2004-05 NBA Appreciation list (second of three parts)

It took some time for me to go on with my list. Nevertheless, despite the circumstances and the events that occurred after posting the first part of my list, nothing would change.

The Pacers, more than ever, are still top on my list and the Pistons remain at number nine despite them having fans worse than the New York crowd. Yes, even if the Rockets have a losing season, they are still number three in my list. I do have some reservations after Hubie Brown retired as Grizzlies coach though.

11 Cleveland Cavaliers

Watching LeBron James drop those clutch dunks against New Jersey and Toronto a week ago made me ask why the Cavs aren’t in the top ten in my list. They just overtook the Pacers in their division.

And then I saw the Spurs-Cavs game over the weekend. Tim Duncan and his teammates systematically manhandled the immature squad. Classic moment: Drew Gooden leaving a wide open Spur for a three-pointer. As the commentators, Gregg Popovich wouldn’t want any of that in his defense-oriented system.

Props: LBJ, Gooden, Jeff McInnis, DeSagana Diop, Lucious Harris, Z, Ira Newble, "Tractor" Traylor
Rants: Eric Snow… what’s he doing here? Dajuan Wagner… he’s not The One.

12 New Orleans Hornets

A change of venue, a change of conference, and change of fortune. From playoff contender to first one going to the lottery. But they still get sympathy votes from me.

For one, they have a big excuse since their version of the Big Three (Jamaal Magloire, Jamal Mashburn, Baron Davis) are all out with injuries. But then, when they are healthy anyway? That means PJ Brown is left to fend for himself.

Props: Davis, Mashburn, Magloire, Brown, Lonny Baxter, Dan Dickau, George Lynch, Lee Nailon, David Wesley, Byron Scott, Chris Andersen… isn’t that the dunking guy?
Rants: Davis, Mashburn, Magloire… for being in the injury list for most of their careers. Now you know why they are worse than the Bulls this season.

13 Utah Jazz

I used to hate the Jazz because they have players with the name of Stockton and Malone. Since they jumped ship, not anymore. If you have a guy with the nickname of AK47, wouldn’t you give notice? And yes, Jerry Sloan is a genious. Better than Phil Jackson in some ways.

Props: Kirilenko, Jarron Collins, Raja Bell, Howard Eisley, Gordan Giricek, Matt Harpring, Mehmet Okur, Sloan, Carlos Arroyo, Raul Lopez… Latino heat in the house!
Rants: Kirilenko’s injury, Carlos Boozer… used to like the guy. But after finding out what he did during the offseason, not anymore.

14 Seattle Supersonics

Again, another team that I perennially hated because of certain people with monickers such as "The Glove" and "The Reign Man". Time does change things… and quite drastically at that.

Payton is now in another green-jerseyed squad while Kemp should be doing the Atkins diet by now. Nate McMillan’s current crew is very much different from even from the time he had guys like Xavier McDaniel and Michael Cage as teammates. Intimidating names, if you tell me.

What you see with the Sonics right now are an army of shooters (Ray Allen, Vladimir Radmanovic, Rashard Lewis, Luke Ridnour… need I mention the whole lineup?). It doesn’t hurt if you have a Jack Sikma as assistant coach.

Intimidating names is still in McMillan’s blood.

Props: Allen, Radmanovic, Lewis, Ridnour, Nick Collison, Antonio Daniels, Danny Fortson, Jerome James, Vitaly Potapenko, McMillan
Rants: How do big guys like Fortson and James fit in the picture? Then again, they still need rebounders. Potapenko… when would you get out of the reserve list?

15 Washington Wizards

For someone who believes in the philosophy of extremities like me, it sure sucks to be in the middle. To me, being in the middle means you don’t exist because you don’t create enough impact to either love you a lot or hate you… a lot. Look at the Lakers.

Just appropriate that the most boring team in the NBA right now is right in the middle in my list. But then, looking at the rest of the list, I realize that the Bell curve is just starting. Yes, more boring teams to come before the Lakers.

Actually, there is no reason to hate a team composed of Gilbert Arenas, Brendan Haywood, Antawn Jamison, and Etan Thomas. But then, if you have guys like Larry Hughes, Kwame Brown, and Juan Dixon, it just balances the equation.

Plus the fact that they ridiculed the post-Bulls Michael Jordan.

