The Basketball Mecca

Here at the Mecca you will find articles, videos and random musings from a true aficionado of the NBA, as well as many other world-class professional sports leagues.

The Matchup Everybody Wants!

Well, unless like me, you were rooting for Derrick Rose and the Bulls to make the Finals. Or you’re a Lakers die-hard who wanted to see Kobe tie Jordan. Or you got on the Spurs’ train after their incredible run to the West’s top seed. Or you actually thought the Celtics had a chance. Or you’re a Clippers fan (shame on half of you for not existing a year ago, and the other half for not existing two years ago).

But the reality is that the NBA could not have come up with a better Finals if the conspiracy theories about David Stern were actually true. It’s a matchup of the two most potent ‘Big 3s’ in the league (#SorryNotSorry Lakers, Spurs, Celtics). LeBron James, this year’s MVP and the best player on the floor at any given point in time, is going up against Kevin Durant, who is clearly the most clutch player in the league at this point, as well as the scoring champion three times running. We get to see stars with young legs in Russell Westbrook and James Harden, battling Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — who are still in their primes. (Watching Dirk hoist the trophy last year was particularly satisfying, but it’s so great to finally see the game’s younger stars get a chance to shine on its biggest stage).

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Does LeBron Want Revenge on the Spurs?

When the Mavericks met the Heat in the Finals last year, a big part of the media coverage centered around Dirk Nowitzki’s chance for redemption and revenge against a Miami team that made him look immature, unprepared and soft in 2006.

What we seem to forget is that LeBron James also made the Finals before last year. The year after his boy D-Wade tore through Dirk and the Mavs, LeBron carried his Cavaliers through an exciting Eastern Conference playoff run, only to be slapped around by the Spurs in the deciding series. He was sent home with his tail between his legs after dropping four straight to Duncan, Popovich & Co. 

A lot was made out of the five years Nowitzki spent brooding, as well as honing his skills and his mindset, to reach the pinnacle. It seems almost fateful that he would face the Heat again in the Finals. Though at this point they were more than just a squad led by a plucky upstart superstar and an aging Shaq — they were the post-Decision Heat, a polarizing franchise that seemed more like a monster trying to gobble up the rest of the NBA than a team of basketball players. Nowitzki was heralded as the knight stepping up to slay the dragon.

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Rajon Rondo: the New Jason Kidd

Rajon Rondo did it again last night. That is, he managed a triple-double in the biggest game of the season. It was the ninth postseason triple-double in his young career, and without his 18 points, 10 assists and 10 boards, the Celtics would not have stood a chance against the upstart 76ers.

Rondo is clearly and unquestionably the best player on the C’s roster. He’s the engine that makes the whole machine go. It’s as if Boston is a vintage 60s Mustang: classy, respected, and powerful — but old. So instead of working with the original motor, they switched it out for a 2008 GT model. It’s more efficient, a good deal lighter, and built to handle the rigors of the road ahead. However, it doesn’t put undue strain on the rest of the vehicle, it just fits. Rondo fits with the Celtics, but the reality is that he could fit almost anywhere.

He’s still a young player, and has a lot of maturing to do before I can give him the edge for best pure PG in the league. Chris Paul is still that guy, because he supports his teammates and makes them better. Rondo is not a leader yet. He hasn’t had to ‘make his teammates better,’ because he started his career playing with three future Hall-of-Famers. Instead, he gets in referees’ faces, throws tantrums, and lets his emotions and arrogance get the best of him. It’s his biggest weakness, but in all relativity, it’s not that big.

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From “Wade vs. James” to “Wade & James”

It’s time we as sports media got over this tedious need to compare players who play on the same team, especially Wade and LeBron. We pit them against each other as if they’re in competition. We take polls on who means more to the team at any given point in time, and when either one has a bad game while the other thrives, we make it a point to question the system they play in and speculate on whether or not they will ever be able to truly ‘coexist.’

The reality here, is that Wade and James are not only two of the top 5 players in the league, but also are good friends, and have been playing together for a long time. They won an Olympic Gold Medal together, they have been pitted against each other numerous times, and they know each other’s games extremely well. Neither cares who does the most scoring during a game or series, as long as they come out on top. They’re not trippin’ over who takes the last shot. So why does the media care so much? (Besides driving traffic with controversy, that is).

Last night, Dwayne Wade put on an offensive clinic, scoring 41 points on 17-25 shooting, with 10 rebounds for good measure. He sliced through the Pacers’ defense with a vast array of acrobatic layups, footwork and defensive splits. He really made it look easy. LeBron added 28 points, 6 boards and 7 assists (typical LeBron awesomeness). Does this mean Wade was better than LeBron? The simple answer is that last night, yes he was.

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Who Are the Hardest Workers in the NBA?

The NBA is a sport in which hard work is very necessary and often rewarded. Jeremy Lin provided a dramatic example of that this year when he busted onto the scene in New York after being undrafted and dropped from two other NBA teams.

Additionally, Shane Battier created an entire defensive dossier to guard Kobe Bryant. Blake Griffin flies higher than anyone in the league because he put in many many hours to rehab from knee surgery. Tim Duncan, “The Big Fundamental,” has won four championships on the back of his religious adherence to basketball discipline.

On the flip side, I’ll just name a few names: Kwame Brown, Antoine Walker, JaVale McGee and Darko Milicic. Need I say more?

However, this piece isn’t titled “Laziest Players in the NBA,” so without further ado, here is my list of the Association’s hardest workers. Feel free to voice your opinions below.

Thunder vs. Spurs — Who Ya Got?

Welcome to BR5, your daily source for sports and pop culture news.

Working for a sports website like Bleacher Report means that you work with individuals who are passionate and knowledgeable about sports.  To test that knowledge, we decided to put some of our staff members head to head in our “Office Throw Down.” This week, we attacked the upcoming NBA Western Conference Finals. 

We pitted John Greely and Aliko Carter against one another to tell us who they thought would come out on top. John Greely took the side of the veteran team and chose the streaking San Antonio Spurs, while Aliko Carter went with the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Greely focused on the fundamental skill of the Spurs. Veterans like Parker, Duncan and Ginobili all contribute to the team’s current success. They have morphed over the past few years from being a defense-first team into an offensive powerhouse. With Popovich at the helm, John predicted that we would see the Spurs in the NBA Finals.

Carter, on the other hand, focused on the athleticism of the young Thunder team. The Thunder have their own deadly trio of Westbrook, Durant and Harden. Their youth and explosive talent could prove to be too much to handle for the aging Spurs. Also, Carter focused on the ability of the home crowd in OKC to sway a game or two in the Thunder’s favor and be key in their ascent to the NBA Finals.

(Source: youtube.com)

Welcome!

Welcome to The Basketball Mecca!

My name is Aliko Carter, and in addition to being a die-hard fan of the Golden State Warriors and having a huge investment in NBA basketball, I also work at Bleacher Report (@bleacherreport) as a Content Producer, NBA Featured Columnist and Video Contributor. Here you will hear my thoughts on the world of basketball (with possible sprinklings of NFL, World Soccer, Tennis and other cool sports I follow). Enjoy reading/watching, and feel free to subscribe, comment and share.

You can follow my random musings on Twitter @AlikoCarter. Make sure to visit BleacherReport.com, providing the best user experience for sports news and analysis on the web.