Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Tillery’

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!

Rudy Gay Ready To Break Out





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When you produce at the level Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay has on a nightly basis over the course of the past five seasons, the idea that Gay could be poised for a breakout season in the sixth year of his ascent might strike some people as a little strange.

But that’s exactly what Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins is expecting from the mercurial talent as he enters his seventh season in the league; Gay started 43 games his rookie season but didn’t move into the starting lineup until his second season.

Since Gay plays for our adopted team here at the hideout, we’re a bit biased. We’ve been huge proponents of his for years, dating to the 2007-08 season when he averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and showed off the talent that led many to rank him as the No. 1 prospect heading into his final college season at UConn.

His talent was undeniable then. It was strictly a matter of whether or not he could be a consistent force. And he proved that in the following seasons, even if he was overshadowed a bit by Zach Randolph and now Marc Gasol in Memphis.

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Mayo, Grizzlies Get Back On Their Grind





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – That’s more like it.

What we saw from the Memphis Grizzlies in their Game 2 win over the Los Angeles Clippers is the Grind House style their fans have become accustomed to and playoff fans everywhere demand from the grimiest team in the league.

They pushed the Clippers around again last night, but they didn’t let up this time (making sure they did not repeat their sins from Sunday night’s epic Game 1 failure) and evened their series at 1-1.

A little inspiration always helps. And Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins provided exactly that before the game. More from Ronald Tillery of the Comercial Appeal:

With their leader wearing the championship ring he won as a member of the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers, the Grizzlies delivered an inspired performance — this time, over four quarters — and left with a 105-98 Game 2 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night in FedExForum.

Hollins said he simply found the ring after misplacing it and wore the piece of jewelry with no intent to send a message. But players noticed.

“He did it (won a title) in his second year,” Griz guard O.J. Mayo said. “Why can’t we?”

Either way, Memphis evened its Western Conference first-round playoff matchup at 1-1. The best-of-seven series resumes Saturday for Game 3 in the Staples Center.

“We had great focus from start to finish,” Griz guard Tony Allen said. “They (the Clippers) came in here and took care of business. We just need to have that same mentality on the road.”

After blowing a 27-point lead in Game 1, the Griz knew they couldn’t afford to go down 0-2 with at least two road games in front of them. Instead of tightening up in the fourth quarter like they did Sunday, the Griz were the aggressors.

They dove on the court, increased defensive pressure on Clippers point man Chris Paul and made clutch baskets.

No one made more of those clutch baskets than Mayo, whose work off the bench last night showcased all of things Mayo is capable of as one of the true sixth-man game-changers in these playoffs (along with James Harden, Louis Williams and Jason Terry).

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You Wish Your Owner Talked Like This

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

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Our years of devotion to the (Hang Time) Memphis Grizzlies paid off handsomely last season in a magical run to the Western Conference semifinals.

While most of the so-called punditry were busy making fun of that unwavering allegiance to a team that had never won a playoff game, let alone a series before last spring,  we were hard at work trying to convince anyone willing to see what we saw.

Now that the Grizzlies have taken a bite out of the league, their owner (the real one, Michael Heisley, we just serve as his proxy here at the hideout on a daily basis) is setting his aim a little higher than just making noise in the playoffs.

Heisley didn’t hide his goals in an interview with Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal, stating that he fully expects the Grizzlies to contend for championships in the immediate future with the one of the best young rosters in the league. You wish your owner talked like this:

Q. You recently said for the first time publicly that you’re committed to winning a championship. How close are you to winning an NBA title?

A. The players are going to determine how close we are. I can honestly tell you that I think we have a real chance over the next two or three years to win the NBA championship if we get some breaks and a couple of our players develop into their potential. We’ve got a few years where Zach (Randolph) will be playing at a high level. Rudy (Gay) is young and just beginning to come into his own. (Mike) Conley is young. We’ve got a team that’s young and they like each other. The chemistry in the locker room is good. I’m not sure what is going to happen, but I feel like we have a good, deep team. It isn’t like we have five players and then we drop off a cliff. I’m not telling you we’ll win a championship but I’m saying I won’t be surprised if we make a big run for it. That’s honest. I haven’t gone around saying that my whole career in Memphis. I feel like we have something special.

You have to remember, when the Grizzlies knocked off the San Antonio Spurs and then took the Oklahoma City Thunder to the limit in a thrilling series, they did so without Gay in uniform. Randolph, Marc Gasol, Conley and Tony Allen led the charge then, with plenty of help from a solid supporting cast that included inspired effort from O.J. Mayo.

