Posts Tagged ‘Shawn Kemp’

Seattle’s Return To The NBA Getting Closer?


It was one of those days where people remember precisely where they were when they got the news. Like assassinations, market crashes and so many other seismic world events, the day Seattle lost the SuperSonics — officially, July 2, 2008 — didn’t just come and go. It seared itself into the hearts and psyches of NBA fans in that Pacific Northwest city.

“It killed me, man,” former Sonics coach George Karl said Wednesday night. “I was in the Seattle area with my daughter, in Olympia. There were rumors and then it was over. It happened so quick.”

There had been promises, there had been worries, there had been political wrangling. When the clock ran out, all that remained were accusations, recriminations and, yes, tears. The reality was stark: Starbucks impresario Howard Schultz and his partner had sold the SuperSonics to an investment group headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett. Talks about a publicly financed arena broke down, and the Sonics were headed to Oklahoma and a new life as the eventual Thunder.

Forty-one years of NBA history was over. The source of some of the league’s biggest names and most entertaining teams — and the only Seattle franchise to claim a championship in major professional sports — was gone.

“Destroyed,” was the word chosen by Boston’s Jason Terry, who grew up in Seattle and starred at Frankin High, which is about 5 miles from the Sonics’ old haunt, Key Arena. “There [were] all kind of ‘Save the Sonics’ shirts, signs and blogs.”

As of Wednesday though — four years, six months and seven days since the moving vans rolled in — Seattle is as close as it’s been to getting the NBA back. Investor Chris Hansen was close to a deal to purchase the Sacramento Kings and relocate them to the Emerald City, according to multiple media outlets.

First reported by Yahoo! Sports, Hansen — who already has a deal to build a new arena, this time largely through corporate funding — was offering the Maloof family that owns the Kings more than $500 million. The team’s future in Sacramento has been shaky for several seasons because of squabbling over a new arena in the California capital, with possible destinations such as Orange County and Las Vegas mentioned in the past.

Seattle, via Hansen, has been an interested party from the start, though. According to Yahoo!, the Kings would be renamed the SuperSonics, begin play in time for the 2013-14 season and be based in KeyArena for two years while their new home is constructed.

Just how imminent the sale might be morphed through the day Wednesday; some reports out of Sacramento had the Maloofs reconsidering Hansen’s offer. Details of Hansen’s financing for the arena in Seattle’s “SoDo” section — south of downtown — still must be worked out. In October, he reached an agreement with local government to build the $490 million facility near the city’s other stadiums, Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field. An estimated $290 million would come from private investments, with $200 million in public financing repaid through rent, admission taxes and Hansen’s own sources, the Associated Press reported.

The NBA, meanwhile, has its own requirements for a franchise sale and relocation. For the former, an application for transfer must be filed, due diligence is performed on the people and finances involved and then the league’s Board of Governors votes, with 75 percent approval — 23 out of the current 30 teams — needed for new ownership.

For relocation, a team must apply by March 1 if it wants to move in time for the following season. The NBA’s relocation committee than has 120 days to study the proposal and make its report to the Board of Governors. When the owners vote, a simple majority — 16 of 30 — is needed for approval.

The NBA declined to comment on Monday’s news reports. It is believed that KeyArena, the Sonics’ home before their departure and the driving force in Schultz’s decision to sell, would be acceptable as a temporary home should the deal go through.

Hansen is a Seattle native and San Francisco resident who made his fortune working with Blue Ridge Capital and, since 2008, as managing partner of the Valiant Capital firm he founded. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom department-store family are among his fellow investors in the NBA deal. (more…)

Stymied Harden Will Have To Adjust

HOUSTON — It wasn’t the first time that George Karl tossed the kitchen sink at the biggest gun in the Rockets’ holster.

Back in the day when Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp knew a thing or two about playing defense in rainy Seattle, Karl would have just about everyone on his roster throw an umbrella over Hakeem Olajuwon.

So even though Andre Iguodala is a top-flight perimeter defender, the plan was to have constant help coming all night against James Harden.

