Was a Non-Call the Right Call in Lakers-Spurs Game 4?

The Los Angeles Lakers did not trail for a single second of last night’s 93-91 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Yet all anyone seems to want to talk about are the final 2.1 seconds.

The Spurs inbounded the ball at midcourt to Brent Barry. He gave a head fake, Derek Fisher bought it and jumped into the air, there was contact, Barry dribbled once and fired and off balance three pointer that missed wide right. Game over.

But some people are crying foul. And conspiracy theorists are salivating at the fact that Joey Crawford happens to be the referee in question on that final play. Still, others are taking a more level-headed approach, urging Spurs fans to temper their frustration with a look at the bigger picture.

For what it’s worth, none of the actual participants in the game were willing to say a foul should have been called:

Brent Barry: “That is not going to get called. But the play really didn’t go off as designed and we were forced into a difficult shot at the end that I had but really we weren’t expecting to get that … But that play was not where the game was lost. We gave up so many offensive rebounds and never ever got over the hump.”

Gregg Popovich: “If I was the official I wouldn’t have called that a foul.”

Tim Duncan: “You’re not going to get that call; they’re not going to make that call. I was hoping he (Brent) was going to go up through his arm when he did get him in the air a little bit but I think he took a dribble to the side trying to get a good look at it and he made the right play. He knows they’re not going to make that call and he’s trying to get a good look at the basket and trying to get a clean shot off.”

Derek Fisher: “As he loaded up, I lunged toward him, but before I made contact with him I dropped my arms down and we turned at the same time, so we met simultaneously. There was contact for sure, but I don’t think I ran through him. Had I run through him, I think the ref definitely would have called the foul. I felt like both of my arms were down. I didn’t run through him. I didn’t initiate any contact. I think the ref was able to see that he was turning at the same time that I got to the spot. I think that the fact that both of my arms were down and I was in a relative position of not causing him any harm, that’s why they let it go. I never thought they would call a foul.”

Pau Gasol: “I think I would have been pretty upset if they would have called a foul, especially if there was no foul to call. Luckily, I think, Derek went straight up and down and Barry went into him. It was a good no-call.”

TNT analysts Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller compounded the issue by saying the play was not a foul because Barry did not sell the foul. The insinuation was that if he reacted more flamboyantly to the contact or launched himself into Fisher while attempting the three, the call would have been made. And maybe they’re right, but if so, are fans OK with that?

That opens up an entirely separate can of worms that encompasses everything from drawing the foul (generally seen as a good thing) to flopping (generally seen as a bad thing). I think it’s safe to assume fans don’t want a situation that encourages flopping. So then, what do we make of the no-call?

No calls on plays involving contact are nothing new. Often, last-second halfcourt heaves involving some contact are not whistled as fouls. Or, try watching Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant for an entire game. They will endure contact nearly every time they touch the ball. It’s the only way to keep them from scoring at will. Sometimes the contact will be whistled a foul. Other times, they’ll have to play on, although the contact resembles the same brand that resulted in a foul before. It’s a delicate balance, for sure.

However, short of prohibiting any player contact, which would change the sport entirely, there is no objective way to call a game. Yes, there are rules, yes. And yes, there are detailed descriptions of what constitutes a foul. But fouls are subjective and always will be. They differ from backyard to playground from high school to college and from NBA regular season to postseason. Referees get paid for their spotting-a-foul ability, but they do not have infallibility.

Basketball is a contact sport, plain and simple. That contact is amplified at the end of the game when no one wants to surrender the winning basket, and it’s amplified more at the end of a playoff game when a play can mean the difference between moving on or the end of the season.

The problem is that fans want the game to be decided by the players (i.e. a winner-take-all shot at the buzzer), but players do not want to see their fate decided by the opposing team’s uncontested jumper. Hence, defense, which tends to involve contact of some varying degree. It’s that degree that makes for debate: fair or foul?

And there really is no foolproof solution. It’s subjective. Anyone who’s ever played in a game of pickup basketball knows that disputes over fouls are not limited to the NBA. In streetball, the players call their own fouls, and, I would argue, that is where the idea of the referees not deciding the outcome down the stretch comes from. It takes a serious foul for someone to speak up and call a foul at the end of a closely contested pick-up game. It’s an unwritten rule. You make the play or you don’t. No bail out calls.

