Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Buss’

Fine, suspension may be most NBA can do

By David Aldridge, TNT


VIDEO: The Inside the NBA members discuss the Donald Sterling matter

The most likely scenario for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to discipline L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is to use a provision of the NBA constitution that allows the Commissioner to suspend a team employee indefinitely and fine him up to $1 million. That appears, according to sources familiar with the NBA’s little-seen internal rules, to be the most the NBA can do to hit an owner for something said, as opposed to something done.

There are provisions for the NBA’s Board of Governors, with the votes of three-quarters of the league’s owners — 24 — to terminate the ownership of an individual and remove him as owner. But those provisions do not seem to apply here under even generous interpretation of the league’s rules.

Owners can be removed, under Section A 13 of the NBA’s Constitution, under the heading “Termination of Ownership or Membership.” An owner can be voted out, essentially, if he or she willfully violates the NBA’s Constitution or Bylaws; transfers ownership of his or her team without permission or approval; fails to pay his or her debts; is found to be attempting to fix games and/or has severe gambling debts, or disbands his or her team during the season.

Sterling is under investigation for allegedly making racially outrageous remarks to a woman purported to be his girlfriend. In one section of the tape, which was acquired by the website last Friday, the man on the tape believed to be Sterling tells the woman he doesn’t want her posting photos of her with Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson, and not to bring Johnson or other African-Americans to Clippers games.

The salient provision in the Constitution that Silver is likely to use is Section 35A (d): “Misconduct of Persons Other Than Players.” As player conduct and league penalties for conduct violations are all subject to collective bargaining negotiations, the behavior of all other team and league employees, including coaches and referees, is covered under 35A (d).

This is the key phrase: the Commissioner can fine anyone up to $1 million, and suspend — either for a definite or indefinite period — anyone who makes statements deemed to be “prejudicial or detrimental to the Association,” and/or detrimental to the best interests of basketball.

But it’s unlikely Silver could use a violation of 35A (d) to then remove Sterling through A13.

“None of these [provisions for removal] are at issue here,” said one source familiar with the league’s constitution.

An open-ended suspension could give the league time to line up potential buyers for the Clippers, while trying to convince Sterling that this is the time to sell the team. The league, under former commissioner David Stern, made it clear to the Sacramento Kings’ former owners, the Maloof family, that it would not allow them to sell the team last year to a Seattle group that planned to move the team there. The Maloofs ultimately sold the team to the NBA’s preferred group, led by software tycoon Vivek Ranadive.

Sterling bought the then San Diego Clippers in the early ‘80s from Irv Levin, who’d acquired them in the infamous “team swap” with John Y. Brown, who was the owner of the Buffalo Braves when he assumed control of the Celtics from Levin in exchange for Buffalo. Levin then moved the Braves to San Diego, where they were rechristened the Clippers; Sterling moved them to Los Angeles in 1984.

Sterling’s only true friend among his fellow owners was the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who’d encouraged him to buy the Clippers from Levin. Sterling rarely came to Board of Governors meetings, and owners don’t often fraternize with each other. Almost all of the owners who could be considered contemporaries of Sterling have sold their team or passed away.

“I doubt Sterling cares what we think,” one owner said Monday afternoon.

Kobe criticism can’t all fall on Jim Buss

By Jeff Caplan,

VIDEO: Shaq weighs in on Kobe’s frustration with the Lakers organization

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Phil Jackson is gone. Mike D’Antoni remains, for now. Two parties at the top of the Lakers pyramid aren’t going anywhere: Jim Buss and Kobe Bryant.

The latter, reduced to six games this season due to injury but signed to a two-year extension for $48.5 million, last week turned up the heat on the former to put the broken Lakers back together. This summer.

As Kobe should know after signing his over-market deal, it’s easier said than done. Yet during his press conference to officially announce that his slowly healing knee will prevent him from playing again this season, Bryant dug into the late, great owner Jerry Buss‘ son-in-charge Jim — and to an extent Jeanie, Jim’s sister and Phil’s girlfriend — to set a distinct course for the future on everything from team culture to the team’s coach.

“You got to start with Jim,” Bryant said. “You got to start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out. It starts there and having a clear direction and clear authority. And then it goes down to the coaching staff and what Mike is going to do, what they’re going to do with Mike, and it goes from there. It’s got to start at the top.”

Of course no one, not Kobe, was fanning distress signals at the start of the 2012-13 season when the conversation was whether the Lakers would win 70. They had pulled off a deal for Dwight Howard (no complaints at the time in Lakerland), a move the club had planned to come after trading for Chris Paul following the 2011 lockout, but everybody knows that story.

Then-commissioner David Stern, acting as decision-maker for the then-New Orleans Hornets because the league owned the team at the time, vetoed the trade that would have joined Paul with Kobe. A week later Stern stamped Paul’s ticket to the Clippers, leaving Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak fuming. The next summer, as consolation, the Lakers made the swap with Phoenix for Steve Nash, again prompting praise void of complaint.

Only nobody could foretell the freak leg fracture Nash would suffer in his second game in purple-and-gold, an injury that spawned relentless nerve damage and could well end his career next month.

Mike Brown was fired five games into the season. The hiring of D’Antoni over Jackson was, yes, mishandled, messy and ill-advised, deserving of criticism. The maniacal Kobe despised the happy-go-lucky Dwight. Dwight pouted over D’Antoni’s no-post offense. Then Kobe blew out his Achilles in the final days of the regular season. Conveniently lost in the clutter was the 28-12 finish to the season. Before Kobe’s injury and before injury would again force Nash to bow out, experts on TV, including the highly critical Magic Johnson, were calling the Lakers a serious threat to beat the Spurs in the first round.

