Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jason Kidd and Grant Hill Retrospective: Two Sides of Health


Jason Kidd.

With the second pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks selected California guard Jason Kidd to run their offense that featured Jimmy Jackson and Jamal Mashburn. Kidd, who signed a six-year $60 million dollar rookie contract (those were the days before the NBA collective bargaining agreement regulated rookie salaries), didn’t take long to impress as he helped the Mavs improve that year by 23 wins. By the end of his rookie year, J-Kidd averaged 11.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 7.7 assists per contest, and led the NBA in triple doubles with 4.

Grant Hill.

Drafting third overall were the Detroit Pistons who over the last few years had seen their team fall from the NBA’s elite after winning back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. With Duke senior forward Grant Henry Hill, one of the most decorated collegiate players of his generation, the Pistons not only had a new cornerstone (who signed to a tune of eight-years, $45 million) to build under the guidance of veteran guard Joe Dumars, but also what was to become the “face of the NBA” for the next few years. Hill’s status was never more apparent than in that year’s NBA All-Star Game wherein he became the first rookie (in any of the four major sports—Basketball, Baseball, Football, and Hockey) to be the events top vote getter. Hill finished with averages of 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.77 steals per game. As for triple-doubles, G.Hill didn’t match Kidd’s total but was able to post one against the Orlando Magic on April 7, 1995.

With their individual accomplishments (I can’t really say “AND team accomplishments” since the Pistons only had an 8-game improvement will Hill that year), both Jason Kidd and Grant Hill were named NBA co-rookie of the year—only the second duo (until Chicago’s Elton Brand and Houston’s Steve “Franchise” Francis turned the trick in 99’-00’) to capture the award after the Celtics’ Dave Cowens and Blazers’ Geoff Petrie did it 24 years earlier.

In their own right, both Jason Kidd and Grant Hill have had successful and highly lucrative careers. Kidd is third all-time in triple-doubles (netting 100 to date), USA Basketball’s 2007 Male Athlete of the Year (going 44-0 lifetime when representing his country), and has reached the NBA Finals twice in 2001 and 2002. On the other hand, Hill had been named to numerous NBA All-Star teams (even making the squad during the 2001 season in which he only participated in four regular season games), is one of only three players (the others being Elgin Baylor and the late Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain) to lead his team in scoring, rebounds, and assists on at least three occasions, and is generally a nice guy (having won the NBA’s Sportsmanship Award (2004, 2008) and the Magic Johnson Award (2006)).

But in my eyes, arguably the defining point in their respective careers is the element of injury from which no player is immune.

The Good.

In March of 2000, the Phoenix Suns’ Jason Kidd broke a bone in his left ankle with 2/10th of a second left in the first half of their game against the Sacramento Kings. Surgery ensued, and five weeks later, Kidd was back on the court for the Suns’ playoff run. Four years later, Kidd had microfracture surgery on his left knee in July 1st and returned five months later without any ill effects—which says a lot because a number of players have either retired (e.g., Terrell Brandon, Allan Houston, Kerry Kittles, Karl Malone, Jamal Mashburn, Bryon Russell, guard Alvin Williams, and Chris Webber), are unemployed (e.g., Pat Garrity and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway), not really the same anymore (e.g., Matt Harping, Kenyon Martin (procedure on both knees in successive years), Eduardo Najera), or play like they never got hurt in the first place (e.g. the aforementioned Jason Kidd, Zach Randolph, Amare Stoudemire and the retired John Stockton). (The jury is still out on Portland Trailblazer rookie Greg Oden and $111 million dollar man Gilbert "Hibachi" Arenas, so we will have to wait and see.)

The Bad.

Grant Hill. Once the poster boy for endurance (averaging 38.93 minutes a game during his first six years in the NBA), Hill’s health deteriorated after severely injuring his ankle during the 2000 playoffs while playing for the Detroit Pistons. The following year, the Orlando Magic’s new free agent acquisition had season-ending surgery to repair a broken medial malleolus (inside bone of left ankle) on Jan. 3 2001. A similar season-ending procedure was done 11 months later (Dec. 19, 2001) and the following season (2002-2003), Hill also missed a majority it before having surgery again on his bothersome left ankle which involved re-fracturing and re-aligning the ankle by re-shaping the heal on March 18, 2003. shares that five days after the said procedure, “the unexpected happened: Hill developed a 104.5 °F (40.3 °C) fever and convulsions. He was immediately rushed to a hospital. Doctors removed the splint around his ankle and discovered that Hill had developed a staph infection, from which he nearly died. He was hospitalized for a week and had to take intravenous antibiotics for six months.”

Grant Hill then missed the entire 2003-2004 in order to rehabilitate his left ankle. Two years later, Hill’s ankle was fine but he still missed 61 games due to a sports hernia.

And the comparisons don't stop there.

Overall, I am happy that both players are currently healthy and with them being in the twilight of their careers, they may still give us a special moment.

Don’t blink.

