AP Photo

AP Photo

He’s clearly bigger. He’s clearly stronger. He has more publicity. His image is better. His overall statistics are better.

Why should there even be a question about if LeBron James is better than Kobe Bryant?

He lacks that killer instinct! Until the King gets that, he will forever be carrying Kobe’s jockstrap.

Last night at the Staples Center Kobe Bryant went so opposite of soft and showed the world why he is the best player on the planet by outdueling LeBron. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 105-88, with Mamba dropping 20 buckets, 12 dimes, and grabbing six boards.  Even with a dislocated finger, Kobe had the burning desire to check the King for almost the entire game and take on the challenge personally.

Put it like this…LeBron was rather normal with Kobe on him. He only connected on 9 of his 25 shots for 23 points with four assists and nine rebounds. Why isn’t Kobe considered for the Defensive Player of the Year award?

As indicated in his Christmas interview with Magic Johnson, Kobe had to show the media that he was still the best in the game and he doesn’t look like he will be passing the torch anytime soon. Kobe had to show the world that he seeks basketball perfection. Kobe had to show the world that he wants to go down as the “greatest basketball player of all time.”

It was apparent from the jump that Kobe had an agenda. After losing two straight games, he had to up his level of intensity.

Despite his pre-game quotes where he said that he thinks LeBron is the MVP at this point, by the end of the night he may have been forced to eat his own words. Although one game may not be enough for the general public to decifer who’s the better player, all Kobe did in their first battle of the season was to solidify my argument that he is the best in the game…hands down!!

AP Photo

AP Photo

 *There’s nothing like meeting a superstar and chatting with a fellow FLINTSTONE…click on the pic to check out my notes on Slam Online

by Eric Woodyard

With under a minute left in the 4th quarter against the New Orleans Hornets, it’s déjà vu for the Detroit Pistons.

Flashback to this past Tuesday when the Bobcats defeated the Pistons, 80-78. Knotted at 78 apiece, Raymond Felton controls the ball with 8.5 seconds left in the 4th. Rodney Stuckey guards Felton. He gives Stuckey a slow dribble which leads to a between the legs dribble, in and out with the left hand, crossover back to his right, and finally pulls up for the 20-foot jumper…money! The Pistons could never recover, and that would be the dagger in their hearts.

Fast-forward to Saturday night’s game against the Hornets. The Pistons are once again in a clutch situation with a point guard controlling the pace. This time, that point guard happens to be Chris Paul, a little more of a handful, to say the least. With 31.4 seconds left, the Hornets hold an 87-84 lead as CP3 goes into his move.

Stuckey guards Paul at the top of the key as Tyson Chandler sets a pick on Stuckey around the 3-point area. This pick switches Antonio McDyess onto CP3—an obvious mismatch. Paul gives McDyess an in and out with the right hand, crossover dribble back to the left, then back to the right, followed by a blow-by to the basket for an easy layup. The Hornets lead 89-84! This was a little different from Felton’s situation, but just as successful.

This loss was the Pistons’ fifth straight, the first time a losing streak like this happened since Feb. 2004.

Pregame

Forks are scraping the glass plates, making a soft clinging sound. There are personalized chitchats at every table from all of the different sets of media, covering the game. Grilled burgers and seasoned steak fries are steaming, the fresh salad is chilled, the napkins are stacked, the condiments are sorted, and the refreshments are being kept cold in the freezers as I watch two college basketball games on the three large high definition screens.

With 32:55 remaining before tip-off, instead of experiencing the sites and sounds of the locker room, I chilled in the media room instead. The horrible road conditions caused by a massive Michigan snowstorm forced me to miss the pregame media availability.

“Can I get in there to get a couple of interviews?” I asked the security guards.
“I’m sorry, we just closed,” the guards responded.

Walking into the dining area/media room, I see Rasheed Wallace doing the same. After finishing his shoot around, draped in his cut-off sweat pants and patented Nike Air Force One’s in his North Carolina blue makeup, Rasheed peeks into the room right before me. As I step in, he went back into the locker room. There’s no point in asking him for an interview because one of the Palace’s 10 commandments is that Sheed doesn’t do pregame interviews.

