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Evilmav2
04-21-2006, 06:10 PM
Chat with Scoop Jackson

Welcome to The Show! On Friday, Page 2's Scoop Jackson will log on to answer your questions about anything and everything sports related.

Scoop is a national columnist for Page 2 and a contributor to ESPN:The Magazine. He has weekly segments on Cold Pizza and Classic Now and is a regular forum guest on Rome Is Burning. He resides in Chicago.

Send in your questions to Scoop now and then join him Friday at 3 p.m. ET!

New York, NY: Do you take your coffee black?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: No. Don't drink Coffe. Only Tea.

Scott (Victoria, BC): Scoop, Why isn't Avery Johnson getting more love for coach of the year?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: don't know. he got my vote. matter of fact i have on my AVERY JOHNSON BASKETBALL t-shirt right now. :-)

Cleveland, Ohio: When will NBA be announcing the MVP?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: right before the finals.

Nick, TX: Who do you like for NBA MVP?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: LBJ then KB8 then Nashty

Bruce (Greensboro, NC): Scoop, I saw where you picked Lakers to upset Suns in the 1st round. I agree and don't actually think it is much of an upset consider they have Kobe. However, do you think Kobe can carry the Lakers to the Western Conference Finals or will Odom have to really step it up also? I think the key to the LAL is to get Walton as many minutes as possible because he creates easy buckets for all their offensively challenged players (besides Kobe and Odom).

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: To be honest, I'm really wiggly on the LAL's beating the Suns. Kobe's the Truth, but i don't kknow if he can beat that squad in a 7 game series by himself. Bottonline, ESPN asked me a quaetion and I had to give them an answer :-)

LL (NYC): When do you think the first nba player will start rocking Bapes in games? And why didn't Nike figure out the bright patent leather look for their OWN shoe?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: That won't happen! Ever. :-) Unless Kanye has some game that we don't know about.

Jeff (Detroit): If you had one game to win TODAY, who would you pick to have on your team between Lebron James and Dwayne Wade?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: DWade. I've seen him do it in the playoffs... twice.

poboy (cleveland): how could you not vote for kobe i no lebron espn boy and all but this is going a little bit to far

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: i feel you. KB8 did something this year that we may never see again. How I didn't vote for Kobe? I don't know. I honestly feel that what LBJ did this season was collectively more impressive.

Todd(Adrian,Mi): How good are these Pistons compared to the orginal Bad Boys?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: great question. I can give you a better answer if they win it again. But until they get 2 chips like the bad boys, they aren't in the same convo.

sam (new york): Who is this years DPOY?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: ZO!!!!

Aaron, Chicago IL: Why dont you like the Bulls?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: I don't know. I do like them as a team, but I've been extremely hard on them. I'm proud of them, and I'm pulling for them. But They have so many holes that it's been hard for me to get on the bandwagon. But they proved me wrong this year, that's for sure.

Tim (Cleveland): If you where owner of the NYN what would you do with that mess? Fire Thomas?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: And LB. After the saeson they had (I love them both, but...) they both gotta go.

ac (philly): scoop, in your last answer you wrote "for sure" but i believe the correct spelling is "fo sho." can you clarify this for me?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: u rite.

Vince (PA): Where do u think Iverson will be next year?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: not in Philly....

Gary Watson (Houston TX): When and why did you decide to leave SLAM magazine?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: When: last February Why: ESPN gave me an offer i'da been the stupidest dude in the world to refuse.

JB (Philly): Do you think the media is overreacting to the AI-Webber tardiness situation?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: a little... but it's understandable.

Mike (Chicago): Can you talk about something that you don't deem involves race?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: of course. name one.

chris (la): do u feel u get the same level of respect as other writers on espn.com? or do you think you're perceived as lesser? personally, i'm damn happy you're there.

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: good question. I guess I feel equal, they've made me feel equal ever since I've been there. I never look at it as a comp b/t us. I'm just trying to come off as the "best" writer at the company. which i still have to keep pushing to reach.

Atlanta: Why haven't you answered my question about Bill Walton?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: repeat the question... I'll try to get to it.

DEEP (CALIFORNIA): Scoop, I have heard people saying that the kings have a chance to take out the spurs. I think they will win one or two games max if that. whats your take on that?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: i think it's a legit observation. the Kings do have a shot, Ron Artest makes them a team that could make that type of upset. Honestly, look at their record since he's been there. If he were there all season long, they wouldn't have been an 8th seed. They're a legit squad. Next year they might be scary.

