Sunday, January 4, 2015

NBA RAW: The Revolution Has Begun: Corey Rockafeler -NBA RAW -Stuart Scott : Lifetime...

NBA RAW: The Revolution Has Begun: Corey Rockafeler -NBA RAW -Stuart Scott : Lifetime...: Sometimes it takes  just a single name:Jordan,Pele,Montana,or DiMaggio to conjure up potent visceral images of winning and accomplishme...

Corey Rockafeler -NBA RAW -Stuart Scott : Lifetime MVP Award

Sometimes it takes  just a single name:Jordan,Pele,Montana,or DiMaggio to conjure up potent visceral images of winning and accomplishment. These icons and their iconic endeavors are seared into memory banks to be replayed on demand for years to come. But just as there are memorable professional sports athletes,there are also relevant non-athletes closely linked to sports who are  as memorable . ESPN sports anchor Stuart Scott is one of those individuals. Stuart is also one of my heroes. Since 1993- his first broadcast - he has been a nightly guest in  my home and someone I have had the good fortune to meet on several occasions.  Right as I was leaving church service today  my son Miles sent me a text message to inform me the Lord called Stuart home. My eyes immediately began  to tear. I  had to head to the nearest men's room for a private moment to cry and pray. Stuart Scott was not supposed to die. No, not now and not for a long time. Although, Scott has been battling a rare form of cancer since 2007, he had emerged stronger and his doctors were optimistic for a full recovery.   His  July 2014 speech at the ESPY awards where he received the Jimmy V award  was as indelible and brave as anything you will ever witness on live television.  "When you die, it doesn't mean you lose to cancer," Scott passionately stated. " You beat the cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner  in which you live."  He took a prideful moment to speak with a father's pure love and admiration for his two daughters Sydni  and Taelor. He then bought Sydni up on stage , "come on up and give dad a hug because I need one." There was not a dry eye in the house.

Stuart was as much as a game-changer  as the sports figures he spoke glowingly about. His infectious energy, inimitable spirit was contagious to all. He was like a multi-sensory Red Bull. Scott was a new generation sports broadcaster who gave a new generation of athletes their own voice. He emboldened their personal journeys with a sense of authenticity  style, and swag not previously seen  or heard. The players all related to Suart.  He was one of them. What athlete did not want to end up  on ESPN with Scott exhorting: " boo-yah, " , "as cool as the other side of the pillow," to " you ain't gotta go home, but you gotta get the heck out of here, " Scott became a cultural touchstone with his own hip sports lexicon. He was popular with sports fans from Brooklyn to Berlin.

It was no secret that battling cancer is mentally, physically, and emotionally exacting   We knew Stuart Scott was a warrior and he would emerge victorious. The Lord however had another plan for our brother.

The greatest compliment you can say about someone is they made your life better. Stuart Scott made a lot of lives better. Like Kobe, Iverson, or even Namath, Stuart Scott forever changed the landscape. Like all  great ones his impact will endure forever. Stuart Scott was a great broadcaster but most importantly he was a great person. I love you  my brother and may God bless you and welcome you in heaven.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Corey Rockafeler NBA RAW -ICYMI

I.C.Y.M.I  ( In Case You Missed It). Welcome to our first NBA RAW I.C.Y.M.I

~ Looking at the 76ers- Knick game on Saturday, was a tad bit cringe-inducing. It was sort of like  watching the the tallest midget contest. At least the 76ers know they are in tankapoolza. What is the excuse for the Knicks? Oh yeah, Melo in ESPN magazine saying he wants to be known as a "taste-maker" and "more than just a basketball player." Interesting priorities. How about starting Melo with being know as a guy who is more than just a defensively-deficient, prodigious ball-dominant scorer who rarely makes his teammates better. I think that would be a better staring point after 10 years in the league huh!

~ Staying in New York, the staunchest defenders of the triangle all realize an inescapable truth- you have to have the right players for this triple-post offense ... like say a true post player.  That means Zenmiester and his acolyte coach , D. Fish are making a fatal mistake. They have neither the post presence, nor the high-hoops IQ players needed to make the triangle work. Memo-create a system that fits your players. After all that is what good coach's and GM's do.

~  Denver Nugget, center, Javale McGee comparing himself to up and coming superstar Anthony " the brow" Davis  of the New Orleans Pelicans is ... how can we put this delicately.... delusional.  With all due respect, Javale you are not even on the same planet with AD. Now if you were speaking in terms of height, my humble apologies.

