the Jumpman logo. Save that for the kicks. Rather it should be the pose from “last shot” he made as a Chicago Bull to propel them to their sixth NBA title.

The reason why this award should be named after MJ is because there were several times, 92-93 and 96-97 in particular, where he was clearly still the best player in the game, but Charles Barkley and Karl Malone deserved to win the MVP award because they lifted their teams beyond expectations. Handing out a “Player of the Year” trophy is my solution to get past this so called “LeBron Fatigue” where no one wants to vote him for MVP because he has a real case to win it every season. So since he’s suffering the same fate that kept Jordan from earning more than five MVPs, name the award after the G.O.A.T. and give it to the best player in the league.

I’ll add another award. Since the NBA already has a Defensive Player of the Year award, how about create and Offensive Player of the Year award as well like the NFL. I’d bet James Harden would win this award in a landslide. And I’d vote for Kawhi Leonard to win his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award.

While I’m at it, I also think there should be an MVP given out at the end of both Conference Finals. This is my solution for those who for some reason want to wait until the end of the Finals to vote for MVP. I think that idea is absurd by the way. MVP is for the regular season. But the Finals MVP named in honor of Bill Russell shouldn’t be the de facto playoff MVP either. My solution, hand out the Larry Bird and Magic Johnson MVP trophy at the end of each conference final similar to the MOP in each region of the NCAA Tournament. This way the Finals MVP can be determined by just the seven game series that decides the title.

Several sports leagues already hand out several individual awards. So what I’m calling for isn’t that unprecedented.

Major league baseball does it.  In addition to the League MVP, they give out a League Championship MVP to the best player in each series before the World Series, and then they give out a World Series MVP.

For the season they give out the Silver Slugger trophy for best offensive player at each position in each league. The Cy Young Award for the Pitchers, Rolaids Relief Man award for the best relief pitchers in each league as well as the Reliever of the Year award. The Hank Aaron award goes to the top hitter in each league and there are many more.

The National Hockey League also hands out several individual awards to celebrate all the players who had special seasons. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

I know some will call this the equivalent of Little League giving everyone a participation trophy, but they’re wrong. This is a fair way to make sure all greatness is celebrated.

In some seasons the same guy will rightfully sweep all the awards I’ve created. But it would be very rare. Between the historic once in a lifetime season Westbrook is having, the impressive turnaround Harden and the Rockets have made, the ascension of Kawhi and the consistent greatness of LeBron, I hate to see one, two or three of these guys not acknowledged for what they’re doing.

NBA 2016-2017 Predictions 

The NBA Regular season tips off in less than a month, and with the storylines created by this summer’s big free agent move by Kevin Durant, plus the unprecedented Monopoly money-ish like signings that had players moving from team to team more than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends, this season is sure to be one that rivals your favorite reality show.

The combination of KD, Steph and Klay could be the most efficient offense in NBA history. Photo Credit: NBA.com

The Association stole the summer headlines at a time when fans have put their tank jerseys away for the ones with sleeves, as they usually prepared for the boys of the gridiron.

I’ve been thinking about this coming season since game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals ended. So here are my predictions for the 2016-2017 season that I’ll be watching and waiting to happen all season.

  • All eight teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs will have winning records, my even bolder prediction is the eighth seed will be at least 5 games over .500 (46-36).
  • The teams that will take the biggest leaps this season will be the Utah Jazz, who missed the playoffs by one game last season, and the Minnesota Timberwolves will both make the Western Conference playoffs. The Jazz will challenge for a top 4 seed and home court advantage thanks to all the veteran leadership they’ve added in former San Antonio Spurs Champion Boris Diaw, George Hill and Joe Johnson. The T-Wolves will hold off another squad for the 7th or 8th seed. My two teams out from last season’s playoffs will be the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets.
  • The Southeast Division which had three of its five teams qualify for the 2016 playoffs–#3 seed Miami (48-34), #4 seed Atlanta (48-34), #6 seed Charlotte (48-34)–will only have one team make the playoffs in 2017. The Washington Wizards or Orlando Magic will make it as a 7th or 8th seed.

The Thunder is all Russell’s, and you know he relishes that. Photo Credit: NBA.com

  • Russell Westbrook will average a triple double (27 ppg, 12 apg, 10 rpg) for the Oklahoma City  Thunder. He will lead the Thunder to a top 4 seed in the Western conference playoffs and win the League MVP, which would be his first.

