Posts Tagged ‘Sports Illustrated’

A book to settle, and incite, arguments

Wilt Chamberlain averaged 48.5 minutes a game in 1961-62 (John G. Zimmerman/Sports Illustrated)

Wilt Chamberlain averaged 48.5 minutes a game in 1961-62 (John G. Zimmerman/Sports Illustrated)

It’s the stuff arguments are made of. And barroom bets. And blackened eyes.

If you and your friends were to try to rank the Top 10 in anything, how much consensus would there be? Now broaden that across not one, not two but 22 categories, all under the umbrella of the Best This and Most That in NBA history.

That’s what the writers and editors at Sports Illustrated did with “Basketball’s Greatest,” a formidable 288-page volume released Tuesday that’s suitable for the coffee table, usable as a home-defense weapon and certain to rankle merely in the reading. But that’s OK, same as with the brand’s “Baseball’s Greatest” last year and “Football’s Greatest” from 2012. They’re full of history, stats and evaluation, but mostly they’re full of opinions.

Theirs just happen to be more credible than yours. (Nah, just stirring the pot.)

book-cover“What was interesting about basketball,” said editor Bill Syken, who worked on all three books, “was that, in football you can compare Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and they’ve played at the same time, but they don’t directly compete against each other. Not the way Russell and Chamberlain did, or Magic and Stockton did.”

The rankings – by the way, this is all-NBA/ABA, all the way, despite the generic title – came from an actual balloting of the magazine’s (and now Web site’s) NBA writers. Seven voters – Chris Ballard, Mark Bechtel, Lee Jenkins, Chris Mannix, Jack McCallum, Ian Thomsen and Alexander Wolff – chose their personal Top 10s, with a point system used (10 for a No. 1 mention, 9 for a No. 2 and so on) to create the overall lists. Every player who got even a single point is listed near the end.

The meat of the book is the position-by-position rankings, including comments from the voters and, at each spot, a feature story from the SI archives on one of the players. There also are categories such as Best Sixth Men, Best Defenders, Best Coaches and Best Clutch Performers. Fans of the Miami Heat will have thoughts on the Best Single-Season Team list.

There are some lighter lists in the final pages, including Best Slam Dunks (contest variety) and Best Quotes. And of course, there are tremendous photos. Many rarely have been seen. Even the familiar ones pop in the 13 x 10.5-inch format.

Syken spoke with Hang Time HQ this week about the book. Here’s a Q&A edited from a longer conversation:

The culture is saturated with Top 10 lists and slideshows. Where does your book bring its value?

Bill Syken: I think there are three ways where this book offers value different from a typical slideshow: the expertise, the photos and the writing. It’s not one person – this was a panel of seven people who have great experience covering basketball. We polled them all and got their collective wisdom on these topics. We have pictures from the SI archives that are displayed in a big coffee-table format where … there’s a lot more to look at. And beyond the pictures, each Top-10 finisher gets a clip from a classic SI story. So you have writing from Frank Deford, Jack McCallum, Lee Jenkins and other interesting writers who might be known for other sports but dropped in on basketball once in a while.

Did you learn anything you didn’t know?

Syken: I’m a pretty big NBA fan but I learned some details, especially about some of the games, that were before my period of memory. About the ’57 Finals and the drama there. And some of other details – we have an excerpt from Frank Deford about when Moses Malone jumped from high school to the [ABA]. His meetings with [Maryland coach] Lefty Driesell and how that went. Or 20 years later, we have a story about Kevin Garnett’s tryout in front of all these scouts when he was considering making the jump to the NBA. (more…)

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 118) Draft Lottery Special Featuring Ryan Blake

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Nerlens Noel, all 206 pounds of him, might not be the franchise savior you had in mind with the No. 1 pick in the June NBA Draft.

But you aren’t the Cleveland Cavaliers, winners of the right to choose first in the Draft, courtesy of their lucky spin during Tuesday night’s Draft lottery. You better believe Noel, the Kentucky big man whose lone college season was cut short by a knee injury, will be the focus of some team’s Draft night plans next month. He’s been on the radar too long to get passed up in what is generally considered a lukewarm Draft class.

Noel is just one of several college stars — Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Trey Burke … just to name a few, are some of the others — being talked about as top picks in this Draft class. And who better to talk to about the lottery, these prospects and the history of the Draft itself on Episode 118 of The Hang Time Podcast than Ryan Blake, the Senior Director of NBA Scouting Operations and the son of the late and legendary Marty Blake, the father of modern-day NBA Draft process.

With a perspective that spans decades, Ryan Blake offers his analysis of not only this year’s Draft prospects, but also some of the more notable names in the history of the event, from immediate game changers like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird to Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and the high school-to-the-pros revolutionaries to legendary Draft snub victims like Paul Pierce and Danny Granger on to the alpha (LeBron James) and omega (Darko Milicic) of modern Draft day decisions.

What would have happened if the Cavaliers had listened to all of the so-called pundits who suggested that an international prospect like Milicic has more “upside” than James, who was a media superstar and Sports Illustrated cover boy before his senior year of high school?

