Posts Tagged ‘Bill Walton’

Tarkanian Plans To Attend Enshrinement

a

Jerry Tarkanian, who has been battling serious health problems for years and had a pacemaker and stents inserted in his heart after being rushed to the hospital in July, is planning to attend his Hall of Fame enshrinement next month, his son said.

Whether the former UNLV, Long Beach State and Fresno State coach, who also had a 20-game stint with the Spurs in 1992-93, will be able to speak at the Sept. 8 ceremony in Springfield, Mass., has not been determined. But, Danny Tarkanian said, “unless something happens” his father will “absolutely” make the trip as one of the 12 members of the Class of 2013.

“We’re hoping he’s going to be able to speak on his own,” Danny Tarkanian said Monday. “It’s going to be a close call. Some days he’s having a good day, other times he’s not. It’s hard to tell. He’s made great progress the last five days…. We’re hoping he will be strong enough to walk up there, with a walker, to give the speech.”

If Tark is unable to speak at the ceremony, someone will accept on his behalf, as has been with the case in the past if an honoree was too ill or unable to attend.

“It means a lot to him,” Danny Tarkanian said of his father’s long road to Springfield, a wait so long that the 83-year-old former coach was removed from the ballot for lack of support before returning to consideration on the latest ballot and getting the necessary support. “I think he was very happy when it happened. I don’t think he’s as cognizant as he would have been a few years ago. But this has picked him up spiritually.”

The choice for the presenter, who will accompany Tark to the stage but has no speaking role?

Bill Walton, in more than a little bit of irony.

“It is,” Danny Tarkanian said. “And it’s a nice irony, actually.”

Though Jerry Tarkanian had the ultimate respect for John Wooden and Wooden held his up-and-coming rival at Long Beach in such high regard that Wooden recommended Tark for the Indiana job that went to Bob Knight, the Tarkanian camp always held UCLA responsible for turning the NCAA on Tarkanian. The blame went to powerful athletic director J.D. Morgan and not Wooden, and Walton had not yet started his varsity reign, but Tarkanian picking a Bruin for the honor is good stuff for the history books.

That it would be Walton the individual, though, is no surprise. Walton was an early supporter, saying in the 1970s that the NCAA was unfairly targeting Tarkanian during years of pursuit, and they grew closer when Tarkanian began to spend several months a year in San Diego, Walton’s hometown, in addition to Las Vegas. When Tark had a serious health scare in San Diego and was hospitalized approximately six weeks, Walton kept in contact to see if he could help in any way.

“What we try to do now is we look back on all the positive things,” Danny Tarkanian said. “And a guy like Bill Walton, what he’s done, to have the chance that he would be the one to introduce him, is the best.”

As Mavericks Flounder, Cuban Talks Of Drafting Baylor’s Griner?

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Go ahead Dirk. Shave it off.

As Vince Carter said last week after the Dallas Mavericks’ first failed attempt to get back to .500, the beard brigade served its purpose, bringing this group of mostly one-year rentals closer and focused on making a run. To their credit they did. But now, as Carter also said, the hubbub surrounding their quest to finally shave after two months of battling to break even is — ahem — growing out of control.

To the point that the Indiana Pacers used Dallas’ planned post-game shave party with the now-famous Omar the Barber as motivation for their 25-point pounding of the Mavs last Thursday.

Still, Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas’ career lone superstar — looking half uni-bomber, half-Bill Walton ’77 — promised to abide by the non-shaving pact initiated by O.J. Mayo back in late January.

“We only have 10 games left,” Nowitzki said. “I’m not going to shave now.”

Now, with eight to go, it’s time. After Tuesday’s second failed attempt for .500, a 20-point road drubbing by the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas is 36-38 and essentially out of the chase for eighth, now a two-team race between the Lakers and Utah Jazz. Nowitzki, who had 33 points in an overtime win against the Clippers last Tuesday and 35 in Saturday’s miraculous comeback to beat the Bulls, fizzled in L.A. with just 11 points, appearing as old as the 45 years his mother said that beard makes him look.

There is no shame in the longtime face of the franchise opting for a shave. It will be refreshing, perhaps even a bit rejuvenating to see your still-youthful face again and finish out this lost season on a positive note.

