Posts Tagged ‘NBA’

Game 7: The Morning After


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By NBA.com staff reports

A classic Finals ended with a classic Game 7. LeBron James cemented his place in NBA history scoring 37 points as the Heat captured a second-straight NBA title with a 95-88 Game 7 win over the Spurs. Here’s a quick recap of NBA.com’s complete Game 7 coverage.

Game Coverage

NBA Finals

Analysis

Heat Celebration

Video Highlights

Postgame Press Conferences

Photos

Stern Defends Small-Market Finals, Zings ‘Resting’ In Last State-Of-NBA Address

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MIAMI – He’s a short-timer now, with less than eight months remaining in what will be a 30-year run as NBA commissioner, but David Stern came on like anything but a lame duck Thursday night before Game 1 of the 2013 Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena.

In his last official Finals state-of-the-league address (part of an ongoing series of “lasts” that began Feb. 1, one year out from Stern’s official retirement date), the league’s chief executive was vibrant, engaged, enthused even. This wasn’t the man who came out of the rancorous lockout in 2011-12 tired and cranky. It wasn’t Stern unplugged, either, though more and more of his duties are shifting to deputy commissioner Adam Silver, his heir apparent.

This was Stern tackling topics big and small, ranging from anti-flopping rules to nuances of the current collective-bargaining agreement in both its financial and competitive impact. This was Stern looking and sounding as if he could re-up for another term but who, most likely, is into his finishing kick because he can see the end line now.

Stern’s opening comments were brief and not unlike the business-is-good things he has said now, twice annually (All-Star Game and Finals) across three decades. Questions followed, many focusing on issues in play in this championship series, such as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich‘s decision back in November to sit out star players on his team’s visit to Miami. And a suggestion that the Heat’s SuperFriends approach might be good for the league overall, despite the CBA’s new provisions to block such star-hogging roster maneuvers in the future.

Asked if San Antonio’s presence in The Finals vindicates Popovich’s decision a month into the season to “rest” Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker as a way of staying fresh for the long NBA season and postseason — which earned a $250,000 fine from the league — Stern said: “He wasn’t resting Danny Green. It was a game that was being played. I know it, you know it and he knows it.

“I would never, never tell a coach that he shouldn’t rest a player that needs rest. We understand that completely. And that’s not what he did.” (more…)

Courageous Collins Breaks Barrier


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Jason Collins displayed his courage routinely as a big man whose specialty was fighting for space under the rim against the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard. So the journeyman center, who played for both the Celtics and Wizards this season, had nothing to prove to me, you or anyone else when it comes to courageousness.

Jason Collins played for both the Celtics and Wizards last year, his 12th season in the NBA (Brian Babineau/NBAE)

Jason Collins played for both the Celtics and Wizards last year, his 12th season in the NBA (Brian Babineau/NBAE)

Yet Monday, he showed an entirely different type of bravery when he came out as the first openly gay athlete in a major American sport.

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

Those 12 words he wrote in a piece for Sports Illustrated will not only change the course his life but the lives of his friends, family, teammates and coaches (past, current and perhaps future). They will change everyone else involved with the NBA. Now that this barrier has been broken, Collins will forever be linked to this groundbreaking moment and what comes after.

I cannot think of a man better equipped to deal with this new reality. Collins always has been regarded as the ultimate professional, one of the smartest players of his generation and a teammate willing to give it all up for his team. No one spends 12 years getting cracked in the face by the sharp elbows of some of the best big men in NBA history without being willing and able to withstand some pressure.

Collins  always has been one of my favorite players to talk to about basketball and beyond. Catch him in the locker room before a game and bring up almost any topic and he could educate you on a thing or two.

So for every person who has an issue with Collins coming out — and there are sure to be plenty of them — there will be just as many who support him and have his back, folks who commend him for his courage and his refusal to fear the foolish reactions of some.

When you have as many friends in high places as Collins does …

… support should not be a problem.

“As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement. “Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

Collins is a wealthy Stanford graduate with options galore  and seemingly no need to share his truth with the judging masses. Yet he does, unflinchingly. Collins explaining himself is refreshingly honest:

Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I’m a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.

The first relative I came out to was my aunt Teri, a superior court judge in San Francisco. Her reaction surprised me. “I’ve known you were gay for years,” she said. From that moment on I was comfortable in my own skin. In her presence I ignored my censor button for the first time. She gave me support. The relief I felt was a sweet release. Imagine you’re in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know — I baked for 33 years.

When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”

It takes a brilliant mind to articulate thoughts as meticulously and honestly as Collins has here. It takes an understanding of who and what you are, at your core, to do this knowing that there are so many people still willing to give into the prejudice that is sure to come.

