Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times’

Morning Shootaround — Feb. 24

VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Feb. 23


Kobe on Collins and courage “domino” effect | Oden’s makes waves, first start for Heat | Clippers finally get what they need … win over the Thunder | Wizards turn to veterns for help down the stretch | A “shoe war” over Lillard?

No. 1: Kobe insists Collins courage will have domnio effect — Making history surely wasn’t on the mind of Jason Collins Sunday night, as he became the first openly gay athlete to suit up and play in one of the four major American sports. All Collins, of the Brooklyn Nets, was trying to do was earn his 10-day contract keep and help his team win. Whether he likes it or now, though, Collins is taking groundbreaking steps that will generate what Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant called a courage domino effect across the landscape. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports explains:

“His impact [Sunday night] is greater than what people think,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports before the game. “You look at it from the context of having the first openly gay player. But they missed the domino effect that it has way beyond sports.”

Collins, now in his 13th season, was a free agent at the time of his announcement and the Nets were the first team to sign him. Bryant said his initial reaction to Collins signing with Brooklyn was, “It’s great. Let’s hoop.”

Along with having an impact on the gay and sports communities, Bryant says the news teaches the youth “it’s OK to be yourself” and will motivate people from all walks of life.

“It’s fantastic. It sets an incredible precedent,” said Bryant, who is currently out of the Lakers’ lineup indefinitely with a knee injury. “I think the most important part about it, what I’ve learned on the issue is that one person coming out is showing this type of courage that gives others that same type of courage.

“It’s dealing with a lot of issues for kids who are afraid to be themselves. Afraid to be themselves because of the peer pressure that comes with it. A lot of these kids have depression issues or they’re being teased from other kids for being different. You wind up seeing a lot of suicides, kids injuring themselves and getting hooked on things that they should not be hooked on.”

On the impact of Collins’ first game, Bryant said: “There is a kid out there who … is going to say, ‘Jason gave me strength in dark moments to be brave. He gave me courage to step up and accept myself for who I am despite what others might be saying or the public pressures. He gave me strength and bravery to be myself.'”

Collins, who was scoreless in 10-plus minutes of action, said in response to Bryant’s praise, “That’s along the same lines of what I would say to every other professional athlete. … Realize that there is support there waiting for you. That’s the only thing I can say about encouraging people to be their true self.”

VIDEO: Jason Collins waxes on his season debut with the Brooklyn Nets


No. 2: Greg Oden’s first start for Heat (sans LeBron) ends with a win — Greg Oden made some news of his own Sunday, earning his first start for the Miami Heat in their win over the Chicago Bulls. The former No. 1 overall pick reached yet another milestone in his long journey back from what once appeared to be career-ending knee injuries. His start came without LeBron James in uniform, the Heat superstar sat out with that broken nose suffered against the Oklahoma City Thunder last week. But this day was about Oden and his milestone, writes Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald:

Oden’s big-picture perspective is unwavering.

He’s just happy to be here.

“For me, each game getting better and walking off healthy — they’re all milestones to me,” said Oden, who is attempting to revive his career after a series of knee injuries. “It has been a long road, so every one is a good one for me.”

Sunday might have been the best of all. He started his first game since December 2009 and played nearly 13 minutes in Miami’s victory. During his brief time in the game, Oden matched up against Bulls center Joakim Noah and had five points and five rebounds.

“He’s an active player for someone that big,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He makes multiple efforts, he gives you extra possessions and he’s very intelligent, so he has a pretty good grasp of what we want and how we want to play already.”

With LeBron James out with a broken nose, Spoelstra went to Oden for his size inside against the Bulls and also to keep the Heat’s second unit somewhat intact. Chicago is one of the league’s most aggressive rebounding teams and it showed early. The Bulls held a 32-19 rebounding advantage after the first half.

“We knew the minutes would be short for Greg still — 10 to 12 minutes — so we figure that [it would] be best to get him in that starting lineup,” Spoelstra said. “We get to keep our rotations somewhat similar.”

Oden said he could have played more than 13 minutes, which is a positive sign for the Heat. He is expected to be an important piece in the playoffs, especially against teams such as the Bulls and Indiana Pacers, which feature big frontcourts.

On a contending team for the first time in his career, Oden is following the lead of his more experienced teammates and Oden’s health is returning just in time for the Heat’s playoff push.

“They’ve all been through this before,” Oden said. “This is one of my first times going through this. This is that push you’ve got to get for first place. That’s what we are aiming for right now the next push is going to be when the playoffs come.”


