Friday, December 21, 2007

...a stern warning

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For a new perspective on the NBA, without as much of a Blazers slant, check out ...a stern warning.

Monday, July 30, 2007

David Stern must be happy with KG

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For the past week or two, the sports media and the blogosphere has been blowing up with reports, unsubstantiated rumours and rampant speculation about a certian NBA referee's alleged gambling on NBA games and links to the mob. David Stern's NBA office has no doubt been in complete damage control mode, on a level never seen by Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson.

The media has done nothing but fuel the flames of speculation. "Will this mean the end of the NBA as we know it?... Will fans be able to trust the results of games ever again? ... Was Mark Cuban right after all?"

It's clear that this referee-gambling saga has been blown out of all proportion. The facts as they currently appear are that ONE referee may have attempted to influence the result of a number of games. The last time I checked, this did not mean the downfall of the world or the end of integrity in sports. Bad things happen. The NBA will get past this.

Meanwhile, news suddenly hits the horizon of renewed talks between the Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves to bring Kevin Garnett to Boston. You can bet (illegal as it is) that this news brought a small smile to David Stern's face as suddenly a story had emerged to shadow all others. At least for a couple of days anyway...

I hope he sent Danny Ainge and Kevin McHale a bottle of something nice.

KG to Boston : titletown? Don't count on it...

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The Boston Globe has published varying reports today indicating that the Celtics and Timberwolves will indeed move Kevin Garnett to Boston in a multi-player deal. The lastest version of the trade, being reported by the Globe involves (now wait for it...) Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair and two first round draft picks to the Wolves for Garnett.
In short, the Celtics will give up every promising player they have remaining on their roster (with the possible exception of Kendrick Perkins and Leon Powe) in order to gain one of the best all-round talents of the past ten years in the NBA.
When Danny Ainge decided to make the draft day trade which brought Ray Allen to Boston, he had to have one thing in mind: win now. With the win-now philosophy comes the necessity to trade young promising players for those that can get the job done right now. Jefferson, Gomes and Green are not yet in a position to contribute to a playoff team. They have a long way to go to reach their lofty potentials. Adding KG to a core of players that includes two other stars in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen makes for a promising team, with little in the way of excuses.
The big question is however, can this team make NBA championship-type noises with this team? I think not.
Certainly, this team will make short work of most teams in the weak Atlantic Division. After finishing last in the division last season with an ugly 24-58 record, Boston will no doubt push past perennially in disarray New York, depleted Philadelphia, stagnant New Jersey and will only have problems with the young and rising Toronto Raptors.
However the threesome of Garnett-Allen-Pierce ("GAP") can not win games all by themselves. Unfortunately for the Celtics, basketball is played with five players on court (just ask LeBron James) and even if Boston does make it out of the East, they still must face either San Antonio (just ask LeBron James), Phoenix or Dallas in the Finals. All of these teams are stacked with their own groups of individual talents, as well as well-tuned supporting casts.
Are GAP better than Parker-Ginobili-Duncan, Nash-Marion-Stoudemire, Nowitzki-Howard-Terry? They're clearly better than that last trio, but as for the other groups, who have played together for years, the debate gets a lot more complicated.
I appreciate what Ainge has done in making the decision to throw all of the green eggs into the basket marked "Right Now", but I will forever question why teams like Boston and New York refuse to rebuild in the tradional way, rely on young talent to develop and make wise draft choices along the way. Hey, it's worked for the Trail Blazers.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Blazers pre-Summer League workouts

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Summer League kicks off tonight for the Blazers vs Boston. Unfortunately no Bassy Telfair to be seen, but I don't think that is anyone's main concern. The big man Greg Oden will be out there, stuffy nose and all, and all eyes will be in his direction. The chemistry between LaMarcus Aldridge and Oden, as well as to a lesser extent between Oden and Brandon Roy, will be key to this competition.

Of course, a sideline to all of this is whether we see a maturation of Martell Webster and Sergio Rodriguez, who will be the starting guards. The nifty passing of Finnish sensation Petteri Koponen will be on display, as will the interior abilities of Josh McRoberts and Chris Ellis (who seems to have impressed Greg Oden - see below). Stefano Mancinelli is starting at the three spot, which should be interesting -- I have to admit to not knowing much about the Italian small forward.

