February 26, 2010

Defending champs dominate Ramu Memorial group stage

The group stages of this year's Ramu Memorial Basketball Tournament (RMBT) concluded last night, with defending champs Western Railways dominating the Men's competition. SEC-Railway go into the final undefeated in the Women's field.

Held at the Indian Gymkhana in Mumbai, the RMBT is an annual, prestigious All-India basketball tournament, now in it's 26th edition. The tournament has historically featured the best team's in India competing for the coveted trophy.

In the men's competition, the teams were divided into two groups:

Group A: Western Railway, ONGC, Chennai Customs, Vijaya Bank
Group B: Indian Overseas Bank, Indian Army, Punjab, RCF-Kapurtala

Western Railway, led by V-Town prodigy and captain of the Young Cagers Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, have been on fire so far, winning all three of their group games. Vishesh has been the main perpetrator, highlighted by his 42 point scoring outburst in the close 85-80 victory over Vijaya Bank in their second game. They also beat Chennai Customs and ONGC to finish as group leaders.

ONGC also qualified from Group A, beating Vijaya Bank and Chennai Customs in their two blowout victories. Mohit Bhandari and Trideep Rai have been consistent performers in their matches.

Indian Army and the giant-killers Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) qualified from Group B for the semi-finals. Three teams in the group - IOB, Indian Army, and Punjab - finished with two victories each, leaving the qualifiers to be decided by point difference.

The big surprise were IOB, led by the recent resurgence of veteran player S. Robinson. After going 1-1 in their first two games, IOB needed a big win against a favoured Punjab side to qualify. Punjab have their own big time performers in Jagdeep Singh and TJ Sahi, but IOB rallied to win their game Thursday night 95-64, led by Robinson's 31. They finished top of the group.

Indian Army lost their first game to Punjab, but recovered well with balanced teamplay and won their next two games against IOB and RCF-Kapurtala, finishing second place in the group.

The Semi-Finals for men will both take place on Saturday the 27th.
5:00 PM: Western Railway vs. Indian Army
7:00 PM: IOB vs. ONGC

Saturday evening will also feature two of the most exciting features of the tournament, the Slam Dunk Competition and the Three Point Shootout. According to Vinod Muthukumar, one of the organizers of the event, the confirmed names for the Slam Dunk Competition so far are TJ Sahi, Jagdeep Singh, Arjun Singh, and Abhilek Paul.

There is only one group for the Women with these four teams: Southern Railway, SEC Railway, Karnataka, and Aamchi Mumbai.

Southern Railway, featuring India's basketball starlet Geethu Anna Jose and Anitha P, started off badly with close loss to SEC Railway. They went on to win their next two games against Karnataka and local favouties Aamchi Mumbai to enter the finals.

They will be joined by SEC Railway, who have won all their games, led mostly by the combined efforts of M. Pushpa and Anju Kakra.

Both the Men's and Women's Finals will be played on Sunday, February 28th. SEC Railway will play Southern Railway in the Women's Finals at 5:30 AM. The winners of the two Men's semi-finals will play the final at 7:30 the same evening.

The tournament is being played on international standard Teraflex courts and held under floodlights in a specially erected stadium. In an interesting new endeavour for Indian tournaments, a statistics programme acquired from FIBA website is being used to track individual and team statistics such points scored, shooting percentage, 3 point percentage, rebounds, assists, steals, etc. The information is regularly uploaded to the tournament's official website: www.ramumemorial.com.

As in the past, entry is free for spectators and this is being done especially to promote basketball among students and youth.

"The crowd is building day by day," said Muthukumar, "Now that the competition is getting stiffer, the audience is getting more eager. The semi final line up looks interesting."

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February 25, 2010

NBA on Ten Sports/Zee Sports

This isn't exactly breaking news, but if you have been following NBA broadcasting in India closely, a show called 'Real NBA' began a few months ago for NBA/basketball fans in India a couple of months ago.

From Indiantelevision.com:

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has entered into a deal with the Ten-Zee combine for a show called Real NBA. This is the first time that Ten Sports has entered into a deal with the NBA.
The 26-episode highlights, brought to fans across India in partnership with HP, is being aired till June every Monday on Ten Sports at 9 pm and on Zee Sports on Tuesday at 8:30 pm.
In addition to India, the programme is also being aired in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

As mentioned above, Real NBA is a highlight-driven show, but also broadcasts some off-the-court news, such as Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor hanging out with Kobe. According to NBA.com/India, Real NBA "provides fans in India unique angles on the biggest stories in the NBA and exclusive access to the league’s players, coaches, executives, broadcasters and journalists."

The more the merrier - In addition to Fastbreak, NBA Action, and Live games on ESPN/STAR, it's good to see that the NBA is expanding to other networks in India like Ten-Zee to show more basketball highlights.

P.S.: There was no way I was going to write something today and not mention the cricket match last night.


I'm gonna use Larry Bird's quote about Michael Jordan and apply it to the greatest Indian alive: "That was God disguised as Sachin Tendulkar."

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February 22, 2010

It's Prediction Time!

Now, with the trade deadline behind us and the rosters for the NBA teams more or less finalized, I've decided that it's a good time to make my end-of-season predictions for the NBA. These include my predictions for end-of-season awards (MVP, ROY, etc), the All-NBA team, and who will be the last team standing as 2010 NBA Champions...

There are a few more months to go in the regular season, and, in any other year, the favourites for the playoffs and the championship would've been crystal clear. This season, though, is a lot more unpredictable. There are lot more 'favourites' for the title, and the playoff race, especially in the West, looks like heading towards a wild finish.

On to my bold predictions then. Let me know if you have any views, disagreements or wagers (I'll make them as long as they involve KFC or Mutton Fried Momos.

Most Valuable Player (MVP): LeBron James. There have been contenders all season. Kobe was the favourite early on, Steve Nash made some noise of his own, D-Wade is always in contention, Dirk has been playing better than he did when he won MVP, and Kevin Durant has been playing out of his friggin MIND these days. And of course, the definition of 'Most Valuable' too changes from person to person. But whatever you're reasoning - best player on best team, best statistical averages, or a balance of the two - this year, there is no debate. LBJ has been on a whole different level.
I'm a bigger fan of all those other players mentioned above, but LeBron won't be denied. Although they've lost three straight, the Cavs will end up with the best or second best record in the league. LeBron is averaging 30.0 ppg (1st in league), 7.1 rpg, and 8.5 apg (6th in the league). Those numbers make me sick.
And then he went along and had a 43, 13, and 15 night in the loss to the Nuggets. 43, 13, and 15. I think I just threw up in my mouth.