Kobe from Cali: Your killin me, Scoop. How can you say LBJ is MVP over me?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: not killin' you B. I want you to get the Finals MVP instead.

Tony (Utah): Scoop, answer this please. You don't put Kobe on Jordan's level do you?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: not yet.

Internet King (Boston): Is Bill Simmons as much of an arrogant blowhard around the office as he is in his columns?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: Bill's a cool dude. I actually like him.
(Ps: all of us work from different offices so we don't see each other too often)

Vince (PA): What moves do u think the sixers should do to try improve for next year?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: see if they can make some moves to either get Paul Pierce, KG or Jermaine O'neal to replace AI. I think maybe it's time for both to move on. But only if they get one of those players in return.

shannon chicago il: scoop, why don't you just tell everyone that you've been pulling their leg about who is the real MVP is please explain to them how it isn't even close. lebron, nash, and kobe have all had a great season, but stern should drive to phoenix game 1 and give it to kobe right before jumpball. ps i'll hit you when we get back from mexico.

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: Ok, Mr. Club Interbnational, you right. Kb8, MVP. :-)

Mike D. (Albany, NY): How can you blast the Duke administration before knowing any facts about what happened on the night in question? It could turn out that the athletes biggest sins were having strippers over and underage drinking. A party that would seam to be relatively normal if it was at a non-athlete's fraternity. Or do facts not matter when aquisations are made.

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: no facts have nothing to do with me blasting the University. Like you said, "a party would seem normal if it was non-athlete's or frat." But it wasn't. C'mon man, 41 arrests in the last 7 years! All Lacrosse players! Those are THE FACTS! The univesity should have shut their wildness down a long time ago. That's why i can blast them,

Vince (PA): Who do you think should deserve the SLAM issue 100 covewr? AI? MJ? LBJ?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: THEY'RE GOING TO DO SPLIT COVERS. BUT IF I HAD TO PICK ONE PERSON: LBJ. Slam in a awy discovered him, so it would be fitting.

Matt (Tustin): I gots an idea. How bout i rite in ebonics, use stupid abbreviations for evrabody, pretend i got some bball knowledge..then can i scribble for espn like scoop?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: good luck.

Bryan (Raleigh, NC): When you say "different offices" do you mean sitting at in your PJs eating chips and drinking beer?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: something like that. :-)

Jordan (San Jose): Ecko or Sean John?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: LRG and BRS,

jay(nyc): Last shot, Game 7 Finals, game tied. Past or present, who takes it ? Past or present, who defends him ?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: reggie miller takes it. doesn't matter who guards him.

Vincent (New York): Would you ever change the way you write to be more 'ESPN friendly'? Your article on march madness had more inside jokes and urban talk than the 3 Six Mafia acceptance speech at the Oscars.

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: i don't think so. One of the reasons i came over is because they said they'd let me be me, so...

d money (dallas): answer some real questions and stop taking all the BS ones... I asked about Dirk's disrespect.... I guess that answers my question... I guess Dallas will always be disrespected....

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: missed the Dirk q.. hit me back with it.

Dem (P-Hill, CA): You said that Tony Skinn was the most important player in the Final Four. Who would your most important player in the NBA playoffs be and why?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: probably Kurt Thomas. If he balls (check PHX's record when he's DNP), they're going to be almost impossible to beat. Unless Stack does his thing. then he's the most important player.

Big Game James (Shreveport): Do you really think Shaq will just turn it on now that it's PLAYOFF TIME?!

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: i think so. But not like 40/20 Shaq, more like 25/10 enough to make it hard to beat Miami.

MIA: Damn Scoop there's alot of haters in here. Who are these guys the Duke Lacrosse team?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: funny....

scott mcc (dallas): do think that dirk is the mvp for this year

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: i think he was in the conversation... and at some point someone asked about Dirk's disrespect. Hit me back with that question.

Worldwide Wes (NJ): i just had to make an appearance...

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: holla!

Will (NYC): When people react viscerally to you, is it difficult for you to deal with ill-will that is directed towards you for the way you write? Does it roll off your back or does it affect you?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: naw, i let it roll. to alot of people i'm ignorant, to me alot of people are ignorant. so we're all even. my thing is always to make people see where I'm trying to come from, not to convince them on my opinion. but i can't front, sometimes i feel like I'm fighting a losing battle and it pisses me off. i'm human.