No. 3: Clippers finally get that much-needed win over The Thunder — The Los Angeles Clippers fancy themselves a championship team, as do the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers, though, needed a win over the Thunder, on the road, to legitimize their claim. And they finally got that Sunday, solving their Thunder issue on the big stage and sending a message that they are indeed going to be a part of the power mix in the Western Conference playoff chase. As Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports, it was long overdue:

The Clippers needed this.

A 125-117 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday carried restorative powers for a Clippers team had been unsuccessful against the NBA’s elite on the road.

The Thunder owned the league’s best record — until the Clippers’ victory took their opponent down a peg to 43-14, percentage points behind Indiana (42-13).

The Clippers won with all five starters scoring in double figures. Jamal Crawford led the way with 36 points, but Matt Barnes (24 points, seven rebounds), Blake Griffin (20 points, seven rebounds, six assists), DeAndre Jordan (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Chris Paul (18 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds) all played significant roles.

“It’s definitely a good win for us,” said Paul, who played despite a sprained right thumb. “We were on the plane [Saturday] flying here and we were just talking about how we hadn’t beat any good teams on the road, and this would be the perfect time to start.”

The Clippers lost here earlier this season. They also have lost at San Antonio, Miami, Indiana and Portland, teams that rank among the best in the league.

The Clippers have won at Houston, but that was only one win against five road losses against the top teams.

Now the Clippers have a victory against a Thunder team that has lost only five games at home all season. They also have their first win since the All-Star game, after stumbling out of the break with losses to San Antonio and at Memphis.

“It was a very important win, especially having dropped our last two,” Griffin said. “This win was big for us. We haven’t really made a statement on the road. We’ve won some games, but we haven’t won big games. So it was terrific for us.”

VIDEO: Doc Rivers talks about the Clippers’ big win in OKC


No. 4: Wizards turns to veterans for help down the stretch — Trades and injuries have a way of opening doors for NBA veterans this time of year and the Washington Wizards are not different. After their work on deadline day, the Wizards had a new point guard in Andre Miller and an opening for a few minutes for guys like Al Harrington and Kevin Seraphin. An injury to Nene created even more space for those two veterans and they answered the call for Randy Wittman‘s team. Michael Lee of The Washington Post with the details:

Kevin Seraphin couldn’t get overly concerned when he saw Nene crumple to the ground in pain, then hop off the court and through the tunnel toward the Wizards’ locker room on his good, right leg. Coach Randy Wittman called on Seraphin immediately after Nene went down with what the team is calling a sprained left knee in the third quarter of the Wizards’ 96-83 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. Seraphin had to be ready.

“Yeah. I saw him leave, but when we’re in the game, we have to be focused on the game,” Seraphin said.

The Wizards (28-28) were only up by three points at the time of Nene’s departure and they have typically become flimsy when their most gifted big man is unable to finish a game. Washington squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead when Nene was ejected with roughly three minutes left in Oklahoma City, lost in overtime to Milwaukee when Nene strained his right Achilles’ tendon, and suffered a controversial defeat in Houston after Nene fouled out late in the fourth quarter.

After Luol Deng completed a three-point play to bring the Cavaliers within 73-72 with 93 seconds left in the third quarter, the Wizards were once again in danger of letting a winnable game get away from them. Then, Wittman put veteran Al Harrington on the floor and he made two huge shots – a driving layup and a three-pointer – to send the Wizards into the fourth period with a six-point lead.

“I was just looking for an opportunity. I was ready, obviously, the situation with Nene allowed me to do a little more,” Harrington said. “It’s tough. He’s been playing some great basketball, so that was tough to see. Hopefully we can get him back sooner than later, but guys got to step up. I think we got enough guys that can do that.”

Harrington didn’t score for the rest of the game. But Seraphin came through with two huge, 10-foot jump hooks to push the Wizards ahead 82-74 early in the fourth quarter.

“He’s capable of doing that,” Wittman said of Seraphin. “The more he simplifies his game the better. Sometimes he likes to trick people, and we got to get him just to be simple. That’s his move and he does it very well. Big couple of shots he hit.”

Harrington finished with two rebounds and an assist and tried to extend the lead but missed a three-pointer and Wittman replaced him with Marcin Gortat. “I thought Al gave us a big lift in the second half. He was panting like a dog out there but we got to continue to get him rounded into shape