Posts Tagged ‘Deion Sanders’

Opening Night: Time For Clippers’ Griffin And Jordan To Show Up And Show Out!

VIDEO: DeAndre Jordan abuses Utah’s Enes Kanter and finishes with authority

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Point fingers all you want at Chris Paul, coach Doc Rivers, owner Donald Sterling or anyone in Los Angeles this season. It doesn’t matter. Because it’s not on them … not If the Clippers are serious about making that move from pretender to contender.

It’s on two guys and two big guys in particular.

Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the highlight stars in Hollywood, have to take that next step and put the Clippers in a position to cash in on the immense potential we all see on that roster. They were the missing piece last season in the playoffs, when the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol exposed the Clippers’ soft underbelly in a first-round playoff ouster of the reigning Pacific Division champs.

The Clippers weren’t tough enough then and Griffin and Jordan clearly didn’t have the seasoning needed to win the series. But Rivers has infused the Clippers’ locker room with a new energy, a new confidence even, that will serve as fuel for Griffin and Jordan.

And it’s time for those two to show up, show out and take some of the pressure off of Paul, the team’s smallest player (in stature). We get our first glimpse tonight, when the Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers open the season at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT). Griffin and Jordan couldn’t ask for a better opening test than the Lakers’ veteran frontcourt of Pau Gasol and ex-Clipper Chris Kaman.

If they want to justify the hype and make Rivers look like a genius for praising and challenging them simultaneously during the past few months, we’ll see it tonight in their play.

When he spoke about Jordan as a potential All-Star, to USA Today SportsSam Amick, his comments had to strike a (positive) nerve with Jordan — a player with big talent who still lacks the polish needed to dominate both ends of the court.

“He’s an All-Star, and whether he makes it or not I could care less about that part but I’m just saying that he’s at that level,” Rivers said. “DJ has the ability to affect an entire end of the floor. So how good was Deion Sanders? That’s how good DJ is. That’s the way I look at it.”

Griffin is already an All-Star. There’s no stroking of his ego needed. Rivers had to challenge his basketball IQ, his personal fabric and find out if he was willing to go to uncomfortable places within himself to improve and make himself more of a factor this season.

Combined, Griffin and Jordan have the ability to push the Clippers into the true-contender atmosphere. They’re talented enough to be the difference-makers in ways that few players in the league can, due mostly to the fact that they are physically superior to most opposing low-post duos.

But are they mentally tough enough? Are they skilled enough? Are they determined enough to become the collective force of nature that elevates the Clippers?

We’ll get a good sense tonight when the curtain comes up on their 2013-14 season!

In Support Of LeBron?


Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Show me the man or woman brave enough to dispute our argument that this is easily one of the strangest summers in NBA history.

Go ahead, raise your hand and show yourself in this season of “The Decision,” Dan Gilbert‘s response letter and just about every other strange occurrence that comes to mind.

Adding to these peculiar times is the support New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is showing (after the fact, of course) his former free agent crush, LeBron James. You might expect the Russian billionaire to still be steaming over losing out to the Miami Heat for James.

But he’s not showing any ill will. In fact, Prokhorov is actually sticking up for James and the decision he made, per the New York Post:

“I want to say that I support LeBron, the best athlete in the NBA. He had a truly difficult choice to make. Any move he made was sure to be viewed as wrong, and to leave many unhappy fans. Basing his decision on achieving results on the basketball court shows that the sportsman won the day, not the showman or the businessman. What is wrong with that?”

Prokhorov said that in a signed letter to the editor to USA Today. Surely, it is in response to the continued criticism of James for his decision to bolt from Cleveland after seven seasons with the (near his) hometown Cavaliers in favor of playing with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

We have to applaud Prokhorov for showing that kind of class in defeat.

His Nets swung and missed in the James sweepstakes (they whiffed on every other major free agent target as well, but rebounded with several other moves). But he’s not crying about it. If we were sitting on a stack of billions here at the hideout, we might not take a loss as hard either.

Still, we’ve seen plenty of spirited defenses of LeBron around these parts the past few weeks, but this qualifies as the first (that we know of) from a billionaire. Prokhorov did add this little disclaimer:

“I wish them success and give them my moral support. I will be happy for us to beat the Miami Heat in the conference finals, maybe not this season, but in the very near future.”

We’re not sure how this will go over with Gilbert at the next owners’ meeting, but something tells us Prokhorov could care less.

It doesn’t matter to us, Prokhorov has already shot to the top of the HT Favorite Owner rankings (that 1-30 list will be unveiled prior to the start of training camp). And it has nothing to do with his playboy image, the billions and the fact that he’s as confident a human as we can remember seeing since Deion Sanders was in his prime.

We just like his style!