Milton (La): Ive sent about 40 questiosn and none of them anwsered mostly bout kobe and the lakers

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: you sent 40, i'm looking at 1785. do the math, yo. i might not get to you.

CN (Mass): Will Amare ever return to what he once was?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: no.

Tyrone (Hotlanta): Do you ever wish that you could actually ball instead of just pretend and write ingnorant crap.

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: all of the time.

Rene (Cali): What cds u got in ur whip right now?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: ghostface... on repeat.

Kevan (Rochester NY): Name one player that came back from MICRO fracture surgery to be the player they use to be. ...Penny was the first victim!

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: that's why i don't think Amare is going to come back as the same player. That injury is bigger than the player. Even JKidd isn't the same.

marv (lawrence): Will the nba ever be bigger than the nfl or mlb?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: maybe. it will be a while before that happens. but there's a chance.

Travis (Indiana State): Are you and Steven A Smith good friends?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: yes sir!!!

KJC NJ: SINCE I'M WRITING IN CAPS CAN YOU POST THIS? NEVER HAD ANYTHING POSTED ON ANYTHING, JUST NEED TO SEE WHAT IT FEELS LIKE

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: was it good for you?

Vince (PA): Larry Brown is an influential coach, he was a teacher in his early years and when he was with the sixers. But after screwing philly saying thatl be the last place he'll coach, and u know damn sure it wasnt LB's plays that got detroit thier rings. And with the horrific car crash that was the New York Knicks, dont u think enough is enough for Coach Brown?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: I think coach brown needs to shut it down. He's too great of a coach to go out like this. I think if he gets out now no one will hold this season against him. but if he stays longer...

danny (new haven): hey scoop, say something controversial, like the pistons suck or nash is overrated because he's white. Everyone loves controversy

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: uh, Scoop Jackson loves white people! is that controversial enough?

Edrey (PHX, AZ): Scoop im begging you, please answer this question im a huge fan of yours and i need to know what you think, What percent of chance do the Suns got at winning an NBA championship this year?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: 20%

Joe NY: Scoop- can I come next year when you and your boys watch the tourney. My college b-ball knowledge game is nice.

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: no problem. if you can find us, you good.

Matt (dc): If Arenas out duels Lebron in the playoff do you think he will start the the media hype he deserves?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: no doubt. especially if he takes it and does the same thing in Round 2.

Jay (Argentina): Why is the NBDL allowing players out of HS?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: because the "b" in NBA still stands for business. They aren't stupid.

ahs NY: PLEASE ANSWER THIS- doesnt phil jackson deserve some coach of the eyar consideration he helped kb8 back to the playoffs without much help.. 9 championships no COY awards is jus plaint crazy

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: yes he does. But I still think avery should get it.

Jim (NY): Scoop this is the first time im writing in, and I think it may be the last. I know you have many people writing in, but some of the questions you are answer dont even deserve the time of day. Your working for a sports network, so talk sports. I know i dont really care if you like ecko or guess genes.. I dont care if my questions are answered as long as i get to see other sports related questions being answered.

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: so was that a sports question you asked, Jim?

Little Timmy (Yay Area): Besides the Chris Webber trade Scoop, is the Warriors biggest mistake Firing Eric Mussleman, Letting Arenas go or signing Adonal " The human rock) Foyal to a long term contract?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: the biggest mistake the Warriors made was breaking up the Arenas/Boykins tandem. Everything else was secondary.

mj (lexington): who's the number one pick in the draft? i say T. Thomas.

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: Leon Powe

Bakari (Washington, DC): Most hated: Kobe, Barry, TO?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: BB. without question.

shane (grants pass, or): if you are larry bird and john nash offers you zach randolph, darius miles, steve blake, and juan dixon for jermaine oneal and a re-signed fred jones do you do it?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: i'd seriouly consider it. I'd listen.

little man, black america: most hated: white politicians white corporate ceo white landlord????

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: white vp with gun while hunting... :-)

kevin(texas): What about KG for Gordon,deng,nocioni + 1st ?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: never happen.

Paul (Canada): Do you think Mike James and CB4 will be back in TO next season? Also what do you think the chances are everyone will be kicking themselves in the crotch for not taking JJ Redick in the top 10 of this years draft come December?