The Pelicans Rookie Buddy Hield’s should benefit from a healthy Anthony Davis. Photo Credit: NBA.com

  • In (somewhat of) an upset, Buddy Heild of the New Orleans Pelicans will win Rookie of the Year. Especially now that the early favorite Ben Simmons will miss significant time with the Philadelphia 76ers due to a broken foot. Brandon Ingram will had to contend for shots with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle who will all be a little too hungry to fill the Kobe scoring load. I really like Minnesota T-Wolves point guard Kris Dunn—and I think he’ll be the starter by seasons end—but everything will revolve around the big three of Wiggins, Anthony-Towns and Lavine. Heild, however, will get the opportunity and have the numbers thanks to all the attention drawn by Anthony Davis, helping New Orleans get back into the playoff mix after a disappointing setback of a year in 2015-2016.

LeBron is still chasing MJ, it will help if he adds a DPOY to his resume. Photo Credit: NBA.com

  • The Cavs will challenge 70 wins. Just like last season, LeBron will get annoyed that the Golden State Warriors are getting all the attention with their new addition Kevin Durant. This will be enough to keep the Cavs motivated to dominate the East and not take nights off for “rest.” I predict the Cavs will go 69-13.
  • LeBron James will finally win the Defensive Player of the Year award he probably should’ve won twice already. Why? Because what else is there left for him to accomplish individually? He always leads his team’s in blocks, steals, and is usually top two in defensive rebounding, while often guarding the opponents top wing or power forward. No further analysis needed, he is due.
  • LeBron will earn a seventh consecutive NBA Finals birth after defeating the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The San Antonio Spurs will beat the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, then face Cleveland in the NBA Finals. San Antonio has added key veteran pieces with championship experience in Pau Gasol and David Lee. The Warriors made the big splash signing, but the Spurs signings added to the mix of young talents in Kwahi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge will make them the better DEEPER team. Something the Warriors lost in their quest to sign KD.
  • LeBron and the Cavs will win their second consecutive title. LBJ has a pattern, he loses two Finals (’07, ’11), then wins two (’12, ’13). He lost in 2014 with the Miami Heat, and 2015 with the Cavaliers. Now that he’s won in 2016, next is a win in 2017. It’s his trend. Cavs in another epic seven game series, and Kyrie Irving takes home the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.

Durant Made A Choice We’ll All Have to Make, Someday

It was tough, but Durant made a decision we’ll all have to make at some point in our careers. Photo Credit: NBA.com

 
Kevin Durant agreed to a two-year 54 million dollar contract to sign with the defending Western Conference Champion and record setting 73-9 Golden State Warriors. The same team that beat his Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games, after his OKC team had a 3-1 lead. And he’s getting killed for it. 

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith called it a weak move on his part to sign with them. Several other current NBA players threw some subtle, or not so subtle shade, at the former League MVP via social media.

   
  
The reality is, Durant made a decision every working American will have to make at some point in their life. That is, where and what is the best chance for me to accomplish everything I hope to accomplish in my personal and professional life. A professional life that has a shorter life span than majority of professions on Earth, and one where he’s at a stage he is in the midst of his prime. 

“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.” ~ Kevin Durant, The Players’ Tribune, July 4th, 2016. 

See the problem is, everyone is looking at this as just a basketball decision. I get that. Especially considering that is what Durant said it would be about when he was asked about his free agency immediately following the Thunder’s postseason loss. But as you can read by the portion of his piece he wrote for The Players’ Tribune to announce his decision, it was clearly not just about basketball. When you’ve lived in a place for more than 9 years, and those years are during your early to late 20’s, it’s not out of the realm of comprehension that a person would want to experience something different.  

How many of you have had a great job in a city you were comfortable in, and your co-workers value your ideas and love being around you and you them? I’m sure that’s a lot of you. But what if another job offers you more money, with new challenges, in a city you’re intrigued by what differences it has to offer you than where you are? And what if at your current job there is uncertainty that some of your favorite co-workers or boss may be on the way out and the camaraderie that you all have will be lost? I’m sure many of you are going to take a serious look at moving on to the new opportunity. I did, and I know of many others who have. 

I say all that to frame this. What if Durant knows Russell Westbrook is leaving? Or maybe he couldn’t get an answer from Westbrook he was comfortable with to make a decision for his future. If Durant had resigned in Oklahoma City and Westbrook leaves in 2017, then what? The Thunder aren’t the same team they were before his decision, and it’s not even close. The Thunder lost in the second round of the playoffs in 2013 when Westbrook was injured in the first round. They didn’t make it to the playoffs in 2015 when Durant missed majority of the season with a foot injury. This team needs both of them to be championship competitors, and if one of them isn’t there we know they aren’t. That means the Warriors and San Antonio Spurs and others would pass them by. Maybe Durant knows that, and instead of waiting to see that happen while entering his prime years, he decided it’s time to move on before he languishes on a team that is not a championship contender. Oklahoma City has already moved on from Scott Brooks, the coach he was with for seven of his nine seasons that helped him become the player he is. 

