Posts Tagged ‘Stu Jackson’

Thorn Returns As NBA ‘Top Cop,’ Jackson Steps Down After 13 Years

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

No, really. Rod Thorn, the longtime NBA and team executive who served 14 years as the league’s head of basketball operations, will return Aug. 1 with the title President, Basketball Operations.

Thorn, 72, will take over as CDO – chief discipline officer – from Stu Jackson, who has filled that role for 13 years as NBA executive vice president in Thorn’s, er, hiatus. During Jackson’s tenure, he oversaw all on-court and international basketball operations, conduct, discipline and analytics, while also serving as chairman of the NBA’s competition committee and on FIBA’s competition commission and USA Basketball’s Board of Directors.

NBA commissioner David Stern, in a statement, said that Jackson informed the NBA’s hierarchy that this was “the appropriate time to step down.” “We thank Stu for a job very well done, including assisting with the transition to Rod, and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Stern said in a statement.

Jackson, 57, previously worked in collegiate or pro basketball, dating back to assistant coach stints at Oregon, Washington State and Providence College. He served two seasons (1989-91) as head coach of the New York Knicks, spent two years (1992-94) as head coach at Wisconsin and was president and general manager of the Vancouver Grizzlies, also coaching that team over the second half of the 1996-97 season.

Thorn similarly has left fingerprints throughout the league. Most recently, the popular former coach and player had served as president of the Philadelphia 76ers. Before that, he worked in the same capacity with the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, where he was named NBA Executive of the Year.

A prep star at Princeton High in West Virginia, Thorn was picked second in the 1963 NBA Draft, immediately ahead of Hall of Fame center Nate Thurmond. He played eight seasons, then moved to front-office and coaching roles in the ABA and the NBA. Thorn was the Chicago Bulls’ GM who drafted Michael Jordan in 1984.

From 1986 to 2000, Thorn worked alongside Stern in the job, essentially, he has again. Though a year older than Stern, Thorn is returning as the commissioner prepares for his exit on Feb. 1, 2014, after 30 years in the position.

“His basketball knowledge and team relationships are unparalleled,” Stern said. “We are fortunate that his talents are available to serve the league at this time.”

Thorn’s background – to play off a famous comment by Stern, the new EVP surely knows where a lot of the league’s bodies are buried, too – should serve as a solid resource for incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Kiki VanDeWeghe, a recent addition as senior VP, basketball operations, will report to Thorn, as will Mike Bantom, EVP, referee operations.

“I am looking forward to serving all 30 teams and our sport and am honored to be at the league office to help continue the game’s extraordinary growth,” Thorn said. “As the NBA turns increasingly to analytics and continues to tap into its growing fan and player base on a global basis, there is much work to be done.”

There was plenty of work in Thorn’s first go-round as the league’s top cop. As he recalled to in an August 2010 interview, being sheriff didn’t make him the most popular fellow around the league.

“I loved working in the front office, where I was in charge of issuing fines, among other things. This was during the Pistons and all the Bad Boy stuff. They gave me no choice; I had to fine them a few times. One day the Pistons were in New York to play the Knicks, and the NBA offices are located in Midtown. I was out to lunch when Ricky Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer came by the office. They had a very professional-looking sign with them, and they super-glued it to my door. And the sign said: ‘This office was furnished through fines paid for by the Detroit Pistons.’ Well, we couldn’t get the sign off …’ “

Pistons fans got to know Thorn well:

“Another time in Detroit, I was sitting a few rows up, and with about a minute left in the game, a guy walks by and says, ‘You’re a [bleep].’ I don’t say anything, I just let him keep walking. And then this older lady, who’s sitting in front of me, turns around and says, ‘That guy is right. You are a [bleep].’

“I was with Horace Balmer, the director of security, and he says, ‘I’m never sitting here with you again.'”

Thorn is back to endear himself to new generations of NBA fans.

