As the Miami Heat prepare to face the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, Mike Miller is facing an injury as well. He has a ruptured tendon in his left thumb, but Miller is also weighed down by a different kind of pain. The kind that a team doctor won’t be able to help. His newborn daughter, Jaelyn, is in the intensive care unit of a South Florida hospital. Miller spoke to ESPN about how difficult it was to make the decision to travel with the team at this very trying time. “It’s tough, because I really haven’t been away from (Jaelyn) since she was born,” Miller said after Wednesday’s practice at AmericanAirlines Arena. “It’s a difficult time for me and my family. But we know she’ll be OK.”
After the Game 4 win, when Miller did a great job, he drove over to the hospital and stayed with his wife and daughter until 4 a.m.
Coach Spoelstra offered Miller as much time as he needed, Miller missed last Friday’s practice but after that he decided to split his time between the team and his family.
Obviously, basketball comes second to an ill daughter, but it needs to be said that Wednesday night, Miller had one of his best games, pulling in double figure points. It could have been due to the pink laces that he wore in honor of Jaelyn. He could have received a uniform violation for this, but all is ok when your second family backs you up. Team owner, Pat Riley, told Miller not to worry, that he’d pay the fine should there be one.
Miller can find comfort in his teammates who are not only fathers themselves, but who have gone through trying situations with their children. Udonis Haslem, who Miller has been friends with since they played together for University of Florida, also faced a scare when his son was born earlier in the season and needed to stay in the ICU. Zydrunas Ilgauskas can also understand what Miller feels. In 2007, he and his wife were expecting twins, when complications arose and the twins were lost after being born four months premature.
Sometimes, as fans, we get so caught up in the excitement of the game that we forget that these players are humans too. They’re not super heroes who aren’t thrown off by all of life’s trouble.
I hope all ends well for Mike and Jaelyn.
Alfred Joel Horford Reynoso was born on June 3, 1986 in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. His track toward NBA stardom started in high school. Horford attended Grand Ledge High School and was rated a four star recruit by rivals.com. His time at the University of Florida really solidified his game. He entered the stupendous 2005 freshman class that included Joakim Noah, currently of the Chicago Bulls and Corey Brewer, currently playing for the Dallas Mavericks.
Horford had a great college career, starting as a center with then senior, David Lee (Golden State Warriors). That year he helped the Gators with the Southeastern Conference Championship.
In 2006, when nobody expected them to, the Gators made it all the way to the final four. They beat UCLA in the Championship, Horford put up 14 points and 7 rebounds in that game.
Although the Gators were still flying high off of their win, the following season started off rough for Horford who missed a series of games in December due to an injury. On December 23rd the Gators were set to face the Ohio State Buckeyes, the #3 ranked team. A day before the game, Coach Donovan announced that Horford wouldn’t play. This would hold not to be true. Not only did Horford play, but he contained superstar Greg Oden, then a freshman, not only did he hold Oden to just 7 points, which was way below his just over 15 average, but the game was touted as one of Florida’s best played games.
March 4, 2007 was another special day for Horford. In a game against the University of Kentucky, Horford became the fourth person on his team to score 1,000 career points. In April of that year, the Gators would become the first team to repeat as national championships since the Duke Blue Devils of 1991-1992. They were the first ever to do so with the same starting line up. The following month, the superstar 2005 freshmen all announced that they would be part of that year’s NBA draft.
Many fans chose Horford as a top five pick in that draft, they predicted correctly since he was selected 3rd overall by the Atlanta Hawks on June 28, 2007. He’s had many successes in professional basketball, including bringing a dying team back to life. The 2007-2008 season was the first time that the Hawks saw the playoffs since 1999. In 2008, Horford played in the NBA All-Star Rookie Challenge and scored 19 points and 7 rebounds. He was honored as Rookie of the Month in November, February, March, and April of his first season. He was first amongst rookies in double doubles and rebounds. He finished sixth in scoring for rookies.
He was second to Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year and was the only unanimous selection to the 2008 Rookie First Team. He’s his country’s hero, as one of only two Dominican players in the NBA and the only Dominican player to ever play in an NBA All-Star game.