Rookie of the Year: Tyreke Evans. I'm really happy about this one. Since my main man Ricky Rubio decided to defer his journey to the NBA, Evans became my favourite for this award. Brandon Jennings' hot start (capped by that incredible 55-point game) threatened my early season prediction, but it seems that Evans' consistent play (20.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.2 apg) should see him comfortably win this award. If only the Kings can now start winning some basketball games again...
You might have already read about this, but if Evans finishes the season with a 20, 5, and 5 average, he would only be the fourth rookie to achieve it. The other three? Some players called Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James.

Most Improved Player: Aaron Brooks. This is an especially contentious award, because everyone has a different opinion of what they would call most improved. Other contenders in my mind were Brooks' former teammate Carl Landry (same kind of improvement, but he wasn't a team leader like Brooks, and he got traded), Rajon Rondo (close call), Marc Gasol, Gerald "Crash" Wallace, Trevor Ariza, JJ Hickson, Josh Smith, and Kevin Durant (who went from ROY to elite, to superstar in 3 seasons).
But I choose Brooks, who improved his scoring averages from 11.2 to 19.4 this season and assists from 3.0 to 5.0. He is now playing major minutes at the point and leading a hard-working, overachieving team from the front. Rockets lost their three best players in Yao (to injuries), Artest (to Lakers) and McGrady (to injuries and Knicks) and they're still relevant. Tell me the last time that has happened?

Sixth Man Award: Jamal Crawford. Carl Landry was actually my front-runner for this award, until he got traded to the Kings, for whom he will become a regular starter and thus not really be eligible. Crawford has helped strengthen the Hawk bench, and the Hawks are now amongst the best teams in the East. A senseless jacker in the past (mostly with my Knicks), Crawford is now averaging an efficient 17.6 ppg as a 6th man.
Other contenders for this award are Jason Terry, Al Harrington, and Manu Ginobili.

Defensive Player of the Year: Gerald Wallace. This is one of my favourite categories: "Crash", as he's called, is the best defender in the league's second-best defensive team, the Bobcats (ya, I bet you can't believe that!) - only the Celtics are better. Wallace is a versatile player and a hound on the defensive end. Defense is terribly hard to quantify through statistics, so it is a combination of things that would help voters in judging the 'best' defender. My main man Ron Ron and Dwight Howard are contenders too, but this is Wallace's award to lose.

Coach of the Year: Scott Brooks of the Oklahama City Thunder. This is another difficult category, but from all the contenders, three stood out: Brooks, Rick Adelman (Rockets), and Lionel Hollins (Memphis Grizzlies). I'm gonna hand this award to Brooks though: the young Thunder team won only 23 games last season, and the same squad of players have improved along with Brooks' guidance so much this season that the Thunder have already won 32 games, and are on their way to a 48 win season. That is improvement.

All NBA Team:

G: Steve Nash
G: Kobe Bryant
F: LeBron James
F: Kevin Durant
C: Dwight Howard

Notable emissions: Nowitzki, Bosh, Wade, Duncan, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony.

All Rookie Team:

G: Brandon Jennings
G: Tyreke Evans
F: Omri Casspi
F: DeJuan Blair
C: David Anderson

Other rookies have played really well, Anderson is only there because Centers are a dying breed.

Ok, now that the invidual predictions are out of the way, this is what I predict the Playoff Picture will look like, for the East and the West.


(1) Cavaliers
(2) Celtics
(3) Magic
(4) Hawks
(5) Raptors
(6) Heat
(7) Bulls
(8) Bobcats

So in the first round, I predict that the Cavs will get past the Bobcats, the Celtics play a rematch of last year's thrilling first round series against the Bulls, and will win it again, the Magic will beat the Heat, and my first upset prediction: Raptors over Hawks.
2nd round: Cavs will play and beat the Raptors, and Celtics will get by the Magic.
Conference Finals: Cavs over Celtics - but I say it goes seven games, making the Cleveland Cavaliers the Eastern Conference Champs.


(1) Lakers
(2) Nuggets
(3) Mavericks
(4) Suns
(5) Jazz
(6) Thunder
(7) Blazers
(8) Spurs

I know, putting Spurs EIGHTH is sort of blasphemous towards the last decade's best team, but that's just how competitive the West is. There will be three teams in the West with winning records that won't make the playoffs: Hornets, Rockets, and Grizzlies.
So, that sets up an exciting Lakers vs. Spurs first round series, which I say the Lakers will take in six or seven difficult games, and thus preparing them for more battles later on. Nuggets will get past the Blazers, Mavericks will beat Thunder, and Suns will beat the Jazz - no upsets here.
Second round: Lakers over Suns and Nuggets over Mavericks, setting up a repeat of last year's conference finals...
... Which I say the Los Angeles Lakers will win again, and go into the finals as Western Conference Champs.

NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Lakers.
So the Finals will be an exciting battle between Kobe/Gasol/Bynum/Artest/Odom against LeBron/Shaq/Jamison/Mo Williams/etc... Mamba vs. LeBron and Shaq! Artest (the best defender against a LeBron) against LeBron! Gasol and Bynum vs. Jamison and Shaq! There's a lot going on here...
But... I say the Lakers win and repeat as NBA champs.

Finals MVP: Kobe Bryant... Mamba will win the series and the award over LeBron, the regular season MVP.

Now, let the season proceed: I will compare my predictions to the final results at the end of June. Feel free to add your own predictions for comparison/debate. It's looking like an exciting few months in the NBA, before the great free agent class of the Summer of 2010 offer us an intriguing offseason.

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February 19, 2010

When the (Deadline) dust settled...

For some fans, the Trade Deadline the most exciting time of the NBA calender - more than the NBA draft, the All Star Game, even the Finals. The deadline passed yesterday (afternoon or late night, depending on your time zone), sending many old faces to new places. Here is my (not so humble) analysis of all the teams involved in deals leading up to the deadline...

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs were easily winners this past week, roping in Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and Deshawn "Souljah Boi" Stevenson to Dallas in exchange for injury-hampered Josh Howard (and his stash of herbs), Drew Gooden, James Singleton, and Quinton Ross. I'm a huge Butler fan and believe that he is one of the most underrated players in the league, capable of producing big on both sides of the floor. Playing in Washingon, several times in the shadow of both Hibachi and Jamison, often masked his true talents. A Dallas lineup of Kidd, Butler, Marion, Dirk, Dampier, with Terry, Haywood, Stevenson, and Najera off the bench makes them up to par with the Nuggets as the second best team in the West.