Morris Peterson in the raftersAfter fixing and later finishing a plate of food, I decide to find my center court seat. Sheed is the first noticeable player during warmups, wearing two headbands (…vintage Nelly). On the other end, Morris Peterson is on an emotional high after getting his jersey retired at Michigan State earlier in the day. Almost everyone congratulates Peterson, from the players to the broadcasters.

Just before the player introductions, the PA announcer exclaims it’s “Kid’s Night.” Instead of the professionals doing their jobs, kids help out, including a kid doing the pregame introductions.

First quarter

– From the time the game started, CP3 sought out to put the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers behind him.

– He took on the challenge of guarding Rodney Stuckey.

7:41– Paul schools Stuckey with a driving layup.

2:30 — James Posey walks to the scorer’s table to check-in and the heckling begins:
“Why did you leave Boston? Why did you leave a championship team?”
“Shut Up!” Posey responds.
“You can’t beat the Lakers!”

0:32 — Posey drains a 3-point basket and momentarily shuts up the heckler.

– Chris Paul finishes the quarter with 6 points and 3 assists.

– Mo Pete didn’t play in the 1st quarter.

Second quarter

– The heckling shifts to head coach Byron Scott as he ignores it:
“Get Mo Pete in there for Posey!”
“Hey Byron, when you guys signed Mo Pete, did you tell him he wasn’t gonna be playing?”
“Look how sad he is!”

5:20 — Posey is not bothered by heckling as he sinks down two free throws.

4:39 — CP3 switched to A.I., they both are the same height but CP is a little bit stockier.
Hornets lead, 39-37.

Third quarter

7:33 — Iverson steals it from Chris Paul and goes up for layup as Rasual Butler blocks his shot A true Bad Boy.and he hits the ground hard on his knee.

– Iverson would have to be helped off of the floor.

Fourth quarter

– Iverson returned to start the quarter.

11:41 — Posey quieted the hecklers with his opening jumper of the quarter.

5:58 — During Detroit full time out, Hooper, the Pistons’ mascot, is shown on the large screen doing the Beyonce “Single Ladies” dance with two obese guys by her side.

– The fans were laughing very hard as Posey and Byron Scott watched the screen emotionless and focused on winning.

3:55 — Allen Iverson is called for an 8-second violation.

3:36 — Rodney Stuckey enters the game for AI.

– Iverson would not play another second.

– The Pistons lose 85-91.

Postgame

Despite Byron Scott’s decision not to play Morris Peterson on the night that he had his jersey retired, I still decided to talk to him. For what it’s worth, Morris Peterson is one of my idols as we both grew up in the streets of Flint, Mich.

“What’s up Mo?” I said.
“What’s up, man?” he responds.
“My name is Eric, and I’m from Flint too. I hooped with you one day last summer.”
“Yeah, I knew you looked familiar.”
“Can I ask you a few questions?”
“Yeah, go ahead.”

SLAM: First things first, you got your jersey retired today at Michigan State University which had to be big, how did that feel?
Morris Peterson: Man, that’s an unbelievable feeling to see your name and your jersey go up next to some greats. To be mentioned with Magic Johnson and Steve Smith and Mateen Cleaves is an unbelievable feeling.

SLAM: I know Mateen got his number retired before you, being the type of person he is, did he ever tease you about it?
MP: Naw, he called me and was like, ‘Welcome to the club, you’re officially a boss now.’ That’s what he told me so we laughed about it and talked about his night and he just said it’s going to be a special night for me and it was. I had a lot of people in attendance, a lot of family and friends, and it was just an unbelievable day for me.

SLAM: Coming back home was it a lot of people bugging you for tickets?
MP: Yeah. My phone rings a lot when I come back home, especially that week before I come. A lot of people know I’m coming back so, yeah, they do. I had about 25 tickets today to get.

SLAM: Back to Mateen, I know he’s great and Chris Paul is great. Who is the best point guard that you’ve ever played with?
MP: I got to say Mo Cleaves. I think when we played together and what he brought to the table, he brought that toughness and I see a lot of that in Chris Paul. [Paul] fell out of the sky and into this team and it’s unbelievable watching him play and watching him grow. I think he’s going to be a Hall of Famer one day.