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: i think both will be back. JJ top 10? I'm not sure anyone will be kicking themselves.

KD (Greenville, NC): TRUE OR FALSE: T Mac = the next Penny

SportsNation SCOOP JACKSON: never thought of that one. that's deep. answer? TRUE.

i'm out. thanks. peace.
----------------------------------------------------

Chat with Chris Sheridan

Welcome to The Show! On Friday, ESPN.com's NBA reporter Chris Sheridan will log on to chat with you about the NBA playoff picture. Chris came to ESPN from the Associated Press where he spent the last 10 years as the lead NBA writer.

Sheridan's chat tips off at noon ET on Friday so send in your questions now and join him right here for the answers.

Sheridan archives: Columns | Chats

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Greetings from New York, just a two-hour drive from Bristol where I went yesterday to make sure David Stern answered a tights question during his live online chat. You can read all about it in my blog today. All subjects are in play today, including playoff teams, non-playoff teams and the Commish. We're gonna start a couple minutes early so I can finish a couple minutes early and get to my travel reservations for this weekend in Cleveland and Detroit, where Insider will have extra coverage of LeBron's first playoff games and the Bucks' tights. Drum roll, please ...

Kazem, Montreal: How far do you see the Nets going in the playoffs? and do you think the Bulls have a chance of upsetting the Heat?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: I picked New Jersey as my dark horse team, and I picked Nenad Krstic as my breakout player (although I'm having second thoughts about not picking Andres Nocioni). The whole NBA gang here at ESPN made similar picks, so be sure to take a couple minutes to check them out on the site today. I don't really think the Bulls can upset the Heat, although I can't ignore the way they've been playing lately (9-1 in April thus far). The Heat haven't played a meaningful game for weeks. So I'll give the Bulls a game for the surprise factor, but Shaq will be too much for them down low. Heat in 5.

Ricky (Holland, MI): Do the Pistons win their 2nd title in 3 years? If so, does losing Game 7 last year essentially cost them a "dynasty"?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Hey Ricky, are you one of those people who throw aroun the word dynasty too easily? It really bugs me when people do that. The Lakers were a dynasty in the '50s, the Celtics were a dynasty in the 60s, and the Bulls were a dynasty in the 90s. That's it. The list ends there. Talk to me again in four years if the Pistons have four more rings. (Sorry for the harsh tone, Ricky. Just messin with you. Things are all good here in Chatland)

Chris, Nova Scotia: What do the Magic have to do over the next few years to take the next step?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: I don;t think they're going to get an extension with Darko done this summer unless it comes super-cheap. It would eat up a chunk of their '07 cap room, and I don't think Darko would do it anyway at a low price because he'd be nuts to give up the extra millions he could earn long-term with a strong '06-07 season. If they can make the right trade of Grant Hills's expiring contract this summer or at the deadline next February, it could speed up their transformation. There will be a lot of interest in Hill from teams looking to clear cap space for Rashard Lewis, Dirk Nowitzki, Chauncey Billups and a few others who can opt out of their contracts.

alon ((Brooklyn, NY)): Is there any hope for the Knicks?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: No. The Nets will bring a title to Brooklyn before the Knicks get under the cap, Alon.

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: No. The Nets will bring a title to Brooklyn before the Knicks get under the cap, Alon.

Jeff (Iowa): Do the Bulls shop Gordon in the off-season?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Depends what he does in their last game, Jeff. Remember last year against the Wizards when he started and went scoreless in 16 minutes with 5 TOs? If he does that again, they SHOULD trade him.

Sam (NY): Considering the recent talk that the Pacers might trade Jermaine O'neal in the offseason, is it possible Isiah could get him for Steve Francis, Channing Frye, and a draft pick?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: The Pacers really like Frye, but the only way they're giving up Jermaine is if they're getting Kevin Garnett back _ even if it takes an extra year of waiting. They also might trade O'Neal and whatever else it would take for the rights to Greg Oden in '07. Oden's still an Indy kid now, even though he's headed to Ohio State next fall.

Brian (Dallas): CS, It seems to me that everyone from Oregon to the outback is pushing for Kobe to claim the MVP? When did scoring points and falling into the playoffs become more important than bringing a team together? Dirk, for instance, had the best year of his career in terms of offensive production and team leadership despite the 180 turn in coaching philosophy.

