Posts Tagged ‘Marc J. Spears’

Report: Kobe Coming Back Friday

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Kobe Bryant‘s seven-game injury hiatus is scheduled to come to an end Friday, when the Los Angeles Lakers head to San Antonio for another showdown with the Spurs.

With the playoffs just a days away, Bryant told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that he will get back on the floor against the Spurs to test his sore shin and to try to find his rhythm before the regular season ends:

Bryant has missed the past seven games with a shin injury, but said he expects to return Friday when the Lakers visit the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers also play the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday at home before ending the regular season by visiting the Sacramento Kings on April 26. The Lakers could decide to sit Bryant against the Kings because the playoffs begin two days later.

“It will kind of establish my rhythm more,” Bryant said after the Lakers’ victory over the Golden State Warriors. “It finishes the season up the right way and generates the momentum we need toward the postseason.”

Bryant went through a tough on-court workout with Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy about three hours before the Warriors game. Bryant was healthy enough to play against Golden State, but the Lakers opted to give him another couple days of rest.

Bryant last played April 6. He said he’s never worried the injury was serious, and he began targeting his return a few days ago.

“It just takes time for it to heal,” Bryant said. “There is nothing you can do to expedite it. You just have to sit and wait.”

The Lakers’ 5-2 record without Bryant showed that they could survive without the face of the franchise in the short-term. But the time off provided Bryant with some clarity about this team.

Any doubts he might have had about what his team could accomplish disappeared as he watched both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol dominate teams, at times, in his absence.

“I feel very good about it,” Bryant told Spears. “I believe it’s a championship team. I know it when I see it.”

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 68)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The All-Star reserves have been announced. Some wrongs were made right (LaMarcus Aldridge) while other wrongs remain (Josh Smith).

But making the All-Star team as a reserve is a complex issue that required further examination, which leads us to Episode 68 of the Hang Time Podcast.

We enlisted the services of former Michigan State, 1998 NBA All-Star and current NBA TV analyst Steve Smith to help make sense of a process that often times makes none.  After all, Smitty played in just that one All-Star game during his stellar 14-year career, despite playing at an All-Star level for the bulk of his career.

But when you’re fighting for a berth at guard in the Eastern Conference with the likes of Reggie Miller, Penny Hardaway, Joe Dumars, Latrell Sprewell and others during the Michael Jordan era these sorts of things happen.

We also chatted All-Star reserves, Jeremy Lin and the overall state of the game with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, a Bay Area native and current resident. Spears lived in Boston when the Knicks’ point guard sensation (for the past three games at least) was running the show at Harvard, and even though he’d never heard of Lin back then and never saw the Crimson play, he’s “all-Lin” for the new face of the global game — who just happens to share Spears’ Bay Area roots.

For all that and so much more, including a look back at an iconic collection of young stars (below) before they hit the NBA, check out Episode 68 of the Hang Time Podcast


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

– 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.

1990-91 Playboy All-American Team

New Beef … LeBron Vs Perkins?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You can go ahead and cross Kendrick Perkins off of the Christmas card list at the James residence.

The Oklahoma City Thunder big man, still smarting from being posterized by Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin last week, lobbed a few shots at Miami Heat star LeBron James, who like the rest of us, reacted immediately on Twitter after seeing the dunk (above).

Of all the reactions to the dunk, Perkins was apparently most bothered by the reaction of James. More from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, who spoke with Perkins last night in Oakland:

Perkins respected Griffin for not making a spectacle of the dunk afterward or gloating about it. But he wasn’t too appreciative of LeBron James tweeting praise to Griffin.

Several NBA players commented about the dunk on Twitter and in media interviews, but the only one that bothered Perkins was James.

Shortly after the dunk, James tweeted, “Dunk of the Year! @blakegriffin just dunked on Kendrick Perkins so hard!!! Wow! I guess I’m No. 2 now. Move over #6.” James was referring to his alley-oop dunk he threw down after jumping over Chicago Bulls guard John Lucas III a day earlier.

“You don’t see Kobe [Bryant] tweeting,” Perkins said. “You don’t see Michael Jordan tweeting. If you’re an elite player, plays like that don’t excite you. At the end of the day, the guys who are playing for the right reasons who are trying to win championships are not worrying about one play.

“They also are not tweeting about themselves talking about going down to No. 2. I just feel [James] is always looking for attention and he wants the world to like him.”

We understand that there is no love lost between James and Perkins, dating back to their days as rivals when they were both with other teams (James in Cleveland and Perkins in Boston).

But this has all sorts of interesting potential if the Thunder and Heat ever find their way to a matchup in the playoffs …

Battier Tweets ‘The Decision’

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

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Shane Battier became the first NBA free agent to announce his decision via Twitter this morning when he informed his nearly 47,000 followers (and the rest of the free world) that he will join the Miami Heat.

