NBA Big Questions: Week Two

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 tackle the Kevin Garnett’s trash-talking, the Rockets struggles and debate whether or not Tracy McGrady is finished.

Contributors: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, Diego from Leaving It All On The Court, Aaron Hodges, Peaceman and LIVES from Knicks Fanatics, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily, Deborah Horton from Hawks Highlights, Mookie from The Fantasy Dudes, College Wolf from TWolves Blog, Sean Francois from Hoops Head North, and brumbygg & Don from With Malice.

1) The big story of the week was Kevin Garnett allegedly telling Charlie Villanueva that he looked like “a cancer patient” during a game. Is there a line that a player should never cross while trash-talking or does anything go?

kevin garnett

“Anything goes. The whole point of talking trash is to get a mental advantage over your opponent, so whatever you can say to accomplish that, so be it. That being said, it does come down to your individual morals – I personally wouldn’t have stooped to Garnett’s level myself (at least I hope I wouldn’t).  And don’t forget – in today’s age of YouTube, Twitter and 24/7 sports coverage, there are no secrets – whatever you say, no matter how despicable and embarrassing to yourself, the whole world will find out sooner or later.  Have fun, KG.” – Jeff Fox

“Trash talk does have lines that should not be crossed. Calling someone a “cancer patient” definitely crosses the line. But what hasn’t gotten a lot of attention was how Charlie Villanueva let the world now about this controversy: he tweeted it. I have an issue with Charlie essentially snitching on Kevin Garnett rather than have the two resolve the issue themselves.” – Diego Quezada

“Honestly, I don’t care what KG may or may not have said. I wouldn’t care if he (or any professional athlete) said something worse. He could have insulted every member of his family and told CV that he hopes he gets cancer and dies. Trash talk happens non-stop out there. What’s on the court should be left on the court. It doesn’t matter, to me at least. The professional sports field/court/arena is like Vegas and/or one’s bedroom. What happens or is said there, should stay there.  And that’s why CV is a whiny biotch in all this. If he’s offended, he needs to do something about it on the court, not on TWITTER. Hell, sucker punch KG if he feels the need. I could at least respect that kind of response from him.” – College Wolf

“Absolutely.  In this day and age of social media, and the fact that we are “up close and personal” with basketball like never before, players have to be responsible enough to filter themselves.  And no one should try and muddy the water by bringing up that Villanueva tweeted it – separate issue entirely.  As a Celtics fan who sometimes writes at my site said (I know… go figure) – if it’s true, it’s completely reprehensible and without excuse.” – Don

“KG’s words, if they were true (and I don’t for a second doubt the veracity of Charlie V’s claims), are hideous. I’d call his behaviour cancerous to the game. There are definite lines that should not be crossed in society and that includes trash talk on the basketball court. Do you stop being human because you’re playing sport? Of course not.” – Mookie

“Perhaps the question should be, “is there a difference between talking trash and talking shyte?”  If a trash-talker does not cross a line of civil discourse, he is probably not talking trash.  If his talking trash is ineffective then he is probably just talking shyte because words meant to harm have no impact on its target; or the words may possibly have the absolute opposite of the intended result – which is to take the target off his or her game.  In fact, the purpose of trash-talking in most contexts, but certainly in sporting contests, is to rattle a person to his or her core in order to take them out of their game and to gain an advantage.  Of course some trash talking can be more offensive and harmful than other trash talking.  Race baiting, homophobic references, instructions to suck body parts are not uncommon.   It all crosses the line and in this age of democratically accessible mass media, what you say and do in any context can be taken out of that context and broadcasted worldwide for massive consumption, repackaging and re-interpretation.  That’s the risk of saying and doing anything in a private or personal context today.  You risk being blasted to the world and suffering the consequences, rightly or wrongly.  What should really be examined is the soft skin and perception of Mr. Villanueva.  To allow Garnett to get under his skin was a true sign that his internal fortitude had the strength of almost-jello.” – LIVES

“I posted something on this at with-malice this week. Even as a huge Celtics fan I draw the line at this one. There is a line, KG (allegedly) crossed it. Having said that, Charlie V isn’t coming out of this looking like anything but a princess.” – brumbygg

“This is an issue that had the whole sports world buzzing last week and I still don’t think we’ve come to a clear consensus. If the question is whether or not there’s a line that can be crossed the answer is yes.  As far as the aftermath goes, Villanueva probably shouldn’t have aired out his dirty laundry on twitter. That’s almost never a good idea. As a man that is near and dear to Knicks fans, Mr. Charles Oakley said via his twitter account @charlesoakley34, “Twitter is not 4 u to go get somebody. If u got something to say to somebody don’t put it in twitter.” I’m guessing KG would have paid a painful penance if the Oak man was involved.” – Aaron Hodges

“There is always more to the story in these situations.  I think the truth lies somewhere between cancer patient and cancerous.  Not sure why KG felt it necessary to elude to either – but I’m sure there is much worse said that’s never reported because that’s just the way it is on the floor.” – Deborah Horton

“It is easy to pass off any comments like the one Garnett made as a “heat of the battle” thing. But these guys are professionals and Garnett has been doing this NBA basketball thing for a long time. He should know better – even if it just to scale back on all-psycho trash talk mode in a game in early November. When you talk about diseases or race or something so super specific like this, you are definitely crossing a line. Charlie Villanueva has done some incredible work reaching out to kids who also suffer from alopecia and is a hero to them – and we all know how nasty kids can sometimes be. This crossed a line and honestly, I expect Garnett to know better. He can keep his bad boy, never say die attitude without comparing Villanueva’s appearance to that of a horrific disease.” – Philip

2) Houston has stumbled to a 1-4 start to the season while limiting Yao Ming’s minutes.  Will the Yao experiment end up being successful for the Rockets this year?