Horford’s game is growing stronger every day, he’s accomplished a lot with only four years under his belt. His team has gone to the playoffs every year since he signed his contract, and it’s only a short while before he leads them to a ring.
If people did not know who Serge Ibaka was, they surely know now. Over the past year Ibaka has spread his name all over the NBA. The 21-year-old power forward from the Republic of the Congo was drafted 24th to the then Seattle Supersonics in 2008. He did not officially join the team until 2009 after spending a season with the team Ricoh Manresa in Spain.
You could say that the sport is genetic, he was born Serge Jonas Ibaka Ngobila to basketball parents. His mom played for the Democratic Republic Congo while his dad played with the Congolese national team. His father actually played against NBA legend Akeem Olujawon. Ibaka, himself, naturally started playing basketball young and is far from finishing. At 16, he starred for the team Avenir du Rail where he played against adults and still led in rebounds.
Growing up, his favorite players were Kevin Garnett and Michael Jordan. He went from being a fan of KG to being able to play against him when he joined the NBA. In his first year in the league, he came off the bench but made his blocking skills known. He was in the Top 50 in offensive rebounds where he was ranked 8th, total rebounds where he ranked 15th, defensive rebounds where he ranked 22nd, blocks where he ranked 24th and efficiency where he ranked 49th.
In Ibaka’s second season, he started off the bench and found himself as a starter after the trade of Jeff Green to the Celtics in February. It is only Ibaka’s second year in the league and he is already progressing into a household name. He also had the chance to participate in the All Star Slam Dunk competition, although he did not win the competition he did two lovely dunks. He did a dunk from the free throw line and caught a toy with his mouth while dunking in the same motion. Ibaka stated that his first dunk of his life was at the age of 11.
Here are some fun facts about Serge Ibaka: his favorite pre-game meal is pasta. He grew up playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Christian Eyenga. His ideal starting five would be Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. He speaks four languages, Lingala, Spanish, French and English. His closest friend on the team is Thabo Sefolosha and in the league Rudy Fernandez. His favorite movie is Scarface and favorite rapper is TI. He is a Virgo (birthday September 18, 1989)
Danilo Gallinari was born August 8th 1988, in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano. Gallinari was born to Vittorio Gallinari, who played professional basketball in the Italian league. Danilo Gallinari has been playing professionally since the of age 15 in 2004 for Casalpusterlengo, a team in the Italian B1 League. In 2005, Gallinari was acquired by Armani Jeans Milano, which then sent him to Edimes Pavia, a team competing in the Italian league second division championship during the 2005–2006 season, which would help him earn more experience with extended playing minutes. Playing only half of the season due to an injury, in 2006 he was nominated as the best Italian player of the Italian league second division championship, averaging 14.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 0.8 assists in 17 games.
In 2006, he was contacted by Olimpia Milano to play in the 2006–2007 Italian league first division championship. In his first season in the top Italian division, Gallinari was named as the league’s best player under the of age 22. His contract with Olimpia Milano had an escape clause for playing professionally in the United States, effectively eliminating major concerns that would have prevented him from joining the NBA.
On April 23, 2008, he decided to declare himself eligible for the 2008 NBA Draft. Gallinari was drafted 6th overall in the 2008 draft by the New York Knicks. Signing a two-year contract with the team. Just one game into the 08–09 season it was announced Gallinari was injured, and would most likely miss the remainder of the season due to back problems. Being the focused player he is, even with the back problems. He came back to play on January 17th. On March 4th, Gallinari scored a season-high 17 points against the Atlanta Hawks, shooting 4–5 on three-point field goal attempts. He became a key player on the Knicks roster, freeing up roster space for Gallinari with the trade of Quentin Richardson, and with Al Harrington being moved to the bench, head coach Mike D’Antoni named Gallinari a starter two games into the 2009 NBA season.
On October 31st, 2009, Gallinari scored a career high 30 points and made eight three pointers in an overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, one short of tying a Knicks franchise record held by Latrell Sprewell and John Starks. Gallinari set a new career high on April 6, 2010 with 31 points in a 104-101 win over the Boston Celtics. On February 22, 2011, Gallinari was traded to the Denver Nuggets, he may have been injured again shortly after the trade, but coming off of it he has been a great addition to this teams roster. In just his second game with the Nuggets, he almost matched his career high scoring 30 points in an overtime loss against the Portland Trail Blazers.
