Posts Tagged ‘Dick Motta’

Boerwinkle, The Pre-Jordan Bulls And The Great 12-Foot Rims Experiment

CHICAGO – To a lot of Chicago Bulls fans, Tom Boerwinkle wasn’t just an alumnus and early big man of their favorite team. He was a litmus test, the guy who could separate the longtime diehards from the bandwagon set. If you followed the Bulls when Boerwinkle played for them – pre-Derrick Rose, pre-Michael Jordan, essentially pre-Artis Gilmore – you were the real deal.

Boerwinkle, the 7-footer from Cleveland by way of the University of Tennessee, died Wednesday at age 67. Drafted by Chicago with the fourth pick in 1968 – Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld went 1-2 that year – Boerwinkle played all 10 of his NBA seasons with Chicago, averaging 7.2 points and 9.0 rebounds.

He took up space and banged inside against the behemoths who roamed NBA courts back in the day, from Wilt Chamberlain, Hayes and Unseld to Willis Reed, Bob Lanier and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Offensively, he was what the old announcers and sportswriters referred to as a “pivot man,” working in the high post as cutters moved around him, dishing bounce passes or handing off to perimeter shooters.

Most of what you’d want to know about Boerwinkle can be found here, via longtime Chicago Tribune sportswriter Sam Smith‘s piece for the team’s Web site. The bottom line for so many Chicago fans, though, was that Boerwinkle represented the team’s early adopters and hardcore faithful, the ones who followed Bob Love, Chet Walker, Norm Van Lier, Jerry Sloan and coach Dick Motta as they played underdogs to the Lakers, the Knicks, the Celtics and the Bucks, among others.

It was easy to root for the Bulls once Jordan arrived and went supernova. Hanging in there in the Boerwinkle years required a little more stamina and faith, despite the Bulls’ run of six straight playoff appearances and seven in the big man’s tenure there.

In spite of Boerwinkle’s steady play and facilitating presence, many felt the roster required an elite center. So the Bulls went searching for one, trading for broken-down Nate Thurmond a couple years too late. Only when Gilmore arrived via the ABA dispersal draft in 1976 did Chicago have its answer for Abdul-Jabbar or Lanier. Yet the Bulls never broke through with Gilmore, either.

The other memory of Boerwinkle that stands out for a kid who grew up in Chicago in the 1960s and ’70s actually came from his college days. In November 1967, he was a senior at Tennessee when the Volunteers coach Ray Mears participated in an experiment for Sports Illustrated. To address the concerns that some in the game had about the dominance of the big man, the magazine explored the possibility of raising the rims to 12 feet.

All of a sudden, for this one trial intrasquad game, Boerwinkle’s reference point to the basket was that of a man about five feet tall.

What surprised many was that the biggest man, Boerwinkle, who is fairly agile and quick, had the most difficulty. While he had 15 rebounds, a little above his average, he had trouble getting them, although most of the missed shots fell within a 12-foot radius of the basket. He had no chance at all to get the shots that hit the front of the rim. The rebounds usually caromed over his head and were taken by one of the smaller men. On many shots the ball took longer to come down, giving the other players time to crowd into the lane and fight Boerwinkle for the ball. Several times he had the ball stolen away when he came down with it. He failed to block a single shot and did not score on a tip-in. He made only one basket in 16 tries, a jump shot from the foul line.

Boerwinkle never had to play on jacked-up rims again. He settled into a long career with the Bulls and remained popular later as a broadcaster and team alumnus. His place in their history is secure, wheeling and dealing out of the high post.

Pop The Rock Rolls Up On Win No. 900

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HANG TIME, Texas – It’s no wonder most NBA coaches are constantly moving on the sidelines. Theirs is a peripatetic lifestyle, usually with one hand gripping a suitcase and one foot out the door.

Among many other things about his worldly background and his puckish personality, it is his stability that makes Gregg Popovich unique.

With a win tonight at home against the Jazz (8:30 ET, League Pass), Popovich will become the 12th coach in NBA history to win 900 career games, but will be the first to claim each and every victory with a single team.

