Posts Tagged ‘Bill Sharman’

Heat seek to join ‘three-peat’ history

Three-peat.

It is a familiar part of the lexicon now, one used to distinguish the greatest of our sports champions.

A term coined by Byron Scott in 1988 and trade-marked by Pat Riley, it slides across the tongue as smooth as a scoop of ice cream and defines a dynasty as readily as a crown atop a monarch’s head.

But there is nothing at all easy about the three-peat.

When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat take the court Thursday night, they’ll be attempting to become only the sixth team in NBA history to go back-to-back-to-back as champs.

Here’s a look at Fab Five:

Minneapolis Lakers (1952-54)

“Geo Mikan vs. Knicks.” That was the message on the marquee outside Madison Square Garden on Dec. 14, 1949. It succinctly said everything that you needed to know about George Mikan, the man who was the NBA’s first superstar. In an Associated Press poll, the 6-foot-10 center was voted the greatest basketball player of the first half of the 20th century and he was later named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in league history. Mikan was such a dominant individual force that the goaltending rule was introduced to limit his defensive effectiveness and the lane was widened from six to 12 feet to keep him farther from the basket on offense.

However, Mikan still flourished and when he was teamed up with Vern Mikkelsen, Jim Pollard and Slater Martin, his Lakers rolled to three consecutive championships. The Lakers beat the Knicks for their first title in a series that was notable for neither team being able to play on its home court. Minneapolis’ Municipal Auditorium was already booked and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was at the Garden. With Mikan double-teamed, Mikkelsen carried the Lakers offense to a 3-3 split of the first six games and then in the only true home game of the series, the Lakers won 82-65 to claim the crown. The Lakers came back to beat the Knicks again the following year 4-1 and the made it three in a row with a 4-3 defeat of the Syracuse Nationals in 1954.


VIDEO: George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers dominate the early NBA (more…)

Bill Sharman, 1926-2013


Video: Bill Sharman honored at Legends Brunch in 2011

HANG TIME WEST – The reminder came every time he spoke, and still it was hard to imagine.

Bill Sharman, a hard-edged coach? Not a chance. Not such a gentle man who exuded warmth and kindness.

Yes, across the board.

But that voice. Decades later, it was part worn-out rasp, part gurgle of a man straining to be heard and most of all it was a reminder of how much Sharman had given for the game. As coach of the Lakers during the historic 33-game winning streak in 1971-72, he literally screamed himself permanently hoarse. Doctors told him he could do lasting damage if he didn’t rest his voice, Sharman refused to back off and risk an end to the magical run, and so he paid the price.

He was tough, he was endearing, and he was forever. Sharman died Friday morning at age 87 at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Redondo Beach, six days after suffering a stroke, as more than a basketball great who joined his good friend John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens as the only people to make the Hall of Fame as a player and a coach. He was the man who touched the NBA – and, indeed, all sports – like few others.

Commissioner David Stern was one of the first in the hoops world to voice his condolences Friday.

“Be it on the court as a star player for the Boston Celtics, or on the sidelines as the guiding force behind the Lakers’ first NBA championship in Los Angeles, Bill Sharman led an extraordinary basketball life,” Stern said. “More than that, however, Bill was a man of great character and integrity. His loss will be deeply felt. On behalf the NBA family, our thoughts and condolences go out to Bill’s family.”

Roommate of Bob Cousy, teammate of Bill Russell, great shooter as guard, seven-time free-throw champion, one of the important weapons of the Celtics dynasty. Coach of the team with the record winning streak and eventually an NBA title. Lakers general manager who called tails to win the 1979 coin flip for the No. 1 draft pick that became Magic Johnson. Deep roots in both rivals and appreciated by each side. Baseball hopeful who spent five years in the Brooklyn Dodgers system, was called up to the majors late in 1951 and was on the bench when Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard ‘Round The World to send the New York Giants to the World Series.