It takes true courage to do this without worrying about the repercussions. And courage is something Collins has in surplus, both as a basketball player and as a man.

He wants to march for tolerance and acceptance and understanding. He wants to take a stand.

I’d march with him any time. I’d stand with him.

Hobbling Nash Won’t Give Up The Fight

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SAN ANTONIO — Steve Nash says he expects to feel and play as good as ever next season.

It’s this season that matters, as long as it lasts, and there are probably newly-hatched fruit flies with greater life expectancies than the Lakers. Of course, that was true from the moment that Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon and went from unstoppable offensive force on the court to unfiltered tweeter from the sofa.

But it is especially true if Nash can’t be Nash.

In the series opener on Sunday afternoon, Nash couldn’t find his top gear and make those shifty drives to the basket. He couldn’t get into the paint and create as unpredictably and imaginatively as a basketball Jackson Pollock. He missed open jump shots and finished 6-for-15 with just three assists and two rebounds.

He tried to zig and couldn’t zag. Nash labored and struggled and fought and battled, but for most of the game appeared to be a guy who was 39 going on 69.

“But we need him out there,” said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni.

The Lakers season couldn’t have been more painful from start to finish if they’d shot themselves with a nail gun and the first hole came when Nash went down in the second game of the season with a broken leg. He didn’t play again until three days before Christmas, didn’t start to develop a real rhythm until around the All-Star break and then went back to the sidelines with a hamstring injury on March 30.

“Yeah, it’s been tough, health-wise,” Nash said. “I’ve never missed this much time by a longshot. Any time you change environments — and we had a lot of guys change environments — it takes time to come together. And with all the injury problems at that same time, we’ve had fought and fought and fought and not got a lot of joy out of the season. That’s why I’m still thrilled to get a chance to play in the series, still fight with my teammates and try to make something good out of all this.” (more…)

NBA TV Picks The Awards And The Finals

The 2012-13 NBA regular season is over, and the playoffs are about to begin. NBA TV’s experts take a look back and a glance forward with their picks for each of the six major awards and for The Finals.

MVP ROY COACH SIXTH MAN DPOY MOST IMPROVED NBA FINALS NBA CHAMP
Greg Anthony LeBron James Damian Lillard Mark Jackson J.R.
Smith
LeBron James James Harden OKC vs. MIA Miami
Brent
Barry
LeBron James Damian Lillard George Karl J.R.
Smith
Marc Gasol James Harden OKC vs. MIA Miami
Dennis Scott LeBron James Damian Lillard George Karl J.R.
Smith
Serge Ibaka Paul
George
OKC vs. MIA Miami
Steve
Smith
LeBron James Damian Lillard Mike Woodson J.R.
Smith
Serge Ibaka Greivis Vasquez OKC vs. MIA Miami
Isiah Thomas LeBron James Damian Lillard Mike Woodson Jamal Crawford LeBron James James Harden OKC vs. MIA Miami
Matt
Winer
LeBron James Damian Lillard George Karl J.R.
Smith
Paul George Nikola Vucevic SAS vs. MIA Miami
Vince Cellini LeBron James Damian Lillard Mike Woodson J.R.
Smith
Marc Gasol Nikola Vucevic OKC vs. MIA Miami
Jared Greenberg LeBron James Damian Lillard Frank Vogel J.R.
Smith
Paul George Greivis Vasquez OKC vs. MIA OKC
Rick
Kamla
LeBron James Damian Lillard George Karl J.R.
Smith
Marc Gasol Greivis Vasquez OKC vs. MIA Miami

Stan Van Gundy Unchained!





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Months removed from his most recent coaching stint in the NBA, Stan Van Gundy‘s words still resonate.

The colorful former coach of both the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat didn’t hold anything back when discussing his life, the NBA, politics, Lance Armstrong, his future and plenty more with Jon Saraceno of USA Today. And because he’s no longer bound by his employer to watch his tongue, you better believe he let it all out.

Van Gundy answered questions the same way he coached his teams, without a hint of reservation and as brutally honest as possible. Best players he’s ever coached? Dwyane Wade followed by Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal (with the qualifier that O’Neal was in the latter stages of his stellar career).

Is politics in his future? He’s never going to run at the top of a ticket for anything. And who is to blame for him not joining his brother Jeff Van Gundy on ABC/ESPN broadcasts in some capacity? NBA Commissioner David Stern.

The most overrated player in the NBA? Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (“He’s not a guy who should be third in the [All-Star] voting.”) followed closely by Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams (“I never thought Deron Williams was overrated but right now people still look at him as one of the top two or three point guards in the league. He hasn’t been that in recent seasons.”) And the most underrated? Nets guard Joe Johnson is Van Gundy’s most “underappreciated.”