Great video here of the Blazers working out in preparation for the Summer League in Las Vegas.

Notable Quotes:

Jack (on Oden): He's really big.
Sergio (on Oden): He's really big.
Aldridge (on Oden): He's got a much better sense of humour than some guys we've had here in the past...

Hmmm... take that last quote to refer to whoever you may want to guess at. I wonder if it's a recent departee?

Yi ain't no bust

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I'm just watching online updates of the China vs Memphis Summer League game and I couldn't help but think... No wonder the Milwaukee Bucks are so keen on securing the services of Yi Jianlian, no matter the circumstances.

He's only had a short while to prove himself in the NBA Summer League, but already he's proven that he's on target to average a triple double!

Check it out:

vs DAL: 14pts 6PF 5 TO in only 14 mins action!
vs MEM: 20pts 7PF 7 TO in 22 mins so far (game in progress)

That's impressive stuff. Now I know why he can call his own shots regarding which city he plays in.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Draft Day brings excitement as expected in Portland

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Kevin Pritchard wasn't going to let this go to script. It has been an exciting draft day so far. I'm sitting here listening to the draft as we have just hit pick number 25 in the 1st round.

1. Greg Oden joins us, as expected. This guy will be our anchor for a long time. I can't say anything right now that hasn't been already said.

2. Word is that Zach Randolph has been traded to the Knicks, along with Fred Jones and Disaster Dan Dickau for Channing Frye and Steve Francis. I don't know if I like this move. I feel we could have possibly gotten more for Z-Bo. Frye is a solid player, but he hasn't proven himself as more than a LaMarcus-lite to back him up off the bench. Francis is a cancer (wasn't that why we were trying to get rid of Z-Bo?) who apparently will be bought out (here's hoping) and give us some cap room. I hope this all works out. That said, I trust Pritchard's judgement - he's one of the best minds out there.

3. We bought the 24th pick in the draft from the Suns for cash and selected Rudy Fernandez, a 6'6" combo guard from Spain. Looks like we will have a pair of wiry Spaniards coming off the bench at the guard spots.

Now I'm wondering what will happen with all of those 2nd round picks. I see some trades coming. We knew draft day would be an exciting one in Portland...

More to come.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dirk Nowitzki to be MVP.. or not?

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Supposedly Dirk Diggler is going to be named MVP tomorrow. I'm not going to get into a debate right now about whether he deserves it or not. What I want to know is, how do people come up with this information as if it is fact on such a regular basis?
The voting for Most Valuable Player, as with other league awards, is polled from broadcasters and writers across the league. The only way that the result could be known so conclusively is if someone has informally interviewed every one of these voters to find out their selection. I highly doubt that this has been possible.
The only conclusions that can hence be drawn are that either someone in the league office is leaking information or that the rumour is potentially incorrect. If the former is correct, David Stern needs to grab a tighter hold of the reigns which he normally grips so strongly, in order to bring some mystery and magic back to the league. If the latter is correct, won't it be funny to see all of the major news organisations proven wrong?

Bruce Bowen reviewed by the NBA

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The net has been blowing up about Bruce Bowen and his perceived dirty tactics.

Bowen has been known for a long time as a guy who pushes the boundaries of fair play. Now the NBA has decided to act. Bowen's "interaction" with Steve Nash in Game 3 has been reviewed by the league. The league did not go so far as to impose any suspension or fine, but merely upgraded the foul to a flagrant. Watch the video of the incident and judge for yourself.

However, I don't think this is the worst or most dangerous play that Bowen has made, it's merely a case of 'enough is enough'. The NBA has acted, purely because it HAD to. Bowen's kick to the achilles of Amaré Stoudemire (see below), was one of the dirtiest plays I've seen in a while (probably since Reggie Evans' grab of Chris Kaman).

A perusal of YouTube will bring up plenty of Bruce Bowen-Collector goodies. It seems he's not too well liked around the league. And with good reason:

- Bruce Bowen undercuts Anthony Parker.

- Bruce Bowen's "foot defense" of Steve Francis and Jamal Crawford.

