Posts Tagged ‘Larry Johnson’

LJ Sees The Anthony Bennett Comparison

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Larry Johnson sees the similarities. He doesn’t necessarily agree with the outright comparison, but he gets it.

He was an undersized power forward at UNLV with an offensive arsenal before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 1991 draft; Anthony Bennett was an undersized power forward at UNLV with the ability to score before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft. It was an easy game of connect the dots even when Bennett was considered one of the top prospects, not the surprising call by the Cavaliers with the first choice.

“Oh, yeah,” Johnson, now a community liaison with the Knicks as a Basketball and Business Operations Representative. “A lot of similarities. He can play. He can play his butt off.”

But as for an actual comparison of games separated by the decades?

“He’s more about shooting that rock,” Johnson said. “He can really stroke it. I was more of a down low, inside, post guy.”

Bennett began hearing the connection almost from the moment he began playing for UNLV last season. To him, he said in June, the sight lines were “accurate. There’s a lot of things I actually do that he did all right and there’s stuff that he did perfect that I cannot. It’s mix and match. I’ve heard people say I’m like a more-athletic Zach Randolph. I’ve heard that because he’s versatile and can go inside and out. I also heard Carmelo (Anthony). He’s so versatile. He can shoot, he has post moves.”

As of last week, the two had never met. Bennett hopes it eventually happens and in the meantime tried to learn more about LJ, a starring run in college and the 10-year career in Charlotte and New York that followed. Bennett picked the right game to pull first from YouTube.

UNLV-Duke, April 2, 1990. The national-championship game.

Johnson had 22 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes in the 103-73 victory that lives on as a historic tournament moment.

“It was crazy,” Bennett said in June.

The story was relayed to Johnson during summer league in Las Vegas, in the gym adjacent to where both rose to national prominence in Thomas & Mack Center. He smiled.

“Absolutely,” LJ responded. “I never get tired of looking at that one.”

‘Bobcats’ On Chopping Block At Owners’ Meeting

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LAS VEGAS
– A town long known for its menagerie of snakes, weasels, fat cats and whales likely will be adding a new species Thursday: Bobcats.

Hey, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? The NBA’s Charlotte franchise hopes to officially begin shedding its “Bobcats” nickname in a vote of the Board of Governors, switching back to the “Hornets” identity that served the city and the league so well from 1988 to 2002.

Actually the name change, if approved, probably won’t take effect until after the 2013-14 season, given the time and expense (estimated at $3 million or more) involved with signage, merchandise and other legal and marketing details. But with “Hornets” freed up by the New Orleans team’s recent switch to “Pelicans,” Charlotte saw a chance to revive a fan base that was the pride of the NBA for more than a decade.

A hit from the moment they entered the league in 1988 in Phase 1 of a two-year, four-team expansion, the original Hornets strung together 364 consecutive sellouts at the Charlotte Coliseum, packing 23,000 fans into what became known as “The Hive” and leading the NBA in attendance eight times in 14 years. With stars like Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson and popular role players such as Muggsy Bogues, the team got traction in the 1990s, reaching the playoffs four times and the conference semifinals twice in six years from 1993 to 1998.

But owner George Shinn‘s popularity headed in the other direction, after a sexual misconduct lawsuit and demands for public money to construct a new arena. Even with the Hornets three years into a stretch of five straight postseason appearances, attendance waned and Shinn moved the club – and the nickname – in 2002 to New Orleans.

Acknowledging the raw deal Charlotte fans got, after so embracing the NBA in the heart of college basketball, the league returned in a one-team expansion in 2004. But the nickname “Bobcats,” spun off from original owner Bob Johnson‘s name, never inspired much excitement – and neither has the team. In nine years, it has made the playoffs just once and is dragging a 28-120 record over the past two seasons.

Current boss and NBA legend Michael Jordan is eager to return pro basketball to its standing-room, deafening levels. Restoring “Hornets” is a step, depending on what follows on the court, as former Charlotte players Bogues and Kenny Gattison recently told Charlotte Observer columnist Scott Fowler:

“It’s the right move,” Gattison said. “The fans are still there. They just have to wake up the sleeping giant.”

“I’m in favor of changing the name to Hornets,” Bogues said. “That name belongs to the city of Charlotte. It will help. But I’m also quite sure the Bobcats know that a name change alone isn’t going to do it. It’s never going to be exactly the same, but you have to make people feel that relationship again. You have to reach out in the community. But, most of all, you have to win.”

Among other agenda items Thursday afternoon, the Board of Governors are expected to hear reports on the collective bargaining agreement, revenue-sharing and the Sacramento Kings’ new ownership. Also, a vote related to a recent competition committee report, possibly expanding the use of instant replay and tweaking the interpretation of clear-path fouls might be held.

