Posts Tagged ‘johnny davis’

Jack Ramsay: A game, a life, a vision

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com

Whether it was as an octogenarian fitness fanatic skipping rope in a hotel exercise room, those bushy eyebrows dancing above his piercing eyes as he discussed the game he loved or watching one of his teams pass and cut and blend in perfect harmony, the images of Jack Ramsay are all about movement.

The 89-year-old coaching legend who died of cancer Monday morning was relentless in his beliefs about physical training, mental preparation and the correct way to play basketball … and never stopped actively promoting them.

As a native Philadelphian just learning about the game, it was Ramsay’s overachieving St. Joseph’s Hawks teams that swooped up and down the court of the historic Palestra in the early 1960s that first captured my attention and admiration.

In my first year covering the NBA, it was Ramsay’s harmonious vision of the game — move without the ball, make the extra pass, play as one — that made his Trail Blazers of Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Bobby Gross, Johnny Davis, Lionel Hollins, Dave Twardzik and the rest NBA champions in 1977. They had such style and elegance and were in tune that you could almost close your eyes and hear music.

Those Finals were the perhaps the greatest contrast in styles ever, pitting Ramsay’s Blazers against the prodigious one-on-one talents of a 76ers roster that included Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Doug Collins, Darryl Dawkins and Lloyd Free.

During one practice at The Finals, the Sixers, coached by Gene Shue, spent most of an hour jacking up jump shots, exchanging dunks and killing time. McGinnis took time out to smoke a cigarette in the bleachers. A short time later, the Blazers entered the same gym and began running though layup lines and precise drills as if they were in a Marine boot camp. (more…)

Rambis Hire Fraught With (Real Or Imagined) Intrigue For 2013-14, Beyond

Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Kurt Rambis is back with his beloved Los Angeles Lakers — not reunited with Phil Jackson, but aligned with Mike D’Antoni — as the Hollywood subplots thicken yet again [insert suspenseful organ music here].

On the surface, Rambis is a great hire. He’s had three previous stints with the team he won four championships with, playing the role of the blue-collar banger, the garbage man on a team of stars. Known for being more of a defensive mind, he should serve well his new boss who has been a little light on ‘D’ wherever he’s been and will never make it as a Tom Thibodeau stunt double.

On Monday, the Lakers announced the hiring of Rambis and longtime assistant Johnny Davis. Earlier in the month, Mark Madsen was elevated as a member of D’Antoni’s revamped staff for the mystery that is the 2013-14 season.

“Kurt is a great basketball mind, extremely good at working with big men and his experience as a head coach in this league is going to prove very helpful to our staff,” D’Antoni said in statement.

Rambis went 32-132 in two seasons at Minnesota, but, after all, that was with those Timberwolves. But Rambis did go 24-13 with the Lakers after Del Harris got the boot following a 6-6 start to that lockout-shortened season. Jackson began his first L.A. run the next season.

Rambis’ latest return to the Lakers comes eight months after he first unpacked his whiteboard. Five games into last season and Rambis was set to check out of both his ESPN and local L.A. analyst chairs for a red-carpet return to the bench. When the Lakers canned Mike Brown it certainly appeared that the great one — ”11 Rings” Jackson — would descend from the Montana mountaintop and right-hand Rambis would be right behind him.

“They had told Phil that it was his job [in a Saturday interview], that he was their first choice, and they agreed to wait until Monday … to allow him time to digest whether or not he felt he was, in fact, the right coach to come and coach this team,” Rambis told USA TODAY Sports on Nov. 12. “And, in fact, his agent [Todd Musburger] flew into town — he’s here from Chicago — to start negotiations. So Phil had made his mind up that he wanted to coach this team. Somewhere between Saturday afternoon, when Phil and I had a conversation, and Sunday night, the Laker organization made a complete 180-degree turn.”

In the ugly aftermath, Rambis wasn’t shy about criticizing D’Antoni’s coaching from whichever analyst chair he occupied.

Now, he’s just happy to be a member of D’Antoni’s staff, as he tweeted Monday.

At D’Antoni’s last stop, he also made a mid-stint hire to bring in the more defensive-set Mike Woodson from the Atlanta Hawks prior to the 2011-12 season. Seven months later, the embattled D’Antoni resigned and Woodson was named interim coach, and later had the interim tag removed.

D’Antoni hiring Rambis can be interpreted as a smart move to bring in a longtime Kobe Bryant ally, a decision some might say reveals a flexible side to the coach when he’s so often criticized for inexplicable rigidity. Or it can be viewed as management’s way of moving in a ready-made interim in case things dip in a southerly direction and smoke signals must go out to Jackson.

Or, maybe this interesting hire simply indicates the Lakers are moving to sign another Rambis guy from his past Lakers days — Lamar Odom.

Battier Narrows It To Handful Of Teams

– For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

Free agent forward Shane Battier has narrowed his list of prospective teams from more than the original dozen or so to a handful of teams, including his current team, the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami, Indiana and Toronto, according to a league source. The 33-year-old, whose defensive skills still are among the league’s best, has been one of the most sought-after free agents since teams were allowed to discuss contract parameters last Wednesday.

The Heat would love to use Battier as a wing defender to help an already-strong defense get even better. The Raptors see Battier as a strong veteran presence for their young core, though they have been less willing than other teams to offer Battier a four-year deal. In addition, one of Toronto’s new assistant coaches, Johnny Davis, was on the Grizzlies’ bench last season, when Battier was re-acquired by the team that drafted him in 2001 from the Rockets.

Battier is expected to make a decision in the next few days. Training camps are scheduled to open next Friday.

Raptors coach Casey completes staff

New Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey has completed the bulk of his coaching staff, with former Raptors assistant and 76ers and Magic head coach Johnny Davis agreeing to join his staff as lead assistant coach.

Davis coached Allen Iverson in his rookie season in Philadelphia, but was fired after one season. He spent parts of two seasons as Orlando’s head coach, and was interim head coach in Memphis after Marc Iavaroni was fired two years ago, before the Grizzlies named Lionel Hollins head coach. Davis, a former teammate of Hollins’ on Portland’s world championship team in 1976, remained on Hollins’s staff.

Davis will join assistant Scott Roth, who had interviewed for an assistant’s job with the Lakers under new head coach Mike Brown, but will remain in Toronto. Roth had been at Golden State, Memphis and Dallas before joining the Raptors in 2009, and also has extensive international coaching experience. Assistants Eric Hughes and Micah Nori will also remain as holdovers from Jay Triano‘s staff. Triano was fired at the beginning of the month and Casey was officially hired to replace him last week. Toronto is also hiring longtime assistant coach and scout Tom Sterner to the staff. Sterner was with the 76ers last season and has been with the Warriors, Magic and Mavericks in almost three decades as an NBA coach.

The Grizzlies might lose another assistant coach. Dave Joerger was interviewed earlier this month to join Kevin McHale‘s staff in Houston, but a final decision has not yet been made.