Posts Tagged ‘Reggie Miller’

Hang time podcast (episode 156): the playoffs … and ‘are you kidding me?’ featuring Steve Smith and Stu Jackson

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS —  With the start of the NBA playoffs just days away and the end of yet another marathon regular season almost in the books, it’s time to drag out those old predictions from October and November and … ah, never mind that. It’s time to refocus and take another look at the immediate (playoff) future for all 16 teams involved.

We already know who earned golden tickets to the postseason and who did not. The only thing left to sort out on the final night of the season is the seeding for most of those playoff bound teams.

All of our picks are alive for the NBA’s second season (despite his connections to the franchise, Rick Fox did NOT pick the Lakers to win it all this season), so we’re doing well in that regard.

What comes next, however, is anyone’s guess. The playoffs bring a certain air of predictability that intrigues this time of year. And we’re no different in that regard.

So we’re chopping up the playoff debates on each side of the conference divide on Episode 156 of the Webby-honored Hang Time Podcast: The Playoffs … And “Are You Kidding Me?” Featuring Steve Smith and Stu Jackson. Smitty is filling in for Reggie Miller as we debate the Kevin Durant-LeBron James MVP race and the notion that it’s time to make significant changes to the Draft lottery system.

We also crowned the regular season winner of “Braggin Rights” (that’s right, the champ is here!

Dive in for more on Episode 156 of the Hang Time Podcast, The Playoffs … And “Are You Kidding Me?” Featuring Steve Smith and Stu Jackson …

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best sound designer/engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– 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.

Dirk bumps ‘Big O’ to arrive at No. 10

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: Dirk passes Oscar Robertson for 10th on the all-time scoring list

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Dirk Nowitzki, with a patented fallaway jumper from a few feet off the right elbow, surpassed Oscar Robertson as the NBA’s 10th-all-time leading scorer.

Nowitzki, 35, joins the most exclusive of NBA clubs in which each member is recognized simply by first name or nickname. Dirk, the Dallas Mavericks’ sweet-shooting 7-footer and an original stretch-4, certainly has that covered.

“Amazing, amazing. I mean top 10 is unreal,” Nowitzki said following the 95-83 victory at Utah. “It’s been a crazy ride. Passing Big O, who obviously averaged triple-doubles numerous seasons, is unbelievable. It feels surreal still. All night I wasn’t really trying to think about it, I was trying to concentrate on the next shot. I knew how many points I needed, but I wasn’t really trying to think about it. I was trying to think about the next shot and how I could get open.”

Nowitzki, the 2007 regular-season MVP and 2011 champion and Finals MVP, now has 26,714 career points. He has also surpassed 30,000 total points that includes 128 postseason games.

NBA’s All-Time Top 10 Scorers

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 38,387

2. Karl Malone, 36,928

3. Michael Jordan, 32,292

4. Kobe Bryant, 31,700

5. Wilt Chamberlain, 31,419

6. Shaquille O’Neal, 28,596

7. Moses Malone, 27,409

8. Elvin Hayes, 27,313

9. Hakeem Olajuwon, 26,946

10. Dirk Nowitzki, 26,714

Nowitzki finished Tuesday night’s crucial 95-83 victory at Utah with a game-high 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting, including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. He scored 13 points in the first half and moved past Robertson to open the fourth quarter off a pass from Devin Harris.

Fresh off being named the Western Conference’s Player of the Week, a four-game stretch in which he averaged 25.3 ppg, Nowitzki has propelled Dallas to a 4-0 road trip that has it in the driver’s seat to secure one of the final two playoff spots.

The Mavs (48-31) have three games left. They play San Antonio at home on Thursday and then finish with critical games against Phoenix at home on Saturday and then at Memphis on Wednesday.

Nowitzki, who struggled to regain his All-Star form last season after undergoing knee surgery during training camp, was devastated when the Mavs missed the playoffs for the first time since 1999-2000.

He started this season, his 16th, at No. 17 on the league’s all-time scoring list. Along the way he’s moved ahead of Jerry West, Reggie Miller, Alex English, Kevin Garnett, John Havlicek, Dominique Wilkins and now the Big O.

Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant, No. 4 on the all-time list with 31,700 points, 592 behind No. 3 Michael Jordan are the only active players in the top 10.

This is Nowitzki’s final year of his contract, but he has made it clear that he plans to re-sign with the Mavericks for another two or three seasons.

“This is my 30th year in the NBA and one of the few times I’ve truly been in awe of an accomplishment,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, who has been with Nowitzki since the start of the 2008-09 season. “Top 10 all-time scorer is an unbelievable accomplishment because it’s a level of excellence that’s beyond belief, and then it’s being able to do it over an extended period of time with consistency. So one of the really unique accomplishments.

“And he’s going to keep eating up more people. He’s got a long way to go.”

By this time next season, Nowitzki very well could be the No. 7 all-time scorer in league history. It won’t take him long to track down No. 9 Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946), then No. 8 Elvin Hayes (27,313) and No. 7 Moses Malone (27,409). It might take into the 2015-16 season for Nowitzki to catch No. 6 Shaquille O’Neal, now 1,882 points ahead of Nowitzki.