There is no denying his talent, in addition the Denver Nuggets are 15-4 since the Carmelo Anthony trade, which is also with the help of Gallinari’s great scoring. Be sure to to stay tuned in to Gallinari, as he and the Nuggets continue to play great basketball.
LaMarcus Aldridge was born July 19th, 1985, in Dallas, Texas. Basketball was a family game. LaMarcus’ father Marvin was a high school hoops legend, and so was LaMarcus’ brother LaVontae. The scouting services had LaMarcus ranked among the top 20 players in the country college included and some predicted he would go in the Top 10 if he jumped directly to the NBA. LaMarcus decided he would test the pro waters if he were taken with a high pick and announced his decision to enter the draft. Working against LaMarcus was a stress fracture in his back. It did not affect his play, but the injury worried NBA teams enough that it became clear LaMarcus might drop into the second round. Two days before the deadline, he withdrew his name from the draft and informed the University of Texas that he would honor a scholarship offer he had accepted.
LaMarcus arrived in Austin with two other prep All-Americans, guard Daniel Gibson and forward Mike Williams. LaMarcus impressed Coach Rick Barnes and earned a spot in the starting five. 16 games into the season he suffered a season-ending left hip injury against Nebraska. The Longhorns had looked good up until that point. If LaMarcus had stayed healthy, they would have had a real chance in the NCAA Tournament.
In 2006, LaMarcus declared for the NBA Draft, along with teammates Gibson and Tucker. He was drafted 2nd overall in the draft by the Chicago Bulls, only to have his draft rights traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for their picks, Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa, shortly after. Aldridge missed the first seven games of his rookie season due to off-season shoulder surgery. In his return, LaMarcus made an immediate impact on offense. After losing Joel Pryzbilla to a season ending knee surgery LaMarcus was named starting center. In a late season game against the Los Angeles Clippers, LaMarcus complained of dizziness. He was taken to a hospital for shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. He was diagnosed with a heart abnormality known as Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. He missed the remainder of his rookie season to monitor and correct the problem.
This season, Blazers have had multiple injuries. Former Blazers No. 1 pick Greg Oden had season-ending knee surgery, again. Backup center Joel Przybilla sat out the first month of the season as he recovered from knee surgeries. Star guard and leading scorer Brandon Roy has had surgery on both knees. And starting center Marcus Camby has had knee surgery, too. While this should be bad news for Portland something good came out of it. LaMarcus Aldridge has finally starting playing like the dominating big man Blazers thought he could be when they drafted him. He’s averaging career highs in points and rebounds, and has been the key to the Blazers remaining in the West playoff chase. He’s a player who has copped his fair share of criticism over the past couple seasons and now is living up to his potential.
It is a known fact that Madison Square Garden is one of the most popular and epic arenas in the United States. The Manhattan atmosphere, big crowds, historical events (from Muhammad Ali fighting Joe Frazier to Michael Jackson’s 1988 Bad concert), Grammy’s and sports, MSG is one of the most exciting places in the world, would you agree? How could you not? But how does it feel to play in a smaller arena, one that still echoes the sound of victory, encompasses some of the biggest moments in the NBA and still holds memories of flying, like the United Center?
In the 90’s, Chicago held the most championship victories of that decade winning six titles in eight years with their two 3-peats. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodmanwere something like a “Big 3” before King James, Flash and CB and even before Ray Allen, KG and the Truth. This amazing combo led the Bulls to be NBA Champions in ‘91, ‘92, ‘93 and again in ‘96, ‘97 and ‘98.
The city of Chicago was overjoyed, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing “We Are the Champions” or “Only Da’ Bulls.” Everyone knew that when that championship game was on, you better duck if Bulls won because victory shots would be fired if you were anywhere near the city.
It’s funny how this team could bring this whole feel of being victorious to a city, making a huge population of basketball fans. But not everything last, especially not a good thing. The team gradually moved on and the honorable Phil Jackson left to join the Lakers and over the years, the Bulls joined the bottom rankings of the Eastern Conference. The team went through Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Ben Wallace, Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich (at different times) and still struggled to make a relapse on the 90s. But something great came out of that plummeting rank, a first draft pick and a Chicago born point guard who could restore that victorious feeling to his hometown.
