Ed Odeven – TalkBasket.net https://www.talkbasket.net NBA, EuroLeague, FIBA basketball news Tue, 19 Jan 2021 00:56:49 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6 Lou Carnesecca, one of the all-time coaching greats https://www.talkbasket.net/119417-lou-carnesecca-one-of-the-all-time-coaching-greats https://www.talkbasket.net/119417-lou-carnesecca-one-of-the-all-time-coaching-greats#respond Tue, 19 Jan 2021 00:53:04 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=119417 Lou Carnesecca guided the St. John’s University men’s basketball team with distinction and confidence for 24 memorable seasons, interrupted by a three-year absence as the head coach of the ABA’s New York Nets (1970-73). By the time Looie retired in 1992, he had amassed a 526–200 record at the New York City school. Before that, […]

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Lou Carnesecca, one of the all-time coaching greats

Lou Carnesecca guided the St. John’s University men’s basketball team with distinction and confidence for 24 memorable seasons, interrupted by a three-year absence as the head coach of the ABA’s New York Nets (1970-73).

By the time Looie retired in 1992, he had amassed a 526–200 record at the New York City school. Before that, he enjoyable remarkable success in the Big Apple’s high school coaching ranks, compiling a 205-34 record from 1950-58.

Oh, and by the way, between his high school and college head-coaching gigs, Carnesecca also served as an SJU assistant from 1958-65 before taking over at the Catholic school that same year.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coaching inductee (Class of 1992) turned 96 on Jan. 5, so it’s a good a time as any to remember his extraordinary career.

Lou Carnesecca, a prolific winner

Sifting through the data of his decades in the coaching business, Carnesecca was all about winning.

In fact, that’s all he ever really did.

And even though his final numbers with the Nets were below .500, (114-138), he took the club to the 1972 ABA Finals, where it finished runner-up

But in the years since his retirement, it’s the notion here that Carnesecca’s name has faded from the collective memory of die-hard hoop fans and casual observers of the sport. Sure, folks remember Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Knight, and a handful of other coaching legends whose careers ended or continued past the early 1990s, but the New York icon is sometimes left out of the conversation.

That said, Carnesecca’s legacy ain’t too shabby.

Consider: He led the Redmen to postseason play in each of his 24 seasons at the helm. There were 18 NCAA Tournament appearances and six NIT trips. St. John’s reached the NCAA Final Four in 1985, and won the NIT crown in ’89.

Motivation was key tactic

Throughout his coaching career, Lou Carnesecca believed he could maximize his players’ talent. He challenged them to believe in themselves and their abilities.

“My way of trying to motivate my players is to tell them how good they can be; to build them up,” Carnesecca once said.

Looie’s career in a nutshell

To succinctly summarize all that Lou Carnesecca accomplished in his coaching career except for NCAA titles, this intro from his Hall of Fame bio is a good place to start:

Animated and energetic, Lou Carnesecca patrolled the basketball sidelines in a constant whirlwind of excitement – and success. Following in the footsteps of Hall of Famer Joe Lapchick, Carnesecca kept St. John’s University in the national spotlight even though he primarily recruited New York City players. He compiled eighteen 20-win seasons, posted back-to-back 30-win campaigns in 1985 and 1986, and averaged more than 20 wins a year for his career.



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Remembering Bruce O’Neil, a basketball visionary https://www.talkbasket.net/114555-remembering-bruce-oneil-a-basketball-visionary https://www.talkbasket.net/114555-remembering-bruce-oneil-a-basketball-visionary#respond Mon, 14 Dec 2020 18:23:44 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=114555 Bruce O’Neil was an integral part of international basketball for decades. He made a lasting impact on the coaching fraternity, on players’ lives, on building a global basketball community. O’Neil died of a heart attack on Nov. 21 in Oregon. He was 75. He is survived by his wife, Eileen, four children, six grand children […]

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Bruce O’Neil was an integral part of international basketball for decades.

He made a lasting impact on the coaching fraternity, on players’ lives, on building a global basketball community.

O’Neil died of a heart attack on Nov. 21 in Oregon. He was 75.

He is survived by his wife, Eileen, four children, six grand children and one great-granddaughter.

A lifetime in basketball

A native of Tacoma, Washington, he played college ball at the University of Hawaii in the 1960s. After settling in Oregon, he returned with his bride to Hawaii to complete his bachelor’s degree. O’Neil also landed a job as the top assistant coach for Hawaii in 1969. At age 27, he took over as head coach in 1973. It was a short stint in charge for O’Neil.

Hawaii did experience success and high-profile opponents during O’Neil’s stint at the helm. For instance, in the 1974-75 season, Hawaii played Bobby Knight-led Indiana in the Rainbow Classic title game. The Hoosiers, who were ranked No. 2 at the time, went 31-1 that season. Indiana won the game 69-52.

During O’Neil’s third season at the helm, he was axed in 1976.

Former Rainbow Warriors player, assistant coach and head coach Bob Nash remembered O’Neil as an important figure in Hawaii hoops history.

“He was chiefly responsible for recruiting the great talent to UH in the ’70s,” Nash said recently. “He made some laps in judgment that cost him from being a long tenure coach at Hawaii. He and his family are dear friends of mine and it’s so sad he left us so soon.”

O’Neil was involved in various basketball-related projects for the next decade and a half before finding his true niche. He served as president of the United States Basketball Academy from its inception in 1992 until his death.

The USBA provided opportunities

Five years after a dream was hatched, the USBA opened its doors. It was nestled in an ideal setting, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and a myriad of actions. The USBA campus is 47 miles east of Eugene, Oregon, and sits on 46 acres in the McKenzie River Valley in Blue River. It was there where Bruce O’Neil forged lifelong connections with generations of players and coaches. Perhaps in the future a gym in China will have a statue of him proudly on display.

O’Neil has been instrumental in helping growth the game in China since the USBA was established. His obituary, which was posted on tributearchive.com noted: “With over 130 trips to China, he is considered one of the foremost experts regarding China basketball. During those years the USBA has trained over 2,000 Chinese players, coaches and administrators at its world class training facility in Oregon and Bruce has led over 30 USA all-star teams to China for various competitions…”

The United States Basketball Academy opened its doors in 1997.

Longtime international basketball coach Bob Pierce, who has guided teams in China and Japan throughout the 21st century in addition to his current work as a scout for the Miami Heat, was a close friend of O’Neil’s and witnessed his love for the game and the role that the USBA played in helping grow the game.The USBA became a destination to go to to learn about the game.

“(It) has hosted basketball teams and coaches from around the world,” Pierce noted. “Japan, China, Korea, Colombia, England, Lebanon, these countries and more have sent teams ranging from youth and college teams all the way up to the top professional and national teams, to train and learn from some of the top coaches in the United States.

“Cabins on the camp site are named after coaches like John Wooden, Pete Newell, Dale Brown, Jim Harrick and Bob Hill, all famous coaches who helped Bruce bring the USBA into existence.”

Chamberlain ‘encouraged’ O’Neil to open a camp

“Wilt Chamberlain was the one who encouraged Bruce to open up a basketball camp, and also insisted that the words ‘United States’ be part of the name,” Pierce recalled. “A picture of a young Yao Ming standing outside the Great Hall greets visitors to the USBA’s dining hall.

“During my busiest summer working at the USBA in 2006, former NBA Hall of Fame players Rick Barry and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stopped by to visit Bruce O’Neil and watch the camps.”

Reflecting on his long friendship with O’Neil, Pierce admitted that “I find it hard to believe that Bruce has left us.”

Pierce added: “He was one of the most positive people I have ever known with a great vision for what basketball could be in China and around the world. My lasting image of Bruce will always be him grilling steaks outside the Great Hall at the USBA, smiling and happy to be hosting players and coaches from somewhere around the world. “

Bruce O’Neil loved the USBA’s camaraderie and learning environment.

Final interaction with O’Neil

Two days before he passed away, O’Neil connected with Pierce via WeChat.

Kevin Zhang, a 6-foot-9 rookie for the Liaoning Flying Leopards had notched a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) in his first official Chinese Basketball Association game.

O’Neil was delighted to receive the news from Pierce.

“That’s my boy!!”O’Neil replied on the social messaging app.

Strong ties with the students

“Kevin Zhang is another in a long line of Bruce’s ‘adopted sons and daughters’  in China,” Pierce pointed out.

He went on: “Over the past 20 years almost every important player, coach, or top league official from China has spent time with Bruce at the USBA in Blue River, Oregon or has stayed at his home in Eugene. Many lived with Bruce and his wife for months at a time. Kevin had done both, staying with Bruce to improve his English, then moving on to play high school basketball at two different schools before playing two seasons at Tulane University. Bruce also took his grandson Kaelan’s high school team (South Eugene) to Shenyang, China, Kevin’s hometown in Liaoning province, on a summer trip partially arranged by Kevin’s mom, a high-ranking government official in Liaoning.”

Longtime USBA president Bruce O’Neil and former bj-league commissioner Toshimitsu Kawachi

First visit with O’Neil in 1997

For Bob Pierce, his first interaction with O’Neil occurred in 1997, when he was serving as an assistant under Bob Gaillard at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

O’Neil and Gaillard were friends, and had been coaching rivals when Gaillard worked at the University of San Francisco. (He was the 1977 NCAA Coach of the Year.)

“We drove down to Blue River, Oregon, to Bruce’s unfinished camp site, for a fantasy basketball camp featuring a Hall of Fame former NBA player, Rick Barry,” Pierce recalled. “The indoor gym hadn’t even been built yet, so all drills were done on the outdoor courts. Which became a problem the next day when it rained and forced us indoors. That led to a day of watching basketball videos that Bruce’s video company had produced. The highlight of the weekend was an outdoor dinner and campfire, with a fantasy camper asking Rick Barry if he thought Michael Jordan was the greatest player of all time. (The look on Rick’s face was priceless. I’m not sure you can ask Rick a question like that without including him as one of the contenders for the title.)

“With no gym, and only a handful of campers at the unofficial opening, it was hard to imagine what the USBA would become. Only a few months later, I left for Japan to become the assistant coach for the Hitachi Rising Sun in the JBL 2nd Division. My coaching career in Asia and the USBA have the same birth year, 1997.

“Every year when I would return to Portland, I would visit with Coach Gaillard. He would update me on the USBA, and talk about his trips to China with Bruce to do basketball clinics. I was getting more intrigued, especially after Bob told me about the first Big Man and Guard Camp held at the USBA featuring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and former NBA guard Jay Humphries.”

Coaches, including Bob Hill (third from right) and Bob Pierce (right), savored opportunities to work with Bruce O’Neil.

A visionary leader

Bruce O’Neil wasn’t interested in just teaching the game in the Oregon backwoods. He had lofty ambitions. He wanted to spread the institute’s knowledge by working in the world’s most populous country.

“In January of 2005 I let Bruce know I was in Beijing to watch a few CBA games,” Pierce stated. “The day before I was set to return to Japan, I received an email from Bruce saying he had arrived in China to do a clinic for college coaches, which included an invitation to join them at the Olympic Training Center. Over the next couple of days, I was able to watch Jim Harrick and Bob Hill do their clinics. I also traveled with them to visit the Great Wall.  

“When we parted ways, Bruce extended the invitation to work at the 2005 Big Man and Guard Camp, which was going to be run by Bob Hill. Bruce was always a big picture guy, a dreamer, someone who had ideas that others would call crazy. Within months, as the Big Man and Guard Camp approached, Bruce had convinced me to leave Japan to help him start the USBA Chinese Institute that he was planning to open in the fall of 2005.”

Hill dished out hoop wisdom

Traveling back and forth across the Pacific Ocean provide opportunities for Pierce to be around O’Neil’s well-connected circle, which included some great basketball minds and innovative thinkers.

Just ask Pierce.

“Working with Bob Hill at the 2005 Big Man and Guard Camp was like getting an  advanced degree in basketball,” he said recently. “Several big men from the University of Kentucky and the University of Oregon were in attendance. This is why coaches came to the USBA. We often learned more than the teams and players who came there to train.”

The camp produced a competitive environment.

Which, in turn, prepared players for potential careers in the pros.

Pierce recalled, “The Big Man and Guard Camp was immediately followed by the CBA Draft Camp. Nineteen of the 20 CBA teams from China came to the USBA to watch dozens of prospects play and then draft two for their teams. This is where I saw the compassionate side of Bruce. Coaching at the highest levels is tough. Coaches get fired for losing. Some know they will never coach at the NCAA D-I level again. One of the coaches in 2005 was Pete Gillen, who that year was fired after seven seasons at the University of Virginia. Pete had been Bruce’s assistant at Hawaii in 1975-76. Many coaches used the USBA as a way to make connections for their next job, or like Pete, to transition from coaching into broadcasting.

“In the evenings the coaches, from the NBA, NCAA, NAIA, and overseas would sit in the cabins named after Dale Brown, Pete Newell, and John Wooden talking basketball. Some of the best clinics I’ve ever attended were in these evening sessions.”

The USBA Chinese Institute attends a Rockets-Blazers game on Dec. 11, 2005, and meets Yao Ming.

USBA Chinese Institute’s Mixed Success

After many delays, on October 21, 2005, nine of the eventual 10 young players arrived at the USBA from junior teams in China.

It was full immersion in basketball, academics and American culture for them, including homestays with American families over the Christmas holidays.

“We played games against the JV teams at local colleges like Willamette University in Salem, and Concordia College in Portland,” Pierce noted. “One of them went to on to play at the University of Hawaii before returning to play in the CBA for a few seasons. Two of these original players are still playing in the CBA during this current 2020-2021 season. The USBA Chinese Institute only lasted a few years, but it typified Bruce’s ambitious projects.

“I lived at the USBA during most of 2006, again working at the Big Man and Guard Camp and the CBA Draft Camp. The bj-league commissioner, Toshimitsu Kawachi, was also a guest at the USBA that summer as he wanted to see how the CBA Draft Camp worked. Later in the summer we also brought the Nihon University men’s basketball to the USBA for a training camp.”

For Pierce, back to Asia

Even after his work took home back to China, then Japan and back to China again, Pierce found fulfillment in staying connected with the USBA and his good friend Bruce O’Neil.

In short, it was a yearly ritual.

“I left the USBA in the fall of 2006 to start a new team in Shenzhen, China. Later returning to Japan to spend five seasons coaching in the bj-league. But from 2006 until 2019 every time I returned to Portland, Oregon, I would drive down to Eugene to visit Bruce,” Pierce explained.

“I would usually arrange my trips based on who was visiting the USBA. Training camp for Zhejiang Guangsha from the CBA. A club team from Colombia. The Bulldogs from London, England. The Beijing Ducks junior team. The Beijing women’s team. Three young players from Korea. A young prospect from Mongolia whose father was 7 feet tall. The junior women’s team from Shandong, China.”

COVID-19 disruptions

Until the end of his productive life, Bruce O’Neil was always thinking of ways to grow the game, connect people and provide opportunities.

Case in point: His latest project “was a cooperation with Beijing Shougang, the parent company of the Beijing Ducks, to host their Pioneer Program,” Pierce reported. “In 2019 there were about 50 young Chinese players living at the USBA, playing basketball and studying English, with the goal of eventually enrolling in high schools or colleges in the United States.
“COVID-19 disrupted the program in 2020, and now with Bruce’s passing, no one knows what will happen to it. But it certainly illustrates Bruce’s ambitious plans to help as many basketball players in China, and around the world, as possible.”

A special environment

While the USBA Chinese Institute didn’t have a long history like its founder in Oregon, it left an indelible mark on former players. And that fact resonates with Pierce when he thinks about the special bonds that were formed there.

“I stay in touch with many of the original USBA Chinese Institute players from the first two years,” he said. “Many are now married with kids, working at normal jobs. All are still involved with basketball and dream of meeting again at the USBA in Blue River, Oregon, with their kids in tow, so that their children can experience the same things that they did.

“That is Bruce O’Neil’s legacy.”

For more information about the United States Basketball Academy, visit usbausa.com.

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Klay Thompson’s latest injury brings back memories of Norm Nixon https://www.talkbasket.net/111789-klay-thompsons-latest-injury-brings-back-memories-of-norm-nixon https://www.talkbasket.net/111789-klay-thompsons-latest-injury-brings-back-memories-of-norm-nixon#respond Sun, 22 Nov 2020 16:16:44 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=111789 When Klay Thompson sustained a right Achilles tendon injury on Wednesday, the circumstances of his attempted comeback conjured up memories of Norm Nixon’s career in the 1980s. Thompson, 30, will miss the entire 2020-21 NBA season, the Warriors announced a day later. He injured his Achilles during a pickup basketball game. The veteran sharpshooter missed […]

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Klay Thompson’s latest injury brings back memories of Norm Nixon

When Klay Thompson sustained a right Achilles tendon injury on Wednesday, the circumstances of his attempted comeback conjured up memories of Norm Nixon’s career in the 1980s.

Thompson, 30, will miss the entire 2020-21 NBA season, the Warriors announced a day later. He injured his Achilles during a pickup basketball game.

The veteran sharpshooter missed the entire 2019-20 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

Klay Thompson entered the NBA in 2011.

Parallels to Norm Nixon

As South Florida Sun-Sentinel sports reporter Ira Winderman detailed in a November 1988 article, Los Angeles Clippers guard Nixon suffered a knee injury in th summer of 1986 during a Broadway Show League softball game in New York.

“It was innocuous fun — until he stepped in a hole in center field. In a flash, 80 percent of the quadriceps tendons in his left knee were torn,” Winderman wrote. “And a season was lost.”

Fast forward to Nov. 5, 1987, two days before the Clippers’ season opener. Nixon’s worst nightmare came true. During a team workout at Cal State-Dominguez Hills, Nixon. who entered the NBA in 1977 with the Los Angeles Lakers, ruptured his right Achilles tendon. The he missed another full season.

“It made me re-examine myself,” Nixon, then 32, told the Sun-Sentinel. “The thoughts about what I should do lingered for a long time. But I didn’t want injuries to run me out of this game.”

Nixon only played 53 more games in the NBA, for the Clippers in the 1988-89 season.

Klay Thompson’s career at a crossroads

Will Klay Thompson enjoy a successful post-injuries chapter in an ultra-success career that has included five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals?

Or will the back-to-back major injuries signal a beginning of the end for him?

Only time will tell.

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In remembrance of John Thompson https://www.talkbasket.net/101715-in-remembrance-of-john-thompson https://www.talkbasket.net/101715-in-remembrance-of-john-thompson#respond Tue, 01 Sep 2020 16:09:58 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=101715 Longtime Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson couldn’t hide on the court. He was a giant (6 foot 10) and loomed large on the college basketball scene as the determined leader of the Georgetown Hoyas. Thompson also didn’t hide his ideas. When he had something to say, he said it. John Thompson died at age […]

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In remembrance of John Thompson

Longtime Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson couldn’t hide on the court.

He was a giant (6 foot 10) and loomed large on the college basketball scene as the determined leader of the Georgetown Hoyas.

Thompson also didn’t hide his ideas. When he had something to say, he said it.

John Thompson died at age 78 on Sunday. In recent years he worked as a basketball analyst on college broadcasts and also spent time as a talk-show host.

He will, of course, be remembered most for his successful run as the Georgetown bench boss, which included three appearances in the NCAA Tournament championship game (1982, 1984 and 1985). The University of North Carolina and Villanova defeated star center Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas in 1982 and ’85, respectively.

In between, Thompson guided Georgetown to a title in April 1984, beating the University of Houston, which featured another future Hall of Famer in Akeem (later spelled Hakeem) Olajuwon, 84-75 in Seattle.

The mindset of John Thompson

In The Associated Press’ game report, Thompson’s pride in his time was on full display:

“Hoya Paranoia is dead.

“Georgetown has nothing to fear anymore.

“Not that it ever really did, mind you. Georgetown’s NCAA championship basketball team wasn’t built on an adversarial relationship with anybody. It is the product of togetherness, under the tutelage of Coach John Thompson.

“ ‘We don’t need Hoya Paranoia,’ Thompson said Monday night after his Hoyas defeated Houston 84-75 in the title game at the sold-out Kingdome. ‘I have young men with personal pride and dignity … and if Hoya Paranoia makes us the way we are, somebody else better catch it.’ ”

The thrill of victory

In the aftermath of the championship win in 1984, Thompson reflected on what it meant to him.

“I’m extremely elated, because this has been an obsession of mine, to win the national championship,” he was quoted as saying in newspaper articles the next day. “I’d wake up from sleep sometimes thinking about it. Now I feel as if the monkey is off my back.”

He added: “I don’t want to be like (UCLA legend) John Wooden and win 10 of these. I just wanted to win one. He had to be an iron man to do what he did.

“Now I can concentrate on other things. I can think more about the kids and their needs.”

Successful run

From 1972-99, John Thompson’s Hoyas won 596 games and lost 239.

The Hoyas appeared in 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and 24 straight postseason tourneys in all, including four more NIT trips.

As a result, Georgetown established a standard of excellence under Thompson.

A three-time Big East Conference Coach of the Year, Thompson was named the UPI Coach of the Year in 1987. The UPI accolade was presented from 1955 to 1996 in recognition of the top men’s basketball coach each year.

Four Hall of Famers — Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Allen Iverson — played for Thompson at Georgetown. Ewing released a statement in remembrance of Thompson. The other ex-Hoyas stars also paid tribute to him in various social media posts.

Thompson’s influences

In a column he wrote after the 1984 NCAA Championship final, Steve Bisheff of the Orange County Register noted that Thompson played for two well-respected, defensive-oriented coaches during his time at Providence College and with the Boston Celtics.

“Dee-fense is what Thompson preaches,” Bisheff wrote. “If it isn’t entirely what won him the championship game, it is certainly what got him this far. And he rarely lets anyone forget it.”

Furthermore, Thompson’s comments added heft to that observation.

“I was very fortunate,” Thompson said, “to have played for coached like (Boston’s) Red Auerbach and Joe Mullaney, men who saw the joy and beauty of playing defense. And that’s what I try to convey to my kids.”

Which he did throughout his coaching career, and commanded respect in his chosen profession, as Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post observed.

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Lionel ‘L-Train’ Simmons named to MAAC’s 40th anniversary team https://www.talkbasket.net/95453-lionel-l-train-simmons-named-to-maacs-40th-anniversary-team https://www.talkbasket.net/95453-lionel-l-train-simmons-named-to-maacs-40th-anniversary-team#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2020 14:25:54 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=95453 More than 30 years after he played his final game for La Salle University, Lionel “L-Train” Simmons is being honored again for his sensational college career. On July 7, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference announced its 40th anniversary men’s basketball team, celebrating its history and recognizing numerous great players who have competed in the conference […]

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Lionel ‘L-Train’ Simmons named to MAAC’s 40th anniversary team

More than 30 years after he played his final game for La Salle University, Lionel “L-Train” Simmons is being honored again for his sensational college career.

On July 7, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference announced its 40th anniversary men’s basketball team, celebrating its history and recognizing numerous great players who have competed in the conference since its inception. In announcing its 40th anniversary team, the MAAC included players from schools that are no longer affiliated with the conference. Former MAAC schools include La Salle, Army, Fordham and Holy Cross. La Salle now comletes in the Atlantic-10 Conference.

Lionel Simmons is the conference’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. The 1989-90 NCAA Player of the Year and John R. Wooden Award winner his senior year, L-Train also holds this distinction: He became the first NCAA player to put more than 3,000 points (3,217) on the board and snare more than 1,000 rebounds (1,429).

When he was a college senior, joined the exclusive 3,000-point club. Other members before L-Train: Louisiana State’s Pete Maravich, Portland State’s Freeman Williams, Texas Southern’s Harry Kelly and Bradley’s Hersey Hawkins.

A look at Lionel Simmons’ legendary college career

In 2016, Lionel Simmons was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

A schoolboy legend in his hometown, Lionel Simmons starred at South Philadelphia High School before arriving at La Salle in 1986.

He made a profound impact on the Explorers program. Exhibit A: the team posted a 100-31 record during his four seasons at the MAAC school. He received the MAAC Player of the Year accolade three times. He was a consensus First Team All-American as a senior.

What’s more, La Salle competed in the NCAA Tournament in Lionel Simmons’ sophomore, junior and senior seasons. The Explorers retired his No. 22 jersey.

Simmons scored more than 20 points in each of his four college seasons. He finished his college career with the following averages: 24.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.9 blocks.

He aimed to emulate the stars

In February 1990, as his college career was winding down, Lionel Simmons spoke about how he studied other players.

“I think a lot of people growing up want to be like a certain player, emulating him in any way possible,” Simmons told The Washington Post at the time. “I tried to watch and take certain things from certain players and put it all together.

“I’ve always liked to pass — that may sound weird, with me scoring 3,000 points — but watching Magic (Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers), an unselfish player who’s willing to pass before he takes a shot and is perceived as being great because of it — I tried to take that. When Moses (Malone, formerly with the 76ers) was here, he was rewarded for being a rebounder, so I try to rebound as best I can.”

Career in the NBA

After leaving La Salle, L-Train played seven seasons for the Sacramento Kings (1990-97). The No. 7 pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, Lionel Simmons averaged 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a pro.

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Byron Scott gets college degree 37 years after leaving Arizona State https://www.talkbasket.net/92360-byron-scott-gets-college-degree-37-years-after-leaving-arizona-state https://www.talkbasket.net/92360-byron-scott-gets-college-degree-37-years-after-leaving-arizona-state#respond Mon, 15 Jun 2020 04:20:16 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=92360 Decades after the start of his successful NBA career began with the Los Angeles Lakers, Byron Scott returned to Arizona State University and earned his bachelor’s degree. The three-time NBA champion delivered the news via Twitter over the weekend. “Now I can really say that I’m proud to be a ‘Sun Devil!’ ” Scott tweeted. […]

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Byron Scott gets college degree 37 years after leaving Arizona State

Decades after the start of his successful NBA career began with the Los Angeles Lakers, Byron Scott returned to Arizona State University and earned his bachelor’s degree.

The three-time NBA champion delivered the news via Twitter over the weekend.

“Now I can really say that I’m proud to be a ‘Sun Devil!’ ” Scott tweeted. “After 37 years I went back to college & finally got my Bachelors Degree in Liberal Studies! It’s never too late!”

Byron Scott, 59, averaged 14.1 points in 1,073 regular-season games in his NBA career, which started in 1983 with the Lakers and ended with the Lakers in 1997. He also suited up for the Indiana Pacers and Vancouver Grizzlies. The San Diego Clippers selected Scott with the fourth pick in the 1983 Draft, and he was traded to the Lakers.

Byron Scott returns to school

In a Facebook post, Byron Scott elaborated on the experience of going back to school.

“As a student in my junior year at Arizona State University, I was drafted into the @nba before I could graduate in 1983,” Scott wrote. “Today…37 years later, I can once again say that I accomplished another major goal. For the past year and a half I have been in school. I went back to ASU and received my Bachelors Degree in Liberal Studies. I have always been a Sun Devil but TODAY I have never been more proud to say ‘I am a Sun Devil!’ Thank you to my college counselor Jessica Richardson and to the @arizonastateuniversity staff. Due to the pandemic, my graduation was postponed, but I’m looking forward to walking in December. Forks Up!!!”

Coaching career

After his playing days, Byron Scott coached the New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. He last coached Los Angeles in 2016.

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Dwane Casey delivers thoughtful remarks in aftermath of George Floyd’s death https://www.talkbasket.net/90923-dwane-casey-delivers-thoughtful-remarks-in-aftermath-of-george-floyds-death https://www.talkbasket.net/90923-dwane-casey-delivers-thoughtful-remarks-in-aftermath-of-george-floyds-death#respond Sun, 31 May 2020 10:48:38 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=90923 Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey lived through the painful desegregation of public schools and the turbulent 1960s. He’s also seen that there hasn’t been enough progress. What’s more, racism is still a huge problem in the United States. “The injustices continue to mount and nothing seems to be changing,” Casey commented. Casey is one […]

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Dwane Casey delivers thoughtful remarks in aftermath of George Floyd’s death

Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey lived through the painful desegregation of public schools and the turbulent 1960s. He’s also seen that there hasn’t been enough progress.

What’s more, racism is still a huge problem in the United States.

“The injustices continue to mount and nothing seems to be changing,” Casey commented.

Casey is one of the elder statesmen in the coaching fraternity in the NBA. He’s also passionate about seeing positive changes take place in American society.

In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, on May 25 in Minnesota, the 63-year spoke out as protests were held across the nation. He discussed his own life experiences and hopes for people coming together to root out systemic problems.

“Fifty-four years ago I was an eight-year-old boy living in rural Kentucky when the schools were desegregated,” Dwane Casey said in a statement released this weekend. “I walked into a white school where I was not wanted nor welcomed. At that time there were no cell phones to record my treatment, no cable news stations with 24/7 coverage, no social media to record the reality of the situation or offer support nor condemnation. But I can remember exactly how I felt as an eight-year-old child. I felt helpless. I felt as if I was neither seen, nor heard, nor understood. As I have watched the events unfold in the days following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a city where I coached and once called home, I see how many people continue to feel those same feelings – helpless, frustrated, invisible, angry.

“I understand the outrage because it seems the list continues to grow: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. The injustices continue to mount and nothing seems to be changing.”

Dwane Casey statement

Dwane Casey continued: “Fifty-four years later, my son is now eight years old and I look at the world he is growing up in and wonder, how much has really changed? How often is he judged on sight? Is he growing up in a world where he is seen, and heard, and understood? Does he feel helpless? Will he be treated like George Floyd or Ahmaud Abrey? What have we really done in the last 54 years to make his eight-year-old world better than mine was? We all have to be and do better.

“We have to change the way we see and hear each other. We have to work together to find solutions to make the justice system just. Black, white and brown people have to work together to find new answers. The only way we can stop the systemic problems that people of color have faced all our lives is through honesty and transparency. We have to understand why people are at their limit at this moment. It takes empathy, in its truest form. It takes a culture shift, it takes action. Let’s stop the injustice now. Let’s not allow another generation to continue to live in a world where they are treated as unequal. Now is the time for real change.”

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Would LeBron James have been a great NFL player? https://www.talkbasket.net/90154-would-lebron-james-have-been-a-great-nfl-player https://www.talkbasket.net/90154-would-lebron-james-have-been-a-great-nfl-player#respond Mon, 25 May 2020 01:13:24 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=90154 LeBron James’ amazing athleticism has been a topic of discussion throughout the 21st century. Inevitably, there have been countless hypothetical questions such as this: What if LeBron James had pursued a career in pro football? Would he have become a great NFL player? Many people think so. After all, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar, like […]

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Would LeBron James have been a great NFL player?

LeBron James’ amazing athleticism has been a topic of discussion throughout the 21st century. Inevitably, there have been countless hypothetical questions such as this: What if LeBron James had pursued a career in pro football?

Would he have become a great NFL player?

Many people think so.

After all, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar, like many of his NBA counterparts, is an imposing figure. He’s built like a tight end, and has the size and strength that’s required at the position.

It’s easy to imagine that LeBron could’ve had a successful 15-year career as a premier blocker and go-to option as a reception specialist in the NFL. Moreover, it’s also not difficult to picture him as a football Hall of Famer.

With that in mind, this post linked below makes a convincing argument that King James, who excelled on the gridiron in high school, would’ve thrived at the pro level.

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Remembering legend Pete Maravich’s 68-point game https://www.talkbasket.net/86005-remembering-pete-maravichs-68-point-game https://www.talkbasket.net/86005-remembering-pete-maravichs-68-point-game#respond Wed, 13 May 2020 03:45:27 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=86005 It’s been a little over 43 years since Pete Maravich dropped a career-high 68 points on the New York Knicks. This, of course, happened several years before the advent of the 3-point line in the NBA. Pistol Pete ignited the New Orleans Jazz in a 124-107 victory over the Knickerbockers on Feb. 25, 1977. This […]

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Remembering legend Pete Maravich’s 68-point game

It’s been a little over 43 years since Pete Maravich dropped a career-high 68 points on the New York Knicks.

This, of course, happened several years before the advent of the 3-point line in the NBA.

Pistol Pete ignited the New Orleans Jazz in a 124-107 victory over the Knickerbockers on Feb. 25, 1977.

This was the opening sentence in The New York Times’ game report: “Fouls stopped Pete Maravich before the Knicks could tonight and the Jazz guard scored 68 points as New Orleans routed the New Yorkers, 124-107.”

Maravich fouled out with 1:18 left in the game. He was whistled for two offensive fouls in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Maravich, who passed away on Jan. 5, 1988, at age 40 due to a heart defect, said, “I could have scored more. I missed a lot of easy shots early in the game.”

In a recent NBA.com feature, Jazz teammate Paul Griffin recalled Pete Maravich’s splendid performance. Pistol Pete sank 26 of 43 shots from the floor and 16 of 19 free-throw attempts. In the Friday evening contest at Louisiana Superdome, a crowd of 11, 0333 witnessed Pistol Pete’s super skills. Referees Don Murphy and Dick Bavetta officiated the game.

“When he got on a roll like that, we were happy to get him the ball,” Griffin stated.

Pete Maravich carries club

Pistol Pete lit up New York for 31 first-half points en route to a then-record point total for an NBA guard. The Knicks trailed 65-43 entering the third quarter.

Speaking to NBA.com, forward Aaron James, who also played for the Jazz that season, said: “We were just watching Pete. He could score in just about any way possible. He could shoot right-handed, left-handed, off the wrong foot. He could shoot hooks.”

Indeed, Pete Maravich also had a flair for the dramatic. He was, after all, a natural showman.

“It was pretty fun to watch,” Griffin told NBA.com. “He had so much scoring prowess that it was not unheard of for him to do something like that, but it was still quite a feat, especially without a three-point stripe. He won the scoring championship that year and averaged (31.1) points a game, so we were used to it. But that night, he was just feeling it.”

Reactions to Pistol Pete’s performance

“It was a beautiful thing to watch for the fans here and you have to admire that kind of effort,” Knicks coach Red Holzman said afterward, according to The New York Times. “We didn’t play well, but he was phenomenal.”

Knicks forward Bob McAdoo summed it up this way: “That man beat us by himself.”

Maravich’s college record

While starring for Louisiana State, Pete Maravich had a personal-best, 69-point effort against Alabama on Feb. 7, 1970. In the Tigers’ 106-104 loss, he made 26 of 57 shots.

By all accounts, he was one of the greatest players in NCAA history.

Did you know?

Mo Howard was New Orleans’ second-leading scorer in the game, finishing with 12 points.

The Hawks’ Pistol Pete shoots a jumper against the Celtics earlier in his career.

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Former 76ers GM Brad Greenberg reflects on Jerry Krause’s impact on Bulls https://www.talkbasket.net/83754-former-76ers-gm-brad-greenberg-reflects-on-jerry-krauses-impact-on-bulls https://www.talkbasket.net/83754-former-76ers-gm-brad-greenberg-reflects-on-jerry-krauses-impact-on-bulls#respond Thu, 30 Apr 2020 14:45:03 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=83754 Jerry Krause didn’t draft Michael Jordan in 1984. Rod Thorn, Krause’s predecessor, did. It turned out to be the best draft decision of the 1980s, giving the Chicago Bulls their franchise cornerstone for six NBA championships in the ’90s. But three years after Thorn’s history-changing decision, Krause made a pair of shrewd draft-day decisions of […]

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Former 76ers GM Brad Greenberg reflects on Jerry Krause’s impact on Bulls

Jerry Krause didn’t draft Michael Jordan in 1984. Rod Thorn, Krause’s predecessor, did.

It turned out to be the best draft decision of the 1980s, giving the Chicago Bulls their franchise cornerstone for six NBA championships in the ’90s.

But three years after Thorn’s history-changing decision, Krause made a pair of shrewd draft-day decisions of his own. The longtime Bulls general manager traded Olden Polynice to the Seattle SuperSonics for Scottie Pippen, the No. 5 pick, and before the momentous day was done he selected Horace Grant with the 10th pick in the 1987 Draft.

Pippen and Grant became fixtures in Chicago’s starting lineup, key players during the club’s first three-peat.

Krause died in March 2017 at age 77.

Reacting to Krause’s death, Pippen tweeted: “He helped me realize the dream of playing in the NBA and more than I ever could’ve imagined. … Jerry and I didn’t always see eye to eye but I knew he just wanted to win. He surrounded MJ and me with the right pieces not once but twice.”

Back in the spotlight

Jerry Krause’s life and legacy are back in the spotlight as “The Last Dance,” the 10-part ESPN documentary series about the final season (1997-98) of the Bulls dynasty, which attracts major attention around the world. ESPN aired episodes 3 and 4 on Sunday.

In an interview with Talkbasket.net this week, Brad Greenberg, a former Philadelphia 76ers general manager and vice president of basketball operations, offered some insights about Krause’s basketball acumen and undeniable skills as a talent evaluator.

“Jerry was a scout at heart,” said Greenberg, who has coached the Israeli Basketball Super League’s Maccabi Ashdod since 2017. “Loved trying to find a hidden gem. Liked to be on the road hunting out a player from a smaller school, lesser division … the proverbial sleeper.”

Exhibit A: Pippen (University of Central Arkansas), who’ll forever be linked to Jerry Krause.

Longtime Bulls GM Jerry Krause, who was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017, in a 2003 file photo. Credit: Chicago Tribune

Insights on Jerry Krause

Any quick description of “The Last Dance” will label Michael Jordan as the hero and Jerry Krause and the villain. The latter, of course, was contemplating how to wanted to rebuild the Chicago Bulls even as they were two-time defending champions heading into the 1997-98 campaign.

Was Krause misunderstood?

“Yes. You can’t win a popularity contest vs. Michael or Phil (Jackson) and Jerry is partly to blame for this,” said Greenberg, who as Sixers GM selected Allen Iverson No. 1 overall in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft. “But he made a lot of really good decisions for the Bulls.

“From bringing Phil on board to roster moves that helped build their championship teams. One of his nicknames was ‘Sleuth’ and his feeling that scouting info should be protected made him an aloof character and some took that the wrong way … perhaps interpreted as arrogance. But if you got to know him, he was a good guy.

“I got along with him and respected his work ethic. We crossed paths on the road a fair amount and had mutual respect.”

Greenberg praises Krause

Brad Greenberg, now 66, served as a Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach (1984-86), then held the same position with the New York Knicks (1986-87). From 1987 to 1995, he worked in the Portland Trail Blazers front office, coinciding with the rise of the Bulls from mediocrity to title contenders to three-time champions.

In that time span, Greenberg was reminded time after time that Jerry Krause was a good pro basketball team executive.

“The record speaks for itself!” Greenberg declared. “Having the best player in the league sure helped and he was there before him. But he surrounded MJ with the right pieces and he orchestrated Phil eventually becoming the coach surrounding him with great support staff (assistants).

“No denying he was a good exec.”

Interacting with Krause

What was it like dealing with Jerry Krause?

“I got along with Jerry,” said Greenberg, who served as a scout, director of player personnel and vice president of player personnel for Portland.

“While with the Blazers we played them in the (1992) Finals and we crossed paths a lot. I would say we had a solid relationship and probably more so than many others in the league.”

‘Unhappy with his seat location’

In thinking back to the early 1990s, Greenberg recalled that Krause was a stickler for details. He always wanted things done a certain way.

To illustrate that point, the Maccabi Ashdod bench boss provided a classic example.

“During the NBA Finals in Portland versus the Bulls, he had a seat that wasn’t to his liking for a game,” Greenberg said of Jerry Krause. “He was very particular about his seat for games whether at a college arena or pro game. He would often create a bit of a scene if the seats provided for him or other scouts wasn’t conducive to doing the job, especially if we had all traveled a great deal to a location for a college game.

“Upon him being unhappy with his seat location in Portland for a game, I was able to find him a much better seat close to the court and he was most appreciative. It probably helped cement our relationship. He always remembered me helping him. He was particular about things like that.”

Parting thoughts

“I am watching The Last Dance and like (Toni) Kukoc has commented … some of the comments and portrayal of him are ‘small’ and a bit unfair,” Greenberg commented on Jerry Krause. “He made so many strong ‘championship’ decisions. Unfortunately, he will always be the target for how things ended with Phil, etc…”

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Forty years ago today: Lionel Hollins, 76ers advance to NBA Finals https://www.talkbasket.net/83222-forty-years-ago-today-lionel-hollins-76ers-advance-to-nba-finals https://www.talkbasket.net/83222-forty-years-ago-today-lionel-hollins-76ers-advance-to-nba-finals#respond Mon, 27 Apr 2020 15:47:01 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=83222 It was 40 years ago today that shooting guard Lionel Hollins helped guide the Philadelphia 76ers past the Boston Celtics, providing a dynamic spark in an elimination game. The result: Sixers 105, Celtics 94. Premier scorer Julius Erving didn’t have one of his better offensive games in Game 5 of the 1980 Eastern Conference finals. […]

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Forty years ago today: Lionel Hollins, 76ers advance to NBA Finals

It was 40 years ago today that shooting guard Lionel Hollins helped guide the Philadelphia 76ers past the Boston Celtics, providing a dynamic spark in an elimination game.

The result: Sixers 105, Celtics 94.

Premier scorer Julius Erving didn’t have one of his better offensive games in Game 5 of the 1980 Eastern Conference finals. Didn’t matter.

Erving’s teammates, led by Lionel Hollins (24 points, seven assists), Bobby Jones (19 points, 8-for-10 shooting) and Darryl Dawkins (18 points), more than made up for Dr. J’s quiet 14-point outing.

In Games 1, 3 and 4 (a troika of Philly wins) of the best-of-seven series, Erving led all players with 29, 28 and 30 points.

“We can beat them too many ways,” Lionel Hollins said after Game 5, according to Sports Illustrated. “Doc doesn’t score, so we score for him.”

Playoff series background

The Sixers triumphed 96-93 in the series opener, followed by Boston’s 96-90 victory in Game 2.

Philadelphia rebounded with a 99-97 win in Game 3, then handled the Celtics 102-90 in Game 4 despite shooting just 2-for-23 from the floor in the fourth quarter.

In Game 4, Bobby Jones had five of the 76ers’ 15 blocked shots as they took a 3-1 series lead.

Dr. J’s teammates step up

Boston coach Bill Fitch, who guided his club to a 61-21 regular-season record, wanted to limit Erving’s effectiveness on offense.

The consensus opinion, of course, was this: The Celtics had a greater chance of winning if Dr. J was held far below his scoring average (he averaged 27.0 in Games 1-4).

Or as Sports Illustrated’s John Papanek wrote in his recap of the fierce rivals’ series: “The Celtics might have thought from the previous four games that if they held Erving to 14 points, the fifth would be theirs. But no. Instead, Hollins took over from the start, scoring 24 points on an assortment of jumpers, drives and trips to the foul line against (Chris) Ford and M.L. Carr. And Bobby Jones, one of the best sixth men in basketball, maybe the best defensive forward and the fastest, most sure-handed fast-break wingman alive, threw in 19 points on eight-of-10 shooting, while Dawkins had 18 and Caldwell Jones 12.”

Lionel Hollins’ championship experience

Before joining the Sixers during the 1979-80 season via a trade with Portland, Hollins played an instrumental role for the 1976-77 title-winning Trail Blazers.

Looking back on that experience, the Arizona State alum offered the following details in a 2003 interview:

“Obviously, the fondest memory is winning the championship (in 1977) and to see the city go absolutely berserk,” Hollins told ESPN Classic. “It was the beginning of Portland becoming a big-league city. They hadn’t made the playoffs in the previous six years and then we came along. We made the playoffs and had the third-best record in the West. We beat the Bulls and then we upset Denver, upset Los Angeles and upset Philadelphia. According to all the scouting reports they were upsets, but we felt we were one of the best teams in the league that year. That was the biggest moment — winning the championship. (I have fond memories of) the people I met in Portland, the fans and how they took to us and the relationships that I developed while I was there — both on and off the court.”

Reactions after Game 5

The Sixers were nearly on the same level as Boston during the regular season, posting a 59-23 record.

Reaching the NBA Finals proved that Philadelphia had a dangerous, elite lineup.

“It seems obvious now how much better we are, doesn’t it?” Philadelphia head coach Billy Cunningham said later. “I’ll tell you. We never thought we’d win it in five.”

Celtics rookie Larry Bird, who shined (24.8 points, 13.7 rebounds in the first four games) before the series clincher, said the Sixers thrashed his team in Game 5.

“We were considered the best team, but they put us away like we were nothing,” Bird, the 1979-80 NBA Rookie of the Year, was quoted as saying by SI.

Impressive defense

Bobby Jones and Caldwell Jones played tenacious defense against Bird, holding him to 5-for-19 shooting and 12 points. Celtics teammates Dave Cowens and Nate “Tiny” Archibald had 22 points apiece. Lionel Hollins, Maurice Cheeks and others also provided stellar defense from the backcourt.

Boston’s Pistol Pete Maravich played his final NBA game in the series-ending defeat. In 17 minutes, the basketball legend had four points on 2-for-8 shooting against the Sixers.

Lamenting the loss, Fitch summed it up this way, according to Sports Illustrated: “Knowing you’re not as bad as they made you look is some comfort. If people really want to know how good we are, they’d better buy a season ticket and come in here next year to find out.”

1980 NBA Finals

Days after the euphoria of Philly’s elimination of Boston, Julius Erving, Lionel Hollins and Co. fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Magic Johnson’s great performance (42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists) in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s injury absence in Game 6 put the finishing touches on Los Angeles’ title.

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Acquisition of Bill Cartwright gave Bulls a vital anchor https://www.talkbasket.net/82759-acquisition-of-bill-cartwright-gave-bulls-a-vital-anchor https://www.talkbasket.net/82759-acquisition-of-bill-cartwright-gave-bulls-a-vital-anchor#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2020 11:52:02 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=82759 Before the Chicago Bulls morphed into a title contender, they needed to endure growing pains. They needed to mature. And they needed to upgrade their roster (adding Bill Cartwright, for example) in the 1980s. What’s more, they found the perfect guy (the only guy) to steer the ship. His name, of course, is Phil Jackson. […]

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Acquisition of Bill Cartwright gave Bulls a vital anchor

Before the Chicago Bulls morphed into a title contender, they needed to endure growing pains. They needed to mature. And they needed to upgrade their roster (adding Bill Cartwright, for example) in the 1980s.

What’s more, they found the perfect guy (the only guy) to steer the ship.

His name, of course, is Phil Jackson.

Influence of Red Holzman

The Zen Master gained a lifetime — several lifetimes, really — of hoops insight from the great Red Holzman, who is often overlooked by basketball fans and the media.

But in the annals of the great game, the New York Knicks coach should be remembered this way: as a great teacher of fundamentals and a brilliant tactician.

The great New York Times writer Ira Berkow penned Holzman’s obituary in 1998. In the article, Berkow highlighted Holzman’s bright coaching mind and his basic approach to the game.

”I stressed defense — pressure defense,” Holzman was quoted as saying. ”And team basketball. And, on offense, moving the ball to hit the open man.”

Jackson saw how pressure defense and motion offense worked for the Knicks. Two titles and three NBA Finals appearances in the early 1970s was irrefutable evidence.

Bulls acquire Bill Cartwright

In June 1988, a trade that sent 24-year Bulls forward Charles Oakley to the Knicks for 31-year-old center Bill Cartwright impacted both franchises.

Oakley became a key part of New York’s frontline for more than a decade.

Cartwright gave Chicago a steady, hard-working presence in the low post. A quality defender, he also fit in well with the team’s triangle offense when Jackson replaced Doug Collins on the bench.

Which is exactly what Bulls general manager Jerry Krause expected.

”We’re happy to acquire the services of a proven low-post scoring center,” Krause said, according to The New York Times. ”At 31, we feel Bill has excellent years of basketball ahead of him. Also, by obtaining the 11th pick in the draft, we put ourselves in a better position. The development of Horace Grant helped us make such a deal. We feel Horace can be a quality player and develop like Charles Oakley.”

Insights on Bill Cartwright

In February 2013, weeks after he had taken over as head coach of the Osaka Evessa in Japan, Cartwright was the subject of a lengthy Q&A feature in The Japan Times.

Before the article moved on to Cartwright’s comments, legendary basketball columnist Peter Vecsey provided some insightful remarks about the five-time title winner (three as the Bulls’ starting center and two as an assistant coach under Jackson).

“He was a real man as a player,” Vecsey said of Bill Cartwright. “Was the one to get into (Scottie) Pippen’s face in locker room after he refused to play when Jackson gave (Toni) Kukoc the attempt to tie (Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals), which he hit.

“He was also the guy who helped (Michael) Jordan win his first titles. Michael hated him for quite a while, ordering teammates not to pass him ball in the fourth quarter, but, I believe, he came to appreciate him.

“Hubie (Brown) had an impossible job as Knicks coach because Cartwright was a very good center but (Patrick) Ewing, a team player in the minds of most, refused to play outside as power forward. Hence, the (Charles) Oakley-Cartwright trade helped both teams, but the Bulls most…”

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Formula for success: Michael Jordan and long-armed, versatile teammates https://www.talkbasket.net/82755-formula-for-success-michael-jordan-and-long-armed-versatile-teammates https://www.talkbasket.net/82755-formula-for-success-michael-jordan-and-long-armed-versatile-teammates#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2020 10:32:27 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=82755 Michael Jordan’s fierce competitive drive is a necessary ingredient in any tale about the Chicago Bulls dynasty. Wisely, it is one of the trademarks of a new, 10-part documentary series, “The Last Dance.” The epic project highlights the 1997-98 NBA season and much more. But don’t forget that bench boss Phil Jackson’s squad created mismatch […]

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Formula for success: Michael Jordan and long-armed, versatile teammates

Michael Jordan’s fierce competitive drive is a necessary ingredient in any tale about the Chicago Bulls dynasty.

Wisely, it is one of the trademarks of a new, 10-part documentary series, “The Last Dance.” The epic project highlights the 1997-98 NBA season and much more.

But don’t forget that bench boss Phil Jackson’s squad created mismatch problems for teams throughout the 1990s.

Columnist Ira Berkow of The New York Times captured the essence of Chicago’s potent lineup in an April 1991 column. The article (“The Long Arm of the Bulls Is In Touch With His Team”) explained how the Bulls were a true extension of their coach.

Versatility was a driving force behind the team’s success.

Lots of long arms

Berkow began his spot-on column this way:

“The Chicago Bulls are a team of long arms; hardly the shortest pair of them is that attached to their coach, Phil Jackson. Long and angular at 6 feet 9 inches, Jackson, moving at times like an ambulatory Tinker Toy, may be seen in front of the Bulls bench, striding or standing, sometimes crossing his lengthy arms in contemplation, sometimes unfolding them to demonstrate a point to a player, or remonstrate to a referee.

“If a team may be said to resemble its coach, this one does so in ways that suggest the uncanny. The wingspans of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and Bill Cartwright and B. J. Armstrong and Horace Grant are considerable, too, and have recently been put to good and bothersome use, which is the same thing as far as Chicago is concerned.

“These arms suddenly materialize, like great tentacles, at the most incovenient moments for the opposition, and they commence to block shots, steal balls, and knock a pass away just when someone on the other team is turning, say, to look for someone to pass to, and discover they are empty-handed.”

Cohesive unit

Berkow penned this column after the Bulls’ 89-79 win over the New York Knicks in Game 2 of their first-round playoff showdown.

In that 10-point verdict, Michael Jordan finished with 26 points. Indeed, it was a far cry from his playoff-record 63 against the Boston Celtics in April1986, but it was good enough for the title-chasing Bulls.

Or as Phil Jackson declared afterward: “”We don’t need Michael to be superhuman, we just need him to be Superman, which would be enough for us.”

Michael Jordan: Basketball’s Superman

Sure enough, Michael Jordan was Superman. For nearly the entire decade, except during his ill-advised stint as a minor league baseball player.

In February 2013, I asked then-Osaka Evessa head coach Bill Cartwright about former teammate MJ’s competitive drive, about what separated him from the run-of-the-mill, or “ordinary,” player.

Cartwright responded by saying, “He had endorsements and a lot of people tried to take his precious time. Even so, he was never late for a practice, always a hard worker and, especially, he always put basketball first.”

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On this day (in 1984): Spurs outgunned Nuggets in regular-season finale https://www.talkbasket.net/81288-on-this-day-in-1984-spurs-outgunned-nuggets-in-regular-season-finale https://www.talkbasket.net/81288-on-this-day-in-1984-spurs-outgunned-nuggets-in-regular-season-finale#respond Wed, 15 Apr 2020 14:50:26 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=81288 On April 15, 1984, in a regular-season finale, there were 17 double-digit scorers in a wild Nuggets-Spurs encounter in San Antonio. The hosts outgunned Denver 157-154, including 48-43 in the pivotal fourth quarter at HemisFair Arena. It was an entertaining way to finish the season. Frontcourt mates Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe paced the Nuggets […]

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On this day (in 1984): Spurs outgunned Nuggets in regular-season finale

On April 15, 1984, in a regular-season finale, there were 17 double-digit scorers in a wild Nuggets-Spurs encounter in San Antonio. The hosts outgunned Denver 157-154, including 48-43 in the pivotal fourth quarter at HemisFair Arena.

It was an entertaining way to finish the season.

Frontcourt mates Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe paced the Nuggets with 30 points apiece, while Danny Schayes poured in 23 points. All but one of Denver’s nine players reached double figures in points in the Sunday showdown. Shooting guard T.R. Dunn had two points on 1-for-5 shooting in 17 minutes.

The Nuggets (38-44), led by head coach Doug Moe, shot 55.5 percent (61-for-110) from the floor in the high-scoring affair. They were 3 of 6 from 3-point range, and sank 29 of 32 free-throw attempts. Denver finished with 38 assists and 16 turnovers. Point guard Rob Williams had a team-best 11 assists.

For San Antonio, nine players put 10 or more points on the board, including rookie John Paxson (25), Gene Banks (24) and Mark McNamara 22.

The Spurs (37-45), guided by bench boss Bob Bass, shot 66-for-104 (63.5 percent) from the floor. They attempted one 3-pointer, a Ron Brewer miss. They converted 25 of 34 from the charity stripe, and also chalked up 50 assists against 18 turnovers.

The catalyst

In the regular-season finale, veteran point guard John Lucas, a crafty southpaw playmaker, came off the bench and orchestrated the San Antonio offense, dishing out a jaw-dropping 24 assists (two turnovers) in 28 impressive minutes. He attempted one shot, and didn’t score. (Orlando Magic guard Scott Skiles set the single-game assist record (30) against the Nuggets in December 1990.)

Lucas handed out a league-record 14 assists in the second quarter. He doled out eight more in the fourth to push the Spurs past the Nuggets.

The high-scoring regular-season finale was a mirror image of the teams’ season. Denver finished No. 1 overall in scoring (123.7 points per game, followed by San Antonio (120.3).

In a San Antonio Express-News feature, published in 2015, Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore recalls teammate Lucas’ fired-up personality during the 1983-84 season.

“In one of his first games at the old HemisFair Arena, Lucas’s excitement got the best of him after a made free throw by fellow lefty and Spurs center, Artis Gilmore,” Jerry Briggs wrote.

“Gilmore, who helped lead the ’83 Spurs to the brink of the NBA Finals, remembered that Lucas ‘was jumping up and down and hugging me like we had won the championship. But I still had one free throw to shoot … Yes, that was pretty interesting.’ ”

Playoff story

After the wild regular-season finale, Denver advanced to the playoffs as the Western Conference’s No. 7 seed. The Utah Jazz eliminated the Nuggets in the best-of-five first-round series winning 3-2.

The Spurs failed to qualify for the playoffs, doing so for the first time in 11 seasons.

The Boston Celtics captured the 1983-84 NBA title, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 4-3 in the Finals.

The Nuggets reached the Western Conference finals the next season, falling to the Lakers in five games.

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Decades after The Punch: Rudy Tomjanovich reaches pinnacle as Kermit Washington serves time in prison https://www.talkbasket.net/80500-decades-after-the-punch-rudy-tomjanovich-reaches-pinnacle-as-kermit-washington-serves-time-in-prison https://www.talkbasket.net/80500-decades-after-the-punch-rudy-tomjanovich-reaches-pinnacle-as-kermit-washington-serves-time-in-prison#respond Fri, 10 Apr 2020 09:13:43 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=80500 It’s been more than 40 years since the Lakers’ Kermit Washington slugged the Rockets’ Rudy Tomjanovich. Forevermore it’s known as The Punch. It was immortalized in John Feinstein’s proclaimed book, “One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever.” Their on-court encounter on Dec. 9, 1977, remains one of the NBA’s darkest hours, […]

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Decades after The Punch: Rudy Tomjanovich reaches pinnacle as Kermit Washington serves time in prison

It’s been more than 40 years since the Lakers’ Kermit Washington slugged the Rockets’ Rudy Tomjanovich.

Forevermore it’s known as The Punch.

It was immortalized in John Feinstein’s proclaimed book, “One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever.”

Their on-court encounter on Dec. 9, 1977, remains one of the NBA’s darkest hours, and Tomjanovich’s life was in danger after the incident. He was sidelined for five months.

Tomjanovich needed to recover from a broken jaw, a fractured skull and a broken nose. And there was also this: spinal fluid leakage, according to published reports.

Their lives are permanently linked to the days of disco and an intense moment on the basketball court.

Rudy Tomjanovich coaching the Rockets.

Decades later, Tomjanovich, now 71, celebrated his election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, with last weekend’s announcement giving him a future day in the spotlight in Springfield, Massachusetts, as part of the celebrated 2020 class. (The headliners: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.)

Kermit Washington, now 68, is serving time in the slammer.

In July 2018, he was sentenced to six years in prison for false tax returns and for conducting fraudulent business.

So, isn’t it ironic that the nexus of their lives is connected once again? Connected in this way?

Tomjanovich is on Cloud Nine, while Washington is paying his debt to society.

Rudy Tomjanovich reflects on Hall vote

Here’s how Rudy Tomjanovich, who was elected to the Hall as a coach, reacted to the once-in-a-lifetime news, speaking on ESPN: “It was a very suspenseful day because I’ve been in this position before and I got the, ‘Sorry, not this year’ response.

“The first thing that happened was an unbelievable sigh of relief and then slowly – but very powerfully – complete jubilation! We’re going to Springfield!”

He’ll be honored for his work on the Rockets bench, especially for leading Houston to back-to-back NBA titles in the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons. Tomjanovich won more than 500 games in his pro coaching career. He was a longtime Rockets assistant before taking over as head coach in 1992. Tomjanovich also guided Team USA to the Olympic gold at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Kermit Washington’s crimes

Washington’s fraudulent activities eventually caught up with him.

“This former NBA player abused his fame and status to promote a charity scam by which he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that he diverted to personal spending on lavish vacations, shopping sprees, and even plastic surgery for his girlfriend,” said Timothy Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, according to a NBC Sports article.