Heat’s ‘Birdman’ Grounded For Game 6


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Miami Heat won’t be able to lean on Chris “Birdman” Andersen in their quest to finish off the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The backup big man was suspended for one game without pay by the NBA this evening for a Flagrant-1 foul on Pacers’ forward Tyler Hansbrough that was upgraded to a Flagrant-2 foul, a penalty announced by NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson.

Losing Andersen is a blow for a Heat team that has struggled to find consistent help for LeBron James in this series. Andersen is a perfect 15-for-15 shooting in five games against the Pacers, averaging 7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in just 18.4 minutes. His energy and effort on both ends of the floor have been critical to the Heat’s cause.

Things went overboard, though, Thursday night in Game 5. Andersen was shoved from behind by Indiana’s Paul George, while chasing a rebound, and instead of checking to see who delivered the blow he went after Hansbrough, knocking him off of his feet as the two ran upcourt after the play.

Hansbrough and Andersen went chest to chest immediately after Hansbrough got back to his feet. Andersen followed that contact with  a shove to the chest and then had to be restrained by official Marc Davis, who Andersen was quick to shove aside as he continued barking at Hansbrough.

The video of the sequence went viral immediately. And even though there was no suspension, we all knew what was coming. The Heat’s paper-thin depth up front will be tested Saturday night. The Pacers will attack with Roy Hibbert and David West, as they should.

No offense to the Birdman or his legion of followers, but the Heat aren’t going to win or lose Game 6 based on Andersen’s contributions — not if Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade continue to struggle the way they have against the Pacers.

The Heat need a better all around effort from the entire supporting cast, and the usual spectacular work from James, if they have any chance of snatching another game on the road in this series. If the series does go to a seventh game, Andersen will back for that tilt Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

But he’ll sit for Game 6, as he should, for allowing his emotions to get the best of him in what has turned out to be an unbelievably tense series for both sides.

Could 80s Flashback Fire Up Heat?


HANG TIME, Texas — So much for the notion that all of the energy and drama was sucked out of half the playoff bracket by the Heat’s 27-game win streak.

Suddenly the Eastern Conference is dripping with more subplots than a Russian novel with LeBron James complaining that the Bulls abused him, Taj Gibson cleverly telling the best player in the game that he’s too good to whine, Danny Ainge foolishly and typically wading into the middle of the war with his mouth and Pat Riley suggesting that Ainge should “shut the (expletive) up.”

Oh baby, the only way this could only get more delicious is with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Or maybe Kevin McHale taking down Kurt Rambis with a clothesline.

Just like that, we’re back in the 1980s with LA Gear, parachute pants and an urge to sing “Beat It.”

Is the manipulative genius of Riley at work here with LeBron? Has the blueprint for beating the Heat been put on display? Does anybody actually need to light a fire under an imposing team that just went nearly two full months without losing?

Do we really have to wait three more weeks for the playoffs to begin?

Miami vs. Chicago. Miami vs. Boston. And you thought Indiana was the Heat’s only minor roadblock to The Finals.

Don’t we really have to pull for the Celtics to tumble into the No. 8 seed and open up against the Heat in the first round?

Before the opening tip, Riley and Ainge could square off at center court for an MMA bout, complete with the octagon cage.

Hopefully, the winner of that first-round street fight would then face Chicago in a series presumably played with helmets and full body armor.

Look, we can’t really blame James for feeling that the Bulls used him as a tackling dummy on Wednesday night. After all, he’s been raised and cultivated and ascended to his seat on the throne in this 21st century era that has become so polite and contact-averse that any day now you can expect the NBA’s discipline czar Stu Jackson to rule from the league office that defenders must play with their pinkie fingers extended, as if they’re attending a tea party.

“Let me calculate my thoughts real fast before I say [what I want to say],” James said after the game. “I believe and I know that a lot of my fouls are not basketball plays. First of all, Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground. The last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder and bring me to the ground. Those are not defensive and those are not basketball plays.”

