Posts Tagged ‘John Stockton’

Orlando Summer League Tips Off Sunday

HANG TIME, Texas — You’ve got rookies often trying to wildly impress, second-year players who have a better understanding of what is expected and a few veterans who are hoping to get another taste of the big time.

The Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League tips off Sunday with some familiar names from the 2013 Draft and plenty of other hopefuls trying to crack an NBA roster.

NBA Summer LeagueNine first-round picks — led by No. 2 Victor Oladipo, No. 8 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and No. 9 Trey Burke – will take part in the six days of competition that will take place on the Magic’s practice court at Orlando’s Amway Center. The games are not open to the public and will only be attended by media and league personnel. All games will be shown on NBA TV.

A new format will be added this summer with two extra teams and one extra day added to the schedule. Under the new format, each team will play five games over the six-day event, concluding with a championship day. Standings will be based on a seven-point system for each game — three points for a win and one point for winning each quarter.

Here’s a quick look at roster highlights of the 10 teams that will participate:

Boston Celtics — It’s a whole new ballgame for the Celtics’ rebuilding program and there would seem to be plenty of room for new faces to earn a ticket to Boston now that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers are all gone. New coach Brad Stevens will be on hand to observe, but leading the team will be assistant coach Jay Larranaga. First-round pick Kelly Olynyk, obtained by trade from Dallas, will be the biggest name on the roster, though last year’s draftee Fab Melo is physically bigger. Avery Bradley is being given a rest from duty and Jared Sullinger is still recovering from back surgery.

Brooklyn Nets – The remade and reloaded Nets will have first round pick Mason Plumlee suiting up for the first time along with a pair of last season’s veterans Tornike Shengelia and Tyshawn Taylor. But all eyes during the week will surely on the rookie on the sidelines. After a 19-year playing career that will surely send him to the Hall of Fame, Jason Kidd is taking no time off and going right to the bench. It will be most interesting to see if Kidd is as good in this transition as he was on the court.

Detroit Pistons — Andre Drummond arrived in Orlando a year ago with something to prove to the doubters and then went back to Detroit and showed that he was not merely a summer fling. Drummond will return, but is not expected to play the full slate of five games. The Pistons will have their entire rookie class of 2013 — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva. New coach Maurice Cheeks may have his work cut out resurrecting the Pistons at the NBA level, but the summer roster is quite capable.

Houston Rockets — After all their maneuvering and salary cap gymnastics to try to land free agent Dwight Howard, the Rockets did not have a first-round pick this year, but may have gotten first-round quality in point guard Isaiah Canaan. Terrence Jones, a No. 1 from a year ago, will be on the team and continuing to show that he’s a keeper and this Houston bunch is also loaded with Patrick Beverley and Greg Smith.

Indiana Pacers – It seems like much longer than just four years ago that Jonny Flynn was the No. 6 pick in the 2009 draft and maybe that’s because he’s mostly been on the outside everywhere he’s gone, trying to justify that selection and prove that he belongs. Now he’s back from playing in Australia and trying to get that third guard spot with the Pacers, who are also bringing in Donald Sloane. This year’s first round pick Solomon Hill will join holdovers Miles Plumlee, Orlando Johnson and Ben Hansbrough from last season’s roster.

Miami Heat — After winning back-to-back NBA titles, the Heat aren’t taking the summer off. In fact, they’re working overtime, the only franchise to be fielding teams at both Orlando and Las Vegas. Miami didn’t have a first-round pick — remember, it was traded for that LeBron fellow. The rosters will be led by last season holdover center Jarvis Varnado and second-round pick James Ennis, a swingman out of Long Beach State. A couple of high profile college guards, Larry Drew II of UCLA and Myck Kabongo of Texas will play for the Heat. Joining the team in Orlando only are Cedric Jackson, Ian Clark, Dewayne Dedmon and D.J. Stephens.

Oklahoma City Thunder — While three rookies Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Grant Jerrett will be on hand for their Thunder debuts, most eyes of the coaching staff and back in OKC will be on holdovers from the main roster Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones. Jackson dazzled with his play in Orlando last summer, giving the first hint that he’d be ready to step into the point guard job when Russell Westbrook went down.