Only now, as this injury-plagued disaster of a season limps to the end, it seems so long ago.

Now, as Jackson takes the controls of the Knicks to Kobe’s dismay, the Lakers’ future, as murky as it is, will have to unfold one step at a time, regardless of how quickly Kobe wants a contending team to magically appear around him.

Jim Buss might not be his father, but it’s also not the same NBA. The collective bargaining agreement doesn’t make a quick rebuild easy even for big-market, high-revenue teams. Kobe’s high-priced extension eats into this summer’s cap space, making it next to impossible to re-sign Pau Gasol along with a max-level free agent despite Kobe’s constant lobbying to the front office keep Pau on board.

In fact, Jim Buss believed he had already secured contending seasons for Kobe’s final years by securing the franchise’s next superstar in Howard.

Kobe had no tolerance for Howard’s playfulness nor did he hold an interest in convincing him to stay. And now Kobe is short on teammates, patience and time. He says he’s not interested in a drawn-out rebuild, even as few other choices are plentiful.

His turning up the heat on Jim Buss can’t come without also looking in the mirror. The Lakers will have cap space to work with this summer and next, and a high draft pick this June. That’s Jim Buss’ new starting point.

“It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform. No excuses for it, right?” Kobe said. “You got to get things done. It’s the same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court is the same expectations I have for them up there. You got to be able to figure out a way to do both.”

Unfortunately for Kobe and the Lakers, it’s easier said than done.

Blogtable: Did Dwight Choose Well?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Week 37: Dwight’s choice | Smartest early-offseason move | Summer League must-sees


Dwight picked Houston. Did he make the best decision?

Steve Aschburner, Howard made exactly the right decision because, first, it’s the one I’d been urging for him all along. Second — wait, there’s a need for a second? Oh, OK, I’ll reiterate what I’d been saying, that he needed to get back to a big fish/smaller pond situation, because the Lakers, L.A., that team’s legacy and the expectations all were too much for him. Howard also needs a coach like Kevin McHale who can share big-man wisdom and moves, and craft an offense around him. And he’ll be better off as, at 27, a “veteran” on a younger roster, where he can develop some leadership muscles that weren’t needed around Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and other Lakers. I’m impressed that Howard made the best basketball decision for himself, even if it costs him some spotlight and bad sitcom cameos.

Fran Blinebury, Depends what you mean by best. He did leave $30 million in salary on the table, taxes or no taxes. From his own personal standpoint, Howard made the easy decision, which was to leave the pressure of playing in L.A. and the burden of playing with Kobe Bryant. He needs to be loved, hugged, cuddled and coddled and he’ll get all of that in Houston, along with a 23-year-old partner who doesn’t already have five championship rings and a penchant for driving his teammates like they were rented mules. He’s back at the center of his own universe and will once again be happy, until he’s not.

Jeff Caplan, Yeah, I think Dwight made the right decision. These aren’t the Lakers we once knew, from top to bottom. The passing of Dr. Jerry Buss and now with son Jim running the operation, this thing is wobbling badly. Dwight wasn’t buying past titles or promises of future titles and he picked the team best constructed to win now — from top to bottom. The Rockets have solid ownership, a GM who has obviously worked miracles to build a contender and a coach in place that will cater the offense around Dwight, unlike a certain stubborn coach in L.A. some refer to as MDA. Now, would I have liked to have seen Dwight remain in L.A.? Yes. I wanted to see him embrace that challenge. Still, I can’t blame him for fleeing considering the state of dysfunction within a franchise that used to hum.

Scott Howard-Cooper, He did for this week. In a week and three minutes, who knows with Dwight. But Houston is not a bad decision. Another All-Star already in place, a management team that is smart and aggressive and won’t rest with being a good team, a popular place to live among current and former players, and killer BBQ. Oh, and it’s not Los Angeles. Howard couldn’t handle the heat lamps of being a Laker, even with Kobe Bryant and Mike Brown/Mike D’Antoni taking some of the hits. Shaquille O’Neal was wrong about Houston being a small town. But he was right about it not being the Lakers in L.A.

John Schuhmann, I was really intrigued by the possibility of him playing for the Warriors with Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala (with Andrew Bogut and a young piece or two going to L.A. in a sign-and-trade). That would be a Big Three I could really get behind. But I also believe that Houston was the right choice over L.A. The Rockets are better set up to succeed over the next three or four years than the Lakers are. Sure, there is that cap space next summer, but the chances that LeBron James would leave Miami seem slim and Carmelo Anthony isn’t nearly a good enough consolation prize. Starting with James Harden, the Rockets already have (young) pieces in place and there’s no need to wait a year to get started on building toward a championship.

Sekou Smith, Yes. He made the absolute best decision for a guy looking for an escape from the pressures of Los Angeles and the Lakers. Of his suitors, the Rockets checked off the most boxes on Dwight’s wish list. He gets to start fresh with a coach and a fellow superstar he respects, and perhaps most importantly, guys who respect his game. He gets to stay in a big market (sorry Shaq, Houston is no “little town”) and compete for the championship(s) that have eluded him thus far in his career. Howard had prime time opportunities to choose from in every direction. But he followed the path of LeBron James and Chris Bosh and chose to play alongside a contemporary with a like mind (James Harden), one who shares the same ultimate goal, and that’s winning big on his own terms. We won’t find out until the 2013-14 playoffs if Howard made the right decision. But the best, for him … it had to be Houston.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: No, Dwight did not make the best decision. Well, perhaps, if we’re talking title chances, because Houston is closer to a ring than the Lakers are, yet to me they’re both behind about five other teams. But I’m thinking money, because like all of us I think about money a lot. And from that standpoint, Dwight left a big chunk of change behind on the table. I know that’s something that should probably be applauded — valuing winning over cash — but this is a guy who’s battled pretty severe injuries and has no time promised to him going forward. I probably would have taken the cash and then somehow made do with living in Beverly Hills.