~The Clippers were supposed to be contenders right? Blake, CP3, DeAndre....NOT.  The Clippers are not only playing soft, they have no perimeter defense-unless you still think 35-year old Matt Barnes is the answer. Offensively, they are still way to reliant on the ball-dominant CP3 to create with pick-and-rolls. Elite defensive teams know this will and take ball out of Paul's hands in the post-season. There is no one else to create of the bounce. Sorry Jamal Crawford. Get ready for another post-season flame out.

~ Barring another injury( well they seem happen every year) to Andrew Bogut, the Warriors will be the team to beat in the West along with the Spurs. They still need a viable back-up at the 5. But the second unit is fortified with Iggy, Harrison Barnes and David Lee. With the Splash brothers on the perimeter, Draymond as the stretch-4, Bogut in the paint, these boys can play on both sides of the ball. Watch out.

~Milwaukee may not be ready for prime-time, but they are assembling some great pieces and playing D. They have the 4th best D in the NBA allowing opposing teams only 97.7 points per 100 possessions. With a front line of the Greek Freak,Antetokounmpo, John Henson, and Larry Sanders all at near 7 feet tall with 7-4 wing spans, they can defend the perimeter, the interior, and embarrass all those dumb enough to think they can make ESPN highlights of the night.  Coach J Kidd has these boys playing hard. With another lottery piece,  and some battle-scarred veterans this team will be a contender in two years.

~ Get familiar with the name Emmanuel Mudiay. The soon to be top 3 pick is a franchise point guard with all the tools to be a superstar in the league. Instead of playing for Larry Brown at SMU, Mudiay is playing pro hoops in China for the Guandong Southern Tigers. He is a walking triple-double. Imagine  John Wall with a J, and Rubio's vision, and Rondo's D. This kid is REAL

Until next time...... See you when I see you.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

NBA RAW: The Revolution Has Begun: Corey Rockafeler NBA RAW's 2014 Rising star spotl...

NBA RAW: The Revolution Has Begun: Corey Rockafeler NBA RAW's 2014 Rising star spotl...: Albert Einstein once said, " imagination is more important than knowledge." So picture a category- defying NBA player with suc...

Corey Rockafeler NBA RAW's 2014 Rising star spotlight-The Greek Freak-Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Albert Einstein once said, " imagination is more important than knowledge." So picture a category- defying NBA player with such ethereal skills  he can single-handedly change the way the game is played on both sides of the ball. Before you can say "holy hyperbole," hear me out. At nearly 7-feet tall with a 7-5 wingspan,  this phenom sports a handle like Magic, has vision like J. Kidd, defensive disruptive skills like  KG, and can finish in transition like Vince. His nom de guerre is so cool, my six year old calls it out during his games.  Second year, Milwaukee Buck phenom, Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka "The Greek Freak" is a sort of a video game creation come to life. With a Quetzalcoatlus type wingspan, gigantic hands, tremendous length , and jaw-dropping athleticism, Antetokounmpo is the NBA's latest match-up nightmare.

What makes Giannis so unique is his elite skills on both sides of the ball. Sure we have the newest NBA prodigies :Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, and  Kawhi Leonard of the  San Antonio Spurs, but none match the totality Giannis's skill set. On the offensive side of the ball, he sports a point guard's handle with an innate ability to change speeds and directions . He can create off the bounce, make plays for his teammates, post -up, face up and blow by opposing bigs, and finish strong at the rim .In transition, watching him get out  and fill the lanes with  those gazelle-like strides is a thing of beauty. If that is not enough, he is also sporting a  new Magic Johnson baby hook across the lane.

In addition, his hoops IQ belies his abbreviated NBA tenure and tender age-19. He has a preternatural feel for the game. The way he moves off the ball, slashing, cutting, curling to the basket, perpetually moving makes him unguardable.  Giannis  is as fundamentally sound as you will ever see in someone so young. You Tube has become his personal highlight reel. See him in last nights preseason game against the Chicago Bulls. He blocked Taj Gibson's shot and then sprinted down the court on the same play for a thunderous  dunk. This past summer in August, with Greece playing Turkey, Giannis covered 72 feet in two dribbles before slamming it home.

Defensively, he has the ability to disrupt a game the way few players can.  He can be a shut-down wing defender and a true rim-protecting big. Last year you would see him flying in from the weak side-  the way a young Amare Stoudemire did- to smack away a shot. In a point guard-driven, pick-and-roll league, Giannis can also chase shooters off the 3-point line, and  hedge and recover on picks, Giannis also causes total chaos in the  passing lanes and forays to the rim with his massive wing span and length.  Last year the Bucks gave up nearly 7 points less with Giannis on the court. He also held opposing bigs to a below league average 14.2 PER.

Although Giannis  put up modest numbers last year in 77 games for the woeful Bucks playing only 24 minutes: 6.8 points, 1.9 dimes, 4.4 boards, one could see the glimpses of this game-changing talent.