So I ask you, wouldn’t you leave a company or job you love that you see is on the verge of collapsing before getting left behind in the rubble alone? KD did just that.

Oladipo-Ibaka Trade Isn’t a Restart. It’s a Jumpstart

 

New Magic coach Frank Vogel (left) and GM Rob Hennigan pulled off an unpopular trade that should propell the young Magic into the 2017 postseason. Photo Courtesy: OrlandoMagic.com

 
Now that I’ve had nearly twenty-four hours to process it, I don’t like the Magic’s trade for Serge Ibaka in exchange for Victor Oladipo. I LOVE IT! It signals a change in strategy, not a restart of a rebuild. It means Orlando Magic management are seriously making a push for the playoffs now. Not just talking about it, or waiting until whenever the young talent develops.

Let me set this up for you. I’ve always said that what Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan was trying to build in central Florida was the Eastern Conference version of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I have made that comparison for a few reasons.  

One, Hennigan came from there as the Assistant GM to Sam Presti, who came from San Antonio were he was the assistant to GM R.C. Buford. The second was that all three teams are “small market” teams who would have to rely on building through the draft because it was believed to be highly unlikely to get free agents to move to San Antonio, OKC and Orlando in their primes. My third was because Hennigan’s first major draft choice at the helm in Orlando was Victor Oladipo, who is similar to a guy he was instrumental in drafting to OKC in Russell Westbrook. Don’t believe me? Just compare Oladipo’s stats to Westbrook’s after their first three seasons. But now Oladipo is gone to the Thunder where he will likely be Westbrook’s backup, and maybe replace him if he bolts in free agency next summer. 

So what does all this have to do with the Magic? Hennigan has realized that what makes the Oklahoma City and San Antonio model work is they have once in a generation players in Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan that attracted talent to play with them. Orlando doesn’t have that, and won’t have that if they continue to improve just enough to smell the playoffs, yet not get a taste. So Hennigan traded away his “Westbrook” realizing his original plans won’t work, but in hopes fast tracking them to the playoffs by netting his first big free agent of 2017. You read that right. I know it’s still 2016.  

Serge Ibaka will be a highly coveted unrestricted free agent next summer, and Hennigan, who has history with him from their days in OKC, just filled a void that wasn’t going to be available this summer. So why waste another year of being in the bottom of the lottery to only draft a player who wouldn’t make an significant impact, when he could go get a player who is a three-time 1st-team All-Defensive player, in the last year of his deal and motivated to prove he deserves another major deal? 

Hennigan is rolling the dice he can convince Ibaka to stay with the Magic past this season. This move is unpopular with fans, but when playoff basketball returns to central Florida in the spring of 2017 for the first time since 2012, they’ll get over it. Thanks to Hennigan’s success drafting (Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja, Aaron Gordon) and acquiring (Evan Fournier) talented perimeter players, the need for Oladipo is lesser than the need was for a defensive stud like Ibaka. We all saw how soft this team was in the middle last season. The only thing softer on Earth was baby food.  

Oladipo may have been Orlando’s most popular player, but Nik Vucevic is their best player. You need to build around him to highlight his pros, yet cover his cons. Ibaka’s strengths are Vucevic’s weaknesses. I equate this move to when the Golden State Warriors traded Monta Ellis in his prime to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut. The Warriors would’ve never won a title without Bogut—as proven in the 2016 NBA Finals—and Klay Thompson would’ve never become the All-Star he is. The Warriors decided their best player was Steph Curry, and decided to build around him. Flipping Ellis for Bogut started their rise to Champions. Ellis is by far a better player than Bogut, but Bogut was more valuable to the Warriors than Ellis. The same is true for the Magic now. Ibaka is more valuable to the Magic than Oladipo due to their weaknesses inside. 

The goal with new Head Coach Frank Vogel, who has a hard-nosed, gritty defensive mindset to go along with an inside-out offensive scheme judging from his days with the Indiana Pacers, is to get to the playoffs now. This newly constructed roster can do that, even if it’s a 7 or 8 seed. Once you’re in the playoffs, you can attract bigger top tier free agents who are interested in your young talent, I.E. the Boston Celtics. 

Will you all be complaining about trading away Victor Oladipo if Hennigan could sway a say, Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant to Orlando? Remember he was apart of drafting them to OKC as well. It’s not as far fetched as once thought.