Give L.A. Its Due Starting With Dwight

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Let the singing of the praises begin. The Los Angeles Lakers are in the playoffs and in this strange season, that’s no small feat.

May it start with Dwight Howard. He was demanded to be dominant without Kobe Bryant by analysts such as Magic Johnson and more, and for those two must-have games he delivered: 42 points, 35 rebounds and seven blocks while playing 82 of 96 minutes.

“Everybody counted us out, but one thing that I told the guys tonight was that we’ve been through so much as a team this year, from the injuries to the rumors and everything that has happened,” Howard said after the Lakers rallied to defeat Houston 99-95 in overtime and pass the Rockets for the seventh seed. “It could have made us separate from each other, but we stayed strong, stayed together and we won for each other tonight. So we’re happy that we’re in the playoffs, but we’re not done yet.”

Next up for a golf clap is coach Mike D’Antoni. He’s absorbed tidal waves of criticism since taking over — including from right here — as the fans’ distant second choice to jilted Phil Jackson. Sure, Kobe’s season-ending Achilles injury might have finally forced D’Antoni to bend and feed his two bigs, Dwight and Pau Gasol, as so many have screamed for months, but he did.

Dwight’s 30 shot attempts over the last two games are his highest two-game total since March 6-8. At the other end, he reminded us why he was the three-time Defensive Player of the Year in Orlando before the back injury last season derailed a shot at four in a row. His two defensive gems against a driving James Harden late in the game were marvelous.

Gasol, dogged by injuries and an intellectual basketball divide with D’Antoni, came through in the last two games with 24 points, 36 rebounds and 13 assists, with a number of nifty passes going to Dwight.

The bottom line is the Lakers were written off and easily ridiculed. On Jan. 2 they were 15-16 and in 11th place. On Jan. 24 the Lakers hit rock-bottom, in 12th place at 17-25. Since then, through the death of beloved owner Jerry Buss and injuries to Gasol and Nash and Metta World Peace and now Kobe, they finished 28-12.

With the season on the line every single day in April, the Lakers won eight of nine.

“Obviously I’m really proud the way for just a month they had to just play in elimination-like games every night, and I think Steve Nash said it best, or Dwight, I forget which one said it, but after they [Houston’s Chandler Parsons] threw in the 3 to tie the game and it went into overtime, he said, ‘It’s been hard all year, this stuff’s happened all year, so why was this any different, and it’s not going to be easy and let’s go out and win it,’ and they did.

“The great thing about it was everybody contributed, somebody did something that we got the win, because you can’t shoot 36 percent and make it easy, it’s going to be tough. So we didn’t shoot the ball well, but other than that I thought we had good shots and I thought the guys obviously played hard and we played well defensively again.”

It has been a team thing. Steve Blake has been off the charts with back-to-back 20-plus-point games. Antawn Jamison had 31 points and 10 rebounds, and shot 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.

While Utah’s loss at Memphis just before the Lakers tipped off against the Rockets got them in the playoffs, the gutsy win made sure they’d snag the unforeseen seventh seed and avoid Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Blake said. “I’m just proud to be a Laker.”

Now these Lakers will take their cuts, with the pressure eased and nothing to lose with Kobe on crutches, against a disciplined and proficient San Antonio Spurs team. However, it is a Spurs team that limps into the postseason and isn’t immune to an early postseason upset.

In this strange season, anything, it seems, is possible.

For Better or Worse, The Lakers’ Stage Now Belongs To Dwight


Yo Dwight, you got now.

It’s a case of can’t live with him, but can he live without him? For Los Angeles Lakers big man Dwight Howard, who has often felt like Kobe Bryant’s picked-on little brother in his first season in Lakerland, this baffling year now falls in the palms of his massive hands after Bryant’s devastating Achilles injury Friday night.

Make no mistake as the Lakers quickly move on with no other choice to Sunday’s critical game against the San Antonio Spurs. This is not suddenly the overly cerebral and emotional Pau Gasol’s team nor is it the injured Steve Nash’s job to keep Lakers’ chins ups. The bionic Metta World Peace? Hardly.

We’re about to find out just how much the 27-year-old Howard, L.A.’s hopeful future rock of the franchise, has grown up in the past year, through the scars and lessons of an implausibly wild ride: His never-ending debacle in Orlando, the trade, the back surgery, the firing of Mike Brown, the head-bumping with Mike D’Antoni, the shoulder injury, the death of Jerry Buss, Bryant’s relentless, often backhanded, tutelage, and, of course, all the losing by a team already declared one of the biggest busts in NBA history.

Just two games stand between the Lakers making the playoffs after an arduous climb or descending into a long, uncertain offseason. Immediately the cycle will begin of will-he-stay or will-he-go questions that will hound Howard and the Lakers all the way to the July 1 start of free agency when Howard can hand-pick a team with enough cap space to sign him.

