Monday, August 8, 2011

6 comments It's Low Hanging Fruit But I Criticize It Anyway

Bleacher Report has a list of the 50 worst decisions in NBA history posted. The 50 worst decisions. Why not make it 150? How about the 2,300 worst decisions in NBA history? Is a larger list a better list? Why can't the list be on one page? Would that not provide enough pageviews for Bleacher Report? I have so many questions, but a list of 50 worst decisions seems like a lot. You may have noticed when I cover the shithole that is Bleacher Report I don't add a tag for the author's name. There are probably 450 Bleacher Report authors, so I am not spending tag energy (it takes a lot of energy apparently to type a tag) on any of their names. Here's the list of the 50 worst decisions in NBA history. I guess 25 bad decisions just wasn't enough. Criticizing Bleacher Report is just too easy, but when done right it is also a lot of fun.

Last summer, ESPN aired a 60-minute special that will go down in sports infamy that was entitled "The Decision." Ironically, the decision to produce and air "The Decision" was one of the worst in league history.

(Looks up the definition of irony) As I suspected, this isn't ironic at all. I bet the author, Andy Bailey, thinks it is ironic I don't think it is ironic.

"Two weeks ago, the Phoenix Suns hired Betty Ford as a consultant. Ironically, she died a week later."

One event happening and then another event happening does not constitute irony. Also, most of these "worst decisions" are really just second-guessing by the author. They weren't bad decisions at the time, but only in retrospect.

Obviously, it wasn't the only time organizations, executives or players within the league have shown poor judgment.

50. Michael Jordan tries baseball

If Jordan hadn't stepped away, there's a chance he could have more than his already impressive six NBA championships.

Michael Jordan could have also torn his ACL during the two seasons he was away from the NBA and never been the same again, giving him three NBA championships. So this speculation can go both ways. That's all I have to say about this.

47. Orlando hires Billy Donovan

I will say hiring Billy Donovan made the Magic look bad, though it made him look wishy-washy as well. I don't see how the Magic hiring him and it having no real lasting effect on the team was the 47th worst decision in NBA history. The Magic then went out and hired Stan Van Gundy, who has led the Magic to four straight playoff berths, including one trip to the NBA Finals and two trips to the Conference Finals. Boy, the Magic really screwed up when they hired Billy Donovan didn't they? Especially considering his quitting to go back to the University of Florida allowed them to hire Stan Van Gundy for the head coach position.

It's hard to blame Orlando for this decision because I'm sure Donovan said all the right things. At the same time, it's hard to say they made the right decision in this coaching search.

Clearly, the Magic should not have pursued Billy Donovan in retrospect. The key point is IT HAD ABSOLUTELY NO LONG-TERM EFFECT ON THE TEAM NOR DID IT HURT THEM MUCH I THE SHORT-TERM. So how is this the 47th worst decision in NBA history?

45. LeBron James chooses Miami over New York and Chicago

What a terrible decision for LeBron James to choose to go to the Heat when the Heat made the NBA Finals in the first year he is in Miami.

Both Chicago (the best choice if he wanted titles right away) and New York (the best choice if he wanted to grow his brand) made more sense.

Is Andy Bailey missing the entire point of LeBron going to Miami? I believe so. Wasn't the entire point of going to Miami to team up with Wade and Bosh? Neither Chicago or New York could have gotten all three of those players on the team. So while Chicago and New York would have made more sense for LeBron personally, it would not have made sense to fit the purpose he intended.

Chicago and New York had the money to sign more than one big-name free agent. Can you imagine a starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah.

Even as a die-hard Mavs fan, it's hard for me to see them beating that squad in the finals.

I won't disagree there may have been better teams for LeBron to go to, if those teams could have fit him and another star player on the roster, but I wouldn't call his going to Miami one of the 50 worst decisions in NBA history. There's a reasonable chance the Heat could win 2-3 NBA Titles with James, Bosh, and Wade on the roster, which will make the decision to go to Miami look smart.

