Thursday, November 29, 2007

What if LeBron James was a member of Celtic Pride

I saw this picture today and I just couldn't resist.

It was taken sometime during the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers match up last night at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

Instead of being clad in wine and about green and white for LBJ?

Pretty neat starting five huh?

Tsk! Tsk! The fantasy implications that would have had...

Now playing: Michael Bublé - Everything
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

NBA Trivia: Questions and Answers

As part of my dissertation, I had to come up with several energizers for a two-day seminar that I eventually have to run with some collegiate athletes. Here is some of the stuff that I came up with--a 15-item NBA Trivia sheet.

How many did you get out of the fifteen?

1) Who is Shaquille O’Neal’s All-Star Magic teammate?

a) Dwyane Tyrone Wade, Jr.
b) Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway
c) Kobe Bryant
d) Glen Rice
e) None

b) Correct Answer: Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway

Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal were teammates while playing for the Orlando Magic (93’-94’ until 95’-96’). The duo reunited this year with the Miami Heat (07’-08’)

2) Which players were the NBA's top three rebounders (RPG) in the 06'-07' season, in order?

a) Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, and Ben Wallace
b) Kevin Garnett, Tyson Chandler, and Dwight Howard
c) Kevin Garnett, Ben Wallace and Tyson Chandler
d) Ben Wallace, Tyson Chandler and Dwight Howard
e) Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard and Tyson Chandler

b) Correct Answer: Kevin Garnett, Tyson Chandler, and Dwight Howard

06’-07’ rebounding crown was won by former Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett with a 12.8 rebounding average. He was followed by New Orleans Center Tyson Chandler (12.4) and Orlando’s Dwight Howard (12.3).

3) Which player won the 06’-07’ Defensive Player of the Year award?

a) Ben Wallace
b) Kevin Garnett
c) Marcus Camby
d) Ron Artest
e) Bruce Bowen

c) Correct Answer: Marcus Camby

As a center for the Denver Nuggets, Camby won the award for the first time in his career with averages of 11.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals, and 3.3 blocks per game.

4) Who won the Rookie of the Year Award in the 99’-00’ season?

a) Steve Francis (Rockets)
b) Elton Brand (Bulls)
c) Mike Miller (Magic)
d) A and C
e) B and C
f) A and B
g) None of the above

f) Correct Answer: A & B

The Houston Rockets Steve Francis and former Chicago Bulls forward Elton Brand are the third trio to be named Co-Rookie of Year after the Boston Celtics Dave Cowens and the Portland Trailblazers Geoff Petrie turned the trick in 70’-71’. They were followed by the Detroit Pistons Grant Hill and the Dallas Mavericks Jason Kidd in 94’-95’

5) How many active players are among the Top 30 all-time scorers in the NBA?
a) Four
b) Six
c) Eight
d) Two
e) Twelve

d) Correct Answer: Two

Shaquille O'Neal (25,624 --11th) and Allen Iverson (21,586 -- 24th)

6) Who was the first overall pick of the Toronto Raptors during the expansion draft in 95’-96’?

a) Damon Stoudamire
b) Greg Anthony
c) B.J. Armstrong
d) Blue Edwards
e) None of the above

c) Correct Answer: B.J. Armstrong

Taken first overall in the 95’-96’ expansion draft, B.J. Armstrong had made it publicly known that he wanted to play for a contender. In October of 1995, Armstrong got his wish when the Raptors shipped him to the Golden State Warriors in a 5-player deal involving Warriors center’s Carlos Rogers and Victor Alexander as well as the rights to three 2nd round picks (Dwayne Whitfield, Martin Lewis, and Michael McDonald).

7) Who is the youngest NBA player in the 07’-08’ NBA Season?

a) Greg Oden
b) Thaddeus Young
c) Spencer Hawes
d) Kevin Durant
e) Al Thornton

d) Correct Answer: Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant (9/29/88) who leads four players born in 1988 (with the other three being 76ers' guard Thaddeus Young (June), injured Kings center Spencer Hawes (April), and Greg Oden (January)).

Clippers forward Al Thornton played four years at Florida State and is one of the older rookies in the 07’-08’ batch at 23 years of age.

8) Who scored the NBA’s 6,000,000th point?

a) Dominique Wilkins
b) Blair Rasmussen
c) Danny Manning
d) Steve Smith
e) Stacey Augmon

e) Correct Answer: Stacey Augmon

On March 23, 1992, Atlanta Hawks rookie guard-forward Stacey Augmon scored 32 points in an overtime victory against the Golden State Warriors (126-125). Augmon’s layup at 7:41 mark of the second quarter accounted for the 6,000,000th point in NBA history.

9) How many jersey numbers are retired at the American Airlines Arena?

a) Two
b) Three
c) None
d) One
e) Four

d) Correct Answer: One

On April 11, 2003, the Miami Heat franchise paid the ultimate tribute to the man known as “Air Jordan” when they retired jersey #23 jersey even though he never played for the Heat.

10) As a follow up to question #9, how many players wore #23 for the Miami Heat before it was retired?

a) Seven
b) None
c) Four
d) Three
e) Five

c) Correct Answer: Four

Only 4 of the 154 players in Heat franchise history have ever worn #23: John Morton (91'-92'), Gary Grant (96'-97'), Rex Walters (98'-99'), and former NBA Slam Dunk Champion Cedric Ceballos (00'-01').

11) How many jersey numbers has Michael Jordan worn in his NBA career?

a) Two
b) Three
c) Four
d) Five

b) Correct Answer: Three

Michael Jordan has worn 23, 45 (during his first comeback in the 94’-95’ season), and 12 for one game in Orlando wherein his jersey #23 was stolen (February 14,1990). Despite wearing an unfamiliar number, Jordan scored a game-high 26 points.

12) In the NBA Finals, who is the all-time leader in three point field goals made?

a) Michael Jordan
b) Scottie Pippen
c) Dan Majerle
d) Robert Horry
e) Steve Kerr

d) Correct Answer: Robert Horry

Affectionately named “Big Shot Bob” by teammate Tim Duncan a couple of years ago, Robert Horry holds the record for most three point conversions in the NBA Finals with 53. Michael Jordan is second with 42.

13) Did Rasheed Wallace play for the Atlanta Hawks?

a) Yes
b) Never

a) Correct Answer: Yes

On February 12, 2004, the Portland Trailblazers sent their disgruntled all-star and shooting guard Wesley Person to the Atlanta Hawks for three players: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Theo Ratliff, and Dan Dickau. Five days later, Wallace was traded again as part of a three-team deal involving the Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, and Atlanta Hawks.

14) How many NBA Championships has Robert Horry won in his stellar career?

a) Eight
b) Five
c) Six
d) Seven
e) Four

d) Correct Answer: Seven

As a member of the San Antonio Spurs, Robert Horry became one of only nine players to have won seven or more championships in the NBA. Horry also has the distinction of being the only member of that group not to be associated with the Celtics of the 60’s.

15) Who is the all-time leader in three-point field goal percentage in the regular season?

a) Jason Kapono
b) Tim Legler
c) Steve Kerr
d) Reggie Miller
e) Walter Ray Allen

a) Correct Answer: Jason Kapono

Playing the percentages, Toronto Raptors guard-forward Jason Kapono is the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point field goal percentage with a 46.1% clip. Steve Kerr is second with 45.4%.

Now playing: Samantha James - Deep Surprise
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Friday, November 23, 2007

Yi Jianlian--NBA All-Star?

The proud city of New Orleans. 58 Days to go. NBA All-Star 2008.

The annual (a.k.a. "most likely") West starters most likely Yao Ming at Center (no contest here with an entire country voting for him); Tim Duncan (which was sketchy at first since he was initially listed as a Center. But now since he was able to sequester a reprieve on his All-Star ballot position listing (which would have most likely taken him out of the West starters if he didn't get it since Yao Ming has owned the Center slot since he entered the league in 03') and last year's league MVP Dirk Nowitzki at Forward; and Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady at Guard.

While the annual (a.k.a. "most likely") East starters would be Shaquille O'Neal at Center (no doubt moving to East to South Beach really helped in this department); newcomer Kevin "KG" Garnett and LeBron "LBJ" James as the Forwards; and Dwyane Tyrone Wade, Jr. and Gilbert "Agent Zero" Arenas at the Guard positions.

