HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Few teams work and play as hard as the NBA’s reigning champs.
And with the Harlem Shake becoming the latest viral video craze, the Miami Heat did what champions do and bested the rest of the field. Starting with the Chris “The Birdman” Andersen,LeBron “The shirtless King”James and Super Mario Chalmers all playing prominent roles in this hilarious video, along with Dwyane Wade in perhaps the best get up of all, a Kanye West College Dropout Bear costume.
Other teams have gotten in on this act, including the Magic, Raptors (courtesy of Amir Johnson‘s maneuverings), Suns and Hawks. But the bar has been raised, folks.
If you’re thinking about putting together your own crew for a Harlem Shake video, you better watch the Heat’s first and then ask yourself if it’s worth trying to top the champs?
Shaq is back after a week off to once again chronicle some of the absurd moments in the NBA. This week, Shaq zeroes in on Lance Stephenson, Greg Smith, Blake Griffin,Amir Johnson and Kendrick Perkins. And sad news for his legion of fans, but no JaVale this week. Vote for your favorite Shaqtin’ A Fool moment!
Even Perkins had to admit he deserved a spot this week …
That shaqin a fool was so funny, I look like a bone head Lmao— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) January 11, 2013
HANG TIME, Texas — Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.
In the NBA that familiar line from the holiday classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” has a different twist.
Every time the bell rings a head coach gets his walking papers and a handful of others start looking over their shoulders.
It’s a tenuous life.
Of course, this season has already been quite unusual with Mike Brown fired by the Lakers after just five games. But now that the schedule has reached the one-third mark and claimed Avery Johnson, it’s time to look at some others down around the bottom of the standings.
Randy Wittman, Wizards (3-23) – No, he hasn’t had John Wall all season. Yes, he’s had to play at times without Nene and Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal. But the Wizards are the only group in Washington that makes Congress look competent by comparison. After a recent 100-68 thumping by the almost-as-hapless Pistons, even Wittman seemed to have enough. “That was an embarrassment, and I apologize to our ownership and to our fans,” he said. “I especially apologize to anyone who watched that entire game. I would have turned it off after the first five minutes.” It would seem to be a matter of when, not if.
Monty Williams, Hornets (6-22) – It’s hard to see the Hornets turning right around and cutting Williams loose just months after giving him a four-year contract extension. There has been the matter of Eric Gordon’s injury and the fact that No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis was on the shelf for 13 games. But there are rumblings in New Orleans about his constantly changing rotations and collapse of his defense, which ranks 29th.
Byron Scott, Cavaliers (7-23) — The Cavs are likely headed to their third straight trip to the lottery under Scott, but that doesn’t mean that he’s headed to the exit. The key to his previous success at New Jersey and New Orleans was having a top-notch point guard and Scott has an excellent relationship with maybe the next great thing in Kyrie Irving. This was always a long, heavy lift from the moment LeBron James bolted and that has not changed.
Mike Dunlap, Bobcats (7-21) – What a difference a month makes. After beating the Wizards on Nov. 24, the Bobcats were 7-5, had matched their win total from last season and their rookie coach was getting praised. Now 16 straight losses later, Dunlap is preaching patience with his young core of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Byron Mullens and Jeffery Taylor. He has earned that. A dozen of Charlotte’s 21 losses have come by 10 points or less, a dramatic change from the historically horrible last season when the Bobcats were rolled in one-third of their games by 20 points or more.
Lawrence Frank, Pistons (9-22) — Frank insists that his Pistons are a better team than they were a year ago. The record — identical then and now — does not back that up. He says that his club now is more competitive, but just doesn’t know how to finish games. Some of the players have grumbled that there is also a failure of coach to make the right calls and adjustments when games get late. When push comes to shove, it’s the coach that gets nudged out the door.
Dwane Casey, Raptors (9-20)– Another one of those seasons when the Raptors were supposed to turn things around and make a push for the playoffs in the lesser Eastern Conference has gone south. Injuries to Andrea Bargnani, Kyle Lowry and Linas Kleiza. Amir Johnson gets suspended for throwing his mouthguard at a referee. G.M. Bryan Colangelo says the talent is there, but the Raptors lack focus and attention to detail. The Raps’ offense is mediocre (ranked 17th) and their defense just bad (27th). Even in Canada during the winter, that all puts Casey on thin ice.