“Bill Sharman with the basketball at the free throw line was a sports work of art,” Jim Murray, the late, great Los Angeles Times columnist, wrote of Sharman in retirement in 1994. “Ruth with a fastball, Cobb with a base open. Dempsey with his man on the ropes. Hogan with a long par three. Jones with a short putt. Caruso with a high C. Hope in a ‘Road’ movie. Shoemaker on the favorite. Sinatra with Gershwin.

“When it was Sharman at the line, the next sound you heard was swish! It was as forgone as the sun setting.”

Sharman, an eight-time All-Star with the Celtics, also coached the Utah Stars to the 1971 ABA championship. In later years in semi-retirement, he was a regular at the Forum and then Staples Center as a Lakers consultant, filing reports to the front office in a nod by owner Jerry Buss of what Sharman meant to the franchise. (For all the massive player contracts he signed, keeping Walt Hazzard, after his stroke, and Sharman on the payroll long after necessary may have been the ultimate sign of Buss’ generosity.)

“Bill Sharman was a great man, and I loved him dearly,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “From the time I signed with the team as a free agent in 1981 when Bill was general manager, he’s been a mentor, a work collaborator, and most importantly, a friend. He’s meant a great deal to the success of the Lakers and to me personally, and he will be missed terribly. My love and sympathy go to (wife) Joyce and Bill’s family.”

Said Jeanie Buss, Lakers president and Jerry’s daughter, in the same statement: “Today is a sad day for anyone who loves and cares about the Lakers. As our head coach, Bill led us to our first championship in Los Angeles, and he was an important contributor to the 10 championship teams that followed. For the last 34 years, his importance to Dr. Buss and our family, and for the last 42 years to the Lakers organization, cannot be measured in words. His knowledge and passion for the game were unsurpassed, and the Lakers and our fans were beneficiaries of that. Despite his greatness as a player, coach and executive, Bill was one of the sweetest, nicest and most humble people I’ve ever known. He was truly one of a kind.  On behalf of our organization, the Buss family, and the entire Lakers family, I send my condolences, prayers and love to Joyce and the Sharman family.”

As the tributes continued to come Friday, Jerry West, one of the stars of the 1971-72 team said “Sharman was, without a doubt, one of the greatest human beings I have ever met and one of my all-time favorite individuals, both as a competitor and as a friend” and called his former coach “the epitome of class and dignity….” There will be a lot of those reactions in the days ahead and probably into early next week and the season openers from Boston to Los Angeles. Sharman was that well-liked. He was that unique in NBA — and sports — history.

NBA Legend Bill Sharman Dies At 87


VIDEO: Bill Sharman passes away

By NBA.com staff

Bill Sharman, an eight-time All-Star with the Boston Celtics, a title-winning coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All Time, has died, the Lakers have confirmed. He was 87 years old.

Arguably the greatest shooter of his era, Sharman was one of the first NBA guards to push his field-goal percentage above .400 for a season. He still ranks among the top free-throw shooters of all time, too, with a spectacular .883 lifetime percentage. He led the league in free-throw shooting for a record seven seasons.

From Friday’s The Los Angeles Times:

“Bill Sharman with the basketball at the free throw line was a sports work of art,” Jim Murray, the late Times columnist, wrote in 1994. “Ruth with a fastball, Cobb with a base open. Dempsey with his man on the ropes. Hogan with a long par three. Jones with a short putt. Caruso with a high C. Hope in a ‘Road’ movie. Shoemaker on the favorite. Sinatra with Gershwin.

“When it was Sharman at the line, the next sound you heard was swish! It was as foregone as the sun setting.”

Sharman is the only man to win championships in three professional leagues: the American Basketball League in 1962, the American Basketball Association in 1971 and the NBA in 1972. He also guided the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers to the best regular-season record (69-13) in NBA history until the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls finished 72-10.