Washington Wizards

You've got to feel sorry for the Bullets, oh I mean, the Wizards. After losing their most talented and most retarded player Gilbert "Hibachi/Bang-Bang" Arenas to a season long suspension, they are in full rebuilding mode. They gave away their two remaining best players in Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison (to the Cavs), and are left with a core of Randy Foye, Zydrunas "Big Z" Ilgauskas, Mike Miller, Josh Howard, Fabricio Oberto, and the great upside of Al Thorton (from the Clippers). Don't expect the team to win many more games for the rest of the season, although the development of Foye and Thorton should be interesting. Hibachi isn't lasting past the offseason, either. Along with Howard, the Wiz also received Gooden, Ross, and Singleton from the Mavericks, although Gooden was later sent to the Clippers.
Wizards also got a protected second round pick from the Kings in exchange for Dominic McGuire.

Los Angeles Clippers

The ill-fated, bullied younger brother of the Lakers haven't done much to improve their reputation as what Sports Illustrated magazine called "Worst Franchise in Sports History" ten years ago. Call it luck or call it bad management, the Clippers can't stop sucking. In the last few years alone, they get Baron Davis but lost Elton Brand. They choose gifted Blake Griffin with the first pick in the draft, but lose him to season ending injuries.

This week, the Clippers received Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw, and cash from the Blazers, in exchange for their best defender Marcus Camby. They also waived Ricky Davis (he's still alive and jacking), and were involved in a three-way trade that sent away Al Thorton (Wizards) and Sebastian Telfair (Cavs) and received Drew Gooden. Now, I know Blake is a great backup for B-Diddy, and Outlaw is an improving player, but the Clippers keep on their lifelong plan of HEADING NOWWHERE. Like 45 other NBA teams, they are also clearing cap space for LeBron, Wade, Bosh, etc. Not gonna happen - not in Clipperland. Cross your fingers that Griffin isn't the next Olawakandi.

Portland Trailblazers

I like what the Blazers are up to. They have a great young core in Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldrige, Jerryd Bayless, Rudy Fernandez, and the injured (but potentially brilliant) Greg Oden. With vets Andre Miller and Juwan Howard, they are heading towards a good playoff run. The Blazers brought in Marcus Camby from the Clips in exchange for Outlaw and Blake - a good trade, given Camby's leadership and defensive qualities - although an injury prone team bringing in an injury prone player is usually a recipe for disaster. I have high hopes for this team, though...

Minnesota Timberwolves

Another sob story - the T-Wolves have been in rebuilding mode ever since that historic Garnett trade more than two years ago. Their only involvement in the trade deadline was sending Brian Cardinal (soon to be waived) to the Knicks for the 2nd pick of the illustious 2003 Draft Class. That pick happens to be Darko Milicic, one of the biggest busts in NBA history, and who will definately not last past this season. I don't know why I even wrote a paragraph on this news.

New York Knicks

I have never pretended to disguise my Knick bias on this blog. Ignoring scoffs and mocks, I've stuck with what SLAM Online have called the Decade's worst NBA team.
Just as predicted, the Knicks made headlines on the deadline's 11th hour by picking up none other than Tracy McGrady. T-MAC is a Knick. Oh boy...
But this is a good trade, I swear it. Knicks got to keep their best 6th man in Al Harrington, and only lost the rarely used rookie Jordan Hill, and the contractual headaches of overdramatic (and mostly useless) Larry Hughes and of the somewhat-defensive-specialist Jared Jefferies. Hill and Jefferies ended up with the Rockets and Hughes will be in Sacramento.
Recovering from his injuries, McGrady has only featured in six games for the Rockets, averaging 3.2 ppg and even 1 assist per game. To new NBA fans, those numbers are laughable, but McGrady has the potential to be a much-more useful player, maybe not on the same All-NBA level as he was six or seven years ago, but still useful.
Speaking of All-NBA level, here is a blast from the past. Watch as McGrady completes the most amazing half a minute in NBA history.

Knicks also received Sergio Rodriguez in this trade from the Kings, and considering that the team has had to live with retard Chris Duhon at the point, I'm actually excited about Rodriguez taking the starting spot.
The Knicks will now have cleared enough cap space to sign two superstars on huge contracts this offseason. I know LeBron isn't leaving his winning ways, but the possibility of Wade, Bosh, Amar"""e, or even Joe Johnson coming to New York now look excellent.
In other news, Knicks gave an inconsistent-point-guard-by-trade-but-not-talent Nate Robinson in return for an inconsitent-point-guard-by-trade-but-not-talent Eddie House from the Celtics. Knicks also received JR Giddens and Bill Walker (who has some upside) and lost Marcus Landry. Three-time slam dunk champion Nate's personality, courage, and scoring spurts will be missed in New York, and the only positive I can think here is that House's exceptional shooting skills and quick play will fit D'Antoni's system.
Darko's gone to Minnesota, and Knicks lose nothing more than their possible Serbian fanbase. They get Brian Cardinal in return, but he won't last long.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Ah... the rich get richer! Cavs, who already hold the NBA's best record and were on a 13 game winning streak (until losing to the Nuggets earlier today), bolster their frontcourt by aquiring solid big man Antawn Jamison from the Wizards in exchange for Big Z. The Cavs spent a long time flirting with the Suns for Amar"""e, but finally decided to 'settle' for Jamison.
Settle? I honestly believe that this was the best move for them. Instead of a system-changing, primadonna player like Amar"""e, they get the services of Jamison who can fit into an already established system without spoiling team chemistry. After the Lakers, I believe that this move makes the Cavs the definate second best team in the league. LeBron, Jamison, Shaq, Mo Williams, JJ Hickson, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao, and a deep, deep bench have the Cavs looking scary.

The trade deadline also marks the reunion of LeBron and Sebastian Telfair (since their 2002 High-School SLAM cover), who came to the Cavs from the Clippers. The two have since gone opposite directions in their careers, but Bassy will make a good backup.

Milwaukee Bucks

Bucks traded Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick to the Bulls for streaky scorer John Salmons and future picks. They also gave up Primoz Brezek, Royal Ivey, and a pick to the 76ers in return for Francisco Elson and Jodie Meeks.
I have nothing else to say.

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are another team in the sweepstakes 2010 free agent bonanza, hoping to provide help for the very talented Derrick Rose. Their 'big' trade was giving up unsettled Tyrus Thomas to the Bobcats in return for Flip Murray, Acie Law, and a first round draft pick. Bulls wanted T-Mac too, but the deal didn't work out. They aquired Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick from the Bucks in exchange for John Salmons.

Philadephia 76ers

Sixers get Franciso Elson and Jodie Meeks from the Bucks in exchange for Primoz Brezek, Royal Ivey, and a pick. Whatever.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies only lost a future first round pick to get defensive specialist Ronnie Brewer from the Jazz. Brewer is a great player who will complement a talented but offensive-minded roster of OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, etc. This is a team with great upside - good trade for the Grizz.