Orlando Magic — When it looked like everybody was losing their minds at the top of the draft a week ago, Magic GM Rob Hennigan kept his eye on the prize and simply chose his man Victor Oladipo. Is he a point guard or a shooting guard? Or is he just ready to do anything the Magic ask in the backcourt? Forward Romero Osby, a second round pick, has a lot of folks saying he’s a sleeper. Second-year men Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson are also on the roster.

Philadelphia 76ers —
While many Sixers fans are still reeling from the draft night trade that shipped out the young All-Star and favorite Jrue Holiday, this will be everyone’s first chance to see how his successor measures up.  Michael Carter-Williams will be given the keys to the offense in Philly when the season starts in October, so consider this his going out to take the test for his driver’s license. Nerlens Noel, the prize that came in the trade for Holiday, will not play as he’s still rehabbing his knee injury.  But Justin Holiday, Jrue’s brother, will be back to see if he can stick with the Sixers again.

Utah Jazz – Top draft pick Trey Burke said on draft night that he hopes to be the Jazz’ starting point guard on opening night next season. So he’ll start to press his case by running the summer show. Rookie center Rudy Gobert hopes to get in a few runs maybe by the end of the show in Orlando. He’s currently trying to work out a buyout of his contract with his French team and will need FIBA clearance. Center Enes Kanter is still recovering from shoulder surgery and neither Gordon Hayward or Derrick Favors will play, because they’re both part of the Team USA camp in August. Jazz fans will get to see a Stockton back in uniform. Hall of Famer John Stockton’s son Michael is a free agent signee.

Kidd Retires As One Of The All-Time Greats



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Few players in the history of the NBA have held the distinction of being the standard bearer at their position the way Jason Kidd did during his 19-year career, which came to an end today with the announcement that veteran point guard was retiring.

He has been more than just a great player during his career. Kidd has been the prototype at point guard of his generation and arguably the greatest all-around athlete to play the position — name another point guard who graduated high school as a first team USA Today All-American in two sports (baseball).

Kidd didn’t get the chance to revolutionize the game as a “big” point guard. Magic Johnson took care of that while Kidd was still playing with toy cars. But he did continue the renaissance for the position, which is arguably the deepest its ever been right now with an assorted bunch of point guards who grew up with Kidd as the standard.

Everyone from Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, and Deron Williams to the new breed of Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, John Wall and Mike Conley have grown up with Kidd as the ideal role model of who and what a true point guard is supposed to be.

A 10-time All-Star who led the NBA in assists five times during his career, Kidd finishes his career second all-time in assists and steals behind John Stockton, another point guard Kidd will join in the Hall of Fame one day. Kidd served as a bridge between the Magic, Isiah Thomas-Stockton era at the position and the current renaissance.

At 40, Kidd joins the man he shared Rookie of the Year honors with in 1995, Grant Hill, who announced his retirement over the weekend on TNT, in leaving the NBA after nearly two decades as a staple on and off the court.

“I think it is the right time,” Kidd told ESPNNewYork.com. “When you think about 19 years, it has been a heckuva ride. Physically, I want to be able to participate in activities with my kids so it has taken a toll. It is time to move on and think about maybe coaching or doing some broadcasting.”

Jeff [Schwartz] and I and my family had been talking this past weekend,” Kidd added of his agent. “We talked a lot and we felt it was the right time to move on and so we notified the Knicks. They were kind of taken aback. We told them [earlier] that I wanted to come back and play. But this weekend was when we got a chance to relax [and really think about it]. It is the right thing to do.”

Kidd won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 and also two gold medals with the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team in Olympic competition (Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008), as well as three other gold medals during international competition with USA Basketball.

Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment on Kidd’s resume is the back-to-back Eastern Conference titles and trips to The Finals (in 2002 and 2003) with the Nets, the first ever and only trips to that high ground for the franchise. Kidd elevated a franchise to a championship level and in my eyes never got the credit he deserved for doing so, at least not in the way that Steve Nash did while winning back-to-back MVPs in Phoenix for impacting that franchise in the same way.

Acknowledging his contribution, Nets GM Billy King released this statement: “Jason Kidd was the captain of the Nets during their most successful period in the NBA, and is considered the greatest player in the Nets’ NBA history. On behalf of the entire Brooklyn Nets organization, we congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career.”

Kidd was a first or second-team All-NBA pick 10 times in his career, five each, and will go down as not only one of the best NBA point guards of all time but one of the all-time greats in high school (Bay Area legend at St. Joe-Notre Dame), college (Cal, where his No. 5 is retired) and in the NBA (the Suns, Nets, Knicks and two stints with the Mavs).

A liability as a shooter early in his career, Kidd refined his stroke in his later years and reinvented himself as a clutch 3-point shooter, draining shot after big shot during the Mavericks’ title march in 2011.

An acknowledgement of Kidd’s greatness is in order. We’re saying goodbye to not only one of the great players of his generation, but one of the greatest players the NBA has seen in any generation.

It’s Rarely Easy To Repeat, Heat

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DALLAS — NBA playoff history is loaded with ambitious underdogs against steely defending champions. We’re seeing it now in the Eastern Conference finals as the upstart Indiana Pacers push the reigning champion Miami Heat to the limit. Game 6 in that series, with the Heat leading 3-2 after beating Indiana Thursday night, is Saturday night in Indianapolis (8:30 ET, TNT).

LeBron James (Issac Baldizon/NBAE)

LeBron James (Issac Baldizon/NBAE)

Indiana is not only up against a great team. It’s up against great odds. Historically speaking, when a best-of-7 series has been tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has won the series 83 percent of the time.

Still, nothing will come easy for Miami. Over the past 33 seasons, only nine teams have claimed the championship. (The Heat have done it twice.) Only four teams (the Lakers, Bulls, Rockets and Pistons) have won back-to-back titles. And a Miami repeat would give the Heat a chance to do what only two other teams have done: pull off a threepeat. (Michael Jordan’s Bulls did it twice; the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers were the other ones.)

Indiana has had only one trip to the NBA Finals, 13 years ago, when the Pacers lost to the Lakers in six games in L.A.’s first leg of its threepeat. These Pacers have had their chances. In fact, they might look back on  Game 1 in Miami, when LeBron James beat them with a spin-drive to the left that beat the buzzer, as the game that cost them a second chance at The Finals.

Ominous, too, was the Heat’s 90-79 win Thursday night in Miami. The Pacers led 44-40 at halftime even after a handful of missed shots at the rim and a spate of turnovers. But James, after delivering a fiery speech to his huddled teammates, dominated the third quarter and carried Miami to the pivotal Game 5 victory.

The good news for the Pacers? Half the teams that lost Game 5 after being tied at 2-2 gave themselves a chance for a Game 7 by winning Game 6.

Here’s a look at the teams that have successfully defended their title since 1980 and the toughest challenges they faced: (more…)

Six Sensible Picks For Coaching Success



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Raise your hand, you twisted souls, if you’re ready for another episode of the Dwight Howard-Stan Van Gundy show.

Even Hawks fans, a group starved for both star power on the roster and stability with the coaching staff, are wary of the potential pairing of these former Orlando Magic stalwarts in the ATL. Their deteriorating relationship marred their final season together in a situation that was anything but magic in Orlando.

But when the coaching carousel kicks up this time of year, and a half-dozen or so different teams are picking over the same small pool of elite coaching candidates, all things are possible.

Van Gundy, and his brother, Jeff Van Gundy, are going to be on short lists everywhere, along with Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Larry Brown and whoever the assistant coach(es) du jour might be.

What looks good on paper and sounds sweet in theory, however, doesn’t always hold up in reality. Multiple reports of Stan Van Gundy being pursued by the Hawks, who have announced that they will explore all options in determining who replaces Larry Drew (if they replace him), make perfect sense. Hawks GM Danny Ferry is in the process of rebuilding his roster and needs a coach on board before the Draft.

“I have great appreciation and respect for Larry and how he led our team this season,” Ferry told Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday. “At the same time, it is my responsibility and in the best interests of the Hawks organization to consider all of our options, and talk with other potential head coaches before making a decision about who will lead our basketball team. Larry and I have had open communication about this approach. If Larry and I continue to work together, we ultimately will be a stronger organization because of our discussions and this thorough process.”

