Feed The Need!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

I never expected that 3 games deep into the Eastern Conference Finals, I'd be reduced to writing about "what if" scenarios. I really do not want to, but with the Cavaliers being thoroughly outplayed by the Orlando Magic in each of the first 3 games, I don't think I have much choice.

The focus of my frustration today has to be about the missed opportunity the Cavaliers had in not trading Wally Sexyback this past February.

I know, looking back on it now(and given the Cavs' current state) would be too easy and way unfair to the Cavaliers front office. Heck, back then, I was in support of staying pat. Sure, being able to get a low-post threat (Amare Stoudemire, Brad Miller) or another wingman (John Salmons) would have been way better than Wally World. But what if it ruined the Cavs' chemistry? The Cavs were having a monster season, and bringing in a player expected to play a big role on the team could have been disastrous. After all, Wally wasn't exactly playing terribly; he was doing just enough to contribute at least something. Therefore, I must admit that I was perfectly happy back then.

But things change. As pointless as this may be - and you could even say this is nothing but a desperate attempt by a fan to make sense of Cleveland's struggles -, I still think it's somehow worth revisiting.

The Orlando Magic have exposed a glaring deficiency on the Cavaliers' part. The Cavs just can't defend the Magic very well. Orlando's stocked with plenty of bench help, capable bigs and good shooting. Cleveland, on the other hand, lack those three. It would be premature to label Mo Williams as a bust, but he has to walk the walk and step up. Delonte's struggling and Zydrunas has been reduced to a three-point shooter.

And worst of all, the Cavs' bench isn't doing its part at all. And this brings me to Wally Szczerbiak. Dude isn't even playing anymore! Not saying that he should get more time on the floor because he hasn't done much in the Playoffs, but this is the guy Danny Ferry decided not to trade for (maybe) a more valuable piece.

What if they were able to trade him? What if, instead of Wally, they're playing either Brad Miller or John Salmons (or both???) off the bench, bringing an offensive punch to counter Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat? Instead of watching Ben Wallace butterfinger the ball out of his hands, it could be Brad Miller knocking down open J's. Instead of cringing at the sight of Delonte West defending Turkey's Finest (to be fair though, Delonte does a good job bodying up), it could be John Salmons forcing Hedo to take tougher shots.

It's all pointless now because it's now late May and the Cavs are down 1-2, but I hope Danny Ferry uses this series as a warning. I hope that win or lose, he gains much from this experience and goes into the off-season looking to upgrade the Cavs' sore spots. Superman and his Super Friends have shown the King and his Witnesses they are not invincible. And while it's too early to count the guys in wine and gold out, the reality is that they need much more if they hope to make things easier for LeBron James.

Sucks that we didn't know this back in February, huh?

Photo Credit goes to NBA.com

Digg! BallHype: hype it up!

And just like that, they were gone.

I'm talking about the Detroit Pistons, once the gatekeepers of the Eastern Conference, now relegated to first-round fodder for the upstart Cleveland Cavaliers.

It's sad, really. I still remember clearly way back in 2004 when, with Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace still in tow, the Pistons surprisingly defeated the Hall-Of-Fame-laden Los Angeles Lakers in just 5 games. Being a big Laker Hater, that was a very good time for me, especially since nobody (not even me) would dare think that the Lakers would lose. Aaah, the joy of ignorance... While the Lakers imploded due to a certain feud - remember that? - the New School Bad Boys slowly picked off the unassuming Western power.

That's a really nice moment, one that I'll remember forever.

However, it's the 26th of April right now, and I just saw a flash of red completely consume some white. Turns out the Pistons have just been eliminated from the 2009 Playoffs. By the Cavaliers. In the First Round. As an 8th seed. On a 0-4 sweep.

Now, I don't want to be bold just for the sake of it, but it's pretty obvious that the Pistons are done. Their stars are aging, their coach is a rookie, and they have absolutely no depth. On top of that, they just traded their floor general for Allen Iverson.

Yes. Allen Iverson.

You see, the Pistons were supposed to put up a fight. Regardless of the early returns of the "Answer Experiment", they were still supposed to be better than the Heat, Bulls, and Sixers. Supposed to.

I must admit, I'm not the biggest A.I. fan out there, but there is no denying the man's talent. I mean, he led the Sixers all the way to the Finals in 2001, even stealing Game 1 in L.A.! I have tons of respect for this dude. This man is a baller, hands down.