Utah Jazz

The excuse for the Jazz to give up Brewer to the Grizzlies is that his position is already filled with players such as Korver, CJ Miles, and Wesley Matthews. But I think they traded away the wrong player. I've watched Brewer play and he's one of the best/under-appreciated perimeter defenders in the league, who could've made a big difference in any long playoff series.

Charlotte Bobcats

I think Bobcats made a good move in strenghtening their frontcourt with Tyrus Thomas from the Bulls, in exchange for Flip Murray, Acie Law and future first-round draft pick. They also got the still alive Theo Ratliff from the Spurs for a second-round draft pick, who is slow but will fit well in Larry Brown's system at Charlotte.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs gave up Theo Ratliff for a second round draft pick from Charlotte. With Ratliff gone, rookie DeJuan Blair should see more playing time in San Antonio.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings were busy on deadline day, being part of the big move of sending T-Mac to the Knicks (from Houstan) and sending Kevin Martin and Hilton Armstrong to the Rockets and Sergio Rodriguez to the Knicks. Kings got improving big man Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey from the Rockets and the contract of Larry Hughes from the Knicks.
Not much to say for the Kings here. Martin, a near all-star in the past, has been recovering from injuries, and by the time he did return, he never quite fit in with the team that is now based around Rookie of the Year favourite Tyreke Evans. He's a great player, but for financial reasons, I see why they had to let him go. Talent-wise, they got the short end of the stick though.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets made amongst the best moves the past week. The Rockets gave up Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, and McGrady to receive Kevin Martin and Hilton Armstrong from Kings and Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries from Knicks.
The main story here is the loss of T-Mac and the gain of K-Mart, aka Kevin Martin. The Rockets have already over-achieved this season (28-25 record, 9th in the West) with a no-star blue-collar team like the '04 Pistons. K-Mart will be their biggest 'star', but his humble personality and hard working reputation should fit in well with the Rockets' winning team chemistry. His talents will surely help propel them to a place in the playoffs. In return, they lost the valuable contract (and useless production) of McGrady. Great move.

I wanna reiterate how much I love the Rockets soster and philosophy. In an interview given to SLAMOnline recently, Rockets owner Daryl Morey joked that their whole team should be given a SLAM cover. Although said in jest, it's a valid request. The team comprising of otherwise "average" players like Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Trevor Ariza, David Anderson, Chase Budinger, Kyle Lowry, and now Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong, Jordan Hill, and Jared Jefferies will only add to their winning ways. Much credit goes to coach Rick Adelman too for making this team work without the services of Yao Ming and T-Mac (mostly) all season.

Boston Celtics

A late, late trade for Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry from New York in exchange for Eddie House, JR Giddens, and Bill Walker. "KryptoNate" will provide the offensive energy off the bench that Boston has been severly lacking, but I don't think he's the ideal fit to the puzzle for a team that is one of the top five in the league contending for a title.
He can dunk, though, if given enough chances.

The Trades that Weren't

- After all the hoopla, Amar"""e Stoudemire is still a Sun.
- Ray Allen is still a Celtic

Now that the trade deadline is over, stay tuned for my predictions for the rest of the season - Champions, MVP, Playoff Stories, all...

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February 18, 2010

Ramu Memorial Tournament ready to take-off

The Ramu Memorial Basketball Tournament, a prestigious all India basketball competition now in its 26th edition, is ready to tip off from Feb 21. The tournament is held at the Indian Gymkhana in Mumbai and will last a whole week. It features some of the top (men and women) teams in the country fighting for the coveted trophy.

From the official website:

The hallmark and annual feature of [the Gymkhana's] activities is the Ramu Memorial Basketball Tournament, which was first started in the year 1966. Besides, the various tournaments and events that gymkhana organizes, Ramu Memorial has become an Household name in the basketball and sporting circles, not only in the western part of the country, but all over.
In 2009, the Silver Jubilee of All-India Ramu Memorial Basketball Tournament was conducted in a very grand and befitting manner. The most significant aspect and highlight of the tournament was honoring of all former greats of Basketball, who had played an important part in popularizing the tournament, since early 1970s / 1980s.

This tournament is played in a specially erected stadium, having a seating capacity of 5000 spectators and the matches are held under floodlights.

This year's tournament will feature the following teams:


Western Railway
Chennai Customs
Vijaya Bank
Indian Overseas Bank
RCF - Kapurtala


Southern Railway
SEC Railway
Aamchi Mumbai

Superstar players such as Talwinderjeet Singh "TJ" Sahi, S. Robinson, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, and many others will be taking part in the tournament.

Held to much fanfare, last year was the Silver jubilee of the tournament, won by Western Railways and Southern Railways in the Men's and Women's competitions respectively.

Indian basketball fans - this is your chance to support and watch some of the best of our country's talent. The tournament will be an entertaining event and be a big push towards promoting basketball in India. DD Sports and All India Radio FM 101.7 have already been partnered for live coverage of the tournament's semi-finals and finals.

See more about the tournament on its official website. I will be posting updates/news regularly.

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February 17, 2010

Farceketball - Indian Basketball's Rotten Core

This feature is following up the story I had written earlier, titled Guns, Fraud, and Basketball, and it was published in the third edition of the Sports Keeda e-magazine.

When basketball players step on to the court, something in their nature changes. They are no longer the desk clerk, the IT technician, the law-student, the father of two, the Hindu the Muslim, the Marxist, or the Shiv-Sainik. They become basketball players.

Before taking their first step on the revered basketball court, it is common practice for the player to bend down and touch the ground, taking its blessings, just like he would do before entering a temple. That is the reverence a basketball court has – so much so that it is worshipped and respected in the same manner as a God would. It blurs every other thing in the player’s life, and basketball becomes the only focus in his or her mind.

But what is the point of reverence when it is nothing but a farce? When games are played not to win but to pave way for the ‘natural order’ of sport in the country; when results are determined not by the team with the more talent but the team with the stronger voice?

Earlier this month, the All India Inter University Basketball tournament concluded in my hometown of Varanasi. Hosted by the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), this tournament featured the best four teams from each of the four zones in the country. The press release of this tournament would probably tell you that the best 16 university teams in the country took part in an exciting competition, leading up to the final which featured two of the local teams, the hosts BHU and the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth (MGKV). BHU beat MGKV 63-56 in a close-fought final game to lift the trophy in front of their home fans, and thus became the best university basketball team in the country, providing a memorable finale to the career of retiring BHU coach KN Rai.

But the result is far from the entire truth. Players from visiting Delhi and Rajasthan universities claimed that they had to forfeit or lose their games over threats at gunpoint. In the final, the MGKV played without their starting five, including star player Vikram ‘Dicky’ Parmar, and their rallying reserves threw away a one-point lead in the final minutes to pave way for a BHU victory.