That’s an eloquent way of stating the obvious: that the Hawks plan on moving on from the past nine years (Drew was an assistant under current Knicks Mike Woodson during his six seasons with Atlanta before Drew spent the last three season its coach). And it’s understandable. No one will blame Ferry for making a clean break from the Hawks’ recent past, provided he upgrades the coaching situation and the roster with all of that $33 million in cap space and the four Draft picks the Hawks will be armed with this summer.

The burning question remains, then, is Stan Van a legitimate upgrade?

He did take the Magic to The Finals in 2009, the Miami Heat to the Eastern Conference finals (2005) and did the same with Orlando (2010). But he was shown the door in both places after his star players grew tired of his grinding ways. Weighing the pros and cons of Stan Van being the face and voice of your franchise heading into a huge free-agent summer is a risky proposition for the Hawks, one that Ferry is surely aware of as he continues to sort through the process of finding the right coach.

There are five other current openings around the league, with another one (Los Angeles Clippers … ?) still looming. With a bevy of candidates, we take a look at who fits best where and why …

Atlanta Hawks: Mike Malone, assistant coach Golden State Warriors

In a realm where it’s often who you know as well as what you know, Malone can check those boxes with the Hawks. He’s done stellar work with the Warriors, helping guide them into a prime time position this postseason under Mark Jackson. He also worked under Mike Brown in Cleveland when Ferry ran that franchise. Malone is a nuts-and-bolts coach who won’t come with the baggage of some of the more recognizable candidates for the job. He’s universally respected and will likely be on the interview list for every opening out there.

Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Van Gundy, ABC/ESPN analyst

No available coach has a better handle on the rigors of guiding a team in the New York area. Van Gundy’s Knicks history, along with his work on ABC and ESPN broadcasts, has kept him in the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. He’s got the coaching chops required to manage a complex and talented roster that clearly needs a guiding force to reach its potential. His former partner in the booth, Mark Jackson, has done wonders in his first coaching stint in Golden State. Van Gundy could work similar magic with a Nets team that underachieved this season.

Charlotte Bobcats: Larry Drew, coach Atlanta Hawks

Drew worked alongside Bobcats owner Michael Jordan when they were both in Washington, so there is plenty of familiarity there. He also impressed many around the league with the work he did in an impossible situation in Atlanta the past three seasons. Even with constant changes on the roster and in the front office, Drew coached the Hawks to three straight playoff appearances. He would walk into a situation in Charlotte that looks a lot like the one he walked into with the Hawks nine years ago. That blueprint for thriving in the face of adversity could come in handy for the Bobcats.

Detroit Pistons: Jerry Sloan, former coach Utah Jazz

The Pistons have a roster filled with talented young players in need of guidance and direction. That’s the idea fit for a disciplinarian like Sloan, who could work wonders with bigs Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in particular. Sloan’s Jazz teams were known for being the model of consistency. He won with superstar talent (Karl Malone and John Stockton) and kept on winning after they retired. The Pistons have had their greatest success in recent years under another veteran coach, Larry Brown, and could return to relevance under Sloan.

Milwaukee Bucks: David Fizdale, assistant coach Miami Heat

With the Big 3 in Miami, most of the attention has been strictly on the players. But Erik Spoelstra‘s key hire since taking over as coach in Miami was luring Fizdale away from the Hawks. He’s considered one of the brightest up-and-coming coaching candidates in the league and has done fantastic work with the continued development of both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Luring him away from a championship situation in Miami won’t be easy for the Bucks or anyone else. But Fizdale has designs on running his own team and working with Bucks GM John Hammond would be a good place to get that first shot.

Philadelphia 76ers: Stan Van Gundy, former coach Orlando Magic

After the emotional roller coaster that was the Doug Collins experience, Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes and the rest of the Sixers’ young core need a savvy veteran to deal with, not a first-time coach who would have to transition to a new gig in a city known for chewing up the strongest of personalities.  Stan Van gives the Sixers a bold personality to lead the way and an absolute technician of the game to help push the right buttons for a team that needs the sort of stewardship he tried to provide in Orlando.

Griner Wouldn’t Be Longest Draft Reach

HANG TIME, Texas – Never underestimate Mark Cuban’s knack for attracting attention. And who could blame him if the idea was to draw it away from his underperforming team that is ironically keeping a team of barbers on hold at the same time they’re about to cut off their string of consecutive playoff appearances at 12 years?

Should the Mavericks draft Brittney Griner?

