NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Shaq to son: Follow Anthony Davis — Pelicans forward Anthony Davis has received plenty of props from within the basketball world, but maybe the highest compliment came the other day from Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq has a son, Shareef, who is a budding basketball star in Los Angeles. Shareef is 15 and lean and brings some skill for someone who’s already 6-foot-8, and Shaq attends his son’s games whenever he can. You’d think Shaq would want son to copy dad, who did a few good things in the NBA. Instead, Shaq wants Shareef to use Davis as an example of how to play the game. Shaq spoke to John Reid of the Times Picayune about his advice …
Instead of pushing him to pattern his game after him, O’Neal said he’s told his son to learn the game by watching power forward Anthony Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans’ transcendent star who finished fifth in the league’s MVP voting last season.
”I told him to watch Anthony because he’s probably going to be the same height and have the same type of build,” said O’Neal, who returned to Baton Rouge to host his annual annual LSU Life Skills Golf Classic at Carter Plantation on Friday in Springfield. ”Not skinny, but long.
”He’s (Davis) probably the best at that position. He can run, rebound, dominate take over games. He’s going to do his thing this year.”
Already at 6-foot-8, Shareef O’Neal also is doing his own thing to turn heads. He emerged in AAU ball this summer playing for the California Supreme as a power forward.
Unlike his father, the younger O’Neal has a mid-range game, capable of scoring from the perimeter and can handle the ball. O’Neal said Shareef O’Neal also is learning from watching LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.
Only a sophomore at the Windward School in Los Angeles, Shareef O’Neal has already received scholarship offers from USC and UCLA.
O’Neal expects more to come, but said he is going to allow his son to make his own decisions and not steer him to LSU or any other school.
At LSU, O’Neal was a two-time SEC Player of the Year and the fourth leading scorer (1,941 points) in school history behind only Pete Maravich, Durand Macklin and Howard Carter. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic.
In the NBA, O’Neal won four NBA championships in 19 seasons, scoring 28,596 career points and grabbing 13,099 rebounds.
”I won’t steer him along,” O’Neal said. ”He’s got to find his way. He’s a big guy that can shoot it.”
No. 2: Is Deron done as a star? — Somewhere between Utah and Brooklyn, Deron Williams lost his way. He was a star with the Jazz and perhaps one of the league’s top 10 or 15 players, certainly among the best two or three point guards. But not long after he arrived with the Nets as the marquee face on the franchise’s move to Brooklyn, Williams crashed. He had some injuries and they certainly contributed, but none so serious that caused him to miss an entire season. Besides, Williams was so good that even if he lost a step, he’d still have three steps on most point guards. But now? Well, the Nets bought out his contract and he had little choice but sign with the hometown Mavericks for a fraction of what he made on his last contract, which paid him well over $100 million. Ken Berger of CBS Sports did a fine analysis of Williams and what may or may not lie ahead, and here’s his take …
Williams’ body and impact have been in steady decline since he was shipped out of Utah as a proactive strike against his impending free agency. But the intrigue surrounding one of the league’s most enigmatic talents continues to grow.
Do you remember when it seemed Williams was on the fast track to the Hall of Fame, when he could do things like this? Yeah, nobody else does, either. And the story of what happened, and what sort of arc Williams’ career will track in Dallas, is no less mystifying than his lethal crossover used to be.
The Mavericks, stung by the reversal of free agent DeAndre Jordan, harbor no delusions that Williams will ever reclaim his once rightful and perennial All-Star status. With a low-risk deal for $10 million over two years — on the heels of the $27 million buyout that mercifully ended his ill-fated tenure in Brooklyn — the Mavs are merely hoping for serviceable.
That’s how far the 31-year-old Williams has fallen. For a player once so dominant and electrifying that he stood toe-to-toe with — and, at times, towered over — Chris Paul in the debate over who was the best point guard in the NBA, serviceable is now the goal.