Keith Smart, Kings (9-19) – Smart got the job to replace Paul Westphal specifically because of what was perceived as an ability to work with the mercurial DeMarcus Cousins. So he turned Cousins loose last season, let him do just about anything he pleased and got enough results to earn a contract extension. Now that Cousins has abused his free-rein relationship with his coach and another season is sinking fast, it would be easy to just blame Smart, which the Kings eventually will do. But this is a bad team with a knucklehead as its centerpiece and ownership that can’t tell you where they’ll be playing in two years.
Alvin Gentry, Suns (11-18) — It was at the end of a seven-game losing streak when Suns owner Robert Sarver told ESPN.com that Gentry’s job was safe. “We’ve got confidence in our coaching staff and we’re not considering making changes,” he said. Of course, that usually means start packing your bags. It was all about starting over in this first season post-Nash in the desert. He’s changed lineups more than his ties and the result is usually the same. Gentry is a good bet to last out the season, but it’s probably going to take a big finishing kick to return next year.
A pair of bizarre plays involving refs and the free throw line caught Shaq’s attention this week along with an epic diss by LeBron, Chris Bosh’s dunk fail, and of course, the man, the legend, the myth: JaVale!!! Vote for your favorite Shaqtin’ A Fool moment!
Nothing in the NBA is guaranteed except contracts. So at least Tyrus Thomas has that in his favor. The Bobcats gave him five years at $8 million per, with the hopes that he’d stop teasing everyone and someday produce like a high lottery pick should.
But as Rick Bonnellmentioned in the Charlotte Observer, Thomas cold be in jeopardy of losing precious minutes to DJ White, a big, hungry bruiser who wasn’t blessed — cursed? — with a big contract.
White had just scored a career-high 21 points with 10-of-12 shooting. He was the one shining thing in an otherwise awful performance.
(Paul) Silas was asked if it would be a “problem” finding minutes for White once Thomas returns from a sprained ankle, hopefully this week. Silas replied that if this defines a problem, it’s certainly not his problem.
“He’s going to play now,” Silas said of White. “Tyrus is going to have to show that he can play better.”
At 68, Silas is an old-school guy expecting players to earn their minutes. The clear message was White deserves better than to just be a place-holder for Thomas.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Watching Dwane Casey work his defensive magic with the Dallas Mavericks from the start all the way until their championship finish during the playoffs provided us with a renewed appreciation for importance of having assistant coaches that are basically coordinators.
As Rick Carlisle‘s defensive coordinator, Casey helped transform a team that was considered anything but defensive-minded into a cohesive unit capable of dealing with anything thrown their way — they did run through the Blazers, Lakers, Thunder and Heat on their way to the crown. There were obviously some good tools to work with, namely Tyson Chandler. The Mavericks finally found the right defensive anchor to help them mask some of their glaring deficiencies. Having Chandler watch Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki‘s back on defense was a definite masterstroke.
But Casey, now the coach in Toronto, will have to work some serious magic to do the same things for the Raptors, a notoriously bad defensive team whose best offensive player, Andrea Bargnani, is the runaway winner of the worst defensive player tag on the team.
It’s time for a fresh start and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo made that clear with the way cleaned up after Bosh’s departure to Miami (via free agency), where he’ll team with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in a title chase that will be the envy of so many in Toronto and beyond.
The holdovers in T-Dot — a relatively motley crew including the likes of Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems as well as newcomers Linas Kleiza, Leandro Barbosa, Ed Davis, Julian Wright, David Andersen and Solomon Alabi — will have to come together quickly if the Raptors want to erase the nasty taste of summer from the mouths of their fans.
Still, we have to ask, exactly whose team is this now?
Jack provided HT with some answers to that and more after a recent workout:
HANG TIME: It’s been a tough summer. What’s the internal outlook in terms of what kind of team you’ll put on the floor this season?
JARRETT JACK: It was rough when the trade got rescinded that was on the table with Charlotte. Basically, both teams agreed and then I guess at the last-minute it got refused. If we could have added Barbosa, Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler to the team that we already had that would have given us a shot at being a legitimate team in the Eastern Conference. So I think that set us back a little bit. From what I understand we are still exploring some avenues to try to add to our team and hopefully we can make it happen. But if not, we’ll just have to go with what we’ve got.
HT: Going into the summer, when everybody was still in play in free agency, was there a feeling that even if you didn’t keep Chris (which seemed bleak even then) you’d get something in return to help rebuild this team?
JJ: Sure, assuming that Chris would just got traded straight up and it wasn’t going to be a sign and trade, we figured no human being in this lifetime was going to do something like that and leave $30 million on the table. But it was a situation where they worked it out and he didn’t leave $30 million on the table, we were able to get a trade exception back in exchange. We’re still trying to make some moves. And it’s not over until training camp starts. We’ve still got a little time, and it only takes a phone call and two sides to agree. So you never know how quickly things could change.
HT: You know they’re talking championship in Miami, Boston, Orlando, Chicago and places like that. What’s the attitude for a team like yours, when you know the climb is going to be much steeper than some of your competitors?
JJ: It’s definitely steeper. We just have to find our own identity, really. All these other teams have established stars and we have a pretty young group of guys. We have guys that really haven’t established themselves in the NBA yet. I think once we do that, once we establish ourselves individually and as a team, once we decide what brand of basketball we’re going to play night in and night out, we’ll be fine.
HT: When you are watching all that goes on in a wild and crazy summer like this, with players going from this team to that one and the balance of power shifting the way it did, how do you stay focused only on your team?
JJ: I just worry about the things that affect me, my teammates, the organization I represent and let that other stuff be what it is. You really can’t worry about where everybody else is going or what they are doing. I’m just worrying about how we’re going to get better, what steps we’re going to take, what kind of positive moves that can be made so we can be a factor in the Eastern Conference. All you can do is mind your own business and see where it lands at the end of the day.
HT: From afar it seemed sort of strange last season watching the Raptors’ point guard situation. You started 43 games and Jose started 39 games, but it was hard to tell who was “the guy.” One minute it looks like your team and the next it seems like Calderon’s team. Who leads from that spot this season?
JJ: Just play, man. And that’s the frame of mind I’m going in with. If they have me leading the team and running the squad, then that’s what it is. If not, then I’ll come off the bench and do whatever I have to do and keep doing what I’ve been doing since I got in the league. Even if I wasn’t starting, I was coming in off the bench as a positive influence and trying to lead the team on the floor when I’m out there. I’m always trying to be the best leader I can possibly be whenever I’m out there.
HT: With such a passionate and knowledgeable fan base in Toronto that’s thirsty for a winner, how do you think they’ll respond to this team this season?
JJ: I think they’ll follow our lead. If we come out there and play a tough brand of physical basketball night in and night out, win or lose, they’ll respect us. To me, Toronto is a blue collar city. It reminds me of New York, Philly and those type of fans that are really passionate and rowdy. They definitely make their presence felt, if you’re playing bad or well they’ll let you know. So I think it’s up to us. If we go out there and show every single night that we’re hungry and just truly passionate about the game, they will respond to that. And honestly, that’s what you love about them the most as a player.
HT: I know you and Chris are good friends and have been for years. So you’ve obviously spoken to him about what they have going on in Miami. I know you guys have business to handle in Toronto this season, but you have to be curious to see how things play out down there, don’t you?
JJ: Yeah, I’m curious. The bottom line is, one person is going to have to be left out. And I’m not pointing fingers or anything. That’s just real talk. It’s very rare that you have three superstar guys in this league and everybody get’s their fair share amount of touches and whatever. And I know they all “compromised” some things to play together in the first place. But it’s one thing to say we’re going to do it and something else to actually swallow that pill and be that third option. Going from a superstar to that third option, when you’ve been “the guy” on a team for four or five years of whatever … it’s different. It’s like when you go from college to the league and you’re not that dude anymore and you have to take that step back. Some people can handle it and some people can’t. Like I said, somebody is going to get squeezed out of the equation down there. And that’s just how it is.
As much as this is the summer of big names like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, things are coming together rather beautifully for big men like Toronto’s Amir Johnson (5 years, $33 million), Milwaukee’s Drew Gooden (5 years, $30 million) and Minnesota’s Darko Milicic (4 years, $20 million).