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The Daily Blast – February 19, 2013

Tradewatch – The bidding war for Josh Smith is about to get real:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/ESPNSteinLine/status/303688819402756098"]

In his PER Diem (ESPN Insider), Kevin Pelton summed up the position the Rockets are in:

Several of the seven teams noted above must be very careful to weigh the desire to reach the playoffs and make an impact this season against their long-term goals. That’s especially true of young teams like the Rockets and Blazers, which don’t want to sacrifice their future for a small upgrade now. So if they make a trade, it will have to be something that also makes sense going forward.

In other words, they’re looking at draft picks, expiring contracts or a star. Also, if you missed Rahat’s post on why the Rockets might pursue Josh Smith right now, go get caught up.

All-Beard – As snippets of the All-Star game trickle out onto YouTube, two James Harden moments stand out. The first is when when he Euro-stepped on Luol Deng’s life.

The second is when he and Russell Westbrook gave Oklahoma City misty water-colored memories of “The Way We Were.”

Hot Air Jordan- One of the most fascinating things I saw over the weekend was Tim Duncan’s response to Michael Jordan’s comment that only four active players–Kobe, Duncan, Dirk and Lebron–could have made it in Jordan’s era. While almost every other All-Star tippy-toed around the comment out of deference to His Airness, Duncan dismissed it as so much hogwash. Watch (Duncan starts at about the 1:40 mark):

“I don’t think there is any credence to it,” Duncan said. “On this stage alone there is a lot of talent and all of these guys could play in any era. So–and the NBA continues to improve and the talent continues to improve.”

That kind of confidence to speak truth to power is exactly why Duncan has four rings and the respect of Michael Jordan.

For The Rest Of Us – Brian Phillips wrote a devastating and beautifully insightful piece on the relationship between fans and coaches for Grantland yesterday, and it unwraps a lot of layers of emotion about how we (young men in particular) feel about sports.

It’s that by the time you’re, say, 27, the open-horizon feeling of childhood has started to dwindle. You’re beginning to lose that glimmery deep-down belief that everything is possible. You’re playing sports less seriously than you used to, if you ever played sports seriously. You knew when you were 16 that you were never going to be Michael Jordan — of course you did — but a future in which you had become Michael Jordan was still available to your imagination; it was impossible but not irrelevant. Now it’s both. You hit 30, 35, 40, and the life of a professional athlete seems more and more remote. It’s one of a million pasts that never happened rather than a future you can dream about.

I don’t think you can get the full effect of this column unless you’re reading it on your smartphone while lunching alone in a sub-sub-par Chinese buffet on break from a stable, fulfilling, but decidedly non-superstar-athlete job.  That’s what a friend told me, anyways.

Got any sweet links or suggestions? Send them to jeby901@gmail.com or message John Eby on Twitter @Ebynews.

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About the author: John Eby got on the Rockets bandwagon in 1994 and never got off. He is a public relations guy and recovering TV journalist living in South Carolina.

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