“Although he told his donors that 100 percent of all donations would go to support charitable work in Africa, including a medical clinic for needy families and HIV-positive children, in fact he spent most of the donated funds on himself. His fraud scheme also victimized law-abiding taxpayers by stealing from the public treasury rather than paying taxes owed.”

The incident

In December 2002, CBSsportsline.com’s Mike Kahn detailed the incident, giving a vivid rundown of what happened.

“If you are a sports fan, you’ve seen the tape,” Kahn wrote.

“The Lakers’ Kermit Washington and Kevin Kunnert of the Rockets had gotten tangled, both angrily swinging at each other. But the next 20 seconds will forever be in the annals of NBA history, as Kunnert’s teammate Rudy Tomjanovich came running toward the two men, when Washington saw a blur coming at him out of the corner of his eye.

“He turned, reared back and crushed Tomjanovich with an overhand right that nearly killed Tomjanovich and required a plethora of operations to give him back his face and his life.”

Kermit’s side of the story

In the aftermath of The Punch in December 1977, Washington told reporters: “I saw him coming and I just swung. I had no idea who it was. Now that I’ve talked to other people, I understand Rudy wasn’t going to fight. He’s never even been in a fight. It was an honest, unfortunate mistake.”

Another opinion

Not surprisingly, Rockets coach Tom Nissalke disagreed.

“It was the most malicious thing I’ve ever seen in basketball,” Nissalke said, according to UPI. “It was a sucker punch.”

The punishment

In December 1977, NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien suspended Kermit Washington for 60 days and fined him $10,000 for hitting Rudy Tomjanovich.

“The stringent penalty reflects the severity of Washington’s actions on the court,” O’Brien declared.

Washington played his final NBA game in the 1987-88 season for the Golden State Warriors, making a comeback after a five-year absence.

Did you know?

Rudy Tomjanovich is one of nine NBA coaches to capture back-to-back titles.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made history on my 10th birthday https://www.talkbasket.net/80375-kareem-abdul-jabbar-made-history-on-my-10th-birthday https://www.talkbasket.net/80375-kareem-abdul-jabbar-made-history-on-my-10th-birthday#respond Thu, 09 Apr 2020 15:40:43 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=80375 On my 10th birthday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. I don’t remember hearing about it that week, or being impressed by the historic accomplishment in the days or weeks afterward, either. Shame on me! After all, I was already a huge sports fan in those days, following Major League Baseball and the […]

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made history on my 10th birthday

On my 10th birthday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. I don’t remember hearing about it that week, or being impressed by the historic accomplishment in the days or weeks afterward, either.

Shame on me!

After all, I was already a huge sports fan in those days, following Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League pretty closely. I also had a rooting interest in the NBA, especially because I wanted to see all of Julius “Dr. J” Erving’s game highlights. Dr. J was my favorite basketball player at the time.

The Lakers center accomplished the feat on April 5, 1984, in Las Vegas. Los Angeles shot .659 percent from the floor en route to its 51st victory of the season, on a Sunday night, in game No. 76. The Lakers topped the Utah Jazz 129-115, getting 22 points from Kareem and 23 from Magic Johnson, who dished out 12 assists and made 10 of 11 shots in a virtuoso performance. Byron Scott paced L.A. with 24 points and James Worthy poured in 20.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s numbers

As for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, he converted 10 of 14 field-goal attempts on his record-setting night.

Fittingly, the Lakers center surpassed Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list with a 12-foot sky hook from the right baseline over Utah’s Mark Eaton. With 8:53 remaining, that bucket gave Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 31,421 points in his illustrious career.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar waves to the crowd after breaking the NBA’s career scoring record on April 5, 1984, in Las Vegas. Credit: The Associated Press

Pat Riley reflects on the game

In a short video posted on @NBACobwebs’ Twitter page, Lakers coach Pat Riley discussed the strategy that led to Kareem’s record-shattering hoop.

Riley admitted, of course, that there wasn’t anything unique about the play.

Simply put, the Lakers were playing to their strengths.

Indeed, the Lakers had run the play countless times over the years, with somebody passing the ball to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in open space, giving him time and room to set up shop.

In other words, room to unleash his patented sky hook.

Chasing the record

Writing for The New York Times, Roy S. Johnson, chronicled Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record-breaking feat.

His well-crafted game report included these details:

“Abdul-Jabbar entered the final period needing only 4 points for the record. By then, the game was a rout and his teammates were looking for him at every opportunity.

“James Worthy drove the lane and could have had an easy score, but he dished off instead. Abdul-Jabbar responded with a dunk that tied Chamberlain’s mark.

“After missing a 14-footer two minutes later, he gained the record- breaking shot. Amid the ensuing swarm of photographers and well- wishers on the floor, the National Basketball Association commissioner, David Stern, told the crowd: ‘N.B.A. players are the greatest in the world. And Kareem, you are the greatest.’

“Cradling the game ball, Abdul-Jabbar took the microphone and said: ‘It’s hard to say anything after all is said and done.’ “

The next day’s Battle Creek (Michigan) Enquirer ran a top-of-the-page headline that summed it up perfectly: “Sky hook carries Kareem to record.”

Witnessing a historic moment

Thirty-five years later, then-Jazz rookie Thurl Bailey talked about the experience of seeing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar move to the top of the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

“I was actually on the court and that was a great moment,” Bailey told the Deseret News. “That was a great moment in history to be a part of for one of the greatest players to play the game and to be a part of that history is awesome.

“We had a really good team in that time, and we were kind of in the transition, trying to figure out where we were going to be, but I remember the moment clearly of him sweeping that sky hook across the lane over Mark Eaton. Matter of fact, whenever I see the video or the pictures, it’s kind of cool. They beat us that night but even with that, it’s good to be a part of history in some way.”

Still No. 1

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar remains the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points.

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Flashback: The O.J. Simpson Bronco Chase Game (aka 1994 NBA Finals Game 5) https://www.talkbasket.net/79491-flashback-the-o-j-simpson-bronco-chase-game-aka-1994-nba-finals-game-5 https://www.talkbasket.net/79491-flashback-the-o-j-simpson-bronco-chase-game-aka-1994-nba-finals-game-5#respond Sat, 04 Apr 2020 08:37:51 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=79491 With some extra free time these days, I’ve been watching and rewatching sports highlights and old sitcoms on YouTube, including the 1994 NBA Finals. The rough and rugged seven-game clash between Pat Riley’s New York Knicks and Rudy Tomjanovich’s Houston Rockets was not a showcase of beautiful basketball; it did, however, feature multiple interruptions of […]

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Flashback: The O.J. Simpson Bronco Chase Game (aka 1994 NBA Finals Game 5)

With some extra free time these days, I’ve been watching and rewatching sports highlights and old sitcoms on YouTube, including the 1994 NBA Finals.

The rough and rugged seven-game clash between Pat Riley’s New York Knicks and Rudy Tomjanovich’s Houston Rockets was not a showcase of beautiful basketball; it did, however, feature multiple interruptions of live coverage of Game 5 for news footage of O.J. Simpson in a white Ford Bronco on a California freeway as numerous police cars chased him.

June 17, 1994, a day that lives in infamy in U.S. sports history. Simpson was charged with two counts of murder that day, for killing his ex-wife (Nicole Brown Simpson) and one of her friends (Ron Goldman).

O.J. Simpson was a fugitive on the run.

How the game ended

Looking back at the intense game and its multiple skirmishes, it’s surprising that nobody was ejected.

The Knicks beat the Rockets 91-84 to take a 3-2 series lead back to Houston. Back-to-back losses in Texas ended New York’s hopes of its first championship since the 1972-73 season. Knicks fans in Gotham and beyond are still waiting for another title.

Hakeem Olajuwon had 27 points and eight turnovers for Houston in the loss.

Knicks pivot Patrick Ewing delivered a 25-point, 12-rebound, eight-block performance.

O.J. Simpson news footage

This version of the broadcast includes multiple interruptions of the game as NBC News and anchor Tom Brokaw provided updates on the developing story:

Helicopter footage of the car chase and updates from the ritzy Brentwood neighborhood after the Ford Bronco’s arrival were captured live.

Revisiting Game 5

USA Today published a look back at Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals in October 2016, which began this way:

“It’s arguably the craziest sports and culture crossover that’s ever transpired: As the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets played Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals, the world simultaneously watched O.J. Simpson and Al Cowlings drive through Los Angeles freeways while being chased by police.

“As it turns out, the Rockets were watching too.

“At a TNT luncheon on Tuesday, former Rocket Kenny Smith remembers sitting on the bench during a timeout in that crucial Game 5 and catching something on one of the televisions sitting at the media table nearby.”

Coverage in The Washington Post

Twenty years after that unforgettable night, The Washington Post looked back at the story as it unfolded. The online version of the story, penned by Cindy Boren, was entitled “The night a white Bronco chase stole the 1994 NBA Finals.”

Boren crafted a memorable story that opened this way:

“Twenty years ago this month, the city of New York and Madison Square Garden were rocking. The Rangers were about to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 53 years and the Knicks were playing the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals.

“And then perhaps the most surreal day in the history of sports happened.

“New Yorkers were partying as the Rangers kicked June 17, 1994, by parading through downtown Manhattan. ‘It was an amazing feeling just to be in New York at that particular time,’ John Starks told ESPN Radio. ‘You had both teams in the playoffs, both in the Finals, and the city was just electric. You couldn’t get no sleep. I still have people come up to me today and just talk about that time, how they didn’t sleep for about two months.”

More details of the O.J. Simpson saga

Boren referenced a CBSSports.com article by Ken Berger (“Forgotten Finals: Remembered for all the wrong reasons”) to highlight how the broadcast transformed from normal to unbelievable.

Wrote Berger:

“In a suite high above the Garden floor, (Knicks President Dave) Checketts saw something he never imagined he’d witness in a Finals game in his own building.

“ ‘A lot of people were not in their seats, and I didn’t really know why,’ Checketts said. ‘I couldn’t tell exactly what happened, so I did what I did all the time, which was turn around in my chair to watch what was happening on the screen. I turned around, and all I could see was the white Bronco.’

“ ‘At first,’ (Knicks General Manager Ernie) Grunfeld said, ‘I thought it was a commercial. Suddenly, no one was paying attention to the game.’ ”

Boren cited Berger’s report to include these details, too: “Newsday’s Neil Best told Berger that he noticed that Bob Costas, the pregame and halftime host, was watching something else on a TV monitor. He was looking at images of Simpson’s friend, Al Cowlings, driving Simpson in the Bronco with the California Highway Patrol in pursuit.’ ”

The Washington Post writer then offered this historic info: “NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBC President Dick Ebersol were, according to Berger, arguing about whether the network should cut away from the game. As halftime approached, it was an increasingly moot topic. NBC was showing the Bronco and the game in split-screen, then the chase was the main image with the game in a corner cut-in. Finally, Best told Berger, ‘The only people in the country who were seeing the game were the people in the arena.’ ”

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Remembering John Wooden https://www.talkbasket.net/77762-remembering-john-wooden https://www.talkbasket.net/77762-remembering-john-wooden#respond Wed, 25 Mar 2020 09:39:37 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=77762 It’s been nearly a decade since basketball legend John Wooden passed away at age 99 in June 2010. While doing some spring cleaning this week, I came across a letter faxed to me just about 10 days after the UCLA coaching great died. It’s a thoughtful look at what made John Wooden a certifiable genius […]

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Remembering John Wooden

It’s been nearly a decade since basketball legend John Wooden passed away at age 99 in June 2010.

While doing some spring cleaning this week, I came across a letter faxed to me just about 10 days after the UCLA coaching great died. It’s a thoughtful look at what made John Wooden a certifiable genius as a leader, on and off the court.

“MISSING COACH WOODEN” was the title of the one-page typed fax. It remains a treasure in my collection of basketball-related memorabilia and literature.

Here’s what it said:

I will miss John Wooden. I was coaching junior varsity basketball in the middle 1970 in the U.S. and he was already hailed as the best college coach ever. There were rumors of Wooden’s retirement. He had won 10 national titles in 12 years. Most of the games were not even close. My basketball career as a junior varsity coach was also about to end. No one ever got us two confused as coaches. The head basketball coach approached me and asked if I wanted to go to a basketball coaching clinic. I said no. He said there would be some great coaches there. I said no thanks again. Then he remembered — “Yes, John Wooden is retiring and said he would show up. This will be his first speaking engagement since he retired.”

I did not even hesitate and emphatically stated I would indeed go even if I had to hitchhike. I wanted to make sure I would be one of the first to learn the Wooden secret of success — the magic formulas he used in practice, his vaunted press, how he handles his players, his conditioning secrets, and his overall philosophy on coaching. Maybe I could resurrect my coaching career after all.

I was all psyched to hear Wooden. I had five or six pencils, all sharpened in case I dropped one and not risk missing something in the talk. Tablets of basketball diagrams were ready for use Wooden was finally introduced and ambled to the podium. He looked around, smiled and asked for a chair to be put near the podium. Then he said he would be talking about the success at UCLA. Then he stated, “The most important thing we teach an incoming UCLA player is how to tie his shoes.” Then he explained that a player who did not lace his shoes up correctly would risk a foot problem. That problem would affect him and the team. I groaned. Was this a joke? Then he explained that putting on your basketball shorts was also important. That was about it. No X’s and O’s. By then I had settled down, relaxed my hold on the pencils, and was looking at the other baffled coaches. Out of respect and curiosity, I stayed for the entire talk but silently cursed my decision to come for such a meaningless lecture.

For many years I never understood the meaning of Wooden’s explanation. His message was completely lost on me. But that was before I came to Japan. After all these years, I have finally gotten the message. In my office I have about 200 books on Japan — its customs, literature, and language. If I had to pick out “the one book” — the one that would explicate the unique Japanese mentality — it would be the one on the concept of “kata,” the way of doing things, “shikata,” — how to eat, “tabekata,” and how to write, “kakikata,” etc. There is no right way, alternate or wrong way, only the one way.

I think John Wooden had the formula down — attention to detail, discipline, simplicity, and a belief in his system. I am afraid John Wooden would not be as successful in our “everyone doing his own thing” culture. Since we don’t wear shoes inside Japanese homes and some restaurants, I have to do a lot of shoe tying. Often I think of Coach Wooden. I think it will be more often now.

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Ross Kreines artfully analyzes the game one tweet at a time https://www.talkbasket.net/77067-ross-kreines-artfully-analyzes-the-game-one-tweet-at-a-time https://www.talkbasket.net/77067-ross-kreines-artfully-analyzes-the-game-one-tweet-at-a-time#respond Sat, 21 Mar 2020 11:57:03 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=77067 Ross Kreines dishes out keen insights about the game via Twitter. Indeed, it’s an acquired skill. Scroll down his Twitter feed for an illuminating summary of how/why players and teams succeed. From players with surnames from A to Z, Kreines dutifully provides educated opinions on their strengths, while preaching positivity along the way. In this […]

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Ross Kreines artfully analyzes the game one tweet at a time

Ross Kreines dishes out keen insights about the game via Twitter.

Indeed, it’s an acquired skill.

Scroll down his Twitter feed for an illuminating summary of how/why players and teams succeed.

From players with surnames from A to Z, Kreines dutifully provides educated opinions on their strengths, while preaching positivity along the way.

In this era of instant information and short-attention spans, Kreines has carved out a niche. Give him his props.

Twitter is his landscape, which he uses to break down the game with intelligent, enthusiasm and expertise.

Developing a following

Kreines has developed a following as a respected, astute observer of the game at the highest levels. His name isn’t tossed out there next to many of the high-profile analysts, but it’s clear he knows the game. His viewpoints illuminate what statistics tell us. And he provides a broader view.

In short, Kreines sees the intricacies of individual and team tendencies. He notices what players do on both sides of the ball and how they impact the game.

How did Kreines develop these skills? How did he became an authoritative observer?

Without hesitation, Kreines, who is in his mid-40s, credits his high school mentor, Fred Grasso (more on that below).

Rapport with a legend

Pro basketball savant Peter Vecsey, whose Hoop Du Jour column was required reading for decades for anyone interested in knowing what was really happening in the NBA, developed a friendship with Kreines in the early years of the 21st century.

It began with an email, both men recalled in the years that followed.

It was in 2003, Vecsey noted in one of his Patreon columns in December 2017.

“I had written a column about Alonzo Mourning’s kidney transplant and it understandably touched him,” Vecsey wrote.

Forming a friendship

Eventually, Ross Kreines’ name began to appear in a few of Vecsey’s New York Post columns along with his astute observations of the game.

For example, from a February 2011 column, Vecsey included Kreines’ insights for a section about the Celtics after Kendrick Perkins was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“You don’t suppose the Celtics (or Magic or Knicks; they need him now more than ever) will take a shot on Eddy Curry once the T’Wolves waive him?” wonders column contributor Ross Kreines. “If anyone can motivate him it’s K.G.”

From an NBA first-round playoff preview in April 2012, Kreines’ comments were included in looking ahead to the Heat-Knicks matchup. “The Heat cannot settle for long jumpers,” advocates Kreines. “They should be in attack mode and let Chris Bosh catch the ball elbow-extended as he can take most bigs off the dribble. This will give them more spacing. Additionally, Erik Spoelstra needs to play LBJ more at the four.”

Overcoming huge obstacles

Ross Kreines’ Twitter intro (@rosskre) gives a glimpse into the huge obstacles he’s overcome in life: “Played bball, until a car accident broke my neck C6-C7. Dr’s said I would not move from neck down, proved them wrong. Now breaking down the game at a high level.”

He had been named the Jericho High (New York) School boys varsity team captain for the 1990-91 season before the life-changing automobile accident in October 1990. He was coming off a junior season with a respectable scoring average of about 16 points per game. Indeed, a future as a college player was far from a preposterous idea.

Vecsey’s aforementioned Patreon piece dug deeper into Kreines’ story.

A living miracle

Indeed, the odds were against him.

“I had to wait four days until I underwent surgery, so they screwed my head to the wall-halo,” Kreines told Vecsey. “Doctors told my mom I would never move from the neck down.

“Ross refused to accept it,” Vecsey wrote. “Neither did his mother Sandi, his most powerful ally and staunchest supporter.

“Coach Grasso was another vital backstop. His belief Ross would one day walk never wavered.

“ ‘When he saw me in the hospital, I told him I would move, he believed me,’ Kreines was quoted as saying. ‘So many others quit on me but not coach Grasso (or his two sons) Jared or Matthew.’ ”

Added Kreines: “Coach Grasso taught me about loyalty. He gave me hope in darkness.”

Becoming a motivational speaker

Eventually, Kreines used his life experiences as a springboard to help others. He became a motivational speaker, visiting hospitals in New York.

In a Long Island Business News article from February 2003, the publication reported the following:

“Kreines also connects one-on-one with patients at hospitals where he gives motivational speeches. ‘People are familiar with my story and get my number. I tell them not to give up and continue to exercise. After what I’ve been through, if I can’t get people into the gym, no one can.’ ”

Analysis from Ross Kreines

Exhibit A on March 10 regarding Toronto Raptors macho forward Pascal Siakam: “(He) continues to do a great job using his length/athleticism on both ends of the floor to go along with his ability to stretch the floor, take his man off the dribble, find the open man, rebound and operate with his back to the basket. He can also guard multiple positions.”

Exhibit B on March 6 about one of the Los Angeles Clippers’ unsung heroes: “When Montrezl Harrell: steps on the court, he leaves nothing in the tank with his big time motor, toughness, effort and the will to not get outworked. He also is active on the glass, sets hard screens, runs the floor hard and makes all the extra effort plays. Skills you can’t teach.”

Exhibit C on March 1 about a rookie playmaker on the Memphis Grizzlies: “Ja Morant is so tough and explosive off the bounce whether he is creating his own offense or creating for others. He also does a great job forcing his tempo, competes hard on both ends of the floor, makes others around him better along with unreal athleticism.”

Exhibit D on Dec. 7, 2019, about a pair of elite head coaches: “Erik Spoelstra and Brad Stevens put their players in position to compete and win every night with solid adjustments, sets, use of their bench and truly understand how to use their players’ strengths.”

An interview with Ross Kreines

In a series of emails in recent weeks before and after the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Talk Basket interviewed Ross Kreines about his love for basketball, his mentor at Jericho High and how following the game occupies his time.

How did you learn the game? And how do you follow the game nowadays?

I had played the game before being a passenger in a car accident and was able to obtain some scholarship offers. My high school coach Fred Grasso saw the game and taught the game better than anyone. He taught fundamentals at the highest levels and his basketball IQ was off the charts and he would visit me at the hospital every week with his sons and then later at home and on the phone.

When the doctors told me I would never move from the neck down, he was one of the few that believed and stuck with me. He taught me more about the game and he was family to me. I also learned the game even further through going to Bob McKillop, Five Star, Rick Pitino (and others’) camps. I had even learned more about the game through a friendship with Willis Reed after my accident.

I love studying a players’ strengths, weakness, adjustments, activity/effort, the eye test. I also like watching how a player adjusts. If he is struggling with his jumper, is he looking to attack and get to the hoop, create contact to get to the line so he can see the ball go through the net, creating for others? Defending and activity and effort should always be there.

Take a shooter like Duncan Robinson on the Heat. He can flat-out shoot the ball, but what makes him even tougher to defend is his constant movement off the ball, the way he squares quickly, utilizes screens and always knows where his feet are as he rarely shoots long 2s.

What else do you enjoy as an avid viewer of college and pro hoops?

I also love watching some fundamentals — player catching in triple threat using shot fakes, jab steps which all help create space and even make you more of a weapon or watching bigs catch and recognize how their defender is playing them before putting the ball on the floor and using drop steps, baby hooks, up-and-unders, recognizing a double and passing out for a better look along with the Sikma Move.

I do like breaking down NCAA players. As Peter will tell you, we had talked about Jimmy Butler’s talent at Marquette, (Malcolm) Brogdon at Virginia, John Collins at Wake (Forest), Bam (Adebayo) at Kentucky … so many more along with Serge (Ibaka) when he was not getting much run with the Thunder, etc. …

I had always wanted to work in a front office. … I had always followed Peter and he let me make small contributions to his unreal column. I am very fortunate to consider him a good friend.

Good timing to showcase players on Twitter

Elfrid Payton and Terence Davis were your Twitter subjects for Feb. 3. Why Payton and Davis on this day?

The reason why I believe I tweeted about Elfrid and Terence that day is as far as Elfrid, he was playing a tremendous floor game that night, believed he picked up a triple-double. He was making others around him better, rebounding, defending, getting in the lane and also making winning plays. Terence impressed me with his ability to come off the bench and change the game.

When I say change the game, he came off the bench and provided instant offense, got you all the 50-50 balls, forced steals, guarded multiple positions, rebounded and believe was the reason for the Raptors coming back and winning that game. In certain players it’s not all about numbers.

More insights from Ross Kreines

When did you start using Twitter for this type of succinct analysis?

I believe I had started using Twitter in 2012 and watch a ton of games, so it’s rapid thoughts at that moment or maybe later.

I do watch a ton of college basketball and especially Bryant (University) as Jared Grasso (son of Fred) who I consider family is doing a great job and will continue to.

Scouting report on Kobe Bryant

Let’s flash back to, say, 2000. What would you have penned in a tweet about Kobe Bryant, if Twitter existed then?

If I was to write a tweet about Kobe. He can flat-out score the ball and beat you in so many different ways along with an unreal skill set, basketball IQ/determination, passion and the will to never quit.

Ross Kreines’ parting thoughts

One keen observer noted that “Ross is always so positive and selfless, so I don’t know if he’d answer truthfully… but I’d want to know how frustrated it must be to regularly recognize college talent underrated or overlooked by pro scouts and GMs. Year after year he sees promise in players the experts miss.”

How do you respond to these statements?

Honestly, very frustrating.

During these uncertain difficult times when almost everything is on hold or canceled, how do you sum up your appreciation for “normal” times when you dissect the game and dish out analysis for people who truly follow basketball?

I always loved and appreciated the game, but after my accident the love was even greater and you could say the same with the game being on hold. The game is so special and really enjoy sharing any thoughts that I may have. I really was lucky that I was coached by Fred Grasso. The way he saw and taught the game was off the charts … and then going to camps like Five Star and Lu-Hi (Long Island Lutheran High School, New York) along with talking with Willis and then Peter just increases your basketball IQ and deepens your love for the game.

I love talking the game, breaking down the game in any aspect. The game brings so much of us together.

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Recommended reading during basketball’s hiatus due to COVID-19 pandemic https://www.talkbasket.net/76674-recommended-reading-during-basketballs-hiatus-due-to-covid-19-pandemic https://www.talkbasket.net/76674-recommended-reading-during-basketballs-hiatus-due-to-covid-19-pandemic#respond Thu, 19 Mar 2020 11:53:16 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=76674 Since there are no NBA or NCAA games — and the overwhelming majority of pro leagues around the world aren’t playing, — now and for the foreseeable future, let me recommend a few basketball books to help pass the time. Ira Berkow – “Autumns In The Garden: The Coach Of Camelot And Other Knicks Stories” […]

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Recommended reading during basketball’s hiatus due to COVID-19 pandemic

Since there are no NBA or NCAA games — and the overwhelming majority of pro leagues around the world aren’t playing, — now and for the foreseeable future, let me recommend a few basketball books to help pass the time.

Ira Berkow – “Autumns In The Garden: The Coach Of Camelot And Other Knicks Stories” (Remember a time before the epic failures of the James Dolan era? Memorable tales from the 1960s and beyond fill the pages of this excellent tome.)

Phil Jackson – “Eleven Rings” (We can also use some uplifting stories, tales of success and knowledge about teamwork, commitment and much more gleaned from a lifetime in the game.)

John McPhee – “A Sense of Where You Are” (Princeton standout and future Knick, U.S. Senator and U.S. Presidential candidate Bill Bradley’s rise to stardom in basketball captured brilliantly by the longtime New Yorker wordsmith.)

Rick Telander – “Heaven Is A Playground” (New York City street ball chronicles from the mid-1970s vividly told.)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – “A Season on the Reservation: My Sojourn with the White Mountain Apaches” (The NBA’s all-time leading scorer looks back on his work as coach for a high school team in Arizona.)

Jerry West – “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life” (The brilliant NBA executive and Lakers great, aka The Logo, looks back on the many ups and downs in his life.)

Terry Pluto – “Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association” (The definitive history of the ABA; almost every embarrassing, enlightening and unbelievable story about the league made it into print. More than 430 pages, this provides a tremendous rundown on the legacy of the red, white and blue league. Savor the details.)

Mark Kriegel – “Pistol” (Weaving together family history with intertwined stories of a basketball prodigy and his overbearing father, combined with extraordinary success and disappointments in Pete Maravich’s life.)

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Leanne Barrett: New Zealand’s first FIBA agent https://www.talkbasket.net/75334-leanne-barrett-new-zealands-first-fiba-agent https://www.talkbasket.net/75334-leanne-barrett-new-zealands-first-fiba-agent#respond Wed, 11 Mar 2020 06:58:30 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=75334 Leanne Barrett is a people person. In particular, she enjoys the camaraderie that sports brings to individuals’ lives. She enjoys helping people, too. Just ask her. The first FIBA-certified agent from New Zealand detailed her journey from working in aqua aerobics and aqua jogging for a decade and a half and retail jobs to setting […]

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Leanne Barrett: New Zealand’s first FIBA agent

Leanne Barrett is a people person. In particular, she enjoys the camaraderie that sports brings to individuals’ lives. She enjoys helping people, too.

Just ask her.

The first FIBA-certified agent from New Zealand detailed her journey from working in aqua aerobics and aqua jogging for a decade and a half and retail jobs to setting her sights on a job in basketball in an exclusive interview with Talk Basket.

The 56-year-old mother of two sons (the eldest is a Florida-based professional singer; the youngest is employed by the Fletcher Group of Companies in New Zealand) says she’s been “happily married for 25 years.”

As an adult, the Auckland resident has gained a wide range of skills from her various jobs. She spelled it out this way: ”Formerly in administration and marketing of shopping malls such as Westfield in Australia and New Zealand and the Greenfields construction administrator of the Botany Town Centre, I also was marketing manager for Caltex Oils for a time, and taught aqua aerobics and aqua jogging for fitness for 15 years.”

And then in her mid-50s, Leanne Barrett pursued a new path.

Leanne Barrett and one of her clients, Dom Kelman of the New Zealand Basketball League’s Southland Sharks. 

Getting to know Leanne Barrett

So why did you decide to become a basketball agent? How did it happen?

I decided to sit my FIBA Certification to achieve my license last year in 2019 as I was helping friends and basketball associates’ children get into USA colleges at all levels from JUCO to Division I and then helping them get professional gigs, for the love of it. Everyone said, you should get paid for this, so I studied, paid for the trip to sit the test, paid for the test, paid for the flights and accommodation, passed the character assessment, the test and then paid FIBA to certify me.

You must pay FIBA every year, it is expensive, and you must attend a FIBA Agents conference at least every two years, wherever in the world they decide to hold it at your own expense!

At the time I sat FIBA I didn’t realize there were no others certified in New Zealand, so it was a pleasant surprise to be the first! It worked in well with the new FIBA ruling on our tournaments in Australia and New Zealand as they will only work with FIBA Certified Agents now.

Nowadays, what is your long-term goal as an agent?

(My) long-term goal is to try to become a NBA players’ agent.

What do you consider the most satisfying aspects of your work as a FIBA agent? And what are the most challenging parts of the job?

Most satisfying is the fact that I’m helping young adults play the sport they love and travel the globe at the same time.

Since my certification, the good ol’ coronavirus has hit the globe big time and I have had players in comfortable-paying teams, be sent home with no income ongoing and less and less leagues staying open to place them into.

The work of an agent

According to your entry on the FIBA Agents directory, you are representing 20 basketball players. Are you seeking to expand step by step or perhaps have incremental targets over five, 10, 15 years?

I keep a book of 25 players, as I place a player I replace them with a new athlete. Once the player has commenced his playing contract with his team, I start collecting renewed footage and highlight videos from them and promoted them for their next team once they complete the contract they are in. I also represent players that I have not contracted and will not unless I can find them a job, then I will sign them for the length of the contract only.

As I am a one-man-band, so to speak, I will always keep a small book of players, that enables more personal and reliable attention.

Additional insights

What’s the best advice you’ve received from a past or current agent about the keys to success on the job?

I have not received advice from other agents. I’m finding most of them very financially oriented, whereas I choose to be motivated by the athletes’ success and happiness, and placing them in good teams with good people.

Approximately how many hours do you work in a “typical week” as a FIBA agent in 2020?

I work around 15 hours per day most days, Monday in New Zealand is Sunday over in Europe and USA so it is my quiet day and I catch up with administrative stuff.

Agent Leanne Barrett and basketball-playing siblings Shane Temara (left) and younger brother Troy Temara, both of whom play for the NZBL’s Manawatu Jets. 

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Darrell Armstrong inducted into Magic Hall of Fame https://www.talkbasket.net/71301-darrell-armstrong-inducted-into-magic-hall-of-fame https://www.talkbasket.net/71301-darrell-armstrong-inducted-into-magic-hall-of-fame#respond Sun, 23 Feb 2020 14:03:52 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=71301 Orlando Magic fans didn’t celebrate a home victory on Friday night; instead, they celebrated the career of fan favorite Darrell Armstrong before the hosts’ 122-106 defeat to Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Armstrong cried several times during his induction ceremony into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame. “This means the world to me,” he […]

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Darrell Armstrong inducted into Magic Hall of Fame

Orlando Magic fans didn’t celebrate a home victory on Friday night; instead, they celebrated the career of fan favorite Darrell Armstrong before the hosts’ 122-106 defeat to Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.

Armstrong cried several times during his induction ceremony into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.

“This means the world to me,” he said in Orlando. “I’ve always been proud and honored to represent the Magic.”

Armstrong appeared in 502 regular-season games for the Magic from 1995-2003, the first nine seasons of his 14-season NBA career.

In 1998-99, he claimed the NBA’s Most Improved Player award recipient and Sixth Man Award.

What’s more, Darrell Armstrong holds this distinction: The first player to nab both awards in the same season.

“He’s the greatest underdog story in Magic history and one of the greatest in NBA history,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said.

When this season tipped off in October, Darrell Armstrong was second in franchise history in steals, No. 3 in assists, No. 6 in 3-pointers and 10th in points.

In the spotlight

In a statement issued in the days before the induction, Armstrong reflected on what it means to him.

“It is an honor to be recognized for the things I did in Orlando, and I am especially proud as a player who wasn’t drafted,” Armstrong stated.

“I am not only excited that the organization is rewarding me, but I am also thankful to the fans there as well. Magic fans always had my back and supported me. It is a great honor and I share this with them.”

Martins praised Armstrong for the profound impact he made during his Magic years.

“During his nine seasons with the Orlando Magic, Darrell Armstrong gave everything he had to the organization, both on the court and in our community,” Martins said in a news release before Armstrong’s induction day. “Fans always look back fondly at our ‘Heart & Hustle’ era, and Darrell was the leader of that group that left it all on the court 20 years ago. We are thrilled to induct him into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.”

Honoring Darrell Armstrong

A former Fayetteville State guard, whose basketball journey included playing in the Global Basketball League, the Continental Basketball Association and USBL along with teams in Spain and Cyprus, Armstrong is the ninth individual to be inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.

The others are: Magic co-founder Pat Williams, Nick Anderson, Shaquille O’Neal, late owner Rich DeVos, Penny Hardaway, co-founder Jimmy Hewitt, Tracy McGrady and announcer David Steele.

Crediting his mentors

Armstrong went undrafted in 1991 and took the road less traveled to reach the NBA.

As reported by The Dallas Morning News, “Armstrong thanked all of his coaches by name, breaking into tears when he spoke of two late mentors, former Orlando coach Chuck Daly and Jeff Capel II, who coached Armstrong at Fayetteville State.”

“Jeff Capel was the only person who ever said I probably could play on the next level,” Armstrong told the newspaper. “He gave me a shooting drill, and I did it every day. He told me it was on me.”

Current work

Darrell Armstrong has been a Dallas Mavericks assistant coach since 2009.

It’s a good fit for him, enabling him to pursue one of his passions: staying involved in the game.

“I just like being around this game,” Armstrong told the Gaston (North Carolina) Gazette in 2012. “For me, when my career was over, I jumped right into it. I still enjoy getting up in the morning and have excitement coming into the office and into the practice court. I’m wired up and ready to go. That’s how it should be.”

The last word

“I’m honored, I’m proud,” Armstrong said. “I’ve been waiting for this day — I’m not going to sit here and lie to you — because I know I left my heart and soul out here on that floor for the fans.”

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Dirk Nowitzki wins Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award https://www.talkbasket.net/70571-dirk-nowitzki-wins-laureus-lifetime-achievement-award https://www.talkbasket.net/70571-dirk-nowitzki-wins-laureus-lifetime-achievement-award#respond Wed, 19 Feb 2020 08:31:23 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=70571 Dirk Nowitzki received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday in Berlin. The 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards brought together a who’s who of personalities from across the world. In his homeland, the Dallas Mavericks icon, who retired last summer after 21 seasons with the team, received the honor of a lifetime. Nowitzki is the […]

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Dirk Nowitzki wins Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award

Dirk Nowitzki received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday in Berlin.

The 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards brought together a who’s who of personalities from across the world. In his homeland, the Dallas Mavericks icon, who retired last summer after 21 seasons with the team, received the honor of a lifetime.

Nowitzki is the 2020 recipient of the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award.

By the time he retired last spring, Nowitzki had become the first NBA player with these numbers on his resume: 31,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, 1,000 steals, 1,000 blocks and 1,000 3-pointers.

Remarks from Dirk Nowitzki

“This is a huge honor,” Nowitzki said during a short speech at the awards ceremony. “Thanks to Laureus, thanks to the academy (Laureus World Sports Academy). A lot of you guys in the room inspired me, of course, to be great.

“I was fortunate to grow up in a sports family that embraced the power of sports. My sister and mom played basketball and my father played handball, so I grew up in gyms all around the country, and I loved every minute of it.

“First I think it’s about having fun. It’s about being with your friends, the excitement. Then it’s about learning, about learning to win, to lose, learn to handle your emotions and then you get the stage where you want to prove, you want to compete with the best in the country and the area.

“And then, once you made it on a certain stage, it’s how do I stay there? How do I maintain greatness for a long, long time?

“Of course, we all know in this room that it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of support from a lot of people…”

Dirk Nowitzki’s career achievements

The German is widely recognized as the greatest European basketball player of all time.

In 2011, Dirk Nowitzki was named the NBA Finals MVP. He led the Mavs past the Miami Heat in seven games to capture the title.

For the entire 2011 playoffs, Nowitzki excelled in his team’s 21 games. He averaged 27.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

FIBA World Cup champion Spain honored

Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t the only high-profile basketball figure to be honored during Monday’s festivities at the 20th annual Laureus World Sports Awards.

The Spanish Basketball Federation, which supervises and organizes the men’s national team, took home the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award. The reason, of course, has everything to do with Spain’s 2019 FIBA World Cup title last September in China.

Remembering Kobe Bryant

Laureus World Sports Awards host Hugh Grant requested that the crowd pay tribute to Kobe Bryant.

His request was granted.

The audience applauded the Los Angeles Lakers, who died on Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash in California.

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Easy Ed Macauley was MVP of inaugural NBA All-Star Game https://www.talkbasket.net/70111-easy-ed-macauley-was-mvp-of-inaugural-nba-all-star-game https://www.talkbasket.net/70111-easy-ed-macauley-was-mvp-of-inaugural-nba-all-star-game#respond Sun, 16 Feb 2020 14:14:10 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=70111 Easy Ed Macauley was the only 20-point scorer in the inaugural NBA All-Star Game, which was held on March 2, 1951 at the Boston Gordon. He received the All-Star Game MVP award — but not until 1953. That was when NBA officials decided to retroactively present awards to Macauley, who helped guide the East to […]

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Easy Ed Macauley was MVP of inaugural NBA All-Star Game

Easy Ed Macauley was the only 20-point scorer in the inaugural NBA All-Star Game, which was held on March 2, 1951 at the Boston Gordon.

He received the All-Star Game MVP award — but not until 1953.

That was when NBA officials decided to retroactively present awards to Macauley, who helped guide the East to a 111-94 triumph over the West, and Paul Arizin, the 1952 MVP. From that point on, All-Star Game MVPs were announced on the day of the game.

”I got the award two years later and I still never got a trophy,” Macauley told The New York Times in a 1998 phone interview. ”Now they get an award, cash, a car. I didn’t even get a paper clip. I never got a trophy. Still, it was a wonderful feeling.”

Easy Ed Macauley excelled on defense

In the first-ever NBA All-Star Game, Macauley drew a tough defensive assignment: George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers. He handled it remarkably well, holding Mikan to 4 of 17 from the floor in a quiet 12-point outing.

”I had to play against Mikan, and I know a lot of guys play as individuals in the All-Star Game, but I said: ‘I’m going to play in front of him. Give me help.’ ” told The New York Times. “We had a team that couldn’t match the West’s strength. But we had the greatest backcourt with Bob Cousy, Andy Phillip and Dick McGuire. We had the three greatest passers in the game; it was the greatest thing that could happen to me.”

From Celtics to Hawks

Boston’s Easy Ed Macauley in December 1952. Credit: NBA Photo Library / via Getty Images

Macauley, who starred at St. Louis University and led the Bilikens to the 1949 NIT title before launching his pro career, was involved in one of the most famous trades in NBA history.

“Macauley played for the Celtics from the 1950-51 season until 1955-56,” The Associated Press reported in 2011 in Easy Ed Macauley’s obituary. “He and the draft rights to future Hall of Famer Cliff Hagan were traded by Boston to the St. Louis Hawks on April 29, 1956, for the rights to Russell, a move that changed the power structure of the NBA.

“The Celtics went on to win 11 titles with Russell dominating in the paint.”

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Productive bench fuels Oklahoma City Thunder’s success https://www.talkbasket.net/70098-productive-bench-fuels-oklahoma-city-thunders-success https://www.talkbasket.net/70098-productive-bench-fuels-oklahoma-city-thunders-success#respond Sun, 16 Feb 2020 13:06:56 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=70098 The Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t at the top of the list of teams expected to contend for a championship this season. But head coach Billy Donovan’s club is making a push for greater respect. The Thunder have triumphed in 15 of their last 18 road games. OKC (33-22) and the Dallas Mavericks are tied for […]

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Productive bench fuels Oklahoma City Thunder’s success

The Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t at the top of the list of teams expected to contend for a championship this season.

But head coach Billy Donovan’s club is making a push for greater respect.

The Thunder have triumphed in 15 of their last 18 road games.

OKC (33-22) and the Dallas Mavericks are tied for the sixth-best record in the Western Conference.

Impressive bench

A big reason for the Thunder’s success is the impressive performance of their backup players. OKC’s backups have outscored opposing backups in 41 of their 55 games. The Thunder’s second unit, led by backup point guard Dennis Schroder (19.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game), includes some of the league’s lesser-known players. Nerlens Noels (7.8 ppg), Hamidou Diallo (6.4) and Luguentz Dort (5.8), among others. Starer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads the club in scoring (19.5 ppg).

Schroder has been an effective backup throughout his seven-season career, including in the 2019-20 campaign as Chris Paul’s backup. He’s started in 176 of his 485 regular-season games. He averaged a career-high 19.4 ppg for the Atlanta Hawks in 2017-18.

The veteran playmaker is impressed with Paul’s role in leading the team.

“He’s awesome,” Schroder told The Oklahoman about his teammate. “He’s one of the best or top point guards who ever played this game.”

Schroder continued: “He changed the culture here as well — how we’re playing together as a team. He’s talking to every one of us every time during games, practices. Even if we’re off the court he talks to us. Leading this group. Obviously he did a lot for us so he deserves it.”

The NBA named an All-Star for the 10th time for Sunday’s game in Chicago.

New-look Oklahoma City Thunder

With Paul George now starring for the Los Angeles Clippers and Russell Westbrook plying his craft for the Houston Rockets, the Thunder have a much different look this season.

Credit must go to Donovan for keeping the team in contention.

“He’s done one of the more masterful jobs in the league this year,” San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Donovan earlier this week.

Solid defense is a key part of the Donovan-led team’s overall effectiveness.

The Thunder’s defensive rating is 12th among 30 teams, yielding 108.8 points per game before the All-Star break.

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Loyola Marymount to honor Hank Gathers with statue outside Gersten Pavilion https://www.talkbasket.net/68955-loyola-marymount-to-honor-hank-gathers-with-statue-outside-gersten-pavilion https://www.talkbasket.net/68955-loyola-marymount-to-honor-hank-gathers-with-statue-outside-gersten-pavilion#respond Mon, 10 Feb 2020 04:02:20 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=68955 Hank Gathers, one of the best college basketball players of all time, never got the chance to showcase his impressive skills at the pro level. His death of cardiac arrest at age 23 in 1990 shocked and saddened basketball fans throughout the United States. Thirty years later, Loyola Marymount University will honor the Lions legend […]

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Loyola Marymount to honor Hank Gathers with statue outside Gersten Pavilion

Hank Gathers, one of the best college basketball players of all time, never got the chance to showcase his impressive skills at the pro level. His death of cardiac arrest at age 23 in 1990 shocked and saddened basketball fans throughout the United States.

Thirty years later, Loyola Marymount University will honor the Lions legend with a statue outside its home gym, Gersten Pavilion. The university announced last week that the statue will be unveiled on Feb. 29 before the Lions’ final home contest of the season, a West Coast Conference clash with the University of San Francisco.

Ex-LMU bench boss Paul Westhead, who coached the Los Angeles Lakers to their 1979-80 NBA title (Magic Johnson’s rookie season), and the 1989-90 Lions squad are scheduled to attend the event. The school is set to honor the team during a halftime ceremony.

Cause of death

Hank Gathers was diagnosed with heart problems (an abnormal heartbeat) during his senior season. He collapsed on the court on March 4, 1990, in a WCC Tournament game against the University of Portland. (That also happened on Dec. 9, 1989, in a game against the University of California, Santa Barbara.)

Gathers was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital. An autopsy later showed that a heart-muscle disorder caused his death.

Hank Gathers: a two-way force

In his junior season, Hank Gathers averaged 32.7 points and 13.7 rebounds in 1988-89, leading the NCAA Division I in both categories. Wichita State’s Xavier McDaniel, who averaged 27.4 points and 15.0 rebounds in the 1984-85 season, was the only other player to accomplish the feat.

As a senior, Gathers averaged 29.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

The Philadelphia native began his college career at USC in 1985. He and ex-Dobbins Technical High School teammate Bo Kimble transferred from USC to LMU and had to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. As sophomores, they began to put their stamp on the LMU program. They thrived in Westhead’s breakneck pace basketball, which used a full-court press to bewilder opponents.

Gathers scored 22.5 ppg as a sophomore. It was a sign of things to come.

Honoring an icon

In June 2019, the university announced that a Hank Gathers statue would be unveiled outside its arena. This month, the school revealed more details.

In recent years, there have been poignant remembrances of Hank Gathers, including from the Los Angeles Times and Bleacher Report, among others.

The Los Angeles Times also published a lengthy reaction piece from Hank Gathers’ hometown after his passing.

The 1989-90 LMU Lions remain a cultural touchstone. Which is one reason many people recall the tragedy of Hank Gathers’ death and the team’s subsequent run to the Elite 8.

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Feb. 5: a day of big moments in NBA history https://www.talkbasket.net/67881-feb-5-a-day-of-big-moments-in-nba-history https://www.talkbasket.net/67881-feb-5-a-day-of-big-moments-in-nba-history#respond Wed, 05 Feb 2020 08:47:14 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=67881 Basketball-reference.com archives a gold mine of information about NBA history, including Feb. 5, a day that marked the start of several stars’ careers. The 1998-99 season began in February due to the lockout. Here’s a rundown on some of the 1998-99 NBA rookies: Vince Carter played his first game for the Toronto Raptors. Dirk Nowitzki […]

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Feb. 5: a day of big moments in NBA history

Basketball-reference.com archives a gold mine of information about NBA history, including Feb. 5, a day that marked the start of several stars’ careers. The 1998-99 season began in February due to the lockout.

Here’s a rundown on some of the 1998-99 NBA rookies:

Vince Carter played his first game for the Toronto Raptors.

Dirk Nowitzki played in his first regular-season games for the Dallas Mavericks.

Paul Pierce accomplished the same thing for the Boston Celtics.

And Peja Stojakovic debuted for the Sacramento Kings.

Feb. 5: NBA history revisited

Throughout the years, a number of impressive feats and important moments took place on Feb. 5.

1960: The Celtics’ Bill Russell hauled in 51 rebounds against the Nationals. Boston beat Syracuse 124-100.

1961: The Warriors’ Wilt Chamberlain had a 55-point performance against the Knicks. Philadelphia topped New York 136-128.

1972: The Hawks’ “Pistol Pete” Maravich dropped 50 points on the Cavaliers. Atlanta edged Cleveland 120-117.

1982: The Celtics’ Nate “Tiny” Archibald handed out 23 assists against the Nuggets. Boston edged Denver 145-144.

1983: The Jazz’s Mark Eaton swatted 12 Nuggets shots. Despite Eaton’s shot-block brilliance, Denver beat Utah 143-136.

1987: The Bullets’ Manute Bol had 12 blocks against the Cavaliers. Washington prevailed 94-85 against Cleveland.

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Kentucky’s John Calipari says he deserved technical foul https://www.talkbasket.net/67870-kentuckys-john-calipari-says-he-deserved-technical-foul https://www.talkbasket.net/67870-kentuckys-john-calipari-says-he-deserved-technical-foul#respond Wed, 05 Feb 2020 07:17:57 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=67870 John Calipari received a technical foul during the 15th-ranked Wildcats’ 80-72 home victory over Mississippi State on Tuesday night. The longtime University of Kentucky basketball coach was asked about picking up a ‘T’ during the post-game news conference. “The technical, deserved or not deserved?” a reporter asked. As expected, Calipari, who’s in his 10th season […]

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Kentucky’s John Calipari says he deserved technical foul

John Calipari received a technical foul during the 15th-ranked Wildcats’ 80-72 home victory over Mississippi State on Tuesday night.

The longtime University of Kentucky basketball coach was asked about picking up a ‘T’ during the post-game news conference.

“The technical, deserved or not deserved?” a reporter asked.

As expected, Calipari, who’s in his 10th season at Kentucky, gave an interesting answer.

“Oh, yeah, my thing is real simple. If an official — this is just my belief, I may be wrong in this — but if you miss a call and don’t make a call, it don’t matter what the coach does. Take it. Take it.

“And so, you know, in that case, I did enough to deserve it. But I’m just — we’ve had a couple games now, I’m getting kind of up to in here now and so I’ve got to stand up for these kids. I can’t let stuff happen, or it’s OK to — I’m not going to let that happen.

“Now, this crew tonight did a good job on this game I thought. I mean, if they called a foul down here, they called a foul down here. You can’t take the last 10 fouls they fouled us on purpose. You have to eliminate those. But you know, it was a physical game. They were physical. And guess what? We were physical.”

Details of the disputed play

With 1:16 to play against Mississippi State, John Calipari was T’ed up for raising objections to a basket interference call on Kentucky’s Nick Richards.

Recent ejection for John Calipari

The Kentucky mentor was ejected on Jan. 18 after being assessed two technical fouls with 8:18 left in a Southeastern Conference game at the University of Arkansas. The Wildcats won 73-66.

“I think it happened so fast we couldn’t really react to it,” assistant coach Kenny Payne was quoted as saying by NBC Sports, responding to a question about said when asked stepping into the heated exchanged between Calipari and the officials. “Unfortunate for me especially, sitting there having to coach the game in the end in a critical point in the game where it’s turning in their favor. But these kids are resilient.”

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Flashback to 1980: Arizona State’s best-ever starting lineup https://www.talkbasket.net/67415-flashback-to-1980-arizona-states-best-ever-starting-lineup https://www.talkbasket.net/67415-flashback-to-1980-arizona-states-best-ever-starting-lineup#respond Mon, 03 Feb 2020 08:38:02 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=67415 Longtime Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen recently wrote a compelling piece that looked back at the Arizona State men’s basketball team’s talented starting lineup 40 years ago. The Sun Devils started five future NBA draft picks on Jan. 26, 1980, against the University of Arizona Wildcats. Not surprisingly, it was a convincing victory for […]

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Flashback to 1980: Arizona State’s best-ever starting lineup

Longtime Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen recently wrote a compelling piece that looked back at the Arizona State men’s basketball team’s talented starting lineup 40 years ago.

The Sun Devils started five future NBA draft picks on Jan. 26, 1980, against the University of Arizona Wildcats.

Not surprisingly, it was a convincing victory for the visitors. Coach Ned Wulk’s squad pounded the Wildcats 97-72 that night in Tucson, Hansen noted in his column.

Trivia challenge: Arizona State hoop history

By the way, I believe the answer to the following trivia question would be ranked at the top of any chart for hoop history in terms of difficulty:

Who were the five starters for the Sun Devils against the Wildcats in the game mentioned above?

I suspect a few die-hard basketball fans might be able to name two — or possibly three — of the five starters.

I wonder how many Division I college teams’ starting-five lineups (from any game) in the years after ASU’s aforementioned feat have all been drafted and played in the NBA.

The University of Michigan’s Fab Five from the early 1990s (Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson) came close. But Jackson wasn’t drafted by an NBA club and never played in the league.

The gut instinct is this, though: The University of Kentucky and Duke University lineups have probably come close or done so.

Trivia answer

Lafayette “Fat” Lever and Byron Scott started in the backcourt, and Alton Lister, Sam Williams and Kurt Nimphius teamed up in the frontcourt for the Sun Devils.

Hansen described that starting lineup this way in his column: “Size, power and national championship talent. If that’s not the most skilled starting five since the league (the Pac-12 Conference, which was the Pac-10 in those days) added Arizona and ASU, it’s no worse than 1-A. They combined to play in 3,899 NBA games.”

The two-time All-Star Lever’s NBA career began in 1982 and continued until 1994. Lister (1981-98), while Scott (1983-97; three NBA championship rings), Williams (1981-85) and Nimphius (1981-90) also had memorable experiences in the NBA after competing in the same starting lineup while at Arizona State.

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In remembrance of basketball legend Kobe Bryant https://www.talkbasket.net/66237-in-remembrance-of-basketball-legend-kobe-bryant https://www.talkbasket.net/66237-in-remembrance-of-basketball-legend-kobe-bryant#respond Tue, 28 Jan 2020 01:43:03 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=66237 Kobe Bryant entered the NBA with supreme confidence, chart-topping machismo and unbelievable athletic skills, ready to compete at age 17. And for nearly two decades, his manic-driven will to compete set him apart. In all facets of life. He never thought twice about taking a shot in any of his 1,280 NBA regular-season games or […]

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In remembrance of basketball legend Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant entered the NBA with supreme confidence, chart-topping machismo and unbelievable athletic skills, ready to compete at age 17. And for nearly two decades, his manic-driven will to compete set him apart. In all facets of life.

He never thought twice about taking a shot in any of his 1,280 NBA regular-season games or any playoff contest. He was gutsy. NBA GMs, scouts and opposing coaches consistently called him one of the top clutch players in the game.

He conducted insane early-morning workouts to push his body to the limit. His scoring exploits carried him to third place on the all-time list with 33,643 point (including an 81-point outburst in January 2006 against the Toronto Raptors, which was as close as anyone has ever gotten to Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain’s timeless 100-point achievement against the New York Knicks in March 1962). Current Lakers superstar LeBron James passed Bryant on the all-time list a day before Kobe died.

Bryant’s short life full of remarkable achievements on the basketball court (five NBA titles, 18 All-Star appearances, 12 All-NBA Defensive First Team selections, 11-time All-NBA First Team selections, four All-Star Game MVP awards, two NBA scoring titles and two Olympic gold medals) and a growing portfolio as a business investor in a wide array of fields, as well as grass-roots development of the sport, inspired millions of people.

Jerry West reacts

In reaction to his death at age 41 in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Jerry West, the legendary architect of multiple Lakers dynasties, said this to the Los Angeles Times: “This is one of the most tragic days of my life. I know somewhere along the way I guess I’ll come to grips with it. But now I have all these different emotions regarding him. The things I watched him do on the basketball court, but more importantly he was going to make a difference off the court, and he was making a difference off the court. This is so unexplainable. This is going to take a long time for me.”

In a statement, West added: “The news we all received today is the most devastating news that anyone can imagine. I am so saddened for Kobe’s parents, Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, Capri, Kobe’s sisters and all of the NBA fans that hold Kobe in their hearts…”

The former Lakers executive orchestrated Kobe’s move from the Charlotte Hornets, who selected him with the No. 13 pick, in 1996 in a famous draft-day trade that was finalized days later. That move planted the seeds for a new dynasty to be born. Signing Shaquille O’Neal was the other instrumental player acquisition. Hiring Phil Jackson as coach was the other key move.

Phil Jackson’s perspective

Retired coach Phil Jackson guided the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships in the 1990s and then directed the Los Angeles Lakers to five during the Bryant years. Therefore, the Zen Master had a unique perspective on greatness gleaned from his years amassing a record 11 NBA titles as a coach.

Jackson described his pupil this way: “Kobe was a chosen one — special in many ways to many people. Our relationship as a coach/player transcended the norm. He went beyond the veil.”

Kobe Bryant’s legacy

Indeed, Kobe left an indelible mark on the sports world in the years that followed.

And it wasn’t just about talent and confidence. Hard work was always a key ingredient in his success, and he averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists in the NBA.

His father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, former NBA player, European hoops star and coach (WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and in Japan with the Tokyo Apache, Rera Kamuy Hokkaido and Rizing Fukuoka and Thailand, among other stops), often told stories to his Apache players about Kobe’s legendary workouts and the commitment it took to be a great pro.

The Apache were inspired by Kobe, his father said on many occasions, and they developed into a cohesive unit. They earned back-to-back championship runner-up finishes in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 bj-league seasons.

I wrote a 2007 column that highlighted the elder Bryant’s insights on Kobe’s formula for success. It was all about hard way, Joe Bryant noted, and it was approach to the game that he wanted to push his Apache players to embrace and emulate.

“This has nothing to do with basketball,” Joe Bryant said at the time, mentioning Kobe’s intense running regimen. “We are talking about the program that he runs on the track, a six-week program, and we gave them a little piece the other day and they were (huffing and puffing).

“I want to be able to get them through that and get them into marathon shape so you don’t get tired at all. It’s like a marathon runner’s (stamina).”

More reactions to Kobe’s death

Miami Heat President Pat Riley said, “Kobe was a Godsend to this world; not just to the NBA, but to all those who hold dear and cherish family, friends and faith. Today, I mourn the tremendous loss of Kobe, his daughter, and the other passengers.”

Longtime Golden State Warriors analyst Jim Barnett, who entered the NBA as a rookie with the Boston Celtics in 1966, said “there has never been a greater competitor.”

“He made you feel better watching him play,” Barnett wrote on Twitter. “He was not finished in life, there was so much more to do. I will never forget Kobe’s kindness. Prayers to his family.”

Kobe Bryant: an inspirational hero

Ex-University of Hawaii forward Bobby Nash, who played in Japan’s now-disbanded bj-league (Saitama Broncos, Shiga Lakestars) and coached as an assistant alongside his father, Bob, a former NBA and ABA forward and University of Hawaii legend, in the bj-league and its successor, the B. League (Toyama Grouses, Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka), reflected on his admiration for Bryant after learning of his death.

“I wake up today with the heaviest of hearts. A mentor, teacher and from afar a homie,” Nash wrote in an Instagram post. “I still remember working out with you in the Stan Sheriff Center years and years ago. The stories you share, techniques you taught and the life you changed forever. My dad and mom were always my biggest role model, but Kobe Bryant epitomized what it (means) to be a great man. This is going to hurt for a long, long time but the gift of knowledge you bestowed upon me as a young kid will last far beyond the test of time.”

Former NBA guard Reggie Geary, who coached the Yokohama B-Corsairs to a bj-league title in their second season (2012-13), paid tribute to Bryant as well.

“Shocked and saddened by the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and others that perished today in a tragic accident. Played against Kobe as a young man in the NBA, followed his career like millions of others over the years and most recently ran his skills camp with him for Nike back in 2017 in Paris,” Geary wrote on Instagram.

A fitting tribute

In an unusual start to Sunday’s game, the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs didn’t shoot the ball on purpose during their first possessions. Indeed, it was a unique way for both teams to honor Bryant by allowing the 24-second clock to expire on their opening possessions.

