NBA Playoffs: It's CRAZY! What the Lakers and Celtics Have That the Heat Lack
According to NBA Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley, “every team needs a crazy guy”, “they bring some energy, a little toughness, you need a little edge”. I think Charles is right on the money, so let’s take a look at the remaining playoff teams and measure their level of “Crazy”.
To properly measure a players “Crazy”, first we should define it. There’s various types of crazy and every player brings their own unique style to it. For the sake of my analysis I have broken the crazy into three categories.
Category #1) Chippy/Scrappy/Aggressive Crazy
This is the player who plays in attack mode with an intensity that is almost confrontational. They don’t shy away from contact or back down when challenged. They like to play physical and are often prone to engage in trash talking and they like to get into their opponents head.
Old School Examples: Gary Payton, Michael Jordan, Jerry Sloan, Michael Cooper, Danny Ainge, Dennis Rodman, Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, John Stockton.
Category #2) Intimidating Tough Guy Crazy
Then there are the tough guys that are physically imposing and intimidating with a nasty streak that you don’t want to test. These guys don’t allow easy lay-ups and are fluent in speaking with elbows. These are the “enforcers”, and they have no problem punking the opponent if the situation calls for it.
Old School Examples: Maurice Lucas, Kermit Washington, John Brisker, Charles Oakley, Charles Barkley, Rick Mahorn, Anthony Mason, Xavier McDaniel, Alonzo Mourning, Karl Malone.
Category #3) Really Crazy
These are players that are not acting crazy for the cameras, this is not the guy that is in control and has calculated moments of aggression, knowing the ref’s will break it up before anyone get’s hurt… Nope, not that guy, I’m talking really crazy, you can tell by the look in their eyes that they are not the one to mess with, they will really break their foot off in an opponents backside. If you mess with some of these guys or test them, you do so at your own risk. Not all the “really crazy” guys are “Tough Guys”, some are just a little off their rocker and exhibit strange behavior as well.
Old School Examples: John Brisker, Vernon Maxwell, Latrell Sprewell, Charles Oakley, Dennis Rodman, Rasheed Wallace.
Throughout league history their have been players who have proven to be more than one category of crazy, and a rare few who are all three categories rolled into one powder keg of a player. To measure this all important characteristic I have created a Hollanger-esque new metric called “CICO” (pronounced psycho) (it stands for Chippy/Intense/Crazy/Off The Chain), there is a complicated formula to calculate a players level of CICO…ok not really, I’m just ranking em how I see it, no math here people.
With eight teams left in the playoffs and this new awareness that every team needs a crazy guy (or a few crazy guys). Let’s rank the elite eight based on each teams level of CICO, I think this will help us to predict who will be successful in advancing and ultimately winning this years Championship. Some teams on the list are lacking in the crazy dept. but may compensate with their talent but I do think it helps to have a few players that have a little crazy in them. Let's take a look.
Miami Heat's Crazy Guy: Udonis Haslem
Lucky for the Miami Heat, LeBron James and Chris Bosh took their talents to South Beach to play with D-Wade so this team is top heavy with All-Stars. Because this team has NO crazy guy. Udonis Haslem would normally be that guy for the Heat, he is their enforcer but he is injured. They have some respected veteran players who go hard but no one who moves the crazy meter, no one with any high level of CICO (again CICO is Chippy/Intense/Crazy/Off the chain).
Overall Miami Heat - Team CICO Grade (Incomplete with no Haslem)
Overall Miami Heat - Playoff Crazy Ranking #8
Dallas Mavericks Crazy Guy: DeShawn Stevenson
We’ve seen in his seasons with the Washington Wizards that DeShawn Stevenson is crazy, he plays chippy and if something is going down and he’s on the floor he will not hesitate to jump in the mix. He will throw elbows and get in a superstars grill. He’s gone toe to toe with King James and Jay-Z a few years back and when he is engaged in a game he doesn’t back down.
Plus look at the ink, the Abe Lincoln neck tat says it all DeShawn has proven to be both Category 1, "Chippy/Aggressive Crazy" and a mild level of Category #3: "Real Crazy". The Mavs need someone like Stevenson to bring that edge to the team. The next craziest guy on the Mavricks is the owner Mark Cuban, which may be problematic.
Overall Dallas Mavericks - Team CICO Grade C
Overall Dallas Mavericks - Playoff Crazy Rank #7
Atlanta Hawks Crazy Guy: Zaza Pachulia
The Hawks new enforcer apparently is Zaza Pachulia, he’s Category #1: "Chippy/Aggressive Crazy" and definitely likes to get under an opponents skin. Zaza has had the craziest moment so far in this years playoffs when he head butted Orlando's Jason Richardson. The Hawks also have Josh Smith who plays aggressive and with some edge he’s also Category #1 crazy, although Smith's shot selection at times is real crazy.
Overall Atlanta Hawks Team CICO Grade C
Overall Atlanta Hawks Playoff Crazy Rank #6
OKC Thunder Crazy Guy: Kendrick Perkins
If looks could kill, Kendrick Perkins game face would have taken out half the league. Nobody can “Mean Mug” as well and it’s not just for show Perkins brings an authentic old school, I’ll take you out to the wood shed and open up a can of whoop a.. on you. He is not to be played with, he is a Category 2 “Tough Guy Crazy” with the kind of mean streak you want patrolling your paint, he’s also got traces of Category #3 “Real Crazy”.