If he ultimately moves ahead of Shaq, Nowitzki will nestle in nicely, likely for good, behind No. 5 Wilt Chamberlain (31,419).

Not bad for the one-time floppy-haired kid imported from Wurzburg, Germany.

“Like I always say, I think this stuff means more to me when my career is over,” Nowitzki said. “But this is a sweet one. Top 10 is definitely unbelievable.”

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 147) The All-Star Debate Featuring Reggie Miller And Stu Jackson

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Another NBA All-Star Saturday night will come and go without LeBron James, the marquee player of his generation and a future member of the league’s Mount Rushmore (according to his own calculation), taking part in the signature event.

LeBron has never and perhaps will never participate in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest. And it’s a shame that we have not and might not ever get to see him on that stage.

Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Reggie Miller thinks James owes it to his own legacy and those of dunk legends like Dr. J, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter and others to do it at least once, particularly in his physical prime.

Reggie makes his case to Stu Jackson and the world in “Are You Kidding Me?” on Episode 147 of the Hang Time Podcast: The All-Star Debate.

We also sneak a peek at the looming NBA trade deadline and discuss who needs to do what to push themselves to the next level after All-Star Weekend, the Suns and Pacers being high on our list of teams that could change the game with the right move at the deadline.

Check out that and more on Episode 147 of the Hang Time Podcast: The All-Star Debate Featuring Reggie Miller and Stu Jackson …

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– 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.


VIDEO: LeBron James shows off his dunking skills after practice

Happy Dwight Thwarts Hack-a-Howard

VIDEO: Dwight Howard and his Rockets beat another Texas team, downing the Mavs Wednesday

DALLAS – Smiling, singing and dancing, a carefree, 6-foot-11, muscle-bound and shirtless greeter welcomed reporters into the winning locker room as if they were coming in for an after-work Happy Hour and drinks were on the house.

“File in everybody, come on, file in,” Dwight Howard said merrily, waving his arms and directing the throng inside.

Life is good when you make your free throws and Howard had just dropped seven of them on eight attempts in a span of 59 seconds midway through fourth quarter. He thwarted the Dallas Mavericks’ Hack-a-Dwight strategy and the points likely saved the Rockets from another embarrassing last-minute collapse.

“I looked like Reggie Miller tonight from the line,” Howard boasted after the 117-115 victory in which he scored nine of his 21 points from the free-throw line on 11 attempts. That’s 82 percent for a 53-percent foul shooter.

“We’re 6-1 when they Hack-a-Dwight,” Howard boasted. “Look it up. The only one we lost was to the Lakers.”

That stat remains unofficial, but it has merit. With 4:20 to go and Houston leading Dallas, 107-97, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, desperate to stop Houston blow-bys to the rim, ordered the hacks. Howard made the first two. Hacked again. He split the next two. Hacked again. He made both as the crowd groaned. The Rockets led 112-101, a plus-1 advantage through the 59 seconds of hacks.

Carlisle called off the dogs. Yet on Houston’s next possession following a Vince Carter 3-pointer, Howard was fouled in the act of shooting. Two-for-two — 114-104.

“He made enough that Rick [Carlisle] quit doing it,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “That’s the key. He made 9-of-11. Believe me, if you make enough, the other team quits doing it.”

He made so many that he stole the spotlight from 35-year-old Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, who had 38 points and 17 rebounds as he awaits a possible 12th All-Star berth Thursday night.

On Tuesday against San Antonio, Dwight went 9-for-14 during a third-quarter Hack-a-Howard phase. The Rockets won the quarter, 33-18. Dwight still only managed to go 13-for-25 from the line in the 97-90 win.

“Dwight’s making his free throws. He made them last night, he made them tonight,” McHale said. “I guess I’ll take the points if you’re standing there and you don’t have to do anything to get points. It does muck up the game and it does slow things down, but I mean I’ll take the points if all you got to do is stand there and shoot free throws all night.”

That’s not typically a great image of Howard: stiff-legged and flicking bricks.

But, give the man credit, he’s making the pressure free throws, for whatever reason, but he still struggles so mightily on so many trips to the free throw line, for whatever reason. He offered a familiar refrain about his success on this night, yet still no explanation for why it can’t happen more often than not.

“I just stepped up, I didn’t think too much, I just went up there and shot ‘em,” Howard said. “And when I do that I’m a lot better than getting up there and thinking what’s going to happen, the outcome, so I was a lot better tonight.

“It gives them [his teammates] more confidence in me and also the coaching staff. They see how much I work on it every day in practice. So, to get in the game and knock ‘em down when we need it is key for our team.”

Yes, life is good when you make your free throws.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 143) Featuring Zach Gilford And ‘Are You Kidding Me?’

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — There are reportedly eight different teams expressing interest in the services of Cleveland Cavaliers’ cast off big man Andrew Bynum, eight teams that believe Bynum is a valuable enough piece that they are willing to ignore his track record of not playing up to his immense potential when healthy.

Like everything else where Bynum is concerned, there are passionate opinions on both sides of the argument and we made sure to touch on those on Episode 143 of the Hang Time Podcast now that the Luol Deng-Bynum trade has been finalized. Bynum’s gone, much to the delight of our guest, Friday Night Lights and Devil’s Due star Zach Gilford, whose Bulls roots run deep (from growing up watching Michael Jordan dazzle the world and win titles all the way down to the Scottie Pippen his buddy tattooed on him at 13).

