Posts Tagged ‘Inside the NBA’

Bulls’ fans feel more committed than Rose sounds


VIDEO: An excerpt from Rachel Nichols’ interview with Derrick Rose

CHICAGO – Relationships, they say, only go as far as the least committed person. And right now, Chicago Bulls fans feel more committed than Derrick Rose sounds.

There’s the disconnect. There’s the source of the angst and polarization over Rose’s comments earlier this week in which he seemed to put his life after basketball ahead of his $95 million contractual obligations to the Bulls.

That’s really what it comes down to, doesn’t it? No one begrudges Rose the opportunity to attend his son’s graduation 15 years from now or attend business meetings without feeling “all sore,” in his words. But if that’s his priority – and his comments after practice Tuesday made it sound that way – then he was either impossibly naïve or borderline insulting to the people who pay that massive salary.

That would be Bulls management, of course, but also the people who buy tickets, wear No. 1 jerseys and support the advertisers from the team’s telecasts even if they do not or cannot pony up the bucks necessary to attend games at United Center.

The “Inside The NBA” TNT crew lit up Rose on their pregame show before the Bulls-Raptors game Thursday night, with Charles Barkley in particular calling him out for the “stupid” remarks. Even if you wring out the natural tendency of retired athletes to go too often to the “back in my day” stance, what’s left is this simple choice:

If Rose is that worried about anticipated aches and pains when his toddler son graduates from high school or limping down the aisle with a future daughter, he can make this contract his last. Or retire now.

What he can’t do – and retain the adoration of Bulls fans and the respect of many peers – is modulate his performance and availability while drawing his current paychecks.

People both inside and outside the organization are quick to tell us what Rose “meant to say.” Reggie Miller, working the game Thursday night with Kevin Harlan, sounded eager to defend him too, based on a strong performance against the Raptors. But Rose’s words speak for themselves, especially after he doubled down on them in Toronto after shootaround and again in a TNT sit-down with Rachel Nichols. The young man is 26 years old, he can speak his mind and the fact is, management has done him no camera-savvy favors by sheltering him from the typical media demands on a franchise player.

That he said it in the midst of a minor injury inconvenience – two sprained ankles that were said to be getting better over the past two weeks, until his late-game breakdown Thursday – doesn’t much matter.  This was big-picture stuff, going beyond the present to raise questions about the past (as in, could Rose really have come back in 2012-13 after doctors cleared him?) and the future.


VIDEO: Rose takes a tumble and appears to tweak his left ankle

Several Bulls teammates have voiced support for Rose, saying his commitment to the team is clear. But that’s dog-bites-man – show me a teammate who would be quoted on the record challenging the hometown star.

What rankles some fans is what Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith talked about – lots of people who work harder than Rose go home each night to a shack. Others, whether they know it or not, do not like having peeled back the curtain between them and their sports passions. How can Rose not care as much as we do?

Rose admitted to Nichols that he was a more reckless player in his first two years in the NBA. He still was reckless and available enough in Year 3 to become the league’s youngest Most Valuable Player ever. But two serious knee injuries, effectively wiping out the past two seasons, appear to have forced on Rose a sense of mortality. That matters to him and his, hopefully for another 70 years or so.

People who look to Rose, the Bulls and to sports as an outlet from their own demanding, tedious, perhaps tiring lives think mostly about the next 10 or 12 years. Had Rose said he was taking extra precautions now – and games off – so that he might still be playing for the Bulls a decade from now, or that November doesn’t matter if he can be healthy in April to chase a title, no one would have said boo about Pooh.

That’s not what he said. He gave folks a sense that he cares less about the here and now than they do, and that’s the first pull on a thread that unravels this great sports fascination.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 100) Featuring TNT’s Shaq, Kenny and Charles

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The centennial edition of The Hang Time Podcast was bound to be our biggest and best effort to date.

It had to be, given the star-studded guest list headlined by TNT’s Emmy Award-winning crew from The Inside set, masters Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and the Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley. With an opening assist from the great Ernie Johnson and a visit from the longtime radio voice of the Atlanta Hawks, Steve Holman, who was celebrating his 2,000 consecutive broadcast, we made sure to celebrate 100 right here at headquarters.

Dozens of current and former NBA players, current stars and living legends, have made appearances on the show in the first 100 episodes. We’ve talked to a little bit of everybody, from comedian extraordinaire Charlie Murphy to NBA Commissioner David Stern, Hollywood up-and-comer Genesis Rodriguez to comedic wiz Chelsea Peretti.

About the only guys we hadn’t spoken to yet were Shaq, Kenny and Charles … until now!

Listen in on Episode 100 of the Hang Time Podcast and party with us while we keep it 100!