Two retired jerseys

Kobe Bryant was unique, ultra-talented and intelligent, on and off the court. One additional fact that set him apart from peers: The Lakers retired his Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys.

Others players are honored in perpetuity by having one jersey number retired.

But Kobe, like his idol Michael Jordan, always did things his way.

Fittingly, his final game ended with a 60-point explosion, the most ever by a player in his final game, against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016.

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Julius Erving expresses heartfelt condolences to Kobe Bryant’s parents, family https://www.talkbasket.net/66213-julius-erving-expresses-heartfelt-condolences-to-kobe-bryants-parents-family https://www.talkbasket.net/66213-julius-erving-expresses-heartfelt-condolences-to-kobe-bryants-parents-family#respond Tue, 28 Jan 2020 00:27:17 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=66213 Basketball legend Julius Erving competed with Joe Bryant on the Philadelphia 76ers and witnessed his son Kobe Bryant’s rise to stardom and remarkable success as a player. Like millions of folks, Erving reacted to the news of Kobe’s death by posting a message (or many) on social media. Dr. J delivered a very personal message. […]

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Julius Erving expresses heartfelt condolences to Kobe Bryant’s parents, family

Basketball legend Julius Erving competed with Joe Bryant on the Philadelphia 76ers and witnessed his son Kobe Bryant’s rise to stardom and remarkable success as a player.

Like millions of folks, Erving reacted to the news of Kobe’s death by posting a message (or many) on social media.

Dr. J delivered a very personal message.

“Sadly absorbing the tragic news about my teammate’s loss of his son and granddaughter,” he tweeted. “Joe and Pam, I humbly offer my condolences. Vanessa, so sorry for your loss and pray you remain strong and focused on you and Kobe’s dreams for your family. Here always for you…”

Joe Bryant and Dr. J were 76ers teammates from 1976-79. Philly advanced to the NBA Finals in 1977, losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in a six-game series. The Sixers squad also featured Darryl Dawkins and Doug Collins, World B. Free and Henry Bibby, George McGinnis and Caldwell Jones and Mike Dunleavy and Steve Mix, among others.

When Erving retired in 1987, he was the third-highest scoring in pro basketball history. This included his sensational run in the ABA before joining the Sixers.

When Kobe Bryant retired in 2016, he was the third-highest scorer in NBA history.

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A father’s special memories: Playing Kobe Bryant one-on-one https://www.talkbasket.net/66206-a-fathers-special-memories-playing-kobe-bryant-one-on-one https://www.talkbasket.net/66206-a-fathers-special-memories-playing-kobe-bryant-one-on-one#respond Mon, 27 Jan 2020 23:45:01 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=66206 Childhood memories are often precious and some events trigger memories, such as the death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash on Sunday. Countless stories have been told and shared about Kobe as an inspirational figure, as a fan favorite, as a hero in the short time since he passed away at age 41. Here’s […]

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A father’s special memories: Playing Kobe Bryant one-on-one

Childhood memories are often precious and some events trigger memories, such as the death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Countless stories have been told and shared about Kobe as an inspirational figure, as a fan favorite, as a hero in the short time since he passed away at age 41.

Here’s one that captures his competitive fire from his younger days, facing his father Joe Bryant on the basketball court, as shared by Parker Remy-Miller, who met Kobe’s dad as a kid, via Twitter:

“In grade school, I was able to interview Joe Bryant, Kobe’s dad. I remember asking him what Kobe was like as a kid. With a big smile on his face, he said, “He used to always beat me one-on-one, but would forget the score. Whenever he asked, I always told him I was up by two.”

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Reflections on life, legacy of coaching great Morgan Wootten https://www.talkbasket.net/65797-reflections-on-life-legacy-of-coaching-great-morgan-wootten https://www.talkbasket.net/65797-reflections-on-life-legacy-of-coaching-great-morgan-wootten#respond Sun, 26 Jan 2020 01:50:21 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=65797 How respected and admired was Hall of Fame basketball coach Morgan Wootten? The Washington Post ran his obituary on Page One. The New York Times also published a detailed obituary. In addition, tributes to the longtime DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball coach also appeared in numerous other media outlets and across the vast social […]

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Reflections on life, legacy of coaching great Morgan Wootten

How respected and admired was Hall of Fame basketball coach Morgan Wootten?

The Washington Post ran his obituary on Page One.

The New York Times also published a detailed obituary.

In addition, tributes to the longtime DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball coach also appeared in numerous other media outlets and across the vast social media landscape.

Wootten, who died at age 88 on Jan. 21 in Hyattsville, Maryland, at his home, led DeMatha High’s hoop squad for 46 seasons before announcing his retirement in 2002.

As noted in The New York Times, Morgan Wootten’s teams never had a losing record.

He won 1,274 games and lost 92 at DeMatha High.

Perhaps Washington Post columnist John Feinstein is the most incisivee observer of Morgan Wootten’s career and coaching persona.

Feinstein spent a week shadowing Wootten in 1984, discovering what made the ultra-successful coach tick and how people responded to his extraordinary leadership skills.

In a remembrance column for The Washington Post nearly 40 years later, Feinstein shared some unforgettable memories from that unique newspaper assignment.

The compliment of a lifetime

Dean Smith, the great University of North Carolina coach, weighed in on Wootten’s coaching acumen. To preface the following remarks, Feinstein noted that Smith commended Phog Allen (Kansas), Bob Spear (Air Force) and Frank McGuire (UNC) and admired them all.

But, Smith insisted, as recounted by Feinstein, “The best coach I’ve ever seen, though, is Morgan Wootten. He’s always a step ahead of the rest of us.”

Feinstein’s week at DeMatha

“Wootten was never one to go out of his way in search of publicity, but he gave me total access for a week,” the columnist wrote. “I watched him interact with players and assistants, students and teachers, seemingly knowing everyone’s name in the hallways at DeMatha.

“I went to practice and games and went with him to Ledo’s in College Park, where he would go after every game to eat pizza and drink a Miller Lite or two before pulling out one of his ever-present flair pens and begin drawing plays and making notes on the paper place mats.”

Then he turned to Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, a former DeMatha player and assistant during the 20000 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee’s long reign, for a few revealing remarks:

“We’d come into work the next day and there’d be greasy place-settings filled with notes all over the office,” Brey was quoted as saying, “He was never more comfortable than in the little back room at Ledo’s, eating that pizza and doing postgame X’s and O’s.”

Feinstein’s dissertation of the coaching titan continued this way:

“But I learned Wootten’s secret by spending two days in the history class he taught. I was a history major in college. I had some very good professors. None could touch Wootten as a teacher. His style was unique. He didn’t lecture; he told stories. He kept the students engaged with humor and questions, not so much asking them for facts as for their opinions. Why did they think Alexander the Great sat down and cried after conquering the world?

“Or this, during a discussion of Napoleon: ‘How many of you think that there’s such a thing as a good dictator?’ Twenty-five of twenty-nine hands went up. Wootten nodded and then said, ‘Okay then, how many of you would want to live under a good dictator?’ Zero hands went up.

“I was ready to go back to high school, if only to sit in on Wootten’s history classes. When I watched him work with his basketball team, I realized he was doing the exact same thing: keeping his players engaged with storytelling, with humor and by asking for their input, although there was no doubt who had the last word.”

Incredibly effective

Oh yeah, Morgan Wootten’s methods worked. In fact, his basketball teams never lost three games in a row during his illustrious career, which included becoming the first high school coach to be enshrined at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. When Red Auerbach, the Boston Celtics icon, introduced Wootten at the induction ceremony, he said, “He’s always in command without being loud or brash.”

Indeed, a real compliment from another coaching great.

Coaches’ perspectives

Hubie Brown, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year and 2005 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, weighed in on Morgan Wootten’s legacy this week.

“Coach Wootten’s contributions to this great game will live on for generations. He was one of the best high school coaches I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around,” the astute NBA commentator told Talk Basket.

Brad Greenberg, head coach of Israeli team Maccabi Ashdod, recalled crossing paths with Wootten during his college days in Washington in the 1970s.

“I do remember being among Morgan and my mentor Jimmy Lynam, who was the coach at American University at the time … and Jimmy asked Morgan what he thought was the most important trait of a really good player, and without hesitation Morgan responded ‘consistency,’” Greenberg told Talk Basket. “That has always stayed with me.”

Greenberg, a former Philadelphia 76ers general manager and a current Canada national team assistant coach, remembered observing the great DeMatha High teams and the impact that Wootten had on the program when he was still in high school.

“The first time I ever saw DeMatha play was when I was a high school player and they traveled to Long Island (New York) to play Lutheran High School, which had a powerful team,” Greenberg said. ”DeMatha had (future Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley) who was just a freshman or soph.

“(I) had the chance to visit DeMatha over the years while he was coaching and he was the epitome of a gentleman.”

More viewpoints on Morgan Wootten

Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has amassed more victories than any other NCAA men’s coach, once described Wootten’s impact this way: “His DNA is all over the darn game.”

Former NBA assistant coach Tom Newell, whose Hall of Fame father, Pete, guided the University of San Francisco, Michigan State and the University of California squads beginning at USF in 1946, offered a tribute to Morgan Wootten this weekend.

“I met Coach Wootten many many years ago when he was at DeMatha High School,” Newell told Talk Basket. “He was the John Wooden of high school American coaches … great teams, solid citizens, great teacher.”

Faith guided his life

Catholic News Service published a Morgan Wootten obituary and noted how his faith played an integral role in all facets of his life.

The article included comments that Wootten made during a 2007 speech at a “Theology on Tap” event for young Catholic students.

“Successful people who can handle challenges generally have their priorities in the proper place,” Wootten was quoted as saying. “That is the one thing that never changes. God is first. It will make you a better student. It will make you a better player. It will make you happier in life.”

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Michael Porter Jr. shows potential in recent games https://www.talkbasket.net/65433-michael-porter-jr-shows-potential-in-recent-games https://www.talkbasket.net/65433-michael-porter-jr-shows-potential-in-recent-games#respond Thu, 23 Jan 2020 15:45:08 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=65433 Michael Porter Jr. didn’t play last season due to a serious back injury (and surgeries in 2017 and 2018 while in college), and so his rookie campaign with the Denver Nuggets started one year later. It’s been a work in progress for the University of Missouri product. In his 34th NBA game, Porter notched a […]

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Michael Porter Jr. shows potential in recent games

Michael Porter Jr. didn’t play last season due to a serious back injury (and surgeries in 2017 and 2018 while in college), and so his rookie campaign with the Denver Nuggets started one year later.

It’s been a work in progress for the University of Missouri product.

In his 34th NBA game, Porter notched a double-double against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, scoring 20 points and grabbing a career-best 14 rebounds in 29-plus minutes off the bench. He also dished out four assists in Denver’s 107-100 victory.

Porter, a power forward, scored in double figures in five consecutive games. Then he sat out Denver’s road game against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday with back pain.

What’s more, he’s maximized his minutes. Averaging 12.8 minutes per game, he’s contributing 7.2 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting .539 percent from the field and .406 from 3-point range.

Teammates impressed with Michael Porter Jr.

He’s an amazing talent,” Nuggets star Nikola Jokic said this week, according to The Denver Post. “When you see his ball is going into the hoop, it’s amazing. Swoosh every time. He’s a big guy, he’s a rebounder. He can do a lot of things out there.”

Teammate Will Barton agrees with Jokic’s overall perspective.

“Everyone knows his talent is out of this world,” Barton was quoted as saying by The Denver Post. “At 6-11, like I always say, with his ability, it’s hard to guard him. And then he goes in there, he’s relentless on the boards. What can I say?”

Coach’s insights

In December, Nuggets coach Michael Malone pointed out to reporters that the team has supreme confidence in Michael Porter Jr.’s shooting ability.

According to The Denver Post, Malone mentioned that Porter is a player “who every time he shoots the ball, you think it’s going in, it’s got a chance.”

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High school coaching legend Morgan Wootten, 88, receiving hospice care https://www.talkbasket.net/65205-high-school-coaching-legend-morgan-wootten-88-receiving-hospice-care https://www.talkbasket.net/65205-high-school-coaching-legend-morgan-wootten-88-receiving-hospice-care#respond Tue, 21 Jan 2020 16:33:58 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=65205 Morgan Wootten, considered one of basketball’s most brilliant minds, is receiving hospice care at his home, it was announced on Monday. The legendary DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball coach, who retired in 2002, is 88. During his illustrious career at DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Maryland, Wootten compiled an astounding 1274-192 record as head coach, […]

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High school coaching legend Morgan Wootten, 88, receiving hospice care

Morgan Wootten, considered one of basketball’s most brilliant minds, is receiving hospice care at his home, it was announced on Monday.

The legendary DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball coach, who retired in 2002, is 88.

During his illustrious career at DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Maryland, Wootten compiled an astounding 1274-192 record as head coach, winning five mythical national titles. He started coaching at DeMatha High in 1956.

He guided the team to 22 Washington, D.C. championships and 33 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference crowns.

Famous connections

Among Wootten’s most famous pupils were future NBA players Adrian Dantley and Danny Ferry.

What’s more, Wootten “helped more than 250 student-athletes receive a full college scholarship,” according to his website.

Speaking about Morgan Wootten, UCLA coaching great John Wooden once proclaimed, “I know of no finer coach at any level — high school, college or pro. I stand in awe of him.”

Wooden, mentored Lew Alcindor, who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and become the NBA’s all-time leader scorer, at UCLA.

Wootten coached against Alcindor’s powerhouse Power Memorial Academy squad in 1965.

The result? The DeMatha High Stags halted Power’s 71-game win streak, winning 46-43.

Wootten’s accolades

Morgan Wootten was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000. He became the first high school coach to receive the honor.

Red Auerbach, the architect and sideline supervisor of the Boston Celtics dynasty, introduced Wootten during his Hall of Fame enshrinement.

According to the Naismith Foundation, Morgan Wootten was the No. 1 high school coach of the 20th century.

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Kenny Atkinson to be inducted into Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame https://www.talkbasket.net/65062-kenny-atkinson-to-be-inducted-into-suffolk-county-sports-hall-of-fame https://www.talkbasket.net/65062-kenny-atkinson-to-be-inducted-into-suffolk-county-sports-hall-of-fame#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2020 10:23:19 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=65062 Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is among the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. An announcement was made earlier this month, releasing the names of this year’s Hall of Fame class. The induction ceremony will take place on May 26 in Smithtown, New York. The Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame was established […]

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Kenny Atkinson to be inducted into Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is among the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020.

An announcement was made earlier this month, releasing the names of this year’s Hall of Fame class.

The induction ceremony will take place on May 26 in Smithtown, New York.

The Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1990.

Atkinson, a native of Northport, New York, began his coaching career as an assistant for Paris Basket Racing in 2004, followed by assistant coaching gigs with the New York Knicks (2008-12) and Atlanta Hawks (2012-16). The Nets named him head coach in 2016.

Atkinson’s playing days

Kenny Atkinson attended the University of Richmond and played point guard for the Spiders. Atkinson helped guide the Spiders to an NCAA Sweet Sixteen berth in 1988. 

Undrafted out of college in 1990, Atkinson eventually embarked on a lengthy pro career overseas. But first he competed in the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association and the United States Basketball League, which folded in 2008.

Before retiring in 2004, Atkinson played in Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

Steady improvement

Under Kenny Atkinson’s leadership, the Nets increased their win total in each of his previous three seasons at the helm. They won 20 in 2016-17, then 28 in 2017-18 and 42 last season.

Therefore, there are greater expectations for the team this season and for the coming years.

However, the Nets are 18-23 entering this week.

Which means Kenny Atkinson has his work cut out for him. Recently, though, he said that he’s confident in the team’s ability to right the ship.

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Prolific passer LeBron James on track for historic feat https://www.talkbasket.net/65003-prolific-passer-lebron-james-on-track-for-historic-feat https://www.talkbasket.net/65003-prolific-passer-lebron-james-on-track-for-historic-feat#respond Sun, 19 Jan 2020 14:52:03 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=65003 LeBron James, who has always been a tremendous passer, is on the verge of another huge accomplishment in his amazing career. The Los Angeles Lakers floor leader is on pace to win his first NBA assist title. King James would become the NBA’s oldest first-time assist champion. What’s more, he’d be the second-oldest NBA assist […]

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Prolific passer LeBron James on track for historic feat

LeBron James, who has always been a tremendous passer, is on the verge of another huge accomplishment in his amazing career.

The Los Angeles Lakers floor leader is on pace to win his first NBA assist title.

King James would become the NBA’s oldest first-time assist champion. What’s more, he’d be the second-oldest NBA assist leader. Phoenix Suns offensive conductor Steve Nash was 37 when he won his fifth and final assist title, dishing out a league-best 11.4 assists in the 2010-11 season.

Furthermore, all-time assist leader John Stockton collected his final assist crown at age 34 in the 1995-96 season.

This season, LeBron James is averaging a career-high 10.9 assists per game through Saturday, nearly two assists more than his previous career-high total (9.1 with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017-18 campaign). And spirited MVP talk is following him around the league.

Some would even argue that he’s better than ever.

High praise for LeBron James

“I’ve never seen a player that can dominate a game the way LeBron James can,” Scottie Pippen once said. “He don’t always have to score. He makes plays for other guys. But when the game is on the line, and you need a shot to be made, he’s going to make that play.”

This season, more than ever before, has illustrated LeBron James’ brilliance as a passer.

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Luka Doncic could win MVP, MIP awards in same season https://www.talkbasket.net/64842-luka-doncic-could-win-mvp-mip-awards-in-same-season https://www.talkbasket.net/64842-luka-doncic-could-win-mvp-mip-awards-in-same-season#respond Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:44:32 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=64842 I expect LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo to be this season’s MVP Award winner, but it’s intriguing to know that Luka Doncic is, theoretically, in the running for an unprecedented double: MVP and Most Improved Player in the same season. Doncic’s dynamic play is the biggest reason for the Dallas Mavericks’ return to respectability. The […]

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Luka Doncic could win MVP, MIP awards in same season

I expect LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo to be this season’s MVP Award winner, but it’s intriguing to know that Luka Doncic is, theoretically, in the running for an unprecedented double: MVP and Most Improved Player in the same season.

Doncic’s dynamic play is the biggest reason for the Dallas Mavericks’ return to respectability. The second-year pro is averaging 28.9 points (fourth-best average), 9.7 rebounds (No. 17) and 9.0 assists (No. 3).

As a rookie, he contributed 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 72 games. Dallas went 33-49 last season.

This season, the Mavericks are 27-15 through Friday.

Legendary NBA columnist and pundit Peter Vecsey, who is now retired, pointed out that Luka Doncic is in the running for both prestigious awards, noting that it’s not prohibited.

“Voters aren’t restricted from naming the same person at the top of both ballots,” Vecsey said.

Doncic leads the NBA in triple-doubles (12), followed by LeBron’s nine and Russell Westbrook‘s and Nikola Jokic‘s seven.

Better as a second-year pro

Luka Doncic shot .427 from the field last season and .713 from the free-throw line.

This season, he’s improved in both categories: .466 from the field and .766 from the charity stripe.

Doncic draws contact

Still only 20 years old, Doncic knows how to make life difficult for the opposition. He draws contact. He challenges defenders. He forces them to foul him. He’s savvy and gutsy and aggressive.

Doncic is No. 3 in the NBA in free-throw attempts (349). He’s also No. 3 in free throws (273).

LeBron’s impact

King James, of course, is a big reason the Los Angeles Lakers have transformed themselves into a title-contending team. The sad-sack Lakers of 2018-19 are a distant memory, and frontcourt dynamo Anthony Davis’ arrival also signaled a new era in L.A.

LeBron is averaging 25.4 points (11th-highest scorer) and leads the league in assists (10.9). The Lakers (33-8) are the Western Conference’s top team.

Greek Freak’s performance

The Milwaukee Bucks (37-6) lead the Eastern Conference, and Antetokounmpo’s dazzling numbers are a big reason for that. The 2018-19 NBA MVP is the league’s second-leading scorer (30.1 ppg; James Harden is No. 1 at 37.2) and sixth-best rebounder (12.8).

Dwane Casey’s assessment

Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey doesn’t expect Doncic to be picked for both awards.

“There are a few more candidates for Most Improved (Player),” Casey commented.

That said, the Pistons bench boss is impressed with the Slovenian superstar’s playmaking skills.

“He is one of the best passers,” Casey said. “I was around with Pistol Pete (Maravich). This kid is of substance where Pete was more show.”

Indeed, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year award winner has elevated his game. He’s clearly better in all facets of the game, delivering more consistency, more game-changing plays and greater doses of “wow-did-you-just-see-that excitement” whenever he steps onto the court.

Historic achievement

Longtime Golden State Warriors broadcaster Jim Barnett, whose involvement in the NBA began as a Boston Celtics rookie in 1966, recalled a terrific achievement by Wes Unseld in the 1970s that serves as a good reminder that, yes, Luka Doncic, who’s been heralded by some as the new face of the NBA, could claim the MVP and MIP awards this year.

In the 1968-69 campaign, Unseld was chosen as the league’s Rookie of the Year and MVP.

The former Baltimore Bullet wasn’t the only player to receive both awards.

In the 1958-59 season, Wilt Chamberlain also grabbed the ROY and MVP awards while playing for the Philadelphia Warriors.

“So there is precedent for double awards,” Barnett observed.

It may be a longshot, though.

“It’s certainly possible,” Barnett told Talk Basket. “I think it would help his cause to be Most Improved if he hadn’t averaged 21.2 ppg last year as a rookie. However, right now he is averaging nearly a triple-double. And they are impressive numbers. …

“I think it’s a good call that he could be Most Improved (Player) and the MVP.”

Additional viewpoints

Former NBA coach Herb Brown also weighed in on the discussion.

“Anything is possible,” Brown stated. “I think the Association would prefer to spread their awards around rather than having one player earn more than one award. Milwaukee has a front-runner for the MVP, doesn’t it? Many players deserving not only Luka.”

Alexander Wolff, whose basketball articles appeared in Sports Illustrated for decades, doesn’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility for Doncic to earn both accolades.

“I don’t see why not,” Wolff declared earlier this week.

“I believe a Rookie of the Year has been MVP at least once,” added Wolff, the editor of “Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game” and the author of “The Audacity of Hope: Basketball And The Age of Obama.”

“It certainly would be quite a story. It may be dependent on how well the Mavs do, as MVP voters tend to factor in overall team performance when they cast a ballot.”

Bill Cartwright, a three-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, is not convinced Doncic can nab both awards.

“I think in order to win all the awards, the Mavericks must be a top-four team,” Cartwright offered. “I don’t see that happening this year.”

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‘In All Airness’ nearing a broadcasting milestone https://www.talkbasket.net/64578-in-all-airness-nearing-a-broadcasting-milestone https://www.talkbasket.net/64578-in-all-airness-nearing-a-broadcasting-milestone#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 17:34:02 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=64578 The podcast “In All Airness” is closing in on a special milestone: episode No. 100. The 97th and most recent episode, released in early January, featured a lengthy interview with former NBA player Danny Schayes, son of Hall of Famer Dolph. In All Airness host Adam Ryan punctuates each episode with extensive research, enthusiasm, a […]

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‘In All Airness’ nearing a broadcasting milestone

The podcast “In All Airness” is closing in on a special milestone: episode No. 100.

The 97th and most recent episode, released in early January, featured a lengthy interview with former NBA player Danny Schayes, son of Hall of Famer Dolph.

In All Airness host Adam Ryan punctuates each episode with extensive research, enthusiasm, a thirst for knowledge about each guest and a fan’s genuine love for the game.

From his native Australia, Ryan delivers thoughtful questions and develops a strong rapport with his guests. For the website, YouTube clips, numerous photographs and various newspaper clippings enhance the interviews, too.

Ryan does his homework and provides a thorough presentation of each subject’s unique place in basketball history. The impressive guest list includes photographers, journalists, broadcasters, public-address announcers and others.

Some of the program’s many guests

Here’s a partial rundown on some of the guests who’ve appeared on his podcast in recent years:

Christian Laettner (episode No. 3)
Andrew Gaze (No. 4)
Luc Longley (No. 5)
Cliff Robinson (No. 6)
Peter Vecsey (No. 8)
Sam Smith (No. 11)
Bob Hill (No. 14)
Ian Eagle (No. 15)
Terry Cummings (No. 17)
Kenny Anderson (No. 31)
Mike Fratello (No. 32)
Jim McIlvaine (Nos. 39 and 40)
Eddie Johnson (No. 41)
Kendall Gill (No. 42)
Bill Cartwright (No. 43)
Todd Spehr (No. 55)
Dale Ellis (No. 57)
Mitchell Butler (No. 67)
Don Casey (No. 76)
Andrew Bernstein (No. 77)
Mark Price (No. 87)
Xavier McDaniel (No. 91)

There’s often a Michael Jordan-centric theme to the podcasts and some of them feature special episodes that highlight and celebrate aspects of Jordan’s career. For example, in June 2013, on episode No. 24, Adam Ryan and Todd Spehr discuss the late Drazen Petrovic’s basketball career and legacy 20 years after his death.

Other episodes commemorate a particular aspect of His Airness’ legendary career. An August 2018 episode, for instance, is a celebration of Michael Jordan’s third pro season, focusing on the start of the playoffs through the NBA Finals.

The mission of In All Airness

In May 2012, Adam Ryan spelled out his mission for his website and podcast.

“Welcome to In all Airness,” Ryan wrote. “The goal is to become the pre-eminent residence for fans of Michael Jordan-era basketball. Whilst my focus is Michael Jeffrey Jordan, I cover plenty of NBA history-related topics.

“My point of difference is a sharp focus on basketball past. In all Airness is for the fans – I encourage your input. Please make your voice heard. What features or discussion of Memory Lane, NBA, interest you most?”

In the same month, he introduced himself in the very first entry on the website: http://inallairness.com/about/

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Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning visit China https://www.talkbasket.net/64305-dikembe-mutombo-alonzo-mourning-visit-china https://www.talkbasket.net/64305-dikembe-mutombo-alonzo-mourning-visit-china#respond Mon, 13 Jan 2020 05:00:24 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=64305 While the NBA and China are dealing with the reality of a rocky, complicated relationship, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning visited Gansu, China, to take part in early Chinese New Year activities over the weekend. As a global ambassador for the NBA, Mutombo is in his element, meeting and greeting fans. He smiles, offers words […]

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Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning visit China

While the NBA and China are dealing with the reality of a rocky, complicated relationship, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning visited Gansu, China, to take part in early Chinese New Year activities over the weekend.

As a global ambassador for the NBA, Mutombo is in his element, meeting and greeting fans. He smiles, offers words of encouragement and projects a down-to-earth personality that has endeared him to hundreds of millions of fans.

Yao Ming, one of Mutombo’s former Houston Rockets teammates, said in a 2010 interview that off-the-court activities in the Houston community gave him a sense of purpose.

“When I was in Houston, I took part in some charity activities with the team, and that made a deep impression on me. These activities gave me a sense of satisfaction,” Yaao told China Daily.

“That’s why I want to do something for my country, for children in China’s rural areas who really need help.”

After an 8.0-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan caused massive damage to buildings and infrastructure and resulted in the loss of nearly 70,000 people in May 2008 in Sichuan province, the Yao Ming Foundation played a pivotal role to raise funds to build new schools throughout the region. The foundation also established schools in Gansu, a landlocked, rural northwest province.

More than a decade later, Dikembe Mutombo visited Gansu.

It’s too early to know if Mutomobo’s trip to Gansu can help unravel the complicated mess that began with Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s now-infamous (and deleted) tweet expressing support for Hong Kong democracy supporters.

But Mutombo has a warm personality and global recognition for his philanthropic endeavors, including building hospitals in Africa.

It’s the view here that the visit by Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning to China is a win-win situation for the NBA and China. After all, this wonderful game connects people and builds and sustains relationships.

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New documentary series explores Buffalo Braves history https://www.talkbasket.net/64246-new-documentary-series-explores-buffalo-braves-history https://www.talkbasket.net/64246-new-documentary-series-explores-buffalo-braves-history#respond Sun, 12 Jan 2020 15:52:32 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=64246 Do you know the history of the Buffalo Braves? A new six-part documentary series, “Before the Clippers, We Were the Braves,” which debuts on Jan. 14, provides that opportunity. The ambitious project, produced by George Johnson and Devin Chavanne, tells the story of the Braves, who represented the northern New York city for seven seasons […]

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New documentary series explores Buffalo Braves history

Do you know the history of the Buffalo Braves? A new six-part documentary series, “Before the Clippers, We Were the Braves,” which debuts on Jan. 14, provides that opportunity.

The ambitious project, produced by George Johnson and Devin Chavanne, tells the story of the Braves, who represented the northern New York city for seven seasons (1970-78) before moving to Southern California.

As a result, the Braves became the San Diego Clippers in 1978.

In 1984, they moved further north, becoming the Los Angeles Clippers.

In 190, the Buffalo Braves entered the NBA as one of three expansion teams. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers were the others.

The Buffalo Braves had a cast of well-known head coaches, including original bench boss Dolph Schayes (a Hall of Fame player), Jack Ramsay (a Hall of Fame coach) and Cotton Fitzsimmons (a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, 1978-79 and 1988-89).

They also had numerous stars. Randy Smith, Bob McAdoo (1972-73 NBA Rookie of the Year), Ernie DiGregorio (1973-74 NBA Rookie of the Year), Elmore Smith, Adrian Dantley (NBA 1976-77 Rookie of the Year) and Moses Malone were among them. Decades later, McAdoo, Malone and Dantley were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The six-part series will be posted on the Buffalo Rising website. It will also be accessible on its social media channels — Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Alyssa Ewing James becomes college coach like her famous uncle https://www.talkbasket.net/64231-alyssa-ewing-james-becomes-college-coach-like-her-famous-uncle https://www.talkbasket.net/64231-alyssa-ewing-james-becomes-college-coach-like-her-famous-uncle#respond Sun, 12 Jan 2020 13:14:14 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=64231 Alyssa Ewing James is following in the footsteps of her famous uncle. Which means after her playing career, she has become a college basketball coach. Nowadays, Patrick Ewing is the Georgetown University men’s basketball coach. Alyssa started working this season an assistant for the St. Francis College women’s hoop squad. As noted in a recent […]

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Alyssa Ewing James becomes college coach like her famous uncle

Alyssa Ewing James is following in the footsteps of her famous uncle.

Which means after her playing career, she has become a college basketball coach. Nowadays, Patrick Ewing is the Georgetown University men’s basketball coach.

Alyssa started working this season an assistant for the St. Francis College women’s hoop squad.

As noted in a recent article in The Tablet, the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, she spent one season at Caldwell (New Jersey) University, playing under Linda Cimino. Then, James transferred to Binghamton University in New York, where Cimino was hired to coach.

Playing three years for the America East Conference school, James, a forward, had significant achievements, including all-conference honors in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18. What’s more, she was the America East Defensive Player of the Year recipient three times. She became the conference’s all-time leader in blocked shots (270).

Now, Alyssa Ewing James is working under Cimino, who is in her second season at the helm for St. Francis College.

“It’s been a different experience seeing the game from this side of the court,” James told The Tablet. “I’m definitely still learning, but I’m just happy to have all these great coaches that we have here at St. Francis.”

Insights about Patrick Ewing

The Tablet article noted that James “was too young to remember seeing her uncle star for the Knicks, (but) of course has heard the stories and seen the highlight reels from his Hall of Fame career.”

“The thing about him (Ewing) that pushed me to be the basketball player that I was had to be his work ethic,” James told the newspaper. “Hearing the stories of how he worked hard every summer with other players to get better and improve made me want to be a better player, a better teammate and a better captain.”

James sought advice from her uncle before agreeing to work on Cimino’s staff, The Tablet reported.

“He said, ‘If this is what you want to do and you love the game, you’ll be ready to help the girls overcome any obstacles, and that’s all that matters,’ ” James was quoted as saying.

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Ben Simmons thanks Mavericks for supporting Australia wildfire relief efforts https://www.talkbasket.net/64232-ben-simmons-thanks-mavericks-for-supporting-australia-wildfire-relief-efforts https://www.talkbasket.net/64232-ben-simmons-thanks-mavericks-for-supporting-australia-wildfire-relief-efforts#respond Sun, 12 Jan 2020 12:36:52 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=64232 In the midst of the widespread devastation caused by the wildfires in Australia, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is grateful that the Dallas Mavericks are pitching in to help with recovery efforts. Simmons, who was born in Melbourne, Australia, posted his message of gratitude on Twitter.

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Ben Simmons thanks Mavericks for supporting Australia wildfire relief efforts

In the midst of the widespread devastation caused by the wildfires in Australia, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is grateful that the Dallas Mavericks are pitching in to help with recovery efforts.

Simmons, who was born in Melbourne, Australia, posted his message of gratitude on Twitter.

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Ja Morant delivers superb performance against Spurs https://www.talkbasket.net/64116-ja-morant-delivers-superb-performance-against-spurs https://www.talkbasket.net/64116-ja-morant-delivers-superb-performance-against-spurs#respond Sat, 11 Jan 2020 10:40:06 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=64116 It was just another day at the office for Ja Morant. Actually, it was a very good day at the office for the Memphis Grizzlies rookie. The talented point guard put his stamp on the game in a big way against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, scoring 22 points on 11-for-20 shooting, doling out […]

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Ja Morant delivers superb performance against Spurs

It was just another day at the office for Ja Morant.

Actually, it was a very good day at the office for the Memphis Grizzlies rookie.

The talented point guard put his stamp on the game in a big way against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, scoring 22 points on 11-for-20 shooting, doling out 14 assists, collecting seven rebounds and making two steals in a 134-121 home victory.

In other words, Ja Morant did it all.

Which shouldn’t be a big surprise. He entered the NBA with great promise and great expectations.

The No. 2 pick in the 2019 Draft reached double digits in assists for the first time in 10 games.

Ja Morant Credit: Twitter/JaMorant

Impressive effort

His effort against Gregg Popovich’s Spurs impressed Ross Kreines, a prolific commentator on the NBA via Twitter.

“Ja Morant is so tough and explosive off the bounce creating for himself or others,” Kreines tweted. “He also has really good court vision, forces his tempo,makes others around him better along with big time athleticism and can fill a stat sheet.”

Games like Friday’s should be what’s expected of Morant in the coming weeks, months and years. He’s learning. He’s growing, even with stretches of up-and-down play. He’s proving that he was a smart draft pick for Memphis.

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Magic Johnson’s heroics not enough 30 years ago on this day https://www.talkbasket.net/63898-magic-johnsons-heroics-not-enough-30-years-ago-on-this-day https://www.talkbasket.net/63898-magic-johnsons-heroics-not-enough-30-years-ago-on-this-day#respond Thu, 09 Jan 2020 17:38:50 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=63898 It was 30 years ago today. Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson had 24 points and 24 assists in a 121-118 overtime defeat to the host Phoenix Suns. Here’s the box score from that game: https://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/199001090PHO.html In UPI’s report of the game, it was noted that Magic tied his career high in assists. Magic […]

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It was 30 years ago today. Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson had 24 points and 24 assists in a 121-118 overtime defeat to the host Phoenix Suns.

Here’s the box score from that game: https://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/199001090PHO.html

In UPI’s report of the game, it was noted that Magic tied his career high in assists.

Magic Johnson highlights

Despite Magic’s heroics on that day, the defeat was a nutshell of the team’s season. The Lakers were good, but not good enough. They had, after all, impossibly high standards based on what they achieved in the 1980s.

Here’s a look back at the end of their 1989-90 campaign, which ended in the playoffs against the Suns: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1990-05-16-sp-174-story.html.

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Larry Brown wore outlandish outfits during games in 1970s https://www.talkbasket.net/63889-larry-brown-wore-outlandish-outfits-during-games-in-1970s https://www.talkbasket.net/63889-larry-brown-wore-outlandish-outfits-during-games-in-1970s#respond Thu, 09 Jan 2020 16:37:34 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=63889 Looking at old basketball magazines, newspaper clippings, books and even certain social media accounts reminds us that some pro coaches, including Hall of Famer Larry Brown, often dressed like they were headed to a disco, a house party, a BBQ joint or somewhere that wasn’t “work.” The clothes, of course, didn’t determine the outcome of […]

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Larry Brown wore outlandish outfits during games in 1970s

Looking at old basketball magazines, newspaper clippings, books and even certain social media accounts reminds us that some pro coaches, including Hall of Famer Larry Brown, often dressed like they were headed to a disco, a house party, a BBQ joint or somewhere that wasn’t “work.”

The clothes, of course, didn’t determine the outcome of games. And we know by now that Larry Brown had a pretty good idea of what he was doing as a bench boss in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and beyond in a remarkable coaching career.

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University of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery celebrates Philadelphia’s rich basketball history https://www.talkbasket.net/63271-university-of-iowa-coach-fran-mccaffery-celebrates-philadelphias-rich-basketball-history https://www.talkbasket.net/63271-university-of-iowa-coach-fran-mccaffery-celebrates-philadelphias-rich-basketball-history#respond Fri, 03 Jan 2020 11:34:01 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=63271 Philadelphia’s established basketball culture and traditions have greatly influenced University of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. Just ask him. McCaffery, who is in his 10th season at the helm, was asked about the city’s hoop culture in the run-up to the Hawkeyes’ Big Ten game against Penn State on Saturday at the Palestra in Philadelphia. The […]

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University of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery celebrates Philadelphia’s rich basketball history

Philadelphia’s established basketball culture and traditions have greatly influenced University of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery.

Just ask him.

McCaffery, who is in his 10th season at the helm, was asked about the city’s hoop culture in the run-up to the Hawkeyes’ Big Ten game against Penn State on Saturday at the Palestra in Philadelphia. The game marks Iowa’s first visit to the Palestra since 1961.

The Hawkeyes are 11-3; the Nittany Lions are 11-2.

On Thursday, a reporter inquired: “Most of us have never been to the Palestra. What’s it like? What was it like for you? What striking memories do you have of having been there for the years you were there?”

McCaffery, a University of Pennsylvania point guard from 1980-82, brings his team back to his hometown with an abundance of memories.

“You know, my memories are a little bit different because it starts with my mom and dad bringing myself and my brother to games when we were kids, like young,” McCaffrey said. “You want to sit up in the student section, you want to watch the games, you want to throw streamers, watch the really good players, maybe get to meet them, something like that.

“And then as a high school player, you want to get your team to the Palestra. Here it’s kind of we want to get to the state tournament. We want to get to Wells Fargo Arena. There you want to get to the Palestra. That’s where you want to go. So I had the opportunity to do that.

“Then you hope to be recruited by one of those five teams so you get to play there. Well, I got recruited by the one that that’s our home arena, so we practiced there every day and played pickup there in the summer, that kind of thing.

“So, there’s so many incredible memories. I’ve seen great high school games there, great players after I became a coach. I saw Kobe Bryant play there, Wilt Chamberlain has played there, the Sixers would play there back in the old days.”

Special city for basketball

He continued: “But the thing that was really special about it is throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, there were always doubleheaders, so you went and you stayed there for six, seven hours, and you watched four teams play, and nobody left. It wasn’t like, okay, I’m rooting for Villanova, they play in the first game so I’m going to dinner while Penn plays South Carolina. It wasn’t like that. Everybody stayed, watched both games. There was actually a TV package, before cable, you could actually watch those games on those old UHF stations. So if you grew up in Philadelphia, you watched all the games, you knew all the players, you knew all the coaches.

“Chuck Daly was coaching at Penn. He was the Dream Team coach, the first one. Rollie Massimino won the national championship. Harry Litwack and John Chaney are in the Hall of Fame. Paul Westhead revolutionized how to play fast while he was at LaSalle. Jack Ramsay is in the Hall of Fame. Jack McKinney ended up coaching the Lakers. Jimmy Lynam was a head coach in the NBA for many years after coaching at St. Joe’s. Bob Weinhauer took us to the Final Four; he will be at the game. He was my coach; he’ll be at the game on Saturday. Because ironically enough, at 7 p.m., Penn plays Princeton in the Palestra. So 9,000 people will leave, 9,000 more will come in and watch that game.

“So it was a very — and remains a very close-knit basketball community in Philadelphia that would convene every Saturday night at the Palestra, but oftentimes on Tuesday or Wednesday during the week, they also played double-headers during the week.”

Influence on coaching career

During Thursday’s media session, Fran McCaffery was also asked the following: “How do you think that Philadelphia basketball which you grew up on, lived on, has influenced the rest of your entire coaching career?”

“Well, you could argue that it’s influenced the coaching profession, when you think about all the guys — I just gave you a litany of Hall-of-Famers, so it’s different styles of play,” McCaffery stated. “So it definitely impacted me as a player, as a coach. Pretty much all of us remain close at some level. We all know each other, whether it be Jay Wright, known him for 30 years, and the guys that are there now, Pat Chambers, of course, I’ve known him since he was an assistant at Villanova.

“But it’s something that — if you’re talking about — let’s say you were at the Final Four and you’re talking to basketball people. They will refer to all of those people that I just mentioned, myself included: Well, he’s a Philly guy. So everybody understands what that means. He played or coached in Philadelphia, and he was influenced by watching — when I’m watching Paul Westhead score 107 points a game before the clock and before the 3-point shot. They were trying to score in four seconds, and nobody did that before.

“Jack Kraft played a match-up zone. Nobody played a match-up zone in those days. Things like that.

“John Chaney and Don Casey was the temple of zones. He replaced Harry Litwack and then went on to coach the Clippers, and Chaney replaced him. They played the zone kind of better and differently than most other teams.

“Penn had its run with Dick Carter and Chuck Daly and Bob Weinhauer winning multiple Ivy League championships, NCAA Tournament runs. In ‘79 we went to the Final Four, which was the last time an Ivy League team did that, and it may never happen again.”

In the final analysis, Fran McCaffery knows how unique and special basketball history is in Philadelphia.

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In remembrance of visionary NBA commissioner David Stern https://www.talkbasket.net/63131-in-remembrance-of-visionary-nba-commissioner-david-stern https://www.talkbasket.net/63131-in-remembrance-of-visionary-nba-commissioner-david-stern#respond Thu, 02 Jan 2020 12:21:12 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=63131 Tributes have come pouring in for David Stern. Current and past players and coaches and NBA writers have paid their respects to the late NBA commissioner, who served with distinction from 1984 to 2014 at the top of the world’s premier basketball league. On social media, in newspapers and on websites spanning the globe, Stern’s […]

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In remembrance of visionary NBA commissioner David Stern

Tributes have come pouring in for David Stern. Current and past players and coaches and NBA writers have paid their respects to the late NBA commissioner, who served with distinction from 1984 to 2014 at the top of the world’s premier basketball league.

On social media, in newspapers and on websites spanning the globe, Stern’s profound impact on the game and personal remembrances of the native New Yorker are on display.

Stern’s death at age 77 on New Year’s Day has been one of the biggest global stories this week, one that hit home for those who knew him well during his many decades in the game.

Tributes to David Stern

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe penned a thoughtful tribute to Stern, including the following insights:

“During two major labor conflicts — the lockouts of 1998-99 and 2011 — Stern was able to procure agreements that avoided the cancellation of those seasons. Eventually television revenue generated enough money for the league to flourish and for players to earn unprecedented salaries.

“Stern was able to create peace between the league’s owners — many from smaller markets believing a lockout was the lone remedy to re-seize financial power — and the players, who have become much more educated about their labor agreement and more empowered over the decades.

“Now the NBA is a healthy, burgeoning, and ever-popular league with owners no longer crying broke and the elite players earning hundreds of millions of dollars. It includes many players from overseas. There is now a surging minor league, league offices in South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, London, Spain, Mexico, and Brazil, and a Twitter account with nearly 29 million followers.

“Stern left his 30-year undertaking in good hands. There was exponential growth, financial windfall, and worldwide popularity.

So, thank you, Mr. Stern, for helping form the most exciting, enjoyable, and open-minded league in professional sports.

“We mourn Stern’s loss. But appreciation and gratitude should supersede the pain.”

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard wrote: “Under Stern, the NBA went from dozens of employees to thousands, from domestic to global, from secondary sport to multi-billion dollar entertainment. … Forever ahead of the curve, Stern read Ad Age and Mediaweek back when his peers were reading the sports section. He oversaw the creation of All-Star Weekend, the inception of the draft lottery, the first Dream Team, and, later, the D League and the WNBA. He was an early champion of cable, the internet, and international expansion. His gift was to see not just around the first corner, but two or three.

“Along the way, Stern became something of an unintentional celebrity, the familiar ‘basketball-shaped man,’ as SI once described him, who came on TV in a suit in June to announce the draft pick you hated, then reappeared a year later to hand a trophy to a team that (chances were) wasn’t yours. To fans, he represented the perfect antagonist: an empty vessel they could blame for the lockout, or the Knicks ‘somehow’ getting Patrick Ewing, or the latest referee conspiracy.

“Stern reveled in the role. He understood the value of narrative, of heroes and villains. As long as the league benefited, he was happy.

Personal recollections

Legendary Boston sports journalist Bob Ryan tweeted, “I am truly saddened to hear that David Stern has died. He helped transform a sleeping giant of a sport into a global force. Even better, he was an anti-stuffed shirt commissioner, a guy you could joke and have fun with.”

Likewise, longtime New York hoop columnist and analyst Peter Vecsey underscored Stern’s personality in a remembrance on Twitter: “David Stern was always a fun sparring partner, even while being scolded. He was always up for debate, much of it laced with acute humor, usually at my expense. How could I not respect a man who always let me know his feelings, to my face?! Very sorry for his loss of life.”

Final thoughts

The last word today comes from the great Bill Russell, who won 11 titles in his 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics.

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How Luka Doncic sees the game https://www.talkbasket.net/62565-how-luka-doncic-sees-the-game https://www.talkbasket.net/62565-how-luka-doncic-sees-the-game#respond Fri, 27 Dec 2019 10:55:45 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=62565 After decades in the NBA, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich knows a thing or two about great players and what makes them great. Luka Doncic, in just his second year with the Dallas Mavericks, is already a great player for the Dallas Mavericks. Popovich explained why this week. “I hate to say this, he’s […]

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How Luka Doncic sees the game

After decades in the NBA, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich knows a thing or two about great players and what makes them great. Luka Doncic, in just his second year with the Dallas Mavericks, is already a great player for the Dallas Mavericks.

Popovich explained why this week.

“I hate to say this, he’s not Magic Johnson but it’s Magic Johnson-like in the sense that he sees the floor in that same way,” the Spurs coach told reporters after Dallas’ 120-98 victory over the visiting Spurs on Thursday. “He’s got a real intuitive sense and you can’t teach that. He’s just got it and he’s great at it.

“I’m not trying to put the Magic Johnson pressure on him, he’s not ready for that yet but he’s doing a hell of a job.”

Magic Johnson suffered a serious knee injury and only played in 37 games in his second NBA season. But he increased his assists from 7.3 to 8.6 per game in the first two years of his legendary career.

As for Doncic, he dished out 6.0 assists as a rookie. That figure now stands at 8.9 per game. His overall stats have impressed NBA observers this season, with impressive all-around improvement on display since the start.

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Struggling Pistons earn victory at the opportune time https://www.talkbasket.net/62563-struggling-pistons-earn-victory-at-the-opportune-time https://www.talkbasket.net/62563-struggling-pistons-earn-victory-at-the-opportune-time#respond Fri, 27 Dec 2019 10:24:28 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=62563 Teams need wins to build confidence and get back on track. Such was the case for the Detroit Pistons in their 132-102 demolition of the visiting Washington Wizards on Boxing Day. Detroit’s day-after Christmas triumph ended a five-game slide. For the Pistons, second-year bench boss Dwane Casey recognized the need for a victory at this […]

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Struggling Pistons earn victory at the opportune time

Teams need wins to build confidence and get back on track.

Such was the case for the Detroit Pistons in their 132-102 demolition of the visiting Washington Wizards on Boxing Day.

Detroit’s day-after Christmas triumph ended a five-game slide.

For the Pistons, second-year bench boss Dwane Casey recognized the need for a victory at this time.

“It was good for the spirit of the team,” Casey told reporters after the game in Motown. “I thought we did some good things during the first part of the game defensively,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We wanted to take away the transition defense and we did that. I thought the ball movement was good playing through Blake (Griffin) in the post.

“So, again, a lot of good things. Now we got to carry on the road and a tough road trip.”

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Victor Oladipo dishes out thoughtful insights on his growth as a player, hunger to keep growing https://www.talkbasket.net/62089-victor-oladipo-dishes-out-thoughtful-insights-on-his-growth-as-a-player-hunger-to-keep-growing https://www.talkbasket.net/62089-victor-oladipo-dishes-out-thoughtful-insights-on-his-growth-as-a-player-hunger-to-keep-growing#respond Mon, 23 Dec 2019 09:00:23 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=62089 A talented and an articulate conversationalist, the Pacers’ Victor Oladipo explained in measured remarks how he has transformed as a player, rising to All-Defensive First Team level in a recent interview. HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy had the opportunity in a wide-ranging Q&A to explore Oladipo’s career and what it took for the Indiana University product to […]

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Victor Oladipo dishes out thoughtful insights on his growth as a player, hunger to keep growing

A talented and an articulate conversationalist, the Pacers’ Victor Oladipo explained in measured remarks how he has transformed as a player, rising to All-Defensive First Team level in a recent interview.

HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy had the opportunity in a wide-ranging Q&A to explore Oladipo’s career and what it took for the Indiana University product to improve and reach the All-Star level.

Oladipo’s knee injury last season cut short a quality season. But he’s expected to return to the Pacers lineup soon, according to published reports.

Interview highlights

Here are a couple key exchanges between Kennedy and Oladipo:

Kennedy: “What did you do to pass the time when you were going through rehab? I know some guys play a lot of video games or find other hobbies. Did you do anything like that?”

Oladipo: “I think the biggest thing was just watching a lot of basketball. Whenever you’re playing, you’re kind of just focused on playing and performing at the highest level possible. But over the last 10 and a half months, I had the opportunity to really watch a lot of games and really watch a lot of other players. I watched pretty much everyone, especially all of the best players, and I’d see why they’re so successful at certain things. I just tried to find different things that I can apply to my game, so that I can continue to grow and continue to separate myself as a player.”

Kennedy: “From the start of your NBA career to now, what has changed for you and what are the biggest things that you’ve learned over the years?”

Oladipo: “I just think for me as a player, my mindset has changed. But I think my role has changed too. Here, they demand a lot more from me – on and off the court. I get the ball more, I have more responsibilities and I’m able to play at the highest level because of that. I wasn’t really given those opportunities in Orlando or Oklahoma City, but things are different here. When those things became different, I became different. But I need to keep getting better too, so I can keep playing at the highest level that I can. When I do that, I give my team a chance to be successful. I just have to continue to get better.”

Budding musician

Did you know Victor Oladipo is also an accomplished singer. He has released one EP (“Songs For You) and a full-length album (“V.O.”)?

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Ambitious website Dave’s Joint delivers quality coverage of basketball in New York City and beyond https://www.talkbasket.net/61618-ambitious-website-daves-joint-delivers-quality-coverage-of-basketball-in-new-york-city-and-beyond https://www.talkbasket.net/61618-ambitious-website-daves-joint-delivers-quality-coverage-of-basketball-in-new-york-city-and-beyond#respond Wed, 18 Dec 2019 10:45:59 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=61618 Dave’s Joint is a basketball website dedicated to coverage of middle school, high school, streetball, college and pro basketball, especially in and around New York City. Thus, there are endless opportunities for the site’s founder and editor-in-chief, David Cordova, to chase stories and conduct interviews at arenas and gyms, big and small. For Cordova, the […]

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Ambitious website Dave’s Joint delivers quality coverage of basketball in New York City and beyond

Dave’s Joint is a basketball website dedicated to coverage of middle school, high school, streetball, college and pro basketball, especially in and around New York City.

Thus, there are endless opportunities for the site’s founder and editor-in-chief, David Cordova, to chase stories and conduct interviews at arenas and gyms, big and small.

For Cordova, the website is a labor of love. And it’s not only about the printed word. David is passionate about photography and capturing images of games and the faces of basketball personalities. He posts frequently on Twitter and Instagram and celebrates the achievements of local teams, players and coaches. He also has an appreciation for the history of the game, and sometimes posts old newspaper clippings, giving followers a chance to brush up on, say an all-NYC tournament team from 1994.

Website’s content

Dave’s Joint was established in 2015. The website showcases articles on up-and-coming NYC area high school players, men’s and women’s college teams and prominent names. Recently posted on the site are articles about Jalen Rose, Dan Hurley and Penny Hardaway.

What’s more, Cordova produced an ambitious 16-part summer reporting series, “This is New York.” Here is part 16: The Magical Summer of R.J. Davis, which offers a thorough account of Davis’ high school accomplishments, summer ball tournaments, including the Nike Peach Jam and NBPA Top 100 Camp, future aspirations and college recruiting news.

Interesting details were included about the NBPA Top 100 Camp. “I felt amazing,” said Davis, citing the fact he was playing in front of the scouts, “They say the NBPA Top 100 is considered to be one of the best camps, you know, just to play in front of NBA scouts, and I did well there, pick & roll, finding guys, it was amazing. I’ll probably say that was one of my best camps I’ve performed at.”

Q&A with Dave’s Joint founder

I recently caught up with David Cordova via email to learn more about his passion for basketball, his website and creating something that contributes to the overall landscape of hoop media in the Big Apple.

What prompted you to begin your website? Did you see an opportunity to carve out your own niche in the crowded Big Apple media landscape?

I started Dave’s Joint back in 2015 because I always had a passion for basketball, and also for writing. Ever since I was young, I always loved sports and I wanted to one day be involved in a major way.

And as far as carving out my niche, I feel as if I have made my brand very accessible to the people throughout the last four years. At the present time, print media is dying out and there’s really no coverage of high school sports, due to the fact that there are seven Division I colleges, and about a dozen professional teams (Knicks and Nets in basketball, Mets and Yankees in baseball, Giants and Jets in football, etc. So the opportunity to cover high school sports is there. And also, the general public is very receptive to what I’m providing for them because I am able to relate to them.

What is the mission of Dave’s Joint as a media outlet? And how would you describe the focal points of news coverage?

The mission of Dave’s Joint is about providing quality content for the people about basketball in New York City and basketball in other areas. It’s all about telling stories about the basketball culture. In describing the focal points of news coverage, it’s just to make the people feel comfortable when they’re telling you their story, but to also portray them in a way that they would want to be portrayed, because after all, it is their story.

What are short-term and long-term goals for the website?

My short-term goals for the site is to continue to provide good content, but also to expand into basketball photography. I have been taking pictures for the last 11 months with my Canon camera, which was given to me as a present by my mentor, Cleon “Silk” Hyde. Ever since then, I have been taking pictures of games every chance I get. Ever since I have had my camera, numbers for my site has quadrupled, and more people are looking at my stuff than ever before. As far as long-term goals, I want it to be in the same conversation as some bigger publications. I want this site to cater to certain demographics, like the dads that love sports, the old guys that love to check out the young generation, the street guys that love to see the games, the AAU coaches, the college coaches, the high school coaches, the tournament directors, etc.

In a so-called normal week can you highlight how much time you devote to reporting, interviewing, gathering material for articles, etc. for the website? And which types of stories do you generally prioritize?

At the present time, with my work schedule as an advocate counselor at Brooklyn Democracy Academy in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and then after work with going to games, it’s tough to get to writing. I try to devote at least three or four days to putting out new content for my readers.

Is it a one-man operation? Or do you have a few others working alongside you, too?

Yes, this is a one-man operation. I like to have things done a certain way and it’s hard to trust others to do things for my brand, so for the present time, I’d much rather handle things on my own.

As you consume basketball news and peruse websites, magazines, newspapers and social media, are there a few local, regional and national media outlets that you look at as models for how you operate Dave’s Joint? Can you cite a few examples?

As someone that reads a lot of articles, there are certain publications that I try to model after, such as SLAM, the now-defunct Bounce Magazine, the New York Times, Bleacher Report and The Athletic. And I also look at old articles from the old days from the New York Daily News and Newsday. I like to think of my work as educated sportswriting, but something that I can use to appeal to the those in the inner-city or the ‘hood, as we like to call them.

To me, it’s interesting to look back at many of the photos you post of old newspaper clippings on Twitter. From interactions with readers and followers, is it clear that a few of these articles are clearly favorites? On a related point, do you see this as an opportunity to be a curator of hoop history?

Honestly, when it comes to posting the old pictures, I don’t really have any favorites, but I just like to look at some old clips of players that were big names in college or in high school. For example, Chris Webber, Felipe Lopez, Stephon Marbury, Chris Mullin, etc. I’ll find some stuff of them from high school or college or in their earliest years in the NBA. And yes, I want to definitely contribute to the NYC hoops culture and just the culture of hoops, period, as best as I can. I want Dave’s Joint to be a movement even outside of New York. A lot of people outside of the city, even in different states, know about my brand.

There’s no shortage of compelling human interest stories in and around New York City to potentially pursue about former and current basketball players. That said, what are a few favorites stories that immediately come to mind for their intrigue, drama, powerful narrative, etc. when you take stock of your reporting archive? Can you cite a few examples and offer a bit of background on why you consider them among your favorites?

As far as my favorite stories, I have over 400 articles that I’ve written, so there’s so many that I can relate to. But at the same time, there is one that will stand out to me. There is an article that I wrote about this player named Jawaun Daniels from Harlem. He is a kid from Harlem that is currently playing Division I basketball at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. His story is unique because he played high school ball at Teaneck High School in Teaneck, New Jersey. The summer before his senior year of high school, he wound up being arrested along with around 20 other people for a bunch of charges. And then for about two months, he was in one of the most notorious prisons in the country, Rikers Island. And then the sad part about that ordeal is that one of the days in there was his 18th birthday. He told me that he was on lockdown on his birthday, which means that he had to stay in his cell throughout the entire day. As far as the charges, the judge spared him, and gave him another chance. But unfortunately, he could not play basketball during his senior year of high school. It is something similar to what Allen Iverson endured when he was in high school. After that, he graduated high school, and then he went to two years of community college at two different schools and then graduated from Odessa College with his associate’s degree and is now going for his bachelor’s and playing out the remaining two years of his eligibility. But in between the time before college, in the summer of 2017, he played in the first summer of Nike’s NY vs. NY tournament and won the Player of the Summer award. Kids like him are success stories and I feel like if given a chance, these kids will be able to rise from their shortcomings and become better people. Since I published his story, I’ve received about 6,000 views and I’ve had many people tell me that they liked the article. Even college coaches. So that’s basically the one article that will always stand out to me.

