Posts Tagged ‘David Robinson’

History Says Lakers Play Long Odds





History says the Lakers probably had to do something to save a season that was slipping away.

History also says that in making the switch from Mike Brown to Mike D’Antoni they might just as well be expecting to hit one of those half-court shots to win a car than to be hosting a victory parade next June.

Yeah, the odds are long.

In the previous 66 years, only three in-season coaching changes have produced an immediate championship. Then again, twice it happened for the Lakers, in 1980 and 1982.

However, if the focus is a little farther down the line — and D’Antoni is the right choice — the payoff could be down the line. There have been seven different replacement coaches and eight teams that eventually claimed NBA titles.

1956-57 — Alex Hannum, St. Louis Hawks — The Hall of Famer is more popularly known for leading Wilt Chamberlain and the Sixers in 1967, ending the string of Bill Russell and the Celtics at eight titles in a row. But Hannum replaced Red Holzman and interim coach Slater Martin as player/coach midway through the season. The Hawks lost to the Celtics in The Finals that year. But when he retired and went to the bench full-time, they beat Boston to win it all the following year. He was the only coach to beat Boston in the playoffs during Russell’s 13-year career.

1977-78 — Lenny Wilkens, Seattle SuperSonics — The Hall of Famer took over the reins for Bob Hopkins after the Sonics got off to a woeful 5-17 start that season. He put the spark back in the game with an 11-1 start to his regime and took the Sonics to The Finals, where they lost to the Bullets in seven games. The team featuring Dennis Johnson, Jack Sikma and Fred Brown came back to claim Seattle’s only championship by beating the Bullets for the 1979 crown.

1977-78 — Billy Cunningham, Philadelphia 76ers — Gene Shue’s talent-laden Sixers were upset by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1977 and then staggered out of the gate the following season with a 2-4 record. A Philly favorite as a Hall of Fame player, Cunningham got the first coaching experience of his career when he took over the controls. The Sixers with Julius Erving lost to the Bullets in the Eastern Conference finals in his first year, were beaten by the Lakers in the NBA Finals in 1980 and 1982, but finally broke through and it all when Moses Malone led a 4-0 sweep of L.A. in 1983.

1979-80 — Paul Westhead, L.A. Lakers – First-year NBA assistant coach Paul Westhead moved into the main seat 14 games into the season after head coach Jack McKinney suffered a serious head injury in a fall from a bicycle. The Shakespearean scholar got to cap of an amazing debut season when a fellow rookie named Magic Johnson jumped center, then piled up 42 points, 15 rebound and seven assists in the Game 6 Finals clincher at Philadelphia.

1981-82 & 2005-06 — Pat Riley, L.A. Lakers, Miami Heat – When Magic became disenchanted with Westhead and nudged him toward the door 11 games into the season, the Lakers plucked the former player turned broadcaster from behind the radio microphone to begin a Hall of Fame career on the bench. The untested Riley guided the Lakers to another NBA Finals win over Philadelphia, then won three more titles in L.A. in 1985, 1987 and 1988. After his cross country move took him to New York and then Miami, Riley the G.M. replaced Stan Van Gundy following an 11-10 start in 2005-06. Seven months later, Riley and Dwyane Wade for the Heat out of an 0-2 hole to beat the Mavericks in The Finals.

1991-92 — Rudy Tomjanovich, Houston Rockets — A year after he was named Coach of the Year, Don Chaney’s Rockets were stuck in a 26-26 rut and he was fired on Feb. 18. A reluctant Tomjanovich, then a team scout and assistant coach, had to be talked into taking the job. A season later he became the first coach in NBA history to take his team from the lottery to a division title in his first full season on the job. The local legend Rudy T then put enough spot-up shooters around Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon to produce back-to-back championships for Houston in 1994 and 1995.

1996-97 — Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs – It was 18 games into the season when G.M. Popovich pulled the rug and fired coach Bob Hill. It was a move that was considered presumptuous and unpopular in some corners of town. But all was forgiven when he took a team with David Robinson and second-year forward Tim Duncan to the championship in 1999. Since that time, he has added Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to the lineup, three more titles and the beloved and cantankerous “Pop” is almost as much a part San Antonio lore as the Alamo.

Will Tim Duncan Take Advantage Of His Rule For All-Star Start?


HANG TIME SOUTHWEST –
 So which player could be the first to take advantage of the so-called “Tim Duncan Rule,” the tweak to the All-Star ballot that will ask fans to vote for three “frontcourt” players instead of the traditional two forwards and a center?

Um, how about Tim Duncan? The league will debut the new ballots on Tuesday. The 2013 All-Star Game is on Feb. 17 at Houston’s Toyota Center.

For years, the San Antonio Spurs’ mellow superstar has masqueraded as a power forward really by name only. When Yao Ming entered the league in 2002-03, he generated such an enormous number votes from his home country that there was no way Duncan, who broke in with the Spurs alongside 10-time All-Star center David Robinson, would have ever started an All-Star game if classified as a center.  As a power forward, Duncan started 12 consecutive All-Star games from 2000 to 2011.

Highest def. reb. percentage, 2012-13
Player GP DREB DREB%
Anderson Varejao 5 47 32.0%
Tim Duncan 7 60 31.4%
Spencer Hawes 6 36 29.8%
Al Jefferson 7 55 29.7%
Kevin Garnett 6 46 29.3%

Through Saturday, 11/10
Minimum 100 minutes played
DREB% = Percentage of available defensive
rebounds obtained while on the floor

(Frankly, with so few true centers being viable All-Star candidates these days, the ballot change was overdue.)

That streak, as well as 12 consecutive All-Star appearances ended last season as youngsters Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin dominated fan voting to earn starting spots, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge simply couldn’t be left off as reserves, and reigning NBA champ Dirk Nowitzki appropriately got the nod despite a slow start.

Most observers figured Duncan’s All-Star days were behind him with his stats trending down as coach Gregg Popovich continued to reduce his court time while shaping the offense around guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and the club’s perimeter shooters.

Of course, the move of Dwight Howard to the Western Conference could well make the discussion of Duncan as a starter moot anyway, assuming fan backlash toward the maddening, flip-flopping center doesn’t hurt him on the ballot.

Nevertheless, Duncan is certainly making it interesting.

At 36, he is playing like he’s 26. With the Spurs off to a West-best 6-1 start, Duncan is far and away the team’s scoring leader (18.9 ppg) and he’s dominating the boards, averaging 9.7, more than three more rebounds a game than anyone else on the team.

Consider this nugget shared by NBA.com stat guru John Schuhmann: Duncan’s defensive rebounding percentage of 31.4 is the highest of his career (defensive rebounding percentage is the percent of available defensive rebounds he got when he was on the floor, so with the Spurs on defense there have been 191 available rebounds with Duncan on the floor, and he’s grabbed 60 of them). He ranks second in the league in the category behind Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao.

If Duncan keeps this up, he will be a top candidate to make a 14th All-Star roster. But how realistic is it for a 13th career start? Again, the Howard dynamic is in play, but the new format at least creates the discussion. You have to believe that Durant and Blake will again dominate fan voting and take the top two spots.

But here’s the catch for the third: Other candidates have either started the season slowly or injured. Love and Nowitzki have yet to even suit up and could still be out a few more weeks. LaMarcus Aldridge, an All-Star newbie last season, is off to a poor-shooting start (a career-worst 43.6 percent although he’s averaging 21.8 points and 7.3 rebounds) on a Portland team in transition. Pau Gasol is off to an inauspicious start in the Lakers’ soap opera.

Memphis’ big-man duo of Marc Gasol, an All-Star last season, and Zach Randolph, off to a monster start, will make hard cases.

Bottom line is if Duncan continues at this rate, how does he not make the team? It will be an interesting couple of months.

Hawks’ Smith Flies With The Best





HANG TIME, TEXAS — Along with electricity, gravity and the remote control, we can add one more item to the list of things we take for granted.

Josh Smith.

Is it because he plays in Atlanta, where the home team usually has been far less entertaining and satisfying than the home team down the road at the TNT studio?

Is it because to the Hawks, life beyond the second round of the playoffs is as mythical as Xanadu or the lost continent of Atlantis?

Is it because of all of Smith’s ill-timed, ill-thought 3-pointers that have resulted in dents in the wall from where we slammed our heads? (more…)

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 89) Featuring Roy Hibbert And Chelsea Peretti

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Go ahead, run down the list of the most unstoppable and dynamic duos in NBA history …

Bill Russell and Bob Cousy

Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West

Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Magic Johnson and Kareem

Dr. J and Moses Malone

Larry Bird and Kevin McHale

Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen

Karl Malone and John Stockton

Tim Duncan and David Robinson

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade

and finally Roy Hibbert and Chelsea Peretti!

That’s right. Hibbert, the Indiana Pacers’ All-Star center and Peretti, the stand-up comedian and former writer on the Emmy-nominated “Parks and Recreation”, have tossed their names into the mix with their appearance on Episode 89 of the Hang Time Podcast.

Hibbert has already made his appearance on Parks and Rec. This is Peretti’s first dip in the NBA waters, other than attending Lakers games on tickets she scored from Hibbert.

It’s not often you can pair a “7-foot-2 behemoth” with a “6-foot-11 supermodel” and things go as smoothly as they did. And if they take their act on the road or land a deal for one of the buddy flick ideas tossed around during our brainstorming session, global icon status could be in the offing for both of them.

All we have to do now is get Hibbert to aim a little higher than a chance meeting with Dennis Haysbert (the dude with the golden voice on the All State commercials) and keep Hibbert, Peretti and their entourage away from Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and the club on Jamaican Gold Night …

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our superproducer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

LeBron Can Cap Best Year With Gold

LONDON – He didn’t have to be here.

He could have spent this summer lying on a beach somewhere as far removed from the game of basketball as humanly possible. He could have avoided the crush of being one of the four or five most recognizable people — Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, British gold medal-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis, Kobe Bryant and royals Kate Middleton and Prince William — in this city right now.

No one would have blamed LeBron James for finally taking a little time away from his life’s passion. After a decade of chasing a legacy, and a championship, he finally secured his title, leading the Miami Heat past Oklahoma City in The Finals. James won his third NBA regular season MVP award and snagged a Finals MVP to add to his treasure chest.

With a chance to add a gold medal to his 2012 haul Sunday in the Olympic final against Spain, James is attempting to add an extra layer on top of a cake already drowning in icing. Only Michael Jordan has had a comparable season, piling up all of the aforementioned honors, and that came 20 years ago when he led the Chicago Bulls to the second of what would be six NBA titles and then spent his summer dazzling the world while leading the original Dream Team to gold in the Barcelona Olympics.

Even on a team filled with superstars, James is the headliner and biggest star, playing in a comfort zone and an elite level no one else in this competition or beyond can match.

And now he’s got a chance to cap his best year with gold in a rematch of the 2008 gold meal game in Beijing won by the U.S. Team.

“I don’t think you could have written this script any better for him,” said U.S. forward Kevin Durant, dazzling in his own right throughout this competition, and James’ chief rival with the Thunder during the NBA season. “I’m sure that would be fine for him, the way this has all played out so far. You can’t beat that right there.”

In just two short years, James has gone from the daunting task of trying to live up to expectations few athletes of any generation have ever had to literally winning it all.

Having his best year after his toughest year has to make this current run even for James.

