Alright folks, we’ve got a bit of a surprise for you this week as we are going to welcome our first special guest into the ‘Shop. Jamieson Welsh (Fox Sports Radio, BelieveTheHypeNBA) is kind enough to take a seat in the chair for today’s discussion. We certainly appreciate you joining us, Jamieson. Let’s jump right into the mix.
Jabari: We’ll welcome the guest in first this week, and start with the Eastern Conference this time around. How real are the Hornets and can they be the challenge we’re all hoping the Cavaliers receive in order to at least make the Eastern Conference race interesting come next spring?
Jamieson: First of all thanks for having me, I definitely appreciate it. When I think of the Hornets I think of a tough team that plays hard but is a piece or two away from being a serious contender. Kemba gets better every year and he’s their leader but he’s not enough to get by the Cavs. In order to be able to compete with the Cavs you need to have multiple all stars and the Hornets don’t have that right now. Right now the best bet would be to get to the second round first before we take on much bigger challenges. It’s good to see MKG back and Kaminsky looking like a lottery pick, but in order to be a contender they must make a big move.
Lang: Good to have you in the ‘Shop, bro. I think you nailed the current state of the Charlotte Hornets. They remind me of … the 2009-2014 Atlanta Hawks. A team with a nice collection of parts, but not good enough to get past the second round of the playoffs. I think Kemba is a fantastic player and has a big heart. I also absolutely love Steve Clifford and how he gets guys to buy-in. He obviously cares about his relationships with players and their productivity shows it. But against a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers, as currently constructed at least, the Hornets are nothing more than roadkill. Against Cleveland, my nickname for them is “five and out” because that’s how long their series would last.
Jabari: #CavsIn5 is hilarious, Lang. Speaking of the Cavs, well, LeBron specifically. I have to admit to having mixed feelings about the whole “posse” situation Phil created. I want to say, for the record, I don’t think Phil Jackson is some diabolical racist or anything of that nature. That said, I still say he “created” the issue because he decided to needle LeBron and his associates without cause. He essentially opened the door for this scrutiny, seemingly just to throw a little shade.
While I’ve always viewed Jackson as a progressive thinker and someone devoid of racial bias, I do see where Maverick Carter and James are coming from in that his tone and message were very dismissive, so I see why the conversation about the verbiage is necessary.
Jamieson: The conversation is definitely necessary because of the context of the word Phil used. If the situation was different it wouldn’t have created a stir but, Phil being Phil, he knew what he was doing. A lot of credit has to go to Lebron and his people on the business decisions they’ve made. He’s empowered people who wouldn’t have normally gotten a chance to get that opportunity.
The biggest problem I have is why is Phil commenting on other teams situations and not his own. At the end of the day people in the front office and high ranking jobs in the league are fearful of Lebron and the rest of LRMR because of how powerful they are and how quickly they’ve made a mark in that industry. With that being said, when’s the last time Phil has been relevant in a basketball situation? Because the Knicks aren’t relevant at all.
Lang: Think about this … after all of the hype the Knicks had coming into the season, the biggest storyline surrounding the team right now has been generated by Phil Jackson, a 71 year-old clad in a suit far away from the on-court action. How sad is that? Really. This is the state of the Knicks?
But I’ll go deeper here … his star player, Carmelo Anthony, has been very vocal speaking out on minority inequality the past few months. Very vocal. How could you miss it? You would think Phil would be a bit more cautious with his words from that fact alone. Team executives know what kind of civic activities their stars are involved in … they’re asked about it all the time. Especially in a place like New York. Where is the self-awareness?
Do I think he’s racist? Nah. But the word he chose to use, and he knew exactly what he was doing, is filled with all types of code. As a minority I’ve heard them before; posse, entourage, gang, mob, cronies, bandits, etc. He could have just said “LeBron’s crew” and no one would have raised an eyebrow. It would have been as quiet as a mouse relieving itself on a piece of cotton. He could have said “L.eBron’s inner circle” or “LeBron’s clique” for instance. I don’t think it was racist. I think it was typical old man – these young guys move differently than my generation and I can’t understand it – type of talk. But since we have a country right now dealing with a lot of racial issues, it is perfectly normal for people to question Phil’s angle on this. He was born in 1945 … he was about to turn 19 when the Civil Rights Bill passed in 1964. For him to be so careless with his words is downright disappointing – especially with his background.
Jabari: Excellent points by each of you, so I won’t belabor the subject any further beyond saying, in contrast, how refreshing it has been to see head coaches like Gregg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy and Steve Kerr being so progressive, open and honest about recent events, issues and some of the difficult conversations others are either uncomfortable or unwilling to have. In fact, each of them is not only invited to the cookout, but they can have the last few ribs.
Ok, Jamieson, the last topic of the week will be the point guard position. With Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul playing so well for their respective teams, let me get you to rank the following group and let me know which you’d go with if you were starting YOUR squad: Westbrook, Paul, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving?
Jamieson: Man that’s a great question and tough, but give me Steph at number one. He’s the MVP and the guy who is changing how the game is played. My number two guy is Dame because of what he’s doing on the court and his leadership abilities. Let’s face it, he probably has the worst supporting cast of all the guys listed. Next is Russ, he’s the guy that’s must see TV and most capable of getting a triple-double on any given night. I don’t know how this season will turn out but I do know we’ll see a modern record for triple-doubles in a season for him.
This is a very tough list but putting Kyrie at four is really intriguing because you can make a case he’s the number two guy. Even though he doesn’t facilitate the offense he’s found his spot in that offense and is as confident as ever. Last but not least the face of the point guard position over the last decade is CP3. His body of work has been extremely impressive over his career and he is still an elite point guard.
The PG spot is a young man’s position and the other guys are in the prime of their careers more so than Paul is. Still, no one has been the face of a position over the last decade like Chris Paul and he’s also the guy who has displayed the best balance between distributing the basketball and scoring.
Jabari: I’ve always been of the opinion that when you are dealing with the top three or four players at a given position, you really can’t go wrong in terms of ranking. It often comes down to what type or style of player you prefer, so I can certainly appreciate your reasoning there. On behalf of Sir Greene, thanks again for joining, Jamieson.
Folks, that will wrap it up for this week, but make sure you keep providing your feedback via Twitter with the new hashtag: #ShopTalk. Our own Alex Kennedy will pay the ‘Shop a visit next week, so make sure you share your topics with @AlexKennedyNBA, @LangGreene and @JabariDavisNBA.
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