The veteran swingman served as the perfect hype man for his own show, sending out signals late Wednesday night that he would have a decision for all those interested this morning. The tweeting of the decision was the perfect twist for what could be an absolutely wild weekend of free agent signings.

Players can sign contracts and offer sheets Friday morning, the same day training camps open around the league. Now if we could just get a few more free agents to spread the news this way …

Even Mavericks owner Mark Cuban seemed impressed, although he didn’t seem particularly fond of Battier’s choice:

Congrats to Shane Battier to showing sports media that if they dont change their approach , it will be changed for them. #wrongteamthough

Of course, it turns out Battier didn’t even break his own news. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports beat him to the punch earlier in the morning when he tweeted:

Shane Battier expected to announce decision to sign with Miami Heat today, source tells @YahooSports.

Welcome To Recruiting Season

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

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This is always our favorite part.

Now that you can actually back up the rumors with real, live contact with free agents, we’re going to get a chance to see exactly who is serious about taking home some prizes in this compressed NBA free agency period.

Contact between team officials and players can be made this morning, meaning we no longer have to subsist on a daily diet of unnamed sources and innuendo. With courting season tipping off, we’ll get a chance to see what teams are ready to back up the hype generated in the past week.

If you like Caron Butler or Jamal Crawford, invite them to tour your practice facility and chauffeur them around town like the blue-chip free agent many teams think they are.

If Nene or Tyson Chandler is the big man you must have, the one that will solidify your team’s frontline, now is the time to show them just how much they are needed. Someone has to give these guys a reason to sign here rather than there.

And with the finishing touches on the nuts and bolts of a new collective bargaining agreement still in the works, free agency is going to come down to the same thing it almost always does (aside from cold hard cash, of course) — which team can work it best during recruiting season.

The recruiting season does extend beyond middle, high school and college ball.

Good recruiters are just as valuable at the NBA level, because they know what buttons to push to turn the head of players being pursued from nearly every direction.

The universal opinion that this free agent crop is lacking in franchise talent, a theory that is hard to argue when comparing the 2011 crop to that star-studded 2010 bunch. But that’s what makes the right recruiting pitch even more important — there were only a handful of teams with legitimate shots to land the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire.

What franchise worth its private jet doesn’t think it can lure David West or Kris Humphries with the right recruiting pitch?

On to the madness …



With the Yao Ming era officially over, might Nene be the man the Rockets tab to replace him in the middle? Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets’ interest will shift to a face-to-face meeting with the Brazilian big man today, one of many in-person recruiting pitches Nene is sure receive before making a decision on his future:

The Rockets’ pursuit of free-agent center Nene will move to a meeting Monday in Denver between the coveted center and Rockets coach Kevin McHale and general manager Daryl Morey, a person with knowledge of the meeting said on Sunday.

Nene is considered the top free agent available and has indicated a desire to leave the Denver Nuggets after failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension before the lockout. The Rockets had tried to work a deal with the Nuggets to acquire Nene prior to last season’s trade deadline.

Morey has also been in talks with the representative of free-agent center Tyson Chandler.


Chris Paul To Knicks Chatter Heats Up

— For the latest updates check out:’s Free Agent Tracker

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It might be more than just a rumor, this Chris Paul to the Knicks chatter that has been brewing the past few days.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports are reporting that Paul’s agent is requesting that the New Orleans Hornets trade the All-Star point guard to the Knicks as soon as the league lifts the lockout restrictions and teams are able to conduct regular business:

Chris Paul’s agent informed New Orleans officials on Wednesday that his client will not sign a contract extension and wants to be traded to the New York Knicks, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

As soon as the NBA lifts its lockout restrictions, Hornets general manager Dell Demps wants to meet with Paul and hear that directive from him.

Nevertheless, the prospects of the Hornets executing a trade with the Knicks appear to be relatively dim. The Knicks simply don’t have the trade assets that come close to meeting New Orleans’ criteria for a deal. Demps has been listening to overtures from teams around the league, and has been actively working under the assumption that Paul would reject a contract extension.

The Hornets have no intention of letting Paul walk away at season’s end without trying to get maximum value for him. There are several teams, including the Boston Celtics, that could be willing to make a deal for Paul with the hope of convincing him to eventually sign an extension.

If the flurry of activity expected when teams can conduct free agent business includes a transaction including Paul, the roller coaster ride for several other high-profile players could begin.

The addition of Paul in New York, where he would join All-Stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, would no doubt jolt a few other Eastern Conference contenders to examine their situations to see if there is anything they could do to combat a move of that magnitude.

You’ve got to love having this sort of drama back after that 149-day lockout!

Labor Talks: Pierce Clears The Air

— For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — No offense to Billy Hunter or Derek Fisher, the two men who have been the public faces of the players’ side of the NBA lockout for months now.