Let cranky Geno Auriemma be outraged and throw bricks. Let former greats of the women’s game Nancy Lieberman and Ann Meyers Drysdale offer their words encouragement to the Baylor star. Let Griner give even the most outrageous hope and dreams to any little girl who has ever dribbled a basketball.

Let’s face it. The Mavs selecting Griner wouldn’t be the first unusual pick in the history of the NBA draft. And before you snicker, remember that somebody took Pervis Ellison, Greg Oden, Kwame Brown and Michael Olowokandi No. 1. Here’s a reminder of a few others off-beat choices down through the years:

JIM BROWN (Syracuse Nationals, 1957 ) – The Nats didn’t have to reach outside the city limits to take a flyer on the guy who would become perhaps the greatest player in NFL history. Brown played four college sports — football, basketball, lacrosse and track — at Syracuse. He even averaged 15 points a game for the basketball team in his sophomore year. But even though there was little doubt that Brown was bound for a career on the gridiron, the Nats made him a ninth-round pick.

Other notables in draft: “Hot Rod” Hundley (No. 1 overall by Cincinnati, traded to Minneapolis); Sam Jones (No. 8 by Boston).

FRANK HOWARD (Philadelphia Warriors, 1958) – It wasn’t just his physical stature at 6-foot-8, 275 pounds that caught the attention of the Warriors in the third round. He could really play and was an All-American in basketball at Ohio State. But baseball was Howard’s first love and he signed with the Dodgers and had a 15-year career in the majors, hitting 382 home runs with 1,119 RBIs.

Other notables in the draft: Elgin Baylor (No. 1 overall by Minneapolis); Hal Greer (No. 13 by Syracuse).

BUBBA SMITH (Baltimore Bullets, 1967) — Long before he became known for playing the role of Moses Hightower in the Police Academy movies and starring in Miller Lite commercials, the 6-foot-7 Smith was an All-American defensive end at Michigan State. His height attracted the attention of the Bullets in the 11th round of the NBA draft, but Smith was the No. 1 overall pick of the NFL Colts and a champion in Super Bowl V.

Other notables in the draft: Earl Monroe (No. 2 overall by Baltimore); Walt Frazier (No. 5 by New York).

BOB BEAMON (Phoenix Suns, 1969) – Who could blame the Suns for taking a flying leap? After all, they were coming off a 16-66 record in their expansion season in the league and Beamon had just shattered the world long jump record by more than a foot at the Mexico City Olympics. Beamon had grown up playing street ball in New York, but was strictly a track and field athlete in college at Texas-El Paso. The Suns picked him in the 15th round of the draft, but he went back to school and graduated with a sociology degree from Adelphi University.

DENISE LONG (San Francisco Warriors, 1969) — The 18 year old out of Union-Whitten High in Iowa was the first woman ever drafted in the NBA, taken in the 13th round. She had averaged 69.6 points and had a single game high of 111 points in her senior year. NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy voided the pick, calling it a publicity stunt by Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli and also noted that high school players weren’t eligible at the time. Mieuli brought Long and other female players in to play before Warriors home games.

Other notables in the draft: Lew Alcindor (No. 1 overall by Milwaukee); JoJo White (No. 9 by Boston); Mack Calvin (187th by L.A. Lakers).

DAVE WINFIELD (Atlanta Hawks, 1973) – It wasn’t just the Hawks who were trying to get their talons on one of the greatest all-around college athletes ever with their fifth-round pick. He was also drafted by the Utah Stars of the ABA and the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, but went to baseball when the San Diego Padres chose him as a pitcher. In college at Minnesota, Bill Musselman once called him the best rebounder he ever coached. But Winfield did quite well in baseball, a 12-time All-Star with 465 career homers.

Other notables in the draft: Doug Collins (No. 1 overall by Philadelphia); Kermit Washington (No. 5 by L.A. Lakers).

BRUCE JENNER (Kansas City Kings, 1977) — Before face lifts and the Kardashians, there was a time when Jenner was known as the “world’s greatest athlete” after taking the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and the Kings made him a seventh-round draft pick. He never played in college and the closest Jenner ever got to basketball stardom was when he sank a shot during the singing of YMCA in the 1980 movie Can’t Stop the Music, which starred the Village People.