40. The Age Limit

The age limit was supposed to increase the emotional maturity of the players in the league.

Instead, it's brought some negative attention as plenty of "one-and-dones" have been involved in some serious recruiting scandals (including the two pictured here).

The two "one-and-dones" pictured are O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose. I don't hate the "one-and-done" rule and wouldn't mind if the NBA got rid of it, but not because of the negative attention it has given the NBA because of recruiting scandals. Recruiting scandals were happening before the "one-and-done" rule and they will happen even if/when the NBA does away with the "one-and-done" rule. The problem behind recruiting scandals doesn't just lie with the rule, but with colleges and the recruitment of athletes to play a sport at those colleges. This will continue as long as college athletics continue.

This is one of many problems associated with a slideshow like this. 1-2 sentences doesn't do this topic justice. The emotional maturity of a potential NBA player wasn't the only reason the "one-and-done" rule was put into effect. The NBA also wanted players coming into the NBA more prepared in regard to their skills to play at a high level in the NBA. The high-profile busts (Eddie Griffin, etc) made the NBA look bad, so they thought the solution would be to force a rule on the college game in order to make the NBA look like it gives a shit about their players.

37. The Celtics select Len Bias with the No. 2 pick

Hmmm...this was the 37th worst decision in NBA history? Choosing an incredibly talented player at the #2 spot in the 1986 draft without the ability to foresee he would go out and get coked up and die a few hours later? So the Celtics should have foreseen Bias had a drug problem and drafted who instead? Chris Washburn? William Bedford? Roy Tarpley? There were a lot of guys with drug problems in this draft.

I can't fathom how drafting Len Bias was one of the worst decisions in NBA history. Unless Andy Bailey has some sort of information on Bias' drug use at Maryland and he is just holding back on us. This is a case where a decision was made that ultimately didn't work and it isn't really anyone's fault.

Unfortunately, Bias died of a drug overdose the night after he was drafted. His death was a great tragedy, and there were signs that Bias may have led a troubled life before Boston decided to draft him.

What were these signs that Bias led a troubled life? He grew up black and poor? He hung out with guys who weren't Boy Scouts? This could go for a great number of NBA draft picks. There was so very little before Bias' death that showed signs of an abnormally troubled life. To pretend there were these warnings signs that Bias may have a drug problem or be troubled just doesn't seem accurate. Of course I don't know what else to expect from a person who calls drafting Bias one of the worst decisions in NBA history.

35. The Lakers sign Gary Payton

In the 2003 offseason, the Lakers added two living legends to the nucleus of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Adding Karl Malone alone would have been fine. Adding Gary Payton was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Of course, adding a "me-first" veteran to take a talented team to a near-championship never works. Just ask the 2008 Celtics when they added Sam Cassell or the Miami Heat in 2006 when they added Gary Payton.

With Payton on board, the team had one too many "me-first" attitudes,

Everyone knows a team can only have two players with a "me-first" attitude. Once you hit three players with this attitude impending playoff failure is near.

and the Lakers were taken down by a complete team in the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals.

Now if the Lakers had just stuck with Derek Fisher at point guard they would have won the NBA Title that year, because his mere presence in the starting lineup would have made the Lakers a complete team. Fisher's presence on the bench wasn't enough to make the Lakers a team, even though Payton was a clear upgrade over him at the point guard position.

32. Trading for Allen Iverson (The Nuggets)

Iverson always played hard, but he never exactly fostered team chemistry on any of the teams he played for. In many seasons, you could argue he was his team's chemistry killer.

There are seasons in Philly you could reasonably argue he led the Sixers to a great record by himself or with very little help. Everyone remembers the 2001 Sixers team that not only made the NBA Finals, but also took a game on the road in the Finals against the Lakers.