If Van Gundy has designs on rejoining the NBA coaching fraternty, he’ll have to be ready to answer a few more questions about some of his answers with at least several teams. He didn’t hold back on a number of topics, and that includes the league’s topic du jour (the train wreck that the Los Angeles Lakers have become):

Q: Biggest surprise this season?

A: Like everybody, probably the way the Lakers have struggled. There are probably pretty easy explanations for it. I’m not totally (surprised), but if you had asked me early in the year, I thought they would win the West.

I never could have predicted they would have screwed up the coaching situation — fire a guy (Mike Brown) five games into the season and be on three coaches 11 games into the year. Or have predicted their injuries. That’s as screwed-up a team as I’ve seen in a long time.

Q: What about team chemistry?

A: I still think that would’ve worked out. Training camp now is a total waste. Bill Walsh in his book (Finding the Winning Edge) said that you have to stay true to your process. You don’t circumvent the process. The Lakers screwed up the process. They haven’t given it a chance to work.

Gregg Popovich says you can’t skip steps. They skipped. (Coach) Mike D’Antoni is coming in on the fly and doesn’t have time to build chemistry and respect in the locker room. I feel badly for Mike because he’s a great guy and a great coach. The situation is impossible.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of guys who are qualified to coach. But the key thing is you all have to be on the same page. I sometimes marvel how organizations sometimes shoot themselves in the foot.

Q: Was Phil Jackson the solution?

A: I think Phil would have run into the same problems. Kobe (Bryant) and Pau (Gasol) are really the only guys left (from his tenure). It all would have been new — he would’ve gone through the same chemistry problems. I mean, I think they should have stuck with (Brown).

There are some firings where, even if you (personally) disagree with them, you see where (management) is coming from. (But) five games in? If you weren’t committed to Mike Brown, you shouldn’t have brought him back. With two new high-profile players, he needed time to put this together.

Q: But was Brown the right guy for the Lakers?

A: I think he was . . . he could have been. They really didn’t have the people to play that way. The hired Mike D’Antoni and they’re (supposedly) going to bring back Showtime. Showtime? Are you kidding me? Those (older players) aren’t going to be Showtime. They weren’t really Showtime when Phil was there, quite honestly. They executed in the half-court and used their size.

D’Antoni is a great coach but they have to have the right pieces. It all has to fit — what management wants, the type of players and the coach. It’s not an easy thing. For all the success they’ve had, I just think this year that they’ve looked pretty foolish as an organization.

The truth according to Stan Van Gundy is a lot of things, but it’s never boring.

Clippers’ 17-Game Winning Streak Now A Two-Game Losing Streak

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OAKLAND – The Clippers pummeled the Celtics and stormed back against the Jazz. They swept a four-game trip and they won two home day games in about 24 hours in a freak schedule occurrence. They played with the hunger of a lottery team and the composure and heart of a champion. They racked up 17-straight wins.

But that was earlier in the week.  The winning streak (the longest streak in franchise history and the best by any team in a little more than four years) ended Tuesday night at Denver and a reverse streak continued Wednesday with another loss against the Warriors.

Strange how the best run in the Buffalo-San Diego-Los Angeles years could become a partial statement on the Warriors, an opponent not even involved in the nonstop winning from Nov. 28 to Dec. 30. Welcome to it, though. Welcome to the reality.

Seventeen consecutive victories is usually able to provide some separation from the field, yet there was Golden State all of 3 ½ games back in the Pacific Division. And then came Warriors 115, Clippers 94 on Wednesday to slice the margin to 2 ½ games.

That made it official. Los Angeles had a historic string of success and could not give its top challenger within the division — and now, it must be said about Golden State, within the Western Conference — the slip. All that winning, which started when both were 8-6, is now worth 2 ½ games in the standings.

More perspective: The Clippers have had 18 home games and 15 road games compared the Warriors with 15 home games and 17 road games.

This does set up well for Golden State

“What they did has nothing to do with us,” Stephen Curry said after making 11 of his 16 shots en route to a game-high 31 points. “For us, we didn’t need this game to prove that we’re playing good basketball and that we’re a serious team and a force to be reckoned with. This is just another opportunity for us to play well in front of our fans at home. We were coming off a nice little break to re-energize ourselves and we didn’t have any slip-ups after being off for three days. That just shows how locked in and focused we are.”

Indeed, the Warriors found little statement in essentially taking the best hit the Clippers had to deliver and refusing to go away. As coach Mark Jackson said:” Give them credit. They put together a great run. It’s not our concern. Our concern was to take care of business on our end. We’re satisfied with what we’ve been able to accomplish, and we’re going to continue fight and scratch and claw and put victories together. That’s the Clippers’ business. More power to them.