What would have happened if high school stars like Lewis Alcindor, Shaquille O’NealChris Webber, Glenn Robinson and others had come up in an era where they had the option of bypassing college for the NBA?

We explore all that and so much more on Episode 118 of the Hang Time Podcast … which, of course, includes the latest installment of Rick Fox‘s season-long “Get Off My Lawn” rant! 

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 108) Featuring SI Swimsuit Model Damaris Lewis

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Just because you are born and raised in Brooklyn doesn’t mean you have to pledge your allegiance to the hometown team, the Nets.

Sometimes the ties that bind go beyond the borough limits. For Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and NBA blogger extraordinaire Damaris Lewis that means never cutting ties with her beloved New York Knicks.

Yes, she has love for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Miami Heat and all seven of her teams (it’s a League Pass thing, trust us). But the nearly 6-foot fashion model, dancer and member of Prince‘s famous New Power Generation band joined us on Episode 108 of the Hang Time Podcast, doing whatever she could to school us on the art of being a true basketball fan.

That’s much easier to do when you have a captive audience (as you might imagine, everyone but Rick Fox was on best behavior).  And don’t let the beautiful face and runaway fashion fool you, Damaris knows the game! She weighs in on Kevin Durant and the Thunder, LeBron James and the Heat, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers the wise old men in San Antonio and a whole lot more.

We also discuss the Derrick Rose toughness saga in Chicago as well as check in on Braggin’ Rights. Check out all of that and Damaris Lewis as she drops knowledge on Episode 108 f the Hang Time Podcast.

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 SLAM Magazine and 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.

 

The Shot Of The Shot Is No. 1


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY –
As sports fans, we live for the action. The movement, the speed, the grace and physicality of the athletes, and the path of the ball in the air.

With HD technology, we bring the action into our homes. And with the Internet, we have the ability to watch the action over and over again.

Yet a still photograph, a single frame of action, can elicit feelings and responses that video can’t. Don’t think so? Just browse through Sports Illustrated‘s 100 Greatest Sports Photos of All Time.

From Aaron to Alcindor and Ali, the list includes photos of the greatest athletes of the last century. Bannister, Dimaggio, Gretzky, Mays, Montana, Phelps, Robinson, Ruth, and Woods. The list goes on and on, and includes nine shots of NBA action.

The nine include the No. 1 sports photo of all time, according to SI. It comes from NBAE photographer Fernando Medina, and is of maybe the most iconic moment in NBA history.

The Chicago Bulls had a 3-2 series lead in the 1998 Finals, but they were on the road, they were running on fumes and Scottie Pippen injured his back in the early minutes of Game 6. The Bulls all knew that this was the end of the line, with Michael Jordan was set to retire, and Pippen and coach Phil Jackson set to leave Chicago.

When John Stockton hit a 3-pointer to put the Jazz up 86-83 with 42 seconds left, things looked desperate for Chicago. But then Jordan got an open lane to the basket for a layup and the Bulls only needed one stop to give themselves a chance to win. The Jazz didn’t even get a shot up, as Jordan left Jeff Hornacek to swipe the ball from Karl Malone in the low post. (more…)

Van Gundy No Fan Of Flop Rule


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –
Stan Van Gundy has a history of opposing the rule of law in regards to the rules handed down by the NBA. He did so as coach of the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic and still does in his new role as an analyst and partner of the NBC Sports Network.

The latest mandate to draw Van Gundy’s ire is the league’s new flopping rule. Van Gundy told Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch he thinks the flop rule will flop terribly in both its aim and execution:

“I think the attempt to try to address it is a good thing but I don’t see the rule having much effect,” said Van Gundy, the former Magic coach who is transitioning this season to broadcasting with NBC Sports Network and Dial Global radio. “First of all, I think the only ones that you will see penalized are very, very egregious flops. I’d be surprise if it even got to one a game, and I think anybody who watches basketball knows that there is far more than one every game.

“And I don’t even think this is the NBA’s fault. I just think it’s impossible the way the rule is written where they can ‘crack down’ on it. I think they will make sort of a cursory attempt, and make it look like they are trying to do something about it.”

Van Gundy did exonerate the league to a degree, admitting that it’s nearly impossible to crack down on the problem with the way the rule is written. But do you think he has a point?

(more…)

PJax To Orlando Talks Back On?

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – Maybe this Phil Jackson-to-the-Orlando Magic idea has legs after all.

A week after it was reported that Jackson had withdrawn himself from consideration to join the Magic in some front office capacity, Sam Amick of SI.com reports that the talks are still alive, but with a few new and interesting twists:

Former Charlotte coach Sam Vincent, who played for the Bulls during Jackson’s days as an assistant in Chicago and also played for the Magic, continues to captain the cause that would have Jackson work remotely (likely from Los Angeles, where his longtime girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, remains with the Lakers) most of the time. Vincent would operate in a front-office role in the plan, while the team would be coached by a protégé (or two) of Jackson’s.