Some will say that, hey, it's the playoffs and a bit more roughness is all part of the game. This is true. However, when a player crosses the line between tough play and foul play, the league needs to step in, in the same way the NFL has done to protect its players. The NBA is known for promoting its marquee attractions, being its individual showmen. Bruce Bowen is quite often the one defending these same marquee attractions. If guys start to go down with serious injuries, that could be a big hit to the league.

Picking up this sort of play mid-game is tough. The referees can not be held to blame the majority of the time. However in post-game reviews, there is no reason why the league can not make a judgement and make appropriate suspensions and fines to stop dirty play from entering the game.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tim Hardaway, Gay People LOVE You

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After Tim Hardaway went crazy with his outburst that he "hates Gay people" following John Amaechi's revelations that he went through his career in the NBA as a gay person (being the first to do so publicly), Hardaway tried to gain redemption.

Then, former Star Trek star George Takei came out with this hilarious response to Tim Bug:

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blazers links: Magloire won't be back

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The Oregonian reports that Jamaal Magloire will not be back next season. Magloire has played well in the limited minutes he has been given and has been an adequate replacement as a starter primarily for the injured Joel Przybilla.

The key concern with Magloire, according to coach Nate McMillan, is his defense in combination with Zach Randolph.
"The combination of Zach and Jamaal has not been a good combination defensively," McMillan said. "And will Jamaal accept that reserve role next season? I doubt it."
After the melancholic news regarding LaMarcus Aldridge's condition and subsequent rehabilitation, The Feed jokes that the Knicks will have to try and acquire him.

The Blazers announced that Vulcan Inc (Paul Allen's management company), today completed purchase of the Rose Garden.
"This is a major milestone and a positive step for the franchise," said Paul Allen. "My efforts are focused on continuing to support the Trail Blazers and the long-term financial health of the franchise. By reuniting ownership of the Rose Garden and the Trail Blazers, we have moved another step forward in achieving those goals. We want to thank our dedicated fans, committed employees and loyal corporate sponsors for their continued support."
Wednesday night the Blazers take on the Rockets at the Rose Garden. Given that the Rockets are going through the Bonzi Wells drama, T-Mac and Yao have only just returned and the Blazers are missing key components in Przybilla, Z-Bo and LaMarcus, it will be an interesting outcome. At this point of the season, any further experience for Jack and Roy leading the team is cream on top.

Monday, April 09, 2007

NBA News Roundup

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Bonzi Wells flees the Rockets : somewhat disturbing news that Bonzi Wells has walked out on the Rockets. The season is almost over, but despite Wells' claims that he is not good for team chemistry, surely his walking out is worse. Perhaps the more admirable thing for Bonzi to have done would have been to try and fit in with the team for the closeout of the season, rather than creating an additional distraction. The injuries to Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady have already been enough for them to deal with. What disturbs me the most however was:
"He's not here tonight. I don't know where he's at. I haven't talked to him," Van Gundy said. "I want to make sure he's safe first."
Is there some issue with Wells mentally that we don't know about?

Julian Wright of Kansas announces that he's going pro.

Kevin Durant watch continues... Contrary to popular opinion, he did not make his NBA/College announcement at the team banquet the other night and Texas and the lower echelons of the NBA must continue to wait. Players have until 29 April to declare for the draft.

In an inconsequential decision, the NBA downgraded its previous flagrant foul call on Mo Pete, allowing him to play in tonight's game. Given the little impact Peterson has had on the Raptors this season, it matters little.

As if injuries to key Heat personnel were not enough, James Posey was arrested for DUI on Monday. The return of Dwyane Wade was meant to signal a push for a return to the Finals, but distractions such as this will not help the team as they are also missing Shaquille O'Neal tonight (grandfather's funeral).

James White really can fly, no REALLY

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I'm typically not one for hyping up non-Blazer players, but this kid James White can really fly. I just saw a video on youtube today of him dunking from the free-throw line, putting the ball between his legs (yeah, nothing special) and thought I'd have a look for more.