With new coach Jason Kidd as the guiding force, expect to see some very creative and imaginative offensive experiments. Kidd already has Giannis playing point forward .The one glaring weakness in Giannis' game is his perimeter shot. Once he gets that down, he will become a perennial all-star. Giannis Antetokounmpo  has injected some much needed hope into one of the NBA's worst run franchises . With the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, stud small forward, Jabari Parker now on board, things may shine a bit brighter in Buck town. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls the Giannis Antetokounmpo show is not to be missed.  You are about to bear witness to the next superstar in the NBA.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Corey Rockafeler NBA RAW: Hello, David Blatt. Welcome! My name is pressure.

Hello, David Blatt. Welcome! My name is pressure.

Someone famously said, pressure makes diamonds and it also makes ex-coaches. Oh yeah, that was me! Over in Cleveland, rookie Cavalier head coach, David Blatt will soon find himself hurtling toward a collision course. This road will be littered with swollen expectations and intense pressure. Its hard to imagine Blatt ,or Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert, had this in mind a few months ago.  Blatt signed on this past June for a three-year deal worth $ 10 million  At that time , the biggest issue was who the team should take with the No.1 overall pick  in the 2014 NBA draft: Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, or Andrew Wiggins. The wounds of taking Anthony Bennett with last years No.1 pick were still  very raw. To say Bennett "underperformed"  is an understatement. But, its still way too early to call the out of shape, very raw 20-year old a bust.

Faster than you can say, Holy King James! The Cavaliers signed their prodigal son, unrestricted free agent LeBron James, traded their 2014 No. 1 pick Wiggins, last years No. 1 Bennett, and Miami's 2015 protected first round pick to the  Minnesota Timberwolves  for stretch-4 extraordinaire Kevin Love. Now add point guard prodigy Kyrie Irving and rabid Cavalier fans are happier than a ton of Republicans at Eric Holder's resignation party.  Enter the Cavalier version of the  "big three." Since King James skipped town and took his prodigious talents to South Beach, the Cavs ( and the city of Cleveland) had sunk into abyss of blame, owner-led histrionics, and dysfunction. 97 wins -215 losses, three head coaches( including the same one twice, Mike Brown) , and hope of a better tomorrow as the primary lubricant. But in sports,as in life, its better to be lucky than good. 

LeBron, Love, and Kyrie notwithstanding, championships  are won on the court-not in the blogs, media, or fantasy drafts. As we saw with Miami's "big three" Wade, Bosh, and LeBron it took time to gel. Chemistry is a delicate alchemy. Forget about Miami losing to the Mavericks in the 2010 NBA Finals 4 games to 2, there were spasms of doubt throughout that first year. LeBron and Wade  took turns on offense with Chris Bosh scratching his head wondering what his role would be. Then you add many naysayers doubting whether LeBron and Wade could even play together.  It was only after that tumultuous  first year did the Heat get it right. They would  make the Finals four straight years and win back-to-back rings.

Blatt operates at a demonstrable disadvantage as a first year coach-there is no learning curve.  This team is expected to win multiple rings-NOW. Okay, we have heard the paleo-refined, 2.0 LeBron preach patience to the championship-famished Cleveland fans. That and a token will get you through the first few losing streaks. But , Blatt does not have the luxury of a championship-ring laden GM like Pat Riley, to intervene and stand up for his coach. Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert may a a billionaire. but his hoops cred is.... nil.

Conversely, Blatt can boast of some real  global hoops cred. He recently led Maccabi Tel Aviv to a surprising upset over Real Madrid to win the 2014 Euro League championship. As a result he was named coach of the year He also guided Russia to a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics and won an Italian league championship in 2006 with BenettonTrevisio. To his credit, Blatt is known to be an excellent communicator with a flair for offensive innovation., Since he played college ball under the legendary coach Pete Carril at Princeton, we can expect a free flowing motion offense. That will be an immense departure from the unimaginative inert offensive style of former Cavs coach Mike Brown .

Another plus for Blatt is the symmetry and balance of his new "big three." LeBron can use his ethereal talents to create, penetrate, facilitate. post-up, or just take over a game as needed. Love can play inside or outside, has a great deep game, and  will be the recipient of many great passes from LeBron. Irving has one of the best handles in the game, and will excel in the pick-and roll. Questions still abound, however, over Irving's durability and leadership. The later he will learn from King James.

Managing international players and NBA superstars are a whole different sort of  hard and soft 
skill set. Expectations are high and patience will be short. As Brandon Sanderson said in the novel, The Way of Kings, " Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you hold them, he more likely they are to crack."

We'll speak again David in May. Welcome to the NBA.

Monday, August 18, 2014