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Rick Barry: ‘It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life’ https://www.talkbasket.net/61613-rick-barry-its-the-most-ridiculous-thing-ive-ever-seen-in-life https://www.talkbasket.net/61613-rick-barry-its-the-most-ridiculous-thing-ive-ever-seen-in-life#respond Wed, 18 Dec 2019 05:37:38 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=61613 It’s one of the most interesting questions I’ve heard in years, and Rick Barry and Cyrus Saatsaz discussed it on their “Bleav in Warriors 24” podcast a few days ago. I’m referring to an activity that occurs between foul shots: the ubiquitous physical contact between the shooter and his teammates during games in the NBA […]

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Rick Barry: ‘It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life’

It’s one of the most interesting questions I’ve heard in years, and Rick Barry and Cyrus Saatsaz discussed it on their “Bleav in Warriors 24” podcast a few days ago. I’m referring to an activity that occurs between foul shots: the ubiquitous physical contact between the shooter and his teammates during games in the NBA and elsewhere.

Barry, an exceptional free-throw shooter during his legendary career, chalked this up as something that fits into the show’s “It Drives Me Crazy” segment.

“Who in the hell is the person that started this BS of going in and slapping a guy’s hand and doing something after free throws, especially one he misses,” Barry said. “If the guy misses the free throw, for you to go in, smack him in the freaking head, not in the hand. He missed a damn free throw and cost you a point!

“It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever sen in my life, and I don’t know where it started. If you have an idea of where it started, Royce, please clue me in. Because whoever that person is, they should be punished.”

The rant continued.

“Seriously, I mean what the hell are we doing here? Barry said. “The whole thing we just talked about here is, what? Get focused in, get to what you’re doing. Why do you want to want to bother a guy who should be getting focused in at the line, especially if he made the first one to have to worry about slapping the hands of his freaking teammates?”

This podcast episode also explores free-throw shooting routines in a broader context. ESPN’s Royce Young reported about the topic.

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Sacramento Kings’ visit to Folsom State Prison https://www.talkbasket.net/61476-sacramento-kings-visit-to-folsom-state-prison https://www.talkbasket.net/61476-sacramento-kings-visit-to-folsom-state-prison#respond Tue, 17 Dec 2019 13:56:31 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=61476 The NBA brings joy and hope to people, and basketball inspires millions around the world. Professional sports teams can also make a commitment to social justice and other societal causes, which is how the Sacramento Kings got involved in planning to visit Folsom State Prison in California. Kings owner Vivek Ranadive explained the team’s decision […]

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Sacramento Kings’ visit to Folsom State Prison

The NBA brings joy and hope to people, and basketball inspires millions around the world. Professional sports teams can also make a commitment to social justice and other societal causes, which is how the Sacramento Kings got involved in planning to visit Folsom State Prison in California.

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive explained the team’s decision to get involved in the Play for Justice initiative in a statement.

“We’re proud to be the first participant in the Play for Justice initiative, which is shining a bright light on the unique issues facing incarcerated people in communities around the country,” Ranadive said. “Sports franchises have a unique opportunity to bring about positive change, which is why in the past year, the Kings and the Bucks brought together leaders from across two cities to share best practices and find new solutions to social injustices. This collaboration with REPRESENT JUSTICE is another example of how we can use our platforms for good.”

The Kings organization visited Folsom State Prison on Dec. 12.

Game day

Sacramento Bee reporter Cameron Salerno provided some vivid details in his interesting article that ran in the next day’s newspaper.

“Members of the Sacramento Kings came for a pickup basketball game featuring inmates coached by the NBA team,” Salerno wrote. “To make it happen, steel beams, a scoreboard and tarp cover were brought in to give the court a new look. Bleachers were brought in that held about 300 incarcerated men who got popcorn, cotton candy and water. A DJ and the tap dance group Syncopated Ladies were also brought in as entertainment.

“The loud music and dancers gave the crowd something to cheer for. It was so loud the area vibrated.”

Who were the coaches for this historic pickup game?

Kings players Marvin Bagley and Trevor Ariza.

Sacramento’s Marvin Bagley (front row, second from right) poses with Folsom State Prison inmates on Dec. 12. Source: Twitter/TeamBagley

Additional members of the Kings organization — forward Nemanja Bjelica, GM Vlade Divac and Ranadive — remained on the bench, according to published reports.

As for Sacramento head coach Luke Walton, he got involved in a different way: wearing sneakers and playing for Ariza’s squad, Salerno reported.

Kings coach Luke Walton speaks to Folsom State Prison inmates on Dec. 12. Source: Twitter/SacramentoKings

What was Ariza’s halftime message, which was directed to the incarcerated crowd that was watching the gme?

“We love and appreciate you guys for letting us in your space,” Ariza was quoted as saying by the Sacramento Bee. “No matter what happens or no matter how much time you have, there’s always an opportunity to get back. You guys are loved and not forgotten about.”

More information on the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign can be found on its website: https://www.representjustice.org/

“There was a lot of preparation for this event and there were so many moving parts,” Folsom State Prison public information officer Ernie Valencia said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “It’s always worth it to see the smiles on everyone’s faces after an event like this. I thought the whole experience was great and letting people escape their reality for just a few hours was rewarding.”

Additional footage shows Kings coach Luke Walton playing ball at the prison.

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In post-Kawhi Leonard era, Raptors’ Pascal Siakam is better than ever https://www.talkbasket.net/61462-in-post-kawhi-leonard-era-raptors-pascal-siakam-is-better-than-ever https://www.talkbasket.net/61462-in-post-kawhi-leonard-era-raptors-pascal-siakam-is-better-than-ever#respond Tue, 17 Dec 2019 11:59:11 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=61462 For Pascal Siakam, winning an NBA title in his third season with the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19 and earning the league’s Most Improved Player award were great achievements. But there was no time to rest on his laurels. After all, Siakam remains hungry to keep getting better. The 25-year-old has taken another quantum leap this […]

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In post-Kawhi Leonard era, Raptors’ Pascal Siakam is better than ever

For Pascal Siakam, winning an NBA title in his third season with the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19 and earning the league’s Most Improved Player award were great achievements.

But there was no time to rest on his laurels.

After all, Siakam remains hungry to keep getting better.

The 25-year-old has taken another quantum leap this season. Through 26 games, Siakam is averaging a team-best 25.0 points per game. Last season, he averaged 16.9 points. He also leads the club in rebounds (8.2).

One big reason for Siakam’s increased scoring is the development of a consistent 3-point shot, a weapon that he’s using with much greater frequency.

Consider: Siakam averaged 1.0 3-point shots and 2.7 attempts in 2018-19 while converting .369 of them.

This season’s numbers? Siakam is making 2.3 3-pointers per game, taking 6.2 attempts and shooting at a .381 clip from beyond the arc.

Coach’s assessment

Raptors bench boss Nick Nurse, in his second season at the helm, is impressed with Siakam’s growth as a potent 3-point shooter.

“I think it is pretty quick,” Nurse was quoted as saying by raptorsrepublic.com in late November.

“And you’ve heard me say this before, I still think he’s maybe 18 months away from being really deadly out there. Maybe I’m wrong, he seems to cut all my timelines in about half or, you know, more than that sometimes.”

Confidence is key

For Pascal Siakam, confidence is a major part of the equation.

“His confidence is certainly at a high, high, high level and that’s a big part of shooting,” Nurse was recently quoted as saying by the Toronto Star.

What’s more, because he didn’t start playing basketball until he was 16, Siakam understands that devoting time to work on his game in the gym is a smart investment.

Toronto Star reporter Doug Smith chronicled this aspect of Siakam’s game in a recent feature.

It began this way:

For hours he’d do the drills: easy shots right at the basket to get mechanics etched in his mind and body, foul shots to work on that form and develop consistency, and the easiest three-pointers an NBA player can get.

Every day – maybe 1,000 shots in all, working on all aspects of shooting – because if there’s one thing Pascal Siakam knows it’s that nothing comes without hard work.

Of all the astonishing and rapid improvements to Siakam’s game over the last NBA season and a bit, it’s his ability to consistently make jump shots that stands out. It’s amazing, really, that a guy who was such a shooting liability before last season has become one of the Raptors’ most effective long-range gunners.

“It’s always something I’ve been able to do: make sure I work on my craft every single day,” Siakam said, according to Smith’s article.

“I have to find a way to catch up to all the people that started playing when they were like five years old. I have a long way to go and every single day I know that, so I have to work double.”

National hero in Cameroon

A role model in the truest sense, Siakam remains a hero to countless children in his native Cameroon.

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Which players have the most touches per game? Luka Doncic leads the way https://www.talkbasket.net/61096-which-players-have-the-most-touches-per-game-luka-doncic-leads-the-way https://www.talkbasket.net/61096-which-players-have-the-most-touches-per-game-luka-doncic-leads-the-way#respond Sun, 15 Dec 2019 02:58:54 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=61096 The eyes see who’s got the ball and how a play unfolds. Advanced statistics, of course, can dig deeper and give us more thorough details of the game and trends that develop over weeks, months and years. Case in point: touches per game. This season, the top four players in this category are Luka Doncic, […]

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Which players have the most touches per game? Luka Doncic leads the way

The eyes see who’s got the ball and how a play unfolds. Advanced statistics, of course, can dig deeper and give us more thorough details of the game and trends that develop over weeks, months and years. Case in point: touches per game. This season, the top four players in this category are Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic and Ben Simmons.

As detailed on NBA.com, they are all averaging more than 90 touches per game through Dec. 13.

The rundown:

Doncic – 96.0 touches per game
James – 94.6
Jokic – 91.9
Simmons – 90.9

The foursome’s teams had a combined record of 73 wins and 24 losses as of Friday, too.

Additional numbers

It’s interesting to explore this topic further by viewing the many categories related to touches per game. Among the related topics are frontcourt touches, elbow touches, postups, paint touches, points per frontcourt touch, points per elbow touch, points per paint touch.

What’s more, the NBA tracks average dribbles per touch, and among the top four Doncic is No. 1 (5.16), with LeBron (3.82), Simmons (3.72) and Jokic (0.94) following his lead.

How about average seconds per touch?

Again, it’s Doncic at the top (5.58). LeBron is No. 2 at 4.81, with Simmons third (4.58) and Jokic fourth (2.11). But taking the whole league into account, there are five guys who top the 6-second average for touches: league leader Trae Young (6.30), Derrick Rose (6.14), D.J. Augustin (6.13), Damian Lillard (6.12) and James Harden (6.00).

Going back to the original item (touches per game), the next seven probably shouldn’t surprise you, either.

The stellar seven:

Kyle Lowry – 89.6
Harden – 88.4
Jrue Holiday – 86.5
Devonte’ Graham – 86.4
Young – 86.4
Fred VanVleet – 84.5
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 84.4

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For Los Angeles Clippers, stellar rebounding is a key to success https://www.talkbasket.net/60949-for-los-angeles-clippers-stellar-rebounding-is-a-key-to-success https://www.talkbasket.net/60949-for-los-angeles-clippers-stellar-rebounding-is-a-key-to-success#respond Fri, 13 Dec 2019 08:38:57 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=60949 Dennis Rodman knows a thing or two about rebounding, and he once explained why this aspect of the game mattered to him by saying, “I’m hungrier than those other guys out there. Every rebound is a personal challenge.” For the Los Angeles Clippers, a similar mindset is on display this season. Exhibit A: The Clippers […]

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For Los Angeles Clippers, stellar rebounding is a key to success

Dennis Rodman knows a thing or two about rebounding, and he once explained why this aspect of the game mattered to him by saying, “I’m hungrier than those other guys out there. Every rebound is a personal challenge.” For the Los Angeles Clippers, a similar mindset is on display this season.

Exhibit A: The Clippers are 14-0 when they outrebound their opponents.

With a 19-7 record through Thursday’s games, that statistic represents a big part of their success story.

The Clippers are No. 2 in the league in total rebounds per game (49.2). Only the title-chasing Milwaukee Bucks (51.6) are a better rebounding team.

Los Angeles’ top three rebounders are Montrezl Harrell (7.8), Kawhi Leonard (7.7) and Ivica Zubac (6.7), with Paul George and Patrick Beverley, among others, capable of grabbing plenty of boards, too.

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Ex-NBA commissioner David Stern has emergency brain surgery https://www.talkbasket.net/60948-ex-nba-commissioner-david-stern-has-emergency-brain-surgery https://www.talkbasket.net/60948-ex-nba-commissioner-david-stern-has-emergency-brain-surgery#respond Fri, 13 Dec 2019 07:42:55 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=60948 Former NBA commissioner David Stern had a serious health setback on Thursday afternoon: a brain hemorrhage, followed by brain surgery. Details from The New York Times report: “According to a spokesman for the New York City Fire Department, a 911 call was made at 1:59 p.m. from 9 West 57th Street, just south of Central […]

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Ex-NBA commissioner David Stern has emergency brain surgery

Former NBA commissioner David Stern had a serious health setback on Thursday afternoon: a brain hemorrhage, followed by brain surgery.

Details from The New York Times report:

“According to a spokesman for the New York City Fire Department, a 911 call was made at 1:59 p.m. from 9 West 57th Street, just south of Central Park. Stern was transported to Mount Sinai West hospital. There was no immediate word on his condition.”

The New York Post included these details in its article: “Stern collapsed at the Brasserie 8 ¹/₂ Restaurant on West 57th Street in Manhattan at roughly 2 p.m., according to ABC.”

Stern, 77, served as commissioner from 1984 to 2014.

“NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage earlier today for which he underwent emergency surgery,” the league said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with David and his family.”

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Wilt Chamberlain Archive helps preserve all-time great’s career highlights https://www.talkbasket.net/60769-wilt-chamberlain-archive-helps-preserve-all-time-greats-career-highlights https://www.talkbasket.net/60769-wilt-chamberlain-archive-helps-preserve-all-time-greats-career-highlights#respond Wed, 11 Dec 2019 07:54:00 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=60769 The Twitter account and YouTube channel for the Wilt Chamberlain Archive contains some great video footage of the NBA legend in action during his pro career. For example, let’s start with this video of Wilt’s incredible athleticism on display. Additional footage from the 1970 NBA Finals: The casual NBA fan may recall hearing that Wilt […]

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Wilt Chamberlain Archive helps preserve all-time great’s career highlights

The Twitter account and YouTube channel for the Wilt Chamberlain Archive contains some great video footage of the NBA legend in action during his pro career.

For example, let’s start with this video of Wilt’s incredible athleticism on display.

Additional footage from the 1970 NBA Finals:

The casual NBA fan may recall hearing that Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a 1962 game against the New York Knicks. What some people may not recognize, however, is how great a defender he was, too.

The following video helps illustrate that point.

History lesson

On the Chamberlain Archive’s Twitter feed, fun historical facts are also cited.

To wit:

Wilt Chamberlain in 1967. SOURCE: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

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Anthony Davis doing exactly what he was expected to do for the Lakers https://www.talkbasket.net/60585-anthony-davis-doing-exactly-what-he-was-expected-to-do-for-lakers https://www.talkbasket.net/60585-anthony-davis-doing-exactly-what-he-was-expected-to-do-for-lakers#respond Mon, 09 Dec 2019 08:19:46 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=60585 In 39 minutes and 16 seconds of court time on Sunday against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves, Anthony Davis stood tall. And he made countless big plays to impact the game. Here’s what appeared on the stat sheet after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 142-125 victory at Staples Center: Davis’ 50 points on 20-for-29 shooting, 10-for-10 on […]

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Anthony Davis doing exactly what he was expected to do for the Lakers

In 39 minutes and 16 seconds of court time on Sunday against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves, Anthony Davis stood tall. And he made countless big plays to impact the game.

Here’s what appeared on the stat sheet after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 142-125 victory at Staples Center: Davis’ 50 points on 20-for-29 shooting, 10-for-10 on free throws, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block.

It was a masterpiece.

The inimitable Hubie Brown, a coaching and broadcasting legend, offered his opinion of AD’s brilliant game.

With a 21-3 record, it’s not preposterous to say that the Lakers could make a serious run at the Golden State Warriors’ 73-9 record (set in 2015-16), the best of all time.

Great one-two punch

What’s abundantly clear, though, is that the idea of pairing LeBron James, who had 32 points and 13 assists on Sunday, with Davis was the right strategy for the Lakers after several lousy seasons.

Indeed, they form the league’s best one-two punch at the moment.

In a November interview with Dime Magazine, Davis revealed his thoughts on being paired up with LBJ at this stage of his career.

“Our chemistry is great. He’s been a good friend of mine for a while, and I think this has helped build chemistry for the season. He’s a great player, great basketball mind, and it’s easy to play with a guy who’s selfless and wants to win, and only cares about winning,” Davis told the magazine.

“When you have a guy like that, it makes my job a lot easier. We spent a lot of time as a team in the summertime, so now the team’s chemistry is great. Everyone wants to see everyone play well, everyone wants to see everybody be happy, guys are cheering for each other when guys make plays. We’re a happy team, we’re a team that’s excited for everyone and wants to be successful.”

Dime Magazine also asked Anthony Davis this question: “Is there anything that surprised you about being teammates with LeBron now that you’re together on a day-to-day basis?”

Davis responded by saying, “It’s really how selfless he is. Bron really wants to get other guys involved, he don’t really take that many shots unless he has to — sometimes, he takes one or two shots in a whole quarter, trying to get other guys involved. You don’t really see that … you see it when you’re not on the team, but to be in it and to see that he really cares about his teammates and wants everyone to be better around him, it’s something that definitely surprised me.”

Davis’ answers confirms the fact that he respects King James immensely, both as a player and as a person.

Expect more of the same.

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Shane Battier’s keys to life for athletes after they retire https://www.talkbasket.net/60490-shane-battiers-keys-to-life-for-athletes-after-they-retire https://www.talkbasket.net/60490-shane-battiers-keys-to-life-for-athletes-after-they-retire#respond Sun, 08 Dec 2019 14:37:21 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=60490 According to Shane Battier, there are three things that athletes should focus on after their playing days. In a recent interview with the website Kulture Hub, Battier, who starred at Duke University and played on two title-winning teams with the Miami Heat during his 13-season NBA career, elaborated on this topic. “You have to stimulate […]

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Shane Battier’s keys to life for athletes after they retire

According to Shane Battier, there are three things that athletes should focus on after their playing days.

In a recent interview with the website Kulture Hub, Battier, who starred at Duke University and played on two title-winning teams with the Miami Heat during his 13-season NBA career, elaborated on this topic.

“You have to stimulate your mind, you have to work on constantly improving,” Battier told the website. “That was the fulfilling part of my career, the improvement.”

Battier said the three key concepts are:

Don’t stop looking for new ways to improve.

Relish the journey and the opportunity, not just the endgame.

Stay woke to opportunities and lessons that present themselves.

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Doc Rivers knows LeBron James is far from finished https://www.talkbasket.net/60425-doc-rivers-knows-lebron-james-is-far-from-finished https://www.talkbasket.net/60425-doc-rivers-knows-lebron-james-is-far-from-finished#respond Sat, 07 Dec 2019 13:36:24 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=60425 Anybody who is following the NBA even occasionally this season can see that LeBron James is up to his usual bag of tricks. His overall impact on every Los Angeles Lakers game can’t be overlooked. It’s impossible to do. And so, just a few weeks before King James’ 35th birthday (Dec. 30), let’s look again […]

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Doc Rivers knows LeBron James is far from finished

Anybody who is following the NBA even occasionally this season can see that LeBron James is up to his usual bag of tricks. His overall impact on every Los Angeles Lakers game can’t be overlooked.

It’s impossible to do.

And so, just a few weeks before King James’ 35th birthday (Dec. 30), let’s look again at his numbers in the early stages of the 2019-20 season.

Scoring: 25.6 points (No. 9 in the league)
Rebounding: 7.0
Assists: 10.7 (No. 1)

Perhaps Doc Rivers summed it up best in a feature that appeared on NBA.com this week, while pointing out that LBJ’s decline appears to be years away:

“He’s LeBron James. Until he isn’t,” Rivers declared.

Dominique Wilkins also offered his assessment of this stage of LeBron James’ career in Shaun Powell’s article.

“Nobody knows when it’ll happen to him because he’s still playing in the air,” Wilkins was quoted as saying. “And even when that goes, his basketball IQ will allow him to stay great on the ground. I mean, who gets triple-doubles at his age? Only he knows when his time is up.”

Other viewpoints

James Worthy also weighed in on James.

“It’s different now, with this generation of players. I was eating Burger King before games and working out on Nautilus machines,” the former Lakers star told NBA.com. “I went to college with Lawrence Taylor and I remember him telling me, ‘I don’t wanna get hit anymore.’ And he’s a reckless guy. LeBron will wake up one day and he won’t have that drive. He’ll be tired and while physically he’s in such great shape, something will go away, either a move or speed.”

Steve Kerr, now in his sixth season as the Golden State Warriors coach, believes LeBron James is a one-in-a-lifetime player.

“LeBron is not only a great player but a physical marvel,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told NBA.com. “Probably the best athlete to ever walk this planet. I’ve never seen anybody in my lifetime in any sport whom I would consider a better athlete. It’s one of his best attributes and the one that goes the least noticed. You just take it for granted that he’s out there every night and still doing his things.”

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Bethel High School gym named in Allen Iverson’s honor https://www.talkbasket.net/60064-bethel-high-school-gym-named-in-allen-iversons-honor https://www.talkbasket.net/60064-bethel-high-school-gym-named-in-allen-iversons-honor#respond Wed, 04 Dec 2019 09:53:36 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=60064 Allen Iverson excelled as a Bethel High School basketball player in Hampton, Virginia, before moving on to great feats with the Georgetown University Hoyas and Philadelphia 76ers. On Tuesday, Bethel High honored Iverson by naming its gym the Allen Iverson Gymnasium. The school gym also has a new court named in his honor. The Basketball […]

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Bethel High School gym named in Allen Iverson’s honor

Allen Iverson excelled as a Bethel High School basketball player in Hampton, Virginia, before moving on to great feats with the Georgetown University Hoyas and Philadelphia 76ers.

On Tuesday, Bethel High honored Iverson by naming its gym the Allen Iverson Gymnasium. The school gym also has a new court named in his honor.

The Basketball Hall of Famer attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the gym on Tuesday. There were hundreds of attendees at the event.

“It’s about my family and my hometown, in that order,” Iverson was quoted as saying by the Daily Press, a Virginia newspaper. “Knowing these people love me and respect me and root and cheer and believe in me, that’s everything.

“This place is who I am. It’s what I represent.”

At the ceremony, he also said: “I am Virginia. I am Virginia,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes. “It means so much to me that y’all have been here for me — always on my team, always in the huddle with me, always in the foxhole. We are Virginia.”

A local hero

One of the dignitaries, who spoke before the honored guest, summed up AI’s legacy this way, according to the Daily Press: “Allen Iverson will be remembered for the way he competed with immeasurable heart and determination.”

Bethel executive principal Ralph Saunders also weighed in on Iverson’s role in the community and remarkable basketball career.

“His exceptional talent has taken him all over the world, but he always remembered his hometown and where it all began here at Bethel,” Saunders was quoted as saying. “He’s been giving back quietly and without fanfare, and today we thank him for all he’s done and all he continues to do.”

Teenage troubles

Iverson spent his first three high school years at Bethel High. Then, he was involved in a highly publicized brawl at a bowling alley and spent time time behind bars as a teenager. “He was convicted of maiming by mob and sentenced to five years in prison,” the Daily Press reported, “but Gov. L. Douglas Wilder granted him clemency after three months at City Farm, citing insufficient evidence to convict.” He went to Richard Milburn High School as a senior and graduated from RMHS before heading off to Georgetown to play for John Thompson.

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr endures challenges of steering injury-plagued team in right direction https://www.talkbasket.net/59963-warriors-coach-steve-kerr-endures-challenges-of-steering-injury-plagued-team-in-right-direction https://www.talkbasket.net/59963-warriors-coach-steve-kerr-endures-challenges-of-steering-injury-plagued-team-in-right-direction#respond Tue, 03 Dec 2019 14:17:06 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=59963 Steve Kerr and the injury-ravaged Golden State Warriors are experiencing the opposite end of the performance spectrum this season after five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. The team’s potent lineup from past seasons is not on display this season and the Warriors bench has also been depleted due to departures and injuries. Nobody would’ve […]

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Steve Kerr and the injury-ravaged Golden State Warriors are experiencing the opposite end of the performance spectrum this season after five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.

The team’s potent lineup from past seasons is not on display this season and the Warriors bench has also been depleted due to departures and injuries.

Nobody would’ve predicted that Golden State would be 4-18 through Monday. The Warriors have the most defeats in the league right now, and players used to winning (Draymond Green and others) have reacted to criticism of the team’s performance.

As The Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds reported this week: “After five consecutive years of being No. 1 in the Western Conference — and ending up as NBA champions in three of those seasons — the Warriors are at the bottom of the league. Everyone knows why: Kevin Durant left, Stephen Curry got hurt, Klay Thompson got hurt, D’Angelo Russell got hurt, Andre Iguodala got traded, Shaun Livingston retired, DeMarcus Cousins left … it goes on and on.”

“You can’t have worse luck than they’ve had,’ ” Orlando coach Steve Clifford was quoted as saying by The AP.

The Warriors, of course, have been known as prolific winners during the Steve Kerr era, a pair of 67-victory seasons and a record 73-win campaign in 2015-16.

Now, Kerr recognizes that he’ll be judged by different expectations — because of a different reality based on the team’s roster — this season.

“I think I’ve learned how to be a better coach, honestly,” Kerr told The AP. “I haven’t had to coach a situation like this and it’s a good reminder that every circumstance is different, every year is different. The last five years, we’ve been a championship contender, so it meant that I had to manage the team through the season, prepare for the playoffs and try to get guys rest when we could. This is much more about teaching and developing young players.”

The taste of defeat

Legendary California-based sportswriter Art Spander penned a memorable column a few weeks ago about the Warriors’ current reality, aka the polar opposite of the Warriors’ existence from 2014-19 under Kerr.

It began this way: Bill Bradley knew about winning. He played for the championship Knicks, then was a U.S. Senator. And about losing, failing in bids to become a candidate for president.

”The taste of defeat,” Bradley wrote of his career, “has a richness of experience all its own.”

The Warriors this tormented season will come to know that experience. If they don’t already. Their record, 2-11, is the worst in the NBA. The next four games, starting with Sunday night’s game at New Orleans, are on the road. Another of their few veteran players, D’Angelo Russell, is injured and unable to play.

This is the reality of the NBA, as Steve Kerr has advised several times. The past five years, advancing to the finals each season, were fantasy. The party’s over. “Wake up,” go the lyrics, “all dreams must end . . .”

Awful performance

Another longtime observer of San Francisco Bay Area sports, Warriors insider Monte Poole of NBCSports.com, spelled out the disjointed nature of the team’s play after loss No. 18, a disastrous 104-79 road setback to the lowly Atlanta Hawks on Monday.

Here’s how Poole began his report on the game:

Considering the depths to which they plunged Monday night, politely referred to as the lower bottom, the Warriors can only go up.

Coming 25 points short against a 4-16 team reeling from a 10-game losing streak is Hall of Shame stuff, and the once-proud Warriors (4-18) earned every shred of ignominy that comes with such a performance that concluded in a 104-79 loss to the Hawks (5-16) in Atlanta.

There was an excess of sloppiness, selfishness and competitive arrhythmia that sent the Warriors down by 11 in the second quarter, by 23 in the third and by as much as 28 in the fourth. They generally played less as a team than as a bunch of dudes introduced a few minutes before tipoff after being told NBA scouts would be in the stands, pens and paper at the ready.

Poole then quoted Kerr, who said: “We were trying to dribble through traffic instead of moving the ball. Everybody was trying to make a play, instead of letting the next guy make the play and we just got frustrated. We didn’t have any kind of rhythm or flow to the game…”

It was a microcosm of the season for Steve Kerr’s team.

Championship-caliber teams don’t play this way.

On the other hand, some of the team’s youngsters will be given valuable playing time and greater opportunities to hone their skills. For Golden State, the 2019-20 season will be memorable for reasons different than the glorious five-year period that began the Steve Kerr era.

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American Sign Language interpreter Brice Christianson providing vital service for Milwaukee Bucks fans https://www.talkbasket.net/59868-american-sign-language-interpreter-brice-christianson-providing-vital-service-for-milwaukee-bucks-fans https://www.talkbasket.net/59868-american-sign-language-interpreter-brice-christianson-providing-vital-service-for-milwaukee-bucks-fans#respond Mon, 02 Dec 2019 11:30:19 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=59868 Press conferences are held in all corners of the globe, and media members listen and see what’s said and how it’s said. From press conferences, words and images are then transmitted to the public via traditional media outlets and ever-evolving social media. And sometimes, another approach enters the picture: sign language. This season, the Milwaukee […]

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American Sign Language interpreter Brice Christianson providing vital service for Milwaukee Bucks fans

Press conferences are held in all corners of the globe, and media members listen and see what’s said and how it’s said. From press conferences, words and images are then transmitted to the public via traditional media outlets and ever-evolving social media. And sometimes, another approach enters the picture: sign language.

This season, the Milwaukee Bucks hired American Sign Language interpreter Brice Christianson, 36, to capture the words of Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer from his postgame press conferences, which are streamed live on social media.

Last week, New York Times reporter Scott Cacciola wrote a fascinating story about Christianson, who reached out to the Bucks with an idea for a unique job.

The Bucks agreed, and the ambitious Christianson is now filling a niche and helping more Bucks fans have a greater understanding of their team. By doing so, the Bucks are also raising awareness about communication challenges that members of the hearing-impaired community share.

Serving the community

Cacciola’s stellar article included these details:

Those who advocate greater access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing say that by live streaming Budenholzer’s bilingual news conferences on social media, the Bucks and Fox Sports Wisconsin are shining a spotlight on an underserved community while highlighting the importance of meeting their needs.

“The deaf community always mentions that they struggle with closed captioning,” (sign language specialist Christopher) Rawlings said. “But with American Sign Language, we get full access to our visual language. There’s clarity. It might be a close game, and I cannot wait to see what Brice does.”

More than 500,000 people in Wisconsin are deaf, hard of hearing and/or deaf-blind, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. And while many people who are deaf have strong English literacy skills, Christianson said, some struggle with it as their second language.

Children who can hear typically learn to read by listening to how words sound. Those who are deaf often struggle to find educational programs in public schools that can help them learn in different ways. As a result, closed captioning is not always an effective form of communication, especially as captions do not capture emotion, inflection or tone.

Interpreters, though, can convey all the nuance that captions miss.

“People just seem so excited and astonished that we’re even doing this,” Christianson said.

The Bucks are reaching out to an audience in a way that other sports teams aren’t, and they are attracting a loyal audience — including by those who benefit from having live sign language.. According to The Times article, there’s an average of more than 7,000 views per game for the team’s news conference via social media.

Perhaps the Bucks’ collaboration with Christianson will be a new model for teams across the NBA and other pro leagues around the world.

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Shawn Marion discusses Lonzo Ball, Luka Doncic and his own legacy https://www.talkbasket.net/59328-shawn-marion-discusses-lonzo-ball-luka-doncic-and-his-own-legacy https://www.talkbasket.net/59328-shawn-marion-discusses-lonzo-ball-luka-doncic-and-his-own-legacy#respond Mon, 25 Nov 2019 10:48:26 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=59328 Shawn “The Matrix” Marion, who possesses one of the best nicknames in the 21st century, played the game in his own unique way. His skill set and his versatility set him apart from his peers. Appearing on a recent episode of Howard Beck’s “The Full 48,” Marion weighs in on number of topics. He’s currently […]

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Shawn Marion discusses Lonzo Ball, Luka Doncic and his own legacy

Shawn “The Matrix” Marion, who possesses one of the best nicknames in the 21st century, played the game in his own unique way. His skill set and his versatility set him apart from his peers.

Appearing on a recent episode of Howard Beck’s “The Full 48,” Marion weighs in on number of topics. He’s currently a part-owner of the New Zealand Breakers, and has high hopes for Australia’s NBL to raise its profile and build a better league in the future.

Here’s the episode summary as it appears online: “Four-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA, and NBA Champion, Shawn Marion, discusses RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball, and the NBL as a potential stepping stone to the NBA. He also shares his thoughts on Lonzo and LaMelo Ball as unique players, and their similarities to Luka Doncic. Shawn talks about his own career including his 2008 trade to the Miami Heat for Shaq, his run with the Phoenix Suns, and the 2011 Finals and what it took to shut down LeBron James. Plus, he shares his feelings about his own Hall of Fame eligibility.”

A few of the many interesting segments on the podcast include:

*Marion on Lonzo Ball and Luka Doncic: “Lonzo Ball, I think he has his own, it’s like Luka, they have their own way, they have their own momentum, their own drive, whatever. They have their own pace. … Watching Luka, you cannot speed him up and his sense of court awareness is amazing. And he has another gear he can go. When takes that challenge, he loves that challenge.”

Marion also said that Lonzo and LaMelo Ball both know “how to control the tempo of the game.”

“Is there something special with Luka and (Kristaps) Porzingis?” Beck asked Marion, referring to the team’s re-emergence as a Western Conference playoff-caliber club with the potential to make a deep run in the playoffs.

“Hell, yeah,” he responded with a laugh. “I mean, it’s kind of (hard) not to be excited about it when you’re watching him.”

Doncic impresses Marion

*Additional Marion thoughts on Doncic: “Luka is doing something like right now. … If you was to have an MVP vote right now, he’d have to be in the top three right now candidates for MVP this season. There’s no way of denying it. He’s doing something that’s unbelievable right now for his age…”

Marion continued: “Listen, for a young guy to be that poised on the floor, like, and that confident in a young player is very rare. He has a killer mentality right now. I literally watched him play last year. I watched a game last year. I was, like, ‘Did he really just do that?’ ”

“When was the last time you saw a rookie that made your jaw drop the way that you just described?” Beck inquired.

“Oh my gosh,” Marion said.

“With the ability he has, I don’t think I’ve seen one. I’ve seen a lot of guys with confidence. It’s the difference about having the confidence and the ability to do what he’s able to do on the floor. That’s the difference. A lot of guys are confident and arrogant when they come in. They (think) they are so good and sh– until they get a reality check, and they are playing against some guys that can bust their ass at any time they want. It’s a different mentality, different story then.”

He added: “But to be able to go out there and be as confident as he is in his game and to be able to show it at the level that he is — oh no, I ain’t never seen it.”

Continuing his analysis of Doncic, Marion also declared: “He basically can average a triple-double right now if he wants to.”

Marion’s views of his career

In a career that spanned from 1999 to 2015 with the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers, Marion played the majority of his games with the Suns (609) and Mavericks (361). Marion posted career highs in points (44), rebounds (24), steals (8) and blocks (6).

“Is there anybody in the league that you see now that gives like the vague outline of a Shawn Marion?” Beck asked.

“I actually don’t,” Marion replied. “I’ve mentioned a few guys here and there before, but no because, you know, what I was able to do and how I was able to do it at the time in the league when it was the most dominant position in the league at the time was big men with centers and power forwards. Like anybody at my size, and none of these guys in the league right now currently can do what I did on a regular night-in, night-out basis. They can’t guard those guys. There’s no way. Because the game was more physical then, more it was more physicality…”

Hall of Fame question

Should Shawn Marion be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame?

The versatile forward averaged 15.2 points and 8.7 rebounds as a pro. He impacted the game as a lock-down defender and always came up with blocks and steals.

Beck mentioned a thought-provoking September article written by Micah Adams as a good argument for why Marion should be chosen for the Hall of Fame.

Key passage: “His 2005-06 season is one of the forgotten, truly great individual campaigns. Everyone remembers it for (Steve) Nash winning his second straight MVP award while leading the Suns to 54 (wins) despite Amar’e Stoudemire missing almost the entire season. Nobody seems to remember that Marion was spectacular in his own right, averaging career highs in points (21.8) and rebounds (11.8), and playing over 40 minutes a night en route to finishing in the top 10 in both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year voting.

“Marion did absolutely everything and over a five-year span, which included that stint with the two-time MVP and averaging over 20 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and one block per game. Want to know how many other players in NBA history have ever done that over a five-year period?

“One. Hakeem Olajuwon. That’s it.”

What was Shawn Marion’s reaction to that example being brought up during the podcast?

“Listen, the numbers don’t lie,” Marion said. “I’m one of the four or five guys that only have a certain amount of points, rebounds, blocks and steals. Like, it’s crazy…”

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Pops Mensah-Bonsu inducted into George Washington Athletic Hall of Fame https://www.talkbasket.net/59297-pops-mensah-bonsu-inducted-into-george-washington-athletic-hall-of-fame https://www.talkbasket.net/59297-pops-mensah-bonsu-inducted-into-george-washington-athletic-hall-of-fame#respond Mon, 25 Nov 2019 08:26:42 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=59297 Pops Mensah-Bonsu has been inducted into the George Washington Athletic Hall of Fame. The university held a ceremony to honor its 2019 inductees on Nov. 8. Mensah-Bonsu currently serves as the general manager of the NBA G League’s Capital City Go-Go. “The Hall of Fame is our greatest honor and this group represents a commitment […]

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Pops Mensah-Bonsu inducted into George Washington Athletic Hall of Fame

Pops Mensah-Bonsu has been inducted into the George Washington Athletic Hall of Fame. The university held a ceremony to honor its 2019 inductees on Nov. 8.

Mensah-Bonsu currently serves as the general manager of the NBA G League’s Capital City Go-Go.

“The Hall of Fame is our greatest honor and this group represents a commitment to discipline and excellence at the highest degree,” said Tanya Vogel, GW’s director of athletics and recreation. “Their achievements were made possible through sheer determination, and we look to use their example to inspire our current and future generation of champions.”

In a news release announcing the GW Hall of Fame inductees in August, which was posted on the athletic department website, Mensah-Bonsu’s many accomplishments as a college and pro player were cited.

It stated:

Pops Mensah-Bonsu (CCAS, BA ’06) averaged double figures and led his team in blocks all four seasons at GW from 2002-06. Among the league’s top rookies with 10.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game as a freshman starter in 2002-03, Mensah-Bonsu provided 11.6 points and 5.4 boards in a reserve role en route to being named the Atlantic 10’s Chris Daniels Most Improved Player as a sophomore on GW’s 2004 NIT team. He then averaged 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds as a junior, earning Second Team All-Atlantic 10 and All-Championship Team honors as he helped GW capture its first-ever A-10 Championship title and make the 2005 NCAA Tournament. Mensah-Bonsu cemented his legacy on GW’s banner 2005-06 team, capturing First Team All-Atlantic 10 and All-Defensive Team honors with a career-best 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds. Pops, whose professional playing career spanned nearly a decade in the NBA, Europe and the 2012 Olympics with his native Great Britain, ranks 25th all-time at GW with 1,308 points on 58.4 percent shooting, fourth with 141 blocks and just outside the top 10 with 676 rebounds.

Pops’ thoughts

In an Instagram post on Nov. 16, Pops Mensah-Bonsu reflected on the honor and what it means to him.

“Last week I was blessed with being inducted into GW Athletics Hall Of Fame!” he wrote. “My boy @shawnjamesbk told me not to be too humble as this is a big accomplishment. It’s not in my nature to boast or brag (unless I’m on the court‍♂) but my boy @kha_law told me something that I hadn’t realized until last week. He reminded me that I came to this country in 99’ and played my first NBA game in 06’. In the span of 7yrs I went from playing JV basketball as a sophomore in high school to playing on the best team in the NBA as a rookie. Friday night was the induction, during my speech I had planned to thank many of the people who helped me along this journey but due to the emotions of the moment I missed the opportunity to thank everyone. To those I may have missed, especially the ones in attendance, forgive me for not recognizing you. Know that you played an integral part on my life and career, and for that I love and thank you. Thanks to @meghan.mcpeak and @kay_symonds12 for the production. Documentary coming soon!”

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Luol Deng to run for South Sudan Basketball Association presidency: report https://www.talkbasket.net/59096-luol-deng-to-run-for-south-sudan-basketball-association-presidency-report https://www.talkbasket.net/59096-luol-deng-to-run-for-south-sudan-basketball-association-presidency-report#respond Fri, 22 Nov 2019 12:59:53 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=59096 Luol Deng, whose NBA career spanned from 2004 to 2019, is running for the South Sudan Basketball Association presidency, according to a published report. The website hotinjuba.com this week published a short article with that assertion. An official announcement has yet to be made. This summer, Deng worked at his basketball camp in Juba, South […]

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Luol Deng to run for South Sudan Basketball Association presidency: report

Luol Deng, whose NBA career spanned from 2004 to 2019, is running for the South Sudan Basketball Association presidency, according to a published report.

The website hotinjuba.com this week published a short article with that assertion.

An official announcement has yet to be made.

This summer, Deng worked at his basketball camp in Juba, South Sudan, perhaps laying the groundwork for a presidential bid.

The South Sudan national team has been recognized by FIBA since December 2013. South Sudan became an indepedent nation in 2011.

Deng was born in Wau, which is now part of South Sudan. His family left Sudan during the nation’s long civil war when he was a child. He grew up in the U.K.

He honed his promising basketball skills in the United States as a teenager at Blair Academy in New Jersey.

As a result, he put himself in the spotlight and was recruited by powerhouse Duke University, where he played under legendary mentor Mike Krzyzewski for one season (2003-04).

Luol Deng was the No. 7 pick (Chicago Bulls) in the 2004 NBA Draft. His career included stints with the Bulls (2004-14), Cleveland Cavaliers (2014), Miami Heat (2014-16), Los Angeles Lakers (2016-18) and Minnesota Timberwolves (2018-18).

But the two-time All-Star retired as a Bull after signing a one-day contract in October.

A successful businessman and investor in hotels, resorts and other real estate, Deng has amassed an estimated wealth of $125 million, according to Forbes.

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Hoop of the Day: a celebration of basketball https://www.talkbasket.net/59086-hoop-of-the-day-a-celebration-of-basketball https://www.talkbasket.net/59086-hoop-of-the-day-a-celebration-of-basketball#respond Fri, 22 Nov 2019 09:55:38 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=59086 Rick Telander wrote a timeless book (“Heaven Is a Playground“) in the 1970s, and decades later Dave Severns’ Hoop of the Day, a distinctive pictorial tour guide, is a fun feature on Twitter. It showcases the endless places where basketball is played. Just take the past few days, for instance, where Severns’ Twitter feed shows […]

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Hoop of the Day: a celebration of basketball

Rick Telander wrote a timeless book (“Heaven Is a Playground“) in the 1970s, and decades later Dave Severns’ Hoop of the Day, a distinctive pictorial tour guide, is a fun feature on Twitter. It showcases the endless places where basketball is played.

Just take the past few days, for instance, where Severns’ Twitter feed shows hoops from Hawaii and London, New York City and Belgrade, Italy and the Philippines.

Without showing highlight-reel plays, the Hoop of the Day feature is a cool, interesting celebration of the places where the game is played.

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Mavericks guard J.J. Barea envisions future as a coach https://www.talkbasket.net/58523-mavericks-guard-j-j-barea-envisions-future-as-a-coach https://www.talkbasket.net/58523-mavericks-guard-j-j-barea-envisions-future-as-a-coach#respond Mon, 18 Nov 2019 07:35:56 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=58523 Point guard J.J. Barea is one of two players on the Dallas Mavericks roster with 10 or more years of experience in the NBA. Courtney Lee is the other. Barea is a link to Dallas’ greatest feat in its NBA existence. He’s the one remaining player on the roster from the team’s 2010-11 championship squad. […]

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Mavericks guard J.J. Barea envisions future as a coach

Point guard J.J. Barea is one of two players on the Dallas Mavericks roster with 10 or more years of experience in the NBA. Courtney Lee is the other.

Barea is a link to Dallas’ greatest feat in its NBA existence. He’s the one remaining player on the roster from the team’s 2010-11 championship squad. (After a three-season stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2011 to 2014, he returned to the Mavericks.)

Barea, a 13th-year veteran, has mostly followed the action from the bench this season. He’s appeared in one of 12 Mavs games through the weekend. In that game, he provided a big spark: 11 points and three assists in 15 minutes against the visiting Orlando Magic on Nov. 6.

Barea is working his way back into the rotation after sustaining a right Achilles tendon rupture in January.

In a recent interview with D Magazine, Barea mentioned that he’s grown comfortable in his role as a team leader and a mentor to the younger guys.

“With Dirk (Nowitzki) gone, with Devin Harris not here, now I really feel it’s on me to keep the same example going,” Barea was quoted as saying. “And I’ll even talk a little bit more. I am ready. I’m ready to talk and help call these guys out on sportsmanship.”

He added: “I want to coach after (my playing days). So this is going to really help me.”

J.J. Barea, energetic and hard-working, also revealed that he can see himself playing for up to three more years.

As a result, he said, “I still can move. I still can play. I still can score the ball, and the game comes easier to me now. For sure one more, maybe three. I would love three more. So we’ll see.”

Recovering from a major injury

Speaking to D Magazine, the Puerto Rican sports icon also discussed his Achilles injury and how he’s coped with the challenges of physical rehabilitation.

“I’m glad it happened later in my career,” Barea told the magazine. “I know how to deal with it. I know how to work. But I’m lucky: I’ve got amazing staff here, from the trainers to the doctors to the weight room guys. It was my first summer that I stayed completely in Dallas. I usually go back to Puerto Rico. They took care of me, man. They took care of me from day one. It’s feeling good right now. I’m hooping.”

Asked about being the last member of the 2011 title-winning team still on the roster, Barea responded by saying, “Still here and I’m just enjoying it, man. This is the time of my life. Just older now, and I got kids, family, and I have a great situation. I couldn’t be happier where I’m at. Puerto Rico will always be my home, but I’m planning on staying here forever, you know? I want to raise my kids in Dallas, and my wife loves it.”

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NBA honors Kevin Love for his efforts to raise awareness for mental health https://www.talkbasket.net/58433-nba-honors-kevin-love-for-his-efforts-to-raise-awareness-for-mental-health https://www.talkbasket.net/58433-nba-honors-kevin-love-for-his-efforts-to-raise-awareness-for-mental-health#respond Sat, 16 Nov 2019 11:58:56 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=58433 Kevin Love brings passion and dedication to his job whenever he steps onto a basketball court. The Cleveland Cavaliers veteran forward displays that same passion as an advocate for raising awareness for mental health. Love’s commitment to this worthy cause has not gone unnoticed by the NBA. Earlier this week, he was named the NBA […]

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Kevin Love brings passion and dedication to his job whenever he steps onto a basketball court. The Cleveland Cavaliers veteran forward displays that same passion as an advocate for raising awareness for mental health.

Love’s commitment to this worthy cause has not gone unnoticed by the NBA.

Earlier this week, he was named the NBA Cares Community Assist Award winner for October. The award recognizes “his outstanding efforts to raise awareness, resources and support for mental health,” the league announced in a news release. “The award recognizes an NBA player each month who best reflects the passion that the league and its players share for giving back to their communities.”

The news release also provided the following information:

“In honor of World Mental Health Awareness Day on Oct. 10, Love hosted a discussion and Q&A session focused on mental wellness and reducing the stigma around depression and anxiety for more than 500 Cavs and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse employees. During the conversation, Love shared his own challenges with mental health and donated Headspace mindfulness app subscriptions to employees. He also contributed $200,000 to the Kevin Love Fund for grants to the Just Keep Livin’ Foundation and Bring Change to Mind, continuing his work with the two organizations to encourage a mental health dialogue that promotes understanding and empathy and total health. During the 2019-20 season, Love will again host youth he has inspired through his work at Cavaliers home games and provide additional tickets for local charities.”

“Since March 2018, Love has been dedicated to raising awareness for mental health. In September 2018 he created the Kevin Love Fund, which strives to inspire people to live their healthiest lives while providing the tools to achieve physical and emotional well-being. The fund held a 24-hour social media campaign this October to help end the stigma around mental illness and share well-being resources for youth. Love recently discussed mental health advocacy with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and league executives and participated in several speaking engagements to discuss reducing the stigma around mental health and encourage everyone to live their healthiest life.”

A worthy cause

Kevin Love explained why he devotes his time, money and energy to helping discuss mental health advocacy.

“What started out as a very personal story has turned into an incredible journey that has allowed me to connect with people from all ages and walks of life,” Love said, according to the news release. “Everyone has been affected by mental health in some way, which is why it is vital to continue to normalize the conversation around it. I want to thank everyone that has supported me along the way – my teammates, the NBA, our fans and the entire community that is working so hard to remove the stigma around mental health.”

For Kevin Love, who has experienced panic attacks during his NBA career, this honor can only raise more awareness about mental health.

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Yes, there are Jazz reporters in Salt Lake City https://www.talkbasket.net/58052-yes-there-are-jazz-reporters-in-salt-lake-city https://www.talkbasket.net/58052-yes-there-are-jazz-reporters-in-salt-lake-city#respond Wed, 13 Nov 2019 09:07:42 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=58052 Every now and then, a memo or email or short piece of information provides comic relief from the more serious aspects of our daily lives — including those of us chasing daily newspaper deadlines. The Financial Times provided one of those moments, which made the rounds in various forms (a widely read newsletter and social […]

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Yes, there are Jazz reporters in Salt Lake City

Every now and then, a memo or email or short piece of information provides comic relief from the more serious aspects of our daily lives — including those of us chasing daily newspaper deadlines. The Financial Times provided one of those moments, which made the rounds in various forms (a widely read newsletter and social media, for instance) and happens to involve the Utah Jazz.

So what am I referring to?

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The game within the game: Trae Young puts his stamp on Hawks’ identity https://www.talkbasket.net/58048-the-game-within-the-game-trae-young-puts-his-stamp-on-hawks-identity https://www.talkbasket.net/58048-the-game-within-the-game-trae-young-puts-his-stamp-on-hawks-identity#respond Wed, 13 Nov 2019 08:47:10 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=58048 It’s early in Trae Young’s pro career, but he’s already displayed the athleticism, smarts and jaw-dropping performances time after time to grab our attention. He’s built to win. He’s built to dominate. Exhibit A: Young dropped 42 points and handed out 11 assists against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, sinking 8 of 13 3-pointers in […]

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The game within the game: Trae Young puts his stamp on Hawks’ identity

It’s early in Trae Young’s pro career, but he’s already displayed the athleticism, smarts and jaw-dropping performances time after time to grab our attention.

He’s built to win. He’s built to dominate. Exhibit A: Young dropped 42 points and handed out 11 assists against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, sinking 8 of 13 3-pointers in the Atlanta Hawks’ 125-121 victory.

In short, the 21-year-old Hawks point guard is one of the NBA’s brightest young stars. His electrifying all-around game generates excitement and impacts his team in a positive way.

Ross Kreines, who regularly delivers crisp, intelligent analysis of current NBA players, summed up Trae Young this way on Twitter:

Young is currently averaging 28 points and 8.7 assists through Tuesday.

It’s quite comparable to how he played in his lone collegiate season at the University of Oklahoma, when he averaged 27.4 points and 8.4 assists to lead NCAA Division I in both categories in 2017-18. He became the first player to accomplish that feat before being chosen No. 5 overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 2018, then traded to the Hawks (the draft rights to Luka Doncic went to Dallas).

In a December 2017 game, Young dished out 22 assists for the Sooners, tying an NCAA record.

After that game, Sooners coach Lon Kruger summed up the playmaker’s game this way, according to CBS Sports: “It’s outstanding, of course. His ability to see it, then the skill to finish plays – the fact that he can shoot it well makes people get on him, so he can drive it and kick. He just makes a lot of good plays.”

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Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer achieves another coaching milestone https://www.talkbasket.net/57826-rutgers-c-vivian-stringer-achieves-another-coaching-milestone https://www.talkbasket.net/57826-rutgers-c-vivian-stringer-achieves-another-coaching-milestone#respond Mon, 11 Nov 2019 10:06:50 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=57826 Last week, longtime Rutgers University women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer recorded her 500th victory at the school. The Scarlet Knights opened their season with a 77-56 road triumph over South Alabama on Tuesday. Days later, No. 501 was a runaway victory for the Scarlet Knights against Coppin State, with Rutgers running roughshod in a […]

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Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer achieves another coaching milestone

Last week, longtime Rutgers University women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer recorded her 500th victory at the school. The Scarlet Knights opened their season with a 77-56 road triumph over South Alabama on Tuesday.

Days later, No. 501 was a runaway victory for the Scarlet Knights against Coppin State, with Rutgers running roughshod in a 107-33 Saturday decision.

“This team has worked very, very hard and plays together so well as a unit,” Stringer said, according to The Associated Press, after the win over Coppin State. “That’s a lot of points. It’s unexpected, but they have been so focused on attacking the basket and getting to the rim. We love to see this as a result of that focus.”

Starting in 1971, Stringer coached at Cheyney State and Iowa before taking over at Rutgers in 1995.

Lifestyle changes

Doctors recommended last winter that she needed time away from the game. And so, Stringer, who is now 71, listened to their advice. She needed time to recuperate from exhaustion.

It was a blessing in disguise.

“I was tired and beat up,” Stringer said in an interview with The Associated Press in September. “Not going to reveal what the issue was, but the doctor said, `Stop, you can’t go anymore.’ In a way I knew that I had done everything I could. I couldn’t do any more. Glad that I was given an opportunity to take the break that I needed and relax and come back.”

The AP reported that lack of rest had caught up with her, including these details: “Stringer hadn’t been sleeping more than a few hours a night. She’d been drinking a lot of coffee and taking caffeine pills for years. It all caught up with her before she took her leave.”

Stringer, who entered the season with more than 1,000 career coaching victories, no longer drinks caffeinated beverages. She also stopped taking the caffeine pills, too, according to the AP report.

One of the best ever

C. Vivian Stringer’s remarkable coaching journey is a blueprint for sustained excellence.

Her long list of accomplishments stack up well against her contemporaries — and coaches from any era if you consider the facts.

Here’s a good place to start: “The first coach in men’s or women’s basketball history to take three different schools to the Final Four (Cheyney in 1982, Iowa in 1993 and Rutgers, in 2000 and again in 2007), Stringer has been a pioneer, visionary and leader during her four decades of success on the hardwood,” the 2009 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer’s Rutgers coaching bio reads.

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A quick look at Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving’s sensational dunking ability https://www.talkbasket.net/57823-a-quick-look-at-julius-dr-j-ervings-sensational-dunking-ability https://www.talkbasket.net/57823-a-quick-look-at-julius-dr-j-ervings-sensational-dunking-ability#respond Mon, 11 Nov 2019 09:00:43 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=57823 Here’s something fun to kick off the work week: a Dr. J slam dunk highlight reel. Action-packed footage of Julius Erving doing what he did best can take your mind away from the job’s projects, meetings, to-do lists, etc. And hey, maybe you need a short break from the never-ending stress of work. This just […]

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A quick look at Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving’s sensational dunking ability

Here’s something fun to kick off the work week: a Dr. J slam dunk highlight reel.

Action-packed footage of Julius Erving doing what he did best can take your mind away from the job’s projects, meetings, to-do lists, etc.

And hey, maybe you need a short break from the never-ending stress of work. This just might help — and also give you some entertainment at the same time.

Throughout his career in the ABA and NBA, Dr. J’s aerial creativity and power were impressive. He influenced high-flying Michael Jordan and his successors, too.

So consider this one reminder of Julius Erving’s greatness and brilliance as an entertainer and competitor.

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Marques Johnson visits Don Nelson in Hawaii https://www.talkbasket.net/57819-marques-johnson-visits-don-nelson-in-hawaii https://www.talkbasket.net/57819-marques-johnson-visits-don-nelson-in-hawaii#respond Mon, 11 Nov 2019 07:39:40 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=57819 It’s well-known that Don Nelson has a lot of free time on his hands nowadays. He’s enjoying a life of luxury and leisure in Hawaii. And no, he doesn’t spend half of his “typical” day worrying about the New York Knicks’ pathetic start to the 2019-20 season. (Of course, the Knicks’ awful start was preceded […]

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Marques Johnson visits Don Nelson in Hawaii

It’s well-known that Don Nelson has a lot of free time on his hands nowadays. He’s enjoying a life of luxury and leisure in Hawaii.

And no, he doesn’t spend half of his “typical” day worrying about the New York Knicks’ pathetic start to the 2019-20 season. (Of course, the Knicks’ awful start was preceded by a lousy omen in the offseason, as accentuated by Kevin Durant’s remarks.)

FOX Sports broadcaster Marques Johnson recently caught up with Nelson, his former head coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, and got a tour of the Hall of Fame coach’s home in Maui.

Indeed, Nelson is light years away from his former life as a bench boss from 1976 to 2010, during which he amassed an NBA-record 1,335 victories.

As Johnson observed, Nelson’s mind is no longer consumed with the day-to-day challenges of leading a team.

“You’re not going to remember the coffee, the cigarettes, just pacing up and down the sidelines and the Nellie’s T Club in Milwaukee because you got so many technicals going at the officials,” Johnson said. “But this is a 180-degree change for you.”

Which elicited an interesting reply from Don Nelson.

“Marques, I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” Nelson told Johnson. “I don’t know why I got all these breaks, but I did. It’s not that I’m smarter than anybody, but I did invest my money wisely on Maui. I love Maui. … I fell in love with this island when we played a game here.”

Nelson’s current pursuits include golf and farming.

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Brad Stevens in awe of Spurs’ winning ways https://www.talkbasket.net/57768-brad-stevens-in-awe-of-spurs-winning-ways https://www.talkbasket.net/57768-brad-stevens-in-awe-of-spurs-winning-ways#respond Sun, 10 Nov 2019 15:20:19 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=57768 During the Boston Celtics’ weekend visit to Texas, bench boss Brad Stevens weighed in on the San Antonio Spurs’ sustained excellence. In other words, talk of San Antonio’s streak of 22 consecutive playoff appearances under legendary mentor Gregg Popovich, the Boston Globe reported. “I was 18 years old when this all started,” Stevens told the […]

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Brad Stevens in awe of Spurs’ winning ways

During the Boston Celtics’ weekend visit to Texas, bench boss Brad Stevens weighed in on the San Antonio Spurs’ sustained excellence.

In other words, talk of San Antonio’s streak of 22 consecutive playoff appearances under legendary mentor Gregg Popovich, the Boston Globe reported.

“I was 18 years old when this all started,” Stevens told the newspaper. “I have no idea what the right answer is (to their success) because I haven’t lived it but I would say from afar, they’ve just stayed the course. They’ve had good players, really good coaching, a really good front office. And it hasn’t always been exactly how they wanted but they just stayed the course with it, even through some of the early playoff (exits) and as a result, they have a ton of banners.”

On Saturday, Boston pounced on San Antonio, recording a 135-115 win. The contest was Stevens’ 13th against the Spurs (he has two wins). What’s more, the newspaper noted, the Celtics are 1-6 at the Spurs’ home arena, AT&T Center, during Stevens’ tenure.