That is "most likely" and probably how the vote will turn out. New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd (who currently has three triple-doubles this early into the 07'-08' season) should be the most viable replacement for the injured Arenas.

As for the West, I am not a big fan of Tracy McGrady and in all honesty, a natural point guard should start for the West and my vote goes to 2-time MVP Steve Nash (which won't happen because of McGrady's popularity).

Now to the main topic.

Question: Will Milwaukee Bucks forward and China's own Yi Jianlian make the NBA All-Star team?

I say YES!

Not because I'm a fan of Yi (which I am not), nor because the NBA seemingly decided to leave the 20 year-old Jianlian off the All-Star ballot.

Yi Jianlian will make it with his countrymen backing him up via the NBA's online All-Star voting system. They may have taken Yi off the ballot but NBA fans are more educated these days as there is always the "write in player" option.

Yi won't surpass "The Chosen One" LeBron James but he has a shot at Kevin Garnett's starting slot.

Yahoo Sports wrote:

China's basketball press lamented Friday (November 16, 2007) the absence of rookie Yi Jianlian from the 2008 NBA All Star ballot, reporting that the world's top basketball league may fear the voting power of Chinese fans.

Yi's name was absent from the ballot released Thursday (November 15, 2007) in the United States, making it much more difficult for Chinese supporters of the Milwaukee Bucks power forward to vote for him to start in the annual All Star Game.

The 20-year-old rookie has impressed in his first month in the NBA, averaging 11 points and 6.9 rebounds a game and replacing Charlie Villanueva, who is on the ballot, as the Bucks starter.

Yi's absence dominated the sports pages of many Chinese newspapers on Friday.

"The NBA does not dare to put Yi Jianlian on the ballot because the voting power of Chinese fans is too big," Titan Sports Weekly said in an editorial.

"If the NBA put Yi Jianlian on the ballot without careful consideration ... he would surely start for the East.

"The NBA fears that if a guy like Yi becomes an All Star and only scores two points in the game, they would lose the meaning of the All Star (game)."

Wouldn't it be fun to see the system work against the NBA?

So what are you waiting for?

Click here and vote today!

Now playing: Kenny G - The Christmas Song
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Jason Kidd hits 90!

12 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists...just another night's work for the man known as J-Kidd.

After six consecutive losses dating back to the 10th of November, Jason Kidd (along with the return of teammate Vincent Lamar Carter from an ankle injury) led the New Jersey Nets to a 106-101 victory over the Portland Trailblazers in the Rose Garden.

It was Kidd's 3rd triple-double this season and 90th of his stellar career.

Man! As a member of the New Jersey Nets, Kidd has already amassed 52 triple-doubles to this point.

Jason Kidd may never catch Oscar (Robertson is the all-time leader with triple-doubles with 181) or Magic (Earvin Johnson is second on this short list with 138 "TD's") but he is by far the shortest player among the top five in this decorated group (Wilt Chamberlain is fourth with 78, while Boston's Larry Bird is fifth with 59).

I can see Kidd hitting 100 triple-doubles by the end of the year...

So what's next?

Jason catching his idol Magic Johnson at 138?

Well, we all can dream can't we...

One thing is for sure, it's going to be a very exciting matter the outcome.

Now playing: Stan Bush - The Touch
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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gilbert Arenas: "Every great player has missed at least one year."


I'm sure the city of Washington, their NBA franchise, and legions of fans are all crying out in frustration just about now. It's like reliving the 06'-07' season's bad dream wherein Caron Butler broke his hand and Gilbert Arenas was literally knocked down soon after with a torn meniscus in his left knee.

What horrendous luck...

AP Sports Writers Mike Cranston and Howard Fendrich had this to say:

"CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Washington Wizards leading scorer Gilbert Arenas underwent two different surgical procedures on his left knee on Wednesday and will miss about three months.

Arenas had been experiencing swelling and soreness in the knee which he had surgically repaired late last season. After sitting out the past two games, Arenas did not travel with the team to Charlotte and underwent an MRI Wednesday morning, which revealed a cartilage tear.

"I'm just going to sit in my sorrows again. I have three months to (be) back positive again, but right now, it's hard," Arenas said in a posting on his blog Wednesday. "I need to start thinking about longevity in my career instead of just this injury right now. Every great player has missed at least one year."

Team physician Dr. Marc Connell repaired a partial tear of the meniscus and performed microfracture surgery on a non-weight bearing bone on the side of his knee.

"It's not as bad as the injury in April, but it's tough," wrote Arenas, who will begin rehabilitation next week.

"We expect Gilbert to make a full recovery," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said.

The 6-foot-4 Arenas is averaging 22.4 points.

Wizards center Brendan Haywood said. "Playing without Gilbert Arenas is going to hurt this team."

Arenas began the season by playing as though nothing was wrong, averaging about 40 minutes per game. But after Washington's third game, he said his knee felt stiff, "like a 5-pound weight is on it."

He then had excess fluid drained from the knee for the second time in three weeks on Nov. 7. He played the next night, a loss to New Jersey that dropped the Wizards to 0-4, but had a long conversation with Nets star Jason Kidd on the court after the final buzzer. Kidd offered advice about dealing with a return from surgery.

Arenas stayed in the lineup until missing Saturday's game against Portland, then sitting again Tuesday against Philadelphia. Without Arenas, coach Eddie Jordan said Antonio Daniels will continue to play point guard.

"Every team goes through it, and every team tries to find a way to win on a consistent basis," Jordan said. "We've gotten better at moving the ball."

This whole ordeal has all been a bit new to Arenas -- a three-time All-Star -- whose only previous significant injury in the NBA was an abdominal problem that limited him to 55 games in 2003-04.

He finished third in the league in scoring average in 2006-07 at 28.4 points, but missed the last two weeks of the regular season and all of the playoffs after having knee surgery.

"Gilbert worked extremely hard this summer to be ready for the beginning of the regular season," Grunfeld said. "This is very unfortunate because he was starting to play at a high level prior to the surgery."

"That's the business, man," Haywood said. "Life's not always fair. He's out right now and everybody is down about it. Everybody wishes him the best. Right now all we can do is pray for him and hope he has a speedy recovery."

Jordan wouldn't say whether he'll push management to sign another player."

I guess this will give Gilbert even more time to blog with all of his "cats."

For all you Fantasy NBA players out there--one piece of advice--pick up Antonio Daniels while you still can.

His stock just went up ten fold for the next three months.

Now playing: The Peter Malick Group - Strange Transmissions (Chillout Remix)
via FoxyTunes

Monday, November 19, 2007

Penny Hardaway: A perfect game

November 15, 2007

That's exactly what Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, the Miami Heat's free agent acquisition, did the other day against the New Jersey Nets wherein he and former Orlando Magic teammate Shaquille O'Neal sealed the Heat's victory (91-87) with "strong fourth quarter play" in East Rutherford, N.J.

AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney wrote:

"The Heat were up five with less than 9 minutes left when Hardaway made a 3-pointer. He knocked down another one about 1 1/2 minutes later, giving Miami a 75-66 cushion with 7:22 remaining.

Sean Williams' bucket cut it to four with 4 1/2 minutes left, but Hardaway answered with another 3 with 4:09 to go. Hardaway hadn't scored more than eight points in a game this season, when he returned to the league after not playing since the 2005-06 season because of leg injuries."

Sun-Sentinel and Miami Heat beat writer added:

"And Hardaway finally made shots, going 6 for 6 (4 for 4 from downtown and 3 of the 4 in the 4th quarter), the first time he played without a miss in his career."

Even with D.Wade back, Penny Hardaway's stellar play (as of late as there have been a number of occasions this year wherein the Heat have had to beg him just to shoot the basketball) might actually score some more points with stern taskmaster and Heat coach Pat Riley.

Ricky Davis, watch your back!

Now playing: Jars Of Clay - Love Song For A Savior
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In the wake of this Marbury-Thomas much are the Knicks actually spending?