White was taken by the Blazers as the 31st pick in the 2006 Draft, before being traded to the Pacers and eventually making his way to the Spurs, after Rick Carlisle cut him, calling it the hardest decision he'd had to make in 23 years. The Spurs sent him to the D-League, as obviously there wasn't a lot of playing time available with the roster they have assembled. However recently he got the call-up and has to date played 3 games.

The main thing with White is his raw athleticism. He is a college sprinter and high jumper -- and it shows. Check out the video below and if it peaks your interest, have a look at this link which shows a wide array of White's dunk competition exploits and footage of him almost touching the TOP of the backboard (13 feet high) at Spurs practice.

The Blazers may or may not have lost a player with great potential, but either way, I hope he sneaks onto a roster next season in time to make the All-Star Weekend Dunk Competition.

Rasheed : "Both teams played hard"

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We know how much Rasheed hates talking to the media. I love his standard line, "both teams played hard." A quick video here of how the joke has spread around the league. Times like this I miss Sheed not being with the Blazers. However, when I think about where we're heading and the new image of the team, I soon get over it...

LaMarcus Aldridge diagnosed with heart disorder

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A press release has come through from the Portland Trail Blazers regarding LaMarcus Aldridge's sudden dizziness and resulting break from play:
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge underwent a series of tests today at Providence St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Portland. He was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW) and was treated for the condition by Dr. Daniel Oseran at St. Vincent’s. The procedure was successful.

Aldridge will be monitored by a cardiologist and will miss the remainder of the season. He is expected to make a full recovery and be cleared to resume physical activity, including basketball, in the near future.
Aldridge, complaining of dizziness, left Portland’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Rose Garden on March 31 and has been sidelined since that time.
Wikipedia defines WPW as follows:
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW) is a syndrome of pre-excitation of the ventricles of the heart due to an accessory pathway known as the Bundle of Kent. This accessory pathway is an abnormal electrical communication from the atria to the ventricles.

The incidence of WPW syndrome is between 0.1 and 3% of the general population. [1] [2] [3]

While the vast majority of individuals with WPW syndrome remain asymptomatic throughout their entire lives, there is a risk of sudden death associated with the syndrome. Sudden death due to WPW syndrome is rare (incidence of ≤0.6%[3] [4]), and is due to the effect of the accessory pathway on tachyarrhythmias in these individuals.

The guys at Oregon Live have been doing a bit of research on this as well.
Basically, all signals point towards the fact that LaMarcus should be fine to resume play next season and that he was very fortunate to have been diagnosed and treated when he was, as the condition can be fatal.

We wish LaMarcus all the best, not only for his return to basketball, but more importantly for his good health. Get better big fella.

Joel Freeland : Career stagnating

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Remember Joel Freeland?

Portland selected him with the 30th and final pick of the 1st Round of the 2006 NBA Draft. The athletic 6'11" F/C's game has been compared to Keon Clark by The Blazers then told him to return to Europe, add some bulk and more importantly gain valuable experience at the senior level (the big man is only 20 years old).

It turns out that his Spanish team, ACB Gran Canaria has only been giving him 7 mpg in 10 of their 25 games to date. It should be noted that Freeland is stuck behind former NBAers Jackson Vroman and Kornel David. Despite this, his career could be somewhat stagnated, should he not get some burn at the Vegas Summer League this coming off-season.

There is an interesting article here in British newspaper The Times, on the scenario which Freeland is in. Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard said, "I'm not concerned about him, but I am concerned about the situation."

“He is practising, probably getting stronger, but is he getting better? Is he ready to make that quantum leap from Gran Canaria to the NBA? We want to make sure he has all the chances in the world to be successful in the NBA, but I can’t tell you right now whether those chances have increased or decreased,” comments Pritchard.

Basketball players from the United Kingdom are few and far between. The rise to prominence of Freeland could help to promote the sport in the UK. Sure there has been Luol Deng, however he only moved to England after his Dinka tribesman father gained political asylum in '93. Ben Gordon was born in London, however moved to the States shortly after his birth.

To state the obvious, the Blazers would love to see Freeland show some development and add to the stable of young potential stars already on hand. When you bare in mind his age and the fact that he had only played 3 years of organised ball prior to his drafting, the upside is huge.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Darius Miles : What comes next?