“Who enjoys that?” Stevens was quoted as saying, referring to matching wits with Popovich. “He’s great. You learn so much when you watch him. I’m thankful our guys had a chance to play for him (with Team USA) but has anybody enjoyed coming here in the recent past? He and the players have had a lot to do with that but it’s fun to watch them play.”

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Indiana University coach Archie Miller: ‘There’s no load management in college basketball’ https://www.talkbasket.net/57765-indiana-university-coach-archie-miller-theres-no-load-management-in-college-basketball https://www.talkbasket.net/57765-indiana-university-coach-archie-miller-theres-no-load-management-in-college-basketball#respond Sun, 10 Nov 2019 14:13:27 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=57765 Load management is a phrase that won’t go away anytime soon. That said, coaches use different approaches to decide when and how to give players rest. And yes, some coaches aren’t very fond of the aforementioned phrase that’s become part of the sport’s vernacular. A post-game news conference in Bloomington, Indiana, on Saturday illustrates this […]

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Indiana University coach Archie Miller: ‘There’s no load management in college basketball’

Load management is a phrase that won’t go away anytime soon.

That said, coaches use different approaches to decide when and how to give players rest. And yes, some coaches aren’t very fond of the aforementioned phrase that’s become part of the sport’s vernacular.

A post-game news conference in Bloomington, Indiana, on Saturday illustrates this point.

Indiana University head coach Archie Miller delivered this view after the Hoosiers’ 85-71 win over visiting Portland State.

A reporter asked him about forward De’Ron Davis’ limited time on the court in IU’s second game of the season.

Reporter: “De’Ron only played four minutes. Is that just due to load management?”

Miller responded by saying, “Load management? What is that?”

As a follow-up point, the reporter stated, “Coming back from injury.”

Miller: “Load management? Load management, is that something they got going on in the NBA or something like that?”

Reporter: “Correct.”

That prompted a brief dissertation on the subject, courtesy of the Hoosiers mentor.

Miller said, “I think (Los Angeles Clippers coach) Doc Rivers got fined $50,000 for talking about load management. I don’t think I should talk about load management.

“There’s no load management in college basketball. You play every minute you can play. In De’Ron’s case I thought his minutes in the game were pretty good. I told him after the game, he should have got a little bit more run there. The way our team is built now, you have to find a way on the floor with your opportunities and cash in. He’ll do that.

“Load management?”

For basketball purists, load management is a concept as foreign as rock formations on the moon.

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Impressive debut: Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn excels early in season https://www.talkbasket.net/57441-impressive-debut-heat-rookie-kendrick-nunn-excels-early-in-season https://www.talkbasket.net/57441-impressive-debut-heat-rookie-kendrick-nunn-excels-early-in-season#respond Thu, 07 Nov 2019 16:15:14 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=57441 The Miami Heat lost iconic star Dwyane Wade to retirement at the end of last season, but a new star has emerged to help fill the void. Ladies and gentlemen, pay attention to Kendrick Nunn. Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald examined Nunn’s excellent play to open the season in an Oct. 31 notebook. In […]

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Impressive debut: Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn excels early in season

The Miami Heat lost iconic star Dwyane Wade to retirement at the end of last season, but a new star has emerged to help fill the void. Ladies and gentlemen, pay attention to Kendrick Nunn.

Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald examined Nunn’s excellent play to open the season in an Oct. 31 notebook. In short, it’s been downright scary for opposing defenses.

Here’s a key section of Chiang’s article, highlighting Nunn’s overall performance early in the season:

“Nunn’s 112 points to begin the season is the most through five games by an undrafted player in NBA history, surpassing Connie Hawkins’ 105 points to begin 1969-70. In addition, according to ESPN Stats & Info, Nunn is the first NBA player with 100 points in his first five career games since Kevin Durant in 2007-08 (113).”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra gave his take on what’s led to Nunn’s breakout success.

“He’s just taking advantage of all the opportunities, and he’s playing within the concepts of team basketball,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Nunn after an Oct. 31 game against the Hawks, according to the Miami Herald. “He was super efficient tonight.”

Through seven games, Nunn is averaging 18.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

Golden State’s loss, Miami’s gain

Nunn attended the University of Illinois for three years, then transferred to Oakland University in 2016. He sat out a year due to the NCAA transfer rule. As a college senior, Nunn was No. 1 among NCAA Division I players in 3-point shots made per game (4.47 average). He averaged 25.9 points per game, second in the nation.

Last season, Nunn made a big impact for the NBA G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors, contributing 19.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 49 games (one start).

Miami signed him in April, a move that’s paid big dividends so far.

In the Heat’s preseason finale, Nunn put 40 points on the board against the Rockets. And it was a sign of things to come once the regular season began.

Indeed, there’s definitely a buzz about Kendrick Nunn in South Beach and beyond.

Pat Riley, one of the all-time great coaches and team executives in NBA history, found a player who fits in perfectly with the Heat. And maybe, he’s the spark the team needs to make a deep run into the playoffs next spring.

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Dikembe Mutombo appears on The Axe Files podcast https://www.talkbasket.net/57527-dikembe-mutombo-appears-on-the-axe-files-podcast https://www.talkbasket.net/57527-dikembe-mutombo-appears-on-the-axe-files-podcast#respond Thu, 07 Nov 2019 12:20:21 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=57527 Dikembe Mutombo is a world-renowned figure, not only for his lengthy pro basketball career but also for his humanitarian causes. In a lengthy conversation with the retired center, political consultant David Axelrod, who guided Barack Obama’s political career from Illinois to the White House, Mutombo provides insights on his life and his inspiring journey. Indeed, […]

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Dikembe Mutombo appears on The Axe Files podcast

Dikembe Mutombo is a world-renowned figure, not only for his lengthy pro basketball career but also for his humanitarian causes.

In a lengthy conversation with the retired center, political consultant David Axelrod, who guided Barack Obama’s political career from Illinois to the White House, Mutombo provides insights on his life and his inspiring journey.

Indeed, Dikembe Mutombo is a larger-than-life figure, on and off the basketball court. He also devotes his time and energy to big causes.

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Ricky Rubio bares his soul in emotional tribute to his late mother https://www.talkbasket.net/57273-ricky-rubio-bares-his-soul-in-emotional-tribute-to-his-late-mother https://www.talkbasket.net/57273-ricky-rubio-bares-his-soul-in-emotional-tribute-to-his-late-mother#respond Mon, 04 Nov 2019 16:25:14 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=57273 Ricky Rubio details his professional basketball career and his tight bond with family members in a brutally honest essay that was posted on The Players’ Tribune website on Monday. It’s an emotional tribute to Rubio’s late mother. The Phoenix Suns guard points out how his life didn’t just revolve around basketball in the early stages […]

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Ricky Rubio bares his soul in emotional tribute to his late mother

Ricky Rubio details his professional basketball career and his tight bond with family members in a brutally honest essay that was posted on The Players’ Tribune website on Monday.

It’s an emotional tribute to Rubio’s late mother. The Phoenix Suns guard points out how his life didn’t just revolve around basketball in the early stages of his pro career. He explains how important his parents have always been to him in the 3,000-plus word story.

Here’s the intro: “In 2015 I moved into a new apartment that I really liked in downtown Minneapolis, not far from where the Timberwolves played. In the mornings, when the fog cleared, I could look down and see the Mississippi River. The apartment was big, but not too big. I made sure it had two bedrooms so when my mom and dad came to see me, they always had a room to themselves.”

He later explains the family bond this way: “My mom and dad, my family, that’s my team. Always been that way. I love them for it.”

It has been a few years since Rubio’s mother lost her battle with cancer. In the essay, he explains how he’s changed as a basketball player and how his perspective on life is different in 2019 than it was in the past. He also describes the emotional heartbreak that he felt.

He writes: “When someone you love dies, it’s like a fog wraps around you. That’s how it was for me. I felt so directionless. Every year, when I would go back to Minnesota for training camp, I’d begin every day the same way: FaceTiming Mama. The first season after she died, I would wake up and think about calling her. It made me want to break my phone. But I couldn’t delete her number. I even sent her text messages sometimes. I still do. For a while, I felt like I was losing my mind — like I was talking to myself.”

In another poignant passage, Rubio writes: “I went through depression. And I looked at basketball differently after that. I saw life differently. Nothing felt as serious as it used to. You know, like, we are just playing a game…. And sometimes it was a relief for me to just go out there and ball and forget about stuff. But that doesn’t work forever. I felt like I was treading water as best as I could but still drowning. I don’t know how to explain it. And I didn’t know how to fix it alone. I learned that when I finally got help — when I went to talk to a therapist.”

Rubio experienced euphoria at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, helping carry Spain to the the global title in China in September.

But there’s still an emotional void in his life without his beloved mother.

“Basketball is very important to me,” Rubio writes. “But I know I can make an impact on this world in many other ways. I know I can be many other things. And of course, one of them is still being a mama’s boy.

“Every day, I am trying to do something to make her proud.”

By all accounts, Ricky Rubio’s life is a tribute to his mother.

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Great expectations for Seton Hall’s Myles Powell as a senior https://www.talkbasket.net/57209-great-expectations-for-seton-halls-myles-powell-as-a-senior https://www.talkbasket.net/57209-great-expectations-for-seton-halls-myles-powell-as-a-senior#respond Mon, 04 Nov 2019 11:59:06 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=57209 Die-hard college basketball fans aren’t surprised when standouts from perennial powerhouse programs like Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State and Kentucky are included on the preseason award lists. Seton Hall’s Myles Powell doesn’t fit into that category, but he has helped elevate the Pirates to national prominence and raised his own profile, too. The senior guard […]

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Great expectations for Seton Hall’s Myles Powell as a senior

Die-hard college basketball fans aren’t surprised when standouts from perennial powerhouse programs like Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State and Kentucky are included on the preseason award lists. Seton Hall’s Myles Powell doesn’t fit into that category, but he has helped elevate the Pirates to national prominence and raised his own profile, too.

The senior guard is the Big East Conference preseason player of the year.

What’s more, Powell is Seton Hall’s first preseason Associated Press All-American since the news wire established its preseason team in 1986. (The 65-member national media panel also selected Michigan State guard Cassius Winston, Marquette guard Markus Howard, Louisville forward Jordan Nwora and Memphis center James Wiseman.)

ESPN college hoops analyst Seth Greenberg is impressed with Powell’s skill set.

The Pirates are No. 12 in AP’s preseason top 25 poll. They open their season on Tuesday at home against Wagner. Seton Hall clobbered both foes in recent preseason exhibition games, winning 81-52 and 112-38, both times in South Orange, New Jersey, on campus.

Big expectations

Indeed, expectations are high for Powell and his team this season.

Jerry Carino, who covers college hoops for the Asbury Park Press, penned an October feature on Powell that highlights his athletic skills while also detailing how he’s responded to being the Big Man On Campus.

Headline: “Myles Powell, All-American: Senior’s legacy at Seton Hall goes beyond the scoring

Secondary headline: “The Pirates first-ever preseason All-American has one goal for his senior year: ‘I want to make history.’ He knows points alone won’t do it.”

The article began this way:

Members of the Seton Hall basketball team were lingering on the court, basking in the moment after a big win at the Prudential Center last March, but Myles Powell was not among them. The Pirates’ star walked up into the crowd, removed his sneakers and gave them to a young fan who had visited the locker room before the game.

“For him to go into the stands and find that kid, to me that’s a sign of maturity and how big of a heart he has,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “It was awesome, even if it cost me a pair of shoes.”

“That’s a small price to pay for Seton Hall’s biggest star in a generation, since All-American Terry Dehere rained threes for P.J. Carlesimo’s early 1990s powerhouses. Others have possessed more raw talent, but Powell’s rare combination of production, drive and magnetism has the Pirates positioned to make noise on the national stage this winter.

Dedication pays off

As a college freshman, Powell’s path to stardom was no guarantee. First, he needed to make a major lifestyle change.

The New York Post examined that issue in a recent column by Zach Braziller.

Here’s a key snippet of the story:

Powell arrived at Seton Hall in the spring of 2016 out of shape and not ready to play big-time college basketball. He was 240 pounds, looking every bit like someone who had earned the nickname ‘Cheese.’ In his first individual workout, he lasted just 15 minutes. Strength and conditioning coach Jason Nehring dubbed him ‘Butterball.’

“Three years later, the 6-foot-2 Powell is the picture of perseverance, set to become the first player from his family to graduate college and 831 points shy of the Seton Hall all-time scoring mark owned by Terry Dehere (2,494). His decision to return to school for his senior season set the program up for its most anticipated season in nearly two decades, a preseason No. 12 ranking and the Big East coaches’ pick to win the league.

“ ‘I’d say it’s almost like one of those quotes you read in a book,’ Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. ‘If you don’t give up on your dreams and you combine that with hard work, anything’s possible.’ ”

Myles Powell Credit: Twitter/SetonHallMBB

Improvements every year

Powell’s numbers have increased in key statistical areas in each of his three previous seasons. Scoring-wise, he’s raised his average from 10.7 points to 15.5 to 23.1, which was No. 13 in the NCAA Division I ranks and second in the Big East last season. His rebounding average increased from 2.2 to 2.6 to 4.0 per game; his assists rose from 0.9 to 2.8 to 2.9. His total steals increased from 30 as a freshman to 34 to 68. His 3-pointers made rose from 68 to 94 to 107.

A powerful reminder of Myles Powell’s ability and potential to shine at the next level came during a Big East Tournament game in March. What happened? He dropped 29 points on Georgetown in the first half, making 10 of 14 shots.

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Basketball legend Rick Barry launches new podcast https://www.talkbasket.net/57135-basketball-legend-rick-barry-launches-new-podcast https://www.talkbasket.net/57135-basketball-legend-rick-barry-launches-new-podcast#respond Sun, 03 Nov 2019 13:32:43 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=57135 Almost everybody now has a podcast, right? Well, not quite. But the list of prominent individuals with a podcast now includes Hall of Famer Rick Barry. And that’s a good thing. Barry’s knowledge of the game is impressive. He is an articulate analyst. Decades after winning an NBA title with the Warriors in 1975, his […]

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Basketball legend Rick Barry launches new podcast

Almost everybody now has a podcast, right? Well, not quite. But the list of prominent individuals with a podcast now includes Hall of Famer Rick Barry.

And that’s a good thing. Barry’s knowledge of the game is impressive. He is an articulate analyst. Decades after winning an NBA title with the Warriors in 1975, his passion for the game remains infectious.

Barry launched his “Warriors 24” podcast to coincide with the start of the 2019-20 NBA season.

Episode No. 1 debuted on Oct. 25.

“I’m looking forward to talk about the sport I love dearly,” Barry said in a news release. “It’s been such an important part of my life and I’m excited to use this platform to give back to the sport I love.”

It’s quite clear already that Barry won’t shy away from controversy.

Exhibit A: The third installment of the podcast.

Cyrus Saatsaz, a versatile, longtime journalist focusing on the Warriors and other projects, joins the Hall of Famer on the podcast.

Additional info

A quick rundown of the show, according to the news release:

“Warriors 24 is going to tackle the hard-hitting topics affecting the team and association. Are the Warriors still a dynasty? Is the franchise’s decision to go young a step in the right direction? If the Warriors’ 5 year reign as Western Conference Champions is over, who is the new King of the West? These are just some of the questions that Barry, named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, and Saatsaz aim to answer with detailed expertise, sharp opinions and professional insights informing and entertaining fans of the Warriors and NBA.”

I listened to the second episode* and Rick Barry and Cyrus Saatsaz demonstrated excellent knowledge of the current Warriors squad. They have a comfortable rapport on the show.

*”In Episode 2 of Warriors 24 Rick and Cyrus recap the week in Warriors basketball, including their first win of the year which provided possible salvation for supporters of the team. Rick and Cyrus analyzed comments from Stephen Curry and Draymond Green following the Pelicans game where they criticized the media and former players for their commentary of the team,” reads the episode summary on various podcast platforms.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses Wilt, LeBron, Kawhi and sports fandom in Los Angeles https://www.talkbasket.net/56889-arnold-schwarzenegger-discusses-wilt-lebron-kawhi-and-sports-fandom-in-los-angeles https://www.talkbasket.net/56889-arnold-schwarzenegger-discusses-wilt-lebron-kawhi-and-sports-fandom-in-los-angeles#respond Thu, 31 Oct 2019 16:51:29 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=56889 Arnold Schwarzenegger has met countless celebrities in his never-out-of-the-spotlight adulthood. From his body-building days to movie-making days to time spent as Governor of California, his life hasn’t exactly been boring or predictable. As a basketball fan, he’s also befriended Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James and recently become friendly with two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. […]

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Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses Wilt, LeBron, Kawhi and sports fandom in Los Angeles

Arnold Schwarzenegger has met countless celebrities in his never-out-of-the-spotlight adulthood. From his body-building days to movie-making days to time spent as Governor of California, his life hasn’t exactly been boring or predictable. As a basketball fan, he’s also befriended Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James and recently become friendly with two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

With his new movie, “Terminator: Dark Fate,” arriving in U.S. movie theatres in November, it’s natural that Arnold is making the promotional rounds.

What’s unique this time around, though, is the arrival of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, new stars on the revamped Los Angeles Clippers, as part of the promotional machinations. Schwarzenegger stars with them in a 60-second commercial that appears on YouTube.

And with his global fame and social media reach (4.4 million Twitter followers, for instance), the commercial should get massive exposure beyond what it’s already received — 3 million view, as of earlier this week, according to published reports.

Catching up with the Terminator in recent days, the Los Angeles Times’ Arash Markazi penned a column that highlights Schwarzenegger’s connections to basketball in the City of Angels.

Meeting Wilt Chamberlain

It began in 1968, when Schwarzenegger moved to L.A. That also happened to be the summer that Chamberlain was traded to the Lakers, Markazi noted.

“I was working out at the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica and there was Wilt Chamberlain playing volleyball,” Schwarzenegger said, according to the column. “He was a fantastic volleyball player, but that’s also where he would go to pick up his girls. He was a funny guy and we had a great relationship.

“I would go watch him play when he was on the Lakers and we would work out together at Gold’s Gym. He was the only basketball player in those days I saw working out with weights. He did triceps extensions with 180 pounds, which blew us all away. He was so strong. Our relationship extended into making ‘Conan the Destroyer,’ where we worked out every day on set.”

Befriending LeBron James

So how did Arnold Schwarzenegger meet LeBron James? And how did they become good pals?

Here’s what he told Markazi: ““I have been friends with LeBron for many, many years with his involvement in after-school programs. He was always very interested in helping kids. When he was playing in Miami, we had an event in Florida and I asked if he could help with this after-school program and he came and he got involved in donating his money and his time. He was always very generous and we became good friends. When LeBron wanted to start his own supplement line, he and I started schmoozing about it and he let me try it and it was great, so I told him we should market this together and we did.”

Thoughts on the Clippers

Like many sports fans, Schwarzenegger is intrigued by the competitive intensity of the Lakers-Clippers rivalry after both teams famously upgraded their rosters in the offseason.

“They’ve created their own little special thing and that’s really important for the identity of the Clippers,” Schwarzenegger told Markazi. “LeBron has his own thing with the Lakers and I wish him well. The focus is on the personalities this season. With Kawhi and Paul, the Clippers have two of the best personalities, and they’re fun to watch. I’m going to tune in to watch to see if they can pull it off this season.”

As for Leonard’s acting talents, the Terminator summed it up this way, according to Markazi: “Kawhi is great. He’s very funny and very natural on camera.”

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Emmet Ryan explores the ins and outs of European basketball in new book https://www.talkbasket.net/56443-emmet-ryan-explores-the-ins-and-outs-of-european-basketball-in-new-book https://www.talkbasket.net/56443-emmet-ryan-explores-the-ins-and-outs-of-european-basketball-in-new-book#respond Mon, 28 Oct 2019 10:53:45 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=56443 Watching basketball and chronicling its characters, history and results are twin passions for Emmet Ryan, editor of BallinEurope.com. The Irishman is a gifted observer. He also knows how to turn a phrase and to tell the larger tales of basketball across The Continent that resonate with readers (even those who know very little about the […]

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Emmet Ryan explores the ins and outs of European basketball in new book

Watching basketball and chronicling its characters, history and results are twin passions for Emmet Ryan, editor of BallinEurope.com.

The Irishman is a gifted observer. He also knows how to turn a phrase and to tell the larger tales of basketball across The Continent that resonate with readers (even those who know very little about the rivalries and history of the sports in Ireland and Italy, Germany and Greece and dozens of other nations in Europe).

In his new book, “I Like It Loud,” which was self-published in October, Ryan explores the contemporary basketball scene across Europe. He compresses the narrative to a year’s time. In our busy, on-the-go lives, this might’ve been the best time frame to pursue this project.

Author Emmet Ryan

I recently caught up with Ryan to discuss the book and the stories behind the stories. That interview is posted below.

Q&A about the book

When did the idea spring up to pursue a book about such a broad topic as European basketball? Was there an ah-ha moment that convinced you now was the time to do this? And if so, why?

I had been thinking about it for a while. I’ve written two other books in the past that were far more niche, about Gaelic football tactics, but with all the travel for basketball there was an urge to do something around those.

You wrote this on the website — “Back in Munich airport last November, with my luggage gone on a magical mystery tour without me, all I really wanted was to get my hide to Bamberg for a beer. I didn’t make it before closing time that night but it was over those few days where I went from ‘I may write a book’ to ‘I’m writing a book’ as the first six stops of the journey into European hoops were made those winter days.” — so, in essence, did just being out and about fired you up to combined the travels with what you were learning and experiencing?

Well that trip was mad. I was thinking of a book at that stage but was still undecided. My approach was to give it that trip to decide. By the time I left Spain to fly to Germany I knew I was going to do it so that’s when I started working out the broader story I wanted to tell.

Through your reporting and dispatches on big events throughout Europe and the smaller local tournaments you’ve witnessed and chronicled in Ireland, is the book essentially a long-form extension of everything you’ve seen and experienced, but condensed to a one-year period?

A bit of both. There are a couple of chapters explaining some of the madder stuff, like the bizarre history of all the continental competitions in Europe. I try to use the trips to also tell stories related to them not from those specific trips.

“There are a couple of chapters explaining some of the madder stuff, like the bizarre history of all the continental competitions in Europe. I try to use the trips to also tell stories related to them not from those specific trips.”

Influences and inspiration

Are there other year-in-sports books, especially about basketball that have served as inspiration to you or proven to be helpful guides in figuring out how to do this — and also what not to do? Care to mention a few of ’em?

It’s odd but most of my inspiration comes from books on sports I don’t write about. There’s Jonathan Wilson, who has written some amazing soccer books, and a little known one called ‘Before a Fall’ by Lee Daly, it’s a history of Pride Fighting Championships. I look at the likes of those and think about the basketball stories I can tell.

From start to finish, how and when did you do the writing that fills the book’s pages? Was it a daily task you diligently filled for _ months? Was it a couple times a week that you carve out a chunk of hours to write? Done at home? At a secluded table at a quiet cafe or other place away from home or office? Various places?

It was written in so many places. Mostly in Dublin but parts on travels in the U.S. and Europe too. It was basically about getting somewhere I could sit down and write. Including research, it was about a year in work, and many cafés were used. I even gave one near my house a shout out.

Was the finished product originally 242 pages? Or was it something closer to 450? And was there a laborious process of leaving stuff out that you had previously hoped to get in the book?

I cut a lot but I couldn’t put a number on it. There were loads of stories I felt I could only half tell in this book so they all got cut but I will return to them. Early on it was hard to decide what to cut but once I was in the groove I could spot things where I knew I could do a better job later.

What do you hope people come away with after reading the book? Would you say that prompting laughter and shock could occur quite often along with being informed about various aspects of European basketball?

Definitely laughter and shock. I hope they also get to enjoy the different shapes and sizes in the sport here. Hoops in Ireland is so different to Germany but they each have interesting links with their communities.

Favorite stories

Is there a story or two within the book that you think will be considered favorites by a large number of readers? Can you elaborate on this?

I mean the many failures of CSKA Moscow will resonate with a lot of people, there’s also the chapter about Belfast which takes in a lot of the character of Northern Ireland that I don’t want to spoil but I think will stand out to a lot of people.

Approximately, how many basketball players and coaches were interviewed and quoted in the book? Are there a few (and you can name names) who were born to be showcased in a book based on their unique characters, way with words, life journeys, etc.? And who was the most famous person written about in the book?

It’s weird but it’s not quote heavy. I tried to use quotes given publicly or in press conferences, then putting them in context with the bigger stories. I know it’s unusual but I thought that was a better way to tell the stories.

Related to that point, who are three irreplaceable characters in the book? And what made them absolutely essential to the overall narrative?

Two who are brief but irreplaceable: Mikko the Finnish fan in Bilbao and Sega the cameraman in Antwerp. Of the players, probably Kyle Hines.

In cities and towns, before and after games, visits to local pubs and conversations with locals formed a valuable part of your learning about local and regional basketball culture, isn’t that right?

And then some. You can learn a lot about a way a team plays watching on TV or online but it’s going to those towns and cities, meeting the characters around it, and having a few beers, that tells you why it matters. I hope I share some of that in the book.

In your words, what is unique and original about this book?

Well there just aren’t many books about the sport here in English. I think the differences in the sport across Europe, and I only covered a few countries here, will stun people. Plus, I doubt many basketball books mention pubs this much.

Additional comments?

The goal was to write something people with a good knowledge of hoops here and none of the sport at all would enjoy. I hope I have pulled that off, it should definitely be a fun read.

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Jimmy Butler hates to lose https://www.talkbasket.net/55389-jimmy-butler-hates-to-lose https://www.talkbasket.net/55389-jimmy-butler-hates-to-lose#respond Thu, 17 Oct 2019 02:35:09 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=55389 Recently, a revealing portrait of Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler was published in a place you might have least suspected. Ever heard of Haute Living magazine? The lifestyle publication, whose corporate headquarters are in Miami, isn’t the first place NBA fans turn to when it comes to consuming news about their favorite players and teams. […]

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Jimmy Butler hates to lose

Recently, a revealing portrait of Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler was published in a place you might have least suspected.

Ever heard of Haute Living magazine?

The lifestyle publication, whose corporate headquarters are in Miami, isn’t the first place NBA fans turn to when it comes to consuming news about their favorite players and teams. But Haute Living’s October cover story of Butler raises the bar.

The magazine interviewed the accomplished pro in London, where he spent a good chunk of his offseason.

He spells it out quite simply that he’s a hyper-competitive veteran player.

“I hate to f****ing lose with a passion — at anything,” Butler said in the first soul-baring comments of the article. “I can never say that anybody is better than me at anything. It doesn’t register in my mind.”

And then, he said: “Winning is everything.”

After eight seasons in the NBA, with previous stints with the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers, Butler has a track record of being a stellar scorer. He’s a career 16.7 points-per-game scorer, including four straight seasons of 20 or more points per game with the Chicago Bulls (2014-15 to 2017-18).

Despite his many personal accolades since being chosen as the No. 30 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the four-time All-Star refuses to embrace losing as an acceptable outcome.

Focus on improving

“Look, I don’t have a problem with relationships, but winning is damn near everything to me,” Butler confessed to the magazine. “If I lose, I have a problem, and you have to realize that I have a problem whenever I lose, so you have to learn to leave me alone. I don’t want to be talked to; I don’t want to eat; I want to figure out why we lost and how we can fix it. I know it sounds stupid, but to me, winning is more important than breathing.”

He elaborated: “I have always been a fierce competitor, but I haven’t always been like this,” he assures us. “Losing [hasn’t] always bothered me as much as it does now. I realized that I worked so hard to be one of the best at something, and when you put all of that time in, it hurts to f****ing lose. You did all that for no f****ing reason—that’s the part that gets me. If I wanted to lose, I just wouldn’t do [anything]. I’d sit around and just go on vacation 24 hours a day.”

Serious business

Some people insist that pro sports feature adults playing children’s games for a living. Jimmy Butler views his career a different way. It’s serious business. Winning is the target, nothing else.

“Because I don’t like to lose, that’s what I do in my spare time — I study everything: my new teammates, how I can be better, how I can help my new teammates be better, what they’re good at, what they’re not so good at,” Butler told Haute Living. “I’m talking to all of the coaches about the plays that we’re running so I can get ahead of the game. This is new to me, as we all know.”

This summer, Butler received a four-year, $142 million contract from the Heat. To acquire Butler, the Heat were involved in a four-team trade (known in NBA parlance as a sign and trade) that involved the 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers.

‘A family affair’

The magazine reported that Butler departed Philly with positive impressions of the organization.

He put it this way: “Yeah, it was hard. Me and the players were cool, and the people they have in their organization are top-notch — some really good people that I still talk to. Good people in today’s world are so hard to come by. You don’t find them that often, but there are a lot of them in Philly. It was a family affair over there, for real.”

Future plans

Butler has set his sights on becoming an entrepreneur in the future. His passion for wine is a catalyst.

“I’m opening my own winery, for sure,” Butler was quoted as saying. “I was thinking about doing it in Bordeaux until they told me the prices of the land and I was like, ‘OK — count me out of Bordeaux!’ I’ve either got some chips to stack or I’ve got to figure out something else.”

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Memories of first NBA game have faded with time, but some remain https://www.talkbasket.net/54593-memories-of-first-nba-game-have-faded-with-time-but-some-remain https://www.talkbasket.net/54593-memories-of-first-nba-game-have-faded-with-time-but-some-remain#respond Mon, 07 Oct 2019 11:41:14 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=54593 I have a vivid recollection of the first time I attended a Major League Baseball game, but for some reason my memories of the first NBA game I ever watched in person are not as thorough. Maybe it’s because I watched and listened to a lot more baseball in those days. I do recall a […]

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Memories of first NBA game have faded with time, but some remain

I have a vivid recollection of the first time I attended a Major League Baseball game, but for some reason my memories of the first NBA game I ever watched in person are not as thorough. Maybe it’s because I watched and listened to a lot more baseball in those days.

I do recall a few specific details, though. It was during the 1982-83 NBA season, and my paternal grandfather was given a pair of tickets to a New Jersey Nets game. He wanted somebody to go with him, and my siblings and I all wanted to go. I volunteered, I think. Or maybe we flipped a coin. Or picked a number and the closest person to the number he decided upon got the ticket. (I believe I heard my grandpa tell my mother that one of his business clients couldn’t use the tickets because he was going on an annual fishing trip, but he didn’t want them to go to waste.)

Regardless of how it happened, I was excited to have the chance to visit an NBA arena!

I don’t remember who the Nets played that day. Or what month it was. I think it was January or February. I think it was still cold weeks after Christmas.

If my memory serves me properly, it was a Saturday night game. Or maybe a Sunday early evening contest. Yeah, I think it was a Sunday. After all, I seem to recall my older sister being jealous because I got to “stay out late” on the night before a school day. And going to bed early on a Sunday night was almost always the family rule during our elementary school days.

Thanks, grandpa

Anyway, I was 8 years old, or had just turned 9 in the days leading up to the first round of the playoffs. Grandpa joked that going to the Nets game could be considered an extra birthday present.

Who was I do disagree?

After lunch, he drove us to Brendan Byrne Arena (aka Meadowlands Arena) in East Rutherford, New Jersey, to watch the Nets against The Team That I Can’t Remember.

Years later, though, I still remember that the 1982-83 Nets had a talented, versatile team that I saw on TV; mostly, though, I paid attention to New York Knicks game highlights. Among the top players: Buck Williams, Darryl Dawkins, Micheal Ray Richardson and Otis Birdsong plus Darwin Cook and Albert King.

First impressions

My impressions of that first in-the-arena NBA experience are probably similar to yours.

The players looked like giants. They moved swiftly and zig-zagged every which way to start, continue or finish plays. It was impressive.

Williams seemed to grab every rebound in sight. It looked like he timed his jumps perfectly to snatch every rebound. Or outmuscle his opponent to end his chances of securing the ball.

And Dawkins didn’t just dunk. His slams had exclamation points — or was it sledgehammers? — attached to them.

Stars of the backcourt

What did flashy point guard “Sugar Ray” Richardson do in that game? He didn’t have 37 assists and 19 steals, but his pinpoint passes and on-court thievery left a lasting impression in my mind.

To me, a novice fan at the time, shooting guard Otis Birdsong looked like he was the smoothest player on the court. Dribbling at full speed looked as natural as walking and chewing gum. Man, he was talented, I thought to myself. Shooting, too, wasn’t effortless for Otis, but it didn’t look like “work,” either. It appeared as though he knew every aspect of his job, how to outwit his defender and look cool doing it — without any appearance of nervousness. Supreme confidence, others would suggest, and rightfully so.

In June 1981, Birdsong discussed his approach to the game.

”There only is the pressure I put on myself,” he was quoted as saying by The New York Times. ”If I play lousy, I expect people to say I played lousy, but if I play good, I know the fans will respond to me.

”The strongest part of my game was moving without the ball. Sure, I can go one-on-one, but who can’t in this league. I don’t want people to look at Otis Birdsong as a guard who scores a lot of points, but as someone who plays a good all-around game of basketball. I think I’m a pretty good defensive player.”

Lousy timing

The Nets went 49-33 that season before getting swept by the rival Knicks in the best-of-three opening round of the playoffs. By the time the playoffs rolled around, Bill Blair had a whopping total of six games as bench boss. In that span, the Nets won two and lost four.

Blair inherited the head coaching job in early April after Larry Brown resigned to take over as the University of Kansas head coach. The Nets were 47-29 at that time.

Additional memories

I remember that a couple classmates were fired up that the Philadelphia 76ers, led by Julius Eving and Moses Malone captured the 1983 NBA title, and I started to pay attention more closely as they bragged about how awesome Dr. J, Malone and Co. were during their playoff run. There were weekly updates, a few minutes here, a few minuses there — at lunch, during recess and between classes — on how fantastic their games were.

Yes, it piqued my interest in the NBA.

Believe me, I’m not complaining.

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Net from 1970 NBA Finals Game 7 (Willis Reed’s heroic game) auctioned off for $69,184 https://www.talkbasket.net/54146-net-from-1970-nba-finals-game-7-willis-reeds-heroic-game-auctioned-off-for-69184 https://www.talkbasket.net/54146-net-from-1970-nba-finals-game-7-willis-reeds-heroic-game-auctioned-off-for-69184#respond Wed, 02 Oct 2019 09:37:56 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=54146 Owning a piece of NBA history is a special opportunity for some collectors. That was true for the unnamed successful bidder for an item connected to the 1970 NBA Finals, which pitted the New York Knicks against the Los Angeles Lakers. In Game 7 of that epic series, which was held at Madison Square Garden […]

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Net from 1970 NBA Finals Game 7 (Willis Reed’s heroic game) auctioned off for $69,184

Owning a piece of NBA history is a special opportunity for some collectors. That was true for the unnamed successful bidder for an item connected to the 1970 NBA Finals, which pitted the New York Knicks against the Los Angeles Lakers.

In Game 7 of that epic series, which was held at Madison Square Garden in New York on May 8, Knicks center Willis Reed played after a one-game injury absence (right thigh muscle tear) and helped set the tone for the team’s first NBA title.

“I didn’t want to have to look at myself in the mirror 20 years later and say I wished I had tried to play,” Reed told NBA.com decades later.

The future Hall of Famer made the first two buckets of the game, a pair of jumpers, in New York’s 113-99 victory. The consensus description of Reed’s appearance on the court, hobbling and enduring the pain in his leg that day: inspiring. (His defense on Wilt Chamberlain was huge, too. Chamberlain had 45 points and 27 rebounds in Game 6, which the Lakers won. In the series finale while guarding the all-time great, Reed limited him to 2-for-9 shooting while defending him; Wilt finished with 21 points.)

Special memento

And now, a connection to that memorable game has been passed on to a new owner.

The back story: After the Knicks’ Game 7 win, one of the two baskets’ nets was presented to Knicks bench boss Red Holzman. The special memento remained in his family’s hands until Holzman died in 1998. And then it was given to Willis Reed’s family.

Now, it’s a new era, and the Reed family decided to part with the iconic net.

Reed, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982, is now 77 years old.

Recently, SCP Auctions put the net up for auction. Bidding ended on Sept. 28, with 26 bids being placed. The minimum bid was $3,000. The winning bid was $69,184.

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Examining Tom Shirley’s remarkable coaching career https://www.talkbasket.net/53345-examining-tom-shirleys-remarkable-coaching-career https://www.talkbasket.net/53345-examining-tom-shirleys-remarkable-coaching-career#respond Mon, 23 Sep 2019 16:55:53 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=53345 Philadelphia-based sports reporter Matt Leon introduces the latest episode of his podcast (“1-On-1 With Matt Leon”) on longtime women’s college basketball coach Tom Shirley with an appropriate description: “model of consistency.” What has made him consistent? What has made him passionate about his job for decades? Shirley is entering his 31st season at the helm […]

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Examining Tom Shirley’s remarkable coaching career

Philadelphia-based sports reporter Matt Leon introduces the latest episode of his podcast (“1-On-1 With Matt Leon”) on longtime women’s college basketball coach Tom Shirley with an appropriate description: “model of consistency.”

What has made him consistent?

What has made him passionate about his job for decades?

Shirley is entering his 31st season at the helm for the Jefferson University Rams. He landed the coaching gig in 1989 at Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science, which became known as Philadelphia University in 1999. (Philadelphia’s merger with Jefferson University occurred in 2017. Both institutions of higher learning were established in the 1800s.)

Shirley has a 777-351 overall record, first running the show for DeSales (Pa.) University at the NAIA and NCAA Division III ranks from 1981-89.

Leading the NCAA Division II Rams, Tom Shirley is 628-278, including a school record 29-victory campaign — against three defeats in 2018-19. Under his leadership, the Rams have produced 22 seasons with 20 or more victories.

What’s more, they had 25 straight winning campaigns, from 1991-92 to 2015-16.

Asked about his longevity and if it “seems possible” that he’s had the job this long, Shirley responded by saying, “No, it seems like I was 26 yesterday … and I don’t know where the years went.”

Shirley’s mindset

Approaching another season, Shirley describes what lies ahead in runner’s language.

“Well, we kind of talk about the terminology of sprinting and jogging and walking,” he told Leon on the podcast.

“And now (in September) we’re in the sprint mode,” the coach/athletic director said.

Early on in the podcast, Leon asked him: “When did coaching becoming something that you thought would be a direction?”

His response: “I really didn’t think it was when I left college in ’76. I graduated from Allentown College (now DeSales).”

Tom Shirley credit: philadelphia.cbslocal.com

Becoming a coach

After college, he revealed, he worked for Ford Motor Company for about 4 1/2 years “because my father told me that’s what I should do.”

He continued: “I really didn’t like the corporate concept. I didn’t like the fact that I’d have to move. I kind of knew I was going to stay a neighborhood guy, and I wrote letters to school saying I just want to be in athletics. I want to do something in sport, and the next thing you know Father (Daniel G.) Gambet, who was the president of Allentown College, called me and said he had an opening for athletic director.”

It was a phone call that changed his life, leading to a career in sports.

Like anyone else, Tom Shirley learned on the job.

“I don’t think that the very first year or second year I knew that I wasn’t very smart, and I just kind of incorporated some basic things that I learned in high school, learned in college,” he noted.

It took Shirley a couple years to grasp that “it’s all about recruiting.”

Incorporating the coaching styles of Philly coaching legend Herb Magee (1,096 career wins entering the 2019-20 campaign), the men’s bench boss for Philadelphia Textile/Philadelphia/Jefferson since 1967, and others helped Shirley develop his own system.

“In my third or fourth year is when I really started to realize that I had to get smart and lean on other people and do some recruiting,” said Shirley.

In a results-based business, Shirley thrives on the daily measuring stick of having results out in the open.

“The thing I like about this the most is if I was to be car salesman, it may take me three months to finalize a deal,” Shirley related. “These deals are closed in 90 minutes, so you know at the end of the day — you won or you lost. And that’s how you’re judged, winning or losing. I like that part of it.”

A winning recipe

“If you have the right players in the right positions running the right stuff, you are going to be successful,” Shirley commented.

The 42-minute podcast episode can also be accessed via this link: https://kywnewsradio.radio.com/media/audio-channel/tom-shirley-model-consistency

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Another honor for the immortal Jerry West https://www.talkbasket.net/52724-another-honor-for-the-immortal-jerry-west https://www.talkbasket.net/52724-another-honor-for-the-immortal-jerry-west#respond Sat, 14 Sep 2019 04:05:22 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=52724 Jerry West achieved basketball immortality decades ago. Every once in a while, though, we are reminded of his incredible credentials and feats and lasting impact on the NBA landscape. Example: Vlade Divac’s Basketball Hall of Fame speech last weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts. As the Serbian center noted, West brought him to the Lakers, helping set […]

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Another honor for the immortal Jerry West

Jerry West achieved basketball immortality decades ago.

Every once in a while, though, we are reminded of his incredible credentials and feats and lasting impact on the NBA landscape.

Example: Vlade Divac’s Basketball Hall of Fame speech last weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts. As the Serbian center noted, West brought him to the Lakers, helping set in motion the influx of international players to the NBA.

Wise move, Jerry.

Yes, West had an amazing career as a player and will always be known as one of the greatest front office executives (Lakers, Grizzlies, Warriors, Clippers) in the game.

So it’s an appropriate time to celebrate his career in all its facets. (The Presidential Medal of Freedom, given to West earlier this month, goes well with The Logo’s long list of achievements.)

Great One Award

Which is why it’s nice to see that the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation will honor Jerry West with its Great One Award. The late, legendary sports columnist chronicled West’s remarkable playing career, coaching career and front-office career for decades.

And now, the 1980 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee will join a who’s who of sports luminaries who’ve been given the Great One accolade in the past: Arnold Palmer, Joe Namath, Chris McCarron, Bobby Rahal, Duke Snider, Sugar Ray Leonard, Rick Reilly, Luc Robitaille, Tommy Lasorda, Rosie Grier and Lynn Swann.

The award is presented annually “to a sports figure (athlete, coach, writer) who not only excelled in their field but went above and beyond their role in sports,” according to a JMMF news release.

In 1993, Jim Murray wrote the following poignant observations of West, summing up his unique skill set and personality:

“Jerry West, with such fantastic peripheral vision, it was said he could see his ears. He was such a bundle of endless energy no one ever saw him in repose. Even his conversation was so high-octane and in such a nonstop, sing-song hillbilly twang that the Lakers called him ‘Tweety-bird.’ Jerry always looked as if he just sat down on a hot plate and was hurrying off looking for relief. He was so slat-thin, you could mail him home, but he was a dervish on the floor. He cut so fast and darted so unexpectedly that the man guarding him always looked as if he were trying to catch a feather on a big wave. Jerry West could do everything Michael Jordan could do and his 25,192 career points (sixth-best all-time) prove it.”

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Hall of Famer Al Attles always had his priorities straight https://www.talkbasket.net/52313-hall-of-famer-al-attles-always-had-his-priorities-straight https://www.talkbasket.net/52313-hall-of-famer-al-attles-always-had-his-priorities-straight#respond Mon, 09 Sep 2019 09:03:14 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=52313 Al Attles returned to the spotlight during last weekend’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts. Usually, he’s comfortable out of the spotlight. But this was an occasion to recognize — and celebrate — his decades of service, his dedication, his commitment to the Golden State Warriors and the Bay Area community at […]

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Hall of Famer Al Attles always had his priorities straight

Al Attles returned to the spotlight during last weekend’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Usually, he’s comfortable out of the spotlight.

But this was an occasion to recognize — and celebrate — his decades of service, his dedication, his commitment to the Golden State Warriors and the Bay Area community at large.

As a player, player-coach, coach, front-office executive and team ambassador, Attles, now 82, has been involved with the franchise since being selected by the then-Philadelphia Warriors in the fifth round (39th overall pick) of the 1960 NBA Draft.

Many articles will highlight Attles’ on-court toughness and his coaching acumen, but this is an opportunity to also underscore his personal touch.

In a revealing portrait that appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, Alvin Attles III wrote about what he’s learned from his father over the years.

“Many people see only his accomplishments as a player, coach, and executive,” he wrote. “All my life, my family and I have seen a Hall of Fame man. His wise counsel, his unwavering loyalty, his great sense of humor, his deep compassion for others.”

In January 1982, Attles became the sixth head coach in NBA history with 500 or more career coaching victories. The others: Dick Motta, Gene Shue, Jack Ramsay, Red Auerbach and Red Holzman.

That same month Roy S. Johnson penned a profile of Attles for The New York Times.

“His strength as a coach can be traced to his ability to communicate with, handle and judge the variety of persons with whom he deals,” Johnson wrote.

Warriors guard Al Attles circa 1970. PUBLIC DOMAIN

What matters most

Memorabilia are special reminders of one’s career, but Al Attles always cherished his family more than anything else.

Just ask his son, who provided the following details in his Mercury News story:

In 1991, Oakland suffered a devastating Hills fire. I vividly remember racing to my parent’s home under ashen clouds, sirens filling the air. I ran into the house and asked my mom what I should rescue from the house.

My mom suggested I gather all of my father’s trophies and mementoes, so I grabbed as many as I could and began rushing back and forth to the car.

“Alvin,” my father yelled, stopping me in my tracks.

“Yeah, dad.”

“Leave all that. Those trophies and basketballs don’t mean anything. Get the family photo albums.”

I ran and collected all the family photo albums and put them in my car. Our house didn’t burn; we were among the fortunate. But my dad’s priorities even in a potentially life-changing situation, left a deep impression on me.

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Doc Rivers’ passion for coaching https://www.talkbasket.net/51508-doc-rivers-passion-for-coaching https://www.talkbasket.net/51508-doc-rivers-passion-for-coaching#respond Sun, 01 Sep 2019 11:43:39 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=51508 The subject of Doc Rivers taking a year off from coaching after he left the Boston Celtics in 2013 appeared in an article this weekend. Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe presented the topic in his latest Sunday Basketball Notes article. The timing of the subject coincided with the Los Angeles Clippers coach’s upcoming visit […]

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Doc Rivers’ passion for coaching

The subject of Doc Rivers taking a year off from coaching after he left the Boston Celtics in 2013 appeared in an article this weekend.

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe presented the topic in his latest Sunday Basketball Notes article.

The timing of the subject coincided with the Los Angeles Clippers coach’s upcoming visit to Boston for the ABCD Hoop Dreams, an annual charity event. The Globe writer noted that upon Doc’s departure from Boston there was the belief that he would work as a broadcaster or follow the path of many of his coaching peers and take a sabbatical (aka a year off) between gigs. Instead, he is entering his 21st consecutive season as an NBA bench boss.

Rivers, who began his head coaching career with the Orlando Magic in 1999, addressed the issue in Washburn’s story.

“Honestly, you don’t get do-overs and my last year in Boston, when I was thinking about taking a break, I still don’t know if I should have or not but I probably should have when you think back,” Rivers was quoted as saying. “But that first year with the Clippers was phenomenal. But as that went on and it didn’t work as winning a title, you could make a case that it wouldn’t have been a bad time to take a year (off). Then we get these teams the last two years and it rejuvenated me. So I am as keen on my job as I may have ever been.

“Those guys gave me life again. They gave me enjoyment. I don’t know what it was I didn’t have. We all go through this. But it’s the guys that give you that energy. What I learned is don’t let anyone take away something you love and the joy you get from that.”

On Kawhi’s role

Rivers also addressed the issue of newcomer Kawhi Leonard’s expected role with the Clippers, a season after the 2018-19 NBA champion Toronto Raptors employed a “load management” schedule for the star forward. This kept him out of 22 regular-season games.

In Rivers’ opinion, resting players is important, but doesn’t take away his team’s ever-present focus on being competitive.

“We’re going to sacrifice minutes, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to expect to lose,” Rivers said, according to The Boston Globe.

“You remember in Boston we went on a whole three-game (trip) and I actually left Paul (Pierce) and Ray (Allen) and Kevin (Garnett) home. And we still won. You can sit players — Toronto was a great example, they sat Kawhi, but they still won games. You can never give away games, but you can absolutely sacrifice minutes played, for sure.

“It’s amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever been in involved in one conference where there are literally six teams that could win the title. I know we want to win as many games as possible, that’s No. 1, and get the best seeding as possible, that’s No. 2. But we have to be as healthy as possible, that’s No. 3, and it’s not in that order. Because one thing that I think every coach knows, it doesn’t matter what your seeding is if you’re not healthy. You’re not winning.”

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Marc Gasol’s appreciation for sustained excellence https://www.talkbasket.net/51502-marc-gasols-appreciation-for-sustained-excellence https://www.talkbasket.net/51502-marc-gasols-appreciation-for-sustained-excellence#respond Sun, 01 Sep 2019 10:53:59 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=51502 The euphoria of winning an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors hasn’t faded from his memory, but Marc Gasol is now focused on Spain’s ongoing FIBA World Cup competition. Even so, the veteran big man doesn’t run out of compelling things to say about being a champion, his friendly rivalry with older brother, Pau, and […]

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Marc Gasol’s appreciation for sustained excellence

The euphoria of winning an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors hasn’t faded from his memory, but Marc Gasol is now focused on Spain’s ongoing FIBA World Cup competition.

Even so, the veteran big man doesn’t run out of compelling things to say about being a champion, his friendly rivalry with older brother, Pau, and how his perspective changed when the Raptors conquered the Golden State Warriors in June.

Gasol addressed these issues in a revealing interview with NBA maven Marc Stein of The New York Times that was published earlier this week.

“How is your brother Pau taking it that there are two NBA champions in the family now?” Stein asked.

That question elicited this interesting response from Gasol:

“He keeps saying that he has two rings. I just say, ‘Maybe you have two, but I celebrated mine like it’s five, so I beat you on that one.’

“I didn’t know that I cared that much — that it fulfilled me in a way that I didn’t know it could. Instantly you gain so much respect for everyone who has done this. Golden State, going to five straight finals and the rings that they have, I just instantly got so much respect for them. And LeBron going to eight finals in a row. Just doing it once put me beyond the limits I thought I had — physically and mentally. It was great to see, for myself, pushing those limits and leaving everything out there. It was awesome.”

Gasol can’t hide the immense pride he feels about representing and leading Spain on the global stage.

“…It’s a great feeling to play with these guys, and you only get a few opportunities to do so,” Gasol told The Times. “To me it’s an honor to lead these guys in every way possible. I cherish every second.”

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Larry Brown dishes out a lifetime of basketball stories https://www.talkbasket.net/48217-larry-brown-dishes-out-a-lifetime-of-basketball-stories https://www.talkbasket.net/48217-larry-brown-dishes-out-a-lifetime-of-basketball-stories#respond Mon, 22 Jul 2019 10:16:21 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=48217 In an incredibly revealing interview lasting 90 minutes, legendary coach Larry Brown looks back on his unique career. On the “Catch & Shoot” podcast, Brown covers a lot of ground — decades of stories, too. Dean Smith and Frank McGuire, Michael Jordan and Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford, […]

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Larry Brown dishes out a lifetime of basketball stories

In an incredibly revealing interview lasting 90 minutes, legendary coach Larry Brown looks back on his unique career.

On the “Catch & Shoot” podcast, Brown covers a lot of ground — decades of stories, too.

Dean Smith and Frank McGuire, Michael Jordan and Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, Donnie Walsh and Doug Moe, Larry Bird and Julius Erving, Rick Barry and Chauncey Billups, Dikembe Mutombo and Eric Snow, Boris Diaw and Raymond Felton, Darko Milicic and Billy King. These are just some of the individuals Brown mentioned in a wide-ranging conversation last week with “Catch & Shoot” hosts Adam Stanco and Noah Coslov.

Brown, now 78, is recovering from his fourth hip surgery. He last worked as FIAT Turin bench boss.

He recently visited Las Vegas to watch the Utah Jazz play in the NBA Summer League.

“I learned a lot,” Brown said on the podcast, “even though I don’t understand the game anymore. It’s a different game, but it was great being around Quin (Snyder) and his staff and watching the players.”

He added: “I’m trying to figure out what to do next.”

Current goals

“What do you want to do next?” he was asked.

“I’d like to do what Tex Winter and Johnny Bach and Pete Carril did — you know, go to some (NBA) team and help young players and maybe young coaches,” the Naismith Memorial basketball Hall of Fame mentor said. “But I think the game has changed so much that I don’t think they’d put a lot of stock in older guys, the value of old coaches, so I don’t really know.

“I get to watch a lot of people that have been important in my life that I coached or played for me, and they invited me, they always invite me to watch them practice and give my ideas, and I’m the one that always learns. I spent two years in Philly watching (Villanova’s) Jay Wright coach, which was an unbelievable experience in a positive way and got to see some other Philly guys, so that was fun. But I just have been with so many great coaches, and I’d kind of like to share what I was taught with some of these young players.”

How the game has changed

Asked what he doesn’t understand about the game anymore, Larry Brown offered this perspective: “Well, I think players are playing too young. If you look around now, the culture of the game, I don’t mind guys coming out like they come out in baseball after high school, you could play tennis or golf when you’re young or be a musician. But basketball is different. Years and years ago, if you look at the benches of NBA teams, they were with veteran players and when the veterans got a chance to play, they were prepared to play and it was all about winning. Now we get these 19-year-old kids and everybody is drafting them based on their athleticism and potential, and I don’t know if they’re all ready. I don’t know if they all understand how to play and I don’t think it’s their fault.

“When you go to college now and you play one year, people put you in a system and they really don’t get a chance to really teach you.

“My first coaching job, I was a freshman coach at North Carolina. You didn’t even play until after your freshman year, and that whole year was spent on fundamentals. Now the young kids go to teams that most of the time the best prospects go to teams with losing records. … And I think they’re put in a real difficult situation and I don’t think it’s their fault.”

He went on: “…It’s a video game now, the 3-point shot, the bad shots, the way the game is refereed now Allen would average 50 and Michael Jordan. You can’t even get near a guy, and it’s really hard to guard. Shot selection is different. This analytics, I trust all the information you can get to me is great, but I was doing analytics when I was 14 years old. I was taught to look at a stat sheet and know what a good shot was and what a bad shot was and the fact that we had to get to the free-throw line a lot, we had to take a high-percentage shot, we had to take care of the ball, we had to guard our own man, we had to get back on defense. We had to make our teammates better — do what we did best.

“Now I think there’s so many analytics that are taking place that people are forgetting what kids are cut inside, what their heart is like. And the greatest quality, I think, is when you’re a coach and you don’t have to beg a guy to play hard. How do you evaluate that? Coaches that have to coach effort usually don’t last long.

“So I don’t know. I admire the ability of guys. When I watch Golden State play, I’m just mesmerized by the way the ball moves and the way each guy makes sacrifices for one another, but not everybody can play like Golden State. They have five guys that can get a rebound and initiate the fast break and they are all willing passers. I don’t see that. I don’t see the ball going inside, and when I was taught to play, if you got the ball inside you had a chance to get fouled, you had a chance to take a high-percentage shot, you had a chance to get an offensive rebound, and the last thing: you had a chance to get back on defense, and transition defense was vital. So I don’t know. It’s just different.”

A lifetime of reflections

A large segment is devoted to Allen Iverson, which provides fascinating reflections on their unique relationship.

One snippet: “Allen, I mean, so many people just loved this guy, and they had reason to because you know the passion of the fans in Philly. When you walk on the court in the arena in Philly and you see what Allen did night in and night out, knowing what he was going through physically, to not love him you had to be really callous, to not appreciate what he was trying to do. And all the players I coached would always ask me about guys like David Robinson, like David Thompson, I would always bring up players that I coached and admired in the qualities that they had…”

Toward the end of the interview, Brown admitted he’s been fortunate to have endless opportunities in the game. “It’s even hard to imagine how lucky I’ve been,” Brown said. “You know, I coached at Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, SMU. I mean, how many guys get to do that? Start in the (ABA), coach AAU, be involved with so many Olympic teams and on the Olympic team (1964 Tokyo Games). I mean, it’s just remarkable how my life turned out the way it was, because I wanted to be a high school history (teacher) and coach baseball, basketball and football, and all of a sudden, I look back on what I was allowed to do, and it was crazy…”

Show summary

Pure Hoops Media summed up the episode this way on the podcast’s website: “Larry Brown has done more in coaching than almost anyone … ever. He spent a solid 90 minutes with Noah Coslov and Adam Stanco. They talked in depth about his relationship with Allen Iverson, his many coaching stops, Broadway shows, cars, Coach Dean Smith, his history with Gregg Popovich, Rick Barry, and many others. As Coach Brown told the guys, ‘some coaches have a coaching tree, I have a forest.’ His recall of details from 60 years of playing and coaching is remarkable.”

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Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf continues to defy Father Time https://www.talkbasket.net/48099-mahmoud-abdul-rauf-continues-to-defy-father-time https://www.talkbasket.net/48099-mahmoud-abdul-rauf-continues-to-defy-father-time#respond Sun, 21 Jul 2019 08:47:27 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=48099 Former NBA guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf still displays remarkable basketball skills at age 50. And he does it competing against many players twice as young in the BIG3. Take a look at this recent game highlight to illustrate that point. Before he was effectively blackballed from the NBA for his personal beliefs, the ex-Louisiana State star […]

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Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf continues to defy Father Time

Former NBA guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf still displays remarkable basketball skills at age 50. And he does it competing against many players twice as young in the BIG3.

Take a look at this recent game highlight to illustrate that point.

Before he was effectively blackballed from the NBA for his personal beliefs, the ex-Louisiana State star (formerly known as Chris Jackson) was an electrifying talent. He continued to play well into his 40s in overseas leagues, and insisted time and again he didn’t regret his decision to not stand for the national anthem while he played in the NBA.

Hard-core hoop fans have recognized that Abdul-Rauf had a remarkable shooting touch and flair for the game.

Comments below one YouTube video provided a vivid example.

“One of my all-time favorite players,” the person wrote. “Fun fact. He is the NBA ‘s all-time leader in free-throw percentage at 90.5. Now if you look this up in the record books, the NBA list Steve Nash as number one with 90.43. They list Mark Price second at 90.39. The NBA implemented a rule that read, a play must have at least 1,200 free throw attempts to be considered for the record. Rauf had 1,161 attempts.”

The updated list through the end of the 2018-19 season now shows Steph Curry at No. 1 (90.47 percent).

Others, of course, simply appreciate that Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was — and still is — an exceptional shooter.

“I was fortunate enough to see him in Denver in 1994. I swear he hit about 50 in a row in warmups,” another person wrote in the video’s comments section.