The league’s leading scorer coming into the game at 35.3 points per game, Harden shot just 5-for-15 from the field (0-for-5 on 3-pointers) to finish with 15 points in Denver’s 93-87 win.

While Iguodala had the head-up assignment of staying with and in front of Harden from start to finish, the Nuggets big men made it a point to step up and show on the pick and roll and power forward Kenneth Faried was always lurking on Harden’s moves toward the basket.

Against Andre Iguodala and the Nuggets, Houston’s James Harden struggled on Wednesday night.

“Iguodala’s pretty good,” Karl said. “But we wanted to put two on Harden and try not to ever give him gaps. I thought early in the game he had some fast break opportunities that we got our hands on the ball and got some turnovers [on plays] that he sometimes he turns into three-point plays.

“I thought Kenneth was very aware and alert to him. We just wanted to put two guys on him as much as possible. Also Andre’s long and gets a lot of deflections. He must have had five or six.”

The Rockets cut a 10-point Denver lead down to 91-87 and had a chance to get closer when Harden squirted through a gap down the left side of the lane. Faried swooped in to reject the layup with 47.9 seconds to go and eventually hammered down a dunk to seal the win.

After his blazing start to the season scoring 37 and 45 points to earn Western Conference player of the week honors in leading the Rockets to a 2-0 start, Harden has made just 13 of 39 shots in back to back losses to the Trail Blazers and Nuggets.

It was one thing for the Rockets to catch everyone in the NBA off-guard by making the blockbuster trade with Oklahoma City on the cusp of the season opener and for Harden to take the world by storm, cruising and freelancing all over the court against the Pistons and Hawks. But that was never going to last once every team got a look at Harden in the Rockets offense and scouting reports began to focus on stopping him as the only real elite level scoring threat.

Iguodala’s pressure and the rest of the Nuggets’ swarming defense also forced Harden into six turnovers.

“Even though we didn’t play well, it’s still just our fourth game together,” Harden said. “As the games go on, we’ll get better and it’s just the fact that we haven’t played together, we haven’t had a training camp or have time to really put in some sets, so we’re kind of figuring things out as we go.”

But the truth is it’s more than that. It’s Harden going from being the third man in the Thunder attack, potentially explosive in any given game, now he has to be consistently potent and effective on every night.

Following the harassment from Iguodala, Harden gets run-ins with stout defenders Tony Allen of Memphis and LeBron James of Miami in the next five days.

“He’s going to have a tough task of being the main guy defenses lock into every night and just got to be really focused and adjust to it,” Iguodala said.

To Harden this is all a new experience. To Karl it’s simply old hat. It’s hard to shoot through an umbrella.

Can Karl’s Nuggets Run To Glory?

HANG TIME, Texas — Break out the oxygen tanks for the thin air in Denver. Start ironing the extra rubber onto the soles of those sneakers.

George Karl wants the Nuggets to run. And run and run and run.

Does anybody have leftover programs and posters from when the nutty professor Paul Westhead tried that route in Denver back in 1990? Do you remember his Nuggets averaging a league-high 119.9 points per game? Oh, and giving up 130.8? How about the night they surrendered 107 points in one half to Phoenix, which is still an NBA record?

Talking to Scott Hastings on KKFN in Denver, an unabashed Karl says his plan for getting his Nuggets out of a three-year funk of being bounced from the playoffs in the first round is to pick up baton from where Mike D’Antoni left off with his “Seven seconds or less” offense in Phoenix.

“I’ve never seen it be that successful in the NBA, but I think the big thing for us is, who is going to commit to playing fast? We talked about it and last year we did a good job at it, but there’s no way I want to slow down. I want to try to prove the world wrong — that you can run and win in the NBA, and you can win big if you keep running. The problem is, can you run for 82 games every minute, every possession of every game?”

While putting the pedal to the metal can certainly inject a level of excitement and enthusiasm to an arena, Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie reminds with the cold hard stats that it has never been a path that has led to a championship. (more…)

JET Terry’s Tattoo Stays Put

MIAMI — The tattoo stays.

Jason Terry made sure of that with his work against the Miami Heat in The Finals.