There is one thing, however, that I just have to question about him: his decision to sulk if not made a starter. Really, A.I.??? You're pushing 30 now, your career on its downswing, and you still choose to focus on whether your name gets called out during player intros? I just don't get it. Guys your age would gladly take lesser money (Karl Malone, The Glove), come off the bench (Antonio McDyess) or just altogether ride the bench (Mitch Richmond) in exchange for a shot at the Championship. For real, you refusing to merely come off the bench was a bit too much. They were counting on you, man! They traded Chauncey Billups for you. The least you could've done was try harder... After all, you'd still be getting your playing time (let's face it, Walter Herrmann ain't taking your minutes) and your salary's still the same. Is coming off the bench really that bad that you'd forget how sweet you have it?

I know, the Pistons with Iverson would still lose to the Cavs, but they could have avoided the King if only Iverson accepted any role he had to play. Looking back is pretty pointless now that Detroit's season is done, but Iverson should have made a bigger difference. Had he played well, they probably would have drawn an easier opponent (they beat the Magic last year and the Celtics are the walking wounded).

It just sucks because what Allen did was something you'd expect a teenager to do. From a future Hall-of-Famer, however? He really should have known better.

I still love you, A.I. I'll never forget the way you played (and actually still do) with so much heart, courage, and passion. And I'm hoping your reluctance to give in is still due to that burning belief that you're still the man. But please, also face facts. Think deeply about it, balance and work it all out, and come back stronger next season. Just don't, under any circumstance, let this mess happen once more.

Photo Credits: Pistons-http://www.nba.com/pistons/history/champions_200304.html & A.I.-http://izuzquiza.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/alg_iverson-foulcall.jpg

Digg! BallHype: hype it up!

Man, did I really write my last post way back in August of 2008???

Anyways, it's good to be back! A lot has happened since then, but I just could not find enough time to write a meaningful post.

Now is no time for that.

So, I'm here in the Huntington Beach, California right now. Been here since Jan. 13, in fact, and the first thing I set out to do was look for tickets to an NBA game! I know they would not come cheap, but I also didn't expect nosebleed seats to be that unaffordable.
Remember, by that time, there was the Lakers-Cavs game coming up in a few short weeks, so I first looked for tickets to that match-up. Much to my dismay, the cheapest seat cost $ 250 bucks! The CHEAPEST! Damn... I didn't have money that time (though even if I did, I doubt I'd spend it on that), so the Lakers were just not an option for me right now.

With that, I set out to look for the woeful Clippers' tix. Goshdarnit, they'd have to be cheaper than the Lakers, right?!?! I stumbled upon the Clips' 3-Game Flex Plan, where you choose three games at a (slightly) discounted price. They had two sets with about 10 teams each, and you could only choose three from one group. It was slightly disappointing, as the Cavaliers and Celtics (a game the Clippers would surprisingly win) were grouped separately. I really wanted to see KG just completely lose it, but there was no way I wasn't "witnessing" a LeBron James game... Luckily, there were still a lot of good teams in the Cavs' group. We eventually decided on watching the Lakers (KOBE!!!), Spurs (EVA!!!), and the Cavs. I wanted to watch CP3 and his Hornets instead of the Spurs, but figured that the robot known as Tim Duncan would be retiring soon, and I owed it to myself as a basketball fan to watch him play his game one time.A week after buying our tix, we set out to watch the Clips get demolished by the Lakers. It was bound to be a sure Clippers loss, as they were missing Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Zach Randolph, and Marcus Camby at that time. Sure enough, the scores were as far apart as me and Kricket are, and Bynum totally dominated the paint, scoring a career-high 42 points! Kobe Bean was also fantastic, notching a trip-dub so effortlessly it almost made me a Laker fan.

Then, just last week, we watched the Spurs take on the doomed Clips, now fielding Baron Davis and Marcus Camby but missing Eric Gordon and the others. I mean, if you're playing Mike Taylor heavy minutes, you know something's up. It was too hard to get up and cheer for that game, as the Spurs easily killed all energy in the arena en route to a blowout victory.

Nice.

If the trend continues, then I can expect another Clippers loss against the Cavaliers. After all, if the Lakers and Spurs could beat the Clips, surely the Cavs will. Right?

So, me and my mom arrived late in L.A., about an hour and a half before tip-off. We immediately headed out to the ESPN Zone, a sports bar of some kind that serves the BEST burger I've ever tasted. This day, however, with the King playing his last game in L.A. this season, the place was packed! Most restaurants here have frontdesks to help you get seated, so we could easily see the lines formed outside. Great. After not eating all afternoon, I'd be entering the arena hungry.