That doesn’t make the Barry situation any easier to rule, but it puts the end of game dilemma into context. Let the players play and the referees ref.

Was there contact on the play? Yes.
Enough to justify a foul call? Maybe.
Whose call is that to make? The referee, Joey Crawford.
Did he call a foul? No.

And that’s that. A tough pill to swallow for Spurs fans, certainly, but the referee is there to make a subjective call and he ruled no foul on the play. You can justify it with talk of other calls and non-calls saying it all balances out in the end. That’s fine, but that’s also irrelevant. Each play has to stand on its own.

So unless you’re one of those players at the local Y that calls a foul every time someone breathes on you wrong, take a page from the classy Spurs players, including the player at the center of the storm, Brent Barry. Just because things don’t always go your way, it does not mean the world is against you. Live to play better another day.

No foul. No elaborate conspiracy. No more room for error for the defending champions. Lakers lead the series 3-1.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

Erie D-League Team Reveals Name, Logo: Erie BayHawks

From the Erie BayHawks Web site:

The NBA Development League’s Erie franchise will be called the BayHawks; it was announced today by team President Ron Sertz at a
news conference at the Erie Maritime Museum in front of the U. S. Brig

The BayHawks logo was also unveiled at the event.

“We wanted a name and logo that connected strongly to our hometown,” said Sertz. “The image of the hawk soaring over Erie’s bayfront really hit our target and was the type of powerful image we wanted to create with our fans. I’m very proud of the logo and it’s the first step in establishing our brand in the region.”

“This team is going to be something special for the citizens of Erie,” said Steve Demetriou, the team’s majority owner. “We’re going
to deliver great family entertainment and a high level of competitive
basketball, and we now have a great name and logo to go along with

The BayHawks will begin their inaugural 2008-09 season in November. They will join a professional sports scene in Erie that also includes the SeaWolves (baseball), Otters (hockey) and RiverRats (indoor football).

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

Conference Finals Picks and Draft Notes

The NBA Draft Lottery takes place tonight prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals featuring Detroit at Boston. The Lakers host the Spurs in Los Angeles tomorrow night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. My picks are Celtics in seven and Lakers in six.

In anticipation of the conference finals, here are some bits of information for your next NBA conversation that connect this year’s conference finalists to the draft.

  • There is an average of 3.3 players left playing from each draft dating back to 1992. Over that span, only the 1994 NBA Draft, which featured Jason Kidd and Grant Hill, is not represented among the four finalists.

  • The 1998 Draft has just one representative, Boston’s Paul Pierce.

  • The 1995 Draft leads the way with eight active participants in the conference finals, including four Spurs. The list: Antonio McDyess (2nd overall), Rasheed Wallace (4th), Kevin Garnett (5th), Damon Stoudamire (7th), Kurt Thomas (10th), Brent Barry (15th), Theo Ratliff (18th) and Michael Finley (21st).

  • Seven undrafted players are employed by teams still playing this, including two starters for San Antonio, Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto.

  • The Spurs also lead the way with three starters they originally drafted (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.) The other teams each have just one starter that they drafted (Paul Pierce for Boston, Tayshaun Prince for Detroit and Derek Fisher for Los Angeles).

  • Detroit’s starting lineup has the best average draft position of 7.8. Four of their starters were top-7 picks.

  • The Lakers’ starting lineup comes in second with an average draft position of 11.2. League MVP Kobe Bryant was taken with the 13th overall selection in 1996 behind players such as Kerry Kittles, Todd Fuller and Vitaly Potapenko.

  • Boston’s starting lineup has an average draft position of 13.6. Boston is the only team left without a player on its roster drafted in the top-3. The highest selected players on their roster are Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Both players were picked 5th overall.

  • The Spurs’ three starters (minus the undrafted Bowen and Oberto) have what is easily the worst average draft position of 28.7 despite having former number one overall pick Tim Duncan. Why such a skewed number? Because 6th Man of the Year Manu Ginobili was drafted, believe it or not, 57th overall in 1999.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

Cavs-Celtics Game 7 Thoughts

In the first six games of the series, the 90-point mark was eclipsed just once by each team. The Cavs did it in a 108-84 win in Game 3, and Boston did it in a 96-89 Game 5 victory.

