HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With All-Star Weekend just days away, we knew it was time to break out the heavy hitters.
And when we say heavy hitters, we mean the heaviest of hitters in the realm of basketball and beyond. No, we didn’t corral Jeremy Lin yet and Kobe Bryant didn’t return our call either. But we’ve got the next best thing.
Following the Commissioner (never an easy thing to do), we rapped with former Harvard co-captain, Academic All-American and pro basketball player, and current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who took time out of his busy schedule to talk about his Harvard connection with Lin, his Chicago Bulls and his unique ties to both the team’s coach (Tom Thibodeau) and its biggest star (Derrick Rose). He also shared what it’s like playing ball with President Barack Obama in those famous White House pick up games (we’re ready whenever you need us Reggie Love) and so much more.
Check out all of that and so much more on Episode 70 of the Hang Time Podcast … The All-Star Special:
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Despite one unofficial diagnosis after another about the fragile state of on-court affairs in the NBA, Commissioner David Stern didn’t waste any time Wednesday night at Philips Arena issuing a bill of health of his own, going so far as to mention one TNT analyst in particular by his first name in his retort.
“How do we measure how we’re doing? Well, there are two forms of measurement, one is what our fans think and the other one is what Charles [Barkley] thinks,” Stern said, smiling the entire time. “What our fans think is our ratings are at record highs over last year and they were at records last year, our attendance is the same as last year, which was a great year, and our consumer products and sales are up. Those are the three metrics that we usually use because we are watched in every single way.”
With a rash of injuries to players around the league and suggestions from Barkley and plenty of others that the overall play in the league has been sloppy, at best, with the abbreviated training camp and compressed season being pointed to as a significant part of the problem.
Stern offered another perspective on those theories that lockout has had a detrimental effect on the game action this season.
“There has been a lot commentary about the compressed season and I’ve seen it expressed in many different ways,” Stern said. “We’re putting 80 percent of the games into 75 percent of the season … I saw someplace today that said we made a mistake rushing in to play at Christmas and the only thing I’ll say about that is that we sat down with the players and together we said, ‘if we make a deal tonight we can play by Christmas and get 80 percent of the season and not to mention 80 percent of the gates and 80 percent of the salaries, and things like that.’ And I dare say that that was a good carrot for us, indeed a magnet, to stay there until 3 or 4 in the morning and say, ‘okay, if we get a deal done tonight we can get off to a good start,’ which we did. Christmas Day was great and we are having a good season.”
Stern said that there would need to be more analysis done in a “look-back study” to gauge how teams are handling the compressed schedule and the distribution of minutes, based on how many players they have on their rosters and other factors.
In the meantime, he’ll rely on the reactions of the fans.
“The fans are saying good things about us,” said Stern, who was in Houston earlier in the day to announce the host city of the 2013 All-Star Game. “And despite what Charles says, he remains my favorite commentator, I think that our fans have a higher view of our product than he does.”
With All-Star Weekend on the horizon and Barkley and TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal set to serve as general managers for the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, Stern is looking forward to a little role reversal. With its new format, Barkley and O’Neal will choose sides for a game where the rookies and sophomores are mixed instead of opposing one another.
“I think it’s going to work, especially when you’ve got Shaq and Charles,” Stern said. “I can’t wait to critique Charles. Oh boy, I am on this, all over it, okay. I think that Shaq is going to be a better coach than Charles. And he was a better rebounder than Charles. I’ll even go to the question that he’s a better commentator than Charles … [but] that’s for after All-Star [Weekend].”
Sources confirm New Orleans is talking Chris Paul deals again. 3-team deal w/ Lakers, Hou might still have hope, but others discussed too.
This helps explain why Lamar Odom reportedly showed up to Lakers’ training camp late, didn’t work out with the team and left without practicing.
Whether or not this deal is full revived remains to be seen, especially after NBA Commissioner David Stern clarified the league’s position earlier with this statement:
“Since the NBA purchased the New Orleans Hornets, final responsibility for significant management decisions lies with the Commissioner’s Office in consultation with team chairman Jac Sperling. All decisions are made on the basis of what is in the best interests of the Hornets. In the case of the trade proposal that was made to the Hornets for Chris Paul, we decided, free from the influence of other NBA owners, that the team was better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform than by the outcome of the terms of that trade.”
Focus your eyes on that last line and notice the words, “that trade.” Maybe the deal was nixed in Thursday night form because Stern or someone else felt like the Hornets didn’t get enough?
Good luck getting that one past the discerning eyes of millions of basketball fans that know better.
The explanation for the league putting a stop to the three-team, Chris Paul-Lakers deal was disseminated via statement late last night, putting the final nail into what was clearly one of the most bizarre nights the league has seen in years.
From the decision itself to the theories behind why it happened, not to mention the most twisted piece of all, Dan Gilbert‘s terse email detailing his displeasure (and that of many other owners) with the proposed trade was, it all just felt wrong.
It felt wrong as it was going down, wrong during three or four hours of sleep were lucky to get here at the hideout and dead wrong this morning as we try to make sense of the senseless.
The league picked the wrong time to intervene for “basketball reasons.” That should have been done long before Hornets general manager Dell Demps engaged in trade discussions with the dozen or so teams that made serious inquiries about Paul. And even then it would have been the wrong thing to do.
Whoever owns the Hornets will have to deal with the reality that Paul has no intention of playing for the franchise longterm. So rather than making a fool of the franchise, a mockery of the process and a bigger mess than the 149-day lockout did with the fans, someone needed to do the right thing and find a deal that allowed for Paul’s departure without totally destroying the fabric of the franchise.
Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor did it last season when he moved Deron Williams, his franchise’s most valuable asset at that time, before being backed into a similar corner. What Demps was attempting to do was in the very best interest of the franchise and would have been by most any reasonable standard a solid deal for the Hornets (you get three starters, two draft picks and save yourself from the ongoing saga that would have been CP3-watch for the next however many months … you have to take that deal).
Worse yet, the folks suffering the worst today are the players in all three cities that have to show up for training camp, if they show up for training camp, and answer questions about decisions that had nothing to do with them and they had no hand in making.
In Houston, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Kevin Martin have to deal with the fallout. In Los Angeles a wounded Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol will be expected to hit the floor and act as if the night before had never happened. And in New Orleans, Paul has to decide if legal action is his best recourse for being allowed to do what we all know he will do at some point, and that’s leave the Hornets.
Not even “basketball reasons” will keep that from happening at some point.