AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Worry not, those recent flashes of light in the corners of your eyes are not from retinal tears. They are merely the atmospheric signal that a seventh band of Quasars has arrived, a marginally successful but no less dogged annual attempt to recognize the players who have made indispensable contributions to this season's winning teams but will not be part of the league's All-Star festivities in New Orleans later this week.
Quasar, for those who let their Astronomy Illustrated subscriptions lapse, is scientific shorthand for quasi-stellar, celestial matter that sometimes resembles a star but is, in fact, not. Finding a title sponsor might've been easier if I'd originally called them human Lycra -- a team's fabric working in obscurity beneath much more visible threads -- but it's too late for that now. Who knows, maybe Tang will make a successful comeback.
The ground rules, for those chomping to complain about their favorite player being ignored, are as follows.
2. A candidate can't have been an All-Star or have much chance of ever being one. (The committee has only misjudged this once so far, selecting Caron Butler as an '06 All-Quasar. A year later, NBA coaches wised up and legitimized him by selecting him as a reserve for the Las Vegas shenan ... er, extravaganza.)
3. Special consideration is given to players who have washed out elsewhere or have rehabilitated a career spinning sideways. (Quasars being, of course, intergalactic first cousins to black holes. This didn't prove to be much of a factor this season.)
4. Statistical improvement is weighed only in context with its meaning to a player's role. Someone who shoots a high percentage but has never made a momentum-shifting shot or rebounds well but never takes the ball away from an opponent is merely cosmic dust, not Quasar material.
The telescope, please:
• James Posey, Celtics forward -- Teammates Kendrick Perkins and Glen "Big Baby" Davis also received consideration, but Perkins' I-can't-believe-I-don't-get-more-respect face after making a play is an issue with the committee's old-school faction and Davis only hit his stride in recent weeks.
Ric Bucher covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine
ATLANTA -- The 3-point Shootout at All-Star Weekend may be four days away, but the trash talking has already begun.Playing the role of Damon Jones this year is Detroit's normally low-key Richard Hamilton, who told me after the Pistons' 94-90 win over the Hawks that he's the man to beat this year. "I know for a fact Kobe can't beat me in a shootout, so that's one down," said Hamilton, who at 46.0 percent on the season is well ahead of fellow Pennsylvanian Bryant's 35.4 percent. "I just gotta figure out a way to beat the other guys." Hamilton also assessed himself as the toughest competitor in the six-man field -- one that also includes defending champion Jason Kapono of Toronto, two-time winner Peja Stojakovic of New Orleans, Cleveland's Daniel Gibson and Phoenix's Steve Nash. Mind you, this was with Hamilton laid low by a bout of food poisoning that caused him to miss the morning shootaround. He spelled out the beginning of an unprintable world to describe how he felt after the game, in which he shot 4-for-12 for a quiet 12 points. So if he can muster this much confidence when he's under the weather, how much more trash talk will we see from him in the next four days?
Chris Paul, Hornets guard -- More run-of-the-mill excellence from Paul, who registers 25 points and 14 assists in a 100-86 win over the Bulls.
Quincy Douby, Kings guard: On Feb. 8, Douby's 15 points keyed an upset of Utah. That's what made an 0-for-5 clunker in a 107-94 loss in Memphis such a disappointment.
Quote of the Night
"I know it's been a tough year. But it won't last forever."
-- Heat guard Dwyane Wade, whose final shot missed, leading to Miami's 23rd loss in 24 games, a 114-113 defeat to Denver. • See Tuesday's daily leaders
-- Andrew Ayres
As the Heat continue to lose, Pat Riley finds himself on the opposite end of the spectrum he once saw as a player. Riley was a member of the 1971-72 Lakers, whose 33-game win streak was the best in NBA history. That Lakers squad also holds the NBA's best "and-1" mark, going 34-1 over a 35-game span incorporating that streak.
The Heat, with another loss on Tuesday, dropped to 9-41 overall, and 1-23 in their past 24 games. They're still a ways away from the worst "1-and" streak in NBA history (set by the Mavericks, who went 1-36 in a 37-game stretch in 1993-94) and that's certainly a kind of history that Riley would not want to make.
Best/Worst Streaks as Player/Coach
|Category||1971-72 Lakers||2007-08 Heat|
|Riley's role||Backup F||Head coach|
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images
Dwyane Wade had the final shot, but could not deliver the Heat from their customary fate -- a loss.
David Thorpe and Chad Ford examine Shaquille O'Neal's move to Phoenix in the deal for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Can he help the Suns?
Former Texas Longhorn LaMarcus Aldridge scored 22 points in the Trail Blazers' 95-83 loss Monday at Houston. It was the fourth time Aldridge scored at least 20 points in five games in the state of Texas this season (once in San Antonio, twice in Houston and once in Dallas). Before this season, the last player from the University of Texas to score 20 points in an NBA game in the Lone Star State was the Kings' Travis Mays, who scored 23 on Dec. 1, 1990 at Houston.• See more Elias facts that figure