Here was that team's 10 man rotation in the playoffs:

Allen Iverson
Theo Ratliff
Dikembe Mutumbo
George Lynch
Aaron McKie
Eric Snow
Tyrone Hill
Jumaine Jones
Kevin Ollie
Raja Bell

Todd MacCulloch also made a few cameo appearances. It was impressive this team made the NBA Finals.

Granted, it was a fairly weak Eastern Conference at the time, but Iverson may have been bad for team chemistry, but he also was good for team wins. So the trade to the Nuggets didn't work out, but I am not sure Iverson was a chemistry killer in Philly.

31. Rick Pitino Brings the Full-Court Press to Boston

I am a Celtics fan and regarding the Pitino era I can think of 2-3 worst decisions he made. I wouldn't classify this as one of those. I don't usually agree with Bill Simmons (we agree the sun is bright and being stabbed would hurt...that's about it), but I agree if an NBA team had a specific group of players to full court press another team, it would work out well. Obviously, not every NBA team could be full court pressed effectively, but I still don't think it is a terrible idea.

30. The 76ers trade Charles Barkley

Barkley demanded the trade. He essentially forced the Sixers hand. They pretty much had no choice but trade him or deal with an unhappy player. This was not a bad decision.

28. The Lakers trade Shaquille O'Neal

Sure, there was some bad blood between Shaq and Kobe, but trading the big man made very little sense.

"Some" bad blood between Shaq and Kobe? There is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to this "some" bad blood between the two. After Phil Jackson left because his contract wasn't renewed, Shaq demanded a trade, which brought the Lakers Lamar Odom by the way. Did the Lakers really want an unmotivated pissed off Shaq on the same team as a supremely motivated pissed off Kobe? In a fight between two alpha dogs like this that feel free to express their opinion, it is hard to keep them both on the same team when they are unhappy.

The Lakers didn't give into Kobe's demands a few years later when he wanted to be traded himself; they shouldn't have given in here either.

The Kobe trade demand was a completely different situation. Kobe wanted to be traded because he didn't feel the team put enough good players around him, while the Kobe-Shaq feud was between two people. It's a whole different breed of an issue. General unhappiness with the direction of the team can be fixed easier than when a team's two best players just absolutely don't like each other. One unhappy player isn't as big of a deal compared to two unhappy players.

20. The Pistons use their No. 2 pick on Darko Milicic

I say there's a good chance they would have won multiple titles had they drafted Anthony at No. 2.

He's a much more talented player than Tayshaun Prince (the small forward the Pistons already had), and Detroit could have had a nucleus that would have competed for NBA championships for years (not just Eastern Conference championships).

Yeah, but would the Pistons then have won the NBA Title in 2004 as a team? They beat the Lakers, who only had a collection of great players, but weren't a team with Gary Payton on the roster. Would the Pistons have been a team with Melo on the roster? So while criticizing Gary Payton for bringing a "me-first" attitude to the Lakers and getting beaten by the Pistons who were a real team, Andy Bailey says the Pistons should have taken Carmelo Anthony (which I can't argue with in principle) even though Bailey says in the #32 worst decision about the trade of Iverson to the Nuggets that Anthony is a "ball-stopping" player. So here's a list of statements and see if this makes sense.

2002: Pistons should have chosen Carmelo Anthony (which again, I can't argue with outside of this specific discussion) because he is a talented player and they would have won more NBA Titles with him.

2004: The Lakers should not have signed Gary Payton because he is a "me-first" player whose team lost to the team that was the 2004 Detroit Pistons in the title game. Would the 2004 Pistons have been a team with Melo on the roster? Very debatable.

2006: The Nuggets shouldn't have traded for Allen Iverson because he is a "ball-stopper" like Carmelo Anthony is.

So logically wouldn't replacing Tayshaun Prince with Carmelo Anthony have brought a "ball-stopper" to the Piston team that could have caused them to not be a team in 2004 when they beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals? I'm just wondering. Anthony gets criticized by Bailey as a "ball-stopper," but then magically when he gets on the Pistons team (think of how the dynamics of that 2004 team would change with Anthony on the squad) he won't be a "ball-stopper" and will contribute enough to help them become a perennial title contender.