LUSIA HARRIS (New Orleans Jazz, 1977) – Here’s the real forerunner to Griner. A 6-foot-3 pioneer of the women’s game who led Delta State to three consecutive national titles, Harris was the second female ever drafted by an NBA team when the Jazz made her a seventh-round pick. Just imagine the show if she had been given a chance to team up with Pete Maravich in the backcourt. Harris showed little interest in her selection and declined a tryout invitation from the Jazz. It was later revealed that she was pregnant at the time.

Other notables in the draft: Bernard King (No. 7 overall by New York Nets); Jack Sikma (No. 8 by Seattle).

TONY GWYNN (San Diego Clippers, 1981) — After he set the San Diego State assist records for a game, season and career, he was hardly a reach for the Clippers in the 10th round of the draft. Gwynn said that dribbling strengthened his wrists and helped with bat speed and his on-court quickness made him a better base-runner. It all added up to a Hall of Fame baseball career with 3,141 hits and eight N.L. batting titles.

YASUTAKA OKAYAMA (Golden State Warriors, 1981) — Tallest player ever drafted by an NBA team? Not Yao Ming or Gheorge Muresan or Manute Bol. Try Okayama, who was 7-foot-8. He earned a second degree black belt in judo in his native Japan and began playing basketball at age 18 at Osaka University of Commerce. Okayama attended the University of Portland (Ore.), but did not play there. He was a member of the Japanese national team from 1979 to 1986. He never signed with the Warriors or attended a camp.

Other notables in the draft: Mark Aguirre (No. 1 overall by Dallas); Isiah Thomas (No. 2 by Detroit).

CARL LEWIS (Chicago Bulls, 1984) — It might have been the year when Michael Jordan earned his first gold medal, but Lewis was definitely the biggest star of the L.A. Olympics, tying Jesse Owens’ record of four track and field gold medals. Though he never played basketball in high school or college, a West Coast scout recommended drafting Lewis in the 10th round because he was “the best athlete available.” That same year the Dallas Cowboys drafted him in the 12th round as a wide receiver. Lewis stayed with sprinting and the long jump to become arguably the greatest track and field athlete ever.

Other notables in the draft: Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 1 overall by Houston); Michael Jordan (No. 3 by Chicago); Charles Barkley (No. 5 by Philadelphia); John Stockton (No. 16 by Utah).

In Durability, James A Contrast To Rose, Plenty Other NBA Legends

CHICAGO – LeBron James qualified his answer even before he gave it: He’s no doctor – doesn’t even play one on TV. He has no insight into the inner workings of Derrick Rose‘s left knee or the Chicago Bulls’ decision-making process. So his views on Rose’s continuing comeback are simply as interested observer. And fan.

“I love competing against the best and he’s one of the best,” James said Wednesday morning after the Miami Heat’s shootaround at United Center. The streaking Heat are in town, looking to extend their run of consecutive victories to 28 against, when healthy, one of their primary Eastern Conference rivals.

Alas, Rose, the Bulls’ explosive point guard, will extend his streak of consecutive regular-season games missed to 70, owing to his injury in Game 1 of the playoffs last spring and his ongoing rehab both physically and psychologically. Chicago without Rose, and with a few other banged-up rotation players (Joakim Noah, Marco Belinelli, Richard Hamilton), will be facing a Miami team that expects star Dwyane Wade back after a two-game absence.

James doesn’t share Bulls fans’ angst or impatience over Rose’s delayed 2012-13 debut, but he said he does miss Rose as an opponent and as an entertainer.

“The NBA as a whole, as a competitor, you miss him on the floor,” James said. “Even off days, not being able to watch him out on the floor for the Bulls, it sucks. But health is No. 1 in our league. We’ll see him back soon.”

Soon, of course, is open-ended, with speculation in Chicago running from “any day now” to “the start of 2013-14 training camp.”

Echoing comments he has made previously this season, James said: “No one else is playing for him. No one else has to put on the uniform and play at a high level. He’s the guy who has to do that. When he’s confident and he’s ready, he should come back. Before that, he shouldn’t worry about it.”

Actually, James might be considered something of an authority on NBA health, when you look at his durability through 10 professional seasons. He has played in all 70 of the Heat’s games this season and 759 of a possible 792 since he got to Cleveland in 2003-04.