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Different voters value different things, and some put a higher premium on winning than others. Some ask the question "Where would they be without him?" and Kobe probably wins every argument that begins with that sentence. It'll be a tight vote this year, and the second-place votes (voters rank five players, who are then awarded on a 10-7-5-3-1 point scale) and third-place votes are going to carry a lot of weight.

Tad (Ithaca, NY): People are talking about possible upsets in the Wizards-Cavs series as well as the Nets-Pacers series. Which is likely to see an upset first?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: If you consider the Wizards winning an upset, I'd pick that one. Washington handled Cleveland pretty easily during the regular season.

Tom (Chicago): What are the chances that Detroit can keep their 5 starters under contract long term?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: One more year, unless they pay Chauncey. I think they'll keep Ben Wallace if they don't insult him with a low-ball offer, but Chauncey can opt out in '07 and will want a better deal. He'd due to make a little less than $7 million in 07-08 if he doesn't opt out, and he's worth an awful lot more than that.

Blake (Nova Scotia): Any reaction to the reports that Chris Bosh will sign a max extension in Toronto? IS Bosh that good?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: If the Raptors don't make him a max offer, someone else will next summer when he's a restricted free agent. He's a max-value talent in the economic world of today's NBA. That's one of the byproducts of having system with a max salary structure. Lots of guys are worth it, even though some max players are much better than others.

Nan (Oregon): Is there any realistic trades for Zach and/or Miles for the Blazers? I hear that jermaine O'Neal Wants to come back.

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: I don't believe the Pacers are big Zach fans. It's going to be a heck of a lot harder for the Blazers to move him this summer after the stunt he pulled last weekend, leaving the arena in the third quarter.

himat (detroit): How can you say that the piston starters will only be together for a couple more years? Unlike almost every other team the pistons are not selfish and will give up some money to stay here. You'll see this starting 5 will last for quite a while.

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Himat, you will be correct if Chauncey gets a fair deal from Mr. Davidson. He's a legit MVP candidate this season, but he's never made anything near the money those around him are making.

Nick (NYC): Hey Chris. Do you know the results of the NBA draft tie breakers that took place this morning??

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Big ping-pong ball win for the Bobcats over the Hawks, Nick. In other tiebreakers, Minnesota beat Boston, Houston beat Golden State, New Orleans beat Philadelphia, Chicago beat Indiana, Sacramento beat Denver and New Jersey beat Memphis.

LaTaurus (Indianapolis): Do u see anyway in sac upsetting the spurs? Any possible way a slip up could happen?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: I like the Spurs, but the Kings handled them pretty well in SA last week and can probably win Game 1 or 2. The Spurs needed a wake-up from the Nuggets last year before they got serious, and maybe they'll need one from Sac this time.

Cory Banks (New Orleans): Is it me or do you think the Wizards will sweep the overrated Cavs?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: It's not just you, Cory. Stein picked the Wizards, too, and a lot of people are putting a lot of stock in the fact that Washington beat Cleveland pretty soundly in three of their four games this season. I'm going with Cavs in 7, but if I was a Cleveland fan I'd be a little bit in fear of Gilbert Arenas right now.

Joe (Canada): How does it feel to be completely wrong with your off season prediction about the Lakers? Especially Phil-Kobe relationship?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Not great, Joe. But thanks for reminding me. I have now predicted they'll lost to Phoenix in 6, and I'll count on you to get in touch with me a couple weeks down the road if I'm wrong on that one, too, Joe.

Heath (Tri-Cities,WA): Do you think there is a seed lower than 4 that could win it all, if so, who?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Whoever comes out of the Clippers-Nuggets series will get the Suns or the Lakers, and that's the easiest path anyone will have to the conference finals. But I don't think the Nuggets or Clippers could win it all.

Jason(Phoenix): Any way you can re-post the ESPN 'experts' pre-season predictions? It would be fun to see who was the most correct about the final standings.

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: We can do anything at ESPN, Jason. We'll put someone on it. If you want to check my picks, check my blog. I revisited them in a recent entry.

Porter (Denver): Who do you think deserves the MVP and who do you think will really win?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: I think LeBron James deserves it, but I'm not yet ready to say that I think he'll win it. Too many wild card voters among the 125 or so people who got ballots.

Daniel (Bahamas): How much points do you think Kobe will average in the playoffs

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Between 37 and 43, Daniel. Are you the guy in the Bahamas who stole my computer from the bellstand of the Atlantis a few years ago? I'm still sore about that.

Jon (Maryland): If the Knicks were in the NCAA tourney, how far would they have gone?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: George Mason 93, Larry Brown 92.

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: That's it for this week, folks. See you next week, same chat time, same chat station.

Evilmav2
04-21-2006, 06:12 PM
Chat with Bill Walton

Welcome to The Show! On Friday, NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton, will drop by to take your questions.

Walton, the number one overall pick in the 1974 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, played with the Blazers until 1979, then headed to the Clippers for six years. Walton eventually wrapped up his NBA career in Boston where he earned his second championship ring. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Send your questions now and join Bill in The Show on Friday at 11 a.m. ET!

SportsNation Bill Walton: Good morning, one and all. The run for the roses has begun. Who wants to come along? As we prepare for Earth Day please check out Thomas Friedman's column in the NY Times today. As I try to assimilate the rule changes the NBA has instituted for next season, they all make sense except for the extenstion of the arms over the free throw lane. I'm going to have to reserve comment on that one until I get a complete explanation from the NBA on what this means besides another attempt to help offenses. Reminds me again of what Wilt told Michael Jordan in 1997 when arguing about who was the greatest player of all time. Wilt closed with: 'Micheal, when you played they changed all the rules to make it easier for you, when I played they changed every rule to make it harder for me.' I was hoping for a redux of the amnesty plan that last year helped teams acquire new talent, and when that did not materialize I put together my book list for the spring. Included are 'American Theocracy', 'Last of Her Kind', 'Cobra 2: The Inside Story of the Invasion of Iraq', 'Eat the Document', and the book I am plowing through right now, 'Game of Shadows'.

SportsNation Bill Walton: Imagine my delightful surprise to arrive home yesterday and see in my inbox Neil Young's new album, 'Living With War'. I played it all day and couldn't get enough, including the a capella version of 'America the Beautiful'. Neil never ceases to amaze me. I also discovered a gift from my friend Larry Bird, his new signature red wine. As we toast the start of the playoffs I am ready to play. Who wants to get going?

Tom (DC): Bill, give me your thoughts on Wizards-Cavs. Everyone is talking about Lebron's playoff debut, but Washington has beaten them 3 of 4 times. How do you see it going?

SportsNation Bill Walton: There has been a lot of complaining about seeding, but the top half of each bracket is significantly stronger than the bottom half. Home court will be a factor here, and the toughness of the Cavs will be seriously challenged. LeBron with the home court has to be the favorite, but the strategy for Washington plays out like this: Caron Butler has to look at LeBron and say 'I'm as good as him, I'm taking it right to him.' He has to make LeBron play defense and get on him physically to cut down the gap between the two and give the rest of the team a chance. Arenas has to play at his highest level ever, especially against the lowest-scoring backcourt in the NBA in Cleveland. Antawn Jamison, who is part of the highest-scoring trio in the leagyue, has to be magnificent and not just above-average. Haywood has to play against Cleveland and the rest of the NBA the same way he does against Tyson Chandler. Maybe he should give Ilgauskas a Chandler jersey. This is one of the series where the lower seed clearly has a chance to win, along with LA-Denver and LA-Phoenix.

Wayne, Memphis: How come no ones giving Memphis a chance to beat Dallas ?

SportsNation Bill Walton: Memphis is the team that is the most under the radar right now. They are in one of the smaller markets and rarely play in the biggest of TV games, but this is a very good team that will only get better. Memphis can beat Dallas, but it will be difficult. I voted Pau Gasol as third-team all-NBA, and with West and Fratello they can do damage with the framework of what is a very promising future. They have not won a playoff game yet, but they will win more than one against Dallas. Whether they win the series is another question. Gasol is playing at a higher level than Dirk when you consider both ends of the floor, and the Grizz want to get into a skill game with Gasol in the post surrounded but Miller, Jones, Atkins, Warrick, Battier, Jones. You need domination in the paint but that will be a hard thing for the Grizzlies because while Dallas doesn't have the best big men Avery Johnson has made them favorites with the home court. Memphis does not have the dynamic personality on a national level to push them into the spotlight, but guys like Bobby Jackson and Chucky Atkins use that as a motivational tool to look at the other team and believe they are better than the other guys. Concerns for the Mavs have to be Devean Harris' health and the fact that Darrell Armstrong sprained his ankle in the final game. This will be a lot closer and tougher than Dallas wants after so much effort went into trying to get the No. 1 seed in the West. Memphis is a franchise that is very close to taking a quamtum leap forward, and what better way than to go into Dallas and get it done.