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30 years since Detroit Pistons captured their first NBA title https://www.talkbasket.net/48000-30-years-after-detroit-pistons-captured-their-first-nba-title https://www.talkbasket.net/48000-30-years-after-detroit-pistons-captured-their-first-nba-title#respond Sat, 20 Jul 2019 10:33:32 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=48000 Time flies, and anniversaries can help us recall what happened before. Such is the case with the 1989 NBA Finals, with the Detroit Pistons winning the title by sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers. So where’s this cast of title-winning characters 30 years later? In a recent feature, Vintagedetroit.com tackles this question. The website takes a […]

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30 years since Detroit Pistons captured their first NBA title

Time flies, and anniversaries can help us recall what happened before. Such is the case with the 1989 NBA Finals, with the Detroit Pistons winning the title by sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers.

So where’s this cast of title-winning characters 30 years later?

In a recent feature, Vintagedetroit.com tackles this question.

The website takes a brief look at the feats of the following in the years after the 1988-89, providing updates on where they are today: Mark Aguirre, Adrian Dantley, Darryl Dawkins, Fennis Dembo, Joe Dumars, James Edwards, Steve Harris, Vinnie Johnson, Bill Laimbeer, John Long, Rick Mahorn, Pace Mannion, Dennis Rodman, Jim Rowinksi, John Salley, Isiah Thomas, Micheal Williams, Chuck Daly and Jack McCloskey.

In the Motor City, for example, Johnson “has operated several successful businesses while providing jobs in the inner-city, “the article reported.

And John Long has kept busy as a radio analyst for the Pistons for more than two decades.

Mahorn is coaching in the BIG3.

Thomas, of course, has had a number of high-profile jobs over the years. He now serves as team president of the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

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Mexican basketball pioneer Horacio Llamas seeks broader opportunities to teach, promote the game https://www.talkbasket.net/47786-mexican-basketball-pioneer-horacio-llamas-seeks-broader-opportunities-to-teach-promote-the-game https://www.talkbasket.net/47786-mexican-basketball-pioneer-horacio-llamas-seeks-broader-opportunities-to-teach-promote-the-game#respond Thu, 18 Jul 2019 13:38:12 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=47786 More than two decades after his final NBA game, Horacio Llamas maintains a never-ending desire to teach and promote the game in his native Mexico. In an exclusive interview with Talkbasket.net this week, the basketball pioneer discussed his experiences working with Mexican youth in recent years and his hope to secure a more prominent role […]

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Mexican basketball pioneer Horacio Llamas seeks broader opportunities to teach, promote the game


More than two decades after his final NBA game, Horacio Llamas maintains a never-ending desire to teach and promote the game in his native Mexico.

In an exclusive interview with Talkbasket.net this week, the basketball pioneer discussed his experiences working with Mexican youth in recent years and his hope to secure a more prominent role in basketball in the future.

“For many years now I’ve been doing work with NBA Mexico, helping with the Jr. NBA, Basketball Without Borders and different events the NBA does in Mexico,” said Llamas who turned 46 on July 17.

He added: “I really would love to work permanently with the NBA not only in my country and Latin America, but helping kids around the world.”

The El Rosario, Sinaloa, native embraces the chance to be a role model and expresses pride in staying involved in the sport after retirement.

“I’ve been doing basketball camps and clinics for the last eight years with a friend and great coach, Tomas Canizales, here in Mexico. Different sponsors help us so these camps and clinics are very interesting to all the kids from 8-18 years old as well as to their parents,” said Llamas, who played in the now-defunct Continent Basketball Association for the Sioux Falls Skyforce before receiving his first 10-day contract from the Phoenix Suns in February 1997.

It takes a lot of planning and hard work to prepare for large clinics, but Llamas, the director of Academias Aguacateros, relishes the opportunity.

“We have a national camp in the city of Aguascalientes, where kids from all over Mexico attend,” Llamas said. “We do mini-camps of three or four days in different cities — 18 hours of a lot of work. Motivational speeches for the kids and parents, from north to south of the country.”

Llamas wrapped up a national camp last weekend.

Dedicated worker

He’s always thinking about the next camp, the next clinic.

Above all, he commands respect within the basketball community in Mexico.

As a result, this opens doors for his pupils, too.

“Last summer I was invited to participate in a national program for kids so they could be in an academy in CNAR in Mexico. CNAR is part of CONADE (Mexico’s National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport),” Llamas said. “Three kids of Michoacan where invited to the finals, one boy and two girls. At the end three girls where in the program until this summer.

“With all the work with the NBA in Mexico, they help me,” Llamas said. “So 200 kids from the state (Michoacan) could assist at an NBA game in Mexico City. The kids and their coaches where totally happy to attend an event of this magnitude. Most of them probably thought they could never attend an NBA game.”

The kids ranged in age from 13-15.

The direct involvement in the NBA’s Mexico City games brought joy to Llamas and reaffirmed his desire to do more.

Future goals

I inquired about Llamas’ future aspirations.

“I really want to work with the NBA in all the different programs to help kids, especially in Latin America,” he revealed.

Asked if he envisions teaming up with famous Latin American stars Manu Ginobili, Leandro Barbaosa and others, Llamas said it’s probably not a practical plan.

“There are different ambassadors … like Felipe Lopez from the Dominican Republic. Brazil and Argentina, I’m pretty sure they have their ambassadors.”

Horacio’s hoop history

This reporter has known Llamas for more than 25 years. I observed his humble rise from Pima Community College standout to Grand Canyon University star to NBA player and national hero. (He was featured in a cover story in the Phoenix Suns’ Fastbreak Magazine in September 1997.)

One of the most impressive individual performances I’ve seen over the years was Llamas’ 52-point outburst against Arizona Western College in 1994.

Two years later, Llamas was named Basketball Times’ 1995-96 Division II Player of the Year. In his senior season at Grand Canyon University, Llamas averaged 17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.7 blocks for the Antelopes.

NBA playing days

Horacio Llamas suited up for the Phoenix Suns during the 1996-97 and ‘97-98 seasons, appearing in a total of 28 games. He was the first Mexican-born player in NBA history. Various injuries cut short his NBA career, but the 6-foot-11 big man continued his pro career for more than a decade afterward.

He also capitalized on the chance to attend private workouts with Hakeeem Olajuwon in the summer of 1996.

“Olajuwon helped teach me some moves,” Llamas said more than 20 summers ago.

In the years afterward, he played in some overseas pro leagues. He also competed in the relaunched American Basketball Association for the Phoenix Eclipse, averaging 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds in 2001-02.

A large chunk of his pro circuit was also spent in Mexico, including Soles de Mexicali (2005-10) and the Cancun-based Pioneros de Quintana Roo (2010-12).

Horacio Llamas during his days with the Phoenix Suns. PUBLIC DOMAIN

Vivid memories

In a 2017 interview with ESPN.com while working as a team director for the Hidalgo-based Garzas de Plata, Llamas recalled his encounters with NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Oljajuwon, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan.

Llamas made an NBA comeback attempt in the 2002 preseason, but didn’t make the Washington Wizards roster.

Recalling his in-the-paint battles with Shaq, Llamas described the impact of the future Hall of Famer’s brute force.

“I couldn’t move my back,” Llamas told ESPN.com. “It was so stiff. I couldn’t move from defending Shaquille. I can never forget that.”

In the same article, Llamas also remembered seeing how then-39-year-old Jordan prepared for the game.

“He used to go early to practice because he had knee surgery,” Llamas said. “I used to get there early too, so every time I got to talk to him a little bit.”

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The sky’s the limit for Suns guard Devin Booker https://www.talkbasket.net/47643-the-skys-the-limit-for-suns-guard-devin-booker https://www.talkbasket.net/47643-the-skys-the-limit-for-suns-guard-devin-booker#respond Tue, 16 Jul 2019 22:34:32 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=47643 Devin Booker is a rising star. Just 22, he’s already recognized as one of the game’s most electrifying players. In his four NBA seasons, the Phoenix Suns shooting guard has increased his scoring average from 13.1 points as a rookie to 22.1 to 24.9 to 26.6 this past season. At the same time, he’s increased […]

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The sky’s the limit for Suns guard Devin Booker

Devin Booker is a rising star.

Just 22, he’s already recognized as one of the game’s most electrifying players.

In his four NBA seasons, the Phoenix Suns shooting guard has increased his scoring average from 13.1 points as a rookie to 22.1 to 24.9 to 26.6 this past season.

At the same time, he’s increased his assists per game from 2.1 to 3.4 to 4.7 to 6.8.

Booker will play under a new bench boss this season, and Monty Williams envisions big things from him — not just this season but for years to come.

While discussing Booker’s career trajectory, Williams recently mentioned former Portland Trail Blazers standout Brandon Roy, a three-time All-Star who retired early due to injuries, to offer a comparison.

Williams worked as a Blazers assistant coach from 2005-10 during the early stages of Roy’s career. Roy entered the NBA in 2006.

“He reminds me so much of Brandon Roy,” Williams told NBA.com. “But I think Devin can eclipse that because he’s durable. He’s big and strong. Even though Brandon was (big and strong), Brandon wasn’t healthy.”

Roy retired at age 27 in 2011 after five seasons with the Blazers. The next season, he came back and played five games for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Impressive talent

“Devin’s one of those guys who’s not even in his prime yet. He’s going to be able to eclipse some of the things that Brandon did,” Williams told NBA.com.

Like Williams, Suns assistant coach Steve Blake is a newcomer to the organization. He’s also impressed with the way Booker, the No. 13 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft after one season at the University of Kentucky, plays the game.

“Over the years, just being a fan of the game since I’ve been retired, I’ve had a chance to watch him play many times and he continues to get better and better,” Blake told NBA.com. “The respect he has around the league is really high. Everyone you talk to since I signed here is like ‘Booker’s awesome. He’s great. He’s really hard to stop.’ I’m excited to be around a player like that on the coaching side. Should be fun.”

Offensive exploits

In a March 2017 game, Booker famously torched the Boston Celtics for 70 points. Two years later, he also had a season-best 59 points against the Utah Jazz in March.

The Suns went 19-63 in Igor Kokoskov’s lone season at the helm. Then Monty Williams was brought in as the latest in a long line of coaches during the Robert Sarver era.

Recognizing Booker is a special player, Williams doesn’t have radical plans to overhaul his game.

“He’s a creative offensive player and I don’t want to take his paintbrush away from him,” Williams told NBA.com. “I want to enhance that.”

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Ranking the top 1,000 players in basketball history https://www.talkbasket.net/47599-ranking-the-top-1000-players-in-nba-history https://www.talkbasket.net/47599-ranking-the-top-1000-players-in-nba-history#respond Tue, 16 Jul 2019 13:28:46 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=47599 All-time ranking lists can be a fun topic for debate. Some lists spark lively debates; others are dismissed as crazy or totally off the mark. What about basketball’s top-ranked players of all time? A website called AinsworthSports.com has rankings for a wide range of sports and leagues, including pro basketball, primarily the NBA. For basketball, […]

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Ranking the top 1,000 players in basketball history

All-time ranking lists can be a fun topic for debate. Some lists spark lively debates; others are dismissed as crazy or totally off the mark. What about basketball’s top-ranked players of all time?

A website called AinsworthSports.com has rankings for a wide range of sports and leagues, including pro basketball, primarily the NBA. For basketball, the website has rankings by decade, by position, by team, by home state, by college, by half decade, by rookie year, among other categories.

The all-time rankings list is seemingly endless. It goes beyond the top 1,0000. Actually, it stops at No. 5,000.

That ranking goes to … point guard Tony E. Jackson, who had a two-game stint with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980-81 season. He scored one point.

Rankings explanation

For the all-time rankings, here’s how it was done (from the website):

All qualified players are statistically ranked by position every year.

The players receive a rating that is not posted on the website.

The rating for basketball players is the average rank of their 7 best years + a fraction of the average ranking for all qualifying years.

Players who have not or did not play 7 qualifying years receive a penalty to the rating for every year under 7 that they played.

Ainsworth Sports’ Top 50:

Rnk Athlete POS Rookie Yr
1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar C 1970
2 Michael Jordan SG 1985
3 Wilt Chamberlain C 1960
4 LeBron James SF 2004
5 Bill Russell C 1957
6 Larry Bird SF 1980
7 Shaquille O’Neal C 1993
8 Oscar Robertson SG 1961
9 Bob Pettit PF 1955
10 George Mikan C 1949
11 Hakeem Olajuwon C 1985
12 Russell Westbrook PG 2009
13 Karl Malone PF 1986
14 Magic Johnson PG 1980
15 Kobe Bryant SG 1997
16 Moses Malone C 1975
17 David Robinson C 1990
18 Kevin Garnett PF 1996
19 James Harden SG 2010
20 Neil Johnston C 1952
21 Elgin Baylor SF 1959
22 Dolph Schayes PF 1950
23 Allen Iverson SG 1997
24 Kevin Durant SF 2008
25 Jerry West SG 1961
26 Charles Barkley PF 1985
27 Tracy McGrady SF 1998
28 Elvin Hayes PF 1969
29 Bob Lanier C 1971
30 Bob Cousy PG 1951
31 Tim Duncan PF 1998
32 Julius Erving SF 1972
33 Alex English SF 1977
34 Chris Webber PF 1994
35 Chris Paul PG 2006
36 Paul Arizin SF 1951
37 Patrick Ewing C 1986
38 Dwyane Wade SG 2004
39 George Gervin SG 1973
40 Jerry Lucas PF 1964
41 Rick Barry SF 1966
42 Ed Macauley C 1950
43 Isiah Thomas PG 1982
44 Walt Bellamy C 1962
45 Billy Cunningham PF 1966
46 Dave Cowens C 1971
47 Gary Payton PG 1991
48 John Havlicek SF 1963
49 Dominique Wilkins SF 1983
50 Grant Hill SF 1995

Who else made the website’s top 1,000?

There may be more than a few surprises.

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Red Auerbach on K.C. Jones: ‘He didn’t come to play, he came to win’ https://www.talkbasket.net/47445-red-auerbach-on-k-c-jones-he-didnt-come-to-play-he-came-to-win https://www.talkbasket.net/47445-red-auerbach-on-k-c-jones-he-didnt-come-to-play-he-came-to-win#respond Mon, 15 Jul 2019 07:37:47 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=47445 K.C. Jones is one of the most prolific winners in NBA history. During his long association with the Boston Celtics he played on eight NBA championship teams, served as an assistant coach on another title-winning team in 1981, then guided the Celtics to championships in 1984 and 1986. He also collected a championship ring as […]

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Red Auerbach on K.C. Jones: ‘He didn’t come to play, he came to win’

K.C. Jones is one of the most prolific winners in NBA history.

During his long association with the Boston Celtics he played on eight NBA championship teams, served as an assistant coach on another title-winning team in 1981, then guided the Celtics to championships in 1984 and 1986. He also collected a championship ring as a Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach in 1972.

Thirty years ago, Jones was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player. You could make a valid argument that he also belongs in the Hall of Fame as a head coach. In addition to the two aforementioned championships, Jones, now 87, compiled a 522-252 regular-season coaching record. In his nine full seasons as a head coach, his teams (Bullets, Celtics and SuperSonics) had eight winning seasons.

What about in that other campaign? Seattle finished 41-41.

In addition, Jones’ Bullets lost the 1975 NBA Finals. He later steered the Celtics to four NBA Finals appearances in the 1980s. In his five seasons at the helm in Boston, the Celtics won 57 or more games each year.

Introducing Jones before his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech, Celtics patriarch and legendary coach Red Auerbach said, “He didn’t come to play, he came to win.”

Auerbach also used humor to highlight how the Boston point guard worked on his game to become a better player.

“I remember when he joined us it was a moral victory from 16 feet if he hit the rim,” Auerbach said of the University of San Francisco product. “He couldn’t shoot the ball.

“But yet he was a winner and he worked on his game until he became a pretty fast shooter.”

Jones on Auerbach

In a speech filled with humility and gratitude for his family, friends and former teammates and a life of achievement, Jones called Auerbach “a genius of all genius coaches.”

Reflecting on the honor of being selected for the Hall of Fame, K.C. Jones said he was entering “a very special fraternity of achievers.”

In 2012, the University of San Francisco legend was also inducted into the West Coast Conference Hall of Fame.

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Getting to know new University of Alabama coach Nate Oats https://www.talkbasket.net/47440-getting-to-know-new-university-of-alabama-coach-nate-oats https://www.talkbasket.net/47440-getting-to-know-new-university-of-alabama-coach-nate-oats#respond Mon, 15 Jul 2019 03:13:07 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=47440 The Beatles pioneered innovation in music. Perhaps the prime example was “A Day In The Life.” Decades later, we can examine revealing portraits about people from various professions and backgrounds in contemporary day-in-the-life interviews, documentaries, etc. Such is the case with new University of Alabama men’s basketball head coach Nate Oats, too. In just under […]

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Getting to know new University of Alabama coach Nate Oats

The Beatles pioneered innovation in music. Perhaps the prime example was “A Day In The Life.” Decades later, we can examine revealing portraits about people from various professions and backgrounds in contemporary day-in-the-life interviews, documentaries, etc. Such is the case with new University of Alabama men’s basketball head coach Nate Oats, too.

In just under 10 minutes, one learns a lot about Oats’ personality, passion for coaching, family and zest for life.

In the past few months, Oats, who was hired in late March, has started to put his stamp on the Crimson Tide basketball program.

As seen on the video, produced by AL.com, Oats has big expectations for Alabama after a successful four-season stint at the University of Buffalo, where his team compiled a 96-43 record: 20-15 in 2015-16, 17-15 in 2016-17, 27-9 in 2017-18 and 32-4 this past season. The Bisons made back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament in the last two seasons. (He succeeded ex-NBA guard Bobby Hurley at Buffalo.)

What’s more, as noted in an Alabama athletics department news release, Buffalo’s rise in national prominence occurred under his watch.

“The Bulls were ranked for 20 weeks in the Associated Press Top-25 throughout the 2019 season, which marked the first time in school history the program had earned a national ranking,” the news release stated. “Buffalo went on to climb as high as No. 14 in the nation which was the highest ranking by any MAC team in past 40 years. Additionally, the 32 victories on the year was the most wins ever by any Mid-American men’s basketball program.”

Coaching vision

Speaking to AL.com, the 44-year-old Oats outlined his approach to coaching.

It began by answering a straight-forward question: “What is the Nate Oats era going to look like and will it be different than other eras?”

“Everybody is their own man and they do things differently and the previous coaches have their strengths and I’ll have my weaknesses,” Oats said. “But … six years ago, I was coaching high school. I’ve got some energy. I want guys to play free. I want guys to play with a ton of confidence.”

Valuing mentors

University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban is one of the greatest leaders of all time in his sport. For a Saban-coached team, a national title is the expectation every year.

Working on the same college campus as Saban, Oats admitted he’ll try to soak up some of Saban’s impressive knowledge about leadership.

“He is one of the best, he might be the best coach in all of team sports (today),” Oats told AL.com. “It is stupid not to try to learn some stuff from him.”

Oats said he’ll make time to go watch some of Alabama’s fall football practices. That way, he’ll have chances to observe Saban running the show.

Before joining Buffalo as a top assistant to Hurley, Nate Oats earned distinction at Romulus High School in Michigan. He guided the varsity team to a 222-52 record and seven straight conference titles in 11 seasons.

Ex-NBA guard and bench boss Avery Johnson coached Alabama from 2015-19.

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Michael Jordan appears on ‘Late Night With David Letterman’ in 1989 https://www.talkbasket.net/47405-michael-jordan-appears-on-late-night-with-david-letterman-in-1989 https://www.talkbasket.net/47405-michael-jordan-appears-on-late-night-with-david-letterman-in-1989#respond Sun, 14 Jul 2019 15:41:04 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=47405 Thirty years ago, Michael Jordan was a guest on “Late Night With David Letterman” a popular American talk show. That May appearance, which highlighted Jordan’s rising fame, happened two years before the first of six NBA titles for the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. A few days later, he sank The Shot against the Cleveland […]

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Michael Jordan appears on ‘Late Night With David Letterman’ in 1989

Thirty years ago, Michael Jordan was a guest on “Late Night With David Letterman” a popular American talk show.

That May appearance, which highlighted Jordan’s rising fame, happened two years before the first of six NBA titles for the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s.

A few days later, he sank The Shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers, propelling the Bulls to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Knicks.


In the full interview posted on YouTube, Jordan recalls a neighborhood doctor who”pours kerosene on my toe” after a wood-chopping accident with an ax.

Fan favorite

“So do you just own Chicago? Is that the deal?” Letterman asked Michael Jordan.

“And this is a great time to be a basketball star, isn’t it?” the TV host also inquired.

“Well, they need to win, and if you win, they appreciate it a lot,” Jordan insisted.

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James Donaldson is running for Seattle City Council https://www.talkbasket.net/47391-james-donaldson-is-running-for-seattle-city-council https://www.talkbasket.net/47391-james-donaldson-is-running-for-seattle-city-council#respond Sun, 14 Jul 2019 14:12:09 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=47391 Many former professional athletes, including NBA players, have run for public office. And now there’s another prospective politician to keep an eye on. Former NBA big man James Donaldson posted this message on Facebook on Friday: 10 years ago, I was running for the office of Mayor here in Seattle. I did pretty well, but […]

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James Donaldson is running for Seattle City Council

Many former professional athletes, including NBA players, have run for public office. And now there’s another prospective politician to keep an eye on. Former NBA big man James Donaldson posted this message on Facebook on Friday:

10 years ago, I was running for the office of Mayor here in Seattle. I did pretty well, but came up a little short.

Now I’m running for Seattle City Council – District 7, and ballots go out next week for the August 6 primary.

If you live in my district, I need your vote. If you don’t live in my district… I need your contribution to my campaign to help push me to victory!

Please support and contribute at www.jamesdonaldsonteam.com

Others who held public office

Who are some other ex-NBA players who held public office in the United States?

Dave Bing served as the mayor of Detroit.

Kevin Johnson was the mayor of Sacramento.

Bill Bradley represented New Jersey as a U.S. senator.

Mo Udall, who suited up for the Denver Nuggets for one season, went on to have a long political career (U.S. House of Representatives; Arizona Democrat, 1961-91).

Terry Dehere served on the Jersey City (New Jersey) Board of Education. Before that, he was on the Jersey City Council from 2001-07.

Previous political pursuits

In 2008, James Donaldson first ran for Seattle City Council.

A year later, he entered the political ring as a mayoral candidate in Seattle.

Leadership position

In April 2010, Donaldson joined the College Success Foundation as its Tacoma, Washington, director.

A press release highlighted the role of the foundation: “The College Success Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization formed to provide low-income and underserved students the scholarships, mentoring and educational supports necessary for them to attend the post-secondary institutions of their choice. It has awarded approximately6000 scholarships in the last decade.”

“James will provide leadership in the Tacoma community to double the number of Tacoma’s low-income students who graduate from high school and attend and graduate from college” said Bob Craves, the CEO and founder of College Success Foundation, in April 2010. “As the director of our Tacoma office, he will work closely with the Tacoma School District and other Tacoma community partners to benefit the youth of Tacoma.”

Donaldson, who turn 62 in August, has emerged as an advocate for raising public awareness about mental health while also seeking to help reduce the number of suicides in the United States.

Clearly, his own life experiences have played a part in his passion to make a difference. The Athletic published a lengthy feature about James Donaldson’s personal struggles and past suicidal thoughts, and how he wants to be a part of the solution.

Basketball career

The Seattle SuperSonics selected James Donaldson, a Washington State alum, with the 73rd overall pick (fourth round) in the 1979 Draft. He played for 3A Antoini Siena in Italy for a year before beginning his NBA career with Seattle in 1980.

The 7-foot-2 Donaldson averaged 8.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 975 regular-season games for the Sonics, Clippers, Mavericks, Knicks and Jazz. The old-school big man never attempted a 3-point shot in the NBA.

He played his final NBA game in 1995, then continued his career in Europe until 1999.

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Sharpshooter Joe Harris, a holdover from Brooklyn Nets’ 2016-17 roster, excited about team’s future https://www.talkbasket.net/47190-sharpshooter-joe-harris-a-holdover-from-brooklyn-nets-2016-17-roster-excited-about-teams-future https://www.talkbasket.net/47190-sharpshooter-joe-harris-a-holdover-from-brooklyn-nets-2016-17-roster-excited-about-teams-future#respond Sat, 13 Jul 2019 11:41:16 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=47190 Since June 2016, when Joe Harris joined the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA landscape has changed dramatically. Most notably, as noted in a Brooklyn Daily Eagle feature this week, Harris is the player with the longest tenure on the team. Three years into his time with the Nets, they’ve gone from downright awful (a league-worst 20-62) […]

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Sharpshooter Joe Harris, a holdover from Brooklyn Nets’ 2016-17 roster, excited about team’s future

Since June 2016, when Joe Harris joined the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA landscape has changed dramatically.

Most notably, as noted in a Brooklyn Daily Eagle feature this week, Harris is the player with the longest tenure on the team.

Three years into his time with the Nets, they’ve gone from downright awful (a league-worst 20-62) in the 2016-17 campaign to expected title contenders in the future.

The signing of superstars Kevin Durant (who’s injured) and Kyrie Irving, both of whom have played for title-winning teams (the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, in case you’ve forgotten), has, dramatically raised the hopes of Nets supporters. And irritated New York Knicks fans at the same time.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson’s team is coming off a 42-40 season, which was his third at the helm, and a trip to the postseason.

Harris, a University of Virginia alum, recognizes that the team’s turnaround has been a carefully orchestrated series of events.

“I think when (general manager) Sean (Marks) and Kenny got in and then assembled the team you could see stuff transitioning and changing,” Harris was quoted as saying by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “Obviously it’s a slow process.”

In other words, players come and players leave.

The 2016-17 Nets roster included Yogi Ferrell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Randy Foye and Brook Lopez, for instance, while Timofey Mozgov and Allen Crabbe appeared on the 2017-18 squad.

Dzanan Musa, Shabazz Napier and D’Angelo Russell (who scored a team-high 21.1 points per game) were included on the 2018-19 roster.

As of today, shooting guard Garrett Temple, a newcomer, is the team’s oldest player at age 33.

Roster mainstays

In addition to Harris, other notable returnees include Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert, who also joined the Nets before the 2016-17 season.

Joe Harris, the No. 33 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, averaged 13.7 points per game and shot .474 from 3-point range last season. He also gained eternal fame for beating Steph Curry in the 3-Point Contest during the 2019 All-Star Weekend.

Raising the stakes

Despite Durant’s Achilles injury and the uncertainty of when he’ll make his return, he’s an elite talent. So is Irving.

Which is why Nets fans have greater expectations for the next few years.

“You didn’t anticipate it happening as quickly as it did or in the manner that it happened,” Harris said, according to the Brooklyn newspaper.

“But I think at some point everybody could kind of see the tide turning. Obviously, we had a great year this past year, but then to go out and make the splash in free agency. It sort of solidified the come up of this organization.”

Heading in right direction

From the aforementioned 20-win season to 28 in Year 2 under Atkinson to 42 victories this past season, the Nets are building something special, Harris insisted.

“When you do stuff the right way, and people see sort of the enthusiasm that the team plays with, the culture that’s been built, that’s there, everybody recognizes it,” he said.

He continued: “And everybody knows that the Nets are a first-class organization from the top down, from ownership to the front office, coaches. There’s a clear synergy there where it’s something you would want to be a part of and obviously there’s a lot of other things that factor into it. But I think establishing that foundation, that culture early on is just as important as anything else that’s happened along the way.”

Impressions of Irving

Harris also offered his insights on former Cavs teammate Irving in the Daily Eagle’s comprehensive feature. They played together in 2014-15.

“I would say you could ask a lot of people that played with him and they’d all say that he’s a great teammate and a good guy to be around,” Harris said, according to the Brooklyn newspaper.

He added: “None of us are perfect all the time. We’re all going to have ups and downs throughout the course of the season. For him, unfortunately, he’s just in one of these scenarios where there is so much more attention on him and people are paying much more attention to when he does have an off day. It’s a little bit different than people like me. I have off days all the time too, but nobody really cares when I have an off day. People care when Kyrie does.”

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Andre Drummond is one of the premier rebounders in NBA history https://www.talkbasket.net/47083-andre-drummond-is-one-of-the-premier-rebounders-in-nba-history https://www.talkbasket.net/47083-andre-drummond-is-one-of-the-premier-rebounders-in-nba-history#respond Thu, 11 Jul 2019 13:44:15 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=47083 In the past 40 years, only two NBA players have collected more total boards in a season than Detroit Pistons rebounding maestro Andre Drummond. Who did it? The late Moses Malone, who corralled 1,444 boards for the Houston Rockets in the 1978-79 campaign, and Dennis Rodman, who hauled in 1,530 in 1991-92 and 1,367 two […]

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Andre Drummond is one of the premier rebounders in NBA history

In the past 40 years, only two NBA players have collected more total boards in a season than Detroit Pistons rebounding maestro Andre Drummond.

Who did it?

The late Moses Malone, who corralled 1,444 boards for the Houston Rockets in the 1978-79 campaign, and Dennis Rodman, who hauled in 1,530 in 1991-92 and 1,367 two seasons later for the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs, respectively.

Indeed, that’s elite company.

Drummond, a University of Connecticut alum, snared 1,247 rebounds (16.0 per game) to lead the league in 2017-18, then pulled down 1,232 (15.6 average) this past season.

Drummond’s rebounding brilliance is often overlooked by casual fans. But keen observers of the league recognize how skillful he is.

Bright future

The relentless rebounder turns 26 in October. He’s already completed seven NBA seasons, and takes great pride in being a top-notch board man.

His career totals: 14.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game.

And there’s no reason to believe that he can’t become an even better rebounder over the next five years or so.

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Envisioning pro soccer following NBA approach to player contracts https://www.talkbasket.net/47064-envisioning-pro-soccer-following-nba-approach-to-player-contracts https://www.talkbasket.net/47064-envisioning-pro-soccer-following-nba-approach-to-player-contracts#respond Thu, 11 Jul 2019 12:42:59 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=47064 Will pro soccer emulate pro basketball in the future? A recent article posted on football365.com (“NBA blockbuster trades offer glimpse of football’s future…”) suggests that one aspect of NBA’s business operations could be copied by top soccer leagues in the future. “If you think the Premier League pays handsomely you really should see how much […]

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Envisioning pro soccer following NBA approach to player contracts

Will pro soccer emulate pro basketball in the future?

A recent article posted on football365.com (“NBA blockbuster trades offer glimpse of football’s future…”) suggests that one aspect of NBA’s business operations could be copied by top soccer leagues in the future.

“If you think the Premier League pays handsomely you really should see how much the top boys in the NBA make,” the mailbox feature intro stated.

“Basketball is obviously very different in that there is one league paying the highest salaries where the best players want to go (there is money in Europe and China but nothing compares to the NBA), there are less players on a team and there are a finite number of teams with no relegation. They also have the college system where players are drafted rather than coming through the youth systems.

“But … they also have this idea of fairness and of loyalty where they try and ensure that the best players are spread amongst the teams. They brought in a system where players could qualify for ‘super-max’ contracts if they stayed with their original team. This has been counter-productive where players now wait until they qualify for the highest contract and then engineer a move to their favoured club/city. More than that, they are now working with other players to make sure that they are also signed to the same team.”

Contracts and trades

The Toronto Raptors are, of course, the prime example of a team acquiring a star — a guy named Kawhi Leonard — and then losing him the next year.

The football365.com article continued: “What this means is that it’s now unusual for teams to sign players to more than two years on their contract. They get shipped off in the last year of the contract with the team accepting that they are paying for a ‘rental’; Toronto won the Championship this year with a one year rental in Kawhi Leonard who has now moved to the LA Clippers and he himself has made sure that he signed along with another superstar in Paul George from Oklahoma.

“I can see this happening in football with the top stars signing short contracts and moving around Europe/USA/China every two or three years with them getting even more money because the transfer fees are no longer part of the deal.”

New contracts

Actually, many NBA players sign long-term contracts, but not everyone.

For instance, 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard inked a three-year deal with the Clippers for $103 million. But the third year is a player option. And Seth Curry signed a four-year $32 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks this week.

Here’s a handy rundown on NBA contracts:

https://www.basketball-reference.com/contracts/players.html

Which got me thinking: Will the NBA ever take a page out of pro soccer’s business manual and start charging transfer fees?

What do you think?

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Lewis Lloyd, former Drake University star and NBA guard, dies at 60 https://www.talkbasket.net/46903-lewis-lloyd-former-drake-university-star-and-nba-guard-dies-at-60 https://www.talkbasket.net/46903-lewis-lloyd-former-drake-university-star-and-nba-guard-dies-at-60#respond Tue, 09 Jul 2019 12:42:46 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=46903 Lewis Lloyd, a talented shooting guard whose basketball career took him from Philadelphia to New Mexico Military Institute to Drake University to the NBA, died last Friday. He was 60. Lloyd rose in national prominence while at Drake, a Missouri Valley Conference school. He earned MVC Player of the Year accolades in 1980 and ’81. […]

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Lewis Lloyd, former Drake University star and NBA guard, dies at 60

Lewis Lloyd, a talented shooting guard whose basketball career took him from Philadelphia to New Mexico Military Institute to Drake University to the NBA, died last Friday. He was 60.

Lloyd rose in national prominence while at Drake, a Missouri Valley Conference school. He earned MVC Player of the Year accolades in 1980 and ’81. He averaged 30.2 points and 15 rebounds a game as a junior, finishing second in the NCAA in both categories. He then closed out his college career by posting averages of 26.3 and 10. He was named an Associated Press Third Team All-American both seasons.

Lloyd was the 76th overall pick (fourth round; Golden State Warriors) in the 1981 NBA Draft).

In the NBA, Lloyd, a former Overbrook High School player (just like Wilt Chamberlain) suited up for the Warriors, Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers. He averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 388 regular-season games.

Lloyd, known as “Black Magic,” averaged a career-best 17.8 points for the Rockets in 1983-84. Two seasons later, he contributed 16.9 for Houston, which advanced to the NBA Finals and lost to the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics. He had a career-high 38 points on 15-for-23 shooting against the host Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 17, 1985.

A Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office spokesman determined that Lloyd died from an accidental “drug intoxication,” the Des Moines Register reported.

Off-court troubles

Lewis Lloyd’s pro career was derailed by a drug suspension after testing positive for cocaine. He was banned from the league for 2 1/2 years in 1986. He was reinstated in September 1989.

During his ban, he played in the United States Basketball League for the Philadelphia Aces in 1988 and for the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association’s Cedar Rapids Silver Bullets in 1988-89 before the NBA reinstated him.

Lloyd appeared in a combined 21 games (3.3 points) with the Sixers and Rockets in the 1989-90 season, his last in the NBA.

Throughout his NBA career, he had a knack for making more shots than he missed. He shot 52.4 percent from the field during his time in the NBA.

Playground legend

The Philadelphia Tribune recounted Lloyd’s reputation as an basketball star in his hometown and beyond in an article posted on its website after his death.

“Many have lauded him as one of the greatest playground players of all time, and his name is mentioned in several books on basketball,” Daryl Bell wrote.

“In high school, the Public League basketball championship was usually decided between the Overbrook High Panthers featuring Lloyd and the West Philadelphia High Speedboys featuring Gene Banks. The games were fierce and legendary.”

Lewis Lloyd goes up for a shot in the 1986 NBA Finals. PUBLIC DOMAIN

Former teammate’s insights

The Tribune obituary was enriched by Banks’ insights on Lloyd.

“It was like Ali and Frazier,” said Banks, another former Drake and NBA player, told the newspaper. “He definitely brought out the best in me. You couldn’t play around with Lew.

“This is really hard. I’m so sorry to hear this. My heart goes out to his family during this difficult time. I always thought that one day we would be able to sit back on a porch, drink lemonade, and talk about the games we played against each other. This is difficult.”

Whether competing in playground games or in organized contests during his career, Lloyd was an impressive talent.

Just ask Ron Angell, one of Lloyd’s Drake teammates.

“Offensively, he was really just unstoppable,” Angell told the Des Moines Register. “And he had a bigger body in college than he did in the pros. I would compare it to more of a Charles Barkley body.”

He was ‘special’

Ex-Overbrook High teammate Ricky Tucker also reflected on Lloyd’s talent and personality in an interview with The Tribune.

“Lew was special,” Tucker told The Tribune.

“Lew and I put in a lot of work all over the city and up and down the East Coast,” Tucker said, referring to rec teams. “He was an intelligent player. In my opinion, he was the most electric and exciting player ever from Philadelphia. He could do it all and he always had that smile on his face.

“He was doing so well and never had a bad word to say about anyone. Never. That was the kind of man he was. He would do anything to help you.”

Unforgettable times

In its remembrance of Lewis Lloyd, the Des Moines Register, which routinely reports on Drake University, also included this one-of-a-kind story:

“The day after the Drake men’s basketball team won at No. 18 Georgetown back in 1980, the Bulldogs gathered at the White House for a special tour. Prominent Des Moines attorney Jerry Crawford, the team’s radio announcer that season, had used his political connections to land the team a visit.

“As the Bulldogs stood in an entryway of the White House, President Jimmy Carter walked in, Crawford recalls. He introduced himself to every coach and player on the team, shaking hands and greeting them one by one. When President Carter got to Drake star Lewis Lloyd, a memorable moment unfolded.

” ‘He shook Lewis Lloyd’s hand and Lewis said, ‘They call me ‘the magic man,” Crawford recalled. “And the president got a kick out of it. And his teammates just collapsed in laughter.”

Reaction to his death

In the days since Lewis Lloyd passed away, a Wichita State online forum has collected tributes to him. Here are two of them:

“Lewis Lloyd, Drake great, has died at age 60. For those of you too young to know, he was a lovable, always-smiling absolutely unstoppable pain in the ass. Had games of 43 pts. and 12 rebounds, and 31 and 19 against us. Think Goudlock, but better. RIP, sir. “

“What a player. A poor man’s Xavier McDaniel. Tough as freaking nails and never quit. Would have been a tremendous Play Angry guy. Very sad news and way too young to see Black Magic pass.”

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Jamal Crawford discusses his long-running Crawsover Pro-Am, looks back at last season https://www.talkbasket.net/46811-jamal-crawford-discusses-his-long-running-crawsover-pro-am-looks-back-at-last-season https://www.talkbasket.net/46811-jamal-crawford-discusses-his-long-running-crawsover-pro-am-looks-back-at-last-season#respond Mon, 08 Jul 2019 11:02:18 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=46811 Of the 58 players selected in the 2000 NBA Draft, Jamal Crawford was the last active player during the 2018-19 season. And Crawford will likely play a 19th season. His name has popped up in the headlines and on social media in recent days, fueling speculation that he’s being pursued by several teams. On a […]

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Jamal Crawford discusses his long-running Crawsover Pro-Am, looks back at last season

Of the 58 players selected in the 2000 NBA Draft, Jamal Crawford was the last active player during the 2018-19 season.

And Crawford will likely play a 19th season.

His name has popped up in the headlines and on social media in recent days, fueling speculation that he’s being pursued by several teams.

On a recent episode of “The Fabulous Pelton: Seattle Sports and More” podcast, Jamal Crawford talks about the spirited summer competition in the Crawsover Pro-Am League and the enjoyment that it brings to the Seattle community.

“The Crawsover Pro-Am League is one of the premier competitive summer men’s basketball leagues in the United States featuring current and former professional, international, minor league, and collegiate players, filling the empty void of basketball in Seattle,” reads a statement on the pro-am’s circuit’s website. The pro-am was started by Doug Christie in 1996, and operated by Crawford since 2013, according to online reports.

Upcoming plans

Another season in the NBA is not some crazy idea for the man dubbed “JCrossover.”

In fact, it makes perfect sense.

He’s been a great sixth man for most of his pro career, as evidenced by the year-by-year numbers.

And don’t forget that the University of Michigan product excelled during the final stages of last season.

That’s not a misprint. Jamal Crawford scored 51 points against the Dallas Mavericks in the last game of the 2018-19 campaign for the Phoenix Suns.

It was his highest-scoring game since putting 50 points on the board for the Golden State Warriors in December 2008,

“I’m 39, but I know I can still play,” Crawford told the podcast posted above while also noting he had a career-high 14 assist game this past season (in December against the New York Knicks).

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Point guards enter new financial stratosphere https://www.talkbasket.net/46753-point-guards-enter-new-financial-stratosphere https://www.talkbasket.net/46753-point-guards-enter-new-financial-stratosphere#respond Sun, 07 Jul 2019 14:09:23 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=46753 Just days before the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes came to an abrupt halt, the basketball universe found out (again) that team executives value point guards. In short, there’s never been a more lucrative time to be a point guard. Cash is flowing like water down a mighty stream. In a July 2 analysis piece for The […]

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Point guards enter new financial stratosphere

Just days before the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes came to an abrupt halt, the basketball universe found out (again) that team executives value point guards.

In short, there’s never been a more lucrative time to be a point guard.

Cash is flowing like water down a mighty stream.

In a July 2 analysis piece for The Associated Press, Tim Reynolds highlighted the spending frenzy that kicked off the offseason free agency period.

“Free agency wasn’t even 24 hours old,” Reynolds wrote, “and more than $1 billion had been committed to point guards, led by the $196 million extension that Damian Lillard will be signing with Portland, the reported $170 million extension for Jamal Murray in Denver and the $141 million deals for Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker.

“There’s never been an offseason in NBA history where point guards have gotten that much, and there’s still plenty more left to be signed.”

Value of point guards

He continued: “The extensions for Lillard and Murray mean that they won’t be seeing free agency for years to come, and proves how much Portland and Denver value those guys. Lillard’s extension shouldn’t have surprised anyone, and given what the market value is setting up to be for point guards the fact that Denver locked up Murray shouldn’t be a shocker either.”

Wait, there’s more.

“D’Angelo Russell’s sign-and-trade that will send him to Golden State will see his salary start at $27 million next season and land him just over $117 million over four years,” Reynolds noted. “Malcolm Brogdon isn’t a traditional point guard, and he still got $85 million from four years from Indiana. Terry Rozier could get $58 million over three years from Charlotte, where he’ll replace Walker — who made $58 million, total, in eight seasons there.

“Ricky Rubio got $51 million for three years from Phoenix. Patrick Beverley finally got his deserved payday, a $40 million, three-year agreement to stay with the Los Angeles Clippers.”

And let’s not forget the four-year deal ($160 million) the Houston Rockets finalized with point guard Chris Paul last summer.

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What others are saying about rapid transformation of Los Angeles Clippers https://www.talkbasket.net/46718-46718 https://www.talkbasket.net/46718-46718#respond Sun, 07 Jul 2019 12:01:25 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=46718 There are countless opinions about the stunning transformation of the Los Angeles Clippers. You know, the news that sent shockwaves throughout the NBA over the weekend. The addition of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both of whom are still in their 20s, to the Clippers roster has altered the balance of power in the Western […]

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What others are saying about rapid transformation of Los Angeles Clippers

There are countless opinions about the stunning transformation of the Los Angeles Clippers.

You know, the news that sent shockwaves throughout the NBA over the weekend.

The addition of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both of whom are still in their 20s, to the Clippers roster has altered the balance of power in the Western Conference.

Exciting times in Tinsel Town.

It’s a day that will be talked about for decades to come.

Bill Plaschke, a Los Angeles Times sports columnist since 1996, summed up the dramatic news in a poignant column with this attention-grabbing headline: “Fasten your seat belts, the Clippers are joining the elite.”

“On a transformative Friday night beyond even Clipper Darrell’s wildest dreams, the Clippers acquired arguably the best player in the NBA, traded for another player in the league’s elite, and have suddenly gone from a perennial afterthought to the spotlight of a potential NBA championship,” he wrote.

“Kawhi Leonard? Are you kidding me?

“Paul George? Are you serious?

“The Clippers as legitimate competitors in both basketball and buzz to a Lakers team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, is that real?”

“It is now. In a span of what seemed like 10 seconds, the two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP Leonard told the Clippers he would be signing there as a free agent just before the Clippers traded Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a slew of draft picks for Oklahoma City star George.

“Bingo!!!!”

Just remember this: The Clippers lost 50 or more games in 19 of 27 seasons between 1984-85 and 2010-11. What’s more, they were 9-41 in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 campaign. They went to the playoffs just four times in that abysmal stretch. (They moved to L.A. from San Diego in 1984.)

Comedians had unlimited material to work with when telling jokes about this franchise.

What the future holds

And what does this history-changing day mean for the franchise whose history was marked by mediocrity for decades?

“This is the most important franchise moment since the league stripped the team from Donald Sterling and sold it to Steve Ballmer,” Plaschke correctly opined. “These are the most compelling player acquisitions in like, forever.

“They’re suddenly not some gritty little team hoping to sneak into the playoffs on a Doc and a prayer. This is now a potential powerhouse with Leonard and George supported by Patrick Beverley and coached up by Doc Rivers and, well, aren’t they as good as anyone else in the West?

“This is also the singular greatest triumph in franchise history, mostly because nobody thought they could pull it off.”

Perspective from Mark Heisler

Astute NBA pundit Mark Heisler, whose weekly column appears in the Los Angeles Daily News and Orange County Register, also weighed in on the bold moves by the Clippers.

“It has taken several years to figure out what to make of Steve Ballmer, but there’s no mistaking what he has done,” wrote Heisler, who covered the Lakers for decades. “The Clippers now have a high-powered front office led by Lawrence Frank with Jerry West in the wings, in contrast to the Lakers’ Friends & Family approach under Jeanie Buss.

“The Lakers got this far only with a prodigious recruiting effort by James, who masterminded the trade that stole Davis from New Orleans, then turned his attention to Leonard, who had never shown any interest in the Lakers until ten.

“Instead, the Clippers, of all people, headed off LeBron at the pass…”

For the Clippers, the future looks remarkably bright.

There’s a first time for everything, right?

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Timing was perfect: Frank Vogel found the right mentor at the right time https://www.talkbasket.net/46484-timing-was-perfect-frank-vogel-found-the-right-mentor-at-the-right-time https://www.talkbasket.net/46484-timing-was-perfect-frank-vogel-found-the-right-mentor-at-the-right-time#respond Fri, 05 Jul 2019 12:48:12 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=46484 Are you aware of Frank Vogel’s humble beginnings in big-time basketball? It all started at the University of Kentucky, where then-Wildcats coach Rick Pitino played a pivotal role. Years later, the Los Angeles Lakers’ new coach fondly looked back on how he got his foot in the door. “I was a big fan of Rick […]

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Timing was perfect: Frank Vogel found the right mentor at the right time

Are you aware of Frank Vogel’s humble beginnings in big-time basketball?

It all started at the University of Kentucky, where then-Wildcats coach Rick Pitino played a pivotal role.

Years later, the Los Angeles Lakers’ new coach fondly looked back on how he got his foot in the door.

“I was a big fan of Rick Pitino’s approach and I wanted to try to talk my way or persuade my way into an opportunity,” Vogel told Sheridan Hoops in a 2013 interview. “I enrolled, got admitted and when I met Rick at Five Star basketball camp I had been writing letters to an equipment manager about trying to be a student manager and I was getting a lot of ‘No’s,’ and I was getting a lot of ‘No’s,’ in letters from the coaching staff. Rick told me to keep talking to the equipment manager and see if you can make something happen. If you can’t and you end up coming down, come see us and we’ll see if we can work something out.”

It worked out.

In 1995, Vogel became a basketball manager for Kentucky, setting him on his career path.

More importantly, he learned how to analyze the game as an assistant video coordinator at Kentucky.

That eventually led to a five-year stint as head video coordinator for the Boston Celtics.

How did that happen?

Vogel, now 46, joined Pitino when the latter bolted for Beantown in 1997.

Paying his dues

Indeed, Frank Vogel paid his dues and learned the ins and outs of the coaching profession along the way. More than two decades later, it’s interesting to revisit that coaching journey from Kentucky to the NBA.

Since 2010, he’s been a head coach, leading the Indiana Pacers (2010-16) and Orlando Magic (2016-18) after previous stints as an assistant with the Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Pacers.

The Lakers handed the coaching reins to Vogel a few weeks ago.

Entering the 2019-20 campaign, Vogel owns a 304-291 regular-season coaching record, including a career-best 56-26 mark in 2013-14. The Pacers made back-to-back trips to Eastern Conference finals, doing so in 2012-13 and the next season with Vogel calling the shots.

Dedication to the job

Vogel’s career path was recently recounted by the Lexington Herald Leader. The newspaper report gave readers an inside look at Vogel’s early days in the profession while working under Pitino.

Ex-Wildcats player Cameron Mills vividly remembered Vogel’s persistence as a young man to establish himself in basketball.

Lexington Herald Leader writer Jerry Tipton reported the following:

“As Mills recalled, Vogel’s job with video included splicing together a 15- to 30-minute tape on an upcoming opponent’s offense, another 15 to 30 minutes on the defense and five or six minutes on a particularly dangerous individual opponent’s favorite moves.

“Mills remembered Vogel put together a legendary’ 45-minute tape on Tennessee star Allan Houston.

“Vogel slept only a few hours each night, Mills said. He usually fell asleep with the movie ‘Hoosiers’ playing in the VCR. He also compiled a book of quotes for when he or anyone needed inspiration.

…It was inspiring to be around him,” Mills said.

What else was unique about Frank Vogel’s younger days involving basketball?

As a junior high school student, Tipton wrote, Vogel “appeared in a stupid human tricks segment on David Letterman’s late-night show. His trick? Spinning a basketball on one end of a toothbrush while he brushed his teeth with the bristled end.”

Lesson from Pitino

Vogel’s time on the University of Kentucky basketball staff might’ve been quite short, but it was pivotal in his development.

Which is why he credits Pitino for influencing his career.

“Work ethic and belief,” Vogel said, referring to two big things, in a 2013 interview. “Showing a player that you believe in him can really (help him) overachieve for his talent level.

“And not only the work ethic, but how you prepare. How you go about coaching a team day-to-day and the work ethic of studying an opponent inside and out, studying yourselves inside and out. How to run practices. To be exposed to that level of greatness, it’s just meant everything to me.”


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Antonio Daniels impressed with Pelicans’ roster overhaul https://www.talkbasket.net/46481-antonio-daniels-impressed-with-pelicans-roster-overhaul https://www.talkbasket.net/46481-antonio-daniels-impressed-with-pelicans-roster-overhaul#respond Fri, 05 Jul 2019 02:47:33 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=46481 Antonio Daniels believes David Griffin has done a masterful job remaking the New Orleans in a short period of time. It started, of course, with the addition of No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson. But the team’s roster overhaul was a savvy combination of things — including trades — done quickly but with a […]

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Antonio Daniels impressed with Pelicans’ roster overhaul

Antonio Daniels believes David Griffin has done a masterful job remaking the New Orleans in a short period of time.

It started, of course, with the addition of No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson. But the team’s roster overhaul was a savvy combination of things — including trades — done quickly but with a long-term strategic plan in place for the post-Anthony Davis era.

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, the former NBA point guard (1997-2011) insisted the Pelicans have taken a big, bold step in the right direction.

Sure, he’s expected to have a few positive things to say now and then about the Pelicans in his new position as the team’s TV color analyst on FOX Sports New Orleans, but Daniels doesn’t make empty statements. Instead, he provides thoughtful, thorough explanations.

Analyzing the new-look Pelicans

In an interview with The Times-Picayune, Antonio Daniels weighed in on the new-look Pelicans.

“They’ve got some great locker room guys. You have Jrue (Holiday) still there, and now you add (J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors),” Daniels was quoted as saying by the New Orleans newspaper this week. “In today’s NBA, you want a mix and balance of youth and experience. You don’t want to be too young or old, and then you add those middle guys, young youth with experience, with Lonzo (Ball), Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart to put with Zion and Jaxson Hayes, guys yet to experience what the NBA life is like.”

In summary, Daniels thinks Griffin, New Orleans’ new executive vice president of basketball operations, has laid the foundation for future success with his offseason moves.

“(Griffin) really accomplished what he wanted in free agency this offseason,” Daniels commented. “Now we’ve got veteran leadership and toughness.”

And what does that mean right away?

The Pelicans, who went 33-49 this past season, shouldn’t miss the postseason two years in a row, according to Daniels. He played for the Hornets in New Orleans in 2008-09.

“This is definitely a playoff team,” Daniels told the New Orleans newspaper. “There’s potential there to be a playoff team, there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. They’ve already acquired the assets they need moving forward to win, and they have all the pieces of a puzzle you need to build an NBA team: youth, athleticism, versatility, size, shooting, high basketball IQ. They’ve got all the boxes checked.”

The coming months will prove if Antonio Daniels is correct.

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Literary brilliance illuminated the greatness of Earl Monroe https://www.talkbasket.net/45798-literary-brilliance-illuminated-the-greatness-of-earl-monroe https://www.talkbasket.net/45798-literary-brilliance-illuminated-the-greatness-of-earl-monroe#respond Wed, 03 Jul 2019 12:00:38 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=45798 Film director Woody Allen, one of the most well-known NBA fans over the years, was a huge Earl Monroe admirer back in the day. For decades, Allen supported his hometown New York Knicks with unbridled enthusiasm. Remember when the Knicks were relevant? You know, way back in the 20th century. In an illuminating profile posted […]

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Literary brilliance illuminated the greatness of Earl Monroe

Film director Woody Allen, one of the most well-known NBA fans over the years, was a huge Earl Monroe admirer back in the day.

For decades, Allen supported his hometown New York Knicks with unbridled enthusiasm.

Remember when the Knicks were relevant?

You know, way back in the 20th century.

In an illuminating profile posted on NBA.com, the essence of Monroe’s offensive game was described this way: “Observers said that watching him play was like listening to jazz; his moves resembled free-floating improvisations, riffs that took off in midflight and changed direction unpredictably. ‘The thing is, I don’t know what I’m going to do with the ball,’ Monroe once admitted, ‘and if I don’t know, I’m quite sure the guy guarding me doesn’t know either.'”

In other words, improvisational skills were vital to Earl the Pearl’s success, and as an extension the Knickerbockers’ winning ways.

Early days

As a rookie, Monroe scored a career-high 56 points against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers in February 1968. In that game, he made 20 of 33 shots from the field and canned 16 of 22 free throws.

The NCAA Division II legend from Winston-Salem (North Carolina) State averaged a jaw-dropping 41.5 points per game as a college senior. All told, he averaged 26.7 ppg as a collegiate performer over four seasons. It was a sign of things to come.

Monroe’s legendary feats enriched the history of the Baltimore Bullets and the New York Knicks during his pro career. He played a pivotal role for both franchises.

He was a vital cog in the Knicks lineup during the team’s second championship season (1972-73), and without him, the Knicks probably wouldn’t have won it.

Inspiration for Allen

His unique style of play also inspired Allen, who explained why in one of his forays into magazine writing. It’s a stylistic essay full of verve and details.

“My impressions of Monroe then?” Allen wrote for the November 1977 issue of Sport magazine. “I immediately ranked him with Willie Mays and Sugar Ray Robinson as athletes who went beyond the level of sports and sport to the realm of sports as art. Seemingly awkward and yet breathtakingly graceful, with an unimpressive physique, knobby knees, and the tiny ankles of a thoroughbred racehorse, Monroe in seasons would put on exhibition after exhibition of simply magical shot-making. One sportswriter wrote that his misses are more exciting than more guys’ baskets. It’s pointless to describe Monroe on the court. It’s been done a thousand times by good writers who try vainly to communicate in print the excitement with which he plays. They refer to his head fakes, shoulder fakes, spins, double pumps, stutter steps, hip shots, arms and legs flying in different directions at once, but these things in themselves do not sum up the ferocious rush he gives the audience. After all, there are players like Nate Archibald, Dave Bing, Walt Frazier, Julius Erving, Connie Hawkins, who have unusual grace, beauty, and excitement, and who also dip and twist and toss their bodies one way while their arms move another way as they hang in space.

“What makes Monroe different is the indescribable heat of genius that burns deep inside him. Some kind of diabolical intensity comes across his face when he has the ball. One is suddenly transported to a more primitive place. It’s roots time. The eyes are big and white, the teeth flash, the nostrils flare. He dribbles the ball too high, but with a controlled violence. The audience gets high with anticipation of some new type of thrill about to occur. Seconds later he is moving in aggressively, one on one, against a defender and you sense the man is in trouble. Monroe is suddenly double-teamed and now there are two men hanging all over him. Then it happens. A quick twist, a sudden move, and he’s by both men. Either that or a series of flashing arm moves cease with a lightning pass to a teammate he has never even bothered to look at.

“It’s amazing, because the audience’s ‘high’ originates inside Monroe and seems to emerge over his exterior. He creates a sense of danger in the arena and yet has enough wit in his style to bring off funny ideas when he wants to. He has, as an athlete-performer, what few actors possess. Marlon Brando is one such actor. The audience never knows what will happen next and the potential for a sudden great thrill is always present. If we think of an actor like George C. Scott, for instance, we feel he is consistently first rate, but he cannot move a crowd the way Brando does. There is something indescribable in Brando that pins an audience on the edge of its seats at all times. Perhaps because we sense a possible peak experience at any given moment, and when it occurs, the performance transcends mere acting and soars into the sublime. On a basketball court, Monroe does this to spectators.”

Earl the Pearl’s maturation

After his trade to the Knicks in 1971, Monroe needed to alter his game to fit the Knicks’ style of play.

There were skeptics, of course, at first, including Woody Allen.

“Naturally, I was happy to be able to watch him more often, but there were two uneasy questions,” Allen wrote in the magazine piece. “Could he play alongside Walt Frazier? Frazier was then the premier all-around guard in basketball and had set standards so high that years later when he might be off his game a fraction and could no longer single-handedly win games, the fans could not deal with it and turned on him. I found this unforgivable and it certainly says something about the myth of the New York sports fan.”

Allen continued: “In those days, however, Walt Frazier played with a serene brilliance that made it seem that he could steal the ball whenever he wanted to, dribble it behind his back, and score at will. He was wonderful to look at (great posture, perpetual ‘cool’), dressed flashy off the court, drove a Rolls, and got an awful lot of rebounds for a guard.

“Monroe, who when he joined the Knicks reportedly said, ‘Man, I got two Rolls,’ was also used to being the cynosure of his team. He had never had to be overly concerned with defense and never had to share the limelight with anyone approaching Frazier’s greatness. This didn’t worry me, because I felt the two guards would be simply breathtaking together, which they indeed were. They played brilliantly in tandem. Frazier was the steadier of the two. He did everything perfectly. Monroe was, as always, the more dramatic and explosive one. Consequently, when Frazier dribbled up the middle you could count on your two points because of his smooth-as-satin style. When Monroe drove, his lust for danger took him in directions where he might get the ball slapped away or might miss a shot because of spectacular gyrations. Again, like Brando, Monroe takes risks, and while some fail, enough come off to make him an artist.”