Over the past 17 seasons, the Spurs have been Pop as much as much as they have been David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and the other 130 players who have worn the silver and black uniform.

In a league that is teeming with exceptional coaches — Denver’s George Karl, Boston’s Doc Rivers, Minnesota’s Rick Adelman, Memphis’ Lionel Hollins, Dallas’ Rick Carlisle, Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra – Popovich stands a step apart and above.

He is always the first and usually the last to tell you that it’s all about the players, but to a man, they will tell you he is the one whom they are all about in the way the prepare, work and attack every game and play.

When he sat at a makeshift table for a news conference last spring when he was named Coach of the Year for the second time in his career, Popovich’s face turned different shades of red. But it wasn’t for the usual reasons of screaming at a referee or boiling at another question from a reporter. He was, in short, embarrassed with the attention.

Pop’s Way. That’s what they call it around the executive offices and on the practice floor and in the locker room.

“It’s about us, not me,” he said, sheepish from the attention.

But year after year, season after season, it has been about him getting the most out of his team by being willing to change the pace of play — from slogging, powerful inside ball to Duncan to a microwave fastbreak that is sparked by Parker — but never his principles or his own personal style.

He just wears suits, doesn’t model them.

“They’re not Italian,” he told an inquiring mind years ago.

He doesn’t do TV commercials or endorsements.

“I refuse,” he said another time. “I’d rather spend time in other ways.”

Pat Riley, the Hall of Fame coach and stylist, once said the Spurs are “the most emotionally stable team in the league.”

That’s because it is a team in Popovich’s image. He picks the players, he builds the team, he molds them and has constructed a franchise that has always eschewed endearing to be enduring. It’s all added up to the best record in the Western Conference again, an NBA record 14 consecutive 50-win seasons, 16th straight trips to the playoffs and puts him on the doorstep of history, all in one place.

After 900 wins, Pop won’t be going anywhere but straight ahead. (more…)

Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2012





Former Pacers scoring star Reggie Miller and Don Nelson, the winningest coach in league history, headline the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 announced Monday in New Orleans in the basketball museum’s latest attempt to address previous oversights.

While Miller’s selection was not a surprise, he did go from not being a finalist in 2011 all the way to election this time. Nelson went from finalist to missing the cut in ’11.

Jamaal Wilkes made it to Springfield, Mass., some 26 years after he retired. Ralph Sampson, elected largely on the strength of a dominating college career at Virginia, last played in 1992.

Hank Nichols, a long-time college and international referee, also made it via the North American Committee.

Maurice Cheeks, Bill Fitch, Bernard King, Dick Motta and Rick Pitino fell short of the required 18 votes from a secret panel of 24 voters comprised of members of the media, NBA and college game.

Katrina McClain, a former star at Georgia and two-time Olympic gold medalist, and the All American Red Heads, a barnstorming team from 1936 to 1986, were elected by the Women’s Committee.

Mel Daniels (ABA), Don Barksdale (Early African American Pioneers), Lidia Alexeeva (International), Chet Walker (Veterans) and Phil Knight (Contributor) were announced in February as inductees.

Enshrinement ceremonies are Sept. 7 in Springfield.

Hall of Fame Invites New Inductees

 

ORLANDO – Former Pacer big man Mel Daniels was among five people elected to the Hall of Fame in results announced Friday as part of a new format designed to generate more recognition for some inductees before the biggest names, the NBA representatives, are revealed at the Final Four.

Previously, the Hall used All-Star weekend to release the list of finalists in every category, before those candidates are reviewed by another committee as the last step to induction in Springfield, Mass. Now, the winners from the five classifications that don’t require that last step as part of a direct-elect process will be announced as part of All-Star weekend, along with finalists from the North American and Women’s field.

The inductees: Daniels (ABA), Don Barksdale (Early African-American Pioneers), Lidia Alexeeva (International), former Bulls standout Chet Walker (Veterans) and Nike chairman Phil Knight (Contributor).

Also, Magic executive Pat Williams was named winner of the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, and long-time Bulls writer Sam Smith (print) and former Trail Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonley (electronic) will receive the Curt Gowdy Media Awards.
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