Steve (Milwaukee): What are your thoughts on the prospects of Andrew Bogut developing into a more dominant post presence? With him, Redd, and Ford, the Bucks have a great young nucleus in place, assuming Bogut can come along nicely and improve on his solid, but lackluster, rookie campaign.

SportsNation Bill Walton: He can, the question is whether he will put the work in and stay healthy enough to make the huge progress required to become a great NBA player. With that in mind, I want to emphasize the importance of 'Game of Shadows', which points out the dangers of steroids and performance enhancers for everyone. As for Bogut, it'll be tough to play his first playoff game against the best team in the NBA. This promising young team will have a lot of trouble with Detroit. Bogut will learn from playing the Pistons, and he has the advantage of not being overplayed during the grueling regular season. With the talent surrounding Bogut you have a framework for future success, though. Peter Newman showed me an article about Milwaukee's history of late-season collapses, which continued this year, and I see no way Milwaukee wins the series unless the Pistons collapse completely. Milwaukee will see how far there is to go and how much work is to be done, and they will realize they can one day be like the Pistons because they aren't built around one super-special player like Kobe, Shaq, Duncan and LeBron, and play a team game. The Bucks can take some lessons from Billups, the Wallaces and Rip. That is the challenge for the Bucks.

jerry gibbons (chicago): What do you think of the style of play that has been displayed by Scott Skiles' Bulls this year and how much of a chance do they have vs. the Heat?

SportsNation Bill Walton: They have a chance against the Heat. The Bulls are another team of the future. While Miami comes in as a favorite they are certainly not a team that is overwhelming at this point. The Bulls want to stick to their game, which is the hardest thing for young playoff teams to do against a team with a player like Shaq. Quick aside: read John Wooden's 'My Personal Best', which makes the point that your best is always good enough. If Chicago believes that they have a chance with their superb backcourt. Luol Deng is really a guard, and when he's out with Duhon, Hinrich and Gordon that's good enough. Who knows what Tyson Chandler will bring and he has got to be a source of frustration for fans and the front office, and Chicago will have trouble in the frontcourt against Shaq. While Allen and Sweetney are great guys the level of toughness, tenacity and ferocity needed to succeed and survive against Shaq is something we have yet to see from them. I would love for those guys to watch film and eventually emulate the spirit, passoin and commitment of Ben Wallace when he is at the top of his game. The dream for Chicago has got to be to capitalize on Miami's struggles down the stretch with key injuries. Alonzo Mourning is a key. What and when will he contribute? I would expect that Pat Riley will have to decide whether Posey or Walker will start. I would start Posey despite Achilles tendinitis and milk Shaq for all he's worth, then bring in Walker and run things through him for a little while.

SportsNation Bill Walton: But against an aging team like Miami the Bulls will want to run all day. Riley said they play the hardest in the league and the future is bright in Chicago, which is a good thing for the league. Shaq knows how to take care of business, though, and with Miami being in the bottom bracket of the conference the road to the conference finals looks pretty clear for Miami.

Jack (Lansing): In all honesty, what are my Clipper's prospects for the post-season? Is Maggette really healthy?

SportsNation Bill Walton: I saw Magette in Dallas and I was impressed. I have known him since he came into the league and he is one of my favorites on and off the court. He is a huge key and his injuries are a major concern. A disk problem could have done him, but he's still battling and his play has that sense of toughness that makes him hard to stay with. He is moving well, though, and with him in the lineup the Clippers win the series. Cassell will dominate in the backcourt and between Brand and Kaman they will also dominate the paint. The Nuggets are a good team but have injury issues, particularly Martin and Boykins. Denver did not play well down the stretch and the thought that they can just turn it on only works with players like Shaq, Mourning, Payton and Walker. Andre Miller and Carmelo will play well, but with Magette in there they have someone to attack Carmelo, and if they take advantage of the rebounding strength and Brand's talents, they will come through. Dunleavey has changed the mindset of the entire franchise and they have all the makings of a convincing win.

Jason (Grand Forks): Do you think Kobe can carry the Lakers past the Suns in the First round? And if so how far can he carry this team?