All indications have suggested that Howard seems headed for a long-term stay in L.A., tabbed as the successor to Kobe’s throne once he calls it a career, perhaps as early as after next season as Bryant himself has suggested now on multiple occasions.

How Bryant’s Achilles injury, which could keep him out as little as six months or as long as 12, will affect the Lakers’ immediate playoff hopes will be known in a matter of days. Less certain is Bryant’s availability for next season and ultimately his longevity now 17 years in, and especially how it might alter Howard’s feelings about re-signing under such circumstance.

The latter is impossible to even speculate. Nothing with Howard has ever been what it seems.

And now Bryant’s absence thrusts Howard into the spotlight like never before, even as he smiled through all those years leading that rag-tag bunch as a sole superstar stuck in Orlando. For the remainder of this season, however long it lasts, and, without a doubt, for at least the start of next season if he chooses to stay in Lakers purple and gold, all eyes will be trained on the 6-foot-11, 265-pound man-child.

D’Antoni, whose offense has failed to integrate Gasol and Howard on the low block, will have no choice now but to slow the game up and put the team’s fate in Howard‘s ability to go to work down low.

With Bryant out, Howard is the Lakers’ best player on the floor. If L.A. is going to take the final steps and achieve the satisfaction of having at least scrapped into the playoffs, they’ll need Howard to lift his team and produce like he is indeed the best player on the floor.

The stage is truly his.

The Big Jersey Retiree

HANG TIME WEST – It’s too bad Dr. Jerry Buss will not be at Staples Center tonight because this is about his emotions and vision as well, the way he knew when it was time to dump Shaquille O’Neal, when it was time to let go of the unfortunate past and when it was time to figuratively bring Shaq back into the fold. The good news is that it is a safe bet O’Neal will mention Buss in a kind way, and so the Lakers owner who passed in February actually will be there.

It has been an automatic for years — no matter how many wanted to suggest doubt after an ugly breakup — that the Lakers would retire jersey No. 34 in tribute to O’Neal. That it is happening late in this of all seasons, Tuesday as the Lakers face the Mavericks in a game with implications for the bottom of the Western Conference playoff pack, is just how things worked out in a strange way: The relationship with Kobe Bryant has gone from setting fire to the locker room all the way to friendly, Mike D’Antoni, briefly Shaq’s coach in Phoenix, now has the Lakers job, and the organization desperately needs the positive vibes of Junes past. All unexpected developments, all making this particularly special.

And there were good times. No, there were great times. O’Neal and Bryant feuded at historic levels – it could be argued that their egos at 40 paces hastened the retirement of Jerry West, exhausted by, among other things, years of having to be Switzerland – and it is no stretch to suggest championship opportunities were missed because the tension overtook the winning. O’Neal showed up Buss by screaming at the owner for a fat extension and increasingly showed less of a commitment to staying in shape. But that team was a thunderclap of talent and unapologetic arrogance.

This is the first of many public commemorations of a special group, to be followed by Bryant having No. 8 or No. 24 (or both) retired, probably the only other member of that team that will get the honor, and O’Neal entering the Hall of Fame in 2017. (Phil Jackson reached Springfield, Mass., in 2007 partly on the strength of his L.A. titles, but would have gotten there anyway just from the Chicago success.) The only way that likely changes, barring a switch to the current way of thinking, is if another player makes the Hall and therefore automatically gets a jersey on the wall, as was the case with Gail Goodrich and more recently Jamaal Wilkes. Their numbers would not have been retired otherwise.

For now, in one of the many watched subplots around the Lakers, it is O’Neal for the next jersey, Bryant as the only certainty after that, and the expectation of Elgin Baylor as the next statue outside Staples Center, as previously reported. That will be some center lineage on the wall, too – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), Wilt Chamberlain (13), O’Neal (34), plus a mention of George Mikan from the Minneapolis days.

“It takes really good fortune,” West said of the Lakers’ history of acquiring superstar centers. “When things are going great, everybody always praises you about how smart you are and how good you are. It takes a tremendous amount of good fortune to be able to build a team and to acquire players like that. This game is changing greatly because we don’t have as many really good big men as we’ve had before. You look at teams, they have changed. Players 6-5 to 6-9 are all so versatile. We really don’t have a lot of conventional centers today. Shaquille O’Neal, frankly, was probably the last of those. He was just one of those unbelievable players. I couldn’t be more thrilled. He was one of my favorite Laker players of all-time. He was a great guy. Thankfully for us, he chose us instead of going back to Orlando. I knew for all of us in Los Angeles, we knew what we were going to get. And we got a lot as a player, a lot as a personality and we won a few championships with him, which was always the icing on the cake.”

Buss could have stopped tonight from happening with an edict years ago, but rightfully chose not to, wanting to honor someone who meant a great deal to the organization rather than dwelling on how things ended. Shaq himself knows this better than anyone. In the last days of his career, open to a final season with the Lakers in a backup role (L.A. had no interest), he understood the real fence-mending was with Buss, not Bryant. That probably makes this honor extra special. With some franchises, it might not have happened.

O’Neal had such a massive footprint on the Lakers that he was a centerpiece of three championships and had a role in at least one other crown. He was obviously part of Bryant’s drive in 2010, considering how Bryant referenced him so quickly, and not in a pleasant way, after the Game 7 win over the Celtics. Even the bad times were good times. That was some connection and this is some special night.