Of course, those of us who were around in the 80s and 90s or have learned from the drawings on cave walls about the times when prehistoric figures named Oakleysaurus, Mahornasaurus and Laimbeer Rex guarded the paint with sharp elbows and pointed attitudes, know that those used to be routine basketball plays. As James is trying to climb the ladder of greatness to catch Michael Jordan, let him ask His Airness if he was ever given a bump or two at The Palace of Auburn Hills or Madison Square Garden.

All of the good will and gosh-almighty admiration for Miami and for James that was built up during the construction of the 27-game streak could go out the window if the Heat players start to believe they should be unchallenged physically and simply carried on the shoulders of tributes to a second consecutive NBA title.

“I think he’s too good of a player to do that,” Gibson zinged when asked about James’ complaints in a radio interview.

The big question is what in the world could ever have possessed Ainge to enter the fray. Then you remember that he was just being Ainge, agitator and instigator and never a finisher during his playing career.

“I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating,” Ainge said.

And that’s when the real fun started.

“Danny Ainge needs to shut the #$!* up and manage his own team,” Riley said in a statement released through a Heat spokesman. “He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”

Give Riley credit. The guy who copyrighted the term “three-peat” back in 1987 could have another T-shirt selling bonanza on his hands with the blunt “STFU” combined with that fireball Heat logo.

It might not only have been the first official statement in known team sport history to include the home-run word, but also the artful, Machiavellian Riley’s way of delivering a just-as-short message to LeBron ahead of the 2014 opt-out clause in his contract: I’ll always have your back.

At first, Ainge backed off a bit.

“Pat Riley’s right,” he said. “I should manage my own team. I complained a lot to the officials. And I’m right, LeBron should be embarrassed about how he complains about the calls he gets.”

But just before Friday night’s game against the Hawks, he could not resist one more shot:

“I stand by what I said. That’s all. I don’t care about Pat Riley. He can say whatever he wants.

“I don’t want to mess up his Armani suits and all that hair goop. It would be way too expensive for me.”

Can’t we start the playoffs right now?

Stop The Floppers By Ignoring Them

HANG TIME, Texas — The shot that will get the big run on all the highlights shows and the most clicks on YouTube will, of course, be Damian Lillard’s frozen rope jumper with 0.3 seconds left that provided the margin of difference in the Blazers’ 95-94 win over the Hornets on Sunday night.

But it says here that just as big a play came a little over a minute earlier and it wasn’t by a guard, forward or center and not by anyone in a Portland or New Orleans uniform.

Take a bow, referee David Guthrie.

The Blazers had squandered most of their 16-point lead when LaMarcus Aldridge got the ball on the left wing in front of the New Orleans’ bench and turned to drive the baseline on Ryan Anderson. Aldridge leaned in just slightly with his left shoulder and might have drawn a whistle for an offensive foul. Except that Anderson reacted as if he’d been charged by every bull that had ever run through the streets of Pamplona and flung himself to the floor.

What happened next? Aldridge simply stepped back and nailed a 15-footer with 1:04 showing on the clock that turned out to be the bucket that set up Lillard’s heroics.

Guthrie simply watched. And there wasn’t a peep of protest from the Hornets’ bench.

A flop is a flop is a flop. There was no need to send the video feed to the league office and wait for a ruling from the Sheriff of Floppingham, a.k.a. Stu Jackson. No need to wait a few days to levy a fine or pass down heavy-handed punishment after the fact. None of the extra level of bureaucratic nonsense that has entered the game this season with the advent of the Flop Council.

I would like to see flopping taken out of the game as much as the next guy. But we’re not even two months into the season and I’m already fed up hearing color commentators on League Pass talk nightly about whether this player should be warned or whether that player will get the dreaded fine notice or maybe a particularly egregious violator will be made to play for the next several weeks wearing a dunce cap and a bright red nose.

It’s a call that should be made — or not — right then and right there by the game officials on the scene, not somebody sitting in a New York office with a remote control in his hand, actually undercutting officials by second-guessing them. Tell them to be definitive on the spot.