Props: Arenas, Haywood, Jamison, Thomas, Jared Jeffries, Anthony Peeler, Samaki Walker, Laron Profit…it’s all in the name.
Rants: Eddie Jordan… how dare you use The Air’s name in vain? Brown, Dixon, Hughes

16 Charlotte Bobcats

In fairness to the Bobcats, they are winning games and losing only close ones. Gone were the days when new expansion teams get beaten by 50 points. It helps that they got quality unprotected players like Gerald Wallace and others (I’m unsure which they got from the dispersal draft, which they got with offseason deals).

What ticks me is the city of Charlotte per se. I mean, the Hornets franchise dumps them (or was it the other way around?) then they form another team. What gives? Obviously, the issue is not about money and it’s just the case of someone hating the other.

Props: Wallace, Emeka Okafor, Keith Bogans, Primoz Brezec, Jason Hart, Jason Kapono, Brevin Knight, Jahidi White, Steve Smith, Kareem Rush… what a pleasant surprise.
Rants: The city of Charlotte.

17 Dallas Mavericks

In hindsight, what the hell the Mavs are doing in the bottom teens? Mark Cuban reminds me of Eric Bischoff. Fiery and energetic. Sometimes insane but always unpredictable. Must be too much insanity.

I liked the Mavs four years back. You have the trio of Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Michael Finley at the helm. Put in Shawn Bradley, Wang Zhizhi, and Eduardo Najera and you have a marketable and likeable crew of international superstars and others.

Then things went for the worse. They picked up Nick the Quick, dropped him a season later. Picked up the two ‘Tawns (Jamison and Walker) and dropped them season later. Dropped Nash and Najera and replaced them with Jerry Stackhouse and Jason Terry.

Now tell me, how would I like a team composed of over-shooters?

Props: Dirk Nowitzki… having an MVP season so far. Bradley, Erick Dampier… something tells me Don Nelson doesn’t know how to utilize his big men. Marquis Daniels, Josh Howard… a semblance of hope for the future. Finley, Nelson, Cuban
Rants: Cuban… for insanity. Nelson… for inconsistency. Finley… for injuries. Stackhouse, Terry… for the bricks. I just love to nitpick this team. I don’t even know whether to put Darrell Armstrong in Props or Rants.

18 Denver Nuggets

I like Arizona and I like Texas, but I couldn’t say the same with this neighborhood state of theirs. Retro Nuggets had Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe (computers with firewalls, watch out!). In the 90s, they had Chris Jackson and Dikembe Motumbo.

A decade later, let’s see… Almost-ROY Carmelo Anthony, spoiled brat K-Mart (insulting ‘Zo with his operation was a low, low blow), and perennial injury lister Marcus Camby. Not a promising sight.

But it’s not all darkness. They have three-point monsters Voshon Lenard and Andre Miller, and they have Mugsy Bogues resurrected in Earl Boykins.

Come to think of it, I like this team for their guards.

Props: Chip Engelland, Adrian Dantley, Michael Cooper… it’s a sign I hate the team when I love the assistant coaches more. Anthony, Boykins, Camby, Lenard, Miller, Nene, Byron Russell, Vandeweghe, Nikoloz Tskitishvili…try pronouncing those last two surnames.
Rants: Martin… nuff said.

19 Chicago Bulls

I used to like this team… a lot. But then, Jordan retired (for the first time) then I saw the light in Miller Time. Sure, I was on their side when they had Dennis Rodman and faced the Jazz during the Finals.

Still, Reggie Miller making that turnaround running three-pointer coming from an inbounds pass and staying awake that morning to witness it was the sweetest day of my life. Sure was worth staying up for.

But then, I have to thank the Bulls for Ron Artest. Jerry Krause is pronounced as "ass".

Props: Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, Ben Gordon, Eric Piatkowski, Adrian Griffin, Antonio Davis, Kirk Hinrich, Scott Skiles
Rants: Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry… overrated big guys.

20 Golden State Warriors

What Warriors? All I know is that this is a team that doesn’t know what to do with its superstars. Yes, they had Chris Mullin back then and uh… Erick Dampier.

Now they have a mix of underrated roleplayers and underacheiving superstars. Calbert Cheaney, Speedy Claxton, Dale Davis, Mike Dunleavy Jr, Derek Fisher, Adonal Foyle, Troy Murphy, Eduardo Najera, Jason Richardson, Clifford Robinson, Ansu Sesay. You do the mix and match.

It’s a surprise they are winning… still.

Props: Ok, let me do the math for you… Cheaney, Claxton, Murphy, Najera, Richardson, Sesay, Mario Elie… is an assistant coach.
Rants: Fisher… please! Davis… I used to like him, when he was in Indiana. Dunleavy… just because you’re second generation doesn’t make they make things easier for you.

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