Jose Calderon has surgery done on his dislocated finger and is said to be out of commission for 6 to 8 weeks. Hopefully the timing of this was not to be ready to play for Spain this summer. Jose needs to take a pass on playing for his national team this season. I am rapidly becoming someone in the camp of Mark Cuban on this whole issue of international basketball. Cuban has long been against the idea of players under contract in the NBA playing in international ball. I am beginning to totally agree. However to be realistic about it, there is no way the NBA is going to pull a 180 and back away from FIBA and not allow it's players to play. David Stern sees the idea of Olympics and to a lesser extent World Championships as a way to market the game globally.You can debate how much good that actual does or does not do for the league. However I am just going to suggest a compromise of sorts. Steve Nash would love this one as it comes from a sport he enjoys...Soccer. In Soccer for the Olympics they have an age limit on who can go to play at the games. I think the age is 25 if I am not mistaken. If you are over 25 you can not play simple as that. Nash as he got older decided to say no thanks to Canada. I was one of few that did not agree with that choice by him. However with this rule there would be nothing to debate on that issue. It would be cut and dry and at least if someone were to be injured playing internationally at least they would be younger and in most cases more likely to heal quicker and hopefully have no long term impact on them. I have said in this blog that it is unfair in a lot of ways to make players decide between country and team. I hear the argument that you are being paid by your club team and that is who you should be loyal too. I tend to agree with that.
However if you were to use hockey as an example and the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins wanted to Ovechkin or Crosby not to play in the Olympics it would cause huge debate in this country. In the case of Crosby I could see Pittsburgh jersey's being burned in the streets. Also with the hockey example there is far less time where the players practice as a national team. In Basketball it is an event that goes on yearly basis each summer. When players play for their national teams the club teams get very little say if any in how practices and training is done. They also may want players to focus on certain aspects of the game that may not be the same as a national team would want from them. In hockey basically it is a group that gets thrown together for an event like the world championships that are going on currently. There are not long training camps leading up to that. In fact in some cases if players are eliminated from the NHL Playoffs they are quickly added to the line-up and just join the exsisting team.
If David Stern can determine how old you must be to enter the NBA draft. Why is it not reasonable to have him cap the age in which a player can play for his country while he is under contract to the NBA. It is the best compromise for all. Players would not feel the pressure to decide between country and team. For those who play in Europe and International players it is very hard to say no when the national team calls. Not unlike it is for players in Hockey in this country. If a player of any great skill or talent said he was going to take a pass on the upcoming Olympics in 2010 in Vancouver in hockey in this country he would be public enemy number 1 if he happened to be Canadian. So take the choice out of their hands and cap the age they can play till. It may not make everyone happy but it is the best was to solve the problem.
Speaking of injuries former Raptor Jamario Moon is done for the rest of the playoffs. He has a sports hernia and is set to have surgery which will bring an end to his season. Moon will be a free agent in the summer and will be looking to sign a deal somewhere. He has had a nice run with the Heat and developed some chemistry with D-Wade so Miami may want to have him back. We will see come the off-season.
As for the Heat they are locked in a battle with the Hawks tied at 2. However the series of the playoffs has been the Bull and Celtics. It has been high drama and last night was no different. The teams could not decide things in 48 minutes once again and went to overtime. Celtics ended up in the winners circle and even if they some how get out of this series it seems highly doubtful the will be able to defend their NBA Title. The Spurs joined the Pistons in sitting on the sidelines for the playoffs losing to Dallas is round one in 5 games. The Pistons were swept aside in the East in 4 games to the Cavs. You wonder if in both cases we are seeing the end of eras. The Pistons only managed 1 lone title in the run they had and Spurs have won 3 or 4. They also may not be done as they still have the same 3 core players and could perhaps re-tool and with some luck and health have one last run at it. But the bottom line and feeling you get from the playoffs is that this is Kobe and Lebron's party and everyone else are just guests that will eventually leave.
Both Bryant and James have been for this epic battle it seems all year. They were the 2 front runners in the MVP Debate which should be announced soon and I am thinking with go to Lebron. However most feel that will only serve as motivation for Kobe to win a title. Like he needed anymore after losing last year to the Celtics and looking pretty bad by the end of that series. It is going to be fun to watch and unless Denver, Orlando or someone else have a Magic trick in them it is going to happen.
So hope you are enjoying the playoffs and getting a chance to enjoy some great basketball even if it does not involve the Raptors.