Rocky IV is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's no doubt easily my favorite of the movie series revolving around the professional boxing career of "The Italian Stallion", Rocky Balboa. It's just something about the movie that ignites a nostalgia within me on a level very few other movies can. I guess part of the reason this movie was so memorable to me was because it seemed so epic. From the grand Living in America entrance by James Brown, to the death of Apollo Creed, to Rocky getting Popeye swoll in Russia, there was just so much to remember about this movie. Several of the one liners are highly memorable as well, with my favorite of course being Dolph Lundgren's infamous line of "If he dies, he dies".
One of my other favorite lines comes from Rocky's wife, Adrienne, who yells to her husband "You can't win!" after she finds out that Rocky is preparing to fight the same Resident Evil Tyrant that just killed the other washed up former world champion. Take a trip down memory lane with me and enjoy this fine moment in film history..................
Oh, the look in Stallone's eyes when his wife tells him that he can't win. It's one of shock, disbelief, hurt, pain (might fine acting job in my opinion), and also one that every small market team's general manager had on their faces once the Sixers, Lakers, Magic, and Nuggets signed off on the blockbuster deal that shipped Dwight Howard to the place it always seemed he was destined to be, good ol' Hollywood. Poor small market teams, you really thought you could challenge the great Ivan Drago markets of the league? You can't win!
In my eyes, the Oklahoma City Thunder still have a good shot at winning the west, but most media and fans alike are already in agreement that next year's NBA Finals can already be penciled in as the L.A. Lakers vs the Miami Heat. Well, actually, you can probably go ahead and use a pen.
"Yeah, that's it. Make the Lakers look even scarier than they already are."
Not only were the Lakers able to upgrade from the number 2 center in the NBA to the best for basically nothing, they also were able to obtain one of the greatest point guards in history in Steve Nash for basically the same price. Added on top of that is the fact they were able to do so without trading Pau Gasol (something every analyst KNEW would have to happen for a deal to go down involving Howard) and the ability to have players like Antwan Jamison sign for the minimum vs $4 million deals offered here, and the Lakers are all of the sudden back from 2nd round lunch to a team looking like they could be a dynasty. On the other end of things, the Miami Heat have had a successful offseason of their own, obtaining sharp shooters Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis who will feast in the Miami offense.
So much for rebuilding "the right way" like the Pacers and Thunder. All they'll ever play for is 2nd place anyway right? A part of me felt that way when I turned on ESPN the other morning to learn that the trade was finally official and the Dwightmare was coming to an end. In the end, all of your patience and fortitude never really matters. The lockout fixed nothing. It will forever be about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. It's been going on for decades in the NBA. The only difference is, now it's a hell of a lot deliberate with superstars demanding trades only to certain teams while everyone else around the league, regardless of the immediate ability to win a title, knows it's best to just keep their hands out of the situation.
I can show no sympathy for Orlando as they signed off on the pathetic deal that landed the team a myriad of below average assets (Al Harrington, Mo Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, 3 lottery protected first round picks, 2 second round picks). Not only that, but they were unable to rid themselves of Hedo Turkoglu's horrendous contract in the deal. I hate to use such language to describe an NBA trade, but they were literally raped in the deal. You have to think that the Rockets' package supposedly offered (some combination of Terrence Ross, Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, multiple 1st round picks) or the New Jersey Nets (Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, multiple 1st round picks) was better than what Orlando ultimately ended up receiving. Hell, even the Thunder themselves could have offered a package of Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, and a couple of picks (they probably wouldn't have anyway, but you get the point) that would have been better. I'd even go as far as to say that WE could have offered something better (Desagana Diop, Kemba Walker, MKG, 1st round pick, etc.......not that we would have). But Orlando didn't take the offers made weeks ago by that team and teams like us never had the balls to make an offer for a player we know would split at the first opportune time to run off to a big market team (who probably wasn't even a contender like he claims to want to bad.) Sadly, Orlando backed themselves into a corner and gave one last sissy like swing to the Drago Lakers before ultimately giving in and bowing out.
