Friday, October 7, 2011


Our 'Player's Ball' feature takes a look at best players and teams. Today is the present best starting line-up.


He has the biggest smile and personality in the league today. He dons Superman capes for dunk contest, sings at the free throw line, dances and jokes at every opportunity and he's even cameo's in movies and released an album. The Shaq parallels are huge and just like the most dominant ever Dwight Howard must be taken seriously. He aint no joke. Don't let the warm persona fool you Howard's a cold competitor. Still the best physical specimen in the L, with two handers, put backs and rebounds for days and games. OK he isn't as good as they say...he's better. His Orlando Magic team are true contenders and not a Disneyland, Mickey Mouse act. He may have talent around him but it all starts and ends with him. He may act like his jersey size, but his game goes beyond his years as he matures and morphs into a Shaq/Bill Russell hybrid. Besides 'Fast Don't Lie', so save the talk. Dwight Howard's going to sing.


It didn't look great for this power player years back...literally. One eye operation and a couple of knees up beforehand, this guy was spending more time on x-ray boards than low post ones. Still that's a thing of the past now as Amare Stoudemire has braced up and is now rocking goggles that make him look like the T-Horace Grant 1000. It all looked the same for the New York Knicks last year, once again Madison Square Garden looked like the crapper of basketball but then the Knicks upped their STAT's. Stoudemire looks like the old him, power dunking, power blocking, power boarding and power steering his way back to greatness. It's the kind of plays that make Michael Olowakandi poster. It's the kind of performances that make good on the promise to make Knick basketball relevant again. It's the kind of power that makes MSG fans say 'LeBron who?' and 'welcome Carmelo'. That's Amare!


The king of the NBA by royal appointment of David Stern, this guy is the commissioner of the future. Still, some threw rocks at the throne (or the billboard) but they better keep watching it. From Cleveland to Miami LeBron James witnessed a change in his status from love to hate. Still one thing didn't change about the guy as he switched teams, his brilliant all round play. The swingman furthered the development of his all round game. The player who can play point but also has the power of a forward muscled his way to greatness with more classic NBA moments. Then in another moment of televised decision, love it or loathe it the 'Bron showed how dominant he really is. How can one man have so much power? Because he's the king.


The greatest player in the league right now-palms on the ball down-need we point anyone else in this position? Like the game, it's his. Leading his Los Angeles Lakers to a second straight NBA Championship in 2010 Kobe Bryant once again cemented his status as best in the NBA, furthering his legend as one of the best ever to do it. Sure Kobe had a lot more help than usual but still number 24 looked more and more like number 23 in his dominance of the game. Kobe put on his fifth championship ring (one less than Jordan) but he couldn't even fit it on his swollen finger. Still today Kobe doesn't just carry his team he carries injury after injury as he plays through the pain en route to comfortable victories. Where else can you put the best but number one? Said and done!


Critics for years have been talking about who's the best point guard in the L, Deron Williams, Chris Paul or Nash. Water cooler experts have been talking about the importance of the Boston Celtics big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Still over the last two years the name Rajon Rondo has gone through the NBA's four P's, potential, promise, prominence and power. The former raw backup given the reigns of a championship squad is now the reams centrepiece. As 'Jesus', 'Da Kid' and 'The Truth' age Rondo just keeps getting better and better and more like the teams franchise player. He can score, dish, provide D and has as much savvy as an off court baller, but on the floor Rondo is shines instead of shimmering. Get the point? No, well put it this way the name Rajon Rondo belongs in critics and water cooler experts guarded debate. Whether in the mix or right there on top, like his Celtics could still be. Don't rule anything out, this guys headband and shoulders above the rest.


D. Wade came a long way from being taken off the floor in a wheelchair the season before last and we're talking more than the All-Star MYP award. This year Wade has been one of the best players you could have on your franchise, in more ways than one. Not only has Wade's world been a place that makes acrobatic, difficult and clutch shots again it's also been one of the best destinations for basketball. Dwyane once again became the leagues best general as he dominated the floor for his Miami Heat squad and also rallied in some troops of real strong company. Things where looking promising in Miami then in a flash things where fulfilled with a BANG! LeBron James and Chris Bosh took their talents to South Beach. There has been more than enough three months ago of talk, opinion and hate about this superteam but as the voltron formed critics and fans alike forgot to recognise one thing. Dwyane Wade may just be the best recruiter there is. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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