Rafer Alston: From Playground Legend to NBA Star

4 03 2009

skip-to-my-lou1

Rafer Alston grew up playing basketball on the courts in Queens, New York. He became a legend on the blacktop and was given the nickname, “Skip to my Lou.”

Alston was one of the stars of the AND 1 Mixtape Tour, known for his moves with the ball in his hands. His nickname originated from the way he dribbled the ball down the court, taunting the defender in front of him. He would dribble up the court in what looked like slow motion and then would speed past the defender for a lay-up or no-look pass.

Magic Basketball

The Streetballer that made Skip to my Lou, a popular player for AND 1 fans, has made a name for himself in the NBA. Alston was drafted as the 39th pick in the 1998 NBA Draft to the Milwaukee Bucks. He set the school record at Fresno State with 240 assists while in college. In his 11-year career, Alston has jumped around from team to team. (End of link) He played in Milwaukee, Toronto, Miami, Houston and most recently the Orlando Magic.

The Magic were in need of a point guard after losing all-star guard Jameer Nelson, leading to the trade for Alston. Since joining the team Alston has started six games and has helped the team win five of their last seven games.

Alston brings great ball handling skills and a reliable 3-point shooter. He is not afraid to take a big shot, but is unselfish enough to find ways for teammates to score. He is averaging 11 points, six assists and two rebounds per game.

Alston was one of the top trades that many people overlooked, as the rumors of bigger name stars distracted fans and reporters. Alston has helped spread the floor for Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, while also feeding the ball down in the paint to Dwight Howard. He has helped bring new life to Magic, a team that was left for dead by many after Nelson’s injury sidelined him for the season.

Rafer Alston talks about playing on the street and the NBA

Posted by Shawn Brown

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Shaq and Kobe named co-MVP’s in 2009 All-Star Game

16 02 2009

Shaq and Kobe at the 2009 All-Star Game. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Shaq and Kobe at the 2009 All-Star Game. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

 

Shaquille O’Neal of the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant brought back memories of the past at the 2009 All-Star Game in Phoenix, Arizona. The former teammates led the way, as the West dominated the East 146-119.

The two stood side by side and raised the MVP trophy, bringing back memories of old times, when the two won three NBA championships in four seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Shaq, Kobe, and coach Phil Jackson. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Shaq, Kobe, and coach Phil Jackson. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

“It felt like old times, when we were the best big man, little man tandem,” a soft-spoken O’Neal said.

The two joked at the podium and showed some respect to each other after an ugly break-up four years ago, that sent O’Neal out of Los Angeles. Just when many thought the two had become enemies, the all stars exchanged compliments. Bryant also let O’Neal take the MVP trophy, so the at he can bring it home to his son.

Bryant had a solid game, leading the way with 27 points, four steals, four rebounds and four assists. O’Neal had a significant impact as well, adding 17 points, five rebounds and three assists, while only playing just under 11 minutes in the game.

O’Neal opened up the game with a dance routine with the Jabbawokeez, the winners of the first season of America’s Best Dance Crew. While they all wore white masks and popped and locked to the beat of the music, it was not difficult to guess the identity of the 7’1″, 325 lbs dancer in the middle of the group.

“This could be my last time in the all-star game and I wanted to do something that made it special,” O’Neal said.

The fun carried over to the game. as Shaq showed some fancy dribbling skills and threw down a few big dunks, bringing fans and players to their feet.

One play that fired up the arena occurred when O’Neal had the ball at the three-point line. He was guarded by Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. The two exchanged trash talk and then O’Neal bounced a pass through Howard’s legs. The Phoenix center cut to the basket and received the pass for a monster dunk.

O’Neal nearly had another highlight moment, but was fouled as he prepared for a big move in the lane. When asked about being fouled on a break to the basket by ESPN’s J.A. Adande at the post-game press conference, O’Neal replied, “I was going to one-hand windmill it like Vince Carter in the 2000 dunk contest.”

Bryant was asked to grade O’Neal’s performance on the night. “I’ll give his dancing an A+,” Bryant said. “He moves pretty good for a big guy.”

The two laughed for the time being, but knew that the fun that they had over the weekend and the memorable moments of the game had come to an end.

“It’s fun, I had a good time, but as soon as I leave this podium, it’s back to business,” Bryant said.

Posted by Shawn Brown

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Lebron James, like Kobe Bryant put up big numbers at MSG

5 02 2009

There is buzz in the air at Madison Square Garden again; unfortunately, the New York Knicks are not the reason for it.

Just two nights after Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant torched the Knicks for 61 points, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Lebron James delivered a beat down of his own. James posted a triple-double with 52 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

The Knicks needed to turn things around quick after losing to the Lakers by nine points on their home court on Monday night. This time they were closer to preventing another embarrassing game, as they were within a point of the Cavaliers with a few minutes remaining in Wednesday night’s game. Luck was not on the team’s side for the second straight home game as they fell to the Cavaliers 107-102.

Things are not looking good after the two all stars came in and combined for 113 points in front of Knicks fans, who gave both James and Bryant cheers at the conclusion of each game for a great show.

Just when things can’t get any worse for the team that is trying to end a two game skid, their next game is against the defending champs. They will head to Boston to take on the three-headed monster of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, who have lead the Celtics to the best record in the league after winning 10 consecutive games.

Posted by Shawn Brown





With Jameer Nelson out, Orlando is going to need some magic

3 02 2009

 

NBA.com)

Jameer Nelson drives to the hoop. (Photo: NBA.com)

Orlando Magic guard Jameer Nelson is likely to miss the remainder of the season with a torn labrum after falling onto his shoulder in last night’s game against Dallas, according to the team’s website. Nelson shot a short jumper and ran to the hoop. He wrestled the ball away from Mavericks center Erick Dampier. The ball rolled under his foot and he slipped on it and fell forward onto his shoulder, forcing him to leave the game. After tests on his shoulder Tuesday, it was discovered that Nelson might have played his final game of the season.

At six foot, 190 lbs, Nelson is among the smallest players in both the league and his position on paper. He was voted into the all-star game for the first time in his career after having his best season in his four year NBA career. He averaged 16 points, 5 assists and 3 steals per game. This season he has nearly as much presence on the court as teammate Dwight “Superman” Howard. Nelson is the fourth leading scorer on the team, but he has the team’s best 3-point shooter, averaging .453 % from downtown. Nelson’s value is more than just points and assists; he has also been extremely efficient and averages only a single turnover per contest.

With Nelson out for the remainder of the season, the Orlando will have to rely on the big three. Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu will have to carry the team without Nelson. The three have played well all season, each averaging over 17 ppg. With Nelson out, this will create a major problem for the team that likes to spread the defense thin and pass the ball into Howard. When Nelson is on the floor the defense has to respect his shooting from the outside, which opens up the paint for a few thunderous dunks by Howard. Now with him out, the defense is able to control the paint and put two or three players on Howard, which will cut down on his production. Lewis and Turkoglu have played well, but are not always consistent shooters.

The team will have to find a way to play without Nelson, if they hope to contend for the NBA championship. The Magic have five more games before the All-Star weekend in Phoenix, four of which are at home.

Watch the Jameer Nelson Documentary:

Posted by Shawn Brown