Blogtable: Bobcats Looking For Buzz




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 30: Dwight and D’Antoni | What do the Knicks need? | Bobcats back to Hornets


The Bobcats are changing their names back to the Hornets. Good, bad, odd, something else?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Good. Bobcats is a bad nickname anyway, ill-conceived as a vanity thing for the original owner. Beyond that, teams that relocate never should be permitted to abscond with the nicknames – or the record books – of the franchises they used to be. Too late, of course, for the goofily named Utah Jazz or L.A. Lakers. But by all rights, the expansion team in Minneapolis should have revived the Lakers name there. When George Shinn moved his Charlotte club, it should have become the new Jazz. Same thing if Seattle gets back into the NBA – they’re the SuperSonics. At which point, why should Oklahoma City have any claim on Spencer Haywood, Gus Williams, Slick Watts or Gary Payton? Records, banners and history should stay put (or, retroactively, revert back). Fans in Charlotte surely care about Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues and Alonzo Mourning more than those cheering for Pelicans in New Orleans.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comGee, and here I thought Michael Jordan should have changed his own name so everyone might forget that he’s the one who built the Bobcats.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Something else: Yawn. My only prerequisite is that the new Charlotte Hornets retain the NOLA Mardi Gras uniforms. 

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Eh. If they’re happy, I’m happy. Not a big deal either way.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: I had some teal-and-purple Charlotte Hornets gear back in the early 1990s, and “Bobcats” already has a pretty dreadful history, so I’m in favor of the name change. With two different franchises being named the Hornets at one time or another, my historical spreadsheets might get a little confused, though.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Good! Anything to get away from the Bobcats era.

Philipp Dornhegge, NBA.com/germanyWhat’s not to love? The Hornets’ name and logo need to stick in the NBA, and the home of the Hornets apparently wants the name back. I have a good friend from around Charlotte and he told me that most people were never and aren’t to this day able to connect with the Bobcats. The franchise just doesn’t appeal to them. They are in rebuilding mode now, and what better way to start afresh and excite more people than to bring back the Hornets?

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA.com/greece: Okayyyyyy…. right. So, we had the Charlotte Hornets. Then they moved to New Orleans. Then another team appeared in Charlotte and was named “the Bobcats.” And now they want to change again to “the Hornets.” And we are back in the 90′s. Are Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson coming back, too? Life goes in circles, after all. As bad as the “Bobcats” sounds like (a really bad choice I ‘m afraid), the real problem is the way the team plays and the fact that they have a 28-120 record over the last two years. “Bad”, whatever you call it, is still “bad.”

Ewing Set Precedent For Bulls’ Rose, If Mid-Playoffs Comeback Happens

BROOKLYN – It doesn’t necessarily boost the likelihood that Chicago’s Derrick Rose will make a Clark Kent-to-Superman emergence in the 2013 NBA postseason (good luck to him finding a phone booth, first of all). But at least folks got an inkling Monday of why the Bulls would even consider that possibility.

Normally, the prospect of disrupting a team’s concentration and preparation to work back into the lineup a rusty, injury-rehabbed player would hold little or no appeal. Regardless of the guy’s skill level, he would overlay an individual agenda (minutes restrictions, inconsistent play) onto the team’s, almost necessarily leading to distractions and cross purposes.

But Tom Thibodeau has seen it happen before. In extreme close-up, in fact. Remember, Thibodeau is wrapping up only his third season as Bulls coach but he has been on the NBA scene for most of the past quarter century, stretching back to his arrival in 1989 as an assistant with the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves. So when he was asked prior to Game 2 of the Brooklyn-Chicago first-round series about his experiences with star players being sidelined by injuries at this least opportune time on the calendar, naturally Thibodeau had been there, seen that.

“When I was in Houston we dealt with Yao [Ming] missing good chunks of the season,” said Thibodeau, an assistant to Jeff Van Gundy on playoff teams in New York and Houston and to Doc Rivers in Boston. “In Boston we had a situation one year with [Kevin] Garnett where he got hurt in the first game after the All-Star break and we were hopeful that he would be able to come back and try and he was never able to do it.

“When I was in New York, Patrick [Ewing] missed a majority of the season; I think he got hurt in the 16th game of the year, early December, and he was able to come back during the playoffs. That experience taught me that it’s the right thing to do. So if Derrick can come back, we want him back.”

There it was. The Ewing Precedent.

In 1997-98, the New York Knicks’ Hall of Fame center suffered a lunate dislocation and torn ligaments in his right wrist. He apparently tried to play through it or perhaps the severity wasn’t fully known, but regardless, he and the Knicks shut down his season on Dec. 20.

His 26 games were the fewest he ever played in his 17-year career. Surgery and rehab followed, as Ewing labored in a grim hardwood edition of “Beat The Clock” to return before New York ran out of season or, at least, postseason.

As teammate Larry Johnson said during Ewing’s layoff, “I thought I was a hard worker, or claimed to be a hard worker, but I’m in there before practice and he looks like he’s already been there an hour. So if anyone can come back, he will.”

Ewing did. New York finished 43-39, then beat Miami 3-2 in the best-of-five first round. It dropped the opening game of the East semifinals series against Indiana on May 5, then brought Ewing back for Game 2, two nights later.