If you want to drop the hammer on floppers, give the referees the power to slap them with technical fouls, maybe even an extra free throw for every additional violation in a game.

Or better yet, simply instruct them all to react like David Guthrie. Just ignore the fakers and let the game play on.

Flopping Fines Start Now

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — So who’s going to be the first player to be officially warned by the league for a flopping violation?

Flopping penalties
Violation Penalty
Violation 1 Warning
Violation 2 $5,000 fine
Violation 3 $10,000 fine
Violation 4 $15,000 fine
Violation 5 $30,000 fine
Violation 6 Subject to discipline reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension.

In order to curtail flopping, the NBA has put a system in place to warn and fine players who disrespect the game by over-emphasizing contact. Flopping calls won’t be made on the court, but violations will be issued by a committee headed by the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations, Stu Jackson.

Here’s the official wording from the league and what will earn players a flopping violation…

“Flopping” will be defined as any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player. The primary factor in determining whether a player committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.

Physical acts that constitute legitimate basketball plays (such as moving to a spot in order to draw an offensive foul) and minor physical reactions to contact will not be treated as flops.

The video above, including an absolutely hilarious example from Tony Parker, let’s you see what the league is talking about.


Bucks’ Gooden: Anti-Flop Rule ‘Takes Away From The Game’

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. – In theory, eradicating any sort of trickery or skullduggery from NBA games should qualify as a good thing. Keeping it genuine is just another form of keeping it real. So if the league’s new anti-flopping rule wrings out the chicanery of defenders seeking phony charging fouls and turnovers by pretending to absorb bogus contact, the product as competition and entertainment will be better for it, right?

Not so fast. There is the little matter of unintended consequences, which came up during a visit to the Milwaukee Bucks’ training camp Thursday.

Veteran forward Drew Gooden doesn’t like the rule, which is being added for 2012-13 to discourage players from flopping, a tactic the NBA says is intended to “either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call.” That’s how Stu Jackson, NBA executive vice president of baskeball operations put it when announcing the rule and the ladders of penalties – a warning for the first violation, a $30,000 fine for the fifth, with undetermined punishment for a half dozen or more.

But Gooden pointed out what he saw as a couple of flaws in the rule.

“I think the guys who are going to be in trouble are the guys who lead the league in [taking legit] charges,” Gooden said after Milwaukee’s morning workout. “Ersan [Ilyasova] had a play yesterday where Ekpe [Udoh] was about to take a real hard power-dribble and he anticipated it. He stood on his heels, he took contact and it was like a no-call. Is that a warning? Is that a violation? That’s gonna be the question.”

Gooden then demonstrated a classic flop, hurling backward at the slightest touch of contact. “If I just go like this, like Anderson Varejao,” he said, “different story. … You see a guy take one dribble in the post and a guy acts like he just got blown up.”


Haslem, Pittman Out For Game 6

INDIANAPOLISUdonis Haslem won’t be playing in Game 6 of the Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers playoff series Thursday night. Tyler Hansbrough will be. And Dexter Pittman … c’mon, does Dexter Pittman’s availability really matter?

The afternoon-after officiating of the flagrant-foul frenzy in Game 5 probably got it right: Haslem, Hansbrough and Pittman all had their flagrant-1 fouls upgraded to flagrant-2 violations, but Haslem (one game) and Pittman (three games) also were handed suspensions for striking the head and shoulders of their intended Indiana targets.

Haslem must sit out Game 6 without pay for his two-armed chop on Hansbrough, which came less than a minute after the Pacers forward put a hard foul on Miami’s Dwyane Wade. Wade got hit in the head and shoulders, too, but in the view of Stu Jackson, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations, that was a foul that fit within the context of basketball. Who hasn’t seen Wade, after all, get up some acrobatic continuation shot that dropped after a defender fouled and let him go?