A lot has been made of the Stephon Marbury-Isiah Thomas soap opera. But how much are the Knicks actually shelling out for their multi-million dollar roster that has yet to pay dividends in the playoffs (and the regular season for that matter!).

Daily News Columnist Mitch Lawrence wrote:

"The Knicks are on the books this season for a league-leading $95.294 million in players' salaries. But because of the Jerome Williams' amnesty buyout, and for the purpose of the NBA luxury tax calculation, their actual number is $87.655 million, according to official figures obtained from a rival Eastern Conference GM. With the tax threshold set at $67.9 million, and every team exceeding that figure required to pay dollar for dollar over that amount, the Knicks are shelling out an additional $20 million in taxes. That means the roster is costing Jim Dolan almost $108 million. That's $52 million over the league's cap, but who's counting? Bottom line: Fiscal mismanagement still reigns supreme at Two Penn Plaza."

At the end of the day, it will be the New York fans who will pay for Jim Dolan's and Isiah Thomas' frivolous, unconscious, and remorseless financial escapades...

I can't wait to see the Knicks ten years from now...

One can only hope that it doesn't get any worse...

Now playing: Jackson 5 - One More Chance
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Stephon Marbury: Time to move on?

A lot has transpired over the past couple of days in the wake of the Stephon Marbury "excused absence" saga. Below are a couple of in depth articles that I've come across that may pique your interest continuing Stephon Marbury-Isiah Thomas soap opera.

Newsday columnist Barbara Barker wrote:

"After NBA stops in Minnesota, New Jersey and Phoenix -- was supposed to signal a new era at the Garden. Made just a month after Thomas took over the team, the trade was hailed as brilliant by nearly every columnist in New York. Marbury was seen as the guy who could carry the Knicks back to prominence.

With Thomas acting as his mentor, some even believed that Marbury could deliver Knicks fans that NBA championship that had eluded them during the Ewing era. Well, the Ewing era is looking pretty good right now. In fact, even the Don Chaney era is preferable to the mess the current team finds itself in.

Since Marbury came aboard, the Knicks have not won a playoff game but have had four different coaches. And they soon could have a fifth; they are in the midst of one of the worst road trips in the history of the NBA.

Think things can't get worse? Just wait until the Knicks play their first home game in nine days Tuesday against Golden State. The Knicks' public address announcer already has taken to announcing Thomas and his assistant coaches in rapid-fire succession in order to avoid a prolonged boo-fest during a pause after Thomas' name. One theory about Marbury's benching is that owner James Dolan ordered it so Marbury won't face a negative reaction when he is introduced.

"It's depressing to go there," one former Knick said of the Garden. "There's empty seats, and the people that are there aren't happy. It's embarrassing."

As ugly as the situation has gotten, Marbury said before Friday's game that he still considers the Garden his home. "I love New York. I've loved New York when I played with other teams. I'm happy to be here," he said. "I love the fans. I love playing in Madison Square Garden."

Queens Basketball guru Rob Johnson believes the problem is that Marbury is surrounded by an entourage of people who are afraid to challenge him. "Everyone around him is yessing him to death," he said. "No one tells him what he needs to hear."

Until recently, everyone who challenged Marbury -- from teammates to former coach Larry Brown to Anucha Browne Sanders -- found themselves on the outs at Madison Square Garden. And it is that sense of entitlement -- revealed during his testimony at the Browne Sanders trial about having extramarital sex in his truck with a Garden intern -- that ultimately could derail Marbury's New York dream.

Heading into the summer, it looked as though Marbury might turn things around. He was coming off his best season as a Knick and was being heralded by everyone from Oprah to BusinessWeek for the success of his $15 sneaker. But then came the testimony about the tryst in the truck, which was compounded by the fact he left the courtroom smiling and singing to himself.

"That just killed him," one longtime agent said. "The same mothers who were out there buying his shoes aren't going to like the fact he's married and having sex in a parking lot. If I were his agent, I would have gone to the Garden and offered to pay part of a settlement just to keep it out of court."

And now Marbury might be in a mess that no one can buy his way out of, not even deep-pockets Dolan. The Garden, once the only place Marbury ever wanted to be, might be a place he ultimately has to leave.

TNT Analyst and former NBA All-Star Charles Wade Barkley added:

"Stephon Marbury is wrong," said Charles Barkley on TNT. "I like Isiah Thomas, I've been a big defender of his, but Stephon Marbury's track record speaks for itself. If you can't be happy playing with Kevin Garnett, you're never going to be happy. Isiah Thomas made a huge mistake bringing Stephon Marbury to the Knicks, thinking he could change him. Stephon Marbury is who he is."

"Stephon Marbury is one of those guys that when he came to the NBA we said, ‘That guy is going to be a great player, one day, when he gets it,'" he added. "And then five years later you say, ‘He ain't getting it yet. He's never going to get it.' Stephon Marbury is a very talented basketball player who's never going to get it. He's going to do it his way, which is the wrong way. You'd think a guy who has been on four teams would think, ‘I did it my way, but
it ain't working,' and he would change. But Stephon Marbury is not going to change."

Somehow. Someway. Those $15 dollar Starbury's are no longer as enticing as they once were...

Now playing: Alphabeat - Fascination
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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Juan Carlos Navarro: Ties NBA rookie record for trey's in a game

November 16, 2007 (New Orleans at Memphis)

Juan Carlos Navarro, 27, the 6-foot-3 rookie guard out of S.F. Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain, is finally paying dividends for the Memphis Grizzlies who conveyed a future first-round selection this year to the Washington Wizards in order to get the rights to sign Navarro.

Despite a heart breaking loss in overtime to the visiting Memphis Grizzlies (120-118 OT), Navarro played his finest game as a member of the Grizzlies, finishing with "a career-high 28 points, going 8-of-9 from 3-point range, part of Memphis' 15-of-24 shooting outside the arc. Navarro tied the rookie record for 3s set by Jason Kidd in 1995 and Chris Duhon in 2005."

The Associated Press added:

"Navarro connected on his first seven shots from the field, the first five from 3-point range to kick-start the Memphis offense."

"I'm happy for my game, for my feeling, but if we lose, it doesn't matter,'' Navarro said. "The rim was very big for me. Some days it's very big; some days it's small.''

Superb shooting by Juan Carlos Navarro! Now all he has to do is prove to Grizzlies Head Coach Marc Iavaroni that he is worthy of more playing time.

However, I think that Villanova's Kyle Lowry, who is more athletic, seems to have the inside track among the Grizzlies glut at the point guard position (Damon Stoudamire, Lowry, and Navarro).

Now playing: Obadiah Parker - Hey Ya
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Friday, November 16, 2007

Phil Jackson: "If I've offended any horses...cowboys...I apologize."

In Houston yesterday, one of the NBA's most decorated coaches admitted he had made a mistake and apologized for his "brokeback" San Antonio comments. It was an apology not devoid of yet another shot at Texans and cowboys (just to name a few), but an apology nonetheless.

I was, however, amused by his insight on the difference between an NBA coach making inappropriate and derogatory statements to that of television personalities such as the Tonight Show's Jay Leno and the Late Show with David Letterman who provide that kind of comedy.

AP Sports Writer Chris Duncan wrote:

"Coach Phil Jackson said he deserved the reprimand he got from the NBA on Wednesday for making a sexual reference in a comment following the Los Angeles Lakers' loss in San Antonio.

The Spurs made 13 3-pointers in their 107-92 victory on Tuesday night, and Jackson was asked if too much penetration was leading to open outside shooters.

"We call this a 'Brokeback Mountain' game, because there's so much penetration and kickouts," Jackson said. "It was one of those games."

The 2005 film, which won three Oscars, depicts two cowboys who conceal their homosexual affair.

"But in retrospect, it wasn't really funny," Jackson said before the Lakers played Houston on Wednesday night. "When you take it out of context, it wasn't funny. It was a poor attempt at humor and I deserved to be reprimanded by the NBA."

Still, Jackson couldn't resist making another joke as he apologized.

"If I've offended any horses, Texans, cowboys or gays, I apologize," Jackson said.

Jackson thanked beat writers and other journalists who covered Tuesday's game for dismissing the comment as an innocent joke. He said several of them laughed when he said it.

The NBA did not.

NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said: "The remarks are in poor taste, and the Lakers have assured us such remarks will not occur in the future."

Jackson admitted he should've known better -- that coaches can't get away with the jokes that Jay Leno and David Letterman do for a living on their late-night talk shows.

"It's societal right now," he said. "Some people can do it. Some people can't. That's something that's appropriate for certain categories."

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) president Neil G. Giuliano issued a statement saying: "Phil Jackson's been coaching long enough that he should be able to talk about the Lakers' performance without resorting to cheap gay jokes."

Now playing: The Killers - Mr. Brightside
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Stephon Marbury: And he's back...too....but for how long?

At the moment, "tensions between Marbury and Thomas -- Westchester County neighbors who share the same agent," are at an impasse writes AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney.

The prodigal son has returned to the New York Knicks after incurring a fine befitting his annual salary of $20.1 million dollars--a small fortune in itself: $182,800 after an "unexcused" absence in the match up against the Phoenix Suns the other day.

Mahoney wrote:

"The Knicks sent Marbury a letter informing him of the fine, according to a person with knowledge of the penalty who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday. He requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss it. The Knicks would not confirm the fine.

According to the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, players are docked 1/110th of their salaries for a missed game without a reasonable excuse. With Marbury scheduled to earn $20.1 million this season, that would be about $182,800.

The Knicks hoped their summer of woes would be forgotten once the season started, but instead they've blown up on their first road trip.

Marbury played poorly down the stretch in New York's 75-72 home loss to Miami on Sunday, and the Daily News reported Tuesday the Knicks were trying to reduce Marbury's role or get rid of him entirely.

Marbury is still one of the Knicks' best players, averaging 15.2 points and 6.8 assists."

Marbury's back because a $182,800 pill can be VERY difficult to swallow considering that their are still 76 games remaining in the Knicks regular season schedule.

If Marbury were to miss all of those games, his projected losses would amount to--$14,075,600 (though 77 games, including the recently concluded game against Phoenix).

Well, if he did stick it out and not come back, Stephon would have still made $6,024,400. Not bad for not doing anything.

This situation is not even close to being resolved.

Stay Tuned...

Now playing: Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl
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NBA upset about Lakers' Coach Phil Jackson's "Brokeback" comments

The Associated Press reported:

NEW YORK (AP) -- The NBA has spoken with the Los Angeles Lakers about a sexual reference coach Phil Jackson made in a comment following Tuesday night's game in San Antonio.

The Spurs made 13 3-pointers in their 107-92 victory, and Jackson was asked if too much penetration was leading to open outside shooters.

"We call this a 'Brokeback Mountain' game, because there's so much penetration and kickouts," Jackson said. "It was one of those games."

The 2005 film, which won three Oscars, depicts two cowboys who conceal their homosexual affair.

"The remarks are in poor taste, and the Lakers have assured us such remarks will not occur in the future," league spokesman Brian McIntyre said.

I wonder if they will be fining Coach Jackson...

Probably not...but since the NBA made such a big deal out of it.

The damage has already been done?

Now playing: Baby Bash - Cyclone (Featuring T-Pain) (Radio Edit)
via FoxyTunes

He is now back! He is now back! D.Wade returns tonight against Seattle

And he's back!

On the six-month anniversary (May 15, 2007) of his shoulder and knee surgeries, Dwyane Tyrone Wade, Jr. has finally given his consent to return to the game of basketball.

His presence will certainly boast the Miami Heat's point production (currently standing at an NBA low 83.3 ppg) as well as lower the chances of the NBA's current cellar dweller--the Northwest Division's Seattle Supersonics (0-8 Win-Loss record; 8-game losing streak) from notching their first win of the season.

Wade was not listed in the Heat's match up against the Sonics which begins tonight at 7:30 pm ET.

AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds wrote:

"It isn't going to be one man that's going to turn this around," Heat Coach Pat Riley said, echoing a line Wade has used in recent days. "He will change the game for us, as he progresses in live action."

While Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said Miami "instantly" gets better with Wade, but he also cautioned that he didn't expect to see the 2006 NBA finals MVP back in top form right away.

"When you miss as much time as he missed, even as great as he his, I don't see him coming back and not missing a beat," Carlesimo said before Wednesday's game. "But when he comes back, I expect them to be what they have been, which is one of the best teams in the East."

The knee was Wade's primary source of worry over the past couple weeks. He had surgery to relieve the condition commonly called "jumper's knee" and said he didn't want to return to the Heat lineup until he was convinced that the joint could hold up to the rigors of NBA life.

Team doctors cleared him for full-contact practice earlier this month and Wade began those workouts Nov. 5, although he was able to participate in certain on-court drills since training camp began about a month earlier."

Welcome back Flash!

Good times are back again!

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Stephon Marbury to Cleveland: A probability though highly unlikely

This early I have heard rumors of New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Now here is another pinning him to the Cleveland Cavaliers for free agent holdout Anderson Varejao.

Akron Beacon Journal columnist and Cavaliers insider Brian Windhorst had this to say on the matter:

"A trade for Marbury giving the Cavs a load of cap room in 2009 do have merit. Here’s what you need to understand as a side point here. The Cavs don’t want cap room. They want expiring contracts that they can trade so they can target a player or two, not bid and overpay for whatever free agent is available. This is how most major transactions are getting done in the NBA these days. So Marbury would actually have value to the Cavs before the summer of 2009, he’d have value a massive expiring deal next year. It would also allow them to move some unwanted contracts now instead of later. Everybody knows the Knicks love bad contracts.

For that reason, I will label a Marbury move has “highly unlikely” but not “impossible.” It’s one of those never say never situations. But don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about it."

I concur, Steph would certainly be more of a viable and valuable commodity next season when the tail end of his $42 million dollar contract comes off the books...that is, if the Knicks are willing to "tank" their 2-5 season this early or if there is another brave soul out there willing to give the Coney Island product yet another shot at redemption...

Oh well, Stephon always said that he wanted to go to Europe when his contract was up...

Guess he sped up THAT timetable.

Now playing: Jack Johnson - Better Together
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Coach Tex Winter shares his thoughts on Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum

Not long after the Los Angeles Lakers captured their first championship (1999-2000) since the 1988 season, Fred "Tex" Winter, the father of the triple-post offense (better known as the "triangle offense"), visited Manila, Philippines for a series of lectures and business seminars. It was the first time I had the opportunity to meet Coach Winter, the architect of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers fabled Triangle Offense.

At 78, Winter executed "jump stops" as he would go about the intricacies of his offense. His insight was refreshing and it will always be an experience that I will cherish.

Now seven years later, at the age of 85, Coach Winter is still going strong despite his recurring bouts with shingles. Winter (who is Michael Jordan's longest tenured coach -- 13 years) is scheduled to take his place at the Los Angles Lakers bench, where he has served as an assistant coach since 1999-2000.

Recently, author Roland Lazenby interviewed Coach Winter and the latter had this to say about Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant and the young Andrew Bynum.

Lazenby wrote:

"It’s time for Bryant to realize that being a Los Angeles Laker is the best possible situation for him, time for him to stop pushing for a trade, offered Winter, who over the years has been a mentor to both Lakers coach Phil Jackson and to Bryant himself.

“He should just play basketball where he is,” Winter said. “Los Angeles is a good spot for Kobe.”

Winter has expressed admiration for the Chicago Bulls and their talented young roster, but he never saw Bryant as a good fit there.

“Frankly, I’m not sure how much he’d be able to help that club,” Winter said.

Bryant is simply the best triangle player, born for it, with his mix of physical ability, smarts and work ethic.

“And he knows it,” Winter said. “I wish he would concentrate on playing the game and making his teammates better and not worry about all this other stuff.”

In quiet, low-key ways, Bryant has perhaps moved into the mode that Winter hopes he’ll take. He had effusive praise this week for the work ethic of Andrew Bynum, the young Lakers center who just months ago Bryant had targeted as trade bait. And Bryant has certainly played within the offense and in tune with his teammates in the early going this season.

“He’s trying to do what’s right,” Winter said of Bryant. “He’s certainly working at it. Defensively he’s improved. He’s trying to get better at off-the-ball defense. He’s always been very good as an on-ball defender.”

And Bryant certainly retains his titanium grade confidence, Winter said with a chuckle.

“He hasn’t shot the ball well yet, but that’s not a concern with Kobe. He’s not concerned about anything as far as his play is concerned. He thinks he’s fine, thinks he’s the greatest. Phil has made that remark to him, trying to point out things about his game. But Kobe doesn’t worry. He’s something. He’s got tremendous confidence. That confidence is a key part of who he is.”

So, what is the key for Bryant and this young Lakers team in terms of becoming one of those great triangle teams? As always, it’s execution.

And execution also follows the familiar path: Fundamentals, and more fundamentals. That’s why Jordan and Pippen were so dedicated to working on all the little things in each Bulls practice, passing, cutting, running through the numerous drills that Winter has devised over the years for making players into effective triangle components.

It also means the Lakers need to take on more of a retro Bulls look.

“Remember all the third cutter looks we used to get with Horace Grant?” Winter asked. “Or what about the baseline cuts we used to get with Pippen and Jordan?”

The recent Lakers teams have gotten those passes every once in a while, but the key is their big men, Winter said.

“Their game is not passing; it’s trying to score.”

Whereas the Bulls’ centers were great at finding a Jordan or a Pippen along the baseline, the Lakers centers haven’t shown great effectiveness there. The one center who has potential as a passer is the young Bynum, Winter said.

“He does the best job of the three at seeing the cutter. The centers have to recognize that if the cutter’s not open, someone else will be. They need to get the ball back out and keep the offense moving.”

Tex Winter is certainly one of the best at what he does.

I wish him well and hopes that he stays involved in the game of basketball for many more years to come!

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Isiah Thomas vs Stephon Marbury: From bad to worse

Aside from the potential ramifications (I have Stephon Marbury in my Yahoo! NBA Fantasy team coincidentally named (prior to the draft) Starbury) the latest feud between Knicks point guard Marbury and New York Knicks President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Isiah Thomas.

It's an ugly situation with both sides (as well as that of the media) vacillating between confirming Marbury's approved absences to ignoring questions on the subject altogether.

It got even worse when Marbury spoke out against Thomas today and threatened to "tell all."

Not that any revelations at this point would make President/Coach Isiah Thomas any rosier in the wake of testimonies of Stephon Marbury and Madison Square Garden Chairman, James Dolan which contributed to his demise in the Anucha Browne Sanders sexual harassment case. It's old news.

Now to the Knicks. You guys have already heard it all--the horrific signings and trades that have most likely set back the New York Knicks till the next decade (e.g., Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry, Antonio McDyess, Jerome James, Jared Jeffries, etc.), the disgraceful Anucha Browne Sanders sexual harassment case, and least we forget the laughable Knicks Win-Loss record over the last couple of years despite sporting the league's highest payroll.

How bad can it get?

Daily News Sports Writer Frank Isola had this update which sheds some light on the Marbury-Thomas showdown:

"According to a person close to the team, Marbury's air rage began when Eddy Curry, following a conversation with Isiah Thomas, told Marbury that he and Marbury were being pulled from the starting lineup against the Suns.

Upon hearing that he would back up second-year guard Mardy Collins, Marbury marched toward the front of the plane to meet with Thomas. Five minutes later, an enraged Marbury told his teammates that if he wasn't starting he wouldn't suit up for the game. But it was something else Marbury said that stunned his teammates in the back of the luxury plane.

"Isiah has to start me," Marbury fumed, according to the source. "I've got so much (stuff) on Isiah and he knows it. He thinks he can (get) me. But I'll (get) him first. You have no idea what I know."

It is unclear if Marbury made the same threat directly to Thomas, whose first big move as team president was trading for Marbury. But clearly, the Marbury-Thomas war is officially underway and it promises to get uglier. Early yesterday, Marbury and a friend boarded a plane and returned to New York. Marbury, 30, could conceivably fly to Los Angeles today and rejoin the Knicks for tonight's game against the Clippers. Marbury faces a fine and suspension for every game he misses."

Come on! Mardy Collins (who incidentally left the Suns game after playing 5 minutes with a foot injury)! Nate Robinson! Despite all of his shortcomings and inadequacies (and $42 million greenbacks guaranteed for the next two seasons), Stephon Marbury is the most viable option at the point guard position for the New York Knicks.

The reported benching of Knicks center Eddy Curry also doesn't help matters much.

It is certainly a plethora of madness that will last long after (should it eventually happen) Isiah Thomas' term as President of Basketball Operations/Head Coach expires.

After all, (should the Knicks decide to cut their ties with the aforementioned Thomas and/or Marbury) it would be: a) nothing new; and b) what is another couple of million?

Isola added:

"A buyout is a possibility since Dolan has given lucrative severance packages to Scott Layden, Don Chaney, Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown, Shandon Anderson, Maurice Taylor and Jerome Williams."

There is a precedent to this line of thinking.

Stay Tuned...

Now playing: Usher Raymond - Bad Girl
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Monday, November 12, 2007

Shaquille: "I don't need earthlings respect"

Despite averaging less than 20 ppg for the first time in his 14-year NBA career, nothing can be said of the effort that Shaquille O'Neal brings every night.

Let's face it folks, we've all been spoiled.

With career averages (including the 6 games he has played in this season) of 25.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game; a lot is expected out of the man who calls himself, "The Diesel."

True, he has slowed down (in 6 games he is averaging career lows in points (15.0 ppg) and assists(1.8 apg). And to some extent--dunks--of which, he only has two as of the recently concluded match up with the San Antonio Spurs) but his presence alone still commands a double-team or two. And let's not forget, even at his depleted state, Shaq is still better than half the starting centers out there in the NBA.

Miami's new starting small forward and former Orlando Magic teammate Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway had this to say about the Big Aristotle.

ESPN's Marc Stein wrote:

"He didn't play in a lot of preseason games. He got injured twice with little injuries to his leg [in October]. And he really didn't practice that much. So I don't see him in any kind of rhythm right now. People on the outside can look at it and say, 'Maybe he getting slower, maybe he's getting older.' But when you're on the inside, you know what's really going on.

"I think [the criticism] hurts him, because he's a guy that's won championships and has been at the top of this game for a long time," Hardaway continued. "But I know he's going to do something about it."

Stein added:

"I'm still the baddest [expletive] in the world," Shaquille O'Neal said. "Yeah, I'm getting older, but Kareem got older. Hakeem got older.

"I don't need earthlings' respect. When it's all said and done, my name will be there and it will be mentioned ... unless you earthlings try to erase it."

That's telling them Shaq!

Now playing: Samantha James - Rise (Original Mix)
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Franchise, LeBron James and the remaking of the Cleveland Cavaliers

Almost two years in the making by authors Terry Pluto and Akron Beacon Journal's own Cavaliers insider Brian Windhorst, "The Franchise, LeBron James and the remaking of the Cleveland Cavaliers" is now in post-production and will be available in print in the coming weeks.

Windhorst wrote:

"Terry Pluto and Brian Windhorst have worked hard on this project for the last 18 months. It is now finished and the first excerpts are available on ESPN, including a chapter about LeBron's Nike deal and about the night the Cavs won the draft lottery. The book is a behind-the-scenes look at how the Cavs got themselves into a position to draft LeBron and how LeBron got himself in position to be one of the most coveted players in NBA history. Plus all the background of the success and all the drama that's happened since."

Pluto and Windhorst have also taken the medium to another level by offering a "behind-the-scenes" perspective of their work via a dedicated blog. This in my opinion would be the equivalent of a spruced up DVD with a multitude of add-on's and specials.

Windhorst wrote:

"This blog will be the online hub to talk about this exciting project. It will be a forum to ask Terry and Brian questions, learn more about the book and the process of writing it, and even read stories and information that couldn't be squeezed in to the final product."

I myself am eagerly anticipating its release.

Are you?

Now playing: Michael Jackson - Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
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Ben Wallace: End of the Road?

Looking beyond the tattoos. Looking farther than the cornrows.

I idolize Ben Wallace.

Fueled by the disrespect (Back in 96', the Washington Wizards gave him jersey #30 out of convenience since they had just traded Rasheed Wallace (#30) to the Portland Trailblazers for point guard Rod Strickland). Driven to succeed (undrafted out of Virginia Union).