“I would have hoped that this would be it,” James said of the moment, the year, when it all came together. “I would be able to compete for a championship, and win a championship in the NBA. And also be a part of this team and compete for a gold medal. If I would have had to map it out it would have been like this … it’s going in the right direction.”

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U.S. Feeling Right At Home In London!

LONDON – Carmelo Anthony is one of many athletes wearing a U.S. uniform in this Olympics who finds London to his liking.

After participating in the Olympics in both Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, he is finding the adjustment to this city much different from either of those previous locales.

Anthony has had distinct experiences each and every time as one of just three players in history, along with LeBron James and David Robinson, to play on three different Olympic teams.

“That’s a very proud moment for me,” Anthony said. “I’ve been on three different teams. In 2004 where USA Basketball was just trash and we were at the bottom and everybody was saying that the rest of the world was better than us. Then in 2008 when we came back and redeemed ourselves and put together one of the best teams ever and won a gold medal. And even now, to combine two teams that has some of the guys from the 2010 World Championship team with some of the guys from [2008], it’s just that much better.”

Even better this time around for Anthony is the comfort level off the court, in an English-speaking country that reminds Anthony of his normal surroundings.

“We talked about it, it’s a different vibe over here,” Anthony said. “We feel right at home. It’s a lot like New York. You’re out and it’s so diverse. You have so many different people and all of the different languages, but the main language is English and we can dine out and talk with different people and still feel the comfort of home at the same time. And we’re only six hours from New York so we’re really just right across the water.”

Not Exactly A Fair Fight … But Close?

LONDON – Anyone searching for the biggest difference between the basketball competition at the Olympics 20 years ago in Barcelona to now need only scan the rosters and check off the list of NBA players each team can claim.

When the Dream Team suited up they had twice as many active NBA players (11) than the rest of the field combined (five). Fast forward to the competition that kicks off here Sunday and there are 41 current NBA players (59 total when you count former NBA players) on the different rosters and just 12 of those players (we’re counting No. 1 overall Draft pick and Hornets rookie Anthony Davis, since he’s already signed his rookie contract) are on the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team.

In fact, when the U.S. tangles with France in their opener Sunday, it will mark one of at least several times when potentially all 10 starters on the floor are current NBA players.

“It’s a different world in that respect,” Carmelo Anthony said. “I didn’t really think about it like that.”

A different world with different factors that aren’t lost on U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski, an assistant with the gold medal winning team in 1992.

The U.S. team is facing a France team that boasts not only Spurs All-Star point guard Tony Parker, but also quality NBA players in Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum, Clippers forward Ronny Turiaf, Spurs swingman Boris Diaw and guard Nando de Colo and Wizards center Kevin Seraphin.

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No. 1 question: Will Davis stay?

So the question is: Where do you think Anthony Davis will finish up his NBA career?

Didn’t mean to make anyone in New Orleans spit out their Sazerac. Not suggesting that there are problems buzzing around the hive of the Hornets.

It’s just that when the word came out over the weekend that Kwame Brown was signed by the Sixers, it got us to thinking about overall No. 1 picks in the NBA draft and how many of them went on to be certified stars and played their entire career with the team that picked them.

Not many, as it turns out.

If we discount the past five top choices — Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Davis — as being too early in their careers to measure, the fact is that only a dozen of the first 61 No. 1 picks in league history played for just one team. That is including Dwight Howard, who has one foot out the door in Orlando and Greg Oden, who has not yet been signed by another team since leaving Portland.

What’s more, only four of those No. 1 picks went on to become Hall of Famers — Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and David Robinson. Tim Duncan will surely become the next to join the elite list.

The point is that even at the very top of the draft batting order, it’s quite rare to plug in a name and expect that player will never wear another jersey. Oscar Robertson went to Milwaukee to get his championship ring. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar jumped from Milwaukee to L.A. Hakeem Olajuwon finished his career in Toronto, Patrick Ewing with stops in Seattle and Orlando.

