Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Hang Time Road Trip: Home Sweet Home!


VIDEO: The Lord of the Rings, Phil Jackson, joins the Hang Time Podcast crew on the bus

By Sekou Smith

HANGTIME HEADQUARTERS – The final tally was somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,925 miles. give or take a hundred miles or so.

That’s the amount of road real estate we traveled during the Hang Time Road Trip, which ended early Saturday morning after a week of grinding from Cleveland through the upper tier of the Central Division and on to Philly, New York and finally to Tar Heel country in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

We’re all home now. It’s back to normal, whatever that means after spending seven nights on a luxury bus with 11 grown men all trying to carve out their own space on a daily basis.

It would be impossible to boil our trip down to just a few words or video snippets, which is why the Hang Time Road Trip wrap-up special (Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on NBA TV) will shine even more light on the maiden voyage for the Hang Time Podcast crew.

Between Lang Whitaker‘s daily updates on the All Ball blog and Rick Fox‘s work on social media, we tried to make sure you could follow us along every step of our journey. We began in Cleveland chasing LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers.

But that was only the beginning.

Chicago brought an in-depth conversation with Pau Gasol, not to mention Washington Wizards’ young stars John Wall and Bradley Beal making it onto the bus (not to mention an impromptu visit from Drew Gooden and a chance meeting with Scottie Pippen). We also made a visit to the Hyde Park Hair Salon, President Obama‘s home shop, so I could get cleaned up.

***


VIDEO: Pau Gasol joins the Hang Time Podcast crew in Chicago

***

Indianapolis saw Hall of Famer and Pacers boss Larry Bird brave the rain (for all of about 10 feet) to make his way onto the couch in the front of the bus, where we broke down what his team is facing this season and the intriguing situation he faces in trying to keep the Pacers among the NBA elite.

***


VIDEO: Larry Bird joins the Hang Time Podcast crew on the bus

***

Philadelphia gave us a chance to not only speak with Sixers CEO Scott O’Neal and Charlotte Hornets swingman Lance Stephenson, but also the ideal lunch date at cheese steak wizard Tony Luke‘s South Philly spot. You might have seen Lang trying to get his flip on in the kitchen.

***


VIDEO: The Hang Time Podcast crew chops it up with Lance Stephenson on the Hang Time Road Trip bus

***

Our stop in New York included an unbelievable visit to Harlem and Marcus Samuelsson‘s famed Red Rooster restaurant, one of the hottest spots in the city with one of the best chefs on the planet. He jst happens to be a huge Knicks and NBA fan, which was the perfect appetizer for Thursday’s trip to the Knicks’ practice facility where we talked to both Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher on the bus.

***


VIDEO: The Hang Time Podcast crew at Tony Luke’s

***

Wrapping things up in Rick’s old stomping grounds was the ideal ending for this trip. UNC coach Roy Williams gave us a guided tour of the pristine facilities in Chapel Hill and provided some context on our partner and his roots dating all the way back to his high school and college days on campus.

Again, the bits and pieces you can put together now only tell part of the story. A clearer picture will come Wednesday night when you tune into NBA TV (10 p.m. ET) and ride with us from start to finish on the Hang Time Road Trip.

***


VIDEO: Knicks coach Derek Fisher joins the Hang Time Podcast crew on the bus

Dean Smith Awarded Medal Of Freedom

Dean Smith (left) and Michael Jordan, who he coached at North Carolina, embrace.

Dean Smith (left) and Michael Jordan, who he coached at North Carolina, embrace.

g

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Dean Smith has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work and impact as the coach at the University of North Carolina. The NBA smiles and nods to that.

Smith’s closest actual connection with the league was as a member of USA Basketball committees during the early days of professional players in the Olympics, but his impact is unmistakable. He made a historical imprint on the NBA without ever setting foot in the NBA. Talk about a legacy.

Smith products carried the DNA when they left Chapel Hill. Michael Jordan, of course. And Billy Cunningham, James Worthy, Charlie Scott, Bobby Jones, Walter Davis, Kenny Smith along with Bob McAdoo, too. On and on.

That tree reached to the coaching ranks and front offices, too. Larry Brown, George Karl, Mitch Kupchak, Doug Moe, McAdoo, Jordan, John Kuester and Joe Wolf all came through Smith.

Dean Smith has absolutely been in the NBA.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, the White House said in announcing the 16 newest recipients, and are presented “to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or peivate endeavors.” Indeed, in addition to underlining Smith’s two national championships and retiring in 1997 as the winningest coach in history, the announcement Thursday also noted his work as a civil-rights advocate and a 96-percent graduation rate at Carolina.

“I base my life on the things that coach Smith taught me and the direction and the insight that he gave me into the type of person I would want to be,” Scott, who faced severe racism playing in the South in the late-1960s, told the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer. “What would make coach proud of me? [That's] a question that I answer every day.”

Smith, 82 and suffering from what his family described in 2010 as a “progressive neurocognitive disorder that affects his memory,” joins John Wooden as the only men’s college basketball coaches to be so honored. Other 2013 recipients include Ernie Banks, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.

How popular is Smith in his adopted home state? Though sometimes an outspoken opponent of many lightning-rod issues – the Vietnam war, the death penalty – Public Policy Polling found in February that 76 percent of both Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina thought he should receive the Medal of Freedom, a rare level of agreement. That’s nothing, though. Seventy-two percent of Duke fans were also in favor.

The awards will be presented at the White House this year at a date to be announced.

Marshall Next In Suns’ Line (Video)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Phoenix Suns rookie point guard Kendall Marshall knows that he is inheriting a rich tradition at the position, following in the footsteps of Suns legend and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash. Let’s not forget Phoenix’s former point guard stars like Jason Kidd, Penny Hardaway, Kevin Johnson and countless others.

There is a certain amount of pressure that comes with the job in the NBA … and any job in the league. When replacing a player like Nash in a franchise that is clearly in a rebuilding phase, however, the pressure is amplified. But Marshall seems more than comfortable with whatever expectations there are — playing at North Carolina surely aids that cause — and whatever added pressure there will be.

He sat down with Suns.com (P.J. Tucker goes first) and talked about that and more, including the social media mantle he’ll have to take up from Nash, the league’s resident king of all (social) media: