Sunday, February 24, 2008

Marbury Played in This Year's All-Star Game

Zack (or "Zeck" or "Moses") Marbury and the CBA All-Star game, that is. He's been having what is easily his best year as a pro since leaving the University of Rhode Island too early to try to get drafted. Now he's the point guard of the Atlanta Krunk and don't be surprised to hear he earned a decent contract overseas. By all accounts, his playing in this All-Star game was pretty well earned.

However, something had to be bizarre about the other Marbury's All-Star visit to the exotic and tropical Yakima, Washington. It seems, as evidence of the photos on my man Chuck Miller's private myspace page, Stephen's younger sibling didn't pack his uniform and competed in the All-Star game 3-point contest with an All-Star game t-shirt on. Can you guess what kind of sneakers he was wearing?

Chuck Miller, an Albany resident, was there as the semi-official historian of the CBA. He has devoted a ton of time to the CBA/Eastern league history project. Check out Chuck's website, this is sure to go down in hoops history.

Throwback: Who the F**K is Johnny Sikiric?

When I was in the 4th grade, I played on the St.Adalbert 5th grade CYO team. I did not play or contribute much more than a few steals, hand full of rebounds and a one single basket. I was the fourth spring shooting guard on a 47-7 team that won the Sectional Championship that season.

Johnny Sikiric was our best player. Shit, he was the best player around for a few miles. He scored well over 1,000 points that year and from what I know, probably more the next year. I literally, to this very moment, remember being on the court and watching him miraculously pass the ball ahead of two guys, run and get it before they turned around, and score a lay-up. We ushered him off our home court after he sank two free throws to win our Christmas tournament. Johnny was kind of quiet, but totally competitive in some ways. I remember watching him play an intense game of paper-maiche table football in the IS 73 cafeteria back in the day.

Basketball was, in fact, in his blood. His father was always around, helping out and giving us pointers. His oldest brother, Andrew, didn't play a lick of high school ball at Archbishop Molloy in four years, but he managed to be named to the All-Star team of the Hudson Valley Athletic Conference at tiny St. Jospeh's College in Brooklyn. As was his brother Steven, who was Molloy's best player as a senior after being cut three years in a row. And then, they had a little cousin that was really nice, naturally.

When it came time for Johnny to go to high school, Molloy was well aware of him. He played on the varsity as a sophomore and seemed like he'd be a D1 player. In the end, he chose to stay close to home and took a full ride to D2 Queens College. Johnny also loved baseball and wanted to be able to play both sports, so Queens was a good fit.

I don't know much about his baseball career, but at one point, Johnny was in the top ten in th country in three-point field goal percentage. He averaged 19.6 points as a senior and was named the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association D2 Player of the year.

I'm not quite sure what he's doing right now. He was always pretty smart and hardworking. I do know that he played some pro ball in Macedonia and Slovenia in 2006.

Once when I was in college, I was up late trading CYO hoops battle stories my friend Danny "Dutch" Warshall.

I said. "I played with this one kid, Johnny Sikiric..."

"Sick Ear Rick," Dutch said.

Somehow, we figured out that the St. Adalbert team that Johnny and I played on lost to Danny's CYO team in the Diocese's Championship game that season. Then I remember thinking "How the heck did he remember that kid's game?" and then "He was just that nice."

The Gift & The Curse

How does a guy who's team can't win (and often looks content down 20) get any respect when he is having the best year of his career?

I know I'm probably the only one watching tonight as my 17-38 Knicks are down fifteen (in the fourth) to the Raptors. Tonight, Sunday, they are in Toronto and things are not working out. On friday, these two teams played and Jamal Crawford had 43 points in what was an excellent victory for the extremely troubled Knicks.

Granted, Crawford didn't deserve to be an all-star, but he should begin to get credit as being the Knicks best player. If they had ten more wins, he very well should have been in New Oreleans. He's got 23 points so far tonight and he's visibly doing everything he can and can be credited for a good majority of the team's workload.

This link from the New York Newsday had me wanting to defend Crawford, because if I'm the only one watching, I think I owe it to him. I might even say a nice work about Zach Randolph too.

Is Crawford a winner? Yes. Why?

I think if you watch him out there, he is clearly the Knicks most focused player. Deep into this awful season he's the only guy still playing with a playoff-race poker-face and tons of intensity. He's the one player on the Knicks who is staying positive. How does one become a winner in the NBA? Isn't only a testament to the kind of player and kind of character Crawford is that he has helped his team win all of their games in this terrible season while improving, redefining and raising his game to another level?

I'd hate to give Isiah Thomas any credit, but the truth is Crawford beat the system with his help. Many other skinny 2-guards from tough backgrounds with only three years of organized ball behind them upon entering the league have faded into obscurity. Crawford, who only really played two years of high school ball, has really grown as a player in the NBA. It has a lot to do with Thomas because, clearly, Crawford could be his carbon copy. Sometimes, those of us who were alive when Zeke played, will tell you Crawford is a dead ringing for his coach. Fearless and energetic. Possessing an effortless mastery of scoring the basketball. I don't think the Crawford improves as much under Larry Brown and I thought firing him was a least premature, if not totally bad.

Compare him to the other guys who were drafted ahead of him in the 2000 NBA Draft if you need to. Kenyon MartinStromile SwiftDarius MilesMarcus FizerMike MillerDerMarr JohnsonChris MihmJamal Crawford. How many of them were better choices than Crawford? How many of them average 20 points? How many times did Marcus Fizer score 52 points in a game?

Crawford also appears to be low-key on and off the court. He wears Reebok's and despite the mild association of Jay-Z and 50 Cent with that brand a few years back, that's a pretty unassuming blue-collar brand that matches his game. His attitude during the games and in post-game chats says a lot about who he is and what kind of player he might be on a team with a few more studs.

The game just ended and the Knicks lost another one. You can't say Crawford didn't show up. He left 26 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds as evidence of his presence in Toronto tonight. Can the same be said for the rest of the guys on what might be the most over-paid group of people in the history of anything?

What's wrong with Knicks is the converse of what's going right for the Raptors. For example the Raptors have a European base that helps them win on and off the court. A formula if you will. You need a formula. The Knicks don't have any kind of formula. It that is not Crawford's fault.


These kicks come from my personal collection. I got them last year right down the block from the SLAM/Harris Pub offices on Broadway on a rain day. To the best of my knowledge they are Nike Aire Force II joints, but that's not for certain. They are supposed to be basketball shoes, but by all account they are more build for lounging. They Adidas/Arenas-style below the ankle, however, I did peep an Asian kid in Crowley Park (Queens) last summer playing ball in them with ease. So check them out, if you're into that.

Switching Uniforms

<---Recently, these guys all got traded to the Cavs. And this link on broke it down really well.

Medical Miracle?

According to the Associated Press, Agent Zero will remain on the bench for some time. With his team holding down semi-solid playoff positioning, it's hard to say if Arenas' absence won't propel the Wizards to another level in a Joe Osteen kinda way.

However, Arenas hasn't been the only Wizard who has missed a number of games this season. Antonio Daniels (^left) is enjoying one of his better seasons (when not in a suite himself). Caron Butler "isn't ready to go," and the trade deadline has come and gone. If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Wizards would play a really healthy Orlando team anchored by one of the hottest players in the sport right now. Having watched the Wizards in the last couple of season's playoffs, I've kind of begun to look forward to how they play with their backs against the wall.

My question, which, by evidence of my comment counters, I'm sure, I am only posing to myself is : With a healthy Caron Butler, can the Washington Wizard get out of the first round of the playoffs without Gilbert Arenas?