Morning Shootaround — Feb. 27

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: When we turned on League Pass last night at the home office and saw the Warriors-Pacers game on the dockett, we knew we had our pick for game of the night early on. Turns out, we were right. Although the final score reflects a bit of a one-sided affair, Indiana-Golden State turned out to be a dandy. Nothing like seeing two teams who are good-if-not-great at what they do: the Warriors on offense (with their No. 9 overall rated crew on that end) and the Pacers on defense (they’re No. 1 in defensive rating). Though a late Roy Hibbert-David Lee-Steph Curry scuffle became the storyline here, we enjoyed watching the Pacers take on one of the NBA’s best offenses and use its size and length to fluster anything the Warriors did around the basket.


News of the morning

LeBron may end pregame dunk routines | Lopez delivers down stretch for NetsBucks suspend Dalembert | Buss once helped save Jazz | Rookie Cunningham may miss rest of season

LeBron’s dunking exhibitions may endAside from Harlem Shake videos, perhaps one of the bigger growing viral trends around the web are the pregame dunking exhibitions that Heat star LeBron James has been putting on. As he and his Miami comrades have — like the L.A. Clippers — been showing off their acrobatics in the warm-up lines, James often steals the show. Just check out this one he pulled off on the visiting Cavs two nights ago:

James isn’t too happy, though, with the flak he’s catching from those wondering why he won’t participate in the Slam Dunk Contest if he can pull off moves like this, writes Michael Wallace of

James has been executing contest-worthy dunks during warmups, but has been unwilling throughout his career to participate in the league’s dunk contest during All-Star Weekend despite pressure from fans and former players.

“Maybe I should stop because it’s making a lot of people mad about what I do,” James said after he scored a season-high 40 points and had a career-high 16 assists in Tuesday’s double-overtime win against Sacramento. “They’re like, ‘Well, if you can do it in warmups, why don’t you (want to) be in the dunk contest? Stop it.’ ”

James was in the act again before Tuesday’s game, when he lobbed the ball into the air, caught it off the bounce and shifted the ball between his legs before slamming it through the rim. The Heat have a reputation for late-arriving crowds, but more fans have filled into the arena’s lower bowl before games with cell phones or video recorders in hand waiting for James to take the court before games.

The Heat have started to stream video of James’ pregame dunks on the team’s official website, and owner Micky Arison has used Twitter to encourage fans to arrive to games early if they want to see the show James puts on.

James said Tuesday he wasn’t aware of how popular the routine has grown, because it’s something he’s always done. More Heat players have gotten involved, including Chris Andersen, Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers, who has been James’ stiffest competition of late.

“I’ve been hearing about it,” James said. “But I don’t really watch TV or go on the Internet too much. As a team, it’s kind of our new thing. I’ve had some good ones, but (Chalmers) doing a 360? That’s impressive. We have a little epidemic right now. It’s kind of like the Harlem Shake.”

Nets’ Lopez delivers in clutchNets coach P.J. Carlesimo has taken flak of late for his tendency to pull All-Star center Brook Lopez down the stretch of games. He changed things up last night and kept Lopez in the game down the stretch and the All-Star came through, hitting several clutch baskets to salt away the Nets’ win over the Hornets. It was a matchup of NBA brothers to boot as Brook Lopez took on his brother, Robin, in a game where the Lopez twins’ mother found rooting interest hard to come by, writes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:

“I’ve kept my confidence through this entire week,” Lopez said after finishing with 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four blocks. “It’s definitely good to get a win like this, but I try not to put too much stock into one game. … It is a marathon and not a sprint.”

Perhaps it just took facing off against his twin brother Robin, the starting center for the Hornets, to get him back on track.

“It’s always fun,” Brook Lopez said of facing off against his twin, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. “[Robin’s] always very physical. Playing against him is enjoyable. … How many other people in the world get to experience something like this?”

The two brothers had a large cheering section in the stands, as their mom, Debbie Ledford, was cheering them on alongside their older brother, Alex, and his family.

Brook had said before the game his mom would be wearing either a Nets hat with a Hornets shirt or vice-versa, and she did exactly that, wearing a black Nets hat to go with a black Hornets T-shirt.

“It’s difficult, because they play the same position, they play the same minutes,” Ledford told The Post. “So, if anything happens, they kind of cancel out each other out. … One is successful at the expense of the other.

“All I hope is that they both have good games, but it’s difficult. You can’t choose which team you want to win.”

Bucks’ Dalembert suspended vs. MavsThis hasn’t been the best season in veteran big man Samuel Dalembert‘s career. On the court, he’s averaging his lowest scoring (7.0 ppg), rebounding (5.8 rpg) and minutes average (16.7 mpg) since his rookie season. Off it in Milwaukee, he dealt with an icy relationship with former coach Scott Skiles (read more here). Maybe his problems can’t be traced solely to Skiles, though, as he was suspended last night for a pattern of behavior, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel:

Bucks general manager John Hammond announced Dalembert was suspended for one game without pay due to a violation of team policy.

Bucks coach Jim Boylan said the suspension was due to a pattern of behavior rather than one specific incident.

“Everybody on the team, players, coaches, staff, they have certain responsibilities to the team,” Boylan said in his pre-game remarks. “When those responsibilities aren’t met, there are consequences.

“So Sam has not met some of those and the consequence is he is suspended for tonight’s game.”

Dalembert has been serving as the primary backup to starting center Larry Sanders.

Boylan said “it’s more of a pattern” when referring to the reason for the suspension. “It reached a point where something needed to be done, so we decided this was the appropriate action to take,” he said.