Nowitzki’s 11-year All-Star run came to an end this season and he could suffer his first sub-.500 season since the turn of the century. Plus, he’s on the cusp of missing the postseason for the first time in 13 seasons, a remarkable run that only the Spurs can outdo, recently cinching a 16th consecutive playoff appearance.

The offseason promises to be a long one for Nowitzki, who turns 35 in June and who will wait and see how owner Mark Cuban again reshuffles the deck entering the final year of his contract.

Since winning the NBA title in 2011, the Mavs are 72-68 with a first-round sweep. He has grown weary of a makeshift roster and even questioned Cuban’s strategy earlier this season.

Surely Nowitzki didn’t take solace in Cuban’s comments Tuesday in Los Angeles that got him trending on Twitter. Cuban said he’d consider drafting giant of the women’s game, 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner.

It’s doubtful this is the star Nowitzki had in mind to join him for his twilight seasons.

Back in star-studded L.A., where he was filming the TV show “Shark Tank” last July when Deron Williams wondered why he wasn’t in his Manhattan living room, Cuban told reporters regarding Griner:

“Would I do it? Right now, I’d lean toward yes, just to see if she can do it. You never know unless you give somebody a chance, and it’s not like the likelihood of any late-50s draft pick has a good chance of making it.”

Perhaps Cuban saw the inevitable to come Tuesday night and figured he’d preempt Shaq’s big night and this beat-up, sub-standard Lakers team eventually demolishing of his Mavs by going headline hunting.

For one, Cuban has often talked about the heightened importance of the draft under the new collective bargaining agreement. Those more rigid, financially punishing set of rules convinced him to dismantle the 2011 title team, particularly by not re-signing Tyson Chandler and choosing to rebuild a contender through cap space and draft picks.

Dallas hasn’t hit on a draft pick since Josh Howard in 2003. Last June’s second-round pick, Jae Crowder, is the closest yet to becoming a contributing rotation player. Fellow second-round pick, 6-foot-10 former Air Force staff sergeant Bernard James, might tell Griner this gig isn’t so easy. First-round pick Jared Cunningham, a combo guard, has played a total of 26 minutes in a season the Mavs brought in Derek Fisher and then Mike James.

With free-agent star power this summer expected to stay where it is, and Dallas light on trade assets to acquire a rising impact player, the Mavs must find success in the draft — be it in the first round or the too-easily dismissed second round.

The Mavs need contributors, not marketing gimmicks. And that’s no shot at Griner, who dominated the women’s game and was recently described probably quite accurately by one Dallas radio commentator as the Wilt Chamberlain of women’s basketball.

But Griner can’t play in the NBA, and for Cuban to even suggest that he’d consider selecting her with a draft pick should only make the still-bearded, still-committed Nowitzki roll his eyes.

Back Away From The Edge, Clipper Fans

.

HANG TIME, Texas — From Bill Walton’s feet to Danny Ferry’s bolting for Italy to the choice of Michael Olowokandi to practically any decade of Donald Sterling’s long and painful stewardship, it is practically built into their DNA.

Fear! Dread! Panic!

So maybe you can’t blame Clippers fans for seeking out a tall mast from which to jump.

But we will.

Relax.

Yes, it’s now a three-game losing streak that has your boys slipping behind the Spurs into third place in the Western Conference playoff race. Yes, the latest blow came at the hands of the lowly Suns, who are more barren than an Arizona desert and are memorizing the name of their new coach (Lindsey Hunter).

No, the ball’s not going into the basket as often as they’d like. No, Blake Griffin wasn’t zooming toward the rim to catch alley-oops for dunks, wasn’t attacking the basket and wasn’t taking enough shots.

Come on, surely you can take off your sunglasses to see that handsome young man in the dapper outfit sitting over there on the bench, not far from coach Vinny Del Negro.

Meet Chris Paul, fire-starter, All-Star and MVP candidate whose stock is only soaring higher as he waits for a sore knee to feel better.

Maybe everyone was fooled when the Clippers swept a three-game road trip a week ago with Paul on the sidelines nursing his knee. But does anyone really think this team, this season, this talk about the Clippers as real championship contenders doesn’t revolve around CP3?

Everything the Clippers try to do with their offense is based on having the ball in Paul’s hands, letting him make plays, buckets and decisions, as Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles notes:

The Clippers don’t want to make any excuses while Paul is out, and there’s certainly a chance he could be out for a week as he was the last time he sat out with a bruised right kneecap. But with the Clippers up by one with 7:45 left in the game, the Clippers sure could have used Paul or at least Chauncey Billups running the offense to close the game out. Eric Bledsoe is a great change-of-pace point guard and can give the Clippers a spark in the second and third quarters, but Del Negro likes to lean on Paul (and Billups when he’s healthy) early and late in games and it’s not hard to see why.

“All that stuff changes with Chris or Chauncey out there,” Del Negro said. “There’s no excuse. We were in this game and whoever is out there I have confidence in and they got to make the plays.”

Paul is the one who gets the ball to all of the other Clippers in the best position for them to score. Paul is the one who creates the open spaces for open shots. Paul is the one who turns them from a collection of diverse talent into a team.

Yes, there are games that you can win over the course of a long season without your star player. The Clippers did that in going 3-0 through Memphis, Houston and Minnesota. But that was never the point.

Imagine the Heat without LeBron James or the Thunder without Kevin Durant. Heck, even imagine the Three Stooges without Curly.

The show still goes on. But nobody really comes to see Shemp.

We don’t need laboratory slides to know that panic is in your blood, Clipper fans.

Just relax and know that CP3 is just collecting a few more MVP votes this week.

Brook Lopez’s Sore Foot Key For Nets





HANGTIME SOUTHWEST – Brook Lopez is day-to-day, and a franchise holds its breath.

In his third game back last season from a broken right foot, Lopez destroyed the Dallas Mavericks for 38 points and teammate Deron Williams roared: “He was a monster tonight.”

Lopez lasted just two more games, a second injury to his size 20 right foot ending his season for good. But the league and Williams — who would choose the Nets over the Mavs last July — got a glimpse of what could be with the 7-footer with the sweet set shot.

The hard-luck Nets, rebranded in black and white and having taken Brooklyn by storm, couldn’t escape the season’s first month without another scare from Brooks’ brittle right foot. The medical report on this one — a ligament sprain to the mid-foot and not a fracture — allowed for a brief exhale.

Still, it can’t be comforting for a franchise that removed itself from the Dwight Howard circus and awarded Lopez a $61 million contract. The Stanford man played at an All-Star level in his first 14 games, leading the Nets in scoring at 18.5 points a game on a career-best 53.4 percent shooting. His rebounding is improving and he’s blocking more shots than ever before.

Most disappointing for Lopez is he didn’t miss a game through his first three seasons and now has played in just 19 of the last 83. The moment he went down in the final of two preseason games following last year’s lockout will go down as the start of his injury timeline.

There has to be real concern here, although the Nets are swallowing hard trying not to show it. Big men have endured a notorious history with chronic foot ailments, the most famous being Bill Walton, the most recent being Yao Ming.

At the moment, Lopez is listed as day-to-day. He’s missed the last three games. The Nets, 11-6 overall, are 1-2 without him, losing two games they might have lost with him, at Miami and against Oklahoma City. But Avery Johnson’s bunch sure would have loved to attack those clubs with a revived Andray Blatche spelling Brooks instead of starting for him.

Lopez’s availability for Friday’s home game against the improved Golden State Warriors is uncertain. So are the Nets’ heady prospects if problems with Lopez’s big right foot continue to persist.

Our Fab Five All-Time NBA Teams

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – There’s nothing like a list to get everyone stirred up and there’s nothing that Hang Time likes to do more than provide the straw that does the stirring.

So first we’ll provide with what the good folks at The Sporting News – continuing their 125th anniversary celebration – are calling their Top 10 NBA teams of all time.

But that’s the easy task. We here at Hang Time will do the heavy lifting and boil that down to our Top Five, including some changes:

No. 1: 1996 Chicago Bulls – Nobody’s really going to argue with the consensus top choice, are they? Michael Jordan fresh out of retirement and at the top of his game, joined by fellow future Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, the Bulls set the NBA record with 72 wins and outscored opponents by an average of 12.2 per game. These Bulls knew they were going to win every time they walked onto the court and usually were right.

(more…)

Heat join the instant-contender ranks

Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday when the Heat were a team with one All-Star struggling to keep their heads above water in the playoffs.

Well, actually it was.