Not only that, but since my bro had to go to school that night, we had an extra ticket worth $ 40. I tried scalping it just outside the Staples Center, which was crazy since there were two police officers a few steps from me (I didn't know if scalping is illegal here or not, but the scalpers all acted shady). I approached this dude who sold and bought tix, but he wouldn't buy mine 'cause they were nosebleeds.Inside, the place was crazy. The crowd was obviously not a Laker crowd, as LBJ jerseys were everywhere! I liked this, since I really planned on chearing for the Cavs all night long.

LeBRON!!!

I just love this dude. He seems reserved at times, but the way he acts around his teammates is just the opposite. As serious he is on the court, he is way playful off it. I see him dance around along with his teammates before the game. His youth is evident in these rare instances.

By halftime, the Clips had a huge lead. The Cavs came out flat tonight, passes not so crispy, and shots just not falling. The Clips also played good D on LeBron, always forcing him to go where there is help D, essentially taking him out of the game early on. LeBron seemed to be cruising up to that point, however.

Zach Randolph even manages to hit a three-pointer. I make a mental note of this.

Fast forward to the start of the 4th, with the Cavs down by a staggering 17 points. To the Clips (!). Just my luck, I thought... The one game that really mattered to me (and probably my last one watching live), and the Cavs would go on to lose... Badly.

However, my luck starts to change slowly but surely. First, the Cavs play some serious D and LeBron starts straight dominating, ninja-ing his way to the paint to score. Then, during a timeout, the video announce board announces a spectacular promo for upcoming Clipper home games. $ 18 bucks gets you one ticket (probably worth around $ 30), 1 hot dog ($ 4), 1 drink ($ 3), and even a $ 10 gas card (though it isn't Chevron)! Imagine??? This wouldn't have to be my last game, after all!

With the Clippers crashing HARD, the Cavs close the gap to the three with just over a minute left. The Clips displayed some admirable will to lose, favoring individual "heroics" over good team play and allowed the Cavs to get back in it.
BOOBIE GIBSON HITS THE 3!!! Tie game, and the place goes wild! There'a a Cavs fan two rows up from where I sat, and another one 3 seats to my right. However, there's two old(er) men just below me who are Clips fans. One even clapped in my face (it is ON!) when the Clips made a big shot. But the Cavs just won't quit, taking a 2-point lead with seconds left.

The Clips finally wake up and after swinging the ball around, Al Thornton nails a HUGE trey to put the Clips up one! Another dude gets up, turns around my way, and shouts in my face (in a playful but serious manner) and just straight looked intense. I LOVE THIS GAME!

Timeout Cavs, and LeBron dribbles around until the Cavs find a wide-open Mo Williams for the trey!!! YEAH!! Place goes wild! Curiously, the people below me were silent. I wonder why...

With 6.6 seconds left, and the Cavs up by two, Zach Randolph decides to throw up a 30-foot trey which he... AIRBALLS! Hahaha. Stupid. I knew hitting that trey earlier would bite the Clippers in the ass. I managed to shoot a video of that particular sequence, and that was me laughing toward the end. Trust me, I fully expected to get tackled by the men below after laughing out that loud.

video
The crowd goes silent as Mo Will ices the game. Clippers lose once again, but more importantly, Cavaliers win!

Just a great way to end the 3 games. Watching the NBA was just a pipe dream to me just a few short years ago, but now I just witnessed one of LeBron's finest performances. It's like LeBron knew I would be there, and him tallying a triple-double was a special gift for me. I love the PBA, but nothing beats watching the NBA live. From the die-hard fans cheering even the hopeless Clippers on, to the action on the floor, everything just works magically.I'm glad to have had the opportunity to do this not once, but three times in my life. I would've been perfectly happy just watching ANY game, but to witness an NBA game this exciting in a sold-out arena with some of the most passionate fans (I see you, Clipper Darrell and Dude-Who-Wears-Viking-Helmets-And-Dances-Wildly) in the whole world?

Priceless.

Digg! BallHype: hype it up!

So, it's been more than a week now.

The coolest day of my life, that is. One week has already passed!

See, I've always been a big fan of Bamboo. This goes all the way back to '96, when I first heard "Kisapmata" on the radio. Up until that point, I never really cared much for Pinoy music. Maybe it was my age or something, but amazingly, Ace Of Base simply appealed to me more. Yeah...

But all that changed once I heard Rivermaya's "Kisapmata". Being exposed to Pinoy music was like opening a gift that had been sitting on the shelf for months. The next thing I know, I was hooked on music by Side A, the Eraserheads, South Border, and the like.

Above all that, though, I remained a big fan of Rivermaya.