SLAM: Besides the championship, what was your favorite memory at MSU with Mateen?
MP: There’s one day that really sticks out in my mind. You know, a lot of times when you’re trying to reach a goal and you’ve got two competitors like him and I…We had such great respect, if I felt like I should’ve got the ball on a play and I wanted to say something to him then he’s going to say something to me. Well, one day we were playing, I can’t remember who we were playing. I was wolfing him and I said, ‘I was open man, throw me the ball.’ He was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to throw you the ball, but you better do something with it.’ Then the next time down, he threw me a lob and I caught it backwards and I was like, ‘Man, that’s what I’m talking about,’ and he’s like ‘Well, catch it then.’ So we kind of went at it but it was all out of just the love of the game, and I think that’s what it’s all about.

SLAM: Obviously, this organization has roots with Flint with Glen Rice being a former Hornet. Do you ever confide in him?
MP: You know what, Glen is a great friend. Every time I see him, he shows me love, he always gives me pointers. It’s been a couple times early in my career where I might have had a bad game and I saw him and the next time we were playing he was like, ‘Don’t lose your confidence, keep it going.’ The best advice he gave me was: ‘Any time you miss a shot, just always think you’re going to hit the next one and keep it moving.’

SLAM: So with all of the talent in Flint, who was your toughest opponent?
MP: My toughest opponent I ever played against? Man, we have so many great guys to come out of Flint but I would have to say Cory Hightower because we’re the same size and the same kind of body type. He was a lefty, so people often compared us to each other. But one of the guys who I think could’ve really made an impact in the college level and in the NBA level was Jody Allen. He was cold! Jody was ahead of the game even back then and he did some unbelievable things with the basketball, and I just wish he could’ve had a chance to get to this level. He would have been something to watch.

Immediately following our interview, Morris introduced me to Chris Paul.

“Hey Chris, we got another Flintstone in here,” Peterson says.
“Oh, for real? Do you got the Flint tat too?” Paul asks me.
“Naw, I ain’t got one yet, but I’m getting one this summer. Is it cool if I ask you a few questions too?” I ask CP3.
“Go ahead,” Paul responds.

SLAM: You were rocking the Air Jordan XXIII’s tonight, why not the CP3 II’s?
Chris Paul: Because they ain’t came out yet. I’m probably going to wear these until right before the All-Star game.

SLAM: Earlier this year, I seen that you had Obama’s name on your sneakers, do you plan on Nice Jsdoing something else like that with your own shoes?
CP: Nah, not on my own shoe but maybe on the third one. I just wanted to dedicate that game to him that was the day after he won the election.

SLAM: Are you pretty excited about the inauguration?
CP: Yeah, I’m definitely going to watch it. It’s a big day in history. I had an opportunity to meet him and I’m a huge fan of his and I’m really excited about it.

SLAM: Mo Pete and I were talking about Mateen Cleaves in college and who Morris’s favorite point guard to play with and he put you in the same category as Mateen. How does that feel?
CP: When we first got Mo Pete, I told him how big of a fan I was of Mateen Cleaves. Hanging out with Mo Pete, I got an opportunity to meet Mateen Cleaves a few times. He’s a cool dude, I used to love to watch him play, and if I can be Mo Pete’s second favorite point guard ever, than I’m cool with that. (Laughs).

SLAM: Obviously, Mo had his number retired today. What was your reason for wearing the jersey No. 3. Did Iverson have any influence on that?
CP: Part of it, to tell you the truth. I actually just started wearing it when I was real little and then when AI wore it, I was more proud to have it. I used to wear the AI shoes because it had the number three on it, and I’m still a big fan of his today because he’s never the biggest one on the court but always out there playing with heart.

“Live from Bedford Stuyvesant, the livest one, representin BK to the fullest…”

This was the essence of what the Notorious B.I.G. stood for.  He put on for his city way before Young Jeezy and Yeezy made it cool to do so.