Former Bucks coach Scott Skiles benched Dalembert in the Nov. 24 home game against Chicago due to a lateness issue and started Przybilla at center. Dalembert did not play at all in the game but returned to the lineup when the Bucks played in Chicago two nights later.

Dalembert said later it was a “misunderstanding.”

“Coach said there were certain times to be there, and I was in the building,” Dalembert said in November. “I thought it was a little harsh. My team could have used me out there.

“That was the punishment. Nobody told me nothing before the game. So I found out the next day. If there’s a miscommunication and a misunderstanding … everybody misunderstands stuff but we communicate.

Lakers’ Buss helped Jazz stay putBack in the mid-1980s, the Utah Jazz were a mostly fledgling franchise whose future in Salt Lake City seemed iffy. In fact, the city of Miami was interested in buying and moving the team there in 1985. That year, nine different owners were in line in Salt Lake City to buy the team from Sam Battistone, with one of the potential owners being the late Larry Miller. Miller was the Jazz’s owner from 1985 until his passing in 2009 as Utah experienced tremendous success during the John Stockton-Karl Malone era. But had it not been for Lakers owner Jerry Buss during a 1985 NBA Board of Governors meeting, writes Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune, the Jazz might have been Miami’s team:

According to the late Larry Miller, Buss played an undeniable role in keeping the Jazz from moving to Miami in 1985.

When Miller wanted to buy 50 percent of the team, Buss stood up for him during a Board of Governors meeting in New York City.

Without the support, the board might have rejected Miller’s ownership bid, which would have left the door open for a buyer from Miami to purchase the franchise.

Nine groups, apparently, stood in line to buy the franchise from owner Sam Battistone before Miller joined the battle to keep it in Utah.

Battistone was seeking limited partners, but Miller didn’t think that approach wouldn’t work.

He believed Battistone needed one partner, not several, and stepped forward with an $8 million offer to become co-owner.

Even though Miami bid $20 million for the franchise, Battistone accepted Miller’s offer because he also wanted the team to remain in Utah.

At that point, Miller went to the Board of Governors, seeking approval for his ownership bid. Atlanta’s Ted Turner attended the meeting. So did Jerry West, Red Auerbach and David Stern, the NBA’s new commissioner.

When Miller began his presentation, San Antonio’s Angelo Drossos quickly emerged as a skeptic.

Drossos started questioning Miller, often interrupting before he could finish his response.

“After the fifth interruption, Buss, who I had never met, interrupted Angelo,” Miller recalled. “He said, ‘Angelo, why don’t you shut up and let him answer a question?’ ”

Then, Buss “started asking questions that led to a discussion of my numbers. … Within half an hour, Jerry said, ‘I’m satisfied. Let’s go with him.’ ”

After Buss’ endorsement, Miller quickly became co-owner of the Jazz.

“Jerry saved me that day,” Miller wrote.

Mavs’ Cunningham may be done for seasonRookie Jared Cunningham has only appeared in just eight games for the Mavericks this season, spending much of 2012-13 as a member of Dallas’ NBA D-League club, the Texas Legends. He’s suffering from tendinitis in his knee and is already setting his sights on playing again in 2013-14, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News: 

The No. 24 overall pick said Tuesday that he’s suffering from tendinitis in his right knee and is going to be out “for a while.” He said his sights already have been set toward the 2013-14 season.

“My goal is to be completely ready for summer league,” Cunningham said. “I want to get my body back to the way it was in college so I have my athleticism.”

Coach Rick Carlisle said it was critical that Cunningham get healthy.

“I wouldn’t call it a lost season,” Carlisle said. “He’s gotten a lot of work in, and he’s gotten a fair amount of experience and he now understands what an NBA season is about. But we’re going to do the right thing. We’re going to make sure he gets healthy. And we’ll go from there.”

The Oregon State product’s start in the NBA was derailed when a hamstring kept him out of the summer league. From there, a thumb injury and knee issue flared up.

Now, Cunningham will stay with the Mavericks and work on conditioning his right knee. He was walking with a slight limp after shootaround.

“It’s best that I stay here and take advantage of everything they have to help my rehab,” Cunningham said. “It’s been a tough year. But I’m looking forward to getting right for the summer.”

ICYMI of the night: This Chris Paul-to-Blake Griffin alley-oop is only No. 4 on our nightly Top 10 countdown, but it’s No. 1 in our hearts around here …:

Buss, Hearn Rank Among Greatest Lakers


They gathered at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, on Chick Hearn Drive and everything, for a public goodbye to Jerry Buss, with Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Stern, Shaquille O’Neal and others talking at a memorial for the Lakers owner who died last Monday. That was followed by a private ceremony Friday as Buss was laid to rest.

Mourners spoke with sincerity and humor – and even love, the way Johnson came to view Buss as a father figure – and in some cases tried to define Buss’ impact on the NBA since buying the Lakers in 1979. That was the easy part. Former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo said “He was as innovative as anyone I’ve met in basketball in my four or five decades.” Stern noted a few years ago that “Jerry, quite simply, was a pioneer in understanding what the value of entertainment was in a community” and 10 titles is a statement all its own. Buss made historic contributions.

Placing him in the entire Lakers stratosphere, home to legends on and off the court, is tougher. Several of the 10 or 15 greatest talents in league history have played, or continue to play, for the franchise. One of them (West) is also among the best front-office minds ever. This is the organization that had the rarity of a broadcaster making the Hall of Fame.