It was a defense-dominated series. Yet it was the offense of two players – Boston’s Paul Pierce and Cleveland’s LeBron James – that was the story of Game 7. The two all-stars, who doubled as the other’s primary defender, delivered a classic duel. Pierce netted 41 points on 13-of-23 shooting. James put in 45 points on 14-of-29 shooting.

The two players accounted for more than 45 percent of the game’s scoring. Think about that. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and two guys scored almost half of the points in a 97-92 thriller. In the end, the Celtics – riding Pierce, home court and a relentless intensity – were too much for Cleveland to overcome.

In the end, keeping it close was not enough for the Cavs. They lost two of the three games decided by five points or less in the series, including the decisive Game 7.

It was the little things that did them in. With Boston clinging to a three-point lead and less than 3 minutes to play, veteran P.J. Brown secured an offensive rebound – Boston had 10 for a total of 18 second-chance points – and scored the put back for the Celtics. The little-used Brown would hit add a jumper with 1:21 to play after Cleveland cut the lead to one. Boston made the little plays to win; Cleveland did not.

Sasha Pavlovic stepped on the line for a would-be wide open three-pointer, which netted just two points. Delonte West missed a potential tying three with just more than a minute left. LeBron James failed to step in front of Paul Pierce to box out on a jump ball situation that the Cavs should have controlled. Pierce hustled to be first to the ball and got the timeout called, swiping a precious possession away from Cleveland.

There are so many instances Cavalier fans can point to and wonder “what if?” but while they’re left wondering, the Celtics move on a face another daunting opponent, the Detroit Pistons. Detroit is playing in the Eastern Conference Finals for the sixth straight season. Boston returns for the first time since 2002 when they lost in six games to the New Jersey Nets. Only Paul Pierce remains from that team. And if he can build upon his Game 7 performance in the next round, he may play in the NBA Finals for the first time in his career and end the Celtics’ drought that’s lasted more than 20 years.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

Crying Foul on Flopping

Great Game 5 between the Lakers and Jazz last night. One of the key plays of the game – and hot topics of debate – is the Pau Gasol rebound and put-back late in the game that essentially sealed the game for L.A.

Mehmet Okur went flying toward the baseline as Gasol grabbed the ball and at first glance it appeared Gasol pushed off. I’m sure everyone in Utah thought so and Henry Abbott of ESPN.com’s TrueHoop thought similarly until he watched the replay several times.

In truth, it looks like Okur flopped. There was contact but not enough to send a 263-pound man to the ground. Okur should have boxed out better. My old high school coach taught me that. But that’s another story. The point is that the flop was Okur’s next best option. He figured he wasn’t getting the rebound anyway so he flopped.

The referee sees a player falling to the ground. In theory, a player doesn’t fall on his own. Some other force knocks him down there. That is the theory upon which the flop strategy is built. Flopping takes on the appearance of a reaction to an action that didn’t exist. The flopper’s goal is to perform the flop well enough that the faked reaction “must” have been caused by some original action. And that action, while unknown to the ref, “must” have come from the player who probably knocked down the flopper.

Thankfully the referee was not baited by Okur at the end of Game 5. But the bigger question is, why is flopping allowed? It’s designed specifically to draw a foul on a player who did not commit an infraction. With only six fouls to give, one successful flop moves the innocent player 17 percent closer to an unfair disqualification. But that’s not fair. Shouldn’t the flopper be the one who is punished for his shenanigans?

Of course he should. The question is how. The referee has enough to be concerned with. We can’t expect him to judge every collision and bump and decide who’s really being knocked down and who’s falling on their own. It’s hard enough to know a block from a charge sometimes. Adding a flop foul call to the ref’s repertoire doesn’t seem feasible.

But there should be a penalty and it should start with the flagrant flops. There are some plays when (almost) everyone is in agreement on a flop. I’m pretty sure the NBA officials already review every game after it is played to go over calls. If not, they should. So why not make it someone’s job to look specifically at flop situations? If he sees something that is a flagrant flop, the flopping player gets assessed a penalty. And set up a system to hold players accountable.