While the countdown to the historic hip-hop biopic Notorious continues, I have been getting amped up by playing Biggie’s first album Ready To Die. Biggie came so hard on this album, especially with songs like “Gimme the Loot,” “Ready to Die,” Me & My B****.” 

Listening to Biggie’s first album, you can’t help but to be inspired.

His lyrics were motivational.

“It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up magazine…”

Descriptive.

“So we can steam on the way to the telly go fill my belly, A t-bone steak, cheese eggs and Welch’s grape…”

Candor.

f*** the world, f*** my moms, and my girl. My life is played out like a jheri curl, I’m ready to die!”

There was so much passion in this album that it’s almost impossible to listen and not feel his everyday struggle. He had a song for however you are feeling at the time.

Are you a little down? Skip to ”Everyday Struggle.”

Are you feeling  yourself? Jump to “Big Poppa.”

Were you dogged out by a woman? Listen to “Friend of Mine.”

Big incorporated it all into his work. Which leads me to believe that no matter how ”great” his new movie may be, it can never fully capture the full character of Christopher Wallace.

As I continue to anticipate the release of the movie, I will continue to be inspired by the work he did on his debut album.

 Just remember that…

Biggie Smalls is the illest, your style is played out like Arnold wondered, ‘What you talkin bout Willis?’”

*Click on the pic to view this post at Urban Sports Talk

pistonpost.com

pistonpost.com

 

With 8.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter following a timeout, the Charlotte Bobcats have possession. The game is knotted at 78 apiece in the Palace of Auburn Hills versus the Detroit Pistons.

            Bobcats’ point guard and former North Carolina Tar Heel, Raymond Felton, gets the ball on the inbounds play. The trade rumors are the last thing on his mind as he is matched up against the new star of the Pistons, Rodney Stuckey. He keeps his composure as he sizes Stuckey up with a baby dribble at the 4.1 mark on the clock. Stuckey never bites on the dribble and keeps his balance until Felton uses that baby dribble to bait him into his real move.

            Felton goes between the legs, in and out with the left hand, crosses over to his right, and finally pulls up for the 20 foot jumper…swish!! (…his 12th point of a perfect fourth quarter in which he connected on all five of his field goals including two three-pointers!)

            He would finish with 23 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds.

The Pistons immediately ask for time to regroup.

            With .7 seconds left on the clock, the Pistons hope they can pull a Derek Fisher. For what it’s worth Allen Iverson hit a buzzer beater to take them into halftime with a 48-41 lead over the Bobcats.

Following dagger from Felton, Detroit comes out of the timeout and gets Iverson open from a baby curl set on the other side of the court. He gets an open shot but can’t connect as he clonks the jumper at the buzzer. The Pistons lose 80-78 at home. How hapless!

            This is not what Iverson envisioned it would be like when he faced his former head coach/mentor, Larry Brown. The days of Iverson asking “Where my coach?” are gone. This was not a tribute to Coach Brown as Iverson claimed it was following his All-Star game MVP performance in 2001.

 As soon as the buzzer sounds and the Pistons lose, Brown greets Iverson with a hug and a few words of advice which means nothing to the Answer as the Bobcats snap their six-game losing streak to the Pistons. This was their first win over Detroit since January of 2007. It had to be gargantuan for Charlotte. I can only imagine it would be.

            In Felton’s interview with Pistons’ Broadcaster, Eli Zaret, following the game he expressed why he was so successful.

            “I was just taking chances within the game and not forcing things,” Felton says. “(Larry Brown) has made me better as a point guard and he’s always tough on his point guards.”

            Although they may not want to admit, Pistons Head Coach, Michael Curry should have followed the same formula that Brown uses for his point guards and been tough on Rip Hamilton by leaving him out of the starting lineup.

            Allen Iverson thought different.

            “That had nothing to do with us losing this game, the lineup that we started with, that lineup is gonna play the majority of the game anyway regardless if we started that way,” Iverson says. “Tonight we even finished that way, so I don’t think that had nothing to do with it. We just got beat. We lost a game that we should’ve won…easily!” 

