Posts Tagged ‘Helene Elliott’

At Long Last Kareem Up On Pedestal


HANG TIME, Texas — Would there be any way in the world it would seem right if our nation’s capital was named for anyone but George Washington?

Fillmore, D.C.? Polk, D.C.? Nixon, D.C.?

Thus, it was equally preposterous that the array of statues outside Staples Center should for all these years have been missing the most logical and deserving subject:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — first in goggles, first in skyhooks, first on the all-time NBA scoring list with 38,387 points.

The egregious omission was finally rectified on when a 16-foot, 1,500-pound statue in the classic skyhook pose was unveiled on Friday night.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times was on hand to describe the occasion:

“I’m glad we got here before the pigeons got to it,” he said, drawing laughter from an array of former NBA players, executives, family and friends.

“I don’t know if you remember, but I had a little too much to say that it hadn’t happened right away. But they were patient with me,” he said after pulling a gold tassel that removed a curtain and unveiled the statue created by sculptors/artists Julie Rotblatt Amrany and Omri Amrany.

Abdul-Jabbar became the sixth Los Angeles sports figure to be remembered with a statue outside the arena, joining hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, boxer Oscar De La Hoya, basketball Hall of Famers Jerry West and Magic Johnson, and longtime Lakers announcer Chick Hearn.

Johnson was among the speakers during a ceremony that featured key figures from Abdul-Jabbar’s childhood, his days in Milwaukee, and his Lakers years. All of them emphasized Abdul-Jabbar’s leadership, great athletic skills and intellectual curiosity.

“You should have had the first statue,” Johnson told the crowd. “It was on your back that we’re here at Staples Center.”

Yes, it is true that Abdul-Jabbar could be prickly and downright aloof at times during his long playing career in Milwaukee and L.A. But he is the only six-time winner of the MVP award in NBA history and also set records at the time for games played, total minutes, field goals, blocked shots, defensive rebounds and fouls.

While the Lakers did not finally leap up to become the league’s most prominent franchise until the arrival of Magic in the 1979-80 season, it was always Abdul-Jabbar providing the tent post in the middle that held up the “Showtime” circus that won five championships in the 1980s.

It is not in any way to discredit the likes of Johnson, West, Hearn, Gretzky or De La Hoya, who had all previously been honored with their own statues.

But it is finally fit that the man who literally stands taller than them all has at last been rightfully placed on his own pedestal.

Mo Williams In The Zone!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — He could have turned the locker room upside down, made a mess of the team’s chemistry and pouted his way out of town if he wanted to.

All of those options were available to Clippers guard Mo Williams when the Chris Paul trade went down. It soon became clear that his time as the Clippers’ starting point guard would be limited to the 22 games he got last season and whatever injury replacement starts he might get with Paul in the fold this season.

To his credit, Williams, who arrived in L.A. via a deadline-day trade with Cleveland last season, has done exactly what he’s always done: put his head down and go to work without so much as a shoulder shrug while handling himself like a true pro.

He’s been on a tear of late, averaging 22.2 points on 56 percent shooting from the floor and an outlandish 54 percent from beyond the 3-point line in the Clippers’ last five games. He’s scored 26, 25, 26, 16 and 18 points in those five games, the first three when the Clippers had to play without Paul (strained hamstring).

Keep this up and he’ll make the voting for the Sixth Man Award an all Williams affair. Philadelphia’s Lou Williams is our early frontrunner here at the hideout.


Paul, Felton Thriving In New Locations


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We saw all of your complaining last week when we praised the Los Angeles Clippers for finally stepping up and trying to court the rabid hoops fan base that’s been sitting in their backyard for decades. We read all the digs Lakers fans delivered and processed each and every swipe.

But we’re also well aware of what goes on when a true superstar is added to the mix of an up and coming team and just how important it is to have the right quarterback in today’s NBA. That’s why we’re still watching the Clippers’ every move, and ignoring the venom.

Sunday’s Clippers-Trail Blazers game offered up the perfect case study on the importance of the right point guard for the right situation, as both Chris Paul of the Clippers and Raymond Felton of the Trail Blazers displayed their wares, and why the Clippers must be taken seriously with Paul at the helm.

Paul has the ability to take over games in ways that only a select few players in the league can. He was brilliant down the stretch against the Trail Blazers, executing on both ends of the floor as he and his crew handed the Trail Blazers’ their first loss of this season.

Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times nailed it with this postgame assessment of Paul’s impact:

Faced with losing a 17-point lead over Portland on Sunday in a game the Clippers considered a measuring stick of their progress after being spanked by San Antonio and Chicago, Paul simply took over and refused to let them lose.

He steadied his teammates’ nerves with his poise, elated them with his shotmaking and wowed them with his ability to win a crucial jump ball against a five-inches-taller Jamal Crawford with 4.3 seconds left.

If not for his leadership the Clippers would not have celebrated their first home victory this season, a gutsy 93-88 decision over the Trail Blazers that inspired the crowd to chant his name in tribute for what figures to be the first of many times.

“Great players can not only make shots but, more importantly, make plays,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said, “and Chris can do both. That’s what makes him special.”

Lost in the aftermath of Paul’s dazzling performance is the fact that Felton has provided the perfect match for Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan, who has run through a long list of point guards during his tenure. It’s one of the only criticism we have of McMillan, a longtime HT fave.