Ben Wallace has always been a fighter.

The only NBA player in history to record 1,000 rebounds, 100 blocks, and 100 steals in 4 consecutive seasons (2001-04). One of three players to amass 150 blocks and 100 steals in 7 consecutive seasons (2001-07). Led the "L" in rebounding and blocking averages in the same season. One of three in NBA history to average 15 rebounds and 3 blocks per game over a season.

Ben Wallace is a picture of consistency.

4 Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Only undrafted player in NBA history to be voted a starter for the NBA All-Star Game. NBA Champion.

Ben Wallace has achieved every player's ultimate goal.

What about now?

Is "Big Ben" still as driven after signing for $60 million two summers ago?

Ben's hurt, I know. But...

The statistics never lie...

07'-08' Statistical averages through 5 games
Games: 5
Minutes: 28.23
Points: 4.2
FG% 32.1
FT% 27.3
Rebounds: 4.8
Assists: 1.4
Turnovers: 1.2
Steals: 0.6
Blocks: 1.2
Fouls: 2.0


Has Ben's negatives (point production, atrocious FG and FT percentages) finally outweighed the positives (e.g., astounding rebounds, steals, blocks)?

Only time will tell...but I am still hoping for the best...

Now playing: Jars Of Clay - Portrait Of An Apology
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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Twenty Years of Heat Basketball

The Miami Heat recently celebrated their 20th anniversary by announcing that they will be using 89' throwback basketball jersey's during several games this season was well as unavailing a mural (which lists all 154 players who have donned Heat colors) outside the American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami; Miami, Florida.

Did you know that in the Heat's two decade history, they have retired only one jersey number? Number 23 was retired in honor of the legendary Michael Jordan (who never played for the Miami Heat) during his final season with the Washington Wizards back in 02'-03'.

Till that point, only 4 of the 154 players in Heat franchise history have ever worn #23: John Morton (91'-92'), Gary Grant (96'-97'), Rex Walters (98'-99'), and former NBA Slam Dunk Champion Cedric Ceballos (00'-01').

Now playing: Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous Girl (Featuring Timbaland)
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Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell calls for some good old NBA toughness

After the Toronto Raptors lost to the Boston Celtics in overtime yesterday, Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell had this to say, "the thing we talked to (Raptors Guard-Forward) Anthony (Parker) and all our guys about – if you're going to grab me, there's some things that I can do." Mitchell then added, "the officials do a great job, but they're not going to see everything ... So you've got to learn how to protect yourself."

He didn't say it, but everyone knew what he meant.

The NBA needs to get tough.

Gone are the days wherein "little" John Stockton of the Utah Jazz would go down low and set a pick for his teammates--only to casually expedite a well placed elbow to the mid-section (or even lower, depending on their height) of his opponent (True story...or so former Detroit Piston, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Laker, and Dallas Maverick Dennis Rodman claims in his book, "Bad As I Wanna Be).

Today, players are clamoring about San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bowen's inability to provide offensive opponents amply space to land after they launch a shot. Call it defense. Call it foul play. Call it "No Form." Call it Distracting. Despite what anyone says, it is effective. Albeit in more ways than one--just ask Ray Allen (when he was with the Sonics), he missed some games due to a sprained an ankle brought about by Bowen's defense.

The Star's Dave Feschuk shares a classic "low blow" story as told by former Minnesota Timberwolf and current Toronto Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell:

"On the night in question Karl Malone, the Utah Jazz legend, was setting illegal screens that too often ended with Malone's elbow in the face of Terry Porter, Mitchell's Minnesota Timberwolves teammate. Pleas to the referees went unheeded and soon enough, Porter's fist was planted in the Mailman's sub-drawstring.

"Terry didn't hit him hard ... You ain't got to hit `em hard. All you've got to do is graze `em ... Just tap `em. Just ring the little bells," said Mitchell. "And Karl Malone just dropped. He was screaming, `Ahh! He hit me in the balls! He hit me in the balls!'

"The next pick Karl Malone set ... he kept those arms in. I'm telling you, there's things you can do.""

Feschuk ends by saying that, "today's players certainly get criticized by their predecessors for being too soft, although below-the-belt assaults aren't foreign to the era. Bruce Bowen, the Spurs defensive specialist, kneed Steve Nash in the groin during last spring's playoffs. A couple of post-seasons ago Reggie Evans, then a Nugget, now a Sixers forward, allegedly grabbed a handful of Chris Kaman's privates. (Some observers lamented that Evans wasn't suspended, although, as Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni joked at the time, Evans did get all ball)."

We all know what would be considered "soft" defense.

Now, only time will tell if the Toronto Raptors and the rest of the NBA can show just enough of that classic toughness.

Now playing: Jars Of Clay - Mirrors & Smoke
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

One-On-One with Toronto Raptors Guard-Forward Jason Kapono

The Globe and Mail Newspaper's Michael Grange goes one-on-one with Toronto Raptors Guard-Forward Jason Kapono in this in-depth interview last October 26, 2007.

Grange's article is quite comprehensive as he and Kapono go into the dynamics of shooting a basketball, Kapono's training regiment, the shooter's proverbial "holy grail," and the differences from the Heat's style of basketball to that of the Raptors.

If you know your basketball, then you know UCLA's Jason Kapono.

The Globe's Michael Granger wrote:

When did you get into basketball, and when did you get serious about basketball?

I got into it in first of second grade. We had a hoop in my driveway, so I was always outside, playing with my Dad, just fooling around. I got serious in the fourth grade. I was playing at school with a friend or mine and he was a year ahead of me and he asked me to join his travelling team. It’s an older team, but whatever, come out and play. I was like, all right. I’d played little fun leagues at school, but never to the point where it was a travelling team with destination tournaments and caravan and over night and that kind of deal.

Did your Dad play?

He played in high school, but he was not a serious college player. He just enjoyed sports. He played basketball, but he was more a fan than a player.

When did you become conscious of the mechanics of shooting?

When I was on the travelling team the coaching was more intense. The school leagues it’s just keep everyone happy, young kids having a good time, but on the travelling team that’s when the fundamentals came in, technique, a lot of drill work and stuff.

But, I’m a junkie. I took that stuff and went home and practiced and watched TV, watched the Lakers play, and you just kind of pick up on stuff.

Did you copy anyone?

You’re too young to pick up on that. It’s more of a feel thing; I’m more of a feel player. All the mechanics and stuff, I’ve got down. I understand the basics, now it’s more feel, I’m not concentrating on changing things, I can’t name one guy that I watched – Larry Bird or Magic or Byron Scott – I watched guys play and got comfortable with what I heard and saw and stuck with that.

What fundamentals did you learn as a young guy that are with you now?

You always have to be ready to shoot. People take that for granted. If you’re not ready to shoot, or if you’re not ready to do anything, how do you expect to do it well?

It all comes down to your feet. Your feet always have to be in a position where you’re ready to shoot, ready to make something happen. You can’t waste time trying to get your feet set once you get the ball, that’s probably the biggest thing.

When people talk shooting everyone talks about follow through and elbows and form ...

I don’t think there’s one certain style or technique that works. Everyone’s body is different, everyone’s game is different. You take Reggie Miller, Michael Jordan, Steve Kerr …everyone’s different. The shot pocket is higher, lower, in or out. But it’s perfecting it to where you shoot it the same way every time. But what is consistent is everyone’s feet are always set; everyone’s body is always square. From a Michael Jordan fadeaway to Steve Kerr set shot; their feet are square, their feet are set. The lower half of the body is a constant.

But you do understand the fundamentals well, it's obvious. Can you take me through them? Your feet are set, you know the swing pass is coming, what happens next?

Number one I get my feet ready. I’m a right-handed shooter so I prefer to go left foot first, so my left foot is my plant foot so I can step into the ball. I have a slight bend in my knees to [provide] the strength for the length of the shot and you have you’re hands prepared. You can’t have you hands down, you have to have your hands ready to catch and shoot, because you just have a certain amount of time to get your shot off. I’m trying to catch the ball into my shot pocket as quick as possible. And then the only thing I’m concentrating on is following through up, rather than out. I don’t like to miss short. If you miss short it doesn’t have a chance. If you’re off a little left or right you have a chance for a bounce, anything short, you don’t make. I always concentrate on following through upwards, towards the sky, rather than out.