Back in the age of cassette tapes, the only way to acquire these tapes was to physically hunt them down and purchase them from the store. This might not seem all that hard, but when the nearest record store from your house is four (!!!) freakin' hours away, you really don't have much of a choice. So, really, since I was only maybe 9 or 10 at that time, I could only go out when my parents did. And at that period, they had just moved to Davao, so there was no way for me to buy the albums. Looking back now, I truly pity myself... It got to the point where I resorted to imagining what the album cover looks like! Countless days where spent on me waiting for the songs to be played on the radio, then pressing "Record" as soon as the DJ stopped yapping. Yeah, it was pretty desperate, but without MP3s and the internet, I didn't really have a choice. So, basically, I had a collection of songs that either: (a) had some random dude introducing the song or (b) started during the 2nd line of the song. Nice.

So, really, it wasn't really surprising that when I finally arrived in the "land of no traffic", Davao City, I immediately went to the mall and purchased their first two albums. Great. Now whenever we would accompany my dad on one of his trips to Gen. Santos or Cagayan de Oro, we would blast Rivermaya non-stop! Especially fun considering it was a noisy (at that time) album and the pick-up we rode on was full of 40 and 50-somethings. Good times, indeed.

And all this brings me back to why I wrote this piece.

Bamboo.

When he made his comeback, I was really unsure of how I felt about his music. I never really liked "inspirational" songs. To me, they always sounded too "preachy". So when they released "Noypi", I was probably the Filipino who felt unmoved by the cut. And man, when I think about it now, I feel so f*cking stupid. Not feeling probably the only great modern song that empowers and applauds the filipino spirit? Shit. I really deserved all the stupidity I felt, and then some.

Eventually though, with Kricket's insistence that I appreciate the new Bamboo's music, I finally did. The more I listened, the more I felt the emotions. It was nothing like how I saw it before. This was like looking at an object from a fresh perspective, with a new renewed sense of purpose. Merely hearing the music didn't do it justice. It was more than that, and thankfully, I understood it now. And right then and there, it was over. I was once again hooked on the band. Only now, it was more than just music to me. Now it was art.


So imagine my surprise when Kricket told me she could score free tickets to Bamboo's concert! Through some weird way, she knew the drummer (Vic Mercado) and a friend of Nathan Azarcon (the bassist).

And when the band hit Davao for a small concert way back in February, we were there. In another pleasant surprise worthy of lots of hugs and kisses (YEAH!), Kricket somehow managed to have us stay at Nathan and Vic's hotel room before their concert.

A quick refresher, just to clarify the magnitude of this event...

Me=BIG Rivermaya fan=reluctant Bamboo supporter=turned BIG Bamboo supporter

So, really, do I need to even describe how I felt when I met a member of the Philippines' greatest band EVER!?!? But it doesn't even end there. Meeting them in person is icing on the cake already, but talking to them and hanging out with them for hours? That's chocolate-syrup-on-the-icing-on-the-cake-sprinkled-with-macadamia-nuts good. Crazy.

So, by the end of the night, me and Kreng managed to score some autographs, we managed to walk to the stage with Nathan and rocked out to every Bamboo hit. Perfect.

Like all good things, though, there must be an encore. And on August 16, 2008, the encore occurred.

It was unfortunate that Kricket couldn't bless me with her presence then, but it was a good night all the same. This one, I have to give it up to Buddy once more.

Similar to the last time, I was once again granted backstage passes (pinch me). Seeing how the band prepared was crazy, and at that time I felt like the dude from Almost Famous, awestruck yet trying to act all cool.

So, with a glass of J&B in my hand (thanks, Bud!), we lost ourselves in the music once more. Don't think I exaggerate, because let's face it, every one of us has done this before. And it feels so gooood.

Honestly, by then, I was waiting for the "catch". There was just too much good happening that I half-expected something out of the blue to bring me back to reality. Maybe I spill a drink on my jacket, or I unexpectedly stumble while jumping... Anything.


But really, it was as if everybody knew it was my birthday and they were helping me celebrate it. As if the free tix aren't enough, I was invited to hang out with Nathan and Ira Cruz after the gig. Damn. So yeah, I guess you could say I PARTIED WITH ROCK STARS!!! It was great chillin' with these guys, which were only made better since they were all so down-to-earth and natural. Absolutely no posturing from these dudes.

After a few more drinks and numerous photo requests, it was time to call it a night. My head was throbbing, my body was dead-tired, and I had to wake up early the next day, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Stuff like this only happens once (or twice, in my case) in a lifetime, and you just have to go all-out.

A week later, I still can't get over this. The craziness that occurred is still fresh in my mind, clear as crystal. On my way to work, I still blast "Probinsyana" full volume, non-stop. My voice is still hoarse, the result of shouting along to the songs still being felt. I still tell these tales to anyone who shows even a faint hint of interest. And despite this... No, scratch that... Because of it, I feel good.