SportsNation Bill Walton: Being in the bottom portion of the West bracket is a help for the Lakers and I give them a real chance of winning the series. Phoenix did not play well down the stretch and in the last few weeks were basically a .500 ballculb. They are my favorite team, Nash is my favorite player and D'Antoni is my favorite coach, but I still have to be fair. Phoenix will want to race up and down but will not control the paint and get to the free throw line. But for LA to succeed they have to get rid of the big stiffs. Phoenix plays a smaller lineup, so put Odom at center and tell him to control Boris Diaw. If he can do that and be the anchor that controls the flow of the game, then Parker looks at Nash and makes him beat him head-up. Everyone else will have to stay home and play tough against the rest of the Suns, then let Kobe go wild. He averaged better than 40 ppg against Phoenix this year and I think he has a chance to break Jordan's 20-year-old playoff scoring record with all the running. Teams that struggle against Phoenix lack the creativity to hold down Nash and Diaw, and teams get caught up trying to figure them out. You can't beat them by outjumping them. You have to be smart. The challenge for the Lakers will be to find a level of recognition, basketball intelligence and fitness that Phil hasn't really had at his disposal since he was with the Bulls. For the Lakers fans out there who dispute that last statement, go back and read Phil's last book. It would not surprise me, though, to see the Lakers playing the Clippers in the second round. That would be an historical first in the NBA, an playoff series in the same building.

Phillip (Chicago ): How far do you see the Nets going?? Do you think they have a chance to reach the finals??

SportsNation Bill Walton: New Jersey won't have much trouble with a declining Indiana team. Another in a seemingly endless line of injuries to Tinsley is not necessarily a horrible thing, but the pace the Nets want to play at with Krstic and his underrated and understated game, gives them a huge advantage they haven't had in the past. In this series there is no answer for Vince Carter and when you have a great player like Vince, who is more than capable of rising to the moment like LeBron, Kobe and Duncan, anything is possible. The challenge for Indiana is to muddy up the game and slow it down, to not let Vince into the open court. Stojakovic will be dynamic but Indiana no longer has a truly special player who can by themselves separate you from the crowd. At the end of the day it comes down to who has the best players and that's the Nets in this case. While we wish the Pacers well and know they will be back, they need to be remade and once they go out early and quietly Larry Bird will have his hands full again.

Chris (Denver): With Tim Duncan playing hurt, what are the Kings chances against the Spurs? Aren't Bibby, Miller and Artest going to give the Spurs problems on both ends of the floor?

SportsNation Bill Walton: The 1-8 matchups are usually the biggest blowouts but this will be a tough series for San Antonio. While people have talked all year about Duncan and Manu being injured, they are still the champs and those guys are still on the floor. They were just two games from being the best team in the league and that's why Duncan is on my All-NBA First Team. But Sacramento is playing its best ball since the glory days when they lost to the Lakers in Game 7. The Kings bring a level of spirit, confidence and competitiveness that few teams have with a very tight seven-man rotation and the addition of Artest. They rightfully believe they can win any game and I saw them go into San Antonio recently and trounce the Spurs in every way imagineable. Parker-Bibby, Wells-Ginobili, Artest-Bowen, Miller-Duncan will all be great matchups and the Spurs will have to bring everything they can to try and close it out early. Sacramento did not back into the playoffs, they charged in. Look at what has happened since Artest arrived and you see a team that could be a force. But in the end Duncan should be the difference for the Spurs in this series and get them on to the second round. The Kings have a real chance but they are still playing the defending champs who always seem to find a way to come out on top. And against Duncan you have to do it for real and not just in a chat.

SportsNation Bill Walton: There is nothing better than the NBA playoffs. I can't wait for things to get rolling. I'm going to put on Neil Young's new album again and get that last sip I saved of Larry Bird's new red wine. I'll be watching and when all is said and done we'll know who the best of the best really is. Thanks everyone, enjoy the ride and let's have a great game every time out! And to close it out, here are my picks for this year's NBA awards:


MVP: Chauncey Billups

Coach of the Year: Flip Saunders

Most improved: Boris Diaw

Defensive Player: Bruce Bowen

Sixth Man: Mike Miller

Rookie of the Year: Chris Paul

NXperience
04-21-2006, 07:02 PM
Gasol is playing at a higher level than Dirk when you consider both ends of the floor

He lost me right there ... this is just ignorant imo