The most shocking fact about this farce isn’t that the above mentioned incidents took place; it is that everyone involved with the tournament and the teams taking part in the finals silently let it happen. The crowd, although uncomfortable with the happenings on court, simply sat back and watched. The media made a soft whimper about it on the following days, but the organizing associations turned a blind eye. Even the coaches and players of the MGKV could only respond with a sigh, agreeing that “these things just happen.”

They just happen. When I spoke to former UP player and Varanasi-based basketball coach Jitendar Kumar about this incident, his only response was that these things are “natural” in such tournaments – everyone from the referees, gun-toting bullies, and even opposing coaches and players get involved in making sure that the home squads take the trophy. The teams agree to the result: that is what is “supposed to happen”, because it always does.

So it is compulsory for the best four teams from each zone to participate, even though participation is truly absurd when the winners have already been decided. Even former BHU player and Indian national Women’s team star Divya Singh wrote, “I know these University championships are like this… whoever hosts the championship does whatever they want... referees are corrupt in these championships.”

But the players who participate in these championships are the same players who will become our countries best basketball players in the future – if the biggest university-level championship is treated under such conditions, we are doing nothing but corrupting the very core of what will shape our national basketball in the future. What is the point of being true to the game that won’t be true to you? If Indian authorities are really serious about promoting basketball as a major sport in India, it should first clean out such practices in all levels.

When basketball players step on the court, something in their nature changes, to beautifully make them one with the game they respect and with nothing else besides it. Let’s not convince our players to corrupt the one thing they love the most: basketball.

This story was first published in the February edition of the Sports Keeda e-magazine. Click here to download the magazine.

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February 16, 2010

BFI: It wasn't me

Following basketball star Geethu Anna Jose's "ban" from being able to in a professional league in Australia (as reported on TimesNow.tv), I wrote an article on my blog protesting against Geethu's plight, called How to suppress your superstars - 101. This article was also published on SportsKeeda.com.

The TimesNow.tv article mentioned this: "... the Indian Olympic Association has denied permission since Geethu is also the captain of the Indian women's Basketball team. According to the explanation given by the IOA, the Basketball Federation of India is supposed to organise a National camp during the same time."

It didn't take long for a response to my article: the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) made a press release just three days later refuting the blame for denying Geethu from playing in Australia.

The release, posted by former women's national team captain Divya Singh reads something like this:

Basketball federation of India refutes the blame of denying their National player for playing in Australia.
One of the recently published articles stated that Geethu Anna Jose, an outstanding and highly reputed International Basketball Player of the country was denied the opportunity to train and play in the Big V Women’s program in Australia from 15th February to mid August, 2010 by the Ringwood Basketball Association, Victoria, Australia by the Basketball Federation of India.
BFI clarifies that Jose sent her E-mail to the Federation at 8:42 PM on 25th January, 2010. The 26th January, 2010 being a National Holiday the office was closed. Her permission to participate in the above program in Australia was given on 27th January, 2010 addressed to Head Women’s Coach Ringwood Basketball Association Inc, Australia by Email and a copy of the letter was also forwarded to Geethu by Email.

“We never deny any player, until unless it comes to our commitment towards the nation” says, Harish Sharma, Genl secy BFI.
In few months Geethu, a member of the Indian team, will be representing at the reputed Asian Games. Basketball Federation of India is planning the National Coaching Camp and Foreign Exposure for the Men & Women teams in order to prepare Indian teams for the Asian Games this year where it is mandatory for the selected players to participate in the Coaching Camps & Foreign Exposure prior to their respective International participation and the Asian Games.
In such cases, BFI always considers National interest, and it is expected of every player selected, to attend the National Coaching Camps for the preparation of International events. Basketball is a team game and the whole team needs to practice together for the work-outs on offensive as well as defensive strategies & team coordination.

I applaud the BFI if they really did give permission to Geethu to join the team in Australia. But if the BFI isn't stopping her, then why is she still here?

I wholeheartedly agree that national interest should stand above all, but it shouldn't come in the way of player progress if possible. Geethu had been quoted saying that her league season in Australia would end three months before the Asian Games, giving her ample time to practice with the team. In situations like these, doesn't she deserve to go and improve her skills abroad?

I was finally able to contact Geethu and get her side of the story.

This is what Geethu said about the issue: "... About the Australian league: What really happened was, finally [the BFI] gave me the permission to go, but also they said i have to be back for this Asian games camp going to be held at next month."

What she means is this: the BFI did allow Geethu to go, but expected her back much too early, and for her to return in a month would mean that she misses a large part of her professional season with the Ringwood Hawks in Australia.

Geethu was, after all, the top scorer in all of Asia (!!) during the FIBA Women's Asian Basketball Championships in Chennai in November. Pardon me for thinking that she deserves a lot more respect and recognition for her efforts.

These questions remain to be answered for the conflict to be fully resolved. But this is just a start of such conflicts - if we are hoping that Indian players improve their quality of play, then they will eventually be wooed by better basketball leagues in other countries - Australia, Europe, and hopefully in my lifetime, the NBA. Will this be a reoccuring situation every time our players want to head out of India?

Indian federations / associations need to learn from incidents such as those of Geethu and, of course, from the problems faced by our only Olympic individual gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, who was involved in a tussle with the NRAI.

Based on the opinion of most of the players and coaches I have spoken to, the BFI's General Secretary Harish Sharma seems to be determined in helping promote basketball in India the right way. He should be thanked for his swift response to this issue, but I feel that there is a long way to go before we have a smooth system of dealing with these complicated issues.

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February 15, 2010

108,713. And the rest of the All Star Weekend

108,713. A hundred and eight thousand, seven hundred, thirteen. That's how many people showed up at the Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas, making it the most attended basketball game of all time. The record was certified by Guiness Book of World Records.

The All Star Game itself didn't dissapointment, with the Eastern Conference taking a close 141-139 victory over the West. Dwyane Wade finished with 28 points, 11 assists, and 5 steals to become the game's MVP. It was an exciting game from start to finish, and it needed to be too, considering the snore-worthy events of the night before.

Let's go back to the first night's events. Some celebrities beat some other celebrities to win the Celebrity Game on Friday night. What was of interest was the Rookie Challenge, which, surprisingly, the rookies won behind great performances by Tyreke Evans (the game's MVP), Dejuan Blair, and Brandon Jennings. The D-League did something somewhere also that night.

Now, All Star Saturday was to be the beginning of the real events. The programme was shown live in India on Sunday morning, but I couldn't catch it until the repeat late on Sunday night. Star Sports decided to skip H.O.R.S.E. for the repeat, which was won by Kevin Durant.