And don't tell me Melo can't play defense like Prince. He has the physical tools, and Larry Brown and the Pistons players would have made him play on that end of the floor.

Larry Brown would have put a gun to Melo's head and made him play defense, since no other coach has tried to get Melo to play defense apparently, and it would have worked because Melo knows snitches get stiches. Carmelo Anthony ain't no snitch.

15. Bucks trade Dirk Nowitzki

I have no problem with this spot on the list. What I do have a question about is this statement:

Dirk is an all-time top-20 player who just led the only team he's ever played for to an NBA championship.

An all-time top-20 player? Granted, Andy Bailey is a Mavericks fan, (as well as a Rockies and Braves fan...?????) so he may be a little bit biased in his opinion. I just don't know if I see Dirk as an all-time top 20 player. That's a tough list to crack.

Slam Magazine got a list of the Top 500 players of all-time and see which players in the top-20 you would leave out for Dirk. It's a tough thing to do.

14. The 76ers trade Wilt Chamberlain

Boy, he just doesn't like it when the 76ers trade any player does he? Iverson, Barkley, and Chamberlain, he didn't like any of those trades.

The Lakers have made their fair share of trade pilfers.

In this one, they got Wilt Chamberlain for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff.

Have any of you heard of any of those three?

This is the only reason given for not liking this trade. Much like Barkley, Chamberlain forced this trade or he was going to jump to the ABA with his old Sixers coach, which was a viable threat in 1968. So the 76ers didn't really have a great deal of choice in the matter. It was a bad trade though, but possibly not a bad decision given the circumstances.

12. Hornets trade Kobe Bryant

I'm not going to make myself sound old, but I think if our author had lived or done a bit more research on why some of these worst decisions were made, he would possibly have left them off this list. The Hornets had zero interest in drafting Bryant and the deal went down before the pick was made. So all the Hornets were guilty of is trading for Vlade Divac and choosing the player the Lakers said they wanted the Hornets to draft to complete the trade. So they may be guilty of passing over Kobe Bryant, but they had no interest in drafting him. Every team that passed over Bryant could be on this list then, with the only exception being those teams didn't get a quality center (which Divac was and the Hornets won 50+ games the next year) in return for passing over Kobe Bryant.

11. The Blazers, King, Pacers, Knicks, and Warriors all pass on Larry Bird

Red Auerbach had the sense to take a kid who averaged 30 points and 13 rebounds a game during college.

Looks like people were doubting small conference players long before Jimmer Fredette.

Yes, Jimmer wasn't the first small conference player to be doubted. I know it is hard to believe if you have only been paying attention over the last five years.

Again, please do some research. Yes, these teams all passed on Larry Bird. It was not a smart decision. But why did these teams pass on Bird? These teams did not pass on Bird because he was a small conference player (the two players drafted in front of him were from Montana and Jackson State, which last time I checked aren't well known for putting out NBA players), but because he was a JUNIOR in college, not a senior. They didn't want to draft a player who would just go back to college and conceivably waste their Top 5 pick for that year. At the time, this was a no-no to draft a player and not know if he will play for that team next year. Now, teams do it all the team with overseas players.

Guess what Bird ended up doing though? Going back to college for his senior year. The Celtics retained his rights in a rule that no longer exists, because of this exact situation, where a team can't draft a player who isn't ready to sign. Hence players have to declare for the NBA now to show they are ready to sign.

So these teams did pass on Bird, but it wasn't because he was a small conference player, but because he was a junior in college and may not have chosen to play in the NBA that year...which is exactly what ended up happening. This took me 10 seconds to do research on (it may take 50 extra seconds for a person who didn't already know 90% of this information) Bird and why he was passed over by five teams. So it was a bad decision, but it wasn't purely the fact that Bird played at Indiana State which was the issue behind the decision.