He has ranked in the league’s top 10 in minutes per game every season and, among active players, his career mark of 39.8 ranks No. 1. All-time, he’s sixth behind Wilt Chamberlain (45.9), Bill Russell (42.3), Oscar Robertson (42.2), Allen Iverson (41.1) and Elgin Baylor (40.0).

In terms of games, James never has played a full 82 but then, he never has missed more than a total of seven (2007-08) in a season. He missed six in his final season with the Cavs and seven, total, since taking his reliability to South Beach.

For a player climbing up the all-time ratings list, according to both tangible and intangible standards, it’s another way for James to distinguish himself. Among others on the NBA’s various Mt. Rushmores, however you carve them, it is rare for a franchise player to avoid a season of double-digit games lost to injury.

Michael Jordan played all 82 games NINE times in his career, but he was limited to just 18 games in 1985-86 when he broke his foot in his second season. Lakers great Magic Johnson missed 45 games in his second NBA season, never played in 82 and of course retired prematurely at 32. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time minutes leader (57,466) and No. 2 in games behind Robert Parish, still had seasons in which he logged only 62, 74 and 76 (twice) appearances.

L.A.’s Kobe Bryant has had four full seasons in which he played fewer than 70 games and four more between 70-80. Boston’s Larry Bird, who developed chronic back issues, played in only six games in 1988-89 and 105 of 164 games in his final two seasons. Charles Barkley, from age 29, missed 155 games over his last seven seasons. Patrick Ewing began breaking down at age 35 and missed the 1999 Finals completely.

Given their size and frames, Utah great Karl Malone might serve as James’ gold standard – the Jazz power forward played in all 82 games 10 times and had seven more seasons in which he appeared in at least 80. His Utah sidekick, John Stockton, was even more remarkably durable. Stockton played in every game 16 times, and missed only four games (all in 1989-90) in his first 12 seasons.

Rose? After appearing in 240 of a possible 246 games his first three seasons, the Bulls star played only 39 of 66 through multiple dings last season. And now he’s about to go 0-for-70, possibly 0-for-82.

So making sure he’s really, really healthy before he returns, as advised by a rival who might know more about this health stuff than he lets on, makes a lot of sense.

Isn’t Rondo Cream Of The Crop?


HANG TIME, Texas
— Let’s face it. Maybe we’re getting past the point in the debate about whether Rajon Rondo has eclipsed Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Deron Williams and Tony Parker as the best point guard currently playing the game.

Now he’s closing in on history.

After sitting out Thursday’s loss at Brooklyn with a sprained right ankle, Rondo returned to the Celtics lineup for his second 20-assist game of the season and his 33rd consecutive time of dropping double-digit dimes. That’s the thin air of the gods. That puts him only four behind John Stockton’s best string of 37 straight and at least gives him a distant peek at Magic Johnson’s all-time record of 46 in a row.

“Something I look forward to every game is just trying to make my teammates happy. And somehow I keep getting to 10,” Rondo said. “Tonight it was a collective team effort as far as assists.

“I’m making some OK passes — just taking what the defense gives me. It means my teammates are making shots.”

So, give him one more big assist in spreading around not only the wealth, but the credit to his teammates.

This was an entirely different team than the one that went down to the Nets without Rondo two days earlier. The Celtics came out running and attacking the Raptors as he dished off for seven assists in the first quarter alone. When Toronto tightened things up in the second half, first he executed a perfectly-placed lob to Chris Wilcox for a dunk and his 19th assist and then drew the defense to him and whipped the ball to a wide open Jason Terry for a jumper and No. 20.

There’s no question that Kevin Garnett is still the snarling, barking face of the Celtics — the first name that comes to mind when you think who gets under the skin of opponents and who can be the constant irritant and defensive stopper that makes an aging Boston team still a real threat in the Eastern Conference.

Paul Pierce is there to make the tough clutch baskets that have always been his trademark, while Terry has moved nicely into the spot in the lineup vacated by Ray Allen’s move to Miami.