Just to be clear, your shot pocket is?

It’s where I want to start my shot at (mimes having a ball ready for launch, just off the right side of his head, right hand spread behind the ball, wrist cocked; elbow coiled, left-hand guiding the ball), at shoulder height. I don’t like to catch it, bring it back down and bring it back up. That split second or two is a shot lost or a shot missed. The quicker or sooner you can get it into your shot pocket and started higher percentage chance you have of making those shots.

Darrick Martin said the thing he thinks that makes you stand out is you can catch the ball in different spots and get into the shooting position without having to re-route it? Does that make sense to you?

Totally. That’s what I work on. As you go on in your career people scout you and get to know your game. So the quicker and better you are at getting different types of shots off, the more effective you will be. So that’s something I really concentrated on after college when I got in the NBA. Most guys have to catch it, drop it and then shoot it. For me my whole game is based on my shot. So the quicker I can get my shot off and the better I can get at that, the more shots I can get. So I feel like I’m able to catch passes high and still shoot it high or I can catch it low and get it up to the shot pocket quicker than most guys.

You shot 51.1 from the three-point last year. ... Do you think someone can shoot 60 per cent?

It’s possible, but it’s unlikely. There’s so many games, that would be tremendous feat.

What's the holy grail?

If you want to be a really good shooter, you want to shoot 50 per cent from the field and 50 per cent from three. Last year there was maybe one or two guys. Nash was probably close. I shot almost 50 from the fields and 50 from three. Right now a good shooter is 40-40. If you can shoot 40 from the field and 40 from three you’re a pretty good shooter, but I think 50-50 is a really good shooter.

You were telling me before that if you're alone in a gym you'd expect to make 80 or 85 of your threes. Would you ever run the table? Make 100?

Nah. I’ve never made 100. The most I’ve probably made is, I don’t know, I can’t even guess.

So you don't write down all your stuff like Hopla?

He’s a clinic shooter, but he can really shoot.

What's the difference?
It’s rhythm. It’s much easier to shoot when you’re in rhythm. In a game you may not touch the ball for six minutes. You may come off the bench. There’s other players on the court; defence, a score, fans. In a gym by yourself you’re going to shoot a lot better than in a game.

What are your practice routines like? Were you a gym rat as a kid?

Always. I had to go to school obviously, and outside of school I just wanted to play sports. I loved playing basketball so I spent a lot of time doing it. That’s what I do now. I get paid to do this so that’s what I focus on.

But I know what I’m capable of and I know what kind of game I have and I practice that. I’m realistic in knowing I’m not going to be a cross-over guy, I’m not going to be a get to the rim, slasher guy. I practice shots I’m going to get in the game: curls, fades, spot-ups, coming off screens, stuff like that. A typical day for me is working specific to those kinds of shots. I don’t really like to waste any time – at the end of practice I might shoot half-court shots and have fun, but in real practice time I shoot the shots I’m going to get so in a game I’m not surprised if I catch one high or catch one low of if I’m coming off a curl and it’s a bounce pass instead of chest pass. That’s stuff you learn and get used to in practice.

So when you do your workouts .... you don't want every pass perfect?

No. And we rarely spend time on spot ups because that’s more of a rhythm, where you’re getting comfortable with your shot. In a game it’s rare you get a clean, spot-up shot. You’re either getting in transition where you have to run into it or the pass is high or low, so that’s how you have to practice. You can’t just go through the motions, because when the game comes around and a 6-foot-8 dude is flying at you to close you out, if you’re going to shoot a slow, half-assed kind of shot, it’s probably not going to be that good.

It's kind of like really good golfers. They're not practising all their chips from a perfect lie to an uphill pin. They practise shots from bad lies.

Exactly. It’s a mistake game. Basketball is a mistake game. So you want to limit them. You’re bound to have a mistake or a mess-up, so you want to limit it. My whole thing is I don’t mind if I miss shots, but I don’t like to not shoot the ball the same way every time. So I want to limit how many times I change my shot. So I focus on consistently shooting the ball the same way and over my career it’s been proven I’m going to make a good amount of those shots.

Mike Miller told me if you're making 51 or 52 per cent from three, you're probably not taking enough threes. Is it worth droping four or five per cent if you make an extra three a game?

I understand that, but I like to take quality shots. So an in-between three or one with a guy closing out on you, I’d rather shoot a pull-up jump shot. That’s a higher percentage shot than somewhat forcing a three-pointer. And obviously you’re going to get more in the system here than in Miami or San Antonio, half-court system. I would think my attempts will go up this year because of the style we play, but I’m not out there to be a three-point shooter. I don’t think that’s all I’m good at. I’m a shooter; I can make shots from the three or from 17-foot range.

Does it bug you a little bit that people think of you as a spot-up shooter?

Nah. That’s standard. Most people don’t understand the real game of basketball. It stands out; I led the league in three-point shooting. People see that and think I’m a three-point shooter. Just like a golfer like Bubba Watson. He’s just a long drive guy. He’s got great tough; he’s a good putter; he’s got all that, but they just see he drives the ball 324-yards so everyone thinks he’s a long driver. I don’t mind that, but I understand there’s more to playing basketball than shooting threes.

Give me a day in your off-season.

I like to go as early as possible. Darrick, he likes to go at 6 a.m., I don’t like to go that early. But I’m in early. I do a lot of individual work, a lot of skill work – that’s the curls, fades, pick-and-rolls, down screens.

It’s whoever is in town. This summer it was me, D-mart, J.J. Reddick, Jalen Rose, Ike Diogu, T.J was there a couple of days. Sometimes you’re have two guards, two bigs and play 2-on-2. It’s a good two hours. The first two hours are your skill work, your shots, and then you try to play more live – pick-and-roll, one-on-one, two-on-two. Afterwards you we play 5-on-5 over in Santa Monica.

How many shots would you expect to get up in a workout?

At least 500, I would say. I don’t really count, but you get everything. It’s game-like. You try to simulate what kind of shots you get and what kind of shots you need to work on coming into that year. Coming into this year I was doing more fast break stuff; transition stuff; the corner shot; shot-fake out of the corner and pin-downs, just stuff from watching tape over the summer, seeing how they play. It’s a different style here.

Like the one you hit last night in transition at the start of the game. You wouldn't get that in Miami?

No. A first-pass shot, early in the clock wasn’t a quality shot there. Here, it’s what they want me to do and it’s something I feel good about taking.

Do you have perfect mechanics?

No. I have flaws. I don’ t think there is a perfect way to shoot the ball. A perfect way to shoot the ball is if you can consistently shoot it the same way, every time. That’s the hardest thing. That’s what Tiger Woods would tell you, that’s what the best in any sport will tell you. They want to swing the bat, swing the club or shoot the ball the same way, every time. You get in trouble and you struggle when you don’t do that. I just try to perfect the way I shoot the ball and consistently shoot it the same way.

Your arc isn't as high as other guys who get called pure shooters - Ray Allen, Mike Miller ...

I’m not a high ball shooter and never have been. Some of it is because I’m a front-rim shooter. My target is always the front rim, which is a bit weird, because I never like to miss short, but just like to get it over the front rim, unlike some guys who are back rim shooters. Typically back rim shooters shoot the ball higher, so that might be a difference, but otherwise its just feel. Just like a golfer, some like to hit the ball high, some like to hit it low. I’m a medium-arc shooter.

Rick Barry says you shoot the ball too flat. If your arc was higher you'd shoot 60 per cent

It’s a comfort level. Everyone gets caught up in shooting like it’s such a technical thing. Really it’s just fundamentals and basics and it’s taking what you feel comfortable with and mastering that way. Everyone gets too caught up. Furyk has mastered his way of swinging the club, that’s why he’s really good at it. If he tried to swing like Tiger, he’d be terrible.

