Posts Tagged ‘Elgin Baylor’

No One Who’s Shot More Has Shot Better

DALLAS – The Dirk Nowitzki-Larry Bird comparisons got old a long time ago – different guys, different eras, different responsibilities, same hair color and flesh tone. But finally, after Game 3 of The Finals Sunday at American Airlines Center, there was a legitimate reason to drop their names into the same sentence.

Nowitzki, on a free-throw binge in the 2011 postseason, made all nine of this attempts from the line in Dallas’ 88-86 loss to the Miami Heat. That left him at 154-for-164 (.939) in these playoffs and, more impressive, 948-for-1,064 in his playoff career.

And that nudged him past Bird for the highest free-throw percentage in NBA playoff history among shooters who have had at least 1,000 attempts.

That list isn’t a long one – just 17 players deep – but it’s a select one, featuring some of the greatest players ever (Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor and more). Nowitzki climbed on this spring and, with his flawless foul form Sunday, crept past Bird as the most accurate among this elite group.

Nowitzki’s success rate over 121 lifetime playoff games is .89097. Bird, at 901-for-1,012, sank .89031 of his FTAs.

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Will Shaq’s jersey irk Kareem, too?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – How might the news desk be at Kareemabduljabbar.com today in the aftermath of Shaquille O’Neal’s retirement and the indication that the Lakers are ready to fast-track The Big Aristotle’s jersey to a place up in the rafters at the Staples Center.

According to Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com, the Lakers may not be inclined to wait the five years until Shaq enters the Hall of Fame to have his No. 34 join Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13), Elgin Baylor (No. 22), Gail Goodrich (No. 25), Earvin “Magic” Johnson (No. 32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (No. 33), James Worthy (No. 42) and Jerry West (No. 44).

The question then is how this will all sit with Abdul-Jabbar, who created a recent stir with his complaint that the Lakers have not honored his achievements in the purple-and-gold with a statue outside the arena.

“I don’t understand (it). It’s either an oversight or they’re taking me for granted,” Abdul-Jabbar told The Sporting News in a recent interview. “I’m not going to try to read people’s minds, but it doesn’t make me happy. It’s definitely a slight. I feel slighted.”

The six-time NBA MVP sounded even more offended in a statement released subsequently by his business manager.

“I am highly offended by the total lack of acknowledgement of my contribution to Laker success,” Abdul-Jabbar was quoted as saying. “I guess being the linchpin for five world championships is not considered significant enough in terms of being part of Laker history.”

As one of the first high-profile athletes to have converted to become a Muslim decades ago, what Abdul-Jabbar does not address in his desire to have a statue commissioned and erected is the apparent conflict with his religion. According to the tenets of Islam, photographic, artistic or other depiction of any living thing — including persons — is banned.

When the Rockets wanted to honor center Hakeem Olajuwon with a statue outside the Toyota Center in Houston, it took nearly five years for the Hall of Fame center, his imam, the team and an artist to agree on an abstract representation that did not violate his beliefs. So far, there has been no word from that Abdul-Jabbar on that subject.

Greatness: Is a ring the thing?

Admittedly it’s a fun topic, if for no reason than to poke a stick at our big cuddly bear of a buddy Charles Barkley and listen to him growl.

In fact, of all the great comedy routines ever done on TNT over the years, my favorite has always been Kenny Smith manning the velvet rope outside the “Champions Club” and laughingly taunting the well-known partier Sir Charles about his lack of credentials to get inside the door.

Occasionally, Smith would push open the door to let the sounds of dance music come and poke his head inside.

“Hey, Charles!” he would call out. “Look, it’s Mark Madsen! And Zan Tabak! Oh, Charles, look! It’s Jack Haley! Can you believe it? Jack Haley!”

It was a fantastic skit and all Barkley could do was shake his head and laugh, because, of course, after 16 often-mind-blowing seasons, he left the NBA ringless.

So here we are just hours from the start of the 2011 NBA Finals that feature LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki as unfulfilled stars, pondering again the question for the ages: Does greatness require a ring?

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Love Keeps It Streakly Business

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Some of these “so-called” basketball purists have been scolding us all season here at the hideout for celebrating Kevin Love‘s double-double work, arguing that it doesn’t mean as much since he’s doing it on a losing team.

We can agree to disagree with these self-proclaimed protectors of the game on this one and rest in the fact that anything that hasn’t happened in three decades that doesn’t involve a comet or some sort of natural disaster deserves every right to be celebrated.

Love’s 52nd double-double — he got his 16 points and 21 rebounds last night without setting foot on the court in the fourth quarter against the Pacers — not only gave him the longest such streak since Moses Malone‘s 51 game stretch over two seasons (1978-80), but the Timberwolves also picked up a rare win.

This idea that Love is chasing a record and not wins is beyond preposterous. If you’ve spent five seconds listening to what he has to say, you’d know that Love would trade all of the numbers and attention he’s received for his work this season for a winning situation. He’s won big his entire basketball career until now, so that DNA doesn’t change.

The drive, focus and energy it took for Malone to score all those points and grab all those rebounds in his day is the same it takes for Love to do it now. And that drive, focus and effort is required whether you are winning or losing, as Love has surely found out the hard way this season while chasing wins more than anything else.