Magic Fans, This is the Right Move

Oladipo and Ibaka traded for each other during the 2016 NBA Draft. Photo Credit: Orlandomagicdaily.com

The Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder stole the show at the 2016 NBA Draft on Thursday night. The two teams agreed to a deal that will send Serge Ibaka from Oklahoma City to Orlando in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the eleventh pick in the 2016 NBA Draft Domantas Sabonis, the son of Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, to OKC.

To say this move angers Magic fans is as understated as saying the 2016 Presidential Campaign is a circus. Social media is on fire with fans killing the deal and Magic executives. 

Victor Oladipo is by far the most popular Magic player since, dare I say Dwight Howard. There are several reasons for VO’s popularity in central Florida, but topping the list is his athleticism with his highlight dunks and aggressive defense, as well as being a major contributor to the community since being drafted out of Indiana with the number two overall pick in the 2013 draft. 

The other reason so many Magic fans are sad to see him go is because he was the first major pick after the Dwight Howard saga that tore up an organization that seemed like it was on the verge of delivering a world title that seems to be twenty years in the making. So many relate Oladipo to the new era. And I understand their frustration.  

But this is the right basketball move. Domantas Sabonis is an unknown so there’s no need to cry over that spilled milk. The Thunder probably won’t use him for another three years while he develops. That would’ve very likely been the case if he stayed with the Magic. Ersan Ilyasova was brought in for the sole purpose of catering to former head coach Scott Skiles because of their history with the Milwaukee Bucks, which I believe is the same reason that got they guy he was traded for, Tobias Harris, sent to the Detroit Pistons. Ilyasova did nothing of value in his 22 games with the Magic. He averaged 8.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg. He was a throw in as far as I’m concerned. 

What this deal really comes down to is trading Ibaka for Oladipo.  

This move fills the hole at the power forward position that has been a weakness since former All-Star Rashard Lewis was traded away during the 2010-2011 season. General Manager Rob Henningan has been in desperate need of someone to be a reliable defensive inside presence to pair next to Nik Vucevic. Ibaka is ONLY 26 years old, even though he just finished his seventh season. The three-time 1st-team All-Defensive Team member blocks 2.5 shots a game for his career while pulling down 7.4 rebounds a game. He’s the compliment to Vucevic that had many wondering if a reunion with Dwight was imminent. This move rules that out. That should be enough to satisfy Orlando fans. 

While Ibaka will clean up several defensive mistakes by his new teammates, offensively he will also open up room for “Vooch” to work on the blocks. Using advanced stats, Ibaka’s win share was 5.5 in 2015-2016, and he averaged 12.6 ppg while shooting 48% on 2-point field goals on 9.9 shooting attempts per game, his second lowest total in his career. Remember, he played with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, he didn’t get as many opportunities in his last few seasons with the Thunder as many would’ve liked. When they used him, he produced. 

The Magic also had to solve their logjam on the perimeter. When you draft in the lottery four consecutive seasons, you should have acquired some desirable talent. GM Hennigan did that, now you have to flip that to get out of this tailspin. 

Now you get to resign Evan Fournier who had a career year last season. 2015 top pick Mario Hezonja gets more minutes and so will new fan favorite Aaron Gordon. The wing players still on the roster can supply the necessary offensive duties Oladipo left behind. What Ibaka brings, you weren’t going to find in this draft or in this upcoming free agency period. How about this for a starting lineup on opening night of the 2016-17 season; Elfrid Payton (PG), Evan Fournier (SG), Aaron Gordon (SF), Serge Ibaka (PF) and Nik Vucevic (C). Orlando’s path back to playoffs just got brighter.

NBA Should Consider These Cities For Future All-Star Games

The 2016 NBA All-Star weekend is under way in Toronto. The 6, as it’s known, is the first city outside the continental United States to host the Association’s annual mid-season event. Canada’s most vibrant city is sure to show hoop fans a great time on and off the court.

The 2017 event is already booked for Charlotte. It will be the first time since 1991 Buzz City has hosted the game. With MJ as the host, who wouldn’t want to go to a party hosted by his Airness?
It’s great to finally see the NBA taking the greatest All-Star experience among the major professional sports leagues to new and different places. Locations like Los Angeles (2004 & 2011), Houston (2006 & 2013), New York (1998 & 2015), New Orleans (2008 & 2014) and Phoenix (1995 & 2009) have more than their share in the past 20 seasons, while other great basketball cities have yet host the event or have it return in over a generation. It’s time to go new places.
Not to get to far ahead of myself before the headline events of the 2016 weekend have even tipped off, but I have a list of paces the NBA should visit in the near future and why they’d best for the league.