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I'm interested to see what people think about the possibility of Darius Miles being back with the Blazers next season is? The team has been gelling really well this season with the array of young talent on hand. The swingman position is filled with a small group of talented players: Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, Ime Udoka.
Miles missing this season could have been a blessing in disguise for the team. It meant more room for the development of the young guys. It meant a departure from the controversy surrounding the team in previous seasons. A negative image which was largely associated with Miles and the equally controversial (yet much more productive on-court) Zach Randolph.
There are many questions surrounding Miles coming into next season. How will he respond to the micro-fracture surgery which has had such mixed results for players over the years (Webber, Kidd, Amaré, Zach)? Will the Blazers choose to integrate him back into the rotation which seems to be developing a good cohesion? Will the same off-court dramas surround Miles?
Is it just me or does Miles look like he hs put on a bit of weight in his time off? Check out this video:

For more on Darius Miles as he tries to make an NBA comeback, go to a stern warning.

Player profile : Luke Schenscher

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Luke Schenscher

¦ 7'1" ¦ 255 lbs ¦
DOB: 31 Dec 1982, South Australia
College: Georgia Tech
Big Luke joined the Blazers in mid-March after it became apparent Portland's big man department was under a bit of strain. The season-ending injury to Joel Przybilla and injuries to LaMarcus Aldridge and Raef LaFrentz meant that Schesch was signed for the short remainder of the 2006-07 season.
Hailing from Hope Forest in South Australia, Schenscher went on to star at Georgia Tech and played in the 2004 NCAA Championship game with now NBA teammate Jarrett Jack.
To date Luke has only put up 2 points, 4 rebounds and 1 block for the Blazers, but hopes to crack into a full-time rotation for next season. He had a similar run of 10-day contracts with the Bulls last season. In the Blazers' win against the Jazz, Schesch had a chance to play against the top quality Utah frontline (Boozer, Okur, AK47) and did not appear out of his depth.
"It was good to get out there and have an opportunity to show what I can do in the minutes that matter", he said after the game.
Schenscher is not the type of player to possess amazing athleticism and thus will likely only find himself a permanent home in the NBA on a team that requires a big body to clog the lane. Then again, many serviceable big men have forged careers out of such traits.
Should he decide not to return to the D-League, there is plenty of interest in the big fella from the Adelaide 36ers in the Australian National Basketball League, who have been putting out feelers on him for some time now.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Ballhype : Hype, hype, hype it up!!

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If you haven't heard about it yet, well you need to check out Ballhype.

You will soon one way or another.

It's more than just a site which collates articles -- in the same way as it's current parent does. Ballhype joins people together in likeminded groups and allows you to vote on stories. Check the site out and join up... check out this review here, as well.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Random NBA Statistic of the Day

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Players averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds this season to-date:

1. Kevin Garnett ¦ 22.8ppg ¦ 12.9rpg ¦ Voted All-Star
2. Chris Bosh ¦ 22.7ppg ¦ 10.7rpg ¦ Voted All-Star
3. Tim Duncan ¦ 20.1ppg ¦ 10.7rpg ¦ Voted All-Star
4. Zach Randolph ¦ 23.6ppg ¦ 10.1rpg ¦ Not Voted All-Star
5. Carlos Boozer ¦ 21.1ppg ¦ 11.7rpg ¦ Voted All-Star

Task: Spot the odd one out...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Brandon Roy for...

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Most of us Blazer fans have been saying it since the pre-season. Brandon Roy will be Rookie of the Year.

Roy for ROY.
We're now in March. As a Blazers fan it gives me great pride to say that not too many people are disputing this... The upsetting thing however, is that there are some detractors. How anyone can dispute the fact that Roy is deserving of ROY is beyond reason.
Andrea Bargnani? After a slow start to the season, he has picked up his production in February and March -- only to go down with an injury.
Jorge Garbajosa? The veteran Spaniard has provided the Raptors with some interior toughness in a supporting role.
Randy Foye? Get out of here. He has had flashes of brilliance and no doubt will be a solid player, but to date his rookie season can best be described as patchy.
In fact, the greatest competition for the prize would seem to be coming from Roy's own teammate, LaMarcus Aldridge. The versatile big man, given playing time after the all-star break with injuries to the Blazers' big men, has shown that he will be a future star in this league.
For the sake of comparison, let's compare the statistics of the top rookies to date:

Brandon Roy - PG/SG - 16.1ppg 4.4rpg 4.0apg 1.2spg 44.1%FG 83.3%FT

Andrea Bargnani - SF/PF - 11.5ppg 3.9rpg 0.8apg 0.8bpg 42.7%FG 82.8%FT

LaMarcus Aldridge - F/C - 8.9ppg 4.9rpg 0.4apg 1.2bpg 50.7%FG 71.4%FT

Randy Foye - SG - 9.3ppg 2.6rpg 2.6apg 0.6spg 41.7%FG 85.9%FT

Adam Morrison - SF - 12.4ppg 3.1rpg 2.0apg 0.4spg 37.6%FG 70.8%FT

Rudy Gay - SG/SF - 10.7ppg 4.3rpg 1.1apg 0.9spg 42.9%FG 70.7%FT

Jorge Garbajosa - PF/C - 8.5ppg 4.9rpg 1.9apg 1.2spg 42.1%FG 73.1%FT

The only player in that group that gives a solid challenge to Roy is Rudy Gay. The Memphis swingman has put up some impressive stats -- particularly in February and March where his numbers have risen to around 15ppg 5.5rpg 1.4apg 1.0bpg and 0.7spg. The thing is, Roy has been putting up stats at least that good ALL SEASON.

Aldridge's jump to 32 minutes per game in March has seen his numbers over those 11 games as follows: 16.4ppg 8.7rpg 1.9bpg 1.0spg 53.4%FG. Pretty imposing numbers for a rookie! Had LaMarcus been starting all season (as he has been since the injuries to Joel Przybilla and Raef LaFrentz), we could have seen a strong challenge to his teammate.

Of course, numbers are not everything when it comes to basketball. When you look at Brandon Roy on court, the thing that stands out is his composure and the way he leads the team. As a rookie, this is no mean feat. Roy has been an integral part of his team all season long, which can not be said for any of the other rookies listed above. He has started 47 of his 49 games -- and been a floor leader every night.

Roy for ROY.

Zach Randolph : grieving takes on many forms

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Monday: Zach Randolph is granted bereavement leave to attend the funeral of his girlfriend's cousin, in Marion, Indiana.
Tuesday: Randolph is seen at strip club Exotica late in the night, having a few drinks and sampling the usual offerings of the club.
Friday: The Blazers' Assistant GM Kevin Pritchard releases a press statement. The general premise being that the team will deal with any matters internally and that certain aspects of player performance do not need to be discussed in the media. He added that "At the end of the season we'll sit down with each one of our players and review their performance, including their standing in the community."
Further news emerged from within the Blazers that Zach was on his way to the airport, catching a red-eye home to Marion for the funeral and stopped into the club to kill some time.
Enough media hype has been made over the last half-decade about the "Jail Blazers" and their reported infractions. There are two takes that can be made on this incident.
Firstly, private life is private. It should be that simple. Zach was in a state of grieving and possibly he felt at his most comfortable visiting somewhere he was familiar with on his way to the airport. Perhaps he made a poor choice at a difficult time. Whether a strip club is the the choice that all of us would make is a separate issue -- ignoring the fact that we are unaware of his long-term girlfriend's view of him visiting such establishments. The view that many would take (no doubt including Zach himself) is that his forrays into strip clubs are his business. Criticise and critique his on-court performance all you want, but leave his personal life in the domain to which it belongs.
In reality, we know that the lives of celebrities -- including sports stars -- are anything but private. Increasingly so with the push of the internet, information on the state of Tony Parker and Eva Longoria's relationship, the financial health of Scottie Pippen and which strip club Zach Randolph visited are becoming public domain. Zach knows this all too well. We saw the controversy in the pre-season that surrounded Z-Bo merely for being "involved" with a sex scandal. He doesn't need any lessons on what type of situations he needs to steer clear of. For Zach to become a leader on the Blazers in more than just the statistical sense, he needs to start making smarter decisions.
There's only so long that we can keep labelling Randolph's decisions as young mistakes.