But Paul Pierce is the man most of us have wanted to hear from in recent weeks. His name has been tossed about as some sort of rebel in this entire process, the one veteran star brave enough/crazy enough to push for decertification when few others had the gumption to go there.

Pierce has been portrayed as some sort of modern-day NBA version of Robert Roy McGregor and one of the main culprits in the process reaching its breaking point last week with the disbanding of the union and the filing of multiple federal lawsuits. But how you view him is all about perspective, and which side of this argument you are sitting on.

As often seems the case, Pierce’s role has been greatly exaggerated in some respects and probably not given enough credence in others. My main man Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports caught up with Pierce after a charity game Saturday night and the Celtics’ captain and star clears the air on several outstanding issues. It’s always much better to hear it straight from the source (and not an anonymous one) whether or not the rest of us should get our hopes up about the possibility of a 2011-12 season being played:

“I’m optimistic that we will have a season,” Pierce told Yahoo! Sports by phone Saturday. “People ask me that every day when I leave the house if we are going to have a season. I’ve been probably saying, ‘Hopefully in a couple weeks,’ the last two months. That’s how optimistic I am. I just feel like something is going to happen.

“There is going to be something that turns the light on for both sides and gets this thing going. I think there is too much at stake for both sides. The [popularity] that the game is building nationally and worldwide … it’s crazy that we are at this place right now.”

Pierce doesn’t downplay his role in the whole disclaimer/decertification movement on the players’ side. And from what he told Spears he absolutely was the driving force behind informing his fellow players about their options regarding that course of action.


Labor Talks: Circling The Wagons?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — While we admire the solidarity message the players’ union has delivered repeatedly throughout the NBA lockout, it’s tough to read exactly how that message has been received.

While the majority of the rank-and-file players have been saying (and tweeting) all the right things about their unified state, cracks in the union’s foundation have emerged (as Jerry Stackhouse displayed passionately). The voices of discontent over this latest standoff are getting louder and louder. And there is a growing sentiment that we could see some sort of significant movement in mood after the union brass and executive committee members gather for a “strategy session” today in New York.

Are they circling the wagons with this pow-wow and gearing up to take another stand against the owners? Or is this the beginning of the end of the “stand united” campaign and the union’s solidarity movement?

Union executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher will find out sometime later today or perhaps this weekend, when the Boston Herald reports that negotiations are set to resume.


Yet Another Twist In Rambis-Kahn Affair

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — And you thought the Minnesota Timberwolves’ muddled coaching situation/search/firing couldn’t get any crazier.

Well it has.

The latest twist, per the crew at Yahoo! Sports, is truly one for the HT record book. Rather than firing Kurt Rambis after two seasons, Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears are reporting that Timberwolves general manager David Kahn recently floated the idea of reassigning Rambis to the front office:

Still unable to simply fire a coach he’s determined is done with the Minnesota Timberwolves, general manager David Kahn recently proposed that Kurt Rambis accept a reassignment within the franchise’s front office, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday.

The prospects of Rambis serving out the remaining two years and $4 million on his coaching deal so closely with Kahn in the front office holds little, if any, appeal to Rambis, sources said. Rambis has little respect for Kahn’s basketball acumen, and perhaps even less of a personal affinity for him.


Hang Time Podcast (Episode 59)

DALLAS — The Finals isn’t the only thing going on in the basketball world right now.

It certainly feels that way here, where the Mavericks are trying to avoid the dreaded 3-1 deficit in this series against the Heat.

But there is news breaking constantly in the NBA, the latest involving ABC’s Mark Jackson, who takes over as head coach of the Golden State Warriors.

Instead of discussing one topic or the other, here at the hideout we like to do it all. So we dove in both directions for Episode 59 of The Hang Time Podcast.

Former NBA All-Star Jerry Stackhouse, you’ve probably seen him on NBA TV in the analyst chair, holds the distinction of having played for both of these teams battling in The Finals. He played for the Mavericks in The 2006 Finals, when they lost to Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal and the Heat in six games. He also played eight games this season with the Heat, filling in early in the season when Mike Miller was battling injuries. He shares his unique perspective on both teams and the matchups we’ll likely see the remainder of the series.

HT fave and longtime NBA writer Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports also dropped in to break down the Warriors’ decision to hire Jackson, discuss this rumored Monta EllisAndre Iguodala trade between the Warriors and 76ers. Spears also broke down some of the other coaching movement news from around the league, while also sharing his take on the plight of Brian Shaw, the former Lakers assistant tabbed as the heir apparent to Phil Jackson who is now searching for his next job.

We finished things up a nice assist from our main man, TNT’s David Aldridge, who spent some quality time with former Duke sensation Kyrie Irving, the potential top overall pick in the The Draft. 29:45.


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

– 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.