IMG_3024

Cleveland hosted the ’97 All-Star weekend during the NBA at 50 celebration. Photo Credit: Peggy Turbett/The Plain Dealer

Cleveland – While Cleveland isn’t necessarily the place you want to be in the middle of winter (average temperatures in February are a high of 40 and a low of 20 degrees), it is a great sports city and with the return of the NBA’s best player in LeBron James, that will be on full display as he continues in the prime of his career there.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was actively attempting to lure the NBA to Cleveland for the 2017 All-Star weekend which would’ve been the 20 year anniversary of the NBA at 50 celebration. NBA commissioner Adam Silver visited Cleveland to explore the feasibility of bringing the All-Star Game back to Northeast Ohio. “We had a great experience when we were there in ’97,” Silver told the Beacon Journal. “We would love to return to Cleveland” he went on to say.

The city has grown significantly since the NBA’s last visit and has the venues to host such a highly attended event. With LeBron James entering the backend of his career, it be great to see him get the opportunity to be the unofficial host to the game’s greatest players before he rides off into the sunset.

IMG_3026

Chicago hasn’t hosted the All-Star weekend since 1988. Photo Credit: AP Photos

Chicago, 2018 – This will mark 30 years since the weekend of MJ. In February 1988, Michael Jordan was in the midst of one of the greatest seasons of all time when he averaged 35 ppg, 5.9 apg , 5.5 rpg, 3.2 spg on his way to winning the league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.

While his Airness was already being regarded as a Top 5 player at the time, this one weekend can be viewed as when he ascended to a global icon. He won the dunk contest–albeit controversial–while breaking out his iconic Air Jordan III sneaker, and he took home the game’s MVP award after posting 40 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 blocks and 3 assists in only 29 minutes.

What better way to once again honor the greatest player ever, by recognizing this moment. Plus, the Windy City hasn’t hosted the event since 1988, which is odd considering it’s one of the top 3 markets in America and rich in basketball history on all levels.

IMG_3027

South Florida has successfully hosted several major sporting events, but only one NBA All-Star Weekend. 

Miami 2019 – South Beach in February. Let me say that again, South Beach in February.  The ultimate party town, hosting the NBA’s ultimate party event. Nothing else really has to be said.

I am surprised it hasn’t been back since 1990 when the Heat weren’t even relevant. At that time you had to think former Commissioner David Stern selected South Florida to showcase one of his newest franchises as the Heat were only in its first season. But now after being in five NBA Finals in a span of eight years, Miami is a perfect match for the league. Even though they have fans more fickle than the weather down there during tropical storm season.

The city boast an extremely upscale arena, venues and plenty of hotels accommodations and more than adequate means to travel across town. Seems like a slam dunk or a Ray Allen corner three in game six of the 2013 NBA Finals.

IMG_3028

OKC has been a premier franchise and the fans have created a vibrant college atmosphere.

Oklahoma City 2020 – Assuming the Thunder keep both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the fold, OKC will still be an attractive draw. The Heartland doesn’t get much respect from basketball purist. But this is a chance for the NBA to reward this city for how it not only has received the Thunder and made it a great atmosphere for basketball fans, but also for how the community received the New Orleans Hornets—now Pelicans—when they took refuge after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the “Crescent City.”

Also with the NBA cares events done during the weekend, this will be a great opportunity for the league and its partners to help continue to rebuild this area that’s still reeling after the tragic tornado that struck in the spring of 2013.

IMG_3031

Memphis is rich in Civil Rights and hoops history, and what better way to celebrate both than during Black History Month.

Memphis 2020 – If you’ve never been, you don’t know what your are missing. From the barbecue to the nightlife, music and tourist attractions such as the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated, to Graceland the home of Elvis Presley; Memphis would be a great host for All-Star weekend. By the way, “The River City” is also a hot bed rich in hoops history at the high school, collegiate and professional levels.

20140806-013308-5588575.jpg

Seattle is eager for the NBA to return.

Seattle – Depending on who you are, this may seem like trolling, but let me explain why this would be a win-win for the league and Seattle hoop fans.

The League needs to make a true showing that they really want to bring a team back to Seattle. Since the Sonics were hijacked and taken to Oklahoma City, Seattle has been mentioned as a possible destination for owners looking to scare their current cities into upgrading or building new arenas. Commissioner Silver has said he’d like to bring a team back to the city by expansion or an existing franchise. This will go a long way in proving he’s serious.

For the fans and city leaders, this will be their opportunity to show that their love for NBA basketball has not dissipated in the absence of their beloved Sonics. Players will get a chance to see what NBA life in the “Emerald City” has to offer.

It shouldn’t matter that Seattle doesn’t currently have a team, that precedent was already set when the NBA took the All-Star festivities to Las Vegas in 2007.