            With an 18-14 overall record since the Iverson project began in early November, you have to wonder ‘just when the Detroit Pistons are going to play consistent basketball?’

            The project will continue tonight when they face off against Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis at 7 p.m. 

 

*click on the pic to view this at pistonpost.com!

AP Photo

AP Photo

“Allen Iverson should start. The proof is in the pudding that ever since Rip Hamilton has been sitting out, the Pistons have been winning. I believe that they have won 8 of their last 10 games with Rip out so I believe that if it ins’t broke than you shouldn’t try to fix it. Rip can’t create for himself. Stuckey and Iverson can, so they should be starting. Rip is still mourning the trade that sent Chauncey to Denver and he needs to just get over it and play some basketball.”

*click on the Pic to see what my peers think at pistonpost.com! (My results are followed by EW, my initials)

Pistons-Jazz Game Notes

January 12, 2009

AP photo

AP photo

I was just welcomed to the writing staff of The Piston Post. These are the first set of game notes that I contributed to for the site.

*Click on the pic to check them out!

Shout Outs to Dime Mag!

January 10, 2009

dimemag.com

dimemag.com

Dimemag.com linked my top 9 list to their site today!

*Click on the photo to view the post!

prepspotlight.com

prepspotlight.com

The year was his!

There was no doubt in anyone’s minds that DeAndre Upchurch was the best high school basketball player in Flint, Mich. this season.

Averaging 25 points in his first three games of the season, he was a leader. The Flint Northwestern Wildcats were his beleaguered troops.

This was why when I seen him in Birch Run at the Adidas Outlet Store at the day after Thanksgiving sale, I let this eclectic scorer cut me in line.

“Ay man, can I cut? This line is too long!” Upchurch asked, holding two pairs of Adidas Pro-Models.

“Yeah dog, you straight,” I said.

“Good looking man,” he responds.

“Yep, but you better be killing this season in them shoes man,” I said as we laughed while we both paid for our items.

This is the Upchurch that I knew, the leader! Not the killer! The honorable mention all-stater from last year.

Ultimately this leadership led him in the wrong direction and backfired. Ultimately this leadership led him to get charged along with three others in connection with a drive-by shooting that injured a young mother. Ultimately this leadership may have daunted this bright young star’s career.

According to sources from the Flint Journal, this shooting stemmed from thirty dollars! Thirty dollars!

Thirty dollars  led Upchurch and his troops to go shoot up a house with an AK assault rifle and injuring a young mother trying to protect her two young kids.

He was labeled as the next “Flintstone” to make it out of the struggle, but because of his leadership this may be up in smoke.

What a tragedy!

My love for sneakers has been documented! Instead of saving my money and being abstinent towards the sneaker game, I spend all of the extra money that I get for a fresh pair of kicks. The feeling is addictive and I relish it. Just recently I purchased the all black LeBron six’s which drew attention from a player from the Sacramento Kings when I rocked them to the game they played in the Palace of Auburn Hills. 

While many sites have been looking back into the past, I am looking forward to the future. For 2009, here are my top  9 sneakers for the first half of 2009.

kicksonfire.com

kicksonfire.com

9.  Nike Zoom MVP: After two back-to-back seasons of winning the MVP (2004-2005, 2005-2006), The Canadian has finally been rewarded with his own signature shoe from the guys in Beaverton. Phoenix Suns guard, Steve Nash first signature sneaker will be released in the upcoming weeks.  

fresh!

fresh!

8. Nike Huarache 2009: After the highly successful versions of the Huarache 2k4 and 2k5 that began Kobe’s marriage to the swoosh, they have returned with the 2k9. With a release set for sometime in February, look for players like Tony Parker and Chris Bosh to be rocking these for the season. 

dimemag.com

dimemag.com

7. Nike KD 1: Kevin Durant has been special since his days at Texas. The Sophomore has been donned with his own signature shoe that is rumored to be released this Spring.

 

 

 

sneakerfiles.com

sneakerfiles.com

6. Air Jordan Force Fusion VI (6): How can you go wrong with a mix of the classic Air Jordan 6 and the original Air Force 1. With a release date set for January 10, these are a must haves for 09.