I FEEL F*CKING GOOD.

Digg! BallHype: hype it up!

In the first part of my series, I documented how I fell out of love with the NBA Live series by the 2006 edition.

For Part 2, I have to be fair. Unlike past Live editions, when their "new features" were about as useful as a 3-pointer at the buzzer when your team's down by four, 2009 actually seems very innovative.

It's going to take a lot for Live to win me back, but so far, everything they've shown looks interesting. And really, we have to admit that this could be the next step in sports games. As much as Live's gameplay emulates a sport which is nothing like basketball, we have to give them due props for trying to move the sport forward. As soon as I typed that last sentence, I sneezed... Guess my body's still not used to giving EA Sports compliments.

You can find the full list of features here, but it's all smoke and mirrors. Yeah, they're cool (or so it seems), but it's their jobs to make them sound cool. Only a fan knows which features are truly important, so let me enumerate the things NBA Live '09 has going for it.

Dynamic DNA - "...which evaluates Player DNA that breaks down how a player scores, Team DNA that rates how the players on the floor play as a unit and Tendencies that refer to the percentage a player drives left, right or shoots from each spot on the floor."

This is the single biggest reason why I even started writing this series. When I first read about the Dynamic DNA, I was blown away. A system that updates player stats and tendencies based on real-life performances?!? Wow. Remember the days when we were stuck with whatever rating the players had? Yeah, we could tweak their ratings, but it would have been inaccurate. And it would have been a lot of work. And more than that, it was their tendencies that really needed editing. It's common in the actual NBA for a player to adjust their style to fit their new team better. And somehow, that was never reflected in video games before.

Another great thing about this is the Team DNA. I hope they can somehow incorporate this into the way the CPU constructs their franchise. It really annoys me to no end when CPU makes random trades that does their team more harm than good. Yeah, you traded your best PG for a stud C, but what use is it when you already have a stud C in your team? Hopefully, this Team DNA gives each team its own identity to build around on. So, in a perfect world, the run & gun Phoenix Suns would never trade for a player like Shaq (oh, wait...). And as the years go by, this would also (hopefully) allow a team to change styles. Using the Suns again, when Steve Nash retires, then obviously the helter skelter style would have to change (unless the CPU is smart enough to develop a PG similar to Nash's style). Now that the team revolves around Amare Stoudemire, then hopefully they'd target players that complements his style. Or the CPU could decide to "rebuild". The possibilities are limitless, but I seriously doubt that they would extend to the Dynasty Mode for this year. Wish this could make its way to the game by next year, though.

The other thing that EA Sports does really well is present their product in the most authentic way possible. If you are new to the basketball game market, you'd immediately think that Live is the one to own. And for that, you have to give EA props.

From hyping their games months before the release date, holding mega-parties, granting interviews to NBA superstars and locking in the ESPN license, EA Sports has the marketing aspect on a stranglehold. And when it comes to features, they continuously cook up every NBA fans' dreams.


First off, one thing that I always liked about Live is their FIBA license. Yeah, the rosters' player ratings are appropriately inferior, but how classic would it be to match up the US with Spain? Or how about using Greece and Argentina? Just one more example of how EA knows how to sell games. Next thing we know, they'll have the WNBA license ready for next year.

Their presentation is also always slick, and their soundtracks always feauture more big-names. Not saying 2k should go mainstream, but they definitely could take a page from EA and try to crank up the hype machine like never before. The last thing I would want is EA locking up the NBA license the way they locked up the NFL's. Hell, even 2k's college ball game has been cancelled!

As for the other features, some of them were found in 2k8's games. The playcalling system, lockdown control and NBA Academy are basically just rehashes of 2k's games.

So far, the gameplay of Live seems much improved (although eerily similar to 2k's), but there are still some animations that are nowhere near natural. Honestly, it looks much like a less polished version of NBA 2k8, and right now, 2k9 should really blow 2k8 out of the water. But let's reserve judgment until we see more.

Basically, the Dynamic DNA is the one thing that could possibly leapfrog Live back to respectability. If this feature truly changes the way players and teams play, then this will be a success. But if the technology proves to be too advanced for the gameplay, then it's all for nothing. The promise is there, let's hope it works out.

For Part 3, I will talk about how the basketball game world can improve more, and updates on how 2k9 is looking. But for now, check the latest preview out for NBA 2k9. Makes you wish it's already October, eh?

Digg! BallHype: hype it up!

YardBarker's Best

Speak Your Mind!

NBA Team Blogs