Which brings us back to Brown, who’ll be taking career averages of 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds to Philly.

Sixers president Rod Thorn has heard and read all of the wise cracks about his team’s pick-up and thinks it is time that fans got past the line on Brown’s resume that says where Michael Jordan picked him in 2001, according to Spike Eskin of CBSPhilly.

“You’re looking at Kwame Brown from the standpoint of being the first pick in the NBA Draft once upon a time,” Thorn told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and the WIP Morning Show. “We don’t need him to do that. What we need him to do is be a defensive player, rebounder, stalwart on our back line to help us from that angle, that’s something we didn’t have and what Kwame has done over the latter part of his career. He wasn’t a great player as the first pick the draft. If he was the 25th pick in the draft I think the fans would look at him a little bit differently.”

While Philly is the seventh stop on Brown’s career, he is hardly the most peripatetic No. 1 pick. That is just over halfway to Joe Smith’s record of 13 different teams since he was the No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft.

But Brown has plenty of traveling company. After being picked No. 1 in 1959 (Wilt Chamberlain was a territorial pick of the Warriors then), Bob Boozer played for six different teams. Walt Bellamy was the top pick in 1961, played for six different teams and never won a championship, but still was enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Jim Barnes was the No. 1 pick in 1964 and also played for a half dozen teams.

And, of course, there was The Big Ring Chaser, Shaquille O’Neal, who hopscotched from Orlando to L.A. to Miami to Phoenix to Cleveland to Boston.

So in the wake of Kwame Brown’s latest move, we’ll ask the question again: Where do you think Anthony Davis will finish his up his NBA career?

USA Basketball: Dream Team Vs This Team … Who Wins Clash Of Titans?





LAS VEGAS – The question has been raised during each and every Olympic year since the original Dream Team took the world by storm 20 years ago.

So no one should be surprised that it’s come up here during the USA Basketball training camp and that this team’s elder statements and competitor extraordinaire Kobe Bryant would have a diplomatic response when asked how this current team would fare against the originators.

“Well, just from a basketball standpoint, they obviously have a lot more size than we do — you know, with [David] Robinson and [Patrick] Ewing and [Karl] Malone and those guys,” Bryant said. “But they were also — some of those wing players — were also a lot older, at kind of the end of their careers. We have just a bunch of young racehorses, guys that are eager to compete … So I don’t know. It’d be a tough one, but I think we’d pull it out.”

Of course, he does. When has Bryant ever been on a team that he didn’t believe would beat back all challengers?

It would have been supremely disappointing if he said anything else.

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Lakers Back-To-Back Against The Wall





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – If the Los Angeles Lakers are nervous at all about the task ahead — fighting off elimination in the Western Conference semifinals in a back-to-back set tonight and tomorrow at home — they’re doing a splendid job of faking it.

From Kobe Bryant to Andrew Bynum to Pau Gasol to Jack Nicholson (sorry, we threw him in there for effect), there seems to be no worry about anything going wrong in Game 3 tonight at Staples Center (10:30 ET, ESPN). After outplaying the Thunder for 46 of the 48 minutes in Game 2, the Lakers act as if they’ve solved the Rubik’s Cube that is Oklahoma City.

“We know exactly how to defend them,” Bynum said. “We’re actually confident.”

Maybe someone forgot to tell Bynum that the Lakers are facing more than just a survival game tonight; no team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a series. They’re facing that game with their backs firmly against the wall, on back-to-back nights.

The last time they were in this position was during 1999 Western Conference semifinals — the last lockout-shortened season. L.A. lost Games 3 and 4 to the San Antonio Spurs as Tim Duncan and David Robinson kicked off that franchise’s championship era.

Bryant was a part of that series, but feels one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. In fact, he’s not particularly concerned with the back-to-back set.

“I prefer not to have it” he said, “but I feel well rested. Everybody else feels well rested. We’ll be ready for it.”

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