"NBAz in 7 Dayz"

March Madness. If you are a basketball fan, it is hard not to get drawn into the hoop hype. There are 17 notable Canadians in the tournament including Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, both playing for the University of Texas. If you nodded your head at the second sentence of this intro, you have most likely filled out or waiting until after the first round to fill out, your March Madness brackets. Whether it is for the office pool or for just for bragging rights, making those picks will be hard for anyone since how many can say they have followed every team and has seen every game leading to this tournament. This year is tough since the talent is pretty even and we may just have a Cinderella team take out #1 ranked Ohio State. Here on the DNB, there's a way for you to get connected to the tournament and get your basketball fix: message @dinoblogger on the site or on Twitter for more information.

Today's "NBAz in 7 Dayz" will be all about connections: NBA links to NCAA ball, NFL to NBA and Twitter to an NBA related case in the US legal system. Lots to nibble on - go grab a snack and get ready to get your head around it.

"Ya'll gon make me loose my mind, up in here"

Nothing like a little DMX to put NCAA hoops in perspective. Before the promos for this even started, this tune ALWAYS reminded me of March Madness, filling out brackets and loosing yourself in this great game. Arguments can be made for the Superbowl or even NBA final, but what makes this tournament pure 'madness' are two things: the number of teams in the tournament (64, not including the first round) and the level of play. Some people forget the players in this tournament are boys becoming men and for some of them, this may be the highest level of basketball they will ever play. So going nuts after draining a three at the buzzer is not only exciting for us but exciting and emotional for them. When I hosted the Saints Invitational High school Basketball Tournament earlier this year, I got to see a Canadian version of basketball madness. These kids played five straight games to make it to the Championships and man, were they feeling it. Dragging themselves in the gym, trying to getting themselves psyched by taking in a game before their much anticipated trip to the final. Once tip-off came and went, something switched on and everyone in attendance got to see some great basketball.

I have interviewed and spoke to many scouts and all have told me there is one thing that will separate the amateur athlete from the elite player who will go the distance: conditioning. It is sad but there are some players who believe this is not as important as practicing your jump shots or stand out plays to get yourself noticed. I spoke to a scout once who told me he really only pays attention to the last half of a game because this where you can tell which players are going the distance and putting conditioning high on their priority list. Some things to think about while getting into the 'madness' this week. Another thing to consider is number of NCAA basketball players connected to the NBA in one way or another. Here are a few:

Not in the Tournament (but notewirthy):
  1. Austin Hollins, University of Minnesota (son of Lionel Hollins, Head Coach of the Memphis Grizzlies).
  2. Ralph Sampson III, University of Minnesota (son of Ralph Sampson, 4-time NBA-All Star).
  3. Jeremiah Rivers, Indiana University (son of Doc Rivers, Head Coach of the Boston Celtics).
  4. Jeff and Marcus Jordan, Central Florida University (son of NBA great Michael Jordan).

Tournament Bound (check your bracket picks for these):

  1. Jon Horford, University of Michigan (son of Tito Horford who played for the Bucks and Bullets in the 1990's and brother of Al Horford, the All-Star center for the Atlanta Hawks).
  2. Jordan Dumars, redshirt, University of Michigan (son of Joe Dumars former player and now Pistons President).
  3. Josh Bartelstein, University of Michigan (son of NBA and NFL agent Mark Bartelstein).
  4. David Stockton, Gonzaga University (son of John Stockton, who spent his entire career as a point guard for the Utah Jazz and brother to Shawn Stockton, a junior guard at Montana University).
  5. Nolan Smith, Duke University All-American (son of the late Derek Smith who played for five NBA clubs, including the Celtics).
  6. Ledrick Eackles, Oakland University (son of former Washington Bullets and Miami Heat guard Ledell Eackles).
  7. Phil and Matt Pressey, University of Missouri (son of former Buck and current Cavaliers Assistant Coach Paul Pressey).
  8. Tim Hardaway Jr., University of Michigan (son of Tim Hardaway, former Warriors and Heat guard).
  9. Cameron Ayers, Bucknell University (son of Randy Ayers, former 76ers head Coach and current Assistant Coach of the New Orleans Hornets).
  10. Ben Hansbrough, Notre Dame University (brother of Indiana Pacers forward, Tyler Hansbrough).
  11. Chris Smith, Louisville University (brother of J.R. Smith of the Denver Nuggets).