“No way.  I was pushing for Houston to cut ties with Yao a year and a half ago in order for them to start fresh and create a new identity.  The way it is now, with Yao playing limited minutes, the team has no identity or fluidity – they play one style when the big man is in the game; another style when he is out.  If Yao can’t play full-time then they are probably better off without him.” –  Jeff Fox

“The Yao Ming experiment started in 2002, and what do the Rockets have to show for it? Not much at all. Yao is a very skilled player, but he is not an elite center, as some predicted he would be when he was drafted. Plus the grind of the NBA season has taken its toll on Yao’s body. The Rockets need to move in a different direction.” – Diego Quezada

“I think it’s too early to tell if the Yao experiment will be successful or not.  If Yao stays healthy, they will be able to eventually increase his minutes, and he should gel better with teammates, shake off the rust, improve his game and the results for the team, etc.  However, If Yao isn’t improving and they are having to closely monitor his minutes all season while messing with rotations and substitutions, then it has potential to be a massive failure and negatively impact the team in the long-run.” – College Wolf

“Houston really don’t have much alternative. I think that there’s a high level of certainty that Yao would be injured again, given heavy minutes. Unfortunately for them, they’re caught between a rock and a hard place. That said, they’ll pick it up – there is still a lot of talent on that roster with the likes of Kevin Martin, Aaron Brooks and the amazing Luis Scola… plus half a Yao.” – Mookie

“I have no idea. It depends on how you define success.  If success is keeping your greatest international asset on the court for most of the season and available for next season, then playing him less regardless of the record is smarter than running him into the ground to accumulate wins while losing the face of your product.” – LIVES

“Despite the Rockets slow start, they HAVE to stick to the 24 minutes/game limit for Yao, at least for this season. The amount of wear and tear on that man’s body given his past China basketball program commitments has provided him with no true opportunity to heal fully from any past injuries during the off season. That said, it’s a double edged sword, because I’m not sure they can make the playoffs with him strictly being a ‘part-time’ player.” –  Sean Francois

“No the Yao experiment will not work. If a team is too concerned about keeping a player from playing longer than six-seven minute spurts than they are bound to lose focus on continuity and the flow of the game. Yao is too much of a presence to just blend in so the Rockets will struggle with finding a happy medium.” – Aaron Hodges

“I think it will be an utter disaster.  Yao will not be good for more minutes as the season goes on – most likely the contrary –  and the rest of the lineup just isn’t picking up the team.” – Deborah Horton

3) Yao’s former teammate, Tracy McGrady, has had a slow start to his season with Detroit (3.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg).  Is the end here for T-Mac or will he have a career resurrection?

“Tracy McGrady still plays in the NBA?!” – Jeff Fox

“I still think there is a little life in T-Mac, however going to Detroit was a failure of epic proportions.  That team/front office/organization is in total disarray, and is a chaotic mess.  It’s one of the worst possible places he could be this season.” – College Wolf

“I think T-Mac will do a bit better than he is now, but there will be no resurrection per se.  No golden year revival for T-Mac.  He’ll end up being a useful part in the rotation of a lottery-bound team.  But never shall we mention his name in the same breath as Kobe Bryant, as we once did.” – Don

“Yes as a business owner. TMAC Burgers & Fries.” – Peaceman

“Knee-Mac’s career has been over for some time. I think that has now been confirmed, if it wasn’t already so after he pulled out of preseason play with “tiredness”.” – Mookie

“You can never measure the impact of will power.  I recall wondering why Grant Hill wouldn’t just give up, because he looked so bad a couple of years after his injury.  I also remember those who swore Bernard King would never regain his form after leaving the Knicks as damaged goods.  You may remember Antonio McDyess who was supposed to be wheelchair material years ago after a preseason injury.  The other night, T-Mac led the Pistons to their first victory as their starting point guard.  Given the fact that he sees that accomplishment as one of many on his way back to health and quality play, I would not bet against him playing in the NBA for a few more years.” – LIVES

“I don’t believe Tracy McGrady will be able to get back to where he personally would like to be from a productivity standpoint. I think his past injuries have limited him from being able to be the T-Mac we have all witnessed in the past. In my opinion, injuries are the worst thing about professional sports, it’s the toughest thing to avoid and to bounce back from.” – Sean Francois

“T-Mac will never be what he was in Orlando. His game is too much based on speed and quickness for him to ever come back entirely. I doubt we will ever see the old McGrady again… well we will see an old McGrady, you get what I mean.” – Philip

4) Finally, every week I’ll be picking a Game of the Week that I want you to pick who will win – I want to see how good we are as a group predicting games over the course of the season.  This week’s game – Thurs, Nov 11th – Celtics at Heat.

Record so far: 1-0

Consensus: Heat (but barely, six votes to five)

About Jeff Fox

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