Fitting in with the Knicks

Indeed, the Knicks possessed great synergy in those days. Coach Red Holzman figured out how to blend their individual talents into the framework of the team — and it worked wonderfully.

Still, Allen had his doubts.

“The second and more irritating question to me was, can Monroe fit into the flow of team play?” wrote Allen. “Can he become part of that superb combination of Bill Bradley, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, etc., that hits the open man, retains poise, and sooner or later grinds up opponents like a well-oiled machine? Some said Monroe would not be able to adjust. …

“The outcome we now know. Monroe learned defense. He modified his style in favor of team play. He scored fewer points. At other times, his irrepressible genius on the court asserted itself. The Knicks won with him until Reed and DeBusschere retired. Then Frazier and Monroe carried the offense…”

And the rest is history.

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Bob Cousy to be honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom https://www.talkbasket.net/46293-bob-cousy-to-be-honored-with-presidential-medal-of-freedom https://www.talkbasket.net/46293-bob-cousy-to-be-honored-with-presidential-medal-of-freedom#respond Tue, 02 Jul 2019 17:24:42 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=46293 Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy received an important letter in the mail last week at his home in Worcester, Massachusetts. The letter officially informed him he’ll be the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but details of when the event will take place are still not known. The letter came from the White House. […]

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Bob Cousy to be honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom

Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy received an important letter in the mail last week at his home in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The letter officially informed him he’ll be the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but details of when the event will take place are still not known.

The letter came from the White House. It included President Donald Trump’s signature.

The medal, known as the highest civilian honor for an American, recognizes “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

In 2011, Celtics great Bill Russell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Boston will become the first NBA team to have two former players receive this prestigious honor.

The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Massachusetts provided some interesting details about how this came to pass.

The local newspaper reported:

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a friend of Cousy’s, had been lobbying for him to receive the honor and he was with Trump the day he called the Holy Cross and Celtics legend. Cousy remembers Trump telling him he should have received the honor long ago and that he would present it to him. Cousy, who will turn 91 in August, informed the president that he was thrilled, but joked that he would not accept the award posthumously.

“He laughed like heck,” Cousy recalled, “and said, ‘Well, can you stay alive until April?’ ”

Cousy said he’d try, but his presentation was delayed because Tiger Woods received the award after he won the Masters in April. Wednesday, Cousy received official notification on White House stationary in the mail at his home on Salisbury Street that he would be receiving the honor at the White House at a date to be announced.

“I don’t deserve the damn thing,” Cousy said, “but I’ll let someone else decide that. I’m not going to give it back.”

Trump is the sixth U.S. president to invite Cousy to the White House, joining Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, who invited him twice, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Johnson honored him with the Big Brother of the Year Award.

“It completes my life’s circle,” Cousy was quoted as saying, “whatever that means. I’ve been so fortunate. I’ve been so lucky.”

Legendary figure

Bob Cousy played for the Celtics from 1950-63 and had a seven-game stint for the Cincinnati Royals in the 1969-70 season, when he coached the club. Cousy was a 13-time NBA All-Star and played a prominent role on Boston’s first dynasty. He orchestrated the offense on the team’s first six title-winning squads (1957, 1959-63). He led the NBA in assists in eight straight seasons (1953-60).

To this day, he’s considered one of the greatest point guards in NBA history.

Starting in 1954, he was the National Basketball Players Association’s first president, a position he held until 1958. He strongly advocated for the organization to be established.

Early in Cousy’s pro career, he also helped play a part in integrating the NBA and improving race relations. During the 1950-51 season, Cousy was the roommate of Chuck Cooper, the first African-American draft pick to play in the NBA.

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Corey Brewer expresses joy in giving back to the community https://www.talkbasket.net/46159-corey-brewer-expresses-joy-in-giving-back-to-the-community https://www.talkbasket.net/46159-corey-brewer-expresses-joy-in-giving-back-to-the-community#respond Sun, 30 Jun 2019 18:25:44 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=46159 After winning back-to-back NCAA Tournament titles with the University of Florida in 2006-07, Corey Brewer has experienced the ups and downs of a long NBA career. A first-round pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Brewer has played for the Timberwolves, Knicks, Mavericks, Nuggets, Rockets, Lakers, Thunder, 76ers and, most recently, the Kings. It all started […]

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Corey Brewer expresses joy in giving back to the community

After winning back-to-back NCAA Tournament titles with the University of Florida in 2006-07, Corey Brewer has experienced the ups and downs of a long NBA career.

A first-round pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Brewer has played for the Timberwolves, Knicks, Mavericks, Nuggets, Rockets, Lakers, Thunder, 76ers and, most recently, the Kings. It all started with Minnesota in 2007. He returned for a second stint in the Twin Cities in 2013.

Now 33, Brewer maintains interest in extending his pro career.

In the offseason, he keeps busy. He recently held his 10th annual Back2Back Basketball Camp at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. He donates proceeds from the camp to the Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund at the University of Florida Diabetes Institute.

While conducting the camp, Brewer spoke to the Ocala Star-Banner, a Florida newspaper, about life in the NBA, his thoughts on the college game nowadays and much more.

Interview with Corey Brewer

A few key highlights from the interview follow:

“What motivates you each year to keep hosting the Corey Brewer camp? Now in its 10th year, is there anything you add or change?” he was asked.

“Just coming back to Gainesville is always special to me, but this camp is going on 10 years now,” Brewer told the newspaper. “It’s become part of my whole routine. Like, these kids are like family to me. Some kids, they’ve been coming for the last 10 years. I was just joking with one of them, I was like ‘Yo, you have a lot of pictures of me in your house!’ and they said ‘Yeah, they’re all in my room’. So, it’s crazy, but it’s just good for me, I think it’s good for the kids, and just giving back to diabetes research and UF Health, it’s great.”

“Duke became the first program to have three top-10 picks since you, Al Horford and Joakim Noah were drafted in 2007?” he was asked. “What are your thoughts on Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish?”

Brewer responded by saying, “I think it’s cool. For it not to happen for 12 years is amazing, but I’m happy for those guys. I think they’re really talented. Cam Reddish can really shoot it, really play. RJ’s going to be a star, and everybody knows Zion Williamson is just amazing, he’s just a freak, so I think those guys are great. Don’t forget, they had top-10, we had top-9 (laughs). They’re great though, I think all three of them will be great pros.”

The versatile swingman also opened up about how he works on his game in the offseason.

“I’m staying ready, I’ve been working on my jumpshot a lot,” Brewer told the newspaper. “You’ve got to be able to shoot these days to stay in the league. Been working on my body, just trying to get stronger and try to keep at it. I still got years left, I can still play. Hopefully, I can get in a good situation and show people I can still play.”

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Rod Strickland excited to see Stephon Marbury get start in coaching https://www.talkbasket.net/46154-rod-strickland-excited-to-see-stephon-marbury-get-start-in-coaching https://www.talkbasket.net/46154-rod-strickland-excited-to-see-stephon-marbury-get-start-in-coaching#respond Sun, 30 Jun 2019 17:14:37 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=46154 After resurrecting his pro basketball career in China over the past decade, longtime NBA point guard Stephon Marbury emerged as a legend in the Far East. Now retired, he’s ready for the next chapter of his life: as a head coach. The Chinese Basketball Association’s Beijing Royal Fighters have handed the coaching reins to Marbury, […]

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Rod Strickland excited to see Stephon Marbury get start in coaching

After resurrecting his pro basketball career in China over the past decade, longtime NBA point guard Stephon Marbury emerged as a legend in the Far East.

Now retired, he’s ready for the next chapter of his life: as a head coach.

The Chinese Basketball Association’s Beijing Royal Fighters have handed the coaching reins to Marbury, it was announced a few days ago. The Royal Fighters went 8-38 last season. Marbury, now 42, received a three-year coaching contract, according to published reports.

Former NBA guard Rod Strickland, a New York City native like Marbury, is excited about Marbury’s new opportunity.

“I’ve had the opportunity to have good basketball conversation with him,” Strickland tweeted. “He will be great. I love when former NBA players get an opportunity to be head coaches. So much knowledge and and experience to offer.”

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Rony Seikaly the subject of a new documentary https://www.talkbasket.net/45905-rony-seikaly-the-subject-of-a-new-documentary https://www.talkbasket.net/45905-rony-seikaly-the-subject-of-a-new-documentary#respond Fri, 28 Jun 2019 01:22:05 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=45905 Thirty-one summers ago, Rony Seikaly was a top-10 pick in the NBA Draft — No. 9 overall, to be precise. Now, he’s the subject of a new documentary that chronicles his upbringing, his college career at Syracuse University, his successful NBA career (starting with the Miami Heat) and much more. The compelling project is introduced […]

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Rony Seikaly the subject of a new documentary

Thirty-one summers ago, Rony Seikaly was a top-10 pick in the NBA Draft — No. 9 overall, to be precise.

Now, he’s the subject of a new documentary that chronicles his upbringing, his college career at Syracuse University, his successful NBA career (starting with the Miami Heat) and much more.

The compelling project is introduced this way via CloseUp360.com:

“Thirty seasons ago, he was the Miami Heat’s first-ever NBA draft pick. Now, he’s an international house DJ, music producer and real estate mogul. From war-torn Beirut to South Beach, Rony Seikaly shares his incredible story for the first time in CloseUp360’s documentary. You’ll hear him open up about how he made it through the Lebanese Civil War (which started in the 1970s), how he signed at college basketball powerhouse Syracuse University as a complete unknown in the U.S., how he became the Heat’s first international star, and how he cemented his legacy within Miami’s nightlife scene as South Beach became one of the most popular destinations in the world.

“Over the course of his life, Rony has reinvented himself three times — through basketball, music and real estate — building a successful career in each one. Simply put, there is no more versatile or accomplished middle-aged man in the world than Rony Seikaly, who even his trainer says could still ‘give people a problem’ in the NBA with how active and in-shape he’s in at 54 years old.”

A look back at the 1988 Draft

Selected ahead of Seikaly were the following (from eighth to first)

Rex Chapman
Tim Perry
Hersey Hawkins
Mitch Richmond
Chris Morris
Charles Smith
Rik Smits
Danny Manning

Of all the players chosen in the 1988 Draft, Rod Strickland had the longest career. The No. 19 pick that year played 17 seasons and appeared in 1,094 regular-season games.

Seikaly’s NBA career spanned 11 seasons. He played in 678 games, averaging 14.7 points and 9.5 rebounds. (In one of those games, he corralled a franchise-record 34 rebounds for the Orlando Magic.)

In one revealing moment from the documentary, Seikaly recalls his showdown with Georgetown University senior center Patrick Ewing in 1985 in a game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York, before a packed house of 35,000. Seikaly was a freshman.

“Thinking about it, looking back … how did that game not put any pressure on me?” Seikaly said, looking at the camera. “I don’t know. I really don’t know. But the fact is, that on his first turnaround jumper I blocked his shot, and set the tempo of the game, and we ended up beating Georgetown, who was No. 1 at the time.”

Challenging times

Seikaly also reflected on Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s father, Malcolm, the president of American University of Beirut, being assassinated in 1984 in his hometown.

“This is the stigma I came with,” he said of being a foreigner in the United States at a time when to some people the label for all Lebanese can be boiled down to one word: terrorist.

In the documentary, Rony Seikaly, whose slow rise to stardom began at American School in Athens, Greece, also pointed out that one of his uncles was kidnapped in Lebanon while he was Syracuse.

“It was just a daily occurrence of what was going on at the time,” he says now.

He added: “Outside the basketball court, I felt a little bit that people didn’t accept me being from Lebanon. It was hard, it was really hard. The press, the majority of people thinking that I’m from Lebanon, automatically assume me to be a bad guy.”

But upon being drafted by the Heat, Seikaly now says it was a seminal moment in his life.

“So I had no idea that I was part of this European movement into the NBA,” Seikaly said. “I was just living it.”

Seikaly’s early years had a profound impact on his work ethic and ambitious personality as an adult. For instance, he told one story of a bomb going off on the second story of his family’s apartment building. They lived on the third floor.

“There are so many times that I skirted death,” he said near the end of the documentary. “Of course it makes a big difference on how to persevere now.”

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Penny Hardaway named to inaugural class of Memphis Sports Hall of Fame https://www.talkbasket.net/45849-penny-hardaway-named-to-inaugural-class-of-memphis-sports-hall-of-fame https://www.talkbasket.net/45849-penny-hardaway-named-to-inaugural-class-of-memphis-sports-hall-of-fame#respond Thu, 27 Jun 2019 18:26:43 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=45849 From his days as a prep star for Treadwell High School in Memphis to his present gig as a college basketball coach, Penny Hardaway has enjoyed a rich basketball life. The longtime NBA player recently added another item to his long list of achievements: a member of the Memphis Sports Hall of Fame’s inaugural class. […]

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Penny Hardaway named to inaugural class of Memphis Sports Hall of Fame

From his days as a prep star for Treadwell High School in Memphis to his present gig as a college basketball coach, Penny Hardaway has enjoyed a rich basketball life.

The longtime NBA player recently added another item to his long list of achievements: a member of the Memphis Sports Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.

Memphisflyer.com posted this biographical entry on Hardaway, a four-time NBA All-Star in an online report late last month:

Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway — Most accomplished basketball player in city’s history. All-America (1992-93) at Memphis State, third pick in 1993 NBA draft, two-time first-team All-NBA with Orlando Magic, and member of the 1996 gold-medalist U.S. Olympic team. Took over coaching duties at the U of M in 2018.”

The inaugural class will include 22 individuals (athletes, coaches and contributors) to celebrate the first 200 years of sports history in Memphis, which is why the Hall of Fame is dubbing it the “Bicentennial Class.”

According to published reports, the Memphis Sports Council and Memphis Tourism is planning to open the Hall of Fame at Auto Zone Park, home of minor league baseball’s Memphis Redbirds, on its press level.

Current coaching gig

Penny Hardaway, who turns 48 in July, is entering his second season as the University of Memphis bench boss. The Tigers went 22-14 in his first season at the helm.

And it appears that Hardaway, who played for the school from 1991-93, is on the right path, building a successful program. And it all starts with top-level recruiting, from his hometown and beyond.

“With talent such as the No. 1 player in the country James Wiseman, five-star Precious Achiuwa, four-star Lester Quinones and four-star Boogie Ellis among others, Memphis’ roster has very few – if any – weaknesses on paper. That roster strength now has Memphis thinking sacrificially as they firmly plant themselves in the national discussion as a preseason top 10 team,” the website 247sports.com reported in May.

“What happened early is that Boogie, James, Lester and Precious all got in a group chat. All they’ve been talking about is sacrifice,” Hardaway told 247 Sports. “There are young leaders emerging from this group chat. They’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to sacrifice,’ to one another so we can all have the bigger goal.”

Indeed, Penny Hardaway is ambitious and eager to build his legacy as a head coach.

But above all, he has an unbreakable bond with his hometown.

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Basketball royalty Sam Jones turns 86 https://www.talkbasket.net/45602-basketball-royalty-sam-jones-turns-86 https://www.talkbasket.net/45602-basketball-royalty-sam-jones-turns-86#respond Mon, 24 Jun 2019 17:08:12 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=45602 Basketball legend Sam Jones turned 86 this week. On Monday, to be precise. This remarkable player was an irreplaceable part of the Boston Celtics dynasty during the 1950s and ’60s. It’s as good a time as any to recap his success story. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard turned pro in 1957 and retired in 1969. In […]

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Basketball royalty Sam Jones turns 86

Basketball legend Sam Jones turned 86 this week.

On Monday, to be precise.

This remarkable player was an irreplaceable part of the Boston Celtics dynasty during the 1950s and ’60s.

It’s as good a time as any to recap his success story.

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard turned pro in 1957 and retired in 1969. In between, the No. 8 overall pick in the 1957 Draft starred on 10 NBA championship teams in his 12-season pro career.

The Celtics claimed titles in 1959-66 — missed the finals in ’67 — then won it again in 1968 and ’69 to cap Jones’ fantastic career.

To this day, he is the second-most winningest player in NBA history, trailing only his teammate Bill Russell, who served as player-coach for the last of those two aforementioned titles. Russell won 11 titles.

In a 2009 interview, Celtics Hall of Fame guard Bob Cousy was asked how Sam Jones would fare in the modern NBA. His answer revealed absolute trust in Jones’ skills to compete in the current era.

“When you are talking about Hall of Famers, Sam could easily play in today’s game and give Kobe (Bryant), (Tracy) McGrady and whoever all they could handle,” Cousy was quoted as saying by 20secondtimeout. “When you are talking about McGrady, Kobe, Sam Jones — I mean, nobody could stop those guys. They have so many offensive weapons, unless you commit two or even three people to them you are not going to slow them down a lot.”

Clutch playoff performer

Jones, who attended North Carolina Central, averaged 17.7 points during his pro career. He posted four 20-plus ppg campaigns. That figure rose to 20-plus ppg seven times in the playoffs, including 28.6 in 1965. All told, Jones averaged 18.9 ppg in the postseason.

What’s more, in seven of those seasons (1962-67, ’69), Jones poured in more points per game in the playoffs than he did in the regular season, including 28.6 in 1965.

Primarily, he starred at shooting guard for the powerhouse Celtics teams, but also contributed as a point guard and small forward when called upon to do so by head coach Red Auerbach and his successor, Bill Russell.

Sam Jones, a five-time All-Star, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.

He found his niche as a starter, but it didn’t occur right away, as he recalled in this interview with SLAM magazine. That didn’t happen full time until 1961.

“I’m a team player, and I was trying to find my role,” Jones told SLAM. “I didn’t like starting at first; I liked coming off the bench. The reason was that I could come in fresh and run and shoot and get out on the fastbreak. I had an advantage. When I started, I didn’t have that advantage.”

It worked out fine in the end. Boy, did it ever for Sam Jones and the Boston Celtics.

As Basketball Digest once observed, “Jones’ Celtics went 9-0 in game sevens, four of them in the NBA Finals. Jones averaged 27.1 ppg in those games, with a high game of 47 (against Oscar Robertson’s Cincinnati Royals) and a low of 18.”

In a 1987 interview with The New York Times, Jones admitted that he believed in his abilities as a shooter, and it paid off throughout his legendary career.

”I was a good shot,” he told The Times, “and I never thought about missing. I thought about the ball going in the basket.”

Which is why “Mr. Clutch” was the perfect nickname for Sam Jones.

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Sixers upgrade defense with draft-day acquisition of Matisse Thybulle https://www.talkbasket.net/45549-sixers-upgrade-defense-with-draft-day-acquisition-of-matisse-thybulle https://www.talkbasket.net/45549-sixers-upgrade-defense-with-draft-day-acquisition-of-matisse-thybulle#respond Sun, 23 Jun 2019 17:21:38 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=45549 The Philadelphia 76ers secured a defensive specialist in last week’s NBA Draft, acquiring Matisse Thybulle from the Boston Celtics for a pair of first-round picks (Nos. 24 and 33). Thybulle, a University of Washington product, was selected with the 20th overall pick. The 76ers won 51 games this past season, only eight fewer than the […]

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Sixers upgrade defense with draft-day acquisition of Matisse Thybulle

The Philadelphia 76ers secured a defensive specialist in last week’s NBA Draft, acquiring Matisse Thybulle from the Boston Celtics for a pair of first-round picks (Nos. 24 and 33).

Thybulle, a University of Washington product, was selected with the 20th overall pick.

The 76ers won 51 games this past season, only eight fewer than the NBA champion Toronto Raptors before the playoffs. They were one of the top offensive teams in the 2018-19 NBA season, averaging 115.2 points per game (fourth-highest total).

But Philadelphia’s defense was mediocre, yielding 112.5 ppg (19th out of 30 teams).

Which is one reason Thybulle’s defensive skills are so enticing to the Sixers.

Just ask Philly general manager Elton Brand.

“We’ve been following him for the last four years as a staff,” Brand was quoted as saying on Friday, a day after the draft. “The last two years, we got to meet with him. We saw his workout, and I fell in love. We viewed him as a high-character guy. That’s what we need to add to our team. And his on-the-court stuff just blew me away, his speed, his agility, his sense of off-the-ball on defense and where he’s growing as an offensive player.”

Defensive skills

The 6-foot-5 Thybulle started all 135 games during his four seasons at the University of Washington. He established himself as a premier defender for the Pac-12 Conference school.

Thybulle increased his steals-per-game average from 1.1 to 2.1 to 3.0 to 3.5 in his college career. As a result, he broke the conference record for career steals (331), surpassing Gary Payton’s old mark by 10.

Nicknamed “The Disruptor,” Thybulle was No. 1 in steals (126 steals) among NCAA Division I players in 2018-19. With 83 blocks, he also became the first D-I player with at least 100 steals and 80 blocks in the same season in two decades.

Matisse Thybulle averaged a modest 9.2 points per game as a college senior.

But he gained widespread recognition for his defensive productivity and consistency. He was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.

Duke’s Zion Williamson, Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke and Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter were the other finalists.

“To win the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award means the world to me,” Thybulle said in a statement. “I’ve put in the hard work day in and day out, and I have to credit my teammates because they have always had my back both on and off the court. I was only able to accomplish this because of them.

“Defense is exciting, and I believe we showed people that this year.”

The Sixers, of course, want him to keep showing that impact on defense at the next level.

“We went and got a player we really wanted,” Brand told reporters. “(He’s) the top defensive wing in the draft, and that’s what I really wanted to improve on.”

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says Raptors embody success of NBA’s international growth https://www.talkbasket.net/45167-kareem-abdul-jabbar-says-raptors-embody-success-of-nbas-international-growth https://www.talkbasket.net/45167-kareem-abdul-jabbar-says-raptors-embody-success-of-nbas-international-growth#respond Wed, 19 Jun 2019 08:44:02 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=45167 When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks or writes about basketball, it’s a good idea to pay attention. The all-time great center is an intellectual, a deep thinker and a gifted writer on many subjects. He delivers nuanced commentaries time after time. Indeed, NBA history — and the broader perspectives that examine the growth of the game — […]

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says Raptors embody success of NBA’s international growth

When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks or writes about basketball, it’s a good idea to pay attention.

The all-time great center is an intellectual, a deep thinker and a gifted writer on many subjects. He delivers nuanced commentaries time after time.

Indeed, NBA history — and the broader perspectives that examine the growth of the game — is just one area of expertise for the league’s all-time leading scorer.

In his latest column for The Guardian, a British newspaper, Abdul-Jabbar opines on the significance of the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA title last week, beating the Golden State Warriors in a dramatic six-game series. In doing so, the Raptors became the first non-American team to claim the title.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar noted that there were 108 NBA players this season from 42 nations and territories, which amounted to 24.5 percent of the players in the league, for the 2018-19 campaign.

In his view, this has been a catalyst for improved competition.

“Every one of the 30 teams had at least one international player,” he wrote. “The influx of these exceptional players from other countries has resulted in a higher level of competition, forcing American-born aspirants to step up their games. There is no entitlement in the NBA, it is the ultimate meritocracy: your value is measured by performance alone. And if we increase the pool of competitors, the entire game will be elevated even higher. This is evident from examining the Raptors’ roster which includes Serge Ibaka (Congo and Spain), Pascal Siakam (Cameroon), Marc Gasol (Spain), and OG Anunoby (born in London to Nigerian parents). One of the assistant coaches, Patrick Mutombo, was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The team president, Masai Ujiri, was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria. Nick Nurse, the head coach, developed his coaching career in Europe.”

Growth of the game

Examining the growth of the game on a global scale, the former UCLA, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers standout also commented on the NBA’s grassroots efforts.

“For some other countries,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote, “the catch-22 is that a sport has to be popular to get the resources to develop children’s skills, but it can’t become popular without raising children with those skills. The NBA has been on a fervent mission to expand the league internationally through a variety of promising programs. Since 2001, they have conducted basketball camps in 27 countries on six continents. In February, they announced that they had established a 12-team Basketball African League that would begin in 2020. I participated in the Basketball Without Borders Africa 2018 camp in Johannesburg and saw first-hand the level of enthusiasm for the sport.”

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Yao Ming elected as FIBA Asia chairman https://www.talkbasket.net/44877-yao-ming-elected-as-fiba-asia-chairman https://www.talkbasket.net/44877-yao-ming-elected-as-fiba-asia-chairman#respond Sun, 16 Jun 2019 12:37:36 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=44877 Here’s a news item that was overshadowed by countless NBA Finals developments within the past week: Hall of Famer Yao Ming was elected as FIBA Asia chairman. Yao’s appointment came at the FIBA Asia General Assembly in Bengaluru, India, it was announced on June 9. The ex-Houston Rockets center joins the FIBA Asia leadership board […]

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Yao Ming elected as FIBA Asia chairman

Here’s a news item that was overshadowed by countless NBA Finals developments within the past week: Hall of Famer Yao Ming was elected as FIBA Asia chairman.

Yao’s appointment came at the FIBA Asia General Assembly in Bengaluru, India, it was announced on June 9.

The ex-Houston Rockets center joins the FIBA Asia leadership board for the four-year period ending in 2023. He also serves as the Chinese Basketball Association chairman. In February 2017, the CBA unanimously selected Yao for the position.

Qatari Sheikh Saud Ali Al Thani begins a third term as FIBA Asia president.

Yao Ming began his career with the Shanghai Sharks in 1997. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, then retired in 2011 after numerous injuries. He was an eight-time NBA All-Star.

Commitment to education

He’s kept busy in recent years, raising a family and getting a college education. In April 2018, Yao Ming earned an economics degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He first entered the school in 2011.

Indeed, persistence paid off.

At age 17, Yao promised his parents that he would get a college degree some day.

“At a certain stage in the future, you should try to combine your future with the future of the society, because that’s how you can find larger space for yourself to explore,” Yao was quoted as saying during his graduation speech.

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Guiding principles: ‘Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success’ by Phil Jackson https://www.talkbasket.net/44873-guiding-principles-eleven-rings-the-soul-of-success-by-phil-jackson https://www.talkbasket.net/44873-guiding-principles-eleven-rings-the-soul-of-success-by-phil-jackson#respond Sun, 16 Jun 2019 09:16:48 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=44873 If you still haven’t read Phil Jackson’s latest book, it’s well worth your time (and money) to do so this summer. It’s a tour de force filled with great notes, quotes and anecdotes on Jackson’s life journey, as well as observations about human behavior. Plenty of basketball talk, too. Highlights and difficult moments from the […]

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Guiding principles: ‘Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success’ by Phil Jackson

If you still haven’t read Phil Jackson’s latest book, it’s well worth your time (and money) to do so this summer.

It’s a tour de force filled with great notes, quotes and anecdotes on Jackson’s life journey, as well as observations about human behavior. Plenty of basketball talk, too. Highlights and difficult moments from the Zen Master’s years leading the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers help form the foundation of this book.

Six years after it was published, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success,” written with Hugh Delehanty, remains one of the smartest sports books of the 21st century.

It begins with a quote from the 13th century mystic poet Rumi: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

Which happens to set the tone for a mix of philosophical perspectives and everyday wisdom that is sprinkled throughout the book.

A father’s influence

There are stories, of course, about the former forward and coaching legend’s formative years, his upbringing, his high school playing days in Montana and college years at the University of North Dakota. Family tales, too.

For example, how did Phil’s father, Charles, an Assemblies of God minister, influence him?

“The great gift my father gave me was showing me how to be genuinely compassionate while also commanding people’s respect,” he revealed in one passage.

A mentor’s impact

As a player, Jackson learned valuable lessons from Hall of Fame mentor Red Holzman, who piloted the New York Knicks to a pair of NBA titles (1969-70 and 1972-73). And he shared some of that wisdom in Eleven Rings.

Exhibit A: What was Holzman’s chief strength as coach?

“Red’s singular gift … was his uncanny ability to manage men grown and get them to come together with a common mission,” Jackson declared. “He didn’t use sophisticated motivational techniques; he was just straightforward and honest. Unlike many coaches, he didn’t interfere in players’ personal lives unless they were up to something that would have a negative effect on the team.”

Phil Jackson transformed the Bulls

On page 84, Phil Jackson weighs in on how the Chicago Bulls developed into a dynasty.

“Basketball is a great mystery,” Jackson wrote. “You can do everything right. You can have the perfect mix of talent and the best system of offense in the game. You can devise a foolproof defensive strategy and prepare your players for every possible eventuality. But if the players don’t have a sense of oneness as a group, your efforts won’t pay off. And the bond that unites a team can be so fragile, so elusive.

“Oneness is not something you can turn on with a switch. You need to create the right environment for it to grow, then nurture it carefully every day…”

Coaching strategies

Phil Jackson also detailed how he guided the Bulls during their dynasty years in the 1990s, when they captured six titles in eight seasons.

“…I would assert myself forcefully in practice to imbue the players with a strong vision of where we needed to go and what we had to do to get there,” he recalled. “But once the game began, I would slip into the background and let the players orchestrate the attack.

“Occasionally I would step in to make defensive adjustments or shift players around if we needed a burst of energy. For the most part, though, I let the players take the lead.

“To make this strategy work, I needed to develop a strong circle of team leaders who could transform that vision into reality…”

More wisdom

A rich collection of quotes, inspirational sayings and thought-provoking expressions were selected to be place on the first page of each chapter.

Chapter one (The Circle Of Love) leads off this way: “Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar.” — Jim Butcher

And here’s how the Afterword (Life Is A Highway) concludes, passing along a quote from Daniel Boone: “I’ve never lost, but I was mighty turned around for three days once.”

Winning techniques

Phil Jackson’s teams were blessed with talent (Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Scottie Pippen, et al), but he found a way time after time to mold personalities together, even if/when it required help to get battling egos to co-exist. He also admitted in the book that “sometimes Fish (Derek Fisher) acted as a mediator between Kobe and me.”

Reflecting on training camp for the 2008-09 season, the veteran bench boss recognized that the Lakers, who were coming off an NBA Finals loss in the previous season, had built something special.

“I was impressed by the players’ cool determination,” he wrote. “The previous year they had taken a quantum leap forward in terms of mastering the system. Now, inspired by their mutual loss, they were deepening their commitment to one another so that they could become more integrated — and invincible — as a team.

“This is what I often refer to as dancing with the spirit. By ‘spirit’ I don’t mean anything religious. I mean that deep feeling of camaraderie that arises when a group of players makes a commitment to stand up for one another to achieve something greater than themselves, no matter what the risks…”

This approach worked. The Lakers won back-to-back titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10. And he led the Lakers to five championships in all, starting with the three-peat in 1999-2000 campaign, and seven NBA Finals appearances. Since his departure as sideline supervisor in 2011, that leadership void has never been filled.

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Marc Gasol basks in afterglow of Toronto Raptors’ first championship https://www.talkbasket.net/44761-marc-gasol-basks-in-afterglow-of-toronto-raptors-first-championship https://www.talkbasket.net/44761-marc-gasol-basks-in-afterglow-of-toronto-raptors-first-championship#respond Fri, 14 Jun 2019 17:52:42 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=44761 As the euphoria of winning the NBA championship on Thursday night lifted the team’s spirits to previously unreachable levels, Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol was asked specifically to think about the team’s unique makeup. “What makes this team special?” a reporter inquired in the aftermath of the visiting Raptors’ 114-110 Game 6 victory over the […]

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Marc Gasol basks in afterglow of Toronto Raptors’ first championship

As the euphoria of winning the NBA championship on Thursday night lifted the team’s spirits to previously unreachable levels, Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol was asked specifically to think about the team’s unique makeup.

“What makes this team special?” a reporter inquired in the aftermath of the visiting Raptors’ 114-110 Game 6 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

“Just look at the roster, look at the roster of that team,” Gasol told reporters. “You look at the depth, the depth of them. Then you look at the bench, you look at the young players that they have, you see the coaching staff, their mindset, you look at the front office, their mindset they have. Go from top to bottom, ownership, the trainers, physical therapists, chefs, everything. It’s a top class organization. They’re all about winning.

He went on: “And like I was telling your colleague, it doesn’t guarantee you’re going to win, but it does help that everyone has that championship mentality. I’m so happy that they got it because everyone in Toronto and Canada deserves this because they fought for it. I’m sure the Jurassic Park is going a little crazy right now, I just hope everybody is OK. But I’m sure there’s a lot of people very happy, because we have shown a lot of resilience and togetherness.”

The new kid in town

Gasol joined the Raptors in early February before the trading deadline. The three-time NBA All-Star helped bolstered a versatile, talented roster for the regular season’s stretch run.

Above all, he brought toughness, experience and valuable veteran leadership to the club.

Gasol started all 24 Toronto playoff games. In the NBA Finals, the Barcelona native averaged 12.0 points and 7.3 boards against the Warriors.

After 11 seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, it was well-known that he was an established, proven, go-to player. Somebody who could help elevate the Raptors.

Listen to Raptors coach Nick Nurse’s assessment of the trade, as reported by ESPN at the time:

“I think that there’s a lot of positives with a guy like Gasol, and I think most of them come with being battle-tested. I think we all know that those playoffs can get wild and woolly, and he’s a guy that’s been through them many times.”

That winning feeling

Marc Gasol entered the history books on Thursday. Playing on a title-winning team, he and older brother Pau Gasol became the first siblings in NBA history win titles. Pau starred on the Los Angeles Lakers’ back-to-back championship teams in 2009 and 2010.

Asked to reflect on his role on the Raptors and what this achievement means to him, Gasol had this to say: “It means a lot of things. It means the world. Still I’ve been floating for the past couple of hours. I’m thrilled. So many people deserve this. Even though Golden State had some tough injuries the last game and this game, they showed you how much heart they have. … They didn’t make any excuses, they kept playing, they kept coming at you every possession offensively and defensively. So very much respect for those guys and their organization.

“With that said, I’m very happy that we won. I’m so excited, it’s just (a) special, special feeling. We have a special group of guys that are so carefree. They help one another, especially through tough times when we could have pointed fingers at one another and blamed each other, we didn’t do that. We just held on to our brothers. And just, I just have so many people to thank that we would be here for a couple hours, so I want to thank everybody.”

Congratulations from big brother

Naturally, the elder Gasol wasn’t the only person with celebratory messages for Marc. But big Pau’s comments were widely circulated, including on social media.

Pau Gasol tweeted, “To win an @NBA title is something extremely difficult to accomplish but wonderful at the same time. You finally got yours @MarcGasol!!! Outstanding job, outstanding effort and a historical triumph!!! Huge congratulations to the entire @Raptors team and the city of Toronto!!”

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Words of wisdom: Coaching advice from Lenny Wilkens https://www.talkbasket.net/44486-words-of-wisdom-coaching-advice-from-lenny-wilkens https://www.talkbasket.net/44486-words-of-wisdom-coaching-advice-from-lenny-wilkens#respond Tue, 11 Jun 2019 17:23:02 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=44486 Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens was one of 52 individuals* listed in the Panel of Experts in Terry Pluto’s thoughtful 1995 book, “Falling From Grace: Can Pro Basketball Be Saved”? The books, which checks in at more than 300 pages, is chock full of insight, knowledge and humor. It also asks important questions about the […]

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Words of wisdom: Coaching advice from Lenny Wilkens

Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens was one of 52 individuals* listed in the Panel of Experts in Terry Pluto’s thoughtful 1995 book, “Falling From Grace: Can Pro Basketball Be Saved”?

The books, which checks in at more than 300 pages, is chock full of insight, knowledge and humor. It also asks important questions about the game in the mid-1990s.

“Eye-opening, provocative, carefully reasoned and endlessly revealing,” reads the inside the back cover premise. “Falling from Grace is a wake-up call for a league grown complacent with success, and for the players who have reaped the rewards of that success without fully understanding where it came from. It is a no-holds-barred look at a sport in freefall, a snapshot of the moment when it has passed its apogee of popularity and has begun to plummet toward ground zero.”

We now know the return of Michael Jordan that year, the Chicago Bulls’ second three-peat starting the next season and the emergence of the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal-led Los Angeles Lakers thwarted any possibility of the NBA falling apart.

Nevertheless, by revisiting this book many years after it was released, one gains a greater appreciation for the league’s history and memorable characters. This is true even by just skimming some of the topics that Pluto presents.

Viewpoints from Lenny Wilkens

Which brings us back to Lenny Wilkens, whose poignant observations about running a team are included in “The Voice of Coaches” chapter.

“I’m never intimidated by the other coach, because I am confident in myself as a coach,” Wilkens said. “I hate to lose. There are maybe a half-dozen times a year where we will lose a game and I’ll have trouble sleeping that night. But most of the time I am able to go home and be myself.”

He continued: “When I was a young coach in Seattle, my son Randy came up to me in the middle of a game. He wanted a dollar for a hot dog. It was a great wake-up call for me. It reminded me that while I was a coach, I also was a father. I gave him the dollar and went back to coaching. In my life, my faith and my family come first. Then comes my coaching.

“I watch tape, but I don’t have to watch a game five or six times to know what happened…”

Speaking of his role as a disciplinarian, Wilkens had this to say in the book: “As a coach, my method of imposing discipline is that I control the minutes. No matter how much money these guys make, they all want to play. If they know that the coach — and only the coach — determines who plays, then the coach can get a player to do what he wants. I tell my guys that I’ll be fair with them. If I put them out there and they don’t get back on defense, they are coming out of the game. If they are selfish, they’re coming out. I treat them like men and I expect them to respond like men.”

Coaching history

Wilkens, the second-winningest coach in NBA history (1,332 victories), was an NBA bench boss in 32 seasons. He guided the Seattle SuperSonics (1969-72), Portland Trail Blazers (1974-76), Seattle (1977-85, winning a championship in ’79), Cleveland Cavaliers (1986-93), Atlanta Hawks (1993-2000), Toronto Raptors (2000-03) and his hometown New York Knicks (2003-05). He retired as a player in 1975 after serving several years as a player-coach. His teams had nine 50-win seasons.

Now 81, Wilkens retired as the career leader in wins, games coached (2,487) and losses (1,155). In April 2010, Don Nelson climbed past Wilkens on the all-time wins list and still sits No. 1 at 1,335.

Wilkens was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1989 and as a coach in 1998, and again in 2010 with the rest of the 1992 Team USA Dream Team for which he was an assistant coach. Only three other men have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as players and coaches: John Wooden, Bill Sharman and Tom Heinsohn.

The joy of coaching

In an interview posted on achievement.org, Lenny Wilkens detailed what kept him in the coaching business for decades.

“For someone who doesn’t know basketball, what makes your job so exciting?” he was asked.

Wilkens’ response: “People. Working with young people. Helping them to maximize their ability because it helps them to become successful and it helps me to be successful. It helps the organization. But also, I feel if I can impart something lasting then they not only use it for their basketball, they take it off the court and they take it and they utilize it in giving back to society through their family and through how they interact in their community. And when I see that I feel real good about it. You see the growth. You see the development of a human being in addition to an athlete.”

*The panel also includes:
Richie Adubato
Charles Barley
Rick Barry
Hubie Brown
Larry Brown
Jerry Colangelo
Doug Collins
Bob Costas
Bob Cousy
Chuck Daly
Matt Dobek
Wayne Embry
Bill Fitch
Cotton Fitzsimmons
Gary Fitzsimmons
Mike Fratello
John Havlicek
Mark Heffernan
Tom Heinsohn
Juwan Howard
Phil Jackson
Stan Kasten
Jerry Krause
Frank Layden
Gene Littles
Jack Madden
Red McCombs
Al Menendez
Dick Motta
Eric Musselman
John Nash
Pete Newell
Kevin O’Keefe
Mark Price
Willis Reed
Wally Rooney
Charles Rosen
Bob Ryan
Billy Saar
Dolph Schayes
David Stern
Earl Strom
Joe Tait
Jerry Tarkanian
Mark Termini
Isiah Thomas
Rod Thorn
John Vanak
Chris Webber
Harry Weltman
Pat Williams

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How NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard sees the game https://www.talkbasket.net/44374-how-nba-superstar-kawhi-leonard-sees-the-game https://www.talkbasket.net/44374-how-nba-superstar-kawhi-leonard-sees-the-game#respond Mon, 10 Jun 2019 09:25:23 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=44374 In preparation for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday, NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard and his Toronto Raptors teammates practiced on Saturday in the sprawling Ontario city. It was business as usual for the Raptors star. The daily grind defines his game. This postseason, though, has been anything but ordinary for the small forward. […]

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How NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard sees the game

In preparation for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday, NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard and his Toronto Raptors teammates practiced on Saturday in the sprawling Ontario city.

It was business as usual for the Raptors star. The daily grind defines his game.

This postseason, though, has been anything but ordinary for the small forward. Now in his eighth NBA season, Leonard has elevated his game to certifiable Hall of Fame-caliber play.

He’s never played better than in this 22-game playoff stretch entering Game 5.

Consider the facts: He is the playoff leader in minutes, field goals, field-goal attempts, 2-point field goals, 2-point field-goal attempts, field goals missed and free throws as well as free-throw attempts (200), total rebounds (200), steals (36) and total points (684).

Leonard is averaging 31.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 9.1 free-throw attempts during the playoffs.

All-around improvement

Everything he’s done before in his hoop career has helped him to reach this grand stage again. It’s fascinating to see how he’s figured out how to become a more well-rounded player. Subtle adjustments, really.

Yet despite the platitudes that have come his way and the increased media attention, Leonard doesn’t seek out individual glory.

As a throng of reporters peppered him with questions on Saturday, the NBA superstar reminded the world’s press about that fact.

Exhibit A: “I’m wondering after a game when you’re looking at a box score in this series, what are the stats you’re looking at that jump out to you to tell you that the team has played a good game?” a reporter asked.

“Looking at rebounds, turnovers and field-goal percentage for each team,” Leonard declared. “Obviously, points in the paint and just seeing what were the runs. That’s pretty much it. But the big three things that I look at are turnovers and rebounds and field-goal percentage.”

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Hakeem Olajuwon reminisces about 1994 championship, legendary career https://www.talkbasket.net/44341-hakeem-olajuwon-reminisces-about-1994-championship-legendary-career https://www.talkbasket.net/44341-hakeem-olajuwon-reminisces-about-1994-championship-legendary-career#respond Sun, 09 Jun 2019 17:55:44 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=44341 Twenty-five years after Hakeem Olajuwon led the Houston Rockets to their first of back-to-back NBA championships, he was a guest on the weekly radio program “The Sporting Life.” The ESPN program, hosted by Jeremy Schaap, aired over the weekend. The Rockets defeated the visiting Knicks 90-84 in Game 7 of the 1994 Finals to capture […]

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Hakeem Olajuwon reminisces about 1994 championship, legendary career

Twenty-five years after Hakeem Olajuwon led the Houston Rockets to their first of back-to-back NBA championships, he was a guest on the weekly radio program “The Sporting Life.”

The ESPN program, hosted by Jeremy Schaap, aired over the weekend.

The Rockets defeated the visiting Knicks 90-84 in Game 7 of the 1994 Finals to capture the title on June 22.

In 1995, Houston swept the Orlando Magic in the championship round to defend its title.

Olajuwon received NBA Finals MVP honors both years.

In other words, he cemented his legend in the 1994 and ’95 playoffs.

“What are your most vivid memories” from the 1994 Finals? Schaap asked the Hall of Fame center.

“The memory is still so fresh in my mind,” Olajuwon said. “It’s amazing to say that it’s been 25 years. (he laughs)

“I just remember how physical the game was, especially against Patrick (Ewing) and our matchup with (the late Anthony) Mason and (Charles) Oakley. A very, very physical team.

“And we have Otis (Thorpe) and Robert Horry, so both teams match up so well… It was very, very tough at both ends, defensively and offensively.”

Asked about facing Shaquille O’Neal in an early chapter in his career, Olajuwon said: “He was very active, so strong and confident.”

Broader perspective

Hakeem Olajuwon, drafted No. 1 out of the University of Houston in 1984, wrapped up his legendary career in 2002 with the Toronto Raptors. He played all but his final season with the Rockets.

Reflecting on the challenges of capturing two titles, Olajuwon admitted to Schaap that those championships have become more meaningful to him as the years go by.

“And now I watch how difficult it is to win championships and it makes me appreciate our championships more,” said Olajuwon, who was born in Lagos, Nigeria.

Soccer background

Unlike many big men, Olajuwon possessed remarkably quick footwork. It’s been said many times that his soccer background aided his development as a basketball player.

Naturally, Schaap wanted to discuss this topic.

As a result, the radio host worded the question this way: “How much did soccer contribute to your success in basketball?”

“That was the foundation of the agility,” Olajuwon said. “I don’t really feel like a big man, so I feel very comfortable like a small (guy) in a big man’s body.

“I grew up playing with guys that are very quick and agile, so you think like them. So that really had a huge impact on my movement, my comfort and my footwork.”

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Serge Ibaka makes big impact in Oakland https://www.talkbasket.net/44297-serge-ibaka-makes-big-impact-in-oakland https://www.talkbasket.net/44297-serge-ibaka-makes-big-impact-in-oakland#respond Sat, 08 Jun 2019 13:13:22 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=44297 In the amount of time that it takes to say his given name — Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Ibaka (commonly known as Serge Ibaka) — the Toronto Raptors veteran big can produce a handful of game-changing plays. For Serge Ibaka, it always starts with effort. Maximum effort. The 6-foot-10 defensive stalwart has […]

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Serge Ibaka makes big impact in Oakland

In the amount of time that it takes to say his given name — Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Ibaka (commonly known as Serge Ibaka) — the Toronto Raptors veteran big can produce a handful of game-changing plays.

For Serge Ibaka, it always starts with effort. Maximum effort.

The 6-foot-10 defensive stalwart has been making a big impact for playoff teams since entering the NBA in 2009.

As a rookie, he swatted seven shots for the Oklahoma City Thunder in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 20, 2010.

On April 27, 2011, the Republic of Congo native rejected nine shots in a playoff contest against the Denver Nuggets.

On May 16, 2012, it was more of the same: He blocked seven shots for OKC against the Los Angeles Lakers.

On April 24, 2013, Big Serge swatted six Houston Rockets shots for the Thunder.

He joined the Toronto Raptors before the 2017-18 season, adding toughness and moxie to the frontline.

Ibaka’s impact

This postseason, Serge Ibaka has come off the bench in all 22 games, including the Raptors’ 105-92 Game 4 road victory on Friday over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Ibaka put 20 points on the board in 21-plus minutes. He finished with a plus-11 rating. He picked up five fouls. He was 9-for-12 from the field, including 1 of 1 on 3-point shots. In addition, he corralled four rebounds and blocked two shots.

In Game 3, he rejected six shots as Toronto won by a 14-point margin, taking a 2-1 series lead.

Defensive presence

Yes, Kawhi Leonard garners the most attention on this team. But this much is also clear: Ibaka is a big part of the team’s engine.

Or as teammate Kyle Lowry stated on Friday: “When Serge is effective defensively is when he’s at his best.”

Looking back on Game 4, Raptors coach Nick Nurse commended Ibaka for using his athleticism and energy, both of which impacted the game.

“Yeah, you know, once he gets into the series, which he did in Game 3, with the blocked shots and the rebounding and stuff, he seems to stay in the series,” Nurse told reporters at Oracle Arena.

“He was great tonight, man, and it’s kind of all — he usually gives you all of it. Once he starts blocking a couple shots and the offense comes and the rebounding comes and a putback here and there, and even his jump shot seems to come once he gets into the game defensively with a blocked shot or two.”

In other words, Game 3 was vintage Serge Ibaka. His Game 4 effort was vital for the Raptors, too.

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Draymond Green fired up about Game 4 challenge https://www.talkbasket.net/44230-draymond-green-fired-up-about-game-4-challenge https://www.talkbasket.net/44230-draymond-green-fired-up-about-game-4-challenge#respond Fri, 07 Jun 2019 11:40:24 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=44230 Dynamic forward Draymond Green is ready for the challenge that lies ahead for the Golden State Warriors. Just ask him. The Warriors forward spoke at length about the pressure of bouncing back after a Game 3 loss to the visiting Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. “I think when you’re hit with a little adversity, whether it’s […]

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Draymond Green fired up about Game 4 challenge

Dynamic forward Draymond Green is ready for the challenge that lies ahead for the Golden State Warriors.

Just ask him.

The Warriors forward spoke at length about the pressure of bouncing back after a Game 3 loss to the visiting Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

“I think when you’re hit with a little adversity, whether it’s being down 2-1 or whether it’s being down 17 or 12 or whatever it is, your true colors show,” the Michigan State product told reporters on Thursday, a practice day in Oakland, California. “I think that’s just kind of the makeup of us, that’s our DNA. Our backs are against the wall, we continue to fight. We have a lot of firepower. So all of a sudden we continue to fight, and then we go on a run. Some teams, they don’t handle that situation well.

“You got to give them a lot of credit last night. It kept feeling like that run was right there. (Raptors coach) Nick Nurse took some key timeouts (in Game 3), and their guys answered every time we started to make a push.”

The 29-year-old added: “So you got to give them a lot of credit. But I just think our best basketball is usually played when our backs are against the wall, whether that’s in a series, whether that’s in one particular game.”

Draymond Green, in his seventh season with Golden State, has impressed coach Steve Kerr with his focus during the ongoing postseason.

A few weeks ago, according to The Associated Press, Kerr made these remarks about Green: “I mean, I think that’s been really obvious over the last couple of weeks, and I think it’s important because, when he gets upset and emotional, it costs us. We lose our focus as a team. I mean, he’s our leader.”

The do-it-all veteran is averaging 13.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.5 blocks this postseason. And he’s appeared in all 19 Warriors playoff games.

Game No. 20, on Friday night, is, of course, a huge one for Draymond Green and the two-time defending champions.

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Jim Barnett talks about Rick Adelman, stars of yesteryear and Steph Curry https://www.talkbasket.net/44143-jim-barnett-talks-about-rick-adelman-stars-of-yesteryear-and-steph-curry https://www.talkbasket.net/44143-jim-barnett-talks-about-rick-adelman-stars-of-yesteryear-and-steph-curry#respond Thu, 06 Jun 2019 12:39:03 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=44143 Warriors TV analyst Jim Barnett loves to talk about basketball. Which is why he has the perfect job. A job he’s done with distinction on Golden State telecasts since 1985. Barnett’s ability to break down the intricacies of a game is top notch. He’s also a gifted storyteller, as evidenced by Kerry Eggers’ in-depth interview […]

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Jim Barnett talks about Rick Adelman, stars of yesteryear and Steph Curry

Warriors TV analyst Jim Barnett loves to talk about basketball.

Which is why he has the perfect job. A job he’s done with distinction on Golden State telecasts since 1985.

Barnett’s ability to break down the intricacies of a game is top notch. He’s also a gifted storyteller, as evidenced by Kerry Eggers’ in-depth interview with him this week in the Portland Tribune.

A few big highlights from the interview with the 74-year-old who insists he’s not interested in retiring:

“You played with Adelman with three organizations — San Diego, Portland and New Orleans. He went on to be a great head coach in the NBA and ranks ninth on the career list with 1,042 regular-season wins. Did you see anything in him as a player that would make him a great coach? he was asked.

Barnett: “Rick came into the league with San Diego as a seventh-round draft pick out of Loyola Marymount. The only reason he made it as a rookie was he got hurt early in the exhibition season and couldn’t play for several weeks. By the time he got back, several guards had played themselves off the team. Our coach, Jack McMahon, liked him. Rick had trouble scoring. He couldn’t create his own shot. But he could run a team. He was unselfish. He wasn’t quick at all, but he was the best I’ve ever seen at picking off passes at halfcourt.

“His coaching success didn’t surprise me. He always wanted to be a coach. I don’t think I could have ever been a head coach. I didn’t see the game like coaches saw the game. But as a player, Rick was a thinker. He was always planning ahead, looking at matchups that would work and what wouldn’t. I just played. Rick became a great coach, and he should be in the Hall of Fame.”

He was later asked this: “You played in a legendary time in the NBA in the ’60’s and ’70’s with some of the true greats of the game. You played on teams with 11 Hall-of-Famers — Russell, Havlicek, Sam and K.C. Jones, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Julius Erving, Elvin Hayes, Pete Maravich, Nate Thurmond and Rick Barry. What are your memories of playing with those guys?”

Barnett’s response: “It’s pretty remarkable when you think about it. Sam Jones could shoot just as well as Stephen Curry from both midrange and from long range. I also played against some of the all-time greats. Jerry West was the toughest guy I ever had to guard. I had to guard quick guys like Calvin Murphy and Nate Archibald. Those great players of that era would be great players today.”

Analyzing a legend

Eggers also asked him this: “Where does Curry rank among the great guards in history?”

Barnett’s response was profound. (Yes, he’s a big Steph Curry fan.)

“He’s on his own plateau,” the analyst said of the Warriors superstar. “You cannot compare him to anyone who’s ever played. There has never been anyone like him. His presence on the court is more than just his production. He is the greatest long-distance shooter of all time. What he brings with his leadership is incredible, but he has transformed the game, and also transformed the audience. There aren’t many kids who think they can be the next LeBron James, but millions out there think they could be Stephen Curry. His influence on the game is different than anyone, ever. Is he better than West or Oscar Robertson or Kobe (Bryant) or Pistol Pete? He’s different than those guys. I’d want him on my team as much anybody in the history of the game at the guard position.”

A podcast highlighting Eggers’ extended conversation with Barnett is linked in the article.

***

Die-hard hoop fans can also follow Barnett’s insights on the NBA via Twitter: https://twitter.com/uograd66

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Dwyane Wade gives commencement address at Florida high school https://www.talkbasket.net/44046-dwyane-wade-gives-commencement-address-at-florida-high-school https://www.talkbasket.net/44046-dwyane-wade-gives-commencement-address-at-florida-high-school#respond Tue, 04 Jun 2019 13:10:14 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=44046 Dwyane Wade inspired and excited million of fans during his legendary 16-year NBA career. The future Hall of Famer delivered countless thrills along the way — buzzer-beating shots and timely steals, great passes and hard-to-make blocks. But perhaps his biggest assists have occurred off the court as surprises. On Sunday, Wade arrived at Marjory Stoneham […]

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Dwyane Wade gives commencement address at Florida high school

Dwyane Wade inspired and excited million of fans during his legendary 16-year NBA career.

The future Hall of Famer delivered countless thrills along the way — buzzer-beating shots and timely steals, great passes and hard-to-make blocks.

But perhaps his biggest assists have occurred off the court as surprises.

On Sunday, Wade arrived at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, as the commencement address speaker for the Class of 2019. The students didn’t know in advance.

The students, of course, knew who he was. Dwyane Wade had visited Marjory Stoneham Douglas High in the aftermath of a horrific school shooting spree on Valentine’s Day 2018. Seventeen people were killed at the school that day. Wade was at the school weeks later on the first day that it reopened. That day, too, he arrived at the school without the students being told in advance.

“I’m so proud to say the words ‘MSD Strong,'” Wade said on Sunday. “Today, you will close a chapter in your lives and embark on new experiences and journeys and memories. And it’s a time to celebrate and be proud of everything you’ve done to make it to this moment. As you know, I, too, recently closed a pretty significant chapter in my life. So in a way I feel like I can relate to what’s going on in your minds right now.”

Community involvement

It’s been widely reported that one of the shooting victims, a student named Joaquin Oliver, was a big Wade fan. As a result, he was buried in a Wade jersey.

Wade commended the students for their grassroots efforts to combat gun violence.

“What I loved and appreciated most is that you all became advocates,” he told the graduating students. “You became the faces and the voices for kids all around the world. I’m so proud to say the words MSD strong.”

Dwyane Wade also said this: “My life is bigger than basketball, and that’s why I asked to come to Marjory Stoneman Douglas — to be whatever was needed of me…”

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Frank Layden is back in the spotlight https://www.talkbasket.net/43956-frank-layden-is-back-in-the-spotlight https://www.talkbasket.net/43956-frank-layden-is-back-in-the-spotlight#respond Mon, 03 Jun 2019 08:54:13 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43956 Rick Carlisle and Frank Layden addressed the media in a pre-game press conference on Sunday. As a result, decades of coaching wisdom and camaraderie were on display in Toronto. Their stories were transmitted to all corners of the globe Layden received the 2019 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award and entertained reporters with many tales while […]

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Frank Layden is back in the spotlight

Rick Carlisle and Frank Layden addressed the media in a pre-game press conference on Sunday.

As a result, decades of coaching wisdom and camaraderie were on display in Toronto. Their stories were transmitted to all corners of the globe

Layden received the 2019 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award and entertained reporters with many tales while in the spotlight.

Carlisle, the longtime Dallas Mavericks coach and National Basketball Coaches Association president, has known Layden for decades. Which means he can explain Layden’s mannerisms in a natural way.

At one point during this NBA Finals press conference, Carlisle described Layden this way: “Frank is well known as a guy with one-liners, a big personality. The fact is he’s a NBA legend. He’s an accomplished basketball man.”

And now Frank Layden is part of an elite fraternity, joining the list of distinguished bench bosses who’ve collected the Daly Award.

The others:
Doug Moe
Hubie Brown
Al Attles
Jerry Sloan
K.C. Jones
Dick Motta
Bernie Bickerstaff
Bill Fitch
Pat Riley
Lenny Wilkens
Jack Ramsay
Tex Winters
Tom Heinsohn

Naturally, reporters asked Layden and Carlisle for their impressions of Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his NBA Finals counterpart, Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors as team leaders and people.

Carlisle gave the short answer. Then it was Layden’s turn to wax philosophical.

“Tremendous,” Carlisle offered. “Tremendous. Steve is — a run of five consecutive Finals is just an amazing accomplishment, regardless of the talent. And I’ve watched Nick closely, we played against him twice this year. He’s terrific in making adjustments and I love the way he’s approached the entire season, they have set up the entire season to work to get to this point and for a first-time NBA head coach, that’s not easy to do.”

Layden on Kerr

“I just met Steve for the first time outside and we hugged each other and he said, ‘It’s such an honor and a pleasure to meet you,’ meaning me,” Layden stated. “And I said to him, ‘You know, Steve, are you having fun?’ He said, ‘Yes, I am.’ I said, ‘Then continue to do it as long as you are, continue to do it the way you’re doing it, never forget where you came from, and enjoy the ride.’ No matter who you are, whether you’re Red Auerbach or Steve Kerr or anybody else, Pat Riley, basketball’s temporary. The games are temporary, sooner or later it comes to an end and you want to leave a legacy, that’s important.

‘What I recognize, Coach, is Steve gets it. He gets it. He communicates. Johnny Wooden made it very simple, when someone asked him, ‘What’s a good coach?’ He said, ‘A good coach is one who wins when he has good players.’ Now that might be an overstatement because a lots of guys coach good players and lose. You know that, you’ve seen it along the way. Otherwise we wouldn’t need Las Vegas, would we?