If Lionel Hollins can harness what this team did in the playoffs and unleash it during this abbreviated season, there could be more postseason fury in store for teams facing these Grizzlies.

And while the championship talk from Heisley is probably a little early, we admire his unbridled ambition. Not every owner is willing to speak so clearly about such things.

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The Gym Is Open: The NBA Unleashed

 

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

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The doors are open. The players are back in gyms around the NBA. And so too are the rumors that make this time of year unlike any other on the calendar, even if it is a few months late.

Outside of the trade deadline, there is no better time to soak in the sort of drama we’re experiencing in these days leading up to the union being reformed, the new collective bargaining agreement being finalized and the start of training camp and free agency. All we need is a big top and a ringmaster to conduct the ceremony of this player or that player being sent here or there. This is the circus that is the NBA unleashed from its 149-day lockout.

Today’s version offers more theories on some of the players mentioned in this space yesterday and some interesting, high-profile additions to the list. The fun never stops …

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CHANDLER HEADED ELSEWHERE?

Chris Broussard and Marc Stein of ESPN.com: In a surprise development on the first day that NBA teams and agents could start talking about new contracts, Tyson Chandler came away convinced that his time with the Dallas Mavericks is coming to an end. “I really think I’m going to be on a new team come training camp,” Chandler told ESPN.com in a telephone interview Wednesday night. “I’m really taking a hard look at all of my options, trying to see what best suits me.” Chandler’s doubts about the Mavericks’ willingness to re-sign him to a lucrative long-term deal are bound to be welcome news for the teams already courting him in these early stages of free agency. Chandler and Denver center Nene rank as the two most coveted unrestricted free agents in the 2011 class, but the overwhelming sentiment in many front offices has been that Chandler’s return to Dallas was essentially a lock after the 7-footer’s role in helping the Mavericks win their first championship. Chandler, though, insisted Wednesday that such assumptions are a misnomer and admitted for the first time that he’s disappointed by the club’s decision not to offer him a contract extension after he was widely credited — most notably by Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki — for changing the team’s defensive culture after three first-round exits in the previous four years.

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TEAMS IN HOT PURSUIT OF NENE

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: The Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers were among the teams that reached out to Nene’s representatives Wednesday, the first day teams were allowed to contact agents to discuss potential deals. Once the offers arrive, it could take more than $13 million annually to sign Nene. While the market is still developing for him and the rest of a thin free-agent class, he’s clearly the focus for every team with cap space and the need for an inside presence. The Nuggets are pressed to keep him, and would likely have to pay significantly more than would’ve been necessary if they had worked a deal with him prior to his opting out this summer. The Nets could be the major threat for Nene because of their combination of salary-cap space and desire to surround point guard Deron Williams with as much talent as possible to convince him to sign an extension. Privately, Williams has made it clear that he’s far less inclined to re-sign a long-term deal with the Nets if they don’t immediately improve their roster. New Jersey can also gather assets and still stay in position to make trade offers to the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard.

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METTA WORLD PEACE AN AMNESTY CANDIDATE?

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: Achieving world peace comes with a hefty price tag. The Lakers might feel the same way about another form of World Peace, this one the goofy 6-foot-7 Lakers forward who flexes his biceps, makes the Staples Center crowd gasp every time he shoots and goes by the first name Metta. The Times’ Mike Bresnahan has reported that the Lakers might waive the player formerly known as Ron Artest via the league’s amnesty clause. Such a move could move somewhat risky considering that Artest’s defense remains strong and waiving World Peace would make it necessary for the Lakers acquire a defensive stalwart to replace him. But the thought process makes sense for basketball and monetary reasons. World Peace averaged a career-low 8.5 points last season and appears, at 32, to be on the decline in maintaining the lateral movement and quickness that have made him a top defender. By shedding World Peace’s three-year, $21.5-million contract, Bresnahan estimated that the Lakers could save as much as $27 millon in salary and taxes in 2013-14 under the new rules, should the Lakers remain between $10 million and $15 million over the tax threshold. That would prove more beneficial than even cutting forward Luke Walton (two years, $11.46 million).  That’s why it’s important World Peace understands and embraces the need to temper his antics, ranging from his Twitter rants to his on-court goofiness and his name himself.

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