In fact, it’s clear that Love has learned a little something from the many that came before him. And at least one of them seems genuinely impressed with Love’s body of work this season.

“When I played, I wasn’t thinking about setting records, I just wanted to win,” Malone said. “But I am really happy for Kevin, he’s doing a great job…playing hard, getting rebounds, scoring…doing what a big guy should do. I think it’s great the kind of numbers he is putting up, and I wish the young man the best of luck.”

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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.

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BLOGTABLE: Kobe’s Greatness

Barkley’s new list: Kobe is one of the five greatest ever. Just Charles being Charles?

David Aldridge: For that to be true, one of the following would have to go: Russell, Jordan, Magic, Wilt, Kareem. I’ll let the Chuckster choose.

Steve Aschburner: I’ll bet that a thorough search of the TNT archives would turn up tape of Barkley naming 13 different guys among his “Top 5″ ever. I can’t put Bryant that high on any all-time list, not when the top spots are already clogged with the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Jerry West and Julius Erving. Kobe could shove aside half of those guys and still not crack the Top 5. Counting rings is way too restrictive and an NBA peculiarity – no one obsesses over championships won when ranking the best ever in football or baseball, not to the degree employed by many hoops fans. So Bryant’s five are great, but that doesn’t give him “cuts” on Robertson or Baylor, for instance. I’d have him in my second five – and I’ll let you figure out who gets bumped down.

Fran Blinebury: If he’s picking his all-time team by position, it means, of course, that Chuck is bumping his buddy MJ to fit in Kobe at SG.  Does he really want to go there?  Kobe’s case for being top five regardless of position is becoming stronger each season and cannot be simply dismissed out of hand, especially if he picks up ring No. 6 and a completes a second three-peat this season.  But the real beauty of Chuck being Chuck is that he firmly believes everything he says today…until he changes his mind tomorrow.

Art Garcia: MJ undervalued so the Chuckster naturally went overboard. Not surprising considering the unfiltered Barkley’s penchant for saying anything, no matter how outlandish. And most of the time he even seems to believe it, even if Round Mound backed off a bit and dropped Kobe to sixth. There’s no question Jellybean’s son belongs in the jar of all-time greats and all-time winners. How many other pieces belong in that jar is always a tasty debate.

Scott Howard-Cooper: If it is Charles being Charles, it’s not by much. I think Kobe is absolutely in the top 10, and found that a lot of readers who don’t think much of Bryant on a personal level agree with the ranking. From there, it’s easy to build a case for top five. Bryant has been great on offense, great on defense, great in the clutch, is the ultimate competitor, and has learned to become much better as a leader.

Shaun Powell: I respectfully disagree with the Chuckster for now, and reserve the right to agree with him later, with more evidence of Kobe’s career. The best five all-time are Russell, Magic, Jordan, Bird and Kareem. Not only were they so great for so long, they didn’t play against the watered-down competition of today. Oh, and for those who say Chuck has a big ego, notice he didn’t include himself in the top-5.

John Schuhmann: I don’t know how you would compare players of this era to those who played 40 or 50 years ago. Can you really say that Kobe Bryant is better or worse than Wilt Chamberlain or Oscar Robertson? The game was played so differently and the league was so much smaller. Here’s a better question: Who’s the best player from the late 90s until now, Bryant or Tim Duncan? You could make good arguments for both.

Sekou Smith: No, it’s more than just “Charles being Charles.” Kobe certainly belongs in the discussion. I just think that’s an unbelievably tough top five to crack for Kobe and a lot of other all-time great players. Without knowing how his career ends, I can’t put Kobe in that top five ahead of (in no particular order) MJ, Magic, Oscar, Bird, Kareem, Wilt, Russell, West and Hakeem. If we were to break it down to specific positions then Kobe is top five easily. But he still has to fight his way into that top five. What I’d love to know is who Charles thinks must drop out of the top five to make room for Kobe?

Phil Jackson pokes Heat

Have you ever seen those beef jerky commercials where the campers mess with Sasquatch? That’s Phil Jackson and the Miami Heat.

The Zen Master took out his stick yesterday and poked the bear a bit, suggesting more than talent goes into winning a title. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh? That’s nice, but might not be enough.

Here’s Philip on with radio station ESPN 1000 in Chicago:

“They got great talent. There’s no question about their talent they have. But, talent doesn’t always win. The team that shows the best teamwork will win it. We think we have established something. But, if [the Heat] can unite — and build quickly — they might be able to do it.”

The Lakers, of course, have demonstrated the best teamwork for two years running. Their championship defense figures to get a stiff challenge from the South Beach Super Fiends, though the man with more rings than fingers further illustrates the Heat’s undertaking with a bit of Lakers’ history.

“I always refer to when Wilt Chamberlain was traded from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and that put Baylor, West and Chamberlain together — three of the top scorers in NBA history — and they never won a championship together the four years they were together. It’s not always scorers and talent that wins it. But it’s teamwork that does it.”

Let’s be honest, Phil, talent comes in handy. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol. Still, we get it. Lesson over … for now.