It wasn’t until the Miami Heat’s loss to the Chicago Bulls when people really began to pay attention to their losses. This loss in particular earned Chicago a season sweep over the Miami Heat, leaving them 0-3 against Derrick Rose and the Bulls. The Heat’s loss was a poignant reminder that they’ve been losing games, they more than likely should have won. Even further to add insult to injury, Miami Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra addressed the media post game revealing a bold statement which some may consider against his better judgment. He stated, “There are a couple of guys crying in the locker room at the moment.” Those 14 words spread like wild fire within seconds via the internet, social networks, SMS, Radio stations etc.; making the Miami Heat the butt of many unfortunate jokes. Aside from jokes many questions were also raised about the teams sportsmanship, their mind set, their future in the NBA as well as Erik’s actual intentions behind releasing such a statement. Was this Erik’s way of alluding to the fact that his team was not taking their losses lightly or was this his way of tough love by subjecting them to irrefutable embarrassment and heckling? Either way more than many can collectively agree that as a head coach of a team that statement was highly inappropriate. Would the Miami Heat go to win a game soon post the seemingly slight betrayal from their coach?
Prior to the loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Miami Heat had entered that game with a 0-3 record with previous losses to the New York Knicks, a loss to the Orlando Magic in which they blew a huge 24 point lead, including a 30 point embarrassing blow out against the blazing hot number 1 seed in the league; the San Antonio Spurs. Upon hearing post Chicago Bulls game that members were crying, their previous losses to that very game became magnified. If people didn’t realize the Heat was losing before the Bulls game, they certainly knew now. They were put under a microscope more than ever before, every game being watched intensely. The Heat went on to lose another game to the Portland Trailblazers. The comments heckling the Heat went into overload, they were now coined as “Cry-ami Heat”. Two of the teams star players LeBron James and Chris Bosh were singled out, LeBron was now being referred to as “LeBrick” and Chris Bosh “Bosh Spice”. LeBron was awarded that name because of the last second game ending clutch shots he failed to nail down and Chris because of his post game pouting and unprofessional over emotional behavior. Another star player on the team Dwyane Wade addressed the media by stating, “The Miami Heat are exactly what everyone wanted, losing games”. The statement provided by Wade seemed to hold truth just by the level of media attention and scrutiny they were receiving. According to many the Heat became the team that “blew leads” and the team “who can’t close games.” Did those statements hold a mere ounce of truth?
Under a heavy microscope it was now time for the Heat players to face the Los Angeles Lakers who were on a winning streak of their own. They went on to aggressively win the game against the Lakers, which proved to be the start of a new winning streak for the Miami Heat. Did the Heat finally gain their confidence back? Post winning the game against the Lakers the Heat went on to win games against the San Antonio Spurs in which they successfully redeemed themselves by blowing them out by 30 points, a game against the Atlanta Hawks, as well as their most recent win against the Denver Nuggets. Within those wins, they also suffered a loss to the young hot team, the Oklahoma City Thunders; awarding Kevin Durant his 1st win of his career against LeBron James. Prior to that game Kevin was 0-6 against games played against LeBron. The Miami Heat has now won their last 5 of 6 games. Has the Miami Heat finally regained their knowledge of what its like to gel and how to make all their superstar talent coexist: reference to Miami’s “Big 3”. Say what you may about the Heat and their recent struggles after all without their recent wins they could be on an 11 game losing streak, right?
Most Underrated Guard in the NBA?
Drafted 10th in the second round out of high school in 2005, Monta Ellis has grown from a selfish “me-first” player to a leader of the Golden State Warriors. Monta is now the official go-to guy for the Warriors at the end of ball games. Monta Ellis has been called a lot of things during his six NBA seasons, an All Star is not one of them. Monta is a superstar whether the NBA chooses to ackowledge it or not. Monta is the type of player that can flat out score on anyone. If he played on a different team or with a different supporting cast, he’d be an All-Star. In Oakland, he’s one of the NBA’s forgotten stars. Warriors really don’t get much national media coverage.