 

sneakerfiles.com

sneakerfiles.com

5. Air Jordan CP3 II: After an MVP-type season last year after he was awarded his first signature shoe, the Jordan Brand has followed up with another sneaker for Chris Paul. These will hit stores March 3 and will go for $122.

you gotta love them!

you gotta love them!

4.Reebok The Answer 12: Celebrating his first season as a Detroit Piston, the folks at Reebok have cooked up Allen Iverson’s 12th sneaker. Inspired by the poem Invictus Warrior, expect these shoes to hit stores in February for $100.

Classic!

Classic!

3. Nike Air Penny 3: It’s no question that Penny Hardaway was the man for the Orlando Magic in his prime. His sweet commericials with Lil Penny made him Nike’s main man (…behind MJ) in the 90’s. These kicks will hit stores in the upcoming weeks for $135.  

SHOWTIME!!

SHOWTIME!!

2. Converse Weapon 86: I won’t promise you that you will be able to run the break like Magic Johnson or outduel Larry Bird in a game of one-on-one but what I can say is that if you cop these, you will turn heads. On February 1st these will hit stores with a new touch of suede for $80.

greatness!

greatness!

1. Nike Zoom Kobe 4: Who says you cant wear a low-cut sneaker to play basketball? Kobe is trying to shut everyone up on January 17th when he releases his fourth sneaker with Nike which will be the lightest basketball sneaker ever for $119.99. You better have your ankle insurance!

*you can also view this post at It’s Just Sports.

Is Crater a Hater?

January 4, 2009

The Flint Journal

The Flint Journal

Ohio State University. Big Ten school. King James sponsorship. 10-2 overall record!
The perfect squad for a freshman to showcase his skills on right?
Wrong!
For Flint native Anthony “Noopy” Crater, this wasn’t enough. 13.1 minutes per game was too little time for him. 1.2 points per game was too less of an average for him. Coming off of the bench was not an option for him.
Instead of becoming a man and sticking things out through the tough times, Noopy dipped after just 10 games in search of another school to be the so-called “man.” Instead of being zealous to play alongside Mott transfer, Jeremie Simmons, Crater was a little jealous.
Moves like this give us Flintstones a bad wrap. Crater’s legacy as a Buckeye will simply be known as quitter! (…as well as being b*tch slapped by Miami’s Jack McClinton).  If this transfer doesn’t work out, this may place him in the same category as the likes of  Jaquan Hart and Cory Hightower who were both underachievers from Flint.
Hart thought he was too cool for school when he decided to enter the 2004 NBA Draft after two “average” seasons at Eastern Michigan University. In his two seasons as a Eagle, he posted career averages of 8.8 points and 2.6 assists. He was also set to play at Ohio State for the 2001-2002 season but just like Crater, decided to transfer.
Hightower was regarded by many in the city as being the best of his class, which includes Bell, Cleaves, and Peterson.He played two seasons with Indian Hills Community College, and had committed to play at Texas Christian University, but decided to leave early to declare for the draft. Hightower was  the “man” at Indian Hills. He was named NJCAA Tournament MVP his freshman year, and was named a First Team NJCAA All-American his sophomore year. After being Drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the 54th pick in the 2000 NBA Draft, his rights were traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. According the the urban legend in Flint, Hightower had too much of an ego to carry Kobe’s bags or listen to Phil’s orders and was cut from the team.

Myth or not, Hightower did not suit up for a regular season game for the Lakers in the 2000-2001 season!

I had been bragging on Crater to all of my friends even before this season began. Since he was a small child playing for the Flint Affliation AAU squad, he was blessed with the potential to be great.
He has Magic Johnson-type passes, Allen Iverson-type quickness, with a Stephon Marbury-type ego.
Instead of paying his dues by coming off the bench and playing alongside Jeremie Simmons for this season, he would rather leave. What type of character does that show?
For Ohio State, Mary J. Blidge said it best when she said “we don’t need no hateration!”
*This can also be viewed at It’s Just Sports…click on the photo!