The Magic join us, the Rockets, and the Hawks (somewhat) as the teams who finally realized that the middle ground was the highest we could achieve with our teams and that it would be best to give up. Rebuild, tank, and start over. For us, though two of the teams are division rivals (not a coincidence), we still have to deal with Heat, Knicks, Celtics, Pacers, and the new super team, the Brooklyn Nets.The cold reality of the situation is that it's not about how good your team is, but how good the competition around the league is. And frankly, that's not going to get any easier anytime soon.
Which ultimately brings me back the point of my entire thread. Honestly, how many of you feel as though we made a mistake blowing up our playoff team? How many of you feel as though the goal for all small market teams should be accepting their roles and being happy with building a perennial playoff team instead of giving up because you see your team isn't a title contender?
"How long will it take for this to be Gerald Henderson and MKG on the side of the bus?"
Honestly, it's hard to say. I, as one of the type of basketball fans who looks at salary cap management, draft picks, player progression/regression and all other things am no longer wired to be able to accept any other strategy, but that doesn't make it right. I'm speaking on behalf of the season ticket holders who really don't care if the team wins the title or not, as long as they are competitive. I'm speaking for the couple who would like to say themselves "maybe we'll get them next year" after being eliminated from the playoffs. This is for the father and son who doesn't understand or care about the future, they only want to see now.
A part of me is nervous the rebuild won't work. I admit it. Number 7 in the playoffs seems like such a long way even though we have player like Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, and Bismack Biyombo on our team now. And not to burst anyone's bubble, but it's entirely possible that core never reaches the success the team had around Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, and Stephen Jackson. Maybe that team would have been better the next year. The Atlanta Hawks certainly performed better. Maybe we gave up too soon.
Maybe Michael Jordan, in his mind is really just cheap as hell and tried to do what he felt was best for his money rather than building a contender. Certainly, not every middle of the road team has chosen to blow their entire squad up once they started getting a little limited flexibility wise. And maybe we would have been better retooling instead of going full fledged rebuild. I certainly think we made the right decision, but I've never been the one to think that my opinion on something means it's right.
There are fans like Focus, who were absolutely disgusted by last year's debacle and have every right to be. There are guys like southtunnel who look at our rebuilding job thus far and ultimately wonder what really makes us closer to the Thunder in terms or rebuilding than teams like the Kings and the Wolves who have been really rebuilding for years with no playoffs to show for it. And he has every reason to wonder.
"I wonder if this group of guys were able to remain fans after the 7-59 season"
The couple that I was referring to other saying "maybe we'll get em next year" was actually me and my girlfriend. I had never been more excited about the Bobcats. We bought jerseys, T-Shirts, super expensive tickets to the game, everything. I, as a member of this site at the time was well aware our team basically had no chance in hell, but the experience was fun, and I began putting together in my head what we needed to do to come back next year. "Get rid of Diaw, do something about Felton, hope Tyson stays healthy, get Larry Hughes the f out of Charlotte". Looking back, I should've known to expect the worst. But I didn't. And honestly, I didn't care. The playoffs were something like a championship for me those nights. Just like it would for us if we won 35 games next year. Just like it would be for the Wolves and Kings if they made the playoffs next year. Just like it would be for the Knicks if they reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
Maybe it's all about the theory of relativity. And maybe, as a small market team with no superstar appeal, we should consider having a team capable of making the playoffs year in and year out an amazing accomplishment. Maybe we're just one of the last to figure this out.
Maybe not. In the end, Drago lost to Rocky and teams such as the San Antonio Spurs and Thunder show that all it takes is a little luck and a solid GM. At one point, Lebron James gave this same hope to the small market Cavaliers (which will lead to a new post soon, "Would Charlotte be able to retain a superstar?") How do you feel?