Because it may just happen.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

The Dreaded ACL Injury

Detroit Shock’s forward Cheryl Ford is done for the rest of the WNBA season.

And it couldn’t have happened in a worst way.

She was a peacemaker.

While trying to restrain teammate Plenette Pierson during the confrontation against Candice Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks, Ford’s right knee buckled as she tore her anterior cruciate ligament.

Here is the video of the aforementioned brawl.

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the four major and stabilizing ligaments in our knees. Studies have found that this type of injuries is common among athletes—especially women—due to a variety of reasons: hormonal, balance, posture, and genes. An ACL can be torn by way of a “sudden dislocation, torsion, or hyperextension of the knee.”

Basically, these type of injury can happen at anytime and anywhere—even outside the arena of sports—as I heard a story awhile back wherein someone did tear their ACL after sitting down for a long time with their legs crossed.

In the National Basketball Association (NBA), Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries have been out there for quite some time. Over the last twenty years, several prominent players like Bernard King, Patrick Ewing, and Ron Harper have been able to return from his injury despite surgical procedures still being in its infancy.

Other instances

Probably the worst possible ACL injury occurred in February last year when former Los Angeles Clippers guard Shaun Livingston tore three of the four major ligaments in his knee on a breakaway drive in the first quarter against the Charlotte Bobcats. While in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), Minnesota Lynx point guard Lindsey Harding, the first overall pick in the 2007 WNBA draft, suffered a torn ACL in her left knee during a seemingly harmless drive to the basket during the later part of her rookie season while playing against the Washington Mystics.

Just can’t get healthy

No player has suffered more ACL injuries than NBA forward Danny Manning. Manning was the top pick out of Kansas in 1988 who spent portions of his productive 15 year career with the Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, and Detroit Pistons; suffered three ACL injuries: injuring his right knee during his rookie year in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks (1/4/89), another in the left knee during a team practice in Phoenix (2/7/95), and re-injuring his right knee again two years later in Sacramento (4/7/98).

While in the WNBA, Rebecca Lobo, one of the most decorated collegiate and Olympic female basketball players of this generation, was also not spared of his injury. In the New York Liberty season opener against the defunct Cleveland Rockers (6/10/99), Lobo tore her left ACL 42 seconds into the contest. Six months later, she reinjured the same leg during a rehab session (12/16/99).

Exceptions to the rule

For every injured player, there are also exceptions and two players come to mind, Karl Malone (Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers) and NBA Iron Man A.C. Green (Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat). Playing in 1458 games in a career that spanned 19 years, Malone’s only significant injury came during his last and only year with the Los Angeles Lakers wherein he missed 39 games due to torn knee ligament. On the other hand, A.C. Green has never missed any significant time having played in 1192 consecutive games (an NBA record).

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gift wrapped for Brooklyn: The 2008-2009 New Jersey Nets

I have always been resistant to change.

Even if I knew it was coming a mile away.

Last February, I got the opportunity to see the Nets at their best for what turned out to be their last time together against a major opponent.

And with the trade deadline looming, there were already some notable changes on their roster as the Nets shipped forward/center Jason Collins to Memphis for underachieving forward Stromile Swift. A few days later, team captain Jason Kidd followed suit when New Jersey sent him back to the very team that drafted him (Dallas Mavericks) for Devin Harris and other players.

Change was coming.

I just didn’t know how fast.

Nets Team President Rod Thorn and the rest of the Nets brain trust have been very busy this off-season. Having traded away their franchise’s second all-time leading scorer—Richard Jefferson to the Milwaukee Bucks for China’s Yi Jianlian and underachieving forward Bobby Simmons.

The Nets also did very well for themselves in the 2008 NBA Draft after they bagged Stanford’s 7’0’’ center Brook Lopez at #10, 6’10’’ forward Ryan Anderson at #21, and arguably the steal of the draft at #40—Memphis scoring guard-forward Chris “CDR” Douglas-Roberts.

Rod Thorn didn’t stop there as he also allowed forward Bostjan “Boki” Nachbar to sign with a Russian team and sent guard Marcus Williams to the Golden State Warriors for a future lottery-protected 1st round pick.

With that said, the only Nets left from last season’s roster are Darrell Armstrong, Josh Boone, Nenad Krstic, Sean Williams, Vincent Lamar Carter and his $61.8 million dollar extension. Of those five players, only Boone, Williams, and Carter are certain to make the final roster.

The New Jersey Nets have certainly positioned themselves well for the unrestricted free agent boon of 2010 that will feature the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr., Steve Nash, Joe Johnson, Walter Ray Allen, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Manu Ginobili, Tracy McGrady, and for what it’s worth, Shaquille O’Neal. This list can further increase if players who hold Early Termination Options (ETO) in their existing contracts decide to exercise them. They are Amare Stoudemire, Michael Redd, Tyson Chandler, Richard Jefferson, Yao Ming, and Dirk Nowitzki.

If the Nets don’t land LeBron James in 2010.