(Big ups to Vince Thomas of The Shadow League, our former super producer Micah Hart for hatching the podcast with me from the start and the NBA TV and NBA Digital brain trust of Rusty Mintz, Tony Lamb, Steve “The Boss Man” Quintana, John Donovan, Kevin McCormack, Beau Estes our former intern Tori Carmen for helping nurse the show from its infancy into the full-blown ball of hoops chaos that we’ve grown into.)

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand 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 Comes To The Defense Of D-Wade

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The way TNT’s Charles Barkley has talked about Dwyane Wade‘s game slipping lately, you have to wonder if he’s still in the Miami Heat star’s fave five.

LeBron James, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to be interested in biting his tongue where Barkley or any of Wade’s other critics are concerned. He aimed right at Barkley after the Heat’s win over the Atlanta Hawks Monday night, suggesting that Barkley quiet down after Wade’s back-to-back stellar efforts, which included what was arguably Wade’s best game of the season (he made 11 of 13 shots from the field and finished with 26 points, four rebounds and four assists in 34 ultra-efficient minutes).

“It means Charles Barkley needs to shut up,” James said. “I mean, the man [Wade] is shooting 80 percent from the floor the last couple of games. That’s like, crazy, right? That’s why he is who he is. Unbelievable.”

LeBron’s math is correct as Wade is right at 80 percent (20-for-25) over his last two games and 56.4 percent over his last five games (an rise over his season average of 50.6 percent). We’ll probably have to wait until Thursday night for Barkley’s rebuttal. But his comments that lit the flame didn’t seem terribly over the top at the time, minutes after the Heat had absorbed a nasty 20-point home beating at the hands of the New York Knicks (minus an injured Carmelo Anthony).

Barkley said out loud what a lot of other people have been thinking watching the man formerly known as “Flash” struggle to regain his form after offseason knee surgery.

“He’s starting to lose his athletic ability,” Barkley said. “He’s not the same guy. I got a look at him in person. He doesn’t explode anymore and he’s shooting a lot of fadeaway jumpers.”

Barkley’s initial verbal volley came a week earlier, the night the Heat had to survive the San Antonio Spurs’ second unit at home for a 105-100 win after Gregg Popovich gave his big guns a night off and a flight home (earning the Spurs a $250,000 fine), when he dropped this nugget on the Inside The NBA set:

“The toughest thing for Dwyane Wade is understanding that he’s starting to lose his talent and now he has to learn how to play below the basket,” said Barkley, who worked as a color analyst on site in Miami during the broadcast. “The toughest thing when you’re a great player or very athletic, when you can’t jump over a building anymore, you have to learn how to play.”

Barkley makes some good points. Wade isn’t the player he once was, but who would be after all the years he spent not as “Flash” but “Crash,” sacrificing life and limb to carry the Heat in good times and bad?

LeBron’s point is also well taken. He’s coming to the defense of his friend and teammate, a guy he’s toiled alongside the past two-plus seasons and tasted the agony of defeat as well as championship glory.

Wade, all class in his reaction and response to all of this drama, has chosen to simply keep grinding away and stay out of the back and forth with Barkley.

That doesn’t mean you have to …

Kobe And LeBron In The Clutch (Video)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The seemingly never-ending debate surrounding the late-game prowess of both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James went under Kenny Smith‘s microscope last night on TNT.

It’s as concise an examination (with video assistance) of their late-game strengths and weaknesses, and what it all means their respective teams, as we’ve seen. So we figured we’d share for those that might have missed it:

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A little more info on Kobe and LeBron in the clutch, courtesy of my main man and NBA.com’s John Schuhmann (aka StatMasterFlex):

Thus far this season in clutch time (last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime with a score differential of five points or less), Bryant is 8-for-23 (35 percent) from the field, 1-for-4 from 3-point range and 7-for-8 from the line, with five assists and five turnovers. James is 5-for-15 (33 percent) from the field, 0-for-3 from 3-point range and 7-for-12 from the line, with 10 assists and four turnovers.

Good/Bad night to be Charles?

Does the Chuckster need to be doing the “Dougie” on TV? Well, since we’ve seen his golf swing enough, this isn’t nearly as embarrassing.

Plus we get the added bonus of Chris Webber getting all fired up by the shenanigans during halftime of the Lakers-Thunder game last night. Ernie Johnson tried to keep it all together, but in Barkley fashion, E.J. shanks it.

Could you work under such ridiculousness?

The Inside the NBA crew isn’t done with Charles just yet. The above play made No. 1 on the Top 5, while this one below with Shawn Bradley checked it at No. 3. It was quite a night to be Barkley.