Haslem’s and Pittsman’s moves, in real time, in replays and in context, were retaliatory moves. That wasn’t included in the league’s news release on their suspensions, but it was evident to anyone in the building or watching the game. Haslem “had” Wade’s back and Pittman apparently decided to do for LeBron James what Juwan Howard had only yapped about. Lance Stephenson, remember, was the Pacers’ deep reserve who made a choke gesture courtside when James missed a free throw in Game 3.

The Heat won’t be happy about losing Haslem, who has given them value scoring, rebounding and toughness (most of it clean) off the bench in the past two games. Will it swing the series? Hard to say. But the NBA would have been remiss – and didn’t offer any explanation for why the game officials got their rulings wrong – if it had let the Heat’s two hammerings go without further punishment. Those veered into hockey, bordering on pro wrestling and had a distinctly dirty feel.

Remember, all Stephenson did was act stupid and disrespect James from afar. He didn’t get physical with anybody, yet wound up getting clotheslined across his collarbone by Pittman’s lunging elbow.

Expect a more buttoned-down Game 6, despite Larry Bird’s “soft” challenge to his Pacers in what might be their elimination. A couple of key transgressors won’t be active and the referee crew almost certainly will have quick whistles, lest things get uglier.

Celtics’ Rondo Suspended For Game 2

OKLAHOMA CITY — The wheels of NBA justice didn’t need long to churn out a decision on Celtics All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo.

He’s been suspended for Tuesday night’s Game 2 of the Celtics series against the Hawks for “making contact with a game official,” the league announced this afternoon.

Rondo argued with game official Marc Davis with 41 seconds to play in Sunday night’s Game 1 and was ejected after he chest bumped into Davis from behind. That bump came after Rondo stumbled over the foot of Brandon Bass. Rondo said he accidentally made contact with Davis after tripping over someone’s foot; he wasn’t sure whose it was at the time.

Without him the Celtics are in a bind. Shooting guard Ray Allen is still recovering from an ankle injury that kept him out of uniform for Game 1, a contest the Hawks won 83-74 after leading by as many 19 points. Rondo will return for Game 3 Friday night in Boston.

“Obviously, from a competitive stand point we are disappointed with the league’s decision to suspend Rondo,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said via statement. “He plays a valuable part in our team’s success.We accept the punishment and will use it as a learning tool for our players.”

Quality Time With Stu Jackson

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We’ve heard from Metta World Peace, NBA Commissioner David Stern and just about everyone else regarding the nuts and bolts of the 7-game suspension handed down a couple of days ago for the elbow to the head of James Harden.

But we needed closure on this affair and we couldn’t get that without hearing from the NBA’s Dean of Discipline himself, the league’s Executive VP of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson.

He joined the Game Time crew of Steve Smith and Jared Greenberg tonight to clear up any loose ends regarding the suspension of World Peace, some details of the league’s concussion policy and some insights as to what’s ahead in the playoffs:

The Kevin Love Stomp (Video)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — For all the praise heaped upon Timberewolves All-Star Kevin Love for his effort and game, we can’t imagine he’ll receive much love after what transpired during Saturday night’s win over the Rockets.

His stomp of Luis Scola (check the video above) is sure to draw the eye of the league’s Punishment Police. Now we understand things got heated during the game, but here at the hideout we don’t condone the literal stomping of an opponent outside of a cage match.

Everyone offered up their own explanation of what happened, as Kent Youngblood and Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune detail here:

Neither Wolves coach Rick Adelman nor Rockets coach Kevin McHale said they saw it. But it appeared Scola got a good feel for Love’s size-19 sneakers. “Yeah, whatever the brand is,” Scola said.

The big question afterward was: Was it intentional? And, will it be something NBA head of discipline Stu Jackson takes a look at?

“He was kind of right there,” Love said. “I have size-19 feet. He just happened to be there. I had nowhere to go. I kind of tripped up. I just had nowhere to step. It was a heat-of-the-moment type play. He was there and it happened to be his face.”