First, you drop the numbers: Monta is ranked 8th in the league averaging 24.5 points per game, 2nd in steals at 2.3 per game, 22nd in assists at 5.6 per game, and 1st in minutes, logging 40.9 per night. Ellis is also an excellent passer and is becoming a pretty good defender.
Then you look at the resume of memorable moments: 3 immediately stand out from this season: (1) Christmas Day, when Monta dropped 39 points on Portland on national TV, including a spectacular reverse layup that was at least “Professor J” if not Doctor-J like and will wind up on a few season-ending Top 10 lists. (2) His fourth-quarter shootout with Kobe Bryant on Jan. 12, where Monta finished with 38 points to Kobe’s 39 in a close loss and (3) Monta’s 46-point game against Houston in the Warriors’ season opener.
I think as long as Monta Ellis is a Golden State Warrior, teams will fail to take his accomplishments seriously and he will always be limited to “Snub of the Year”.
It’s easy to blame the players out on the court. It appears to be even easier to blame the coaches.
It’s great when a team wins, everyone’s happy. But when a team loses, ooh, it’s terrible.
Take for example Erik Spoelstra, coach of the Miami Heat. Spoelstra joined the Heat as video coordinator in 1995. By 1999, he had been promoted twice, once to assistant coach/video coordinator, and then to assistant coach/advance scout. Two years later he added director of scouting to his title. When Heat coach Pat Riley decided to step into the role as president in 2008, Spoelstra was promoted to head coach.
Spoelstra’s record as head coach has been good. He’s 90-74 for the past two seasons. The heat has finished 3rd in the Southeast, being eliminated each season in the first round of post-season games. So far, for the 2010-2011 season, the Heat is 43-20.
In the 2010-2011 season, it was expected that Spoelstra would have one of the best teams in the league, with Lebron James and Chris Bosh coming to join Dwyane Wade. Prior to the season starting, these players were dubbed “the big 3.” Everyone was expecting big things out of this team. Although prematurely, without anyone really knowing if these players would gel together, fans and commentators alike were giving the Heat a guaranteed playoff spot.
The first two games of the preseason for the Heat, against the Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder, included wins by 16 and 7 points, respectively. The Heat seemed to be starting off on the right track. The next five games proved to be too much for the Heat, including losing the season opener to the Boston Celtics. Their losses in these games ranged anywhere from 6 to 17 points. It was at this point, the hype for the Heat began to wane. Seven games into a season of a newly formulated team. November proved to be a balancing act for the Heat, both winning and losing 7 games in the month. It was definite at this point the team was still learning adjusting to their new setup. They hit a stride in December, losing only to the Dallas Mavericks.
It’s no secret that Kobe Bryant is one of the top 5 players in the league right now as well as top 5 players of the decade. Where do you think he his nickname the “Black Mamba” was coined from? He’s fast, reliable, a big scorer, a great game closer and his teammates trust him. Equip with what some would refer to as his often emulated “Mike Jordan” swag featuring the profuse gum chewing and tongue action, there’s hardly ever a dull moment when Bryant has he ball.
Now, any athlete across the nation understands that sustaining injuries within their chosen sport are inevitable. Kobe is no different; he has experienced his fair share of injuries throughout his 14 years of playing outstanding basketball in the NBA. To date he has suffered from back spasms, a dislocated pinky, broken index finger, strained right elbow, twisted knee, down to his latest injury a sprained ankle. He injured his ankle in a game against the Dallas Mavericks this past Saturday. He’s even been noted as playing in games where he was flu stricken. It’s not the injury or illnesses that raise questions; it’s the always seemingly rapid “recovery” and irrefutable mass media coverage these injuries receive. In many cases Kobe returns the same game or the following.
It’s a given that when you’re a star player your injuries will receive that caliber of mass media coverage; questioning how serious or when you will return. It’s just rather amazing how many games he does not miss after sustaining injuries, which are limited time off or none at all. Bryant’s game rarely seems affected post injury, is it a mere fact of mind over matter? The love, respect and admiration for Kobe seems to grow from the fans and media outlets after they take notice of his minimally affected game. Is it heart and pride Kobe is showcasing or is it more than slight exaggeration of the actual pain received from the injury?