First flop is a fine. The fine increases with each successive flop. After a certain number of flops (5? 10? 15?), the player earns a suspension. Losing cash and missing games would make players stand their ground more firmly. This needs to happen and the sooner the better.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

Home Court Advantage

Home court advantage is supposed to be just that – an advantage for the home team. Through one and a half rounds of this year’s playoffs, however, the advantage has been nearly impossible to overcome.

To say that road teams are struggling would be an understatement. After winning just 32 percent of their first round games, road teams are just 1-15 in round two. The lone win was a 90-89 nail biter for Detroit over Orlando.

In fact, the Pistons are the only team with a winning record on the road in this postseason. Detroit went 2-1 at Philadelphia and split its first two games at Orlando. With a 2-2 road record, the Los Angeles Lakers actually have the second best road winning percentage in the playoffs. The other six teams left playing are sub-.500 on the road in the playoffs.

Utah was the only team to win a series without home court advantage in the postseason so far. In a year when the West’s top six teams were separated by just two games, it’s amazing how much home court has factored into postseason success.

Of course, no one is enjoying home cooking more than the Jekyll and Hyde Celtics right now. Boston is 6-0 at home and 0-5 on the road. The good news for the Celtics, though, is that if they take care of business in Beantown, their road woes won’t better. Boston’s league-high 66 wins means they have home court advantage throughout the playoffs. And that seems to mean a lot this year.

If the current pace holds, it will be the highest winning percentage since 1990, when home teams went 54-18.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

Looking Ahead to the Western Conference Finals

With both Western semifinals series tied 2-2, it’s anyone’s guess who will meet in the Western Finals. It may or may not be the best series of the playoffs. Boston, Detroit or Cleveland will have something to say about that. But it will be a dynamite series no matter the match up.

This is the traditionalist pick (and mine, for what it’s worth). The Spurs have owned the West over the past few years, and the Lakers are a stories franchise that appears on the brink of greatness again. With the reigning MVP and a cast of young talent – not to mention injured Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza – the Lakers should be contending for the next several seasons. This also doubles as a “team of the decade” battle. Only once since 1998 has a Western Final been played without either the Lakers or Spurs involved.

For the love of point guards, who wouldn’t love to see Chris Paul and Deron Williams go at it in a best-of-seven series with a trip to the championship on the line? The third year wonders were picked back-to-back in the 2005 draft are arguably the best point guards playing. But while Paul finished second in the MVP vote, Williams hasn’t even been voted to an all-star team. That figures to change as soon as next season, but he’d first like to add a ring to his résumé.

Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul were first and second, respectively, for the MVP. Why not settle it the old fashioned way? The top two seeds in the West have the home court edge to advance, though both are currently riding two-game losing streaks. Hornets coach Byron Scott won three titles playing with the Lakers in the 80s.

A rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals would be a great series, but it’s not a network favorite. San Antonio and Utah are not flashy cities, and the Spurs and Jazz are not flashy teams, which is indicative of their head coaches. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich has been coaching the Spurs since the 1996-97 season. That would be the longest tenure in the league if not for Utah’s Jerry Sloan, who has been coaching the Jazz since the 1988-89 campaign. No other active coach has been with his team for more than five straight years. (Phil Jackson took a year off between stints as the Lakers head coach.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

Team of the Decade

There’s a subplot to this year’s NBA playoffs. Eight teams are left vying for the NBA title but two of them – the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs – can also gain a leg up in the race for team of the decade.

The Lakers (Minneapolis back in those days) owned the 50s, winning four titles during the first full decade the league was in existence. The Boston Celtics dominated the 60s, winning an unbelievable nine titles in 10 years. There was no clear-cut team of the 70s as the New York Knicks and the Celtics each won a pair of titles. But the Lakers claimed the 80s by winning five more championships. And the 90s belonged to the Chicago Bulls, who won six titles in the decade.

The present decade – the 00s? – is still up for grabs. The Lakers won the first three championships of the decade, but the Spurs have won three titles since then. If either team wins it this season, they’ll clearly be in the driver’s seat to become team of the decade.

Here’s how Los Angeles and San Antonio stack up over the past nine seasons.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

All the Cavs Need Is to Keep It Close

The Celtics have been exposed thanks to the Atlanta Hawks. The same Hawks that won 37 games in the regular season – that would’ve been good for 12th place in the Western Conference – pushed the 66-win Boston Celtics to the brink of elimination in round one of the 2008 NBA playoffs. In doing so, they exposed what could prove to be a fatal flaw for Boston – the inability to win close games.