3. Tony Parker cheats with his teammates's wife

Really? This is the #3 worst decision in NBA history? Worse than the last 7 (all of which were pretty good):

10. The Decision.
9. The Trail Blazers go with Sam Bowie.
8. Charles Barkely throws a patron through a bar window.
7. The Knicks hire Isiah Thomas.
6. Ron Artest heads into the stands.
5. Tim Donaghy cheats.
4. Kobe Bryant in Colorado.

Tony Parker allegedly cheating with his teammate's wife was worse than the worst brawl and scandal in NBA history?

1. Jayson Williams brandishes a gun while drunk

I guess the biggest issue I have with the #1 worst decision in NBA history is that Jayson Williams was retired when this happened. It is probably a bit nitpicky, but I don't know if this incident should really be included in with the worst decisions made in NBA history since Williams wasn't an active player.

I think I am starting to enjoy visiting Bleacher Report. I wish they would give Joe Morgan a weekly column to write.


cs said...

Jayson Williams shouldn't even be on the list. I'd put the other J Williams up there for the motorcycle accident way before the shooting incident.

Bengoodfella said...

Cs, no kidding. He wasn't even in the NBA at that time. Jay Williams was dumb to ride the motorcycle. I'm really sad we didn't get to see more of him as a pro.

ivn said...

he writes for #27, "I know Larry Brown is a good coach, but his style only works with a certain type of player, and young or immature doesn't fit that mold."

but then he knocks the Pistons for not drafting Carmelo Anthony? Carmelo Anthony was young and wasn't all that mature when he came into the league. he was on the 2004 Olympic team that Brown coached and the two couldn't stand each other. I don't think Melo on the Pistons would have worked all that well.

ivn said...

and then for #26 he talks about the Connie Hawkins point shaving scandal. you weren't kidding when you said the writer didn't do a lot of research, because the case against Hawkins was nonexistant and basically amounted to him knowing somebody who was involved with it.

unless the writer was trying to say that the NBA banning Hawkins was the bad decision? it's hard to tell because the entry is poorly written. certainly not up to the lofty standards of Bleacher Report.

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, good point. I had forgotten about that. Even if Melo was mature, Brown doesn't like playing young players very much. So there's no guarantee he would have allowed Melo to develop and grow like he was able to in Denver.

I don't know much about the specifics of the Connie Hawkins point-shaving case. I will have to look it up. There wasn't a terrible amount of research that went into this really. I have a feeling he could have listed 20 things easily, but 50 was a bit too much.

Somehow this guy seems to have done a little less research than the average Bleacher Report article, which usually amounts to a quick Wikipedia search.

rich said...

A day late, but damnit, I'm going to comment anyway.

40) The age limit

Part of the reason for the age limit was to allow teams to get more scouting on players. After watching HS players bomb (Kwame, Telfair ...) or suck for their first team and then succeed at their second stop (O'neal), part of the reason to impose an age limit was to get the players going against equal talent.

Also, the NFL has an age limit rule and that league sure sucks.

32) AI

Here's the thing, Denver didn't give up that much. They gave up too late first round picks (Cook and I have no idea who the second guy was), Smith and Andre Miller. The Nuggets were then able to flip him for Billups, who played really well for them.

So I'd argue Denver ended up getting better. They basically swapped Miller, Smith and two late first round picks (which outside of four or five guys hasn't really led to any big names) for McDyess and Billups.

That's not even the worst trade this decade.

20,15,12,11) Draft

I enjoy how the article was written with lazy research and with 20/20 hindsight.

How dare the Hornets trade a 17 year old Kobe Bryant for an established big man? Stupid.

The only reason that's a bad trade is because what Kobe has become, which neglects the fact that Kobe might have become what he is in Charlotte.

1) Williams

How is that any worse than what happened with Gilbert Arenas who pulled a gun on his own teammate?

Or Telfair when he tried to bring a gun on an airplane?

I almost feel like reading Rick Reilly for an informed opinion.