Here are my running notes for the rest of the broacast.

- it begins with the thoroughly uninteresting Shooting Stars competition.
- i don't understand the rules, and i dont want to understand them
- c-webb is alive
- hometown star dirk nowitzki gets the loudest cheer during introductions.
- the commentators are taking this show a bit too seriously. they're actually mad at the competitors for not being as serious about it. Can't say I blame them.
- kenny smith is hilarious
- team 'texas' win. yawn.

Skills Challenge.

- should be fun: Russell Westbook, Brandon Jennings, Steve Nash, Deron Williams..
- i like to have a favourite for each competition... before i could understand and side with the sacramento team in the shooting stars tournament, they were already knocked out... skills challenge? go deron (last year's winner).
- Derrick Rose, who was supposed to be here, suffered an injury. He's been replaced by westbrook.
- nash should be a comedian
- brandon jenning's hair is AWESOME
- jenning's on fire... for most of the time
- even the skills challenge makes kg's emotional
- the vets in the final: deron vs. stee

- steve's got everyone off their feet. STEE!
- oh its over! STEE wins - and he's the oldest guy of the 4... respect

Former US Presidents "Dubya" Bush and Bill Clinton come and talk about haiti support. bush looks like an idiot. haha i can't stop laughing. its great that nba is supporting haiti. but bush is still an idiot.


- this is a good lineup... paul pierce, chauncey, curry, gallo
- i'm talking to my friend about shaq... just realized, that they should put HIM in a 3-point challenge.
- actually... they should put shaq in the skills challenge. i might die laughing. seriously.
- the all star game without game without shaq will suck
- barkley looks stoned. He's talking shit.. well, barkley always talks shit... but more than usual this time.
- chauncey's jump shot is beautiful. sexy, actually.
- stephen curry's got an impressive jumper, too.
- gallo, my great Knick hope, has dissapointed
- curry loses... The truth wins. paul paranoid pimpin 3-pointing pierce ... Arnold The Governator is in the crowd, and he is happy too. So is KG, obviously.

- its fitting that pierce is the first celtic since larry to win this. It's also hilarious that he called himself "One of the best shooters in the world." He is The Truth, after all.

finally... slam dunk! slam dunk! slam dunk!

- two good things about not watching this event live
1. i don't have to wake up at an ungodly hour
2. we get to skip all the misses. no thanks, nate 2006
- i think DeMar DeRozan (who beat eric gordon in the dunk-in) will take it.
- apparently, derozan had his first dunk at 11... sixth grade... awesome...
- take that back--- the misses are not skipped
- all dunks look good in slo-mo
- derozan/shannon are mildly impressive, gerald "crash" wallace underwhelms - i want vince.
- NATE!!! - not bad..!
- im very much against fan voting in this... let's keep the fan bias out of the actual event.
- we have a kobe appearance
- i expected better, shannon
- ok, so i like gerald's 2nd dunk
- barkley is still talking shit

- oh my GOODNESS!!! derozan finally gets EVERYONE off their feet... amazing dunk... that's a 50 isn't it?
- nate: nice
- nate vs derozan for the finals...
- and after missing the 1st dunk a couple of times.... that's it? that's the final dunk?
- nate is bored of this. derozan should win.
- derozan's dunk: not bad, but its been done before.
- now that's a dunk... nate's second ones's good... plus he grabs a pompom from a dallas cheerleader... awesome.
- Ugghhh! this is the worst dunk contest ever. i don't care who wins anymore.
- wow, great time for commercial break. leave me hanging over a decision i dont even care that much about. damn you star sports.
- Nate Robinson wins... 3 times champ. knicks, go! very uncreative... barkley actually added "maybe nobody should win". and i agree.

So that's it. I wasn't impressed by the events tonight, except perhaps that one derozan dunk and by paul pierce. And steve nash's facial expressions. Hopefully tommorow morning's game brings more to the table.

So, I woke up Sunday morning, 7 AM, definately expecting better. The Slam-Dunk contest was embarrasingly bad. The NBA needs to learn from this, and the superstar players need to have less of an ego about participating in this event. I'm calling out Vince Carter, Wade, LeBron, etc. here.

Now, on to my notes for the All Star Game:

- ive always left the player intros... friggin hilarious. Shaq's dance with the Jabbawokeez last year was probably the best intro ever.
- steve nash is still funny.
- duncan is showing emotion, and it seems like he's trying hard doing it. I know he'd rather be on sleep mode
- usher is there from 2004.
- dirk is starting instead of kobe... but joe johnson instead of AI?... where's rondo?
- the crowd of 90,000+ is the largest to ever watch a basketball game... twice more than any other all star game!
- east will win... i know it

1st quarter
- dirk starts with a crowdpleasing jumpshot
- dirk again! - they're really hoping for a dirk hometown mvp arent they?
- wade does a self-alley oop... nice!
- Dwight just hit a three!!! hilarious
- duncan is still taking bank shots
- wade to lebron is a great combo. i'm knick dreamin
- my main man boshasaurus check in

- melo's on fire

2nd quarter
- david lee is in, and he scores...
- rose and horford in for the east too, nice to see new players getting the attention on the big stage. There are 9 first time all stars this year.
- beautiful move by rose
- deron to durant, another alley oop - they did this several times tonight
- wade!!! oh this game is getting great
- durant is showing the world how damn good he is.
- its amazing to think that gerald wallace gets nearly 11 rebounds a game
- "One of the best shooters in the world" is still shooting.

- east make a comeback and take a big lead, thanks to lebron who is doing whatever he feels like, and al horford.
- lebron blocks melo, it's a goldtend, and lebron jumps on melo in celebration
- great passing, lebron to bosh to rose
- bosh is now playing point guard.
- jason kidd is sucking
- dirk is DYING to be mvp, taking every shot in sight
- melo again - 17 points in the half + 8 rebounds... wade has 10 pts and 7 asssists
halftime score: a defensively mindblogging east 76-69 west

- halftime performers are alicia keys and shakira. i'm getting myself a cup of chai to watch this
- rule of life: you cant go wrong with a half-naked shakira in a cage. in barkley's words: "can you say sensory overload?"
- alicia keys is milking that uber awesome empire state of mind chorus as far as she can... we need jay-z... She's changed the lyrics to "welcome to all star..."
- kobe got a bigger cheer/ most fanfare in the team usa player introductions... more than lebron. I'm just saying.

third quarter
- dwight coast to coast
- and just as i celebrate that... the power goes... i think I heard alicia keys singing "welcome to ind-iaaaa". Lame.
- ok, so 8 mins later, power is back. phew! east is up 97-88
- amazing lebron to wade alley oop... seriously, they work well together.
- bron is doing some awesome playmaking now
- wade has 18 and 10
- kobe calls the all star game the "greatest pick up game in the world". he's right.
- deron steal, nice move... he has 14, kicking ass
- nash is on the jumbotron singing the canadian national anthem. legend.
- another three for paul "best shooter in the world" pierce
- the durantula hits a buzzer beating three to end the third.
- attendance is 108,713... AMAZING!

