FIVE QUICK NBA THOUGHTS
1. GREIVIS VASQUEZ (Raptors): Has been sensational for the Raps in the past few weeks. His confidence in his three-point shooting and his ability to make difficult shots in the lane have been huge. He runs the team well and plays with wonderful enthusiasm. Major pick-up as a back-up point guard and he's finally settled in to his role and comfort level in Toronto. Really fun/upbeat personality who loves the game and plays with a swagger. Fun to see it all coming together for him.
2. ALLEN IVERSON'S NO. 3 RETIRED IN PHILLY: In an otherwise gloomy season in Philadelphia, this was the definite highlight. Talk about a guy that absolutely carried his team and was the heart and soul of his franchise. Loved the passion and toughness he played with. When you think of great small guards who have ever played the game, he's right at the top of the list. His competitive spirit resonated throughout the teams he led and the city that adopted him. I think back to broadcasting the 2001 Raptors seven-game series in the Eastern Conference semi-finals against them and he was awesome. A complete joy to watch. Willed his team to the NBA Finals. Deserving honour.
3. NY KNICKS: I talk about AI and his competitive spirit and then I watch the Knicks vs. Bulls game on Sunday and just shake my head. The wheels have come off and I'm not surprised one bit. When the Knicks were in Toronto twice during the pre-season I could sense from chatting with their folks an over-confidence about what they achieved last season and the feeling that they would just pick up where they left off. It ain't that easy. Last season doesn't mean a thing - you've got to start off all over again. Complacency can be a killer. What's the old line? "Good is the enemy of great". Doubt the Knicks would ever be considered great but they sure were good last year. When you enjoy those 'good' spoils of success and aren't ready for the grind again it spells trouble. I feel bad for head coach Mike Woodson, it's not like he hasn't called them and challenged them on things constantly. Losing battle right now. House cleaning coming.
4. JIMMER FREDETTE (Bulls): Nice pick-up for John Paxson and Gar Forman. This team is playing great yet lacks consistent offensive fire power. Wouldn't surprise me to see Jimmer earn some playing time in a few weeks after he gets adjusted to the new system. Remember last season, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli were huge for them off the bench as DJ Augustin has been this year. Jimmer will give them another three-point threat. Yes, he's got challenges defensively due to his size - he lacks lateral quicks - but he will compete his tail off and stick shots if he gets in. I'm sure he'll get a good look down the road this month. Solid under-the-radar move.
5. THABO SEFOLOSHA and KENDRICK PERKINS (Thunder): Both banged up right now in OKC and with the return of Russell Westbrook it's been a revolving door around Kevin Durant yet I think it's all a blessing for their organization. It's been "Force Feed" time for Reggie Jackson, Steven Adams, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones and they've developed folks that need to grow as players quickly in an elite environment. From April 15 onward when both injured guys will be back for the Playoffs, the depth and experience of these challenges will help this team become steadier and more consistent when the stakes are higher.