According to the sources, the latest version of the proposal has Pacers assistant and ex-Lakers assistant Brian Shaw coaching the team and Hall of Famer and Bulls ambassador Scottie Pippen as the lead assistant. And as if Jackson’s potential price tag wasn’t daunting enough (he earned $12 million in his last year with the Lakers), one of the sources said he is asking for a slice of minority ownership in the franchise as well. The hope, of course, would be for Jackson to use his cachet to convince Dwight Howard to remain in Orlando for the long-term. Jackson’s agent, Todd Musburger, did not return a call for comment.

(more…)

Arenas Ready For The Comeback?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We asked a last week if it was time for the Los Angeles Lakers to consider signing Gilbert Arenas to help shore up their point guard deficiencies and the response was overwhelmingly (84 percent) in favor of the Lakers doing exactly that.

But other than the reports that Arenas was in Los Angeles for a workout that was attended by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchack, among others, we had no idea what the full scope of a potential comeback attempt by Arenas entailed.

We have a much better idea now after reading this detailed interview with Arenas, courtesy of our main man Sam Amick of SI.com, who delves deep into the psyche of the man formerly known as Agent Zero.

Arenas goes places in the interview that he hasn’t publicly in the past, delving into his time in Washington and later Orlando, and also detailing some of the issues that led to his infamous beard and explores the factors that contributed to his fall from grace. He also talked plenty of basketball and whether or not he’s ready for a reunion with the NBA game.

(more…)

Kings’ Cousins Demands Trade


HANG TIME CALIFORNIA BUREAU — 
In a strange moment even by the standards of their relationship that has tested the limits of patience, the Kings announced Sunday that problem-child DeMarcus Cousins was suspended for that night’s game against the Hornets and that Cousins has “demanded” to be traded.

It is not known whether the second-year center was suspended without pay or told to stay away in the latest attempt to impose discipline on a prospect so lacking in structure. It is also not known for certain whether Cousins actually demanded, asked, hinted or used a Ouija board to ask for a trade – his agent, John Grieg, denied there was any such request, according to Sam Amick of SportsIllustrated.com, and said “Maybe Westphal is just feeling the heat early this season.”

Whatever the impetus of the latest breakdown, a lot of front offices around the league are knowingly nodding their heads. Cousins was the second-best talent in the 2010 draft, at worst, and maybe equal or ahead of No. 1 pick John Wall, but went fifth to Sacramento because of issues that ranged from attitude to inability to always play hard. Cousins had the talent to reach the All-Star game but the personality and approach to get some GM fired.

The Kings took the risk with the understanding a lot of patience would be required, then got exactly the rookie season and opening weeks to the second campaign that should have been expected: Cousins had some good moments that were countered by a level of immaturity that could make him one of the great underachievers.

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Labor Talks: Bleak Outlook Ahead

– For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You knew it was strictly a matter of time before these things began percolating again, the much-feared exodus of NBA players to overseas playing options during the lockout.

The only semi-surprising part of this latest wave is the names of the players involved.

Heat star Dwayne Wade has finally added his name to the list of players weighing the merits of an international excursion while this process plays itself out:

“I told my agent to just take a peek,” Wade said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s time. There’s a possibility that we’re not going to have a season. We’ve got to see what’s out there, what the possibilities are. I want to play competitive basketball this year. I’ve missed a year of basketball in my life before. I’m not trying to miss another. I don’t have too many years of basketball left.”

Word came a little later from SI.com’s Sam Amick that Kevin Durant‘s agent, Aaron Goodwin, is in discussions with a team in Germany (one that would allow him the flexibility to return to the states if and whenever an abbreviated NBA season begins), one of several options, about the Thunder star potentially making the trek for a temporary stint:

“We’re just discussing it,” Goodwin said. “We’re in discussions and it’s definitely a consideration, but we’re not in the final stages.”

Disturbing news?

Sure.

No one want to see some mass exodus of NBA stars at such a crucial time in these labor talks, and despite all of the legal proceedings going on around the country on behalf of both sides, we very much consider this an ongoing situation.

But we agree with most optimistic fringe in the belief that there is more than enough time on the calendar to turn this thing around and salvage some sort of an abbreviated season.

(more…)

Welcome To The NBA’s Nuclear Winter

– For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In a matter of hours Monday, the NBA’s labor impasse went from maddening to certifiably ridiculous thanks to raging emotions on both sides of a nasty fight.

What’s that phrase Kobe Bryant uttered a few weeks ago? It’s the same one NBA Commissioner David Stern used yesterday in the aftermath of the union rejecting the league’s proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement and disbanding (read up on the details here), the first step in an anti-trust lawsuit being filed by the trade association formerly known as the union.

“The union decided in its infinite wisdom that the proposal would not be presented to membership,” Stern said. “Obviously, Mr. [union attorney Jeffrey] Kessler got his way and we are about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA.”

Raise your hand if you’ve had enough of this already.

We spent 137 days waiting for something that could have come July 1. If this affair was going to end up in the courts with one side suing the other, we only wish it had come right away instead of months later, when it seemed the sides might be working their way to an uneasy alliance for the greater good of the game.

Instead, we’re left with the prospect of that aforementioned nuclear winter.

(more…)