Posts Tagged ‘Bob Cousy’

Arnie Risen (1924-2012), Great Early ‘Big’

They called him “Stilts” because Arnie Risen played back in the days when 6-foot-9 was really something. He weighed 210 pounds for much of his career, maybe 220 later, but what he lacked in bulk, Risen made up for in agility.

“He was also a constant thorn in the side of some of the more prominent big men such as George Mikan, Alex Groza and Larry Foust,” is how “The Biographical History of Pro Basketball” described Risen, a 1998 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee who died Saturday in Beachwood, Ohio, at age 87. “Perhaps only Mikan, Neil Johnston, Ed Macauley and Alex Groza were more polished at the pivot position during the NBA’s first half dozen seasons.”

Risen, who starred at Ohio State and was a part of NBA championship squads in Rochester (1951) and Boston (1957), was a longtime resident of the Cleveland area. He died from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. (more…)

Union strife irks past NBPA presidents

CHICAGO — Serious men tackling significant issues. That’s how some past leaders of the National Basketball Players Association view their group’s history, and that’s why the current power struggle within the union is so troubling to them.

“They’re making too much money,” said Oscar Robertson, a former NBPA president whose lawsuit to prompt free agency in the NBA is nearly as legendary as his Hall of Fame career and triple-double feats. “There are no goals to strive for anymore. They got together and got the collective bargaining agreement resolved. There’s no goals now.”

The CBA that the players and owners ratified in December ended an acrimonious, five-month labor lockout, salvaged a shortened 2011-12 season and got the NBA to eve of what it hopes will be a memorable postseason. The deal also shifted $3 billion from the players to the owners if it runs its full 10-year term, caused factions within the union’s ranks and led to the intramural conflict now between NBPA president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter.

Fisher has asked for an independent audit of the union’s finances and business practices, which allegedly include compensation and opportunities funneled to Hunter’s family members through direct employment and affiliations, according to stories by Yahoo! Sports and the New York Times. The executive committee of eight current and former NBA players responded by voting 8-0 asking for Fisher’s resignation, which the veteran point guard has declined.

It all has bubbled over, in an age of endless media coverage, at an awkward time of year for those involved, putting the union’s business very much in the sports world’s streets. “What bothers me more than anything,” said Robertson, the NPBA president from 1965-74,  “if they’ve got a problem, why don’t they settle it within their organization instead of going public with the whole thing? We settled all our problems within.”


Pierce Redefines Legacy In Boston

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Take a good look at Paul Pierce right now, the day after he etched his name in Celtics’ lore forever by surpassing Larry Bird for the No. 2 spot on the storied franchise’s all-time scoring list.

He’s a rarity in this day and age, a player that has toiled for the same franchise since the day he was drafted and endured all the ups and down anyone’s career could stand and is still thriving 14 years deep into what could very well end up being a Hall of Fame career.

There’s no question Pierce will see his No. 34 hanging from the rafters alongside the numbers of Bird, the game’s greatest winner ever Bill Russell, the franchise’s No. 1 all-time scorer John Havlicek, Kevin McHale, Bob Cousy, Sam Jones and so many others. How he got there, however, will be even more compelling than the final destination.

Pierce is a case study for any player wondering how to redefine a legacy.

I remember his early days in Boston, when he and Antoine Walker formed a potent 1-2 punch for a feisty Celtics team that made plenty of noise in the Eastern Conference and even made the conference finals in 2002. But at the time neither Pierce nor Walker was viewed by the masses as the sort of player capable of leading a team to championship glory.

He endured all of the criticism that came when the franchise fell on hard times, when they dropped from the playoff scene to the lottery, when Walker departed and it was Pierce and locker room full of youngsters who couldn’t find their way out of the bottom of the standings with GPS.


Miller Passes Cousy On Assists List

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Not every career milestone in the NBA will be met with the fanfare of Ray Allen becoming the most prolific 3-point shooter in league history, Kobe Bryant chewing up real estate on the career scoring chart or even Kevin Love establishing a modern-day mark for consecutive double-doubles.

Sometimes, for whatever reasons, the moment comes and goes and hardly anyone stops to appreciate the gravity of what took place and where it ranks in the annals of the game.

And sometimes that moment is cloaked in such a bittersweet coating that it’s almost best not to mention it, especially to the man whose milestone was achieved. Such was the case for Trail Blazers point guard Andre Miller, whose passing of Celtics legend Bob Cousy for 14th place on the career assists list was shrouded in late-game struggles in a loss to the Lakers Sunday at Staples Center.

Miller’s five assists give him 6,957 for his career, moving him ahead of Cousy (6,955). But it came on a night that saw him commit his only two turnovers in the fourth quarter, in a game where he shot just 3-for-14 from the floor.


All-Time All-Star Team

ATLANTA — Please join me as I take a step down fantasy lane wearing hi-top Converse and also a sleeve on my shooting arm. Yes, this is about combining the old with the new and coming up with the Ultimate All-Star Game, pulling players from the past and present.

Not every great player makes a good All-Star Game participant, though. I put a premium on the entertainers: the passers, the leapers, the dunkers of course and the improvisers. There are dozens of Hall of Famers that I don’t want near the game. Mainly, the gravity-challenged centers. I’d want Bill Russell, for example, if I’m trying to win a championship, but wouldn’t even give him a ticket to watch my Ultimate game, let alone play in it.

That said … here are my two squads, with some choices fairly obvious.

West Team:

Pete Maravich. The Pistol is, quite simply, the model All-Star Game guy, worth any price of admission. It would be fun just watching him pull up his floppy socks.

Magic Johnson. How about Pistol Pete and Magic on the break together? That’s a match made in YouTube heaven.

Kobe Bryant. It’s the only game where Kobe passes the ball.

David Thompson. Perhaps the ultimate finisher the sport has ever seen.

George Gervin. Because that’s how we finga-roll.

Connie Hawkins. Here’s the progression: Hawkins>Dr. J.>Michael>everybody else.