The Thunder were pretty soft before Perkins arrival but he brings a level of nasty they desperately needed, their team ranking is low because Kendrick is the lone crazy on the squad.
Overall OKC Thunder Team CICO Grade B
Overall OKC Thunder Playoff Crazy Rank #5
Chicago Bulls Crazy Guy: Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah has turned getting under his opponents skin into an art form, he did it with the Florida Gators where he embraced his villainous persona and has continued as a pro. He is a Category 1 “Chippy/Aggressive Crazy” master, we witnessed this in the first round against Indiana where he had Josh McRoberts retaliating, swinging and missing and getting tossed from the game.
Joakim can take you out of your game if you let him and even if you do keep your composure he’s relentless on the glass and will pester, push, shove, elbow or whatever else it takes to get the job done.
The Bulls also have old school Kurt Thomas who also brings a mix of Category 1 and 2 he’s both chippy and a tough guy but now brings it in limited minutes.
Overall Chicago Bulls Team CICO Grade B
Overall Chicago Bulls Playoff Crazy Rank #4
Memphis Grizzlies Tough Guy: Zach Randolph and Tony Allen
The Grizzlies have two legit crazy guys that play with a high level of CICO. Zach Randolph AKA Z-Bo is Category 2 “Tough Guy Crazy”, he is an intimidator who looks as if he would take your lunch money or menacingly ask you if you’re gonna eat your corn bread (if you’ve ever seen Eddie Murphy’s movie Life then you know exactly what I’m talking about), Zach is not one to be played with.
Tony Allen is Category 1 “Chippy/Aggressive Crazy” with a touch of Category 3 “Real Crazy”, we all saw Allen’s effectiveness on the 2008 Championship Celtics squad. He backs down from no one and loves to get physical.
Overall Memphis Grizzlies Team CICO Grade B+
Overall Memphis Grizzlies Playoff Crazy Rank #3
Boston Celtics Crazy Guy: Kevin Garnett
The Celtics use to have the most crazies in the league but after losing Tony Allen and Kendrick Perkins they have lost a high level of CICO. Even with those losses they still have a formidable level of crazy on the squad. Led by Kevin Garnett who is a Category #1 “Chippy/Aggressive” player, KG’s play has made a few enemies in the league but has turned Boston into a top defensive team every year.
Shaq may be running out of diesel fuel but when he does play he is still a Category #2 “Tough Guy Crazy” intimidator who loves to mix it up freely with elbows and overwhelm his opponent with his massive size. Delonte West by all accounts is Category #3 “Real Crazy” with his run in’s with the law off the court and other rumors, Mr. West CICO score is off the charts.
Finally Paul Pierce is also to a lesser degree a Category 1 “Chippy/Aggressive Crazy” player who seems to love to engage in trash talk and physical play with his opponents.
Overall Boston Celtics Team CICO Grade B+ (would have been an A with Kendrick Perkins)
Overall Boston Celtics Playoff Crazy Rank #2
Los Angeles Lakers Crazy Guy: Ron Artest
The reigning champion Lakers are known as a glitzy Hollywood team and because of that some think they are soft, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The Lakers Ron Artest has the highest CICO score in the entire league he is equal parts Category #1 “Chippy/Aggressive Crazy”, Category #2 “Tough Guy Crazy” and Category #3 “Real Crazy”. He famously thanked his therapist after the NBA Finals last year and we all know of some of the scraps he got into in his younger days. With maturity and his therapist Ron Ron seems to have learned to control the crazy but we all know he’s not the one to mess with.
The Lakers also bring Matt Barnes who is a Category 1 crazy with traces of Category 3 in him, Barnes loves to get physical and won't back down from any confrontation, he’s a former football player who brings that mentality to the hardwood. Even the, thought to be mild mannered consummate professional and Players Association President Derek Fisher brings some Category 1 "Chippy/Aggressive Crazy", remember him running over Luis Scola to send a message...
Then there’s the Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant. Kobe is a combo crazy he’s mostly a Category #1 Chippy/Aggressive Crazy but is also Category #2 Tough Guy Crazy with a pinch of Category #3 “Real Crazy”, you remember Kobe was crazy enough to be throwing elbows at Ron Ron’s neck a few years ago in the playoffs, he never shy’s away from physical play.
Finally the Lakers biggest fan Jack Nicholson is crazy just watch “The Shining”.
Overall Los Angeles Lakers Team CICO Grade A
Overall Los Angeles Lakers Playoff Crazy Rank #1
Does Every Team Really Need a Crazy Guy to Win It All?
Every team does not "need" a crazy guy to win it all, the San Antonio Spurs have proven that over the years but on most championship teams there is at least one guy who brings that edge.
Based on this list the Lakers and Celtics are head and shoulders crazier than the rest, so Charles Barkley may want to reconsider his prediction of a Mavericks victory over the Lakers.
If the teams with the most crazy play well it looks like we may be in for a rematch from last years NBA Finals, or am I crazy?