‘So the thing being that Steve has good players and he wins with good players but he seems to communicate so well with it and balance the identities and it isn’t all him. He has a role in it, but whatever he’s doing he makes that family do it very, very well. It’s a great example that whatever level you coach at, Steve Kerr is the kind of guy — I mean, my thing is, I always judge coaches by, would I want my son to play for that coach or would I want my daughter to play for that coach? And if the answer is yes, then they’re a good coach. And I think that that’s what I could say about Steve Kerr. If I had a son, I would want or daughter that could play for him, I would say certainly. He seems to be a gentleman, he handles winning well, when a lot of people don’t, you know. We always get back to Pete Carril’s words about, if losing builds character, sometimes winning reveals it. And I think he’s handled himself very well both in winning and when he’s been losing…”

Impressions of Nurse

Frank Layden, now 87, coached the Utah Jazz from 1981-88 and later served as team president. He worked at Niagara University as the head man and as an Atlanta Hawks assistant under Hubie Brown before joining the Jazz.

Speaking about Nurse, Layden delivered these remarks: “I don’t know him. I’ve never met him, all right. I’ll have to say this for him, so far I’ve been impressed. You know what I like about the team here? They play hard. I don’t know if they can win, I don’t know if they’re better, I don’t want to measure them by that, but they just went through a long schedule and had the best record, didn’t they? That’s why they’re here tonight and not somewhere else. So I mean, so far, oh, he’s done a wonderful job. He’s done a great job.

“You know we’re talking about the World Series here, in a game that’s played around the world by more people than maybe than outside of soccer than any other game in the world. So I’m impressed, yeah.”

Layden the storyteller

In addition to commenting on the current NBA Finals coaches, Layden spoke Sunday about his banter with referees.

“You know,” he recalled. “I remember Earl Strom one night, when we were getting killed by the Lakers, you know, and I said to Scottie (his son), and of course at that time Phil Johnson was my assistant coach along with Scott, and I said, ‘Listen, you guys take over this game. Try to pull it out.’ I said, ‘I’m going across the street and get us a table for dinner. I’m going to get drunk.

“So I started on Strom, and just got after him something awful. And he gave me, remember he used to do this, (indicating), he was blowing the whistle and screaming and everything, and he is storming over at me, storming over, and he finally gets there. He says, ‘I know what you’re trying to do. But if I got to stay here and watch this (expletive), so do you. Sit down and shut up.’ ”

Classic Layden story

TV cameras and newspaper reporters captured Frank Layden’s colorful character during his heyday.

The Los Angeles Times chronicled one famous episode in a November 1991 column.

Here’s how Larry Stewart’s “BLT and Chili Certainly Beat Watching a Drubbing” began:

“It was the 1985 season and the Utah Jazz were losing badly to the Lakers at the Forum. It was midway through the fourth quarter and Jazz Coach Frank Layden’s mind began to wander. He began thinking about the chili, and the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches served at the team’s hotel across from the Forum.

“I looked around and saw people walking out of the Forum, as usual, and asked myself, ‘What the heck am I staying for?’ ” Layden is quoted as saying in a new Pocket Book, ‘The Basketball Hall of Shame.’

“Layden told his assistant to take over and walked off, passing the Laker bench on his way out.

“ ‘Where you going?’ Coach Pat Riley asked.

“Said Layden: ‘Everybody else is leaving, so why should I stick around and suffer through this? I’m going across the street for some chili and a BLT.’

“Added Layden: When he sat down at the counter in the hotel coffee shop, the guy sitting next to him, according to Layden, said: ‘You know, you look just like Frank Layden, the Utah coach. He’s staying here at the hotel. Stick around. He’ll probably be in here after the game.'”

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In remembrance of John Havlicek https://www.talkbasket.net/43919-in-remembrance-of-john-havlicek https://www.talkbasket.net/43919-in-remembrance-of-john-havlicek#respond Sun, 02 Jun 2019 15:21:15 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43919 Ten days ago, John Havlicek was memorialized by former teammates and other sporting greats who paid their final respects at Trinity Church in Boston. Havlicek, who died at age 79 in late April, starred for the Boston Celtics from 1962-78. A 13-time All-Star, he played on eight NBA championship teams. He was inducted into the […]

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In remembrance of John Havlicek

Ten days ago, John Havlicek was memorialized by former teammates and other sporting greats who paid their final respects at Trinity Church in Boston.

Havlicek, who died at age 79 in late April, starred for the Boston Celtics from 1962-78. A 13-time All-Star, he played on eight NBA championship teams. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.

Fellow Celtics legend Bob Cousy, the inimitable point guard out of Holy Cross University, summed up Havlicek’s career at the memorial service on May 24.

“My old Jesuit mentor at HC (told me) that basically what God requires of you is that you maximize your God-given talents to reach out to those who need a boost,” Cousy said. “John personified this attitude.”

A model of consistency, Havlicek became the first player in NBA history to score 1,000 or more points in 16 straight seasons. He averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the regular season. Furthermore, the Ohio State alum increased his numbers in the postseason: 22.0 and 6.9 (with 4.8 assists), appearing in 172 playoff games.

Havlicek: a tireless performer

In an email interview this past week, Tom Meschery, one of Havlicek’s NBA contemporaries, commented on the indefatigable small forward/shooting guard’s playing style.

“John was never my defensive assignment, thank God,” wrote Meschery, who played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors (1961-67) and Seattle SuperSonics (1967-71).

“Many of us believed that if John were to be cut open, we would discover only machinery — or in today’s parlance technology. So inexhaustible was John, that there could not be any other rational explanation for his non-stop hustle.”

Recollections from Boston

Boston Globe writer Bob Ryan penned a terrific tribute column to John Havlicek in April 1978. It was reprinted by The Globe a few weeks ago.

Among my favorite details from the piece: “Seldom getting into foul trouble, and always knowing how to operate with five fouls when he did (21 disqualifications in 1,270 games while never failing to play proper defense).”

And this, an ode to the old-school performer: “Seven million career three-point plays, and, in almost all of them, the basket coming with him laying on the floor watching the ball drop through the hoop.”

And lastly: “Taking more shots than anyone in NBA history except Wilt.”

Video footage of Hondo’s final game (see below) at the old Boston Garden shows the fans’ great respect and admiration for him.

In short, there could not have been a greater tribute to the great John Havlicek.

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Kyle Lowry takes charge on defense https://www.talkbasket.net/43871-kyle-lowry-takes-charge-on-defense https://www.talkbasket.net/43871-kyle-lowry-takes-charge-on-defense#respond Sat, 01 Jun 2019 13:51:34 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43871 Delivering a punchline is essential for comedians. Similarly, the willingness to take a charge is vital for successful defenders in basketball. It takes physical toughness and mental toughness to plant your feet and absorb a collision with an offensive player. Toronto Raptors veteran guard Kyle Lowry is a master at putting himself in position to […]

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Kyle Lowry takes charge on defense

Delivering a punchline is essential for comedians.

Similarly, the willingness to take a charge is vital for successful defenders in basketball.

It takes physical toughness and mental toughness to plant your feet and absorb a collision with an offensive player.

Toronto Raptors veteran guard Kyle Lowry is a master at putting himself in position to take a charge.

He’s a gusty, smart defender. Above all, he’s a team player, and also makes steady contributions in other areas of the game (career numbers: 14.4 points and 6.1 assists in 856 regular-season games)

He shows that again and again by taking charges, including twice in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night in Toronto.

Golden State’s Draymond Green ran into Lowry in the first half. And in the fourth quarter, he stood his ground near the baseline as DeMarcus Cousins knocked him down.

The championship series resumes on Sunday.

One of the best

According to NBA.com, Lowry, who entered the league in 2006, is No. 2 in charges drawn (0.79 per game) this postseason. He only trails Oklahoma City’s Paul George (1.0 per game), who appeared in five playoff contests this year.

In short, Lowry takes away about one possession per game from his foe. He does it by sacrificing his body.

Chris Herring explored this topic last year, and in his interesting report, former Raptors backup Delon Wright discussed Lowry’s take-charge approach on defense:

“It just feels like he always takes them at the right moment, when the other team has some momentum going. He steps in there and gets the call, and it’s kind of defeating for the other team.”

An appreciation for Lowry’s impact

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse elaborated on the subject to offer a broader perspective.

“His instincts are unbelievable,” Nurse was quoted as saying by the website. “He sees that stuff coming way ahead of time and gets himself in position. That’s just being a super smart, high-IQ player. He’s pretty good at knowing how to take them. Every now and then, he takes a pretty crushing blow. But you know how it is: The good (charge-takers) kind of start to fall just before they take a hit, and hopefully don’t get hurt on those (sorts of plays). But his instincts to play hard amaze me almost nightly.”

In summing up his play, Lowry broke it down this way, according Herring’s report:

“I can’t normally block a shot, and I can’t energize my team with a crazy dunk. But I can take a charge at a big moment in a game, and I think my teammates appreciate me laying myself out there. That’s my energizing play.”

While other players shy away from contact, Lowry is like a baseball batter who endures hit by pitch after hit by pitch.

By early November 2018, Lowry’s 49 charges were tops in the league since the 2017-18 season tipped off, according to fivethirtyeight.com. He played in 65 regular-season games this season and didn’t finish first in that category.

Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks topped the chart at 0.75 per game; Lowry finished at 0.35.

But before the end of the NBA Finals, expect Lowry to keep demonstrating the art and science of this undervalued facet of the game.

Indeed, he’ll take charge on defense — doing so by taking a charge or two, maybe more.

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The book on Kawhi Leonard https://www.talkbasket.net/43760-kawhi-leonard https://www.talkbasket.net/43760-kawhi-leonard#respond Thu, 30 May 2019 17:08:52 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43760 What drives Kawhi Leonard? What makes him tick? What pushes him beyond the limits of mere mortals on the basketball court? At Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California, Leonard’s high school coach, Tim Sweeney, noticed that he had an unflappable demeanor. “Things don’t faze him. He never gets excited. He never loses control,” […]

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The book on Kawhi Leonard

What drives Kawhi Leonard?

What makes him tick?

What pushes him beyond the limits of mere mortals on the basketball court?

At Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California, Leonard’s high school coach, Tim Sweeney, noticed that he had an unflappable demeanor.

“Things don’t faze him. He never gets excited. He never loses control,” Sweeney told The Canadian Press earlier this month.

Leonard, now starring for the Toronto Raptors, who have advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in team history, transferred to King High before his junior year.

And he made quite an impression on the first day at the school.

Here is Sweeney’s recollection of that day:

“Kawhi’s first day here at King, we rolled the balls out and just let him play a little pickup. I already knew I had a loaded team, I knew we were going to be very, very good.”

On that day, Sweeney reached his father, a legendary high school coach, on the telephone to share the news that his team had a once-in-a-lifetime player. Tim Sr. paid a visit to the King High gym to see for himself.

“I said, ‘You’ve got to come down here because we have an NBA player in our midst,’ and he came down and he said, ‘Yup, I agree 100 percent.’ I told some fellow coaches, friends, they all thought I was crazy,” Sweeney recalled.

“And it wasn’t just the athleticism, but what he was doing on the floor. The greatest of the great players see the game different from everybody else. It’s such a reaction game, they see it and react quicker, and do things others aren’t capable of doing.”

What other poignant thoughts did Sweeney have about Kawhi?

”He’s a student of the game,” the former coach told The Canadian Press. “He studied Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and usually every summer he singled in on a couple moves from different players and worked on them so relentlessly as well as his other ones that they became reactionary in a game, which is very hard to do.”

As well as anyone, Sweeney recognized Leonard’s fierce competitive drive. He said that Leonard, who attended San Diego State, would take it personally when facing college teams that didn’t recruit him, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“They better hope they don’t play him,” Sweeney said in 2009.

Other coaches’ perspectives

Raptors bench boss Nick Nurse, in his first season at the helm, praises Leonard for his competitive drive.

“All he talks about is winning, and it’s been that way since I met him,” Nurse told Marc Stein of The New York Times.

And how did Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers describe Kawhi?

”He’s the most like Jordan that we’ve seen,” Rivers told The Times.

Players’ viewpoints

The Raptors’ transformation from a very good team to a title contender once again confirms Kawhi Leonard’s greatness.

Before the NBA Finals, Warriors veteran guard Shaun Livingston insisted that it “looks like the trade worked out for them,” according to The New York Times.

Golden State superstar Stephen Curry summed up Leonard this way in comments that also appeared in Stein’s column: “He plays the game at his own pace really well.”

In Kawhi’s own words

Kawhi Leonard’s no nonsense approach to the game keeps him locked in from start to finish. His singular focus on making plays that produce wins is difficult to emulate.

Speaking before a large throng of reporters on Wednesday in Toronto, Leonard was asked if he could compare himself to Golden State’s Draymond Green on defense. He was also pressed to give some insights about what makes him such an impressive defensive player.

“I don’t know how to just compare myself against him. I don’t really do that,” Leonard told reporters. “Just for myself and what I bring to the game, I guess we both can switch one through four, one through five on the floor. Both bring energy to the game. We want to play defense. We want to stop the player in front of us. And that’s pretty much it. He’s leading them on that end of the floor as well.”

Based on his defensive instincts and proven ability to shut down the opposition, a reporter also asked Leonard if his defensive smarts help him out as an offensive player at any given time.

His response: “Not really. I never really thought of it that way, but maybe. There are good offensive players that are not good defensive players and there are (some) the other way around — good defense, not offense. So I think it just really comes to being smart and just being in those situations before and just knowing what’s going to happen, going through years of playing and seeing defensive schemes or offensive schemes and watching film and seeing how they guarded other guys or me in the past.”

Another question pinpointed the essence of who Leonard has been during his NBA career.

“Does it bother you that you don’t have as much notoriety as some other guys? he was asked.

“No, I’m not playing the game for that reason,” the 2014 NBA Finals MVP said. “I’m playing to have fun and try to be the best player I can be. I’m happy with myself and what I’ve done in my career, and I’m just going to keep on from there. It’s not about me being famous or want to have more fame than those guys (like LeBron James and Stephen Curry).”

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Exclusive: Former Raptors coach Dwane Casey weighs in on team’s first NBA Finals appearance https://www.talkbasket.net/43708-exclusive-former-raptors-coach-dwane-casey-weighs-in-on-teams-first-nba-finals-appearance https://www.talkbasket.net/43708-exclusive-former-raptors-coach-dwane-casey-weighs-in-on-teams-first-nba-finals-appearance#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 18:05:42 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43708 The Toronto Raptors’ success this season shouldn’t be a huge shock. After all, the Raptors have been among the league’s top teams for quite some time, winning 50-plus games in four straight seasons. Former Toronto head coach Dwane Casey, of course, has followed the team throughout the playoffs. He saw the Raptors eliminate the Milwaukee […]

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Exclusive: Former Raptors coach Dwane Casey weighs in on team’s first NBA Finals appearance

The Toronto Raptors’ success this season shouldn’t be a huge shock.

After all, the Raptors have been among the league’s top teams for quite some time, winning 50-plus games in four straight seasons.

Former Toronto head coach Dwane Casey, of course, has followed the team throughout the playoffs. He saw the Raptors eliminate the Milwaukee Bucks, who had a league-best 60-22 record this season, in the Eastern Conference finals to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. (The Bucks swept Casey’s new team, the Detroit Pistons, in the opening round of the playoffs.)

The Raptors (58-24 in the regular season), guided by first-year bench boss Nick Nurse, play host to the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Finals on Thursday night.

Big moves

Toronto bolstered its roster by making two significant moves. After losing all four games to the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in last spring’s Eastern Conference semifinals, the Raptors added veterans Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in an offseason trade that sent DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs. They also acquired Marc Gasol in a February trade with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Casey’s thoughts

“It’s been interesting to watch but they are a totally different team with Leonard, Gasol and Danny Green,” Casey told Talk Basket in an exclusive interview this week.“They are three experienced players who I would have given anything to have on my team. With their experience and championship pedigree, they have the experience to win.”

Casey, the 2017-18 Coach of the Year who was dismissed by the Raptors a couple days after winning the award, sees obvious parallels between the Raptors’ rise to prominence and the Milwaukee Bucks’ ascent.

“Milwaukee is going through the same thing Toronto went through the last three years. Growing pains,” Casey said.

“Winning a championship and playing for a championship is very hard to do. It takes multiple times of being there to get over that hump. Just look at the history of the league and you will see teams struggle before they win big in the playoffs.”

Historic parallels

The Chicago Bulls immediately come to mind when thinking about the last point that Casey made.

In the early years of Michael Jordan’s legendary career, the Bulls experienced lots of postseason frustration.

Chicago fell in the first round to Milwaukee in 1985, followed by back-to-back first-round defeats to the Boston Celtics in 1986 and ’87. In 1988, the Bulls lost in the conference semifinals to the Detroit Pistons.

In 1989 and 1990, the Pistons eliminated the Bulls in the conference finals en route to consecutive championships. Then the Bulls ended years of frustration in 1991, sweeping the Pistons in the conference finals. By doing so, they reached the NBA Finals for the first time in the Jordan years. That year marked the start of Chicago’s first three-peat under legendary bench boss Phil Jackson.

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A random look at NBA champions’ rosters, counting up players age 30 or older https://www.talkbasket.net/43611-nba-champions-rosters https://www.talkbasket.net/43611-nba-champions-rosters#respond Mon, 27 May 2019 09:13:00 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43611 It’s interesting to compare the makeup of NBA team rosters from different eras. But going through entire seasons or decades of rosters can take a lot of time, so a quicker exercise was conducted on Monday. The decision was made to glance at the rosters of NBA championship teams from each of the seasons ending […]

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A random look at NBA champions’ rosters, counting up players age 30 or older

It’s interesting to compare the makeup of NBA team rosters from different eras.

But going through entire seasons or decades of rosters can take a lot of time, so a quicker exercise was conducted on Monday.

The decision was made to glance at the rosters of NBA championship teams from each of the seasons ending in a “9.” Yes, it’s random, but it encompasses a broad mix of teams and eras.

In short, the goal was to quickly see what teams looked like 10 years apart — and since the league’s earliest years.

The key question: Were they relying more on guys from the Over-30 Club? Or were title-winning squads using more younger players? (The eventual switch to a 15-man roster, of course, gave teams added depth.)

Roster ages are listed entering each season, according to basketball-reference.com.

For this dispatch, playoff rosters were examined. This invaluable website provides information on everybody who has ever played in the NBA Finals. Very cool.

Let’s start with the 2008-09 champions and worked our way back to the 1948-49 winners.

2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers (2)

Derek Fisher – 34
Kobe Bryant – 30

1998-99 San Antonio Spurs (8; lockout-shortened season)

Jerome Kersey – 36
Mario Elie – 35
Will Perdue – 33
Steve Kerr – 33
David Robinson – 33
Avery Johnson – 33
Jeron Johnson – 31
Sean Elliot – 30

Watch the conclusion of the Spurs’ first title: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cqQtAN51vM

1988-89 Detroit Pistons (5)

James Edwards – 33
Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson – 32
John Long – 32
Bill Laimbeer – 31
Rick Mahorn – 30

1978-79 Seattle SuperSonics (5)

Paul Silas – 35
Dick Snyder – 34
John Johnson – 31
Fred Brown – 30
Dennis Awtrey – 30

1968-69 Boston Celtics (5)

Sam Jones – 35
Bill Russell – 34
Bailey Howell – 32
Tom “Satch” Sanders – 30
Em Bryant – 30

1958-59 Boston Celtics (2)

Bill Sharman – 32
Bob Cousy – 30

1948-49 Minneapolis Lakers (1)

Herm Schaefer – 30
Note: All-time great George Mikan, 24 years old at the outset of the season, averaged 30.3 points per game in the playoffs.

This year’s championship series

The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors, who are making their first NBA Finals appearance starting Thursday, both receive valuable contributions from several players in their 30s.

Kawhi Leonard, Toronto’s key player, turns 28 on June 29.

Warriors (6)

Andre Iguodala – 35
Andrew Bogut – 34
Shaun Livingston – 33
Jonas Jerebko – 31
Stephen Curry – 30
Kevin Durant – 30

Raptors (5)

Marc Gasol – 34
Kyle Lowry – 32
Danny Green – 31
Jodie Meeks – 31
Jeremy Lin – 30
Note: center Serge Ibaka, who turns 30 in September, was the team’s third-leading scorer (15.0 ppg) and top rebounder (8.1) in the regular season.

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Prediction: Warriors will eventually retire jersey numbers of several current players https://www.talkbasket.net/43580-prediction-warriors-will-eventually-retire-jersey-numbers-of-several-current-players https://www.talkbasket.net/43580-prediction-warriors-will-eventually-retire-jersey-numbers-of-several-current-players#respond Sun, 26 May 2019 14:06:58 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43580 The Boston Celtics have retired 22 jersey numbers, including No. 1 for Walter Brown, the team’s founder and first owner, during their illustrious history. The current two-time defending NBA champions, on the other hand, have retired six jersey numbers to honor standouts from their years as the Philadelphia Warriors (1946-62), San Francisco Warriors (1962-71) and Golden […]

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Prediction: Warriors will eventually retire jersey numbers of several current players

The Boston Celtics have retired 22 jersey numbers, including No. 1 for Walter Brown, the team’s founder and first owner, during their illustrious history.

The current two-time defending NBA champions, on the other hand, have retired six jersey numbers to honor standouts from their years as the Philadelphia Warriors (1946-62), San Francisco Warriors (1962-71) and Golden State Warriors (since 1971).

The mighty six: 
Wilt Chamberlain – No. 13
Tom Meschery – No. 14
Al Attles – No. 16
Chris Mullin – No. 17
Rick Barry – No. 24
Nate Thurmond – No. 42

In the next 10-20 years, it’s quite possible this list could nearly double in length. The team’s five straight trips to the NBA Finals is an obvious argument for doing so.

As a result, here are five likely candidates to have their jersey numbers retired by the Warriors:
Andre Iguodala – No. 9
Klay Thompson – No. 11
Draymond Green – No. 23
Stephen Curry – No. 30
Kevin Durant – No. 35

Remembering Wilt

Did you know that Chamberlain is the only player in NBA history to have his identical jersey number retired by three franchise (Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and Warriors)?

The all-time great’s Warriors jersey was retired posthumously in December 1999 (he died that October). Barry, Attles, Meschery and Thurmond attended the festivities. Chamberlain’s sister, Barbara Lewis, was also at Oakland Coliseum that day.

“It’s high time his jersey is up there. I wish it could have been under different circumstances,” Barry said, according to an Associated Press article on the ceremony. “There was never a greater center in the history of the NBA than Wilt Chamberlain. Take a look at the skills it takes to play center and at the statistics, no one has done the things Wilt has done. For anybody to pick anybody other than Wilt, you’d have to be a moron.”

The complete list of retired NBA jersey numbers:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Basketball_Association_retired_jersey_numbers

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Bob Myers should be considered one of top team executives in NBA history https://www.talkbasket.net/43489-bob-myers-should-be-considered-one-of-top-team-executives-in-nba-history https://www.talkbasket.net/43489-bob-myers-should-be-considered-one-of-top-team-executives-in-nba-history#respond Sat, 25 May 2019 11:16:01 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43489 When sports fans and sports pundits look back on the Golden State Warriors dynasty in years to come, they will speak in awe of superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. And what else? They will also mention how important Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, among others, have been in playing important […]

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Bob Myers should be considered one of top team executives in NBA history

When sports fans and sports pundits look back on the Golden State Warriors dynasty in years to come, they will speak in awe of superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.

And what else? They will also mention how important Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, among others, have been in playing important roles.

Naturally, head coach Steve Kerr will be applauded for what he’s accomplished. Already, he’s one of the best coaches in NBA history.

Here’s the fun part: Kerr, in his fifth season in charge, doesn’t take himself too seriously. But he takes the game very seriously. The same is true of team president of basketball operations Bob Myers (see below).

But Kerr’s joy of winning goes hand in hand with the communal joy of pursuing excellence as a group. Veteran assistant coaches Mike Brown and Ron Adams and other support staff have played vital roles, too, in pushing Kerr and presenting different ideas.

The Warriors’ fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals is the second-longest in NBA history. Only the Boston Celtics (1957-66) have made more consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. That said, you can’t mention that feat without admitting that co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have gotten more than a few things right.

And here’s another thing: Everyone must admit that the Warriors were lucky — very lucky — to have all-time great Jerry West on their executive board for six years.

West came on board at the perfect time. Curry was already there, but other building blocks were needed.

West’s input on player personnel decisions was superb. His peerless understanding of how the league operates and what it takes to win was priceless.

It was a riveting next chapter in the basketball legend’s career after great stints as a player and front-office savant for the Los Angeles Lakers. (And another brilliant stint with the Memphis Grizzlies as the catalyst for their rise earlier this century.)

An ode to West’s wisdom

Tim Kawakami penned a smart column looking back at West’s time with the Warriors as it was about to end in 2017. It’s a thoughtful piece that also sheds light on West’s view that Myers was the man to continue leading the franchise. The full article: https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/06/14/kawakami-jerry-wests-departure-for-the-clippers-is-a-loss-but-he-helped-change-the-warriors/

West joined the Los Angeles Clippers that year as a consultant, bringing gravitas and instant credibility to the front office.

Kawakami, now The Athletic Bay Area’s editor-in-chief, summed up West’s role in shaping the dynasty in these key passages:

“Maybe the Warriors would’ve drafted Klay Thompson in 2011 if West wasn’t there, but he identified Thompson right away and pushed so hard for him that he might’ve quit if they didn’t take Thompson.

“Maybe they would’ve still drafted Draymond Green in the second round of the 2012 draft if West wasn’t there to push for him, but he clearly was a big Draymond fan on that night.

“The Warriors probably were never that close to trading Thompson in a package for Kevin Love in 2014, but West absolutely was the leader of the opposition to that deal — along with Steve Kerr, by the way — and absolutely did threaten to quit if they made the trade. …”

There’s also another common thread through Golden State’s sustained excellence in the Steve Kerr era: Myers’ capable leadership.

Now the team’s president of basketball operations, Myers rose from assistant general manager in 2011 as a new hire to GM a year later. He’s helped assemble the team’s winning combinations with savvy and understated brilliance. For instance, Green was nabbed with the No. 35 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.

Indeed, team chemistry has factored into this quite well.

As a result, Myers knows what will work for the Golden State Warriors. And he sticks to his blueprint.

Myers ranks among best

California-based basketball analyst Bill Herenda, a former UMass Lowell player, considers Myers one of the best general managers/team executives of all time.

And he’s not the only one.

In fact, perhaps now’s the proper time to admit that he’s climbing close to, or is very near, the upper echelon of any legitimate best-of-the-best list.

“The Warriors style of play — unselfish, innovative and focused with force — is a direct reflection of Bob Myers,” Herenda told Talk Basket this week.

“Around an incredibly special core group that gets the ‘we over me’ mentality, a la Sinatra’s mellifluous intonation, Myers has continually tweaked the roster maintaining the absolute right balance and chemistry of talent, heart and grit.

“Myers has done it in a modest, ‘Aw shucks,’ fashion deflecting credit to the rest of the organization while demonstrating great respect for his peers in the NBA. Just as we’re still talking about Sinatra, 50 years from now and beyond people will still be talking about these Warriors and the architect that assembled them.”

Like West, Pat Riley, Jerry Krause, R.C. Buford and Red Auerbach must, of course, be near the top of any who’s-who list of top front-office executives in league history. (Others will make strong arguments for Pat Williams, Joe Dumars, Wayne Embry, Jerry Colangelo and others.)

The future looks bright

Myers is still young, just 44. He got an early start in the Golden State Warriors’ front office after.

Therefore, there’s plenty more he can still achieve as a team executive.

Whatever the Warriors achieve under Myers’ watch, it won’t be a boring journey. Passion is the name of their game.

In an April interview, Myers offered some insights into how he views his team, telling the Mercury News, “We certainly are not apathetic. That’s when you get scared — when apathy creeps in and you don’t care.

“Caring too much, that can bite you sometimes. But I’d much rather have a group of people that go over the line because they’re too passionate over them not being interested in the outcome. Sure, you have to channel it. You have to be smart about it. But sometimes there’s a healthy emotion that tips over, and that’s OK.”

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Questions and storylines plentiful as Bucks-Raptors series returns to Milwaukee https://www.talkbasket.net/43423-questions-and-storylines-plentiful-as-bucks-raptors-series-returns-to-milwaukee https://www.talkbasket.net/43423-questions-and-storylines-plentiful-as-bucks-raptors-series-returns-to-milwaukee#respond Thu, 23 May 2019 16:59:25 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43423 What should we expect the rest of the way in this compelling Eastern Conference finals? Will Kawhi Leonard add another legendary performance to his double-OT effort from Game 3? Do Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and his teammates have the proper game plan end a two-game losing streak? Has Milwaukee bench boss Mike Budenholzer made key […]

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Questions and storylines plentiful as Bucks-Raptors series returns to Milwaukee

What should we expect the rest of the way in this compelling Eastern Conference finals?

Will Kawhi Leonard add another legendary performance to his double-OT effort from Game 3?

Do Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and his teammates have the proper game plan end a two-game losing streak?

Has Milwaukee bench boss Mike Budenholzer made key adjustments since Game 4?

Will the Bucks be able to push the pace against the agile Toronto defenders? (The Bucks’ mediocre 13 fast-break points was one of the deciding factors in Game 4.)

Effective defense

Raptors coach Nick Nurse doesn’t want to give the Bucks the opportunity to run at will.

“Anytime it comes off the rim, they’re at a huge advantage,” Nurse told reporters a few days ago. “Because they’re playing downhill on you … When you blow a layup or you get knocked down or something and the ball is still in play, they come at you in transition.”

Playing imposing defense is, of course, easier said than done. But credit the Raptors for how they’ve handled the Greek Freak in bouncing back from an 0-2 series deficit to even things up at 2-2. Holding him to 12 points in Game 3 and a hard-earned 25 in Game 4 was no easy task.

As Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star observed, “Toronto has been greeting Giannis with a multi-layered walls of coverage even he can’t quite seem to hurdle.”

Intense competition

With the high stakes of a trip to the NBA Finals on the line, expect great urgency and intensity from both teams in Thursday’s Game 5 in Wisconsin.

Will Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton come close to his 30-point, Game 4 performance in back-to-back games?

Will Raptors veteran center Marc Gasol continue to be a rock-solid offensive catalyst after a slow start in this series? (The burly big man had 17 points and seven assists in Game 4. What’s more, his 2.5 blocks per game is tops on his team.)

Can Antetokoumpo drastically cut down his turnovers? (He leads both teams with 21, nine more than Leonard.)

Impact of 3-point shooting

Can Kyle Lowry continue to give the Raptors a big boost from the perimeter? (He’s knocked down 15 of 31 3-pointers in the series.)

Will the Bucks regain their 3-point shooting rhythm? (There’s been a huge difference in their shooting success early in possessions and in the second half of the 24-second shot clock. As NBA.com’s John Schuhmann reported, “In the first 12 seconds of the shot clock, the Bucks have shot 34-for-96 (35 percent) from 3-point range. In the last 12 seconds of the shot clock, they’ve shot just 15-for-68 (22 percent) from 3-point range.”)

Furthermore, can the Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe rediscover his 3-point shooting touch? (He’s 2-for-19 through four games.)

Milwaukee’s long-range shooting affects everything it does on offense, including setting Antetokoumpo up to operate in the lane.

Will feisty forward Serge Ibaka be the X-factor for the Raptors in Game 5? (He provided 17 points and 13 rebounds off the bench in Game 4.)

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Determination fuels Raptors forward Pascal Siakam’s rise to prominence https://www.talkbasket.net/43329-determination-fuels-raptors-forward-pascal-siakams-rise-to-prominence https://www.talkbasket.net/43329-determination-fuels-raptors-forward-pascal-siakams-rise-to-prominence#respond Tue, 21 May 2019 19:53:00 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43329 Pascal Siakam will be a top-tier star for years to come. Yes, his rapid maturation and development at the pro level and his boundless energy are a big part of his rapid ascension. What’s also a vital component of the narrative is the New Mexico State product’s fierce determination to get better. He can play […]

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Determination fuels Raptors forward Pascal Siakam’s rise to prominence

Pascal Siakam will be a top-tier star for years to come.

Yes, his rapid maturation and development at the pro level and his boundless energy are a big part of his rapid ascension. What’s also a vital component of the narrative is the New Mexico State product’s fierce determination to get better.

He can play lock-down defense for long stretches, too. For instance, the Toronto Raptors macho forward stuck with his man, MVP candidate Giannis Antetokoumpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, without giving him any free space to operate in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday in Toronto. Doug Smith of the Toronto Star observed that “the Greek Freak didn’t shoot at all in 17 possessions against Siakam.”

That’s just one sign of Siakam’s rise to prominence.

Siakam learns quickly. You can’t dwell on mistakes, especially during a playoff game.

Case in point: He missed a pair of big free throws with 7.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter in Game 3. The Bucks then tied it up, forcing overtime.

A chance for redemption

Siakam regained his composure.

With 16 seconds left in 2OT, he was sent to the line again. He made two foul shots, and the Raptors went on to win the game (118-112), cutting the Bucks’ series lead to 2-1. He also made a terrific block in the final minute of the second OT period, extending his long arm to swat Brook Lopez’s layup attempt. Siakam timed the play perfectly.

After the high-drama victory, Siakam, a native of Cameroon, talked about what was going through his mind in the roller-coaster game, including his missed opportunity at the free-throw line.

“This is what basketball is about. I know people always say that. But that’s where the game goes,” Siakam was quoted as saying by sportsnet.ca. “You miss two free throws, but then you have an opportunity to redeem yourself. And if you spend the whole time crying about it, you don’t really have the energy to do what you did after. So, obviously, if I could have saved Kawhi (Leonard) from playing an hour of basketball, I would have. I tried. But, hey, it happened. And we’ve got to move on from that.”

Siakam’s competitiveness kept him focused. He also turned the metaphorical page, erasing the thought of the missed free throws.

“It’s tough. But you’ve got to try to make yourself understand that it’s OK. And that it’s still a game to play,” he said afterward, according to the Canadian website. “And you’ve got to continue to play…”

Siakam’s expanded role

This season, Siakam capitalized on his much bigger role with the Raptors. First-year bench boss Nick Nurse penciled him into the starting lineup in 79 of Siakam’s 81 games. (In his first two pro seasons, he started a combined 44 NBA games. He averaged 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds last season.)

In 2018-19, he posted career-high averages in points (16.9), rebounds (6.9) and assists (3.1) for the title-chasing Raptors. He dropped a career-high 44 points on the Washington Wizards on Feb. 13. He grabbed a career-best 19 rebounds against the Wizards on Jan. 13. Siakam is one of three finalists for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. The others: D’Angelo Russell and De’Aaron Fox. (A rundown on all the award finalists)

Furthermore, Siakam had a spectacular game against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals opener, dropping 29 points on the visitors in a 108-95 triumph. Of his jaw-dropping 12-for-15 shooting from the field, Siakam buried 3 of 4 3-point attempts.

Pause for a moment and remember this: Siakam was 1 of 7 on 3s for his entire rookie season. But he refused to accept that his outside shooting limitations would remain an obvious weakness.

And so a day after the Raptors’ 2017 playoff run ended, Siakam was back to work.

“It was the day after the (playoff) series, literally the next day, him coming in and saying, ‘Listen, I need to learn how to shoot,” Nurse told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “We literally walked him down to square one, three feet from the basket and tried to explain the process.”

This season, he made 79 of 214 3-pointers, expanding his offensive game.

Which is why Nurse recalls 2017 offseason workouts as a defining trait of his career.

“You knew it was a guy that was deeply hungry to become as good as he could become,” Nurse, then a Toronto assistant coach, told the Philly newspaper. “Then it just started translating to other things.”

Toronto’s smart decision

Siakam, who left NMSU after his sophomore season, will be remembered for years to come as one of the best selections of the 2016 NBA Draft. The Raptors picked him 27th overall. (Siakam averaged 20.3 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.24 blocked shots in his final college season, and was No. 1 in NCAA Division I with 27 double-doubles.)

After Siakam was drafted, the Las Cruces (New Mexico) Sun-News reported on what made him an attractive option for Toronto.

“He’s the type of guy that he plays so hard, has such a great motor and energy,” Dan Tolzman, the team’s then-director of player personnel, was quoted as saying by the Sun-News.

Tolzman added: “He’s got the drive and the desire to continue getting better and better as a player. Where he’s come over the past two years even before he got to New Mexico State, the progression he’s made as a basketball player over the past two years in America, it’s a testament to how hard he works.”

The highs and lows of Game 3 of the ongoing Eastern Conference finals illustrate Siakam’s vital role for his team. The Raptors need him in the thick of things at both ends of the floor.

Sure, avid NBA fans know that Kawhi Leonard is a superstar, but now casual observers are starting to learn about frontcourt mate Siakam’s impressive all-around game.

It all starts with effort, something Siakam, who began playing basketball at age 15, is always willing and ready to do.

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An appreciation for Giannis Antetokounmpo’s greatness https://www.talkbasket.net/43214-an-appreciation-for-giannis-antetokounmpos-greatness https://www.talkbasket.net/43214-an-appreciation-for-giannis-antetokounmpos-greatness#respond Sun, 19 May 2019 18:57:38 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43214 What’s not to like about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game? He never stops running. He never stops hustling. He never stops inspiring his teammates. There’s an appealing aggression to his offensive skill set, and throughout every game he captivates you from start to finish. He attacks the basket repeatedly, throwing down powerful dunks whenever possible. It brings […]

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An appreciation for Giannis Antetokounmpo’s greatness

What’s not to like about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game?

He never stops running. He never stops hustling. He never stops inspiring his teammates.

There’s an appealing aggression to his offensive skill set, and throughout every game he captivates you from start to finish.

He attacks the basket repeatedly, throwing down powerful dunks whenever possible. It brings him joy. It brings his fans joy. It sets the tone, the emotional pulse, game after game.

The Milwaukee Bucks once employed two of the 10 greatest NBA players of the 20th century: Oscar Robertson and Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Nowadays, they have one of the three best all-around players, with Antetokounmpo joining Kevin Durant and LeBron James at the top of the mountain.

Antetokounmpo doesn’t need a defined position. He just needs to be on the court. He does it all. He’s a rare player with the size (6-foot-11) and strength and ability to play all five positions.

He’s in his sixth season with the Bucks and on a direct path to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

A franchise player

Drafted No. 15 by the Bucks in 2013, he has revitalized the franchise and the city. The son of Nigerian immigrants, Antetokounmpo was born in Athens. Known as the Greek Freak, he’ll be remembered as one of the NBA’s smartest draft selections ever. But just remember, he was still 18 when the Bucks rolled the dice on him in June 2013. And the rest is history.

In an appearance on “60 Minutes ” in March 2018, Antetokounmpo recalled the emotional moment when he heard commissioner David Stern calls his name, notifying the world that he was chosen by the Bucks.

“I was so excited,” Antetokounmpo told the TV program. “I was like you guys gotta go get my brother. Thanasis came, gave me a hug. We started crying. We just knew our life changed at that moment. From now on, our family gonna have a better future.”

Above all, he is a down-to-earth hero and a role model to millions throughout the world.

Chasing a title

In Game 2 of the ongoing Eastern Conference finals, Antetokounmpo’s masterpiece (30 points, 17 rebounds, five assists) guided the Bucks to a 125-103 victory on Friday over the Toronto Raptors, moving the Bucks a giant step closer to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1974.

In the past few seasons, the Greek Freak has shown what he’s capable of doing: dictating the pace of the game. He’s an indispensable player for the Bucks. For instance, in the 2016-17 season, he became the first player in NBA history to be in the top 20 in all five major statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals).

But Antetokounmpo refuses to be complacent.

“I think my jump shot could get a lot, lot better. I could become a really big threat out there,” he’s been quoted as saying.

He’s always focused on working hard to put his unique stamp on every game.

Furthermore, he knows attacking the basket is a primary objective, but getting his teammates involved is another equally important task.

“I know I can get to the basket whenever I want, but I’ve got to be able to create some plays, like easy play,” the NBA’s 2017 Most Improved Player once said.

Entering his prime

In a couple years, Antetokounmpo will enter his prime as a player.

But he’s already reached the point where his numbers and profound impact on the game can be compared with other superstars. In 465 regular-season games, he has career averages of 18.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists.

He averaged 27.7 points (No. 3 in the league), 12.5 rebounds (sixth-most), 5.9 assists and 1.5 blocks (10th) in the regular season as the Bucks posted a league-best 60-22 record. What’s more, he was No. 2 in defensive rebounds (739), second in free-throw attempts (686), third in free throws (500), fourth in 2-point shooting percentage (.641), sixth in total rebounds (898) and tied for 12th in total blocks (110, same number as Montrezl Harrell of the Los Angeles Clippers) and 13th in fouls (232).

LeBron James’ career averages in 1,198 regular-season games: 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists.

Kevin Durant’s figures (849 games): 27.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists.

In each of Antetokounmpo’s six seasons, he has increased his scoring and rebounding figures. That doesn’t happen by accident; it requires supreme talent and a commitment to excellence.

Scoring: 6.8 points per game as a rookie, followed by 12.7, 16.9, 22.9 and 26.9 before this title-chasing campaign. Rebounding: 4.4 per game as a first-year NBA player, followed by 6.7, 7.7, 8.8 and 10.0 in his first five seasons.

Unique skill set

In 2017, then-Bucks guard Jason Terry summed up his amazing teammate’s unique place in the NBA pecking order.

“Dirk (Nowitzki), in my eyes, is the best European player to ever play this game,” Terry told The New York Times. “He literally changed the way his position is played. But Giannis doesn’t even have a position. He does it all, and he’s still learning what to do out there.”

In 2017, ex-NBA player Steve Smith made these observations about Giannis to Bleacher Report: “I don’t know if you’d call him a point forward. He’s kind of a point hybrid — something we really haven’t seen.”

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich knows as well as anyone what 29 teams face whenever they face the Bucks.

“You’d have to say he’s become very confident and gained both skill-wise and awareness of the game steadily each year,” Popovich said in November 2017, according to givemesport.com. “He’s become a leader, he knows what he can do and he plays now to destroy you.”

Ruthless efficiency.

Antetokounmpo was No. 1 in the NBA in Player-Efficiency Rating (30.9) this season.

In June, he will win his first MVP award.

In reality, we are witnessing Giannis Antetokounmpo’s debut as the star attraction on the biggest stage, the latter stages of the playoffs this spring. The East is now his domain. He’s the new king of the conference.

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High-scoring Rockets need a more artistic (improvisational jazz) approach, less reliance on analytics https://www.talkbasket.net/43111-high-scoring-rockets-need-a-more-artistic-improvisational-jazz-approach-less-reliance-on-analytics https://www.talkbasket.net/43111-high-scoring-rockets-need-a-more-artistic-improvisational-jazz-approach-less-reliance-on-analytics#respond Sat, 18 May 2019 17:25:09 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43111 Analytics can play an integral role in measuring trends and identifying strengths and weaknesses in professional sports. Advanced statistics can help coaches, managers and team executives make smart decisions about their players, teams and opponents. To be fair, all of those numbers and metrics aren’t completely rubbish. But the Daryl Morey Way hasn’t delivered a […]

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High-scoring Rockets need a more artistic (improvisational jazz) approach, less reliance on analytics

Analytics can play an integral role in measuring trends and identifying strengths and weaknesses in professional sports. Advanced statistics can help coaches, managers and team executives make smart decisions about their players, teams and opponents.

To be fair, all of those numbers and metrics aren’t completely rubbish.

But the Daryl Morey Way hasn’t delivered a championship to the Houston Rockets and the team hasn’t reached the NBA Finals during this Rockets era of nonstop 3-point shooting, but there’s been plenty of regular-season success.

With bench boss Mike D’Antoni calling the shots, the Rockets went 55-27 in 2016-17, 65-17 in 2017-18 and 53-29 this season. They’ve been consistently able to score a lot of points, but rely on the outside shot far too frequently.

Yes, basketball is a combination of physical strength, athleticism and mental fortitude. It also provides a mesmerizing contrast between science and art.

For example, impressive free-throw shooting accuracy of, say, 90 percent illuminates the value of repetition and perfecting one’s shooting mechanics. Consistent form is valued in taking shot after shot after shot. That’s science for you.

Perhaps the artistic side of the game is best explained or understood by highlighting the improvisational nature of the game. Moving without the ball to set a screen. An unscripted alley-oop. A deceptive back-door cut. A pinpoint bounce pass around the outstretched arms of two in-your-face defenders. Five teammates milking the game clock by passing the ball around the perimeter, then back inside and back outside again before settling on a good shot, not just any shot — often doing so without much (or any) isolation play or a single dribbler “hogging” the ball for large chunks of time.

Predictability is often anti-artistic in basketball. And the Rockets are too predictable; their bombs-away style of play lacks the spontaneity (of players and ball movement) that has defined the way the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs have played while gobbling up championships in the 21st century.

Lots of people like to say a free-flowing basketball game is akin to jazz.

It’s true.

I like this quote from jazz legend Wynton Marsalis from a 2009 discussion with sports columnist William C. Rhoden about jazz and basketball: “The most successful improvisation happens like the most successful ball: when every person really knows the function of those plays from their perspective.” Check out the video here.

Marsalis is right.

The Rockets, on the other hand are more robotic than jazz-like in their style of play.

Overabundance of 3-pointers

The Rockets attempted 3,306 3-pointers in season one of the D’Antoni era, 3,470 last season and 3,721 this season. They’ve been No. 1 in attempts and 3-pointers made (1,181, then 1,256 and 1,323 in succession) in each of those three seasons. This season, the league average per team: 11.4 makes per game and 32.0 attempts; the Rockets: 16.1 and 45.4. More times than not, Houston shuns the mid-range jumper, and this can be a recipe for disaster in the playoffs.

Tom Meschery, a gifted poet and former NBA player, including for the Warriors, articulated as well as anybody what’s the biggest flaw in the way the Rockets play the game.

After the Warriors bounced the Rockets out of the Western Conference semifinals, Meschery compared the teams on his blog, seeking to define Houston’s offense:

“…It’s dribble, dribble, pass at the last second and sometimes a skip pass or pass around the horn for an open corner shot, but maybe not but back to (James) Harden to dribble, dribble, dribble or to Chris Paul to dribble, dribble, dribble, pull up fade away jumper,” Meschery wrote on his blog. “They have all the skilled players they need to beat our Dubs, but couldn’t do it because they lack one component: for lack of a better term: TEAM FLOW.”

In other words, too much Harden and too much Paul. Not enough art, not enough jazz.

A basketball team can produce a five-man symphony at any time, but relying on one or two players doesn’t produce the ultimate prize at the end of the season. Classic example: the early years of Michael Jordan’s career with the Chicago Bulls.

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John Beilein’s lifetime commitment to coaching excellence pays off https://www.talkbasket.net/43010-john-beileins-lifetime-commitment-to-coaching-excellence-pays-off https://www.talkbasket.net/43010-john-beileins-lifetime-commitment-to-coaching-excellence-pays-off#respond Wed, 15 May 2019 16:17:10 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=43010 It’s nice to see the Cleveland Cavaliers take a gamble on John Beilein. By all accounts, he was an unconventional hire. For starters, he’s 66 years old. Which means he’s the oldest person to become a first-time bench boss (non-interim coach) in NBA history. A guy named Dave MacMillan, then 64, was appointed Tri-Cities Blackhawks […]

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John Beilein’s lifetime commitment to coaching excellence pays off

It’s nice to see the Cleveland Cavaliers take a gamble on John Beilein.

By all accounts, he was an unconventional hire.

For starters, he’s 66 years old. Which means he’s the oldest person to become a first-time bench boss (non-interim coach) in NBA history. A guy named Dave MacMillan, then 64, was appointed Tri-Cities Blackhawks coach in 1950 (he succeeded Red Auerbach), and in 1992 the San Antonio Spurs handed the reins to 61-year-old Jerry Tarkanian.

And he’s never coached a game in the NBA, not even as an assistant.

But know this: Beilein has impeccable coaching credentials. All he’s ever done is win.

Since 1975, he’s been a head coach. He’s always called the shots, always been the one held accountable.

He started out at Newfane (New York) High School, running the boys team from 1975-78. He moved on to Erie (New York) Community College (1978-82) and NCAA Division III Nazareth (New York) College for a year before a move to Le Moyne (New York) College, a D-II school, from 1983-92.

In stints at Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan, Beilein’s coaching acumen become visible to a broader audience, especially in Ann Arbor. He guided the Michigan Wolverines from 2007-19 and piloted the university to NCAA Tournament runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2018. He amassed a 754-425 record on the university level since taking over at Nazareth during Ronald Reagan’s first term as U.S. president.

And starting at Erie, he was named conference coach of the year at every one of his college coaching stops except West Virginia.

Winning was the hallmark of Beilein’s 37-season college coaching career. He led Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan to NCAA Tournament appearances. He went 26-13 in NCAA tourney games.

His college teams never had back-to-back losing seasons. In fact, only five of them did, including a pair of 14-15 campaigns and a 15-17 season.

There are, of course, differences between the college game and the pro games. But Beilein knows what it takes to consistently win: effective communication, bold leadership, innovative play-calling, effective teaching and the ability to instill confidence in his players.

The Cavs, coming off a 19-63 season, won’t challenge the Golden State Warriors’ single-season 73-9 won-loss record. But after the dismissal of Tyronn Lue and his replacement, Larry Drew, a long-term plan is needed to right the ship.

Cleveland gave Beilein a five-year contract. He has some time to put this stamp on the team. There’s also an interesting backstory behind what led to his hiring.

After a lifetime in the game, he’s earned a shot at having this dream job.

The Cavs rolled the dice by hiring first-time NBA coach David Blatt. They reached the 2015 NBA Finals in his only full season at the helm before he was fired midway through the next season.

So maybe Beilein is a peculiar hire only a few years after the Blatt experiment.

But the Cavs must improve. They saw Beilein’s employment history and saw all of the wins that occurred year after year. He’s always done something right.

Who’s to say it won’t continue at the pro level?

Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Larry Shyatt believes Beilein can coach at any level.

“John is old school, and I mean that in a good way,” Shyatt told Cleveland.com. “When people talk about ‘playing the game the right way’ and ‘being unselfish,’ they usually mean just on offense. With John, it’s also on defense. He’s a terrific teacher, a good person.”

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Unsung hero Shaun Livingston thrives in pressure-packed Game 6 as Warriors continue title chase https://www.talkbasket.net/42949-unsung-hero-shaun-livingston-thrives-in-pressure-packed-game-6-as-warriors-continue-title-chase https://www.talkbasket.net/42949-unsung-hero-shaun-livingston-thrives-in-pressure-packed-game-6-as-warriors-continue-title-chase#respond Mon, 13 May 2019 17:09:51 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=42949 Superstars get the biggest headlines and the most on-air time for interviews, but often they aren’t the only big stories in the postseason. Golden State’s Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (and sidelined teammate Kevin Durant), Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, Portland’s CJ McCollum and Damon Lillard and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo received major media coverage […]

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Unsung hero Shaun Livingston thrives in pressure-packed Game 6 as Warriors continue title chase

Superstars get the biggest headlines and the most on-air time for interviews, but often they aren’t the only big stories in the postseason.

Golden State’s Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (and sidelined teammate Kevin Durant), Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, Portland’s CJ McCollum and Damon Lillard and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo received major media coverage throughout the gripping conference semifinal round. The same was true for standouts from Philadelphia, Boston, Houston and Denver.

It might have been the best overall semifinal round in 15-20 years. Really, the overall drama was quite impressive.

I’m sure more than a few fans would’ve been content to see the Trail Blazers and Nuggets duke it out for another seven games. Or maybe not do to the roller-coaster stress level it could cause. But seriously, Terry Stotts and Michael Malone secured their reputations as top-caliber bench bosses in that series.

And even though Denver was a win shy of earning a spot in the Western Conference finals against the Warriors, Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic continued his splendid all-around play against the Blazers. Whoever didn’t realize he had the skill set to be one of the top 10 players in the NBA for the next 10 years, now knows that Jokic is the real deal.

Malone perfectly summed up the way Jokic performed throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs, telling reporters: “I hope after 14 playoff games that America came to appreciate Nikola’s game.” The fourth-year pro averaged 25.1 points, 13.0 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks in just under 40 minutes in the postseason.

On a similar note, Game 6 of the Warriors-Rockets series on Friday provided a bold reminder of the value that Warriors reserve guard Shaun Livingston has provided, his true impact, during the team’s dynasty years.

Sure, Curry exploded for 33 second-half points after a scoreless first half in the win. That was the biggest element of the game’s narrative.

But quietly, there was Livingston providing a big spark off the bench, scoring 11 points in 14 minutes. What’s more, with him on the floor the Warriors had a plus-14 in points.

In a 23-second sequence in the second quarter, Livingston, who was drafted No. 4 overall by the Clippers in 2004, buried a 5-foot jumper and dunked. The second bucket made it 42-42 with 6:36 left in the half. Moments later, he delivered the ball to Thompson, who splashed a long 3-pointer to put the hosts ahead 48-42.

Every basket was an important one in this back-and-forth series. All six of the Warriors-Rockets games were decided by six or fewer points, and the value of players like Livingston with a ton of playoff experience can’t be overstated.

The 6-foot-7 Livingston didn’t play college ball, but he had obvious talent that NBA scouts recognized. He was selected behind Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon and bounced around the league before settling in as a perfect role player for the Warriors.

He’s been dubbed the “best seventh man in the world.” A huge compliment. Andre Iguodala has certainly proven his worth to the Warriors over the years as an irreplaceable sixth man.

Livingston didn’t make a big spark in the first five games of the series (five total points), but capitalized on scoring chances in the series-closing triumph.

It’s interesting to look back at pre-draft analysis of Livingston from 2004 such as this report from nbadraft.net:

“Give him 30 pounds and he can throw out all the hoards of recruiting mail that he’s received. David Stern would personally swim up the Peoria River to personally grab this magician with a ball. He will not blow by you with blinding speed, but his basketball IQ is so high he can maneuver around defenders using his wonderful sleight of hand, deft changes in speed and long and fluid strides. A wonderful athlete he can crash the boards great from the guard spot. With his great vertical leap and long arms, he will snatch rebounds out of midair only to glide up the court, flowing through defenders to eventually lay the ball into the hands of a teammate for an easy bucket after he’s looked off the any defenders. He still needs the aforementioned added size to his slender frame, which is expected to come with time. His outside jump shot is erratic at times and sometimes he is too unselfish to a fault.”

Every good team needs good backups. The great ones always have a few in reserve. Someone like Livingston.

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Russell Westbrook’s career is at a crossroads https://www.talkbasket.net/42563-russell-westbrooks-career-is-at-a-crossroads https://www.talkbasket.net/42563-russell-westbrooks-career-is-at-a-crossroads#respond Mon, 06 May 2019 17:33:05 +0000 https://www.talkbasket.net/?p=42563 Despite his countless triple-doubles, Westbrook is not satisfied with the end results. We’ve witnessed over the past several seasons — especially since the departure of James Harden and Kevin Durant — that Westbrook often plays as a one-man wrecking crew and at a dizzying pace. But it hasn’t really worked. Consider the facts: The Oklahoma […]

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Russell Westbrook’s career is at a crossroads

Despite his countless triple-doubles, Westbrook is not satisfied with the end results.

We’ve witnessed over the past several seasons — especially since the departure of James Harden and Kevin Durant — that Westbrook often plays as a one-man wrecking crew and at a dizzying pace. But it hasn’t really worked.

Consider the facts: The Oklahoma City Thunder have been bounced from the playoffs in the first round in each of the past three seasons, including the ongoing 2018-19 NBA postseason campaign by the Portland Trail Blazers, after back-to-back defeats to the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz.

For the past three seasons, Westbrook has strung together the only three triple-double season averages since all-time great Oscar Robertson’s celebrated achievement in 1961-62.

In 2016-17, Westbrook produced 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists in the regular season. In 2017-18, he posted these totals: 25.6, 10.1 and 10.3. This season, he finished with 22.9, 11.1 and 10.7.

But it’s not enough.

The Thunder need more balanced, more cohesive play.

It’s not just about Westbrook’s imprint on every aspect of the team’s game. And yes, he often takes too many shots, especially when you factor in the percentage that they produce (24 total shots per game, .425 field-goal percentage in 2016-17; 21.1, .449 the next season; and 20.2, .428 this season).

What’s more, his playoff totals have not been adequate despite averaging a headline-grabbing 37.4 points per game in 2016-17, 29.3 last season and 22.8 this season. His shooting percentages have gone down significantly in the past three postseasons, putting his larger game under the metaphorical microscope. He shot .388 in 2016-17 (including 13 of 49 from 3-point range), .398 overall the next season (15 of 42 from beyond the arc) and .360 against the Blazers (11 of 34 from deep).

Now 30, Westbrook admits changes must be made.

He acknowledged as much a few days after Blazers hero Damian Lillard’s miraculous buzzer-beater ended the Thunder’s playoff aspirations.

“There used to be conversations if I was a ball hog, but now I lead the league in assists for the past three years or whatever it is, that’s getting squashed out,” Westbrook told reporters. “So now the conversation is about shooting. Next year I’m going to become a better shooter….”

Speaking to reporters last Monday in Oklahoma City, Thunder general manager Sam Presti insisted that the organization expects Westbrook to make some adjustments as it regroups for the 2019-20 season.

Do you think it’s possible for him to shed some of the emotion that creates technical fouls and 3-pointers early in the shot clock without a pass but keep the emotion? he was asked.

“Yeah, well, I think, listen, there’s evolution,” Presti commented. “Here’s what I’d say about that. I know he probably wouldn’t want to — you may not realize it, but he’s really evolved as a player. I mean, it’s kind of like, I don’t know, I’m not going to dissect that, but the bottom line is, like I said earlier, when you’re 25 years old and you’re getting criticized for all these things, you look up, you’re 30, and you’re doing a lot of those things significantly better, there’s evolution.

“He wasn’t, like I said earlier, he wasn’t hitting the corners like he hits the corners now. Listen, I don’t know if they’re keeping stats like this, but he’s stacking the league in loose balls. I think that’s been pretty regular. He took more — he finished better around the rim. Shot distribution was actually trending and a little bit different than it’s been in the past. He’s missing — right now, he didn’t shoot the ball well this season, but I don’t think that’s a sign that he’s not evolving. I think he is evolving in some ways.

“But I know he may not want that moniker, but the bottom line is he has evolved.”

Time will tell if Westbrook and the Thunder can evolve in a big, bold way and experience postseason success in the Westbrook era.

Ed Odeven, an Arizona State University graduate, is a veteran sports journalist based in Tokyo. He is The Japan Times’ chief basketball reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @ed_odeven

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