Put it this way: Wilt Chamberlain casts a shadow over most every player in NBA history, but has trouble cracking the team’s top 10 because all he had was five seasons. Some were pretty remarkable (20.5 points and 21.1 rebounds in 1968-69, 27.3 points and 18.4 rebounds in 1969-70), but the cold reality is that the imposing Wilt wasn’t even the best center in the L.A. era. Abdul-Jabbar was, and O’Neal may be ahead of Chamberlain as well.

Strictly on impact during the Los Angeles years:

1. West. He averaged 27 points, 6.7 assists and 5.8 rebounds while playing his entire 14-year career for the Lakers, numbers that stand out enough but are especial because he and Elgin Baylor helped the team carve out an audience after the franchise moved from Minneapolis. And then West became the personnel boss who kept L.A. in near-constant title contention. Plus, he coached three seasons. His presence with the Lakers span four decades – from 1960 through 2000 – and set standards as a player and executive.

2. Johnson. He was more than just great to the extent of three MVP awards, three Finals MVPs and centerpiece of five championship clubs. Johnson was, well, Magic. He was the embodiment of what Buss wanted in a glam franchise, he was a leader, and he was demanding in a way that was welcome at the time but would have been savaged today in the way every Bryant sideways look at a teammate is dissected.

3. Buss. The doctoral student in chemistry turned real-estate mogul turned owner was the only Laker who bought his way into the organization. Once there, he tilted life in Los Angeles toward the NBA, surpassing the Dodgers in passion in a change that once seemed impossible. Buss did more than just fund West’s jackpot roster moves. He made the money flow by promoting the Lakers as a Hollywood landmark with glitter falling off players as they breezed downcourt, which made the rest of the league jealous and/or angry but also made the rest of the league rich. Buss was known to meddle in personnel decisions, but, a gambler himself, also urged West to go for broke rather than play it safe.

4. Bryant. His on-court feats make him one of the legends regardless, but he gets extra credit as a player who bridged championship generations. Bryant may be known to many for being divisive but should be remembered, among the many positives, for being part of a continuation, no easy task. Simply, if Bryant does not work, prepare and will himself into becoming a superstar, the Lakers get more like one, maybe two, titles in the 2000s instead of the five.

5. Phil Jackson. Jackson was an underrated coach, far better on Xs and Os than most outside the game would credit, but his presence was undeniable. The credibility he built up from the Bulls years allowed him to tweak, drive, cajole and manage head-strong Bryant and head-strong O’Neal. Most others in the same situation would have become road kill.

6. Pat Riley. What a fit in style of play and style period. Riley mastered the psychological tricks long before Jackson and perfected the Showtime system Buss wanted, all the way to Riles becoming part of the Hollywood production himself. The slicked-back hair, the expensive suits, the draw to the spotlight, the growing ego – Riley fit the mold. Four titles in seven years said it was OK to be that way.

7. Abdul-Jabbar. Of course the numbers – the average of 22.1 points and 9.4 rebounds in 14 seasons in L.A., the three MVPs in that time, the five championships, the first two seasons of leading the league in five statistical categories each time. But the real impact is that Showtime doesn’t play out to full glory without his professionalism and preparation. Imagine if Abdul-Jabbar led with his ego when Magic splashed onto the scene. Imagine the infighting, imagine the trade possibilities that could have altered the NBA landscape for years. Kareem was a selfless, well-liked teammate from high school to college to the pros, and never was that more meaningful in setting an example of maturity with the Lakers.

8. O’Neal. People forget, in the rush to knock Shaq for his behavior late in his career, that the O’Neal of the Lakers years was an awesome display of power that few can come close to matching, let alone actually being on the same short list. When the work effort matched the talent, he was that rarity of the player no team could answer. And when the work effort didn’t, because of health or dedication, he still put up Hall of Fame numbers.

9. Baylor. He never won a championship, which pained him decades later anytime someone mentioned it as a needle, but an incredible forward who once averaged at least 27 points a game in five out of six seasons. It was Baylor, not West, who was the established star to attract attention when the team moved to Los Angeles in 1960.

10. Chick Hearn. A tough call between Hearn and Chamberlain. Chick’s impact on the Lakers, though, is greater. He had a huge role popularizing the NBA after the move from Minneapolis and, in decades to come, became nothing short of one of the popular men in the city, if not the sporting world. Hearn was a connection that lasted decades.

Lakers Begin Public Goodbyes For Buss


LOS ANGELES – The choice was for a warm four-minute reflection Wednesday night before the game, with Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” photos from baby pictures through June champagne showers, a speech by Kobe Bryant and words from Jerry Buss himself drifting down to the crowd via the public-address system.

It was nice. It was touching. It was before the Lakers played the Celtics, so there was even a “Boston sucks!” or two screamed from the stands.

But, really, there could be no way to say goodbye to Buss that would truly capture the breadth of his impact. Point guard Magic Johnson had an easier job playing center in the 1980 Finals as a rookie, Derek Fisher had a better chance of burning the Spurs with 0.4 seconds remaining in 2004, and Robert Horry against the Kings in 2002 was a layup by comparison.

That was how much Buss meant to a franchise, to a city, to a league and to an entire sport, and now those same operations have started the impossible task of framing the life of a young man who earned a doctorate in chemistry, became a self-made millionaire in real estate and owned one of the most famous sports franchises in the world.

Wednesday, playing for the first time since Buss passed away Monday at age 80, the Lakers wore patches with an italicized “JB” on the right chest. They lined up, pretty much sideline to sideline, in front of the bench, just as the Celtics did at the other end.