That’s the hardest thing to do in this sport. You need to figure out your niche, in your role, in your game and master that.. You don’t worry about what other guys are doing, don’t worry about what other people are telling you. I’m a shooter, so I know my whole niche is to make shots. So yeah, everyone tells me I need to work on my dribbling and this and that, but the bottom line is I would never be in the league if I couldn’t make shots.

So you continue to work on your strengths?

I try to get better, I try to add things, but I never forget why I’m in the league, and what I have to do. No matter what, basketball, academics, life, you always want to prove people wrong, but you can’t lose sight of what you’re good at. Why not focus on what you’re really good at, and achieve that goal, versus trying to prove everyone wrong and lose sight of what you’re good at.

When you’re in college or you’re a kid you read bad stuff about you and it affects you but you just learn, hey, this is who you are and focus what you’re good at. If I wasn’t going to make the league I’d rather go down on my terms instead of someone else’s.

Have you ever asked yourself: 'Why am I?' You can make the case you're the best shooter in the world.

I’ve never think about that. It’s Damon Jones, actually. The self-proclaimed. He’s the sniper; the world’s greatest.

But no, I never really think about that. But I do think about good I feel knowing that all that hard work and the concentration on focusing on that dominant skill is now an appreciated skill to where the Raptors and Sam Mitchell and Bryan Colangelo pursued me so intensely. It’s a credit to myself and my family and those around me who pushed me and telling me that hey, don’t worry about the other stuff and the criticism. Just take care of yourself and in the end it will turn out.

Have you ever had a crisis of confidence about your game, your style?

I always want to improve. I’m a confident guy, I’m a confident person, I think I can improve, I think I can be better. That’s why I do make some moves and try to get to the hoop, because I feel I can.

Was there ever a point where you doubted your game?

In college, yeah. I lost sight of that and I didn’t shoot the ball as well as could have at times because I was so caught up in trying to prove everyone wrong because I was caught up in trying to prove that, hey, I’m a show in LA, I’m more athletic and more of slasher and I can get to the hoop. You get caught up in the scouts and the prospect of the draft and all that hoopla.

Do you enjoy shooting the basketball?

Do I enjoy it? I love it. It’s something I’ve done as a kid and I love basketball. As much as I play it and as much as I practice it I still watch it. I still enjoy studying it; I still enjoy soaking it in as a fan; I still enjoy coming to practice. There’s rarely a day when I’m upset that I have to go play basketball. Everyone has there day when you’re like, man, I wish I could go do this, but it’s very rare. Basically I’ve been playing basketball every day for the last 15 years, or at least six out of seven days. It’s my job, but I enjoy it.

What's it feel like when you know you're going to make a shot?

It’s just rhythm. You just feel it from your legs up. You’re feeling strong that night and you feel like you’re in the flow. Making a shot all starts with being ready. And the feeling is when you know you’ve put in the time and the practice and the work and you come out with a confident mind frame then there’s no reason for you not to make that shot.

What happened the night of July 1st when Bryan called?

I was at home with my wife. You just get a feel for who is interested, who might call and you wait and see. Bryan called, or he called my agent and he called me and made me an offer that was the best out there and I was ecstatic. I’ve always been someone fighting for my career and going to a new team every year. Someone comes out of the gate and puts you No.1 on their priority list, it’s a humbling experience and it made me feel good that all the hard work and perseverance paid off.

We were just hanging out in the living room, watching television. It’s surreal, you don’t really believe it’s happening. Is he serious? Are the Raptors serious, are we getting a long-term deal? Do they really want us? Because that’s been my whole career. Wait, wait, wait and your agent has to do so much work and convince, convince, convince. Instead of us having to pursue teams, teams were coming after us. It was a weird feeling.

How long did it take you to decide?

Not that long. Maybe 10 minutes. I talked to my wife, talked to my agent a little more, bounced it around a little bit and decided coming to Toronto was the best thing.

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Celtics' Allen Ellipses 17,000 Career Points

Toronto - With the first of his two three point shots in their overtime victory against the Toronto Raptors yesterday, Boston Celtics guard Walter Ray Allen passed 17,000 points for his career and finished with the night with 17,004.

Ray Allen also has the distinction of being the only active player with more than 1900 three point shot conversions (1929) and he is fast catching up with the NBA's All-Time leader in that statistical category--Reggie Miller (2560)

Only 632 more threes to go!

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Monday, November 5, 2007

NBA Gems (This early into the NBA 07'-08' Season)

The Scintillating Six:

1) Brendan Haywood (Wizards) - With the exit of his arch rival (Etan Thomas) due to open heart surgery, the center spot of the Washington Wizards belongs solely to Haywood and he hasn't disappointed by coming up with the first three game double-double of his career. Brendan is currently averaging 10 markers, 13.7 boards, and 3 rejections per game.

2) John Salmons (Kings)- With Mike Bibby out with an injured thumb and Ron Artest serving a seven game suspension, someone had to step up. Enter John Salmons and his 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. Now I know why he turned down that deal with the Raptors to sign with the Kings last year :)

3) Kelenna Azubuike (Warriors) - Hard surname to spell but his game is everywhere with 20 points and 1.7 3's per game. Golden State coach Don Nelson loves Azubuike's work ethic and this bodes well for Kelenna, especially when Stephen Jackson returns from his seven game suspension (that was imposed by the NBA following his guilty plea to a felony charge of criminal recklessness for firing a gun into the air outside an Indianapolis club).

4) Carlos Delfino (Raptors) - Finally free of the Motor City's overcrowded backcourt, this native of Santa Fe, Argentina is making Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo an early candidate for GM of the Year with averages of 7.7 points, 5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2 steals, and 1.7 3 pointers made per contest.

5) Ronnie Brewer (Jazz) - A first-round pick of the Utah Jazz a season ago (he went 14th), Brewer has supplanted Gordan Giricek as the team's starting SG to the tune of 16 points and 2.8 steals through four games.

6) Al Horford (Hawks) - Taken with the 3rd pick in the 07' Draft that featured Oden and Durant. Florida's Al Horford needs to early shake off foul trouble (4 fouls in less than 4 minutes into the second half of their opening night game against the Dallas Mavericks) and make the most of his minutes on the floor while Atlanta Hawks center--Zaza Pachulia--is out (until mid-November with a sprained knee).

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Greatest Dwyane Wade Rookie Card Ever?

Not since the draft of Michael Jordan--which produced future hall of famers: Charles Wade Barkley, Chris Mullin, and Hakem Olajuwon--has there been an NBA draft class with so much talent. The 2003 draft class has already paid dividends with such notable stars and names as LeBron James, Darko Milicic, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, T.J. Ford, David West, 05'-06' Most Improved Player Boris Diaw, Leandro "The Brazilian Blur" Barbosa, Josh Howard, Kyle Korver, and Dwyane Tyrone Wade, Jr.

With these developing talents and the full support of media and mass marketing, these players have become household names with the likes of LeBron, Melo, and Dwyane leading the way.

Getting Down to Business

According to Beckett Basketball Magazine, the card on the top of every Wade collector's wish list is the 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection #74 Dwyane Wade (JSY AU RC) (Pictured above). I have seen this card's value range from 3000 USD to 6000 USD on eBay, and that is already supposed to be a good deal as if you were to open these very, very pricey Exquisite Collection packs, you will be very, very, poor before you would be able to pull anything substantial--and realistically speaking, it may not be the Dwyane Wade card which you were hopping for.

That's what everyone wants.

But what about this?

2003-2004 Dwyane Wade Fleer Authentix Jersey Authentix Autograph (AJADW) numbered to 100. Unlike the Exquisite Collection which patch features your typical red, black, white, or combination of the three swatches; this particular card distinguishing quality is a Nike Swoosh Logo from the manufacturer's patch on each NBA jersey during that time. This would make it a relative 1 of 1 since Nike gave way to Reebok as the official outfitter of the NBA a year later.

Now which one would be more valuable?

A card that is atrociously expensive to begin with or one that: a) has a patch of a manufacturer that was the official apparel endorser of the NBA in 2003-2004, b) the patch has most of the Nike Logo on it (I've only seen two so far and the other card only features the tip of the tail of the Nike Swoosh), c)this is one of the last basketball card sets that Fleer produced prior to filing for bankruptcy in 2005, and d) its autographed.

Can you say, the greatest ever?

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