4th quarter
- west are cutting the lead down. It's suddenly a 2 point game
- this looks like its gonna be a good finish. 120-119 east with 9 mins to go
- great sequence of crazy passes between wade, lebron, and rondo, finally getting wade to the free throw line
- ah, nothing better than some good ol defence
- rondo to wade alley oop again. Flash has had around 80 of these tonight.

- alley oops remind me of NBA 2K5. actually more of NBA Street.
- deron is playing major minutes here.
- lebron playing pg now
- bosh has 21 and 10
- class of 2003 REPRESENT
- but where's melo?
- big shot AGAIN by chauncey.
- bosh misses an easy alley oop from LeBron.
- chauncey again! that shot was so well defended by wade too. game tied at 137, 1 minute left.
- wade steals it with 20 seconds left!!!! game tied at 137
- deron sends wade to the line unnecessarily
- wade hits both 139-137. 12 seconds left
- i agree with reggie commentating right now. give ball to chauncey
- who takes final shot for west?
- dwight fouls nowitzi! 7.7 seconds. two free throws. game tied at 139
- east now has final shot... i say wade
- bosh is tripped, 5 seconds, he gets 2 shots. another dallas native, btw
- bosh hits both 141-139
- my (west-biased) friend thinks that this game would've been over ages ago if kobe was playing.
- melo misses the three...bad shot... east win 141-139... well defended by wade
- bosh's free throws win it
- funny that dallas had to see another d-wade takeover. Memories of the 2006 finals are still haunting the crowd.

Wade is mvp with 28, 11, and 5, shooting 12-16.

So, an exciting end to a fun game. The game was broadcast in 215 countries in 41 languages. 215 countries!!!! They're not many places where it wasn't shown. Maybe Antartica. And Bangladesh.

Another fun fact: This was the first all star game to be played without Shaq AND Kobe since 1997 (Kobe's rookie year). In the end, the West had many options of the final shot-taker, was it going to be Melo, Chauncey, or Dirk? If Kobe was playing, I don't think there would have been any question about it. Actually, a Kobe-less result will always have an asterix with it, won't it?

Great performance by the 2003 Draft Class. Apart from Wade's MVP heroics, LeBron added 25, 6, and 5, Bosh had 23 and 10, and for the West, Melo scored 27 points with 10 rebounds.

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February 12, 2010

David Lee, All Star

Kobe Bryant (health reasons) and Allen Iverson (personal reasons) are both set to miss Sunday night's All Star game. They will be replaced by Jason Kidd (Mavericks) and David Lee (Knicks), respectively.

Let's do a Good, Bad, Ugly here, shall we?

The Good: David Lee is an all star!!! Booyakasha bitches!!! Finally... Lee becomes the first Knick all star since Allan Houstan and Latrell Sprewell made it back in 2001 - a whole nine years ago!! That was also, perhaps not so coincidently, the last time Knicks had a winning record. We don't have that, but, I'll take this for now. Baby steps.

Lee is the fifth most effecient player in the league, only behind likes of LeBron James, Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, and Kevin Durant. He is also sixth in the league in double-doubles, and sixth in rebounds per game. Lee's season averages stand at 20 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.

So Josh Smith fans, you mave have a bit of an argument here, but don't tell me Lee doesn't deserve this.

Along with Nate Robinson in the dunk contest and Gallo in the three-point shootout, David Lee now makes it three Knicks attending the All Star Weekend.

Yo, Z-Man, you owe me some Colonel. 2 piece chicken, 1 Zinger Burger (extra cheese), 3 hot wings. Maybe some fries and a Coke, too.

The Bad: It's sad to see Iverson and Kobe not participate. Mamba is obviously one of the best bball players in the entire planet, and AI, despite the fact that he doesn't deserve to make it, is a huge fan favourite. An all star game without Kobe suddenly loses a majority of it's luster.

The Ugly: Jason Kidd? Jason friggin Kidd? This is who David Stern has chosen to replace Kobe. Are you serious? Kidd hasn't had an all star season in three years (at least). As Kelly Dwyer on Yahoo! Sports conjectures, Kidd's selection probably solely depends on the fact that he plays for the ASG's hometown team, the Mavericks.

Here is my quick list of all the (non-injured) players who deserve to make it over Kidd in the West:

jason terry (his more deserving teammate)
aaron brooks
luis scola
marc gasol
rudy gay
oj mayo
david west
tony parker
russell westbrook
lamarcus aldridge
carlos boozer
monta ellis (i'm not entirely sure if he's healthy, actually)
tyreke evans

I'd be surprised if even Dallas fans wanna see Kidd in the all star game. Hell, I'd rather see Mark Cuban play than Jason friggin Kidd.

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February 11, 2010

Tracy KnickGrady?

Knicks have shown faint interest in the Rockets' Tracy McGrady aka T-Mac aka China All-Star #1 for a while, but now, the interest is actually converting into actual trade scenarios. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Knicks could lose Al Harrington as part of a three team trade that would send McGrady to New York:

The centerpieces of the trade would include the Washington Wizards shipping forward Caron Butler(notes) and center Brendan Haywood(notes) to the Rockets. The Knicks would send Al Harrington(notes) to the Wizards. For the Wizards’ part, they would still need another player, as well as a draft pick and cash to make this a workable scenario, sources said.

The Rockets have been peddling McGrady’s expiring contract of $23 million since exiling him in late December.

McGrady has played a shade below 35 minutes the entire season! He's featured in six games for the Rockets, he has averaged a scintillating 3.2 ppg and even 1 assist per game. So obviously, the Knicks would want to trade away one of their leading scorers in Harrington to obtain him.

Sounds like an awful deal right? Actually, I don't think so. Although he has been effective, Harrington is dispensable. His stats can be fairly easily replaced by giving more minutes to any of the other jackers rusting away on the Knick bench. McGrady is a shade of the superstar he was earlier in the decade, when along with Vince Carter, Kobe, and Iverson, he was probably the deadliest perimeter threat in the league. But I still feel that if he figures things out, gets back some swag, he can be of some use. Otherwise, there is always an expiring 23 million dollars at the end of the season that never hurt anybody.

I feel that the Rockets will be the obvious winners in this trade. Butler is one of the most hardest working and underrated players in the league, and will take this overachieving team to greater heights. The glow of Yao-love from China would also make him a starter in the 2011 all star game.

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February 10, 2010

All the stars in Dallas. ALL.

Wow, it's All Star Weekend already... The NBA season just seems to be blurring past us, isn't it? The "show" begins in Dallas on Friday and concludes with the main event, the All Star Game, on Sunday night. Here is a list of some of the weekend's highlights (please forgive me if I purposely skip over the the Taco-Bells and the T-Mobiles and all the other dumbass sponsor names in the event titles):

All eyes are on Sunday night's bonanza, which like every year, will features most of the league's finest stars. As you may be aware, the league allows fans to vote in their starting 5's. Unlike most sport writers and critics, I like to vote for these players based purely and unabashedly on passion instead of their actual talent/performance. There, I admitted it. Stop criticizing me, bro.

So, my starting fives were:


  • G: Dwyane Wade: my favourite player.
  • G: Vince Carter: Ya, I've heard the disses. Half Man/Half Gimpy Knee. No heart, etc. etc. Whatever, I'm still a fan since the rookie year - I still wear #15 on my basketball jerseys. Somewhere in France, Freddie Weis is still shaking in a dark corner.
  • F: Kevin Garnett: Yes, he was injured for most of the season, and no, I don't care.
  • F: Chris Bosh: Along with Wade, this is my second "deserving" pick for the starting five. 'The Boshasaurus' has arguably been the best big man in the league this season.
  • C: Al Horford: Because someone has to play center. And because I hate Dwight.


  • G: Baron Davis: Try using him in NBA 2K5, the guy is murda. Zyman, if you're reading this, I'd just like to add the word 'posterize'.
  • G: Deron Williams: Cuz he deserves it, and cuz Iverson only played three games in the west.

  • F: Ron Artest: I had a faint suspicion that he will start a brawl with all the other all stars and get the best of the NBA suspended for the season and thus lead to David Stern's suicide. Okay, time to wake up again.
  • F: Pau Gasol: I'm not the biggest Laker fan, but Gasol has always been one of my favourites.
  • C: Amar'e Stoudemire: He likes to dunk. And I love that needless apostrophe in his name.

That's right, no love for LeBron, Kobe, Dwight, and definately none for gimpy ass T-Mac.
The final rosters are unsurprisingly very different from my picks:

  • Dwight
  • KG
  • LeBron James (leading vote getter)
  • Wade
  • Allen Iverson

  • Amar'''e
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Tim Duncan
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Tracy Mcgrady

Luckily, T-Mac will not be taking part, and the much-deserving Steve Nash has taken his spot instead. As of today, there are also doubts about AI and even reigning ASG co-MVP Kobe missing the game.
Unlike several criticisms, I don't have too much of a problem with fan voting. The game is after all an "exhibition" more than an actual serious affair, and the NBA makes no qualms before admitting that it is designed specifically for the fans. If the fans wanna see AI and T-MAC, then give them AI and T-MAC. (okay, maybe not T-MAC).
My solution is that the system shouldn't change, but the names on the ballots should. Only players who have averaged a given minimum average of minutes per game in a given minimum amounts of games played should be in the list. This would mean that the NBA needs to chill and not post the ballot list out too early in the season.
This way, we can get rid of all the players getting voted in despite much contribution to the league.

The reserves roster looks like this:

  • Horford
  • Bosh
  • Paul Pierce
  • Gerald Wallace
  • Joe Johnson
  • Rajon Rondo
  • Derrick Rose

If Iverson does skip out, I am hoping that the league does me a favour and makes David Lee the first Knick all star since Allan Houstan.

  • Gasol
  • Kevin Durant
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Zach Randolph
  • Chris Paul
  • Chauncey Billups
  • Brandon Roy
  • Chris Kaman
  • Deron Williams

Chris Paul and Brandon Roy are both injured and will not participate in the game, hence the additions of Billups and KaveMan in the lineup.

Me being a Knick fan, and most of my favourite teams playing in the East, my allegiances are going to lie with the Eastern Conference taking this one. D-Wade for MVP.

Now, on to the other exciting events. The Dunk Contest will obviously be a great crowd pleaser like always, but I am still waiting to see players like LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Vince, Josh Smith etc. come into the fray of things. This year, we will see the dunkaholic Nate Robinson take on the likes of Gerald Wallace, Shannon Brown, and either DeMar DeRozan or Eric Gordon. All great dunkers, but my money is on DeRozan.

Speaking of Vince and dunk contests, here you go. Thank me later:

The Three-Point Shootout is another fun event. Knick Sophomore and my favourite for this tournament Danilo Gallinari is going to cause some damage here. Remember where you heard it first - the guy is the best shooter in the league. "Gallo" will be beating Billups, defending champion Daequan Cook, Stephen Curry, Channing Frye, Paul "Paranoid" Pierce on his way to the victory stand. Btw, credit the "paranoid" nickname to hours on the playstation and bullshit conversations in my university years while playing with Pierce on the aforementioned NBA 2K5.

I don't care much about the Skills Challenge, Shooting Stars, Celebrity Game, the NBDL Dream Factory (because I don't care about the NBDL), and especially about friggin H.O.R.S.E. (seriously, H.O.R.S.E.? how about C.H.O.O.T.? let's play that, shall we?)

The Rookie/Sophomore game on Friday night should be fun. The Sophomores usually take this one very easily, but the Tyreke Evans led rookies seem to be determined this time around. Some of the players I'm looking forward to performing well here are Evans, Jonny Flynn, James Harden, and Brandon Jennings for the rookies.

The Sophomores are gonna take this one though. They have way too much talent: A lineup of Michael Beasley, Marc Gasol, Gallo, Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, Anthony Morrow, OJ Mayo, and Russell Westbrook seems too damn good to be beat. AND, they are playing without Derrick Rose, who would rather save his energies for the friggin Skills Challenge the next day.

Come to think of it, the 2008 draft class is pretty damn awesome.

I was frantically hunting for All Star TV Timings in India, but nothing was listed on the Global NBA Programming schedule. Following a few short moments of despair, I discovered that ESPN/Star Sports WILL be showing some of the events live here (phew!). The Saturday night events will be on live at 7 AM on Sunday morning on Star Sports and then repeated at 10 PM. Sunday's All Star Game will be shown Monday morning here, again at 7 AM on Star Sports with a repeat at 2:30 PM the same day.

Hopefully it's another memorable All Star Weekend. I'll recap what I saw next week.

P.S.: I still think Ron Ron should be at weekend somehow. H.O.R.S.E.? Coaching the Celebrities? Coaching the cheerleaders? Whatever... just get him there.

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