The Dallas Mavericks’ sixth-man extraordinaire went to work in the last three games of the series to help the Mavericks roll to their first title in franchise history while also making sure he wouldn’t have to make a trip to have that Larry O’Brien trophy tattoo removed from the inside of his right bicep.

Terry’s 19 points off the bench before halftime carried the Mavericks while Dirk Nowitzki struggled with his shot early. He finished with a game-high 27 and for the series wound up outplaying the man, LeBron James, the Heat assigned to shut him down.

Terry averaged 18 points on 49 percent shooting from the floor and 39.3 percent from beyond the 3-point line. James averaged 17.8 points on 48 percent shooting from the floor and 32 percent from deep.

The stage fright that seemed to paralyze James in this series, his second trip to the last stretch of the season, had the opposite effect on Terry, who thrived in the magnitude of his second Finals moment. He not only outplayed James, he called him out repeatedly and backed up his words with clutch work when the Mavericks had to have it.

Terry said he was channeling the idols of his youth, namely Gary Payton.

“Everybody knows who GP is, Gary Payton.One of my idols. A good friend,” said Terry, a Seattle native raised on the Payton-Shawn Kemp-led Sonics teams. “It wasn’t about me carrying the team. It was doing my job. My job is to come in and provide a spark, make plays, make shots. I did my job.”

Terry’s confidence was on full display in the elimination situation but in the aftermath he reflected on his roots.

“For me, I just think about my journey,” Terry said. “Where I come from, the inner city of Seattle, growing up many nights on the playground emulating the greats, Isiah Thomas, even my hometown heroes like Slick Watts, “Downtown” Freddy Brown, Magic [Johnson]. Now I’m in the same breath as those guys. They’re champions. Dr. J texted me before Game 6. He said, ‘Hey son, it’s your time.’ I responded to him, ‘I want to be a champion, just like you.’ Now I am.”

And Terry is likely the only one with that tattoo on his arm.

All-Time All-Star Team

ATLANTA — Please join me as I take a step down fantasy lane wearing hi-top Converse and also a sleeve on my shooting arm. Yes, this is about combining the old with the new and coming up with the Ultimate All-Star Game, pulling players from the past and present.

Not every great player makes a good All-Star Game participant, though. I put a premium on the entertainers: the passers, the leapers, the dunkers of course and the improvisers. There are dozens of Hall of Famers that I don’t want near the game. Mainly, the gravity-challenged centers. I’d want Bill Russell, for example, if I’m trying to win a championship, but wouldn’t even give him a ticket to watch my Ultimate game, let alone play in it.

That said … here are my two squads, with some choices fairly obvious.

West Team:

Pete Maravich. The Pistol is, quite simply, the model All-Star Game guy, worth any price of admission. It would be fun just watching him pull up his floppy socks.

Magic Johnson. How about Pistol Pete and Magic on the break together? That’s a match made in YouTube heaven.

Kobe Bryant. It’s the only game where Kobe passes the ball.

David Thompson. Perhaps the ultimate finisher the sport has ever seen.

George Gervin. Because that’s how we finga-roll.

Connie Hawkins. Here’s the progression: Hawkins>Dr. J.>Michael>everybody else.


GP Aiming For A Return To Seattle?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp are getting back together again in Seattle, teaming up on a series of basketball camps for kids and other charitable endeavors.

But GP would love to make it a more permanent move. He’s one of the many NBA diehards in the Pacific Northwest hoping that the NBA makes a return to the Emerald City. He’s even opened the door to coaching in Seattle, provided, of course, that there is a team to coach one day:

“I really want to be back in Seattle, and be on a bench in Seattle,” Payton said on Dave Mahler‘s Show on KJR in Seattle.

Payton said he’s not sure he would ever want to be a head coach, but he is interested in coaching fellow point guards in the league.

“Basketball has changed a lot since my era,” Payton said. “They don’t play basketball the way I played.” He said Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz is the closest thing in the league today to The Glove.

No matter how long it takes the NBA to return to Seattle, we’ll always have the memories GP and Kemp gave us during their glory days (tell me Kemp’s top 10 dunks don’t rank among the very best you’ve seen)!