It didn’t go great: The 7-footer shot 3-for-11, scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in 27 minutes of an 85-77 loss. He averaged 35 minutes over the next three games, along with 15.3 points on 37.8 percent shooting, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 turnovers, and New York dropped two of those three to get eliminated.

But for Thibodeau, late was better than never. Which explains why Rose, coming up on the one-year anniversary (April 28) of his torn ACL knee ligament, continues to be listed by the Bulls as “day-to-day.”

Series Hub: Nets vs. Bulls

LeBron Must Keep Cruisin’ Past Bruisin’

 

HANG TIME, Texas — Whether it’s Friday night in Charlotte, Saturday at home against the Sixers or even Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs, LeBron James will be coming back to a different game than he left.

More rough, more tough, more down in the dirt, use-everything-but-the-kitchen sink.

Because it worked in Chicago. Because it’s the only thing that put James on the wrong end of a scoreboard since Feb. 1.

Because the rest of the NBA is desperate.

If it wasn’t already with his third MVP, the 2012 NBA title and an Olympic gold medal, the 27-game winning streak stamped this as LeBron’s time, an era of contentment, fulfillment and waltzing up and down basketball courts to music that only he can hear.

When it got to the level where Danny Ainge was taking shots at his toughness and Pat Riley was responding quite earthily, then the point had already been made. Opposing defenses might as well be shooting spitballs at a battleship.

The only other answer, of course, is to bring him down by any means, which was the path taken by Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson.

James’ response was predictable, a variation of “How Dare They?” that was really no different from the indignant reactions of Michael Jordan when he was soaring above the game.

The irony and hypocrisy is that it was none other than Riley as the Designer Don of the Knicks in the 1990s who built on the Detroit Bad Boys approach and did as much as anybody to have enforcers Charles Oakley, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing and friends try to take a piece out of Jordan when they couldn’t stop him.

Everybody now will poke and prod and push and shove and flat out body slam James to throw off his shot or throw him out his comfort zone.

“We know what’s coming now,” said Miami teammate Shane Battier. “We know that’s Eastern Conference basketball, especially in the playoffs. Teams are going to try to make it a game without spacing, without pace and we’re going to try to do the opposite. We’re going to create a bunch of space and try to create tempo. That’s our strength.

“We know that every other team is going to view that Chicago game as some kind of blueprint maybe. That’s OK. We can play any style of basketball that’s required and I’m pretty sure LeBron can handle himself.”

In the end, that’s all that matters, how James handles himself. When opponents tried to body up Jordan, it only stiffened his own resolve. When anybody took him down to the floor with a bit of extra flourish, Jordan usually got back up and made them pay with a bit of extra mustard mixed with venom.

It is a different game now, one where it’s almost impossible to impede a player on the perimeter without setting off the kind of alarm sounds that accompany airport metal detectors. It’s why point guards have never thrived more at any time in the history of the league than today. The rules have been tweaked and rewritten to put less emphasis on brute strength and more on speed and skill.

The dilemma is that James, at 6-foot-8, 260, has the brute strength to overpower while giving up none of the speed and skill. Until somebody finds a way to put a muscle or two on Kevin Durant, LeBron is a cut above, in a class by himself.

Being so talented makes him singular and makes him a target and in the history of stars in any sport that does not make him special. The other guys don’t come to praise you, but to chop you down.

It’s a fact of life and complaining about a lack of whistles from referees or retaliating with a bull rush at Carlos Boozer will not stop it, only let them know that they’ve gotten under your skin.

Jordan channeled his anger into a raging fury that was belied by that photogenic smile that launched a thousand ad campaigns. Oh yes, we all wanted to be like Mike. But never ever forget that Mike, when provoked, could be a very bad man with a ball in his grip.

“We’re aware of what everybody’s game plan is against us,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “They want to prevent layups and dunks and highlight plays at all costs. That can mean hard fouls. We know that.”

Battier views from across the court and across the locker room and sees an awesome physical specimen and a supremely talented player who is finally at peace with who he is.

“I’m pretty sure,” he said, “that LeBron is ready for anything.”

He’ll have to be, since now the plan and the game is going to change.

The NBA’s All-Time Super Commercials

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – While most of the free world turns it attentions to football today we only have eyes for the NBA, so what if there are only two games scheduled today (The Hang Time Grizzlies face the Celtics at Noon ET on NBA TV and the Raptors and Heat tipoff at 1 p.m. ET).

We’ll take what we can get before everyone goes crazy for the Giants-Patriots rematch, and those commercials, in Super Bowl XLVI tonight.

Speaking of those commercials, we’ll be curious to see who brings it and who doesn’t when it’s all said and done. Whatever offerings the Super Bowl provides this year, we know they won’t crack HT’s All-Time list of the NBA’s Super commercials.

Five of our favorites (and there are so many great ones to choose from that it took us forever to whittle it down to these five):

– Michael Jordan and Mars Blackmon, Hang Time!



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