They are not short on alternatives from the wealth of talent on that list.

Kudos to the Nets brain trust on their foresight.

Brooklyn may not only be getting a team two years from now.

But a solid contender.


- DeSagana Diop and the Dallas Mavericks agreed on a five-year, $31 million deal (the team’s full midlevel exception) last July 9, 2008. It will be Diop’s second stint with the Mavericks after being a part of the Jason Kidd-Devin Harris deal six months earlier

- What exactly did the Nets get in the Marcus Williams deal? Fred Kerber of shares that “if the Warriors are in the playoffs in 2011, the Nets get their first round pick. So it’s lottery-protected in 2011.

He adds “if the Nets are still waiting for the pick in 2012, they get G. State’s first rounder, as long as it’s not 1-through 11. If they’re still waiting in 2013, they get the first rounder as long as it’s not 1-through-10. But 2013 is the cutoff. If they haven’t gotten the pick by then they get two second rounders, in 2013 and 2015.”

Sounds as shady as Marcus Camby being dealt for a 2nd round pick, if you know what I mean.

- Lastly, at the age of 40, guard Darrell Armstrong won’t be back with the Nets for the upcoming 2008-2009 NBA season.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Value of a Posey

And so it ends.

The last coveted unrestricted free agent is off the board with the signing of James Posey.

The winner?

Not the 2007-2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics (who were reported to be reluctant in offering Posey his desired full mid-level exemption four-year deal) but the up-and-coming New Orleans Hornets.

At 31, James Posey had every right to go out and look for some security, which he found in the Hornets $25 million offer. I honestly believe that the Celtics should have not scrimped on this one, as Posey is a true “glue guy.” The Cleveland Cavaliers will tell you. So will Miami Heat President Pat Riley.

Posey was the Celtics unsung hero in the NBA Finals a few short weeks ago. An intelligent weak side defensive helper who helped NBA Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Garnett on one end and supplied the C’s with timely three point bombs on the other. In fact, Celtics Captain Paul Pierce felt that Posey contributions were so "invaluable" that his squad wouldn’t lose anything if he were to sit down.

Who can argue with success?

After all, Posey has only won two NBA Championships in the last three years with the Heat in 06’ and the Celtics in 08’

Could Hornets in 09’ be a possibility?


Just don’t question the value of a Posey.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Karma: Could the signing of Baron Davis been to the detriment of the Los Angeles Clippers?

Six days ago, Yardbarker blogger Baron “DB” Davis posted for the first time as a Los Angeles Clipper and 306 replies later—the public’s perception of him is…well…divided.

And that is putting it very lightly.

Much has been talked about Davis’ evoking his right to opt out of his current contract with the Golden State Warriors in the 11th hour (leaving a cool $17.8 million greenback on the table) as well as the resulting alleged collusion with fellow free agent Elton “EB” Brand and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Brand, fresh from watching the Boston Celtics capture their 17th World Championship, was said to have seen the logic in bringing together great and talented individuals who are willing to work towards a common goal—an NBA Championship.

But…things change.

The tune of $90 million dollars by way of Golden State (possible retribution for luring their franchise player Davis away?) and $82 million courtesy of some recent maneuverings by the Philadelphia 76ers has the potential to sway even the most idealistic minds.

So much for the “EB” and “BD” one-two punch combination.

What about the Clippers other unrestricted free agent and longest tenured player Corey Maggette?

Well, the Clippers can’t go down that road anymore with reports that he has agreed to accept a five-year contract worth around $50 million from the Golden State Warriors.

Fortunes once looked bright this uptown LA squad.

Karma anyone?

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Gilbert Arenas reveals the true origins of "Hibachi" during his Adidas Philippine Tour 2008

The Washington Wizards new $111 million dollar man to be Gilbert Arenas, Jr. arrived in Manila, Philippines yesterday.

His lone itinerary for the evening--meeting with the Philippine press and answering some great questions fielded in by Philippine sports columnist, blog squad blogger, and broadcaster, Mr. Joaquin M. Henson.

Here are some of the highlights:

The Hibachi Grill to be honest

Gilbert Arenas, Jr. sheds some light as to the origins of his catchphrase, "Hibachi."

"Actually, it started with Brendan Haywood. You know, We got beat really bad and Kirk Hinrich…was, he scored about 30 something on us and Brendan Haywood was like, "Man he bring out the Hibachi Grill tonight!""

"So I was like, well, usually, I usually score 30 points. So I’m the Hibachi. And so from there I just took it."

I guess this means we can owe a debt of gratitude to Big Brendan and Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich's hot shooting night for Hibachi!

Gilbert also had some advice to young college players who are aspiring to make it big in the field of professional basketball:

"My junior high coach told me.
You know, I stick to it to this day...
You know believe in yourself.
You know when all things fail, its just you, its just you and your dream...
And you got to always believe"

Gilbert Arenas is visiting Manila from July 5-7, 2008 as part of his Adidas Asian Tour promoting his new line of footwear.

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