But the time has come to face the facts. If the Celtics are going go far and make another deep playoff run, they’ll be riding on the talents of Rondo, which are somehow still under-appreciated.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 89) Featuring Roy Hibbert And Chelsea Peretti

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Go ahead, run down the list of the most unstoppable and dynamic duos in NBA history …

Bill Russell and Bob Cousy

Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West

Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Magic Johnson and Kareem

Dr. J and Moses Malone

Larry Bird and Kevin McHale

Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen

Karl Malone and John Stockton

Tim Duncan and David Robinson

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade

and finally Roy Hibbert and Chelsea Peretti!

That’s right. Hibbert, the Indiana Pacers’ All-Star center and Peretti, the stand-up comedian and former writer on the Emmy-nominated “Parks and Recreation”, have tossed their names into the mix with their appearance on Episode 89 of the Hang Time Podcast.

Hibbert has already made his appearance on Parks and Rec. This is Peretti’s first dip in the NBA waters, other than attending Lakers games on tickets she scored from Hibbert.

It’s not often you can pair a “7-foot-2 behemoth” with a “6-foot-11 supermodel” and things go as smoothly as they did. And if they take their act on the road or land a deal for one of the buddy flick ideas tossed around during our brainstorming session, global icon status could be in the offing for both of them.

All we have to do now is get Hibbert to aim a little higher than a chance meeting with Dennis Haysbert (the dude with the golden voice on the All State commercials) and keep Hibbert, Peretti and their entourage away from Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and the club on Jamaican Gold Night …

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our superproducer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog 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.

Dirty Is As Dirty Does, NBA-Style Too

Team USA was shocked – shocked! – when Argentina point guard Facundo Campazzo turned Carmelo Anthony’s 3-point jump shot into a close-out cheap shot, hitting the New York Knicks’ shooter in the groin in the third quarter of the U.S. team’s 126-97 victory Monday at the 2012 London Olympics.

Puh-leeeze.

Frankly, the most shocking thing about the play and the furor it ignited in the moment and afterward was that Campazzo didn’t explain to reporters that he learned his technique by watching NBA global telecasts. Where better to learn some of the game’s dirtier tricks than from the those who not only have mastered them but elevated them to high art and, in some cases, deployed them all the way to Springfield, Mass.?

While Anthony briefly writhed on the floor, center Tyson Chandler, coach Mike Krzyzewski and others barked and glared at Campazzo and the Argentina team, including Suns forward Luis Scola. All of these guys, though, know their way around such cheap-shot maneuvers because those are prevalent, rampant even, in the league in which they play stateside. (Coach K? He had a guy who once stepped on a fallen player’s chest.)

Some of the greatest players in NBA history have been on the dark side of sainthood if an elbow here, a shove there or a slap where it really hurts could tilt defeat into triumph. Michael Jordan never met a rule he didn’t try to bend. Karl Malone and John Stockton were known to apply impact to opponents’ various nether regions, especially when cutting through the lane. And Tim Duncan and David Robinson were more than happy to win rings while teammate Bruce Bowen stepped repeatedly underneath descending shooters’ feet and ankles. (more…)

Title Dreamers, Beware Of Boston





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Go ahead and mark it down now — the two cities that every team dreaming of a championship needs to avoid at all costs during the playoffs are Memphis and Boston.

Just like the Grizzlies in the Western Conference, the Celtics have given everyone ample warning that they will be in the business of crushing hopes come playoff time. Their work since the All-Star break has been well documented. They have all of the components needed to derail the title aspirations of any other team in the playoff field, just as the Grizzlies did to the Spurs last year.

From a coach in Doc Rivers (who is arguably the best in the business at taking whatever parts he has and crafting them into a cohesive unit) to a clear leader in Rajon Rondo (who has finally asserted himself as the true catalyst for this club) to the fading-but-still-furious-glory of future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen (who have all had to accept diminished or drastically different roles than they are used to at this stage of their careers), the Celtics have everything in place to squash dreams and realize their own.

Their demolition of the Miami Heat twice in the past 10 days is no fluke. The Celtics, the league’s nastiest defensive team, showed last night that when they’re knocking down shots, they are nearly impossible to deal with. The Heat scrapped their way back into the game and still couldn’t overcome the Celtics, who shot a blistering 61 percent.

With Rondo directing the traffic, the ball moves all over the floor, making it hard for any team — even one as talented as the Heat — to concentrate its defensive focus in any one place. Garnett and Pierce both turned back the clock last night.

(more…)