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Bucks’ Bogut big among bigs



How a seven-footer gets overlooked speaks to the team’s small market.

How a presence in the paint goes unnoticed reveals the low profile that surrounds him.

But the days of ignoring and dismissing Andrew Bogut are becoming a thing of the past, at least based on the present state of his game and the emergence of the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that is as hot as any outside of the red-hot Dallas Mavericks.

When the Bucks made Bogut the first overall pick in 2005, a draft class that is defined by point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams, the comparisons with fellow Aussie Luc Longley came fast and furious.

At first they were humorous, two bigs from Down Under who weren’t really known for their athleticism.

Bogut has distanced himself so far from Longley that it isn’t worth anyone’s time to even discuss any parallel.

Bogut now is threatening to keep company with the elite.

For once in his career, Bogut isn’t being plagued by back woes.

It often has been said that it takes time for bigs to develop and Bogut bears it out.

He has a staunch supporter in coach Scott Skiles and a point guard in rookie Brandon Jennings, who is more inclined to look inside to Bogut than heave perimeter jumpers early in the shot clock.

A few eyebrows were raised when Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders was asked to assess Bogut when the teams hooked up in a recent home-and-home set.

“Maybe the best centre in the Eastern Conference,” Saunders said.

Flip wasn’t being flippant and neither was he flippin’ crazy because there’s some merit in his words.

Bogut isn’t quite in Dwight Howard’s neighbourhood, but he is inching closer because Bogut’s game continues to evolve and improve.

The more the Bucks make noise in the East, including their late-game lock-down of the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, the more people will come to appreciate Bogut and the surging Bucks.

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Milwaukee has won 10 of its past 11 games; Bogut has recorded at least one block in a franchise-record 28 consecutive games; in Milwaukee’s past 11 games, Bogut has averaged 3.8 rejections.

Out of nowhere have emerged the Bucks, who hold down the No. 5 seed in the East and are playing the style of basketball teams need to sustain success.

With Bogut, Milwaukee plays an inside/outside game.

Skiles-coached teams always defend and seldom take possessions off. The trade-deadline deal for John Salmons has given Milwaukee a scorer and creator.

Ersan Ilyasova is long and has been a lot more consistent than his more famous Turkish-born baller in Hedo Turkoglu.

A scout was asked to chime in on this year’s surprise teams.

“People would probably say Oklahoma City or Memphis, but it’s Milwaukee for me. They weren’t picked very high in general after losing (Richard) Jefferson, (Charlie) Villanueva and (Ramon) Sessions and then they lost Michael Redd on top of that. Now they’re in the playoffs.

“The two big reasons are Bogut is playing at a really high level — more so than ever, it’s his team — and Scott Skiles is a helluva coach. Bogut has finally found a coach that believes in him and that he believes in and it’s working for him. This used to be Michael Redd’s team, but he’s taken control of that team and is starting to look dominant like people thought he could when he came out of college”

Maybe if the they were playing in a bigger market, there would be more of a buzz with these Bucks.

Maybe if Bogut were more self-promotional than selfless, he would get more exposure.

His opponents have taken notice.

“I think he’s the toughest matchup I’ve had all season,” Boston’s Kendrick Perkins said following Milwaukee’s 86-84 win, in which Bogut had 25 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks. “He’s playing well.”


Millsap Mishap Could Keep Forward Behind 3 Months



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Poor Paul Millsap.

This campaign after becoming one of the biggest free agent pick ups of the offseason, one of the leagues leading Power Forwards has been put down on the medical report with an injury that could call him off sick for a quarter of a year.

The most reliable player over four periods has spent the bird share of his career helping his former Atlanta Hawks make it to the first round knockout stakes of the playoffs each year. But following the season where they didn’t make the cut of the second one, it was time for a change for the 32 year old number 4 who once looked to be the Utah Jazz, Karl Malone replacement Carlos Boozer didn’t turn out to be early in his career alongside former leading Point Guard Deron Williams.

And in the mile high city of Denver with a would be big-three of sophomore sensation Emmanuel Mudiay, dreaded defender Kenneth Faried and of course The Joker with the last laugh Nikola Jokic, these Nuggets in their new Nikes looked golden and finally past that baby blue Carmelo era (they may as well be as Anthony, now with the blue, white and orange of the Thunder isn’t even a Knick anymore (it’s ‘Old York’ now Knickerbockers)). But now like Ben Affleck looking at the ‘Justice League’ box office returns it’s time to ask the Nugs “why so serious” Batman as an injury to their versatile veteran forward of seasoned upon seasons of experience doesn’t exactly put a smile on their face.

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The All-Star was averaging a helpful handful of exactly 16 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists before tearing the ligaments in his left wrist in a 127-109 loss to the Lakers who themselves recently lost all dunking son Larry Nance Jr. to a broken wrist, but are thankful to be having him return after they cut the turkey this thanksgiving. Millsap and the Nuggets are looking at second opinions from docs offering the same sort of speedy recovery that doesn’t sap their frontline. But if they concur with the original diagnosis, it’s three months in a suit and tie and not to mention cast for Paul who will return in late February after the All Star break he normally never takes off.