The Celtics had a dominant regular season, posting a league-high average scoring margin of +10.3. Second place Detroit had a scoring margin of just +7.4. So what does that scoring margin tell us about Boston? Essentially it means the Celtics won a lot of blowouts, and they did.

Only 20 of their regular season games were decided by five points or less. But they struggled in those games. In fact, after losing two close ones to Atlanta in the first round, Boston is just 11-11 this season in games decided by five points or less, including a mark of 5-8 against playoff teams.

All of this is music to the ears of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The defending Eastern Conference Champions and second round opponent of Boston is much more comfortable in crunch time. Cleveland’s regular season games were decided by five points or less 41 percent of the time. The Cavs had a record of 22-12 in those games. That’s much better than their mark of 23-25 when the game was decided by six or more.

Throughout the course of the year, the Cavs beat a total of16 teams in a close game, and they went 13-6 in games decided by five or less versus playoff competition.

The good news for Boston is that they won each home game against Atlanta by at least 19 points, including a 99-65 drubbing in Game 7. And the Celtics have home court advantage again against Cleveland. Boston won both home games versus Cleveland in the regular season.

The bad news for Boston is that they lost all three road games against Atlanta. They also dropped both games on the road at Cleveland this year.

Worse for the Celtics, the average margin of victory in the four regular season games was just 5.25 points. The Celtics won by 10 and five. The Cavs won by five and one.

The Celtics don’t know who their go-to guy is down the stretch. Kevin Garnett is their MVP. Ray Allen is their best shooter. And Paul Pierce is the career Celtic and most versatile scorer. Yet none stepped up in the close games with the Hawks.

The Celtics also had no crunch time answer defensively for Joe Johnson. Now they square off against one of the top closers in the league in LeBron James. That spells danger for the Celtics, and that’s why I’m taking the Cavaliers to win the series and score the upset in seven games.

Check out the rest of my round two picks

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

Opening Round Awards (Plus Second Round Picks)

Dirk Nowitski and Tony Parker both received MVP awards last season from the NBA yet neither of them had as much to do with the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs’ run through the playoffs as Tim Duncan. Unfortunately, the NBA only gives out MVP awards for regular season (Nowitski) and Finals (Parker) performances, neglecting the other playoff games a team must play and win to earn a championship.

In an attempt to right this wrong (and give my second round predictions a more readable hook), here are the Opening Round Awards, as determined by yours truly.

The Genesis Award (for the most valuable opening round performance)Winner: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Amid the most compelling off the court storyline of the first round – the Jay-Z and LeBron vs. Soulja Boi and DeShawn Stevenson feud – James let his performance do the talking. His triple double in the decisive Game 6 victory on the road gave Cleveland an extra couple days to prepare for its second round showdown with Boston.

James is a model of consistency. After leading the league in scoring with an average of exactly 30 points per game, he finished one point shy of averaging exactly 30 for the series as well. I think he’ll settle for the scoring average dip to 29.8 along with 9.5 rebounds, 7.7 assists and a series win.

The Randy Moss Award (for the all-world talent who plays when he wants to)
Winner: Rasheed Wallace, Detroit Pistons

Wallace is routinely touted by teammates, opponents and observers as the most talented Detroit Pistons player. Yet Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton have each made one more all-star team as a member of the Pistons, and defensive stalwart Tayshaun Prince has a higher scoring average. Wallace is a wild card. You never know what or when he’s going to deliver the goods.

Still, after falling behind 2-1 in their first round series with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Detroit Pistons found themselves turning to Wallace. He dropped 20 in Game 4 and 19 in Game 5. And then, with the Pistons back in control of the series, Wallace turned back into a pumpkin and scored just six points in a Game 6 that Detroit dominated from the opening tip.

The Infomercial Award (for selling the world on a sham product)
Winner: Phoenix Suns

The Suns-Spurs first round series was billed as an epic clash of the titans. Shaq-Amare-Nash vs. Duncan-Ginobli-Parker. This was the much anticipated rematch from last year’s Western Conference semi-final that ended in controversy. And Game 1 set the stage with a dramatic double overtime comeback victory for the defending champion Spurs.

But Popovich and the Spurs, clearly embracing their role as NBA villains, employed the Hack-a-Shaq more frequently than any team had ever done before, turning the series into a clunker resembling one of O’Neal’s many missed free throws. The Suns managed just one victory, which came after they had already fell behind 3-0 in the series. And now, the run-and-gun Suns era under coach Mike D’Antoni is likely dead in Phoenix. It was a fun product while it lasted.

The Robin Award (for best sidekick)
Winner: Pau Gasol

It’s not often one sees a seven-foot sidekick, but Pau Gasol is the best Robin that the Lakers’ Batman, Kobe Bryant, could ever hope for. Gasol’s game complements Kobe’s perfectly and Gasol’s personality and ego allow him to go about his business while Kobe carries the Hollywood headlines. There is arguably no better fit in the league for Kobe in terms of a big man with that combination of skills and demeanor. Maybe Tim Duncan. Maybe.

Gasol dominated Denver in Game 1 of the Lakers’ four game sweep and when the Nuggets shifted more attention to the big man, Bryant flourished with 49 points in Game 2. It’s been reported that Bryant will be announced as MVP this week. If that happens, Gasol deserves credit as the Lakers’ most valuable sidekick.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf Award (for the team no one believes in)
Winner: Orlando Magic

After the Orlando Magic won their first playoff series since the departure of Shaquille O’Neal in 1996, the general reaction was a non-reaction. The Magic handily disposed of the Toronto Raptors in five games, winning three of their games by at least 10 points. Magic star Dwight Howard dominated the series with three 20-point, 20-rebound games.

Perhaps it’s because two of the games were played north of the border or because one of Orlando’s most recognizable names, J.J. Reddick is buried deep on the Magic bench. Whatever the rationale, this is a 50-win team that no one thinks has a chance in round two. And, quite frankly, neither do I.

The Chiropractor Award (for carrying the team on his back)
Winner: Joe Johnson

The Hawks eventually lost the series, but Joe Johnson elevated his status among the NBA’s best guards with his play in the series, particularly the Hawks’ Game 4 victory when Johnson outscored the Celtics 20-17 in the fourth quarter.

Making his first playoff appearance since he was a key member of the 2005 Phoenix Suns, Johnson averaged 20 points per game in helping the Hawks shock the Celtics with three home victories in Atlanta. His composure down the stretch helped the Hawks win its games down the stretch and gave Atlanta something to look forward to next season.

The George Costanza Award (for being stuck in a supporting role)
Winner: Deron Williams

The show was called Seinfeld. Jerry was the man. George was best friend of the man. After Chris Paul took the league by storm this season, the point guard position might as well be renamed the CP3. That leaves other emerging star point guards like Deron Williams playing the role of George. Entertaining? Yes, but this isn’t his show.

It’s pronounced DARE-in not de-RON or DEE-ron. And he’s running the show for the Utah Jazz better than anyone since John Stockton. He delivered a 25-point, 9-assist, 6-rebound performance in the Game 6 series-clinching victory against Houston. And he may be the most underrated player in the NBA today. Hubie Brown called Deron Williams an all-star during Game 1 of the Jazz-Lakers series Sunday. No one thought much of it because it sounds like a fact. It should be. In reality, however, Williams has never been an all-star. Well, he’s played like one, but he’s never made an all-star team. Not yet anyway.

The Ric Flair Award (for waiting too long to retire)
Winner: Jason Kidd

It’s only fitting that Ric Flair’s “Woo!” is played every time Chris Paul scores in New Orleans because the man giving up many of those baskets, Jason Kidd, saw Paul seize the torch as the best point guard in the league. Kidd was that man for years, but Steve Nash took it and Paul has it now.

Kidd’s game was built on his ability to penetrate, dish and defend. Now unable to move fast enough to blow by or keep up with the likes of Paul, Kidd was reduced to a shell of his former shelf and dared to shoot uncontested jumpers, which he often passed up. Sure enough, the Mavericks were eliminated in five easy games and the experiment with Jason Kidd looks like a failure. Like Flair, though, Kidd’s legacy remains intact as one of the all-time greats.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.