“I don’t think he’ll be an All-Star again because of how good the West guards are,” one longtime executive told CBS Sports. “I don’t think he’s a top-15 point guard right now, but I think he can eventually get there.”
Williams’ stunning decline in New Jersey and Brooklyn over the past four-plus seasons puts him squarely in the discussion of the NBA’s biggest $100 million busts in the modern era — along with the likes of Shawn Kemp, Allan Houston, Gilbert Arenas and Rashard Lewis. But even more so than any of those guys, the case of Williams’ demise, or at least the suddenness of it, remains mystifying. We know about the ankle problems, the fallout in Utah, all of that. But to fall this far so quickly? According to league sources dialed into Williams’ ill-fated time under the bright lights in New York, the point guard’s journey from elite to scrap heap was both physical and mental — a tale of superstar wanderlust gone terribly wrong.
“He played a lot better with less than he did with more, when he was more of a focal point,” former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks said.
No one put Williams on blast more candidly than his one-time Brooklyn teammate, Paul Pierce, who torched the three-time All-Star in an infamous interview with Jackie MacMullan back in April.
“Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,” Pierce said. “But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that.
“I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes,” Pierce said. “This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”
No. 3: Moses Malone remembered — The sudden passing of Hall of Famer Moses Malone shook the basketball world and many gathered in Houston on Saturday to pay their respects. Interestingly, the funeral was held at Lakewood Church, which was formerly the Summit, where Malone starred while a member of the Rockets. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle was on hand to file a report …
With NBA legend Moses Malone, there was always laughter, a gift he happily shared and left for those that gathered Saturday to remember him. The pain and shock and loss were still fresh at his memorial less than a week after he had died in Virginia. But there were stories to tell and imitations to share. Malone was mourned, but also fittingly celebrated.
Mourners had flocked from around the country to Houston, Malone’s adopted hometown, with an estimated 1,200 people gathering at Lakewood Church – formerly The Summit, where Malone starred for the Rockets – to honor the life of an icon and to support one another with reminders of why he had become such a beloved part of NBA and Houston sports history.
So as they spoke, they punctuated stories with imitations of Malone’s distinctive, rapid-fire mumble. And as he had so many times before, he left them laughing.
“That’s how Moses was,” said Charles Barkley, who delivered the eulogy for the former Philadelphia 76ers teammate he called “Dad.” “He made you smile. He made you laugh. And he loved everybody.
“He helped everybody. From the rookies on, he treated everybody great. He was a wonderful man. It was an honor for me to do the eulogy.”
Malone, 60, died Sunday in Norfolk, Va. The Virginia medical examiner’s office listed his cause of death as hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Malone was survived by his sons, Moses Malone, Jr., Michael Earl and Micah, a granddaughter, Mia.
One of the giants of basketball history was celebrated by many members of that most exclusive club. Among those in attendance were former Rockets teammates Rudy Tomjanovich, Calvin Murphy, John Lucas and Major Jones as well as Julius Erving and Maurice Cheeks, with whom Malone won the 1983 NBA championship with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Other former players who attended the ceremony included Dominique Wilkins, Ralph Sampson, Clyde Drexler, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, Alex English and Tracy McGrady.
They came out of love and admiration for one their own who was still even in their company special.
“He did it his own way,” Erving said, comparing basketball’s “Chairman of the Boards” to another. “You have to compare him to Frank Sinatra, a guy who did it his own way and in the process, changed everything. Moses wasn’t the smoothest. He wasn’t the most articulate. There’s a short list of things he wasn’t and a long list of things that he was.
“I feel like he completed his mission. He always had a mission, the message that he carried around in his bible. He did what it said. He was a man who loved his family, loved life to the fullest and got the most out of his time here.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Shaquille O’Neal wants Kobe Bryant to play beyond this season … Heat have some decisions to make very soon … Haven’t had enough of Tristan Thompson’s contract talks? Then read on … Derrick Favors is hyped for the Jazz, even without Dante Exum …