The Lakers announced his passing in a release:

Bill Sharman, former Head Coach, General Manager, President and Special Consultant for the Lakers, passed away this morning at his home in Redondo Beach.  Sharman passed away peacefully surrounded by his wife Joyce and his family.

In 1971-72, his first season with the Lakers, Sharman led the club to their first NBA championship in Los Angeles, a then-NBA record and current franchise record 69 wins, and compiled the longest winning streak in the history of professional sports (33 consecutive victories).  Sharman’s success that season earned him the NBA’s “Coach of the Year” award, and he would go on to lead the team until 1975-76.  After his coaching stint ended, Sharman transitioned to the Lakers front office, being named General Manager prior to the 1976-77 season and later becoming team president following the 1982 season.  Sharman served for the past 23 years as a Special Consultant with the Lakers.

“Today is a sad day for anyone who loves and cares about the Lakers,” said Lakers President Jeanie Buss.  “As our head coach, Bill led us to our first championship in Los Angeles, and he was an important contributor to the 10 championship teams that followed.  For the last 34 years, his importance to Dr. Buss and our family, and for the last 42 years to the Lakers organization, cannot be measured in words.  His knowledge and passion for the game were unsurpassed, and the Lakers and our fans were beneficiaries of that.  Despite his greatness as a player, coach and executive, Bill was one of the sweetest, nicest and most humble people I’ve ever known.  He was truly one of a kind.  On behalf of our organization, the Buss family, and the entire Lakers family, I send my condolences, prayers and love to Joyce and the Sharman family.”

“Bill Sharman was a great man, and I loved him dearly,” said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak.  “From the time I signed with the team as a free agent in 1981 when Bill was General Manager, he’s been a mentor, a work collaborator, and most importantly, a friend.  He’s meant a great deal to the success of the Lakers and to me personally, and he will be missed terribly.  My love and sympathy go to Joyce and Bill’s family.”

Sharman was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1976 and as a coach in 2004, joining John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens as the only men honored in both roles, and in 1996 was selected as one of the 50 greatest players of the NBA’s first 50 years.

History: Fear The Streaking Clippers

a

HANG TIME, Texas — It might be time to change the name of Lob City to Titletown or Bannerburgh.

Either way the streaking Clippers are on the verge of moving into a rather exclusive neighborhood that merits quite serious attention. It’s a ritzy place that comes with lots of shiny gold hardware.

When Chris Paul and his pals won back-to-back games over the Jazz to run it up to 17 consecutive wins, they squeezed into a tie for the ninth-longest single-season streak in NBA history.

With one more win tonight at Denver — No. 18 — the Clippers would take another step toward forcing themselves into the conversation as honest-to-goodness contenders.

Of course, the 1971-72 Lakers top the list with their all-time record 33-game win streak that many consider to be unbreakable. But of the eight teams currently ahead of the Clippers, five of them went on that same season to win the NBA championship and two others advanced to the conference finals. Only the 2007-08 Rockets failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs.

1971-72 L.A. Lakers
Streak: 33

Coach: Bill Sharman
Stars: Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich

Start: Nov. 5, 1971 (110-106 over Bullets)

End: Jan. 7, 1972 (120-104 to Bucks)

Record: 69-13

Playoff result: Won NBA championship

2007-08 Houston Rockets

Streak: 22 games
Coach: Rick Adelman
Stars: Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming

Start: Jan. 29, 2008 (111-107 over Warriors)

End: March 18, 2008 (94-74 to Boston Celtics)

Record: 55-27

Playoff result: Lost in first round

1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks

Streak: 20
Coach: Larry Costello
Stars: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson

Start: Feb. 6, 1971 (111-105 over Warriors)

End: March 8, 1971 (110-103 in OT to Bulls)

Record: 66-16

Playoff result: Won NBA championship

1999-2000 L.A. Lakers

Streak: 19
Coach: Phil Jackson
Stars: Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal

Start: Feb. 4, 2000 (113-67 over Jazz)

End: March 13, 2000 (109-102 to Wizards)

Record: 67-15

Playoff result: Won NBA championship

2008-09 Boston Celtics
Streak: 19

Coach: Doc Rivers
Stars: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen

Start: Nov. 15, 2008 (102-97 over Bucks)

End: Dec. 25, 2008 (92-83 to Lakers)

Record: 62-20

Playoff result: Lost in conference semifinals

1969-70 N.Y. Knicks
Streak: 18

Coach: Red Holzman
Stars: Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley

Start: Oct. 24, 1969 (116-92 over Pistons)

End: Nov. 29, 1969 (110-98 to Pistons)

Record: 60-22

Playoff result: Won NBA championship

1981-82 Boston Celtics

Streak: 18
Coach: Bill Fitch
Stars: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish

Start: Feb. 24, 1982 (132-90 over Jazz)

End: March 28, 1982 (116-98 to 76ers)

Record: 63-19

Playoff result: Lost in conference finals

1995-96 Chicago Bulls

Streak 18
Coach: Phil Jackson
Stars: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman

Start: Dec. 29, 1995 (120-93 over Pacers)

End: Feb. 4, 1996 (105-99 to Nuggets)

Record: 72-10

Playoff result: Won title

2012-13 L.A. Clippers
Streak: 17
Coach: Vinny Del Negro
Stars: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin
Start: Nov. 28, 2012 (101-95 over Timberwolves)
End: ???

* 20 consecutive wins by 2011-12 San Antonio Spurs was split between 10 regular season and 10 playoffs and thereby does not qualify officially.

Pop’s Way Continues To Shine




SAN ANTONIO – For nearly two decades, there have been many different ways to describe the enduring success of the Spurs.

In the Alamo City, it’s known simply as Pop’s way.

It’s contentious and cranky, irascible and irreverent, insightful and often inventive.

Year after year, more than anything, it’s just winning.

Gregg Popovich was named the 2011-12 NBA Coach of the Year, the second time he has won the honor, once more validating a style and an attitude that permeates the Spurs organization.

“That’s probably overblown I’m sure,” Popovich said. “When you win a lot of things get attributed to you that you shouldn’t get full credit for and when you lose you get a lot of things you shouldn’t be blamed for.

“We’ve just been blessed with people who understand their priorities and are very team and community oriented. Our organization has also been blessed, as I’ve said many times, with incredible good fortune. If you can draft David Robinson and follow that up with Tim Duncan, that’s a couple of decades of very, very possible success unless you just screw it up.

“It’s hard to take credit when the circumstances have gone your way so consistently. There are a lot of people who have been in circumstances that have not been in their favor that would be just as successful in this situation, but just didn’t have the opportunity. So we don’t pay much attention to that.”

(more…)

No One Who’s Shot More Has Shot Better

DALLAS – The Dirk Nowitzki-Larry Bird comparisons got old a long time ago – different guys, different eras, different responsibilities, same hair color and flesh tone. But finally, after Game 3 of The Finals Sunday at American Airlines Center, there was a legitimate reason to drop their names into the same sentence.

Nowitzki, on a free-throw binge in the 2011 postseason, made all nine of this attempts from the line in Dallas’ 88-86 loss to the Miami Heat. That left him at 154-for-164 (.939) in these playoffs and, more impressive, 948-for-1,064 in his playoff career.

And that nudged him past Bird for the highest free-throw percentage in NBA playoff history among shooters who have had at least 1,000 attempts.

That list isn’t a long one – just 17 players deep – but it’s a select one, featuring some of the greatest players ever (Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor and more). Nowitzki climbed on this spring and, with his flawless foul form Sunday, crept past Bird as the most accurate among this elite group.

Nowitzki’s success rate over 121 lifetime playoff games is .89097. Bird, at 901-for-1,012, sank .89031 of his FTAs.

(more…)