The man with the three year, 90 mill deal helped make this outside eight seed threat Denver the new gritty, grinding Memphis of the West. Now without him the older than Richard Jefferson roster is thinner than the air up there in Colorado.

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Somebody Stop The Mask Of Kyrie Irving





Even that phrase delivered at a perfect Jim Carrey pitch can’t quite put into perspective just how hot Celtic Kyrie Irving is right now. Especially in the Boston green, Rip Hamilton face-mask.

Maybe those three little letters would do more justice for this league leader?

You know Menacing, Versatile, Phantom?


How about M-V-P?

Kyrie joins Kobe, former Cleveland Cavalier teammate LeBron James and the man whose about to pass him the Maurice Poldoff torch, Russell Westbrook to be an absolute menace in the Phantom of the Opera face-mask, leaving other teams dead on basketballs biggest stage. He may have fractured and broken some bones in his face, but that won’t stop him as he fractures and breaks the backs and hearts of the faces of all the other franchises he faces off with night after excruciating night.

Those who used to say it must be the shoes (and have you seen his best in show sneaker designs complete with shamrocks like Starbucks on St Patrick’s Day this season heads? Those halloween pumpkin ones were the spice), are now saying it must be the mask.

Sure the plastic profile guard makes for some meme worthy Pinterest fan art appreciation but this guard has made a point at hating it…the sweat inducing mask that is, not the love. These kind of covers can blind you, but like the concussed legend of Celtic great Larry, letting it fly like a Bird above the baskets in the Boston Garden all the way to the rafters (as he saw too hoops like 80’s girls earrings and just aimed for the top one), Kyrie plays through all the pain and frustration. Taking it out on the ball (like opponents on Lakers rookie Lonzo) and the other teams hoops that to him seem bigger than those ones Bruno Mars sang about.

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Take Dallas for example. Irving just masked all his pain by taking the Mavericks for 47 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists in the last contest that took the Celtics to a sweet sixteen straight. After dropping two games following Gordon Hayward dropping out of the new season before the second quarter of his opening game one even played out, everyone was calling time on these new Celtics as soon as Gordon turned his ankle counter-clockwise. But now one of the best in the association Kyrie is showing LeBron and them he’s just as good as them or anyone alone like this man from down under always wanted to prove. This definition of clutch, who leaves everyone else in the fourth with straws has already shown on a championship scale against Curry of all hot guards that he can take the last shot that really matters. Now forget the Most Valuable Player award for a waning second or even the time his dynamic duo partner in pine Hayward comes back, Irving has the power to dribble drive all the way to the crown on his own.

And it’s going to take more than a mask to stop him.

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The Wind Brings The 2020 All-Star Game To Chicago



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1973. And the first NBA All-Star Game to play in the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois features the last All-Star game in the last season of two lasting Los Angeles Lakers legends. One man who scored 100 points in just one game, Wilt Chamberlain. And one man who was and still remains the one and only logo of this National Basketball Association, Jerry West.

1988. And arguably the greatest All-Star Game of all-time and an even better, best ever All-Star weekend sees Michael Jordan become Michael Jordan. M.J. scored 40 in an 138-133 O.T. A.S.G. win for the East meeting the West. But a day before all that he and the Slam Dunk Contest became even more legendary. As mere moments after storied Boston Celtic great Larry Bird asked “whose coming in second place” before raising his finger in victory before the ABA coloured moneyball ripped through the twine (no Nick Young swag), Money took off from the free throw line like a good doctor for his above the rim J and jumped over everybody including Atlanta Hawk wing spreading, sky-soarer Dominique Wilkins.

Now more than 30 years later after next years All-Star Game in the purple and gold city of Los Angeles and the 2019 one in the redeemed city of Charlotte, the 2020 and 69th All Star Game will be played in Michael’s old town of Chi-city. In the same year as Tokyo, Japan will hold the next Olympic Games, the game of basketball will go back to it’s 90’s roots and an inspired iconic landmark of hoop heaven that didn’t really have the same spirit in the seventies, but really Jumpman took off in the golden era eighties. So much so that the old ’88 All Star Weekend t-shirt is a historical thrift store must find for more than it’s 80’s Tron like, cool, retro logo.

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And with mid-February lovers big blockbuster basketball coming back to the city of wind like the river that runs through it, Chi-town needs this like out of towners need deep dish pizza. You only have to listen to the news or the Common album ‘Nobody’s Smiling’ (you know the legendary M.C. who used to wipe up Jordan’s sweat off the old Chicago Stadium hardwood has to perform at the mid-season classics halftime show) to know this classic city is marred by violence that burns through this second city like fire. The beloved Bulls have even become a “garbage team” to root for too, losing the big-three likes of last seasons Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade (who may even be on a farewell All Star tour once his hometown All Star weekend comes crossed off the calendar and everyone is united in the airlines center).

Now this team who relies on sophomore stud Denzel like Oscar hopeful movies will hopefully be back by the next few valentines. As the heart of the city in twenty twenty will want to see something as visionary as Sinatra’s kind of towns history.

That’s just the Chicago way.

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