NBA and NFL playing the waiting game

As you may already know, the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) found a loophole, a strategy if you will, in which to gain leverage with their employers, the NFL. Members of the NBA's Player Association are playing close attention. Here's why. The NFLPA filed for decertification so they could legally sue the NFL in court for violating antitrust law. Decertification means the NFLPA technically does not exist at the moment, therefore the players now have the power to be named as individuals in a lawsuit against their employer. The NFL then locked out its players and essentially shut things down until further notice. It is possible for the same thing to happen in the NBA .

At the crux of the NFL issue sits how the owners and players are going to divide up 9 billion dollars. In the NBA, owners are not only looking to divide up 4 billion dollars but they are looking to change the pay scale in the NBA by going with a hard salary cap. They also want to get rid of most or all of the current exceptions to the cap that teams get to re-sign their star player for more dough or for teams who are over their cap limit to add experienced veterans at a lower price. If both sides in this issue can't come to an agreement, I am sure they will be looking to their NFL counterparts to see if decertification is a viable option for them. Think about it. If U.S. District Court Judge David Doty decides in favour of the NFL players (which he has a reputation for) and that gets both sides talking faster, maybe the NBPA might think decertification is the way to go. But if the Judge Doty decides in favour of the owners, then the NBPA might sit tight and not take that drastic step. Something to think about going forward.

Tweets calling out Twits?

Another legal rangling story for you. Minnesota Timberwolves beat reporter for the Associated Press Jon Krawczynski is being sued over tweets about NBA official, Bill Spooner. This is what allegedly happened according to the suit filed by Spooner. Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach Kurt Rambis was upset over a foul called against his team versus the Rockets on January 24th. Spooner allegedly tells Rambis he would review the call at halftime. Rambis reportedly inquires how his team was supposed to get the two points back. Spooner's suit claims he didn't respond to Rambis' question but AP reporter Jon Krawczynski tweeted his version:

"Ref Bill Spooner told Rambis he'd 'get it back' after a bad call. Then he made an even worse call on the Rockets. That's NBA officiating folks".

Associate General Council for AP Dave Tomlin provided this statement in response: "We believe all of the facts we reported from the game in question were accurate". Also, as of this morning, an AP spokesperson said the organization has not yet been served with a lawsuit. To top it all off, Minnesota lost the game by 4 points (129-125) so those 2 points could have made a difference in crunch time. So now if the everyday, average fan is sitting at the game, overhears something and tweets it, are they considered a journalist reporting what they see from the game? Not exactly. Jon Krawczynski is a seasoned reporter, trained in proper journalism at a university or college like most are and as such is made aware of the legalities of the profession. Anyone with a cellphone or computer can tweet whatever is on their mind, good or bad, this is the nature of free speech. But Krawczynski was at the game in his capacity as a journalist and is held to a higher standard. Do we have another 'Spoelstra' moment here? Who knows. There are two sides to this story and everyone will have their own opinion. I hope this proves to those using Twitter to think before you tweet. People are reading and paying attention. Your reputation and the person the comment is made about is at stake, so be careful.

Thanks once again for joining me this week. As always keep your comments and suggestions coming by following me on Twitter (@ddegraauw) and on Facebook (Danielle de Graauw). See you on Thursday for more "NBAz in 7 Dayz" when we will continue our discussion on the NBA playoffs and my picks I alluded to last week. See you then.

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