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Armstrong: Five thoughts on All-Stars, trade deadline and more

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Jack Armstrong
2/27/2012 2:38:11 PM
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FIVE NBA THOUGHTS:  The 2nd Half of the 2011-12 NBA Season tips off Tuesday evening after the All-Star break.  Off to Houston Monday with the Toronto Raptors for our TSN game Tuesday evening. Here are Five quick NBA Thoughts. Enjoy the second half!  It beats not having games--that's for sure!!            
 
 1. Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant & LeBron James:  Watching the NBA All-Star game last night the one thing that jumped out at me watching these three gentleman achieve greater heights in their respective careers was, you know what, we're going to look back at watching these three and many others in this era and say---'Ah, those were the good old days.'  The game is in wonderful shape with the litany of stars that we have playing right now. Is the game, League or most teams in a good spot, that's open for much debate where you sit but these three guys could star and excel in any era.                         
 
 2. NBA Trade Deadline (March 15): This is just my humble opinion, but someone at the League office messed up a bit here with this date. Get your NCAA Brackets ready, yes that's right, Thursday March 15th is the first day of the Tournament, when most people in the sports world tune in and follow with great passion the start of March Madness. Cheap Plug: We'll be carrying all the action right here on TSN and TSN2.   It makes NO sense to me for the NBA to have the trade deadline at 3pm et. the same day. Usually the NBA wants to have lots of attention and chatter about the deadline, just look at our Hockey friends.  I just think the League dropped the ball here a bit, makes more sense to me to have it on Tuesday March 13th where it can stand alone and gets its full due attention rather than being diluted a bit by March Madness.  Hey, but what do I know!!                       
 
 3. The 5th Best Team in the NBA:  Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out which team will emerge here in the 2nd half as that 'next' true legitimate contender.  The best four teams in the League right now are: (Miami, OKC, Chicago and San Antonio).  When you look for a 5th team that could possibly win it, I think you've got plenty of candidates but all have issues or flaws. The next six weeks prior to trade deadline are the time for internal development and the respective GM's have to make that game changing trade by March 15th. Will be fun to watch who emerges and who become the buyers and who are the sellers.                     
 
 4. NBA All Star Friday & Saturday:  I like the adjustments made for the Friday night Rising Stars game with the draft, which makes it a more competitive and blended game to watch. It was a step in the right direction.  As far as Saturday night, I've said it before and I'll say it again: The fans should be able to vote who is in the Dunk Contest and Three Point Shooting Contest in particular.  We should see the BEST the game has to offer. This isn't a physically taxing activity for any or all of the players and for the promotion of the game it makes too much sense to do it this way.  The stars are all there to watch anyway, let's celebrate the game and show what our nest do, it is ALL-STAR weekend.                   
 
 5. Toronto Raptors--NBA Television Coverage in US:  You can count on less than one hand the number of times the Raptors have been on National TV in the US since Vince Carter left Toronto. Yes, I understand the Raptors have only had one winning season (47 wins-Atlantic Division Champs during the 06-07 season) but over the years I've tuned in to NBA games on Networks like TNT & ESPN/ESPN 2 and seen teams that aren't Playoff teams either. You might say, what's the big deal??  I'll tell you what the big deal is: Players, agents & player's families see who plays on US National TV and more importantly, who doesn't.  
 
It makes it a lot tougher to recruit/retain players North of the border. I strongly believe the Raptors will be better in the coming years and it will be important for the organization to raise its voice and say, 'that's enough'.  There are 30 Teams in the NBA, not 29 and a 30th team that happens to be the only Canadian franchise that's an afterthought.    Here's an idea, it's a bit controversial but you have to think out of the box a bit when you're an underdog. The Toronto Raptors should propose to the NBA that they'd be willing to play & more importantly HOST the Late (9:30pm/10pm EST slot) for a Thurs night TNT game and/or Fri night ESPN/ESPN 2 game vs. a Western Conference Team at the ACC. 
 
 Look back a number of years, John Calipari when he was the Head Coach at UMass opened a lot of eyes and ticked off some folks by his willingness to play late games (even at Midnight) on ESPN to get the necessary exposure to attract and retain players to make his program a 'Desired' location.  You've got to have a little PT Barnum salesmanship in you and some folks might not like it but for most (if it was only once or twice a season) it would be an 'Event' and an opportunity for Toronto to show the NBA that we do exist and more importantly, we love Hoops and we're here to make a stand and we're here to stay.  Start winning and then you play at 7pm!!  Just a thought, check out where UMass ended up, The NCAA Final Four. Believe me , I was an NCAA Division 1 Head Coach at the time and players suddenly took notice and it became a 'cool' place to consider playing.  Can't always accept the 'same old--same old'.
Kevin Durant (Photo: Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images)
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