An 80-second video montage of photographs was first. Buss as a baby. Buss with Magic Johnson. Buss in front of the Forum, the Lakers home before Staples Center. Buss with Bryant. Buss with family. Buss with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Buss with the Laker Girls when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Buss at his Hall of Fame induction.

When the images stopped, the loud ovation started, about 30 seconds in all. Bryant spoke.

Buss, Bryant said, was “the greatest owner in sports. Ever. He was a brilliant, incredible owner, but he was even a better person with a great heart. His vision transcended the game and we are all – all – spoiled by his vision and by his drive to win year after year.”

Bryant asked everyone to join in a moment of silence. The arena went mostly dark, with slivers of light from the concourse peeking through tunnels, flickering flashes from cameras and some bulbs still shining from the timing boxes above the baskets and the smaller scoreboards around the arena. A beam shined on Buss’ usual seat in the now-empty suite.

Then, his voice.

“The real purpose of what I do is to try to have the city totally involved and identify with it,” he said. “I wanted that when you think L.A. – ‘Oh, wait. That’s where the Lakers play.’ Lakers, Lakers. That’s what I want.”

The crowd applauded again and the game began.

Thursday afternoon, there will be a memorial service downtown, close to Staples Center. The Lakers will head over after practice. Commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver are scheduled to fly in from New York in the morning. Many of the greatest Lakers –  Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Bryant, Pat Riley – are expected to talk.

That group of speakers will do very well, just as Wednesday night was a touching remembrance that ended with the 113-99 win over the dreaded Celtics. But this process is going to be difficult. There is no way to really sum up such a unique life.

Lakers Say Future’s Clear Even Without Jerry Buss At Helm



The plan was put into motion years ago, in anticipation of Jerry Buss one day completely stepping aside as Lakers owner or his passing. One of his six children, Jim, would be in charge of basketball operations and another, Jeanie, would run the business side and cast the vote for the Board of Governors.

The patriarch set everything up in advance. Not only that, he set it up far enough in advance that both would be experienced in the roles before he was gone, with Jeanie now in her 14th season as executive vice president of business operations and Jim in his eighth as executive vice president of player personnel. There should not be any uncertainty moving forward.

Except that now Buss is gone and there are questions.

Part of the wondering, despite all Jerry Buss had arranged, down to how any very unlikely future sale of the controlling interest would have to work, is easy to explain: It’s the Lakers. Little things become very big deals in that alternate universe. And the passing of the smart, respected owner on Monday at age 80 is not a little thing.

It is also the timing. The Lakers are underachieving at historic levels. There has already been one coaching change, away from Mike Brown, and there are serious doubts the system of successor, Mike D’Antoni will work with this roster. The trade deadline is Thursday, though there is no indication the organization is debating a serious move that would involve taking on enough money that basketball would need to sync with business. Dwight Howard becomes a free agent in a little more than four months. This is not a time of stability on the court, and now one of the few constants, Jerry Buss, is also gone, so concern among fans increases even more.

The rocky history among the siblings, a well-known secret around the organization, is a dynamic that cannot be ignored. Specifically, as many press reports have noted in as delicate of terms as possible in this time of sympathy for the family, Jeanie and Jim have not gotten along.

And now they are the primary partners determining the future of the Lakers.

Monday, after the death had been announced, John Black, the vice president of public relations for the team, and family spokesman Bob Steiner held a news conference. They answered questions on what happened long ago (favorite Jerry Buss memories), what had just happened (some details of his passing) and what will happen next. They projected the image of a seamless transition.

“If it’s a basketball-operations decision, it’ll be Jim,” Black said.

But, a reporter suggested, doesn’t the business side play into that as well?

Black and Steiner paused.

“It was re-emphasized to John and I this morning,” Steiner said, “that basketball people will make the basketball decisions.”

They were pressed again: What happens if the basketball decisions start impacting the overall business, as can obviously happen?

“Jim Buss understands the business element, Jeanie understands basketball,” Steiner said. “They will work together. I don’t know, does that answer the question?… I just want to re-iterate that they are their father’s children. They do understand the business and the sports elements.”

The departments were separate yet connected for years, just as with every team, only with Jerry Buss available to step in as the final word. That does not exist anymore. There are two people who may at some point be called on to make one decision.

There may even be three people – Jeanie is engaged to Phil Jackson. That could become an additional factor in the thinking in business ops and what basketball moves should be funded beyond the budget.

While Jerry Buss had said for years that Jeanie had final say over her departments for many years, he estimated in 2010 that Jim was in charge of all things basketball about 80 percent of the time. That number obviously increased the past couple seasons, as Jerry stopped attending games as his health worsened and increasingly moved away from day-to-day operations, though still presumably willing to share an opinion on major roster decisions such as trading for Howard or the 2009 extension for Pau Gasol.

Buss said nearly three years ago his responses to questions from Jim were usually along the lines of “Do what you think is best.” He wanted his son to be in control. It just may not have always been the case. Jim, after all, insisted in early November that Brown would not take the fall for a bad start, just before Brown took the fall in early-November for a bad start.

Jim Buss didn’t have to make such a strong statement that Brown was safe. He doesn’t do many interviews and so it wouldn’t have been unusual for him to do one then. But to say Brown would be staying, to soon fire Brown, and to bring in D’Antoni to implement the closest thing to Showtime in the current NBA all pointed to Jerry Buss getting involved.

Now, the patriarch is gone. There is Jim Buss with general manager Mitch Kupchak, and Jeanie Buss, and there is a plan.