“Credit to my guys because even though the Clippers put together a great run, they separated themselves from a lot of people, and we’re within range.”

That was the closest Jackson came to turning L.A.’s success into Golden State’s success.

“If we continue to do what we’re doing, our goal is not the Clippers,” Jackson said. “They’re a very good basketball team having a very good year. Our goal is to be the best that we can be.”

The Warriors and Clippers play again Saturday night in Los Angeles. Another Golden State win will clinch the season series, a valuable tie-breaker chip if it is needed in April. Another Golden State win could also, depending on what happens before Saturday, be worth the Pacific Division lead.

Welcome to the reality.

Rockets’ White Goes To D-League

HOUSTON – Maybe the first sign of progress was that this time Royce White didn’t react to the notion of being assigned to the NBA D-League by fire-bombing the Rockets organization via Twitter.

In fact, the 16th pick in the draft, who suffers from anxiety disorder and has butted heads with Rockets management since training camp, did not even Tweet a hint that he was joining the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in Bakersfield, Calif. and would be available to play in Sunday night’s game against the Jam.

The 6-foot-8 forward out of Iowa State has been at odds with the Rockets due to what he claims is their unwillingness to accommodate his condition. The team had re-worked his contract to make provisions for White to sometimes travel between games by bus, since anxiety about flying is one of the symptoms of his illness.

White did not report to the Rockets’ training camp in Hidalgo, Tex., home to the Vipers and, after getting no playing time in the first five games of the regular season, he went AWOL following a game at Memphis on Nov. 9. He remained at odds with the club when management insisted that he attend therapy sessions with a psychologist of their choosing, but has since agreed to terms and evidently been working to heal the wounds.

White resumed working out at the Toyota Center during the past week while the Rockets have been on the road. Sources have indicated that the next step in having him go to the D-League is part of a multi-week plan to fully integrate White back into the Rockets organization.

There is no timetable for White to return to the Rockets roster.

Players React to Tragedy on Twitter

NBA.com staff reports

In the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., NBA players took to Twitter to share their grief and also some thoughts on the unthinkable events.

https://twitter.com/jordanchill43/status/279661664180244481

We Lost A Hoops Legend In Williamson



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In basketball circles there are a handful of people whose faces are not recognizable to the casual fan but are instantly recognizable for insiders, players, scouts, coaches, executives and pundits alike.

Only a select few of those recognizable faces can travel the globe and retain that instant credibility in gyms from New York to New Delhi, a man whose voice carries and attracts all of the movers and shakers in attendance.

The Memphis Grizzlies, the NBA and the basketball world lost one of those men today when Kenny “Eggman” Williamson died after a long battle with cancer.

An assistant general manager with the Grizzlies for six seasons, Williamson, 65, spent three-plus decades immersed in the game from the grassroots level all the way up to the NBA. He is survived by his wife Nicole, their five children and four grandchildren.

A Harlem native and a staple at Rucker Park, Williamson spent 21 years as a college assistant, with stops at St. John’s, Louisville, Seton Hall and Columbia. He worked for the Charlotte Bobcats for three years before joining the Grizzlies and also worked for the Knicks for six years.

“Anyone who ever met ‘Eggman’ will never forget him,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said in a statement released by the team. “He had a huge personality and was extremely well-respected, both professionally and personally. Kenny was as true and committed a friend as one will ever have. He deeply cared for his friends and the youth of Memphis and of every community he touched. He was the greatest people person I have ever known. Every place I ever traveled with him, from Argentina to Turkey and throughout the U. S. he made an indelible impression and made countless friends. He was well-known is all basketball circles, both domestically and internationally, and his presence will be sorely missed.”

Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins knew Williamson well, having dealt with him in previous stops before they worked together with the Grizzlies.

“I took a high school basketball team to Germany once and Kenny was there. Everybody knew him,” Hollins told Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal. “I interviewed for the Charlotte job and Kenny was working for the Bobcats at that time. And then when I come here and get the head coaching job, there’s Kenny sitting as the assistant general manager. We were very close.”

My encounters with Williamson began years ago, when I was just starting out as a reporter and would run across him in gyms around the country. One night you’d see him at an AAU game in Las Vegas. Weeks later you’d spot him at a pro-am game in Washington D.C. And a few years later I walked to my seat on press row at Staples Center and he was sitting in the scout’s seat next to me.

Anytime he sat next to or near me after that, I knew it was best to just close my laptop and open my ears for a few lessons on the game.

The rule, as I learned from others that new him much better and much longer than I did, was that you listened while he worked the room and made sure to heed his advice when it came to players, places and anything else he said because few people knew their way around the basketball world better than “Eggman.”

Rest in Peace Kenny Williamson!