Then, barely 11 months ago, LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade on stage at American Airlines Arena for that smoke and laser light show. Which brings to mind a few other NBA teams that have made the rapid ascent from middling to championship contender.

(more…)

Blogtable: Disappointing players

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Which player has let you down like none other this year, expectations-wise? No fair picking someone who’s hurt.

David Aldridge: Nobody’s “let me down–”; it’s not like I loaned somebody $20 and they haven’t paid it back. I would say I’m surprised that Steve Blake didn’t play better for the Lakers this season. I know it takes a couple of years to really learn the triangle, but I thought he’d pick it up quicker than he has and not have to be coaxed to shoot. I suspect he’ll play a lot better in L.A. next year.

Steve Aschburner: Seeing as how I picked Indiana center Roy Hibbert to be the NBA’s Most Improved Player and Hibbert, in many ways, has actually regressed, he’s my pick again for all the wrong reasons. Hibbert did not boost his game in significant ways — his shooting percentage is way down, his scoring and assists are off on a per-minute basis and his rebounds have ticked up only a little. The Pacers’ pivot man did not take responsibility as a leader on or off the floor, and his inconsistent, largely lost season was a major factor in coach Jim O’Brien’s firing. He did get in a great shape and worked hard last summer, but a couple of days working with (and hearing about John Wooden’s pyramid of success from) Bill Walton didn’t have much carry-over.

Fran Blinebury: Though he’s played better lately, Hedo Turkoglu has the distinction of under-performing for two different teams this season.  He never was a fit in Phoenix and overall hasn’t been the same Hedo who was a key factor in Orlando’s run to the Finals in 2009. (more…)

Shaq Aging With Grace

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Aging gracefully in professional sports is an art few superstars can master.

Evander Holyfield is still boxing, hockey legend Gordie Howe played one shift at 69 and Satchel Paige threw his last pitch at 59. We still don’t know if Brett Favre is really done or not. They are just some of the glaring examples of a long and storied list of superstars that did not — and do not — know when to say when.

But there is a way to go out gracefully. You can be ushered out of the game without someone’s boot in your back.

Future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is rewriting the book this season in Boston, showing that it’s possible to age with grace and do it in style. He’s even doing it in a city that loathed him for years when he was starring for the rival Los Angeles Lakers.

Shaq is still the most robust and magnetic personality the NBA has to offer. He’s light years away from being the MDE (Most Dominant Ever), yet he’s not bitter about it. He will step aside for Kendrick Perkins in the Celtics’ starting lineup without any fussing.

(more…)

Justin Bieber nabs All-Star berth

We all know what the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game was missing in recent years. Not enough high-pitched, teenage-girl shrieks and shrills.

Problem solved.

Justin Bieber is bringing his hoops talents to Los Angeles and the BBVA NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. ESPN is televising the gathering of entertainers and athletes on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. ET.

In addition to the Grammy-nominated pop-singing sensation, this year’s celebrity games also features NBA legends such as Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, Bill Walton, Chris Mullin and AC Green. On the Hollywood side, look for Jimmy Kimmel, Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), Rob Kardashian, Zach Levi (“Chuck”), Jason Alexander and Common. ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons also nabbed a roster spot. Complete teams, which will also feature current WNBA players, will be announced later.

High Pick, Hard Luck

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The yellow brick NBA road is littered with names of should-have-been legends that never got the chance to realize their potential due to injury.

It’s a cruel-but-timeless tradition, whereby a supremely talented individual sees his career either curtailed or ended altogether due to an injury that no one planned on.

We’ve already seen Greg Oden‘s season end due to a recurring injury (knee). And then there’s yesterday’s news that Yao Ming (ankle) would join him in the street-clothes brigade for the foreseeable future (he is technically out “indefinitely,” but you don’t need a translator to know his season is over).

This Yao development generated an interesting discussion here at the hideout pertaining to high picks who have had their careers derailed by injuries. In the interest of the here and now, we’ll leave yesteryear alone and excuse elders like Bernard King, Bill Walton, Sam Bowie and Ralph Sampson and HT All-Time fave Andrew Toney, just to name a few.

We’ll even excuse more recent stars like Penny Hardaway, a legend in the making before injuries robbed him of his best years.

We’re going to go with just the top 10 injury-curtailed/derailed careers since the 2000 NBA draft, based on draft position: