NBA Big Questions: Week Six

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce listens to a question from the media prior to practice to prepare for Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in El Segundo, California June 5, 2010. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Every Monday during the NBA season The Hoops Manifesto and its Bloguin bredren team up to answer some of the burning questions from the world of the NBA. In this edition we decide if it is ok for players to be friendly with their opponent while the game is on, whether Dwight Howard is the leading MVP candidate like posits and name which team’s record is the most misleading.

Contributors: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, Diego from Leaving It All On The Court, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily, Deborah Horton from Hawks Highlights, College Wolf from TWolves Blog and brumbygg and Don from With Malice.

1) While a lot was made of the crowd’s hostile reaction to LeBron’s return to Cleveland, a sub-plot came to light during the game – LeBron’s constant fraternizing with the Cavs bench while the game was on.  Do you have a problem with players from opposing teams openly being buddy-buddy with one another while the game is on?

“Hate it.  It’s another part of the defanging of the game, with rough play and trash-talking outlawed and everyone hugging each other before the game.  Despite what any player tells you, it does carry over to how they play the game – you don’t want to embarrass your buddy on the court, so you don’t play quite as hard as you should (whether consciously or unconsciously).  I want to see hate out there, people!  There’s nothing funny (or entertaining) about peace, love and understanding.” – Jeff Fox 

“Players should not joke with the opposing players during a game. When it’s a blowout and it’s a player’s homecoming of sorts, it’s a little bit less inappropriate, however. In reality, I had a big problem with the Cavs letting down their fans. When James went to the hoop and talked to his former teammates, no one told him to get the bleep away from this team or gave him a hard foul. The talent disparity between those teams was stark, but don’t let LeBron just toy with you.” – Diego Quezada 

“Word is now that it wasn’t actually friendly… but I wouldn’t have a problem with it if it were ‘real’. For that to be true, he’d be that way win, lose or draw. And LeBron has a long history of being petulant and angry when losing – just see his reactions to previous seasons’ losses in ECFs to Boston/Orlando. It’s BS, it’s a ploy… and it’s not sincere.  I guarantee you one thing: you will never see Kobe Bryant making overtly friendly gestures towards an opponent during a game. Hell, after a game’s even unlikely.” – Don

“I don’t see it as a problem at all.  It goes on in all sports.  These people have known each other for years.  It is only natural they would be friends.  Just because Cleveland hates LeBron it doesn’t mean his former teammates do.” – Deborah Horton

“Happy to see a ‘welcome back’ before the game or an ‘I didn’t mean all those mean things I said about you, Kobe’, and a ‘well played, we’ll beat you next time’ after the game, but it was all a bit “chummy” during the Heat/Cavs game. It should be all about business from the first tip off to the last whistle. Maybe it was all part of LBJ’s plan because the Cavswere pretty ineffective against him in particular.” – brumbygg

“Hell and yes.  That crap is ridiculous.  I’m not saying we need to go back to the brawls of the 80’s, but come on here.  Have some damn respect for yourselves and your teammates.  Fraternize off the court all you want, but I guess I just want to believethat every NBA player is as competitive as I am.” – College Wolf

“I think the time of the season and in the game changes my feeling. Like when I expect referees to bury their whistles in the Playoffs, I expect players to get more focused and “into the game” as the season goes on. So in the first quarter of a game in December, I don’t have much of a problem. In the fourth quarter of a tight game in April? Absolutely not. The Cleveland players should have probably recognized the firestorm surrounding this game and tried to distance themselves from LeBron throughout that game. But they are all human and James is a former teammate. I don’t blame them for being friendly early in the game. They should probably be more focused on the pitiful effort they put on in that game.” – Philip

2) has Dwight Howard ranked as its leader in the MVP race.  Agree or disagree?

“Sadly, the voters for the NBA MVP award have turned it into a “lifetime achievement” award, one to be passed around from one player to the next season to season.  The best (and most deserving) player doesn’t necessarily win it every year – if that was the case, Michael Jordan’s trophy case would be a lot more crowded.  Considering Dwight Howard hasn’t won the MVP yet, and he is a top player on a top team, he’s a prime candidate to win it.” – Jeff Fox 

“I’ve always felt that Dwight Howard has been an underappreciated superstar, even with regard to calls from officials. He has led the Magic to the second-best record in the East and is shooting 59 percent from the field. For the past two seasons, Howard has been dismissed as a freak of nature who only plays basketball because it made the most sense for him. Now, with the 6-foot-11 center getting help from Hakeem Olajuwon, Howard is making that next step. He may not be Shaq, but he’s also only 24-years-old.” – Diego Quezada 

“Disagree. It’s a bit early to make the call, and honestly – until he’s not a hindrance at the end of games to the Magic (with his FT% – at a career low 54%), then I’ll never consider him a true MVP candidate.  And don’t go there on the “Shaq’s FT% was awful too” argument.  Howard’s never been anywhere near the dominant beast that Shaq was in his MVP-winning halcyon days.” – Don

“I’m going with Amar’e Stoudemire.  Yes, his team isn’t the top of the heap, but they are in the running to stay in the pile and it’s because of his play so far.  52% field goals, 56% three-pointers and 77% free throws, with a total of 491 points, fourth-best in the League.  He is basically carrying the Knicks on his back and they sit right behind the Heat in the standings in the East.” – Deborah Horton

“Disagree. He’s the best C playing in the East right now, but his upsides don’t overcome his weaknesses, unlike Shaq in his prime. There are players doing more to help their teams right now that Superman. CP3, Gasol and Rondo to name but three” – brumbygg

“A little early in the season to be too passionate about this yet, but he’s probably as good a choice as any.  Kobe’s stats are down, LeBron’s are down, and Durant hasn’t been playing up to his standards of last year.  So I guess, why not D-Ho?” – College Wolf

“I am very clearly biased, but I think yes. The underrated part about Dwight Howard is how much smarter he is playing the game. His rebounding and blocked shots are down this year but that is because he is trying to foul less and conceding boards to teammates (the Magic are a much better rebounding team this year than last). He is learning he is too important not to be on the floor and how to be a more efficient defensive player for his team. That sure is a scary thought. Howard has an important stretch of games coming up. Provided he gets over this weird stomach virus ravaging the Magic right now, he has to really bounce back on offense. He has had some lackluster games recently. But the progress on both sides of the ball is undoubtedly there to bring him to that MVP level.” – Philip

3) Which team so far’s record is the most misleading (either positively or negatively)?

“I hate to always pick on Miami (no, I’m not) but they are not as good as their 13-8 record indicates.  They’ve beaten up on bad teams, going 5-6 so far this year versus above .500 teams.” – Jeff Fox 

“Indiana has a 9-9 record, but has played some very good basketball as of late. The Pacers dominated Miami and beat the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month, and have only lost games against Orlando and Oklahoma City by a combined eight points. Danny Granger continues to play at an All-Star level and Roy Hibbert is gradually developing into a good big man. Indiana isn’t a title contender, but it is a dangerous team that can get the fifth or sixth seed in the East.” – Diego Quezada 

“The Lakers at 14 and 6.  If anyone thinks that the Lakers won’t be in the championship finals they should put down the crack pipe.  Just because they’ve had a few games of late where they didn’t look completely Laker-like is no reason to believe they are anything other than one of two top teams in the NBA.” – Deborah Horton 

“Well, who thought the Clippers would be 4-16 at this stage? Oh, everyone. But seriously, the Spurs have been very quick out of the blocks this season, much more so than I would have expected. I’m also surprised at the collective record of the Central division (37-54 at the time of writing).” – brumbygg

“TWOLVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We should have, like, at least five more wins than we do.  Some massive last minute chokes (including TWICE blowing 20 point leads against the Spurs.)  P.S. Darko4MVP” – College Wolf

“Portland’s record is very misleading. We know this team has a ton of talent and will give most teams in the NBA a lot of problems. But there just must be something weird in the water there.  Everyone seems to get injured! Brandon Roy’s game has fallen off a bit too which explains why the Trail Blazers are struggling. But if he can progress back to his mean, then the Blazers should get themselves back into the playoff hunt.” –

4) Finally, every week we’ll be picking a Game of the Week that we will predict a consensus winner of. This week’s game – Wed, Dec 8th – Miami @ Utah



Record so far: 3-2

Consensus: Utah (four votes to three)




About Jeff Fox

Jeff Fox is Mr. Manifesto - the Supreme Leader and evil mind behind The Hoops Manifesto, The MMA Manifesto, & A Dry Heat.