Hall of Famer Reggie Miller and the NBA’s former Dean of Discipline, Stu Jackson, also make their 2014 debut on “Are You Kidding Me?” Miller and Jackson

You get all that and more on Episode 143 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Zach Gilford.

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– 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.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 141) Featuring Brad Graham And Introducing The ‘Are You Kidding Me?’ Crew Of Reggie Miller and Stu Jackson

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Kobe Bryant‘s back, finally and officially. The Indiana Pacers have drawn first blood in this season’s renewal of their rivalry with the Miami Heat. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder are on a mission. And Hall of Famer Reggie Miller and the NBA’s former Dean of Discipline, Stu Jackson, make their debut.

You get all that and more on Episode 141 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Brad Graham, the author and designer of the The Backpack Baller: The Fantastical Basketball Voyage of Kevin Durant.

According to Graham’s Kickstarter page the book “will be a 250 page magnum opus taking a forensic and satellite view of K.D’s on-court conquests as well as his off-court challenges. The book will explore his devotion, brilliance and cultural standing, and much like the player on which it’s based, The Backpack Baller is non-traditional.”

We also introduce Miller and Jackson as the stars of our new segment, “Are You Kidding Me?” The TNT analyst and Hall of Famer squares off against the new NBA TV analyst and former NBA executive crossfire-style in our new debate segment named after Miller’s signature phrase.

Dive in here for Episode 141 of The Hang Time Podcast featuring Brad Graham, Reggie Miller and Stu Jackson:

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– 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.

Ellis, Dirk Spoil Dwight’s Monster Night


VIDEO: Dirk and Monta Ellis run roughshod over the Rockets in comeback win

DALLAS – This was Dwight Howard‘s big night, a made-for-national-TV highlight reel. His coming-back party.

The big man couldn’t miss from the floor, flushing alley-oops at will and swooping through the lane for lefty hooks as if he invented it. He made his first 11 shots, not missing until three minutes deep into the fourth quarter. He was even on fire, as much as Howard can be on fire, from the free throw line.

With a big lead in tow, Howard was strutting toward a season-high, which he got with 33 points on 12-for-16 shooting, and a Hack-a-Dwight-defying 9-for-13 from the stripe. The Houston Rockets were headed for a road romp, a beat down of their division-rival Dallas Mavericks, losers in the Howard sweepstakes no matter how Mavs owner Mark Cuban has tried to spin it. Again prior to Wednesday’s game, Cuban couldn’t help himself, suggesting the best deals are sometimes the ones you don’t make, and that it’s way too early to determine whether Howard or the Mavs’ new guy, Monta Ellis, will ultimately be the most impactful free-agent addition.

Through three quarters, Ellis was putting on a show to be sure, but it was Dwight truly announcing his presence and taking names.

Until Ellis, the erratic shooting guard Cuban signed with his leftover free-agent cash, and the venerable all-timer, Dirk Nowitzki ended the party. The duo hijacked Dwight’s night with one of the great two-man performances of the season — and in recent memory — in a rousing 123-120 win, rallying all the way from 93-75 late in the third quarter when the capacity crowd actually started to file out.

The Nowitzki-Ellis tally is eye-popping: 72 points on 26-for-38 shooting. Ellis, playing with a chip on his shoulder the size of Howard’s bicep, went off for a season-high 37 points on 13-for-18 shooting and eight assists. Nowitzki poured in a season-best 35 points on 13-for-20 shooting, along the way overtaking Pacers Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller for 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. It was an all-time efficient two-man binge: 4-for-9 from beyond the arc, 16-for-19 from the free throw line, 12 assists and nine rebounds.

Yet it all seemed headed for footnote status on the highlight shows as Howard’s two-handed slams would play over and over.

In the fourth quarter it all ground to an inexplicable halt for Howard and Houston, which officially has a closing problem. It left coach Kevin McHale bleary eyed and exasperated.

Nowitzki and Ellis outscored the Rockets, 22-19 on 9-for-11 shooting. Heck, Nowitzki and Jose Calderon outscored them 21-19. Howard suddenly couldn’t buy a bucket, going 1-for-5 in the quarter, and he got stripped late by Nowitzki in the paint as everything fell apart. Harden missed shots and hopelessly chased foul calls. Chandler Parsons, 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and playing beautiful basketball with 11 assists through three quarters, didn’t take a 3 or dish a dime in the final 9:17 he played.

In the first three quarters, Houston scored 40, 28 and 33 points. Then poof. Again. Rockets fourth quarters are becoming as collapsible as a rickety lawn chair. One reason they’re now 8-5 and looking up in the standings at the surprising 8-4 Mavs.

“It’s growing pains,” Howard said afterward. “Something we have to learn from. We’re a young team. We’ve got to realize what we have in the locker room and what we can do as a team when we play the right way on both ends. We didn’t do that at the end of the game.”

While early season ogling has mostly been reserved for the Portland Trail Blazers’ 10-2 start, the Mavs now quietly boast the same record through a dozen games as the mighty Los Angeles Clippers and those lovable Golden State Warriors. They’re also 6-0 at home.

Ellis, devouring the doubts of his many skeptics and especially the analytic stat-crunchers, has been remarkably efficient playing alongside Nowitzki — 23.3 ppg on 49.5 percent shooting – who is happy as all get out to tag along for the ride after slogging through last season’s offensive quicksand. It’s not lost on anyone that Ellis has a better shooting percentage than Dirk.

“We’re really just playing off of him,” Nowitzki said of his newest sidekick. “He’s been aggressive, he’s handling the ball well, but what’s been great is that he has been making plays for others. He’s making all of us better. We run a lot of screen-and-rolls for him; I don’t know how he does it, but he gets everyone involved and it’s been fun to play with him.”

On a night Dwight dominated, the Mavs had the better twosome for the four full quarters. And it’s beginning to look like something the rest of the league better take note.


VIDEO: Nowitzki talks about passing Reggie Miller on the all-time scoring list

Nowitzki Passes West With Miller Next


VIDEO: Nowitzki passes West on all-time scoring list

DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki shot past “The Logo” on Tuesday night and is bearing down on Reggie Miller.

The Dallas Mavericks’ sure-fire Hall-of-Fame forward took over 16th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list from Los Angeles Lakers legend Jerry West. Nowitzki needed 15 points in the Mavs’ 105-95 win over the Washington Wizards. He got 19, surpassing West with the second of a pair of late third-quarter 3-pointers that also helped Dallas jump back out to an insurmountable double-digit lead.

“He was obviously a little before my time,” Nowitzki said of West. “But I love the history of the game, I watched plenty of games, watched him shoot. He’s really the first guy that had really a pure jump shot like that. He’s the man, he’s clutch. He’s the logo.”

All-time leading scorers, NBA history
Player GP PTS PPG
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1,560 38,387 24.6
Karl Malone 1,476 36,928 25.0
Michael Jordan 1,072 32,292 30.1
Kobe Bryant 1,239 31,617 25.5
Wilt Chamberlain 1,045 31,419 30.1
Shaquille O’Neal 1,207 28,596 23.7
Moses Malone 1,329 27,409 20.6
Elvin Hayes 1,303 27,313 21.0
Hakeem Olajuwon 1,238 26,946 21.8
Oscar Robertson 1,040 26,710 25.7
Dominique Wilkins 1,074 26,668 24.8
John Havlicek 1,270 26,395 20.8
Alex English 1,193 25,613 21.5
Kevin Garnett 1,329 25,310 19.0
Reggie Miller 1,389 25,279 18.2
Dirk Nowitzki 1,116 25,197 22.6
Jerry West 932 25,192 27.0
Patrick Ewing 1,183 24,815 21.0
Allen Iverson 914 24,368 26.7
Paul Pierce 1,108 24,103 21.8
Ray Allen 1,234 23,881 19.4
Tim Duncan 1,186 23,865 20.1
Charles Barkley 1,073 23,757 22.1
Robert Parish 1,611 23,334 14.5
Adrian Dantley 955 23,177 24.3
Through Tuesday, Nov. 12

Nowitzki, in his 16th season, now has 25,197 career points. With West’s 25,192 points behind him, Miller’s 25,279 points is reachable likely within the next three to five games. Soon, only 14 players will have scored more points than the big German, and only a handful are safe from Nowitzki’s final charge over the next few seasons.

“It’s another great milestone, but for now, got to keep working and that’s really about it,” said a rather subdued Nowitzki, whose re-tooled Mavs improved to 5-3. “Like I always say, all these milestones are great once my career is over.”

Nowitzki’s jumper, whether a trailing, transition 3 from straightaway or a one-legged leaner from the elbow, is as pure as anyone’s who ever played the game, and no 7-footer comes close. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle did point out one significant difference between the 25,000-plus points West racked up in just 932 games compared to Nowitzki’s total through 1,116 career games.

“Jerry West never shot a 3,” Carlisle said. “If there had been a 3-point line back then, this milestone would have come later — he would need more points. It’s a monumental achievement to pass a player like that. He’s going to pass more big names in the weeks and months to come.”

Miller, a player Carlisle coached near the end of his career in Indiana, certainly took advantage of the 3-ball. So has Kobe Bryant, one of only three active players in the top 16 on the all-time scoring list. Bryant, who has yet to play this season as he recovers from an Achilles tear, is No. 4 with 31,617 career points, just one of five players to reach 30,000 points. Bryant needs 676 points to supplant Michael Jordan at No. 3. Kevin Garnett, now with the Brooklyn Nets, is the other active player at No. 14 with 25,310 points.

Nowitzki is on pace to become the all-time leading scorer among international players. Houston Rockets Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon, a native of Nigeria, leads that group. The Dream sits No. 9 all-time with 26,946 points. Nowitzki can catch him this season if he averages 21.3 points over the next 74 games.

He’s currently averaging 18.3 points on 47.5 percent shooting from the floor and 38.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Nowitzki is in the final year of his contract, but has said he plans to play another two or three seasons, and his intention is to do so with the Mavs.

Seemingly the only thing that can keep Nowitzki, 35, from finishing in the top eight, at least, on the all-time scoring list is health. He’s been extremely durable throughout his career, but has experienced right knee troubles the past few seasons, needing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee prior to last season.

It kept him out of 29 games and he finished the season with his lowest scoring average, 17.3 ppg, since his second season in the league. He snapped a streak of 11 consecutive All-Star Game appearances and Dallas ended a 12-year run of postseason play.

Speaking of health, Tuesday’s game came with a bit of a mysterious twist. Nowitzki played for the first time this season with a sleeve over a previously — as far as anybody knew — problem-free left knee. After the game he was coy about why he wore the sleeve when questioned.

“I’ll be all right. Yeah, I’ll be all right,” Nowitzki said. “We just passed six games in nine days, obviously, and had four in five before this. So you know, it is what it is.”

When asked if the knee was just sore from the arduous schedule, Nowitzki mumbled again that he’ll be all right and quickly glanced in the other direction toward another questioner.

He’ll have a couple days off to get some rest and reflect on all those points since he came into the league as a floppy-headed 20-year-old rookie. The Mavs don’t play again until they hit the road Friday night to face old pal LeBron James and the two-time champion Miami Heat.


VIDEO: Nowitzki talks about passing West, Mavs’ victory

Rose Returns, His Reputation (For Some Bulls Backers) To Follow


VIDEO: Derrick Rose talks with TNT’s David Aldridge about his return

CHICAGO – Derrick Rose smiled the other day — see, it is a new season — while talking about his toddler son, “P.J.,” and the 1-year-old’s budding love of the game. Little man already is working on his handle, Rose said, though he’s prone to double-dribbling.

But the whole time and space continuum still is a challenge for “P.J.,” it sounds like.

“He’s still confused when he sees me on TV,” Rose said. “Or sees a poster of me anywhere, it confuses him. I can’t wait till the day he knows I’m actually playing.”

Ahem. The same could be said for a whole bunch of fans of the Chicago Bulls who have been plenty confused themselves trying to figure out whether and when Rose would be playing.

For at least half of the past 18 months, Rose’s will-he-or-won’t-he endless rehabilitation from left knee surgery has sparked some of the fiercest Chicago barroom debates since Steve Bartman and Moises Alou tried to catch the same foul ball.

Was discretion truly the better part of valor, as in Rose’s decision — cobbled together missed game by missed game, from around the All-Star break last February until the Bulls’ season ran out — not to participate at all in 2012-13? Or had he somehow let his team, fans, city, sport and, ultimately, himself down by not adhering to a more conventional timetable? Should he have returned after about 10 months to face the rust and take some inevitable lumps with the idea that even a sub-par Rose could have helped the overachieving-but-undermanned Bulls?

Rose will be out there Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, TNT), officially ending his layoff (after four preseason United Center appearances) when the Bulls face the New York Knicks in their home opener. Soon, he or someone from the family will get “P.J.” to understand the difference between Daddy at home and Daddy on TV running up and down a basketball court.

It might take a little longer for greater Chicagoland and the nation’s Bulls fans to do so.

“When he comes out Thursday, it’s going to be real inspirational,” Bulls forward Taj Gibson said this week. “I know he’s meant a lot to the city of Chicago, being from there. People love him. I felt it even when he didn’t play last year. Because he’s a hometown kid. It’s rare you get a No. 1 overall pick superstar playing for the hometown team.”

Playing being the operative word though.

Windy City’s Mt. Rushmore


VIDEO: Derrick Rose reads fan letters on ‘Inside Stuff’

As the biggest of the “Rust Belt” cities, with a crazy quilt of sports success and heartbreak — Bulls in the 1990s, Blackhawks nowadays vs. Cubs in the 20th and 21st centuries — Chicago has love-hate relationships with many of its athletes. But those on the top tier remain indisputably loved, and Rose already was climbing rungs in the Top 10 when he fell to the floor and grabbed his left knee, his ACL torn by the torque of his own explosive power in Game 1 against Philadelphia on April 28, 2012.

“If Derrick can stay healthy, he’ll end up on the Mt. Rushmore of Chicago sports,” said Chuck Swirsky, the radio play-by-play voice of the Bulls who began his Chicago sportscasting career more than three decades ago. “His skill level is off the charts. But will he stay healthy? No one can answer that.”

The Rushmore metaphor, strictly speaking, goes only four deep. But we’ll work with a slightly longer list. It begins with Michael Jordan, of course, then includes other beloved sports stars such as Walter Payton, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka (more as coach than player).

Of the bunch, though, only Butkus – the ferocious linebacker who went to Chicago Vocational School and the University of Illinois before being picked by the Bears No. 3 in the 1965 NFL draft (along with No. 4, running back Gayle Sayers) – was a native son. Jordan was from North Carolina. Payton, Mississippi. Banks grew up in Dallas and Santo in Seattle. Ditka came out of Pittsburgh football country, and Hull (Point Anne, Ontario) and Mikita (Czechoslovakia) might as well have been from Mars.

Rose grew up nine miles south of Chicago Stadium and later United Center, born a few years before Jordan and Scottie Pippen began winning championships. The Englewood neighborhood where his mother Brenda raised four boys — and those boys raised each subsequent boy, with Derrick (Pooh) Martell Rose as the youngest — is one of the poorest and most dangerous on Chicago’s South Side.

And on this list, that matters.

“Absolutely,” Swirsky said. “The speaking engagements I go to … always, they say, ‘He’s one of us.’ That’s one of the phrases that comes off the tongues of men, women and kids. They’re saying, he’s part of the fabric of Chicagoland. You can take a kid from [suburban] Glen Ellyn who idolizes the same athlete as somebody from Englewood. With all due respect to [Blackhawks Jonathan] Toews and [Patrick] Kane and the others, he is the No. 1 guy in this market.”

A hometown success story


VIDEO: Playing for hometown club a thrill for Rose

Asiaha Butler, a founder and president of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, isn’t a sports fans but her husband is, and so are their neighbors. Which means they’re Rose fans.

“Englewood is one of those places where you only hear about the worst news,” Butler said. “So any good news is inspiring. We work with some schools in the area and I know there are kids who are elated that he’s back.”

The Bulls knew all about Rose’s roots when they made him the No. 1 pick in the 2008 Draft, taking him in spite of his connections more than because of them. Plenty of sports franchises had witnessed the trouble that can come when hometown hero tries to grow up professionally while his old life tugs at his current one.

“There was always this philosophy that you don’t want to take a guy and have him play in his hometown because of the outside influences,” Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. “But in Derrick’s case, he had such a strong core of family and friends, that was never an issue.

“Chicago is a blue-collar town for the most part, always has been. Derrick, even with his athleticism, he still embraces that mentality of hard work and pride in where he’s from. Every time he talks about playing, he generally references Chicago. He takes pride in it, so it’s very easy for it all to work.”

Ed Pinckney, an assistant on coach Tom Thibodeau‘s staff, shakes his head thinking about himself, had he begun his 12-year NBA career in his native New York.

“In my hometown, my head would be swollen,” said Pinckney, who starred at Villanova in Philadelphia. “I don’t know how they deal with it on a daily basis. How do you manage your time, making people feel good, not slight people and still maintain a level of humbleness about you? I would feel, like, claustrophobic. I just know, the people around me, when they talk about Derrick, they talk in glowing terms.”

Reach the levels of notoriety Rose has in this (or any other) sports-crazed city and everyone wants a piece of you. Grant DePorter, president and manager of the five Harry Caray‘s sports restaurants, considers Rose “the closest thing Chicago’s had to Michael Jordan since Michael Jordan.” He has seen the similarities on nights the Bulls are on TV and the TVs in Harry Caray’s are on.

“When he’s playing, the place is packed. Everybody wants to watch Derrick Rose,” DePorter said. “And once he got injured, you really saw a difference in the fans’ enthusiasm. Enthusiasm equals revenue because people are going to eat and drink and celebrate, and they thought he was the second coming of Jordan. Him being from Chicago only helped.”

The Rose kids grew up playing basketball at Murray Park, a playground that had grown shaggy and rundown before the Bulls point guard pumped in some money a couple years back. They had their sports heroes, same as the young ballers now.

“It’s weird walking down the street,” said Reggie Rose, the most visible of Rose’s brothers and 14 years his senior. “When I was younger, I’d see kids wearing M.J. jerseys running around. Now I see kids running down the street with the No. 1 and ‘Rose’ on the backs of their jerseys. That’s really big to me.”

Reggie Rose spoke about the structure in their household growing up, with those surrogate dads in a single-parent home. “We still treat him as the little brother, even though he’s making a lot of money,” Reggie said. “There’s still structure and respect within the family, and we don’t let anybody try to do any divide-and-conquer, any cracks in it. We kind of just keep it moving. We’re a simple-minded family.”

Little brother Derrick treats his Chicago-ness like a warm embrace wrapped around a responsibility. He has the team’s P.A. announcer introduce him as “From Chicago…” rather than that one-year pit stop at the University of Memphis. He scarcely can imagine playing anywhere else.

“For me it’s a positive,” Rose said. “Every time I take the ball, the crowd is really into it. I take it all in, just knowing that — of course I know that everybody in the crowd is not cheering for me, but that’s the way I think about it when I’m on the court.”

That love of Chicago’s own might explain why some of the feelings of betrayal ran so deep when Rose did not come back for the Bulls last spring, and why they linger for some to this day. The player claims the criticism never has stung him.

“Not at all,” Rose said. “Because I look at it through their eyes, where if I had a favorite player and I was a fan, I would want him on the court too. I could see where they was coming from.”

‘Tiresome process’ for MVP


VIDEO: Rose opens up about his knee rehab

Dan Bernstein has been on the wall for the anger, frustration and gnashing of teeth over Rose’s prolonged rehab and delayed comeback. As a co-host of the afternoon drive show on Chicago’s WSCR AM-670, he has presided over, fueled and sampled it in all its permutations.

“There is no question that Derrick has used up some of his capital throughout this tiresome process,” Bernstein said. “Fans of his are confused and disappointed. There will always be anger on the fringes, but I don’t think that anger represents the larger portion of his real fans, who are more disappointed.

“The good news is, once the games start and even with some difficulties in this final stage of his rehabilitation to be expected, I think he can rebuild that capital very quickly.”

Confusion and downright crankiness crept in sometime in March, by which time Rose had been cleared by Bulls doctors to participate in 5-on-5 practices. He was 10 months along in his recovery process, right in the middle of the range laid out by his surgeon, Dr. Brian Cole. Other NBA players had returned to action on a similar schedule, such as Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio and New York’s Iman Shumpert. And then there was Adrian Peterson of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, hurrying back in nine months and rushing for more than 2,000 yards.

When Rose showed up only as a warm-up attraction, shooting countless jumpers in the hour or two before Bulls games, right through the Eastern Conference semifinals between his Bulls and Miami, frustration and grumbling from the fans followed. That sneaker campaign by adidas featuring Rose — “The Return” — wound up feeling like a big tease to ticket buyers and home viewers fighting and losing against impatience. Fans started to question his courage. Others wondered if, hey, maybe he’s more selfish than they thought.

“I think it was some combination of all of that,” Bernstein said. “Sports fans now have information at their disposal to understand, this is not an experimental procedure. Even though it’s serious, it has become routine surgery. Fans can read what the doctors said. They can see what other players have done and are doing.

“So it was his return timetable raising eyebrows because people who do what he does for a living just don’t do that, unless there was something else going on. And we never really found out what that was.”

Even this month, after Rose’s sweltering summer workouts in Los Angeles and his arrival on time to training camp, questions lingered. When the Bulls chose to hold him out of the Oct. 12 game in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — a big-deal Global Game exhibition — the reaction of some folks was swift and unforgiving. Among the reader comments in the Chicago Tribune:

  • “If I were D. Rose, I would sit out this year too, just to be sure.”
  • “Good thing he has a long-term contract with a lot of guaranteed money. He will never need to look a fan in the eye again.:
  • “Expect this to happen a lot. Especially for big games and the playoffs.”
  • “I really hate this guy!! Knee seems good enough to make all the stupid commercials he is currently rolling out!! Suck it up!”

So what was going on that took so long? Bernstein guessed that it was a disconnect on the final stage of rehab, where the standard process of playing through some rust and challenging games didn’t mesh with Rose’s sense of how much he trusted his repaired joint and coping with having to play as something less than “Derrick Rose, 2011 MVP” for a spell.

Rose has spoken of “feeling safe” this fall, a threshold that he cannot pinpoint but knows he has crossed.

“I can’t remember [when]. But for me, I feel normal right now,” he said. “I’m not worried about anything. I don’t have any aches. I’m not having any nagging injuries or anything. I’m really taking care of my body and preparing myself for this long season.”

Watching Rose swarmed by Miami’s double-teams and traps Tuesday night, certainly, made one wonder how he would have fared against that five months ago. At least by waiting, Rose could level the field a little, his layoff just a little longer than the typical layoff all NBA players have each offseason.

It would have helped, too, if the Bulls and Rose had handled better the whole messaging of his absence. Management never just declared his 2012-13 season over. The coaches kept treating him as a day-to-day option. And Rose’s presence on the court before each game down the stretch was more of a tease than a source of encouragement.

Bill Wennington, Swirsky’s partner and a former Bulls center, contrasted Rose’s layoff with what the L.A. Clippers did when Blake Griffin, the No. 1 pick in 2009, suffered a fractured kneecap in the final preseason game that fall. After treatment and rest weren’t enough, Griffin headed to surgery and the Clippers by mid-January declared his rookie season over before it ever began.

“In my opinion, Derrick made the right decision,” Wennington said. “But was it handled properly? Probably not. It left a lot of questions and expectations that didn’t happen. People who say ‘Derrick should have played,’ if they listen to the whole story and understand it’s his career and how others coming back from surgery can get reinjured or it takes a whole year anyway, they start to get it.

“Derrick’s game is so different, both the explosion he has going from 0-to-60 and then the elevation that he powers to the rim, and the landing and the absorbing the body weight. … I think people have seen already that he looks pretty good. He’s showing no ill signs from being out, and as long as that continues, his reputation and legend will grow here in Chicago.”

Throughout the league, it’s taking only brief glimpses of Rose’s restored quickness and aggressiveness to convince players and coaches that waiting was the better choice. Denver coach Brian Shaw had cautioned him about that last season, mentioning Penny Hardaway as one of several ex-NBA stars who might have rushed back too soon.

But, you don’t want to swap a feel-good moment for a career of future highlights. That’s the worst-case scenario the Rose family considered, in convening about their NBA star’s predicament.

“At that time, us as a family and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, we all had to sit down and look at his best interest,” Reggie Rose said. “We were like, ‘Why go in for just one year when he has more than 10 years of basketball left in him?’ For us, it was let him sit one year and play 10 instead of try to play one and don’t play 10.”

Winning, health cure all


VIDEO: Aschburner with Rose during Media Day

As Bulls camp opened, Thibodeau, appreciative and fiercely protective of Rose, flippantly dismissed grumpy fans and media critics as people who “don’t know what they’re talking about.” A month later, he had softened just a bit.

“I think the real fans supported him the entire time,” the Bulls coach said. “The ones who didn’t were misguided. He had to make a tough decision.”

Teammates, for all public consumption and even in private, seem to have had Rose’s back throughout.

“We’re a family,” veteran center Nazr Mohammed said. “We all supported his decision. If he was my brother, I would have told him, ‘Do the wise thing and come back when you’re ready.’ We’re all seeing the benefits of it right now.”

That nightly tease fans saw last season? That actually helped him with the other players. He wasn’t out in L.A. doing his rehab while they were grinding through the season. He was practicing with them at the Berto Center and was sweating hard beside them before each game.

“One of our hardest workers,” Mohammed called him. “He prepared as if he was trying to play the next game, and we all knew it. Every single day. He was trying his best. He just didn’t get there.”

If only the communication had been better, Bulls to media, Rose to fans and so on.

“Derrick always, at every level, has let his game speak for him,” Bernstein said. “He’s not good at speaking. He’s not a politician, he’s not a public relations expert and he hasn’t surrounded himself with people who seem to care about messaging. There hasn’t been that kind of considered outreach or ‘spin.’ Some might find that refreshing, but his game speaks for him and when his game is on hiatus, it allows for all kinds of open spaces to be filled in around him and projected upon him.

“Once his game returns, that’s his way of communicating with his fans. If that looks right and is right, I think it takes care of everything.”

Rose said the other day that he never encountered any face-to-face griping and only hears support around town. “I rarely go places,” he said. “But if there was any criticism or anything like that, I didn’t hear it. Not while I was in a place. Of course you hear about it [from] people writing about it or people reporting about it.”

TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr was vocal that way and had a network forum on which he said Rose needed to at least try to play last spring. But any lingering resentment now, from not having done so? Not a long-term problem, Kerr said.

“Derrick built up a lot of trust with the Chicago fan base before last year,” Kerr said. “He’s always carried himself so well. He’s a modest guy, soft-spoken and plays so hard. Even though there was frustration last year and a lot of people called him out on-air, including me, I think all that goes out the window. I think the fans will be so excited to see him back.”

In a what-have-you-done-for-me-today world, Rose and the Bulls have an opportunity — the stinky performance against the Heat Tuesday not withstanding — to put everything about 2012-13 in the all-gone machine.

“If he stays healthy and they win, the fans won’t even second-guess his decision to miss all of last season,” TNT’s Reggie Miller said. “All players are the CEO of their own companies. Derrick had to do what is right for him. … If he stays relatively healthy and they win, the fans will let it go.”

Most will, probably.

Said Bernstein: “I don’t think anybody has said, ‘I’m done with this guy.’ I think everybody is tired of the story. It hasn’t been fun. Derrick Rose was so much fun for everybody. And then it became such a downer for so long. The good news is there’s every reason to believe that a repaired knee can mean a repaired game and a repaired image and repaired feelings.”

Rose, though cooperative, doesn’t really engage in the whole controversy about last season or his inner thoughts during the layoff. He is a basketball player who is, fortunately, playing basketball again.

Of his critics, he said: “That’s the last thing I can think about. I know that I’m back on the court and I know that I’m playing with a bunch of guys that have my back, so my confidence is super high right now. I’ve just got to continue to play the way that I play and be aggressive throughout the whole game.”

And that – this – is a big deal, right?

“I’m pumped,” Rose said. “I’m a guy who don’t show that much emotion. I don’t know if you want me to yell or anything.”


VIDEO: Rose on his on- and off-court changes

Pacers’ Hall of Fame Streak Continues

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HANG TIME WEST – Thanks to talent, the fluke of timing, and, most of all, to Jerry Colangelo, the Hall of Fame is becoming an annual Pacers’ reunion.

This is Year 3 — and technically No. 4, with a good chance at adding more after that — of a party that will continue two weeks from today when the late Roger Brown is inducted as part of the Class of 2013 in ceremonies in Springfield, Mass. Perhaps Springfield should be known as East Indianapolis.

The Pacers’ showcase started in 2010 when Larry Bird, an Indiana legend who did not play for the home-state team but became a coach and executive with the team, was inducted. That enshrinement was as a member of the 1992 Olympic squad, the Dream Team. Bird himself was inducted in 1998.

In 2011, Chris Mullin went to Springfield after a 16-year career that included three with the Pacers, the first two as a starter before a limited role on the 1999-2000 club that won the Eastern Conference title.

Then, in 2012, Reggie Miller was one of the headliners as Mel Daniels also went in via the ABA committee.

Daniels led to Brown this summer through the same ABA channel Colangelo, the chairman of the Hall, instituted in 2011 to give special attention to areas of the game he felt had become overlooked. And that same category could lead to election in the years ahead for two strong candidates from the Pacers’ ABA days, coach Bob Leonard and forward George McGinnis. Another former player, Freddie Lewis, could get some attention from that committee, while Donnie Walsh, the former head of basketball operations and current consultant, will remain on the ballot as a Contributor.

The organization’s roots in both leagues will be on full display on Sept. 8, when Miller and Daniels will be the presenters as Brown is inducted and Roger Brown Jr. is scheduled to accept on his father’s behalf.

“I’m very close to all of the old players,” Jeannie Brown, Roger’s former wife, said from Indianapolis. “We really stayed connected and always have. When Roger and I moved to this house, Mel helped us move because he had a truck. He helped us move in and the guys used to always come over here. We have a huge yard here and they’d be out there with bow and arrows shooting and practicing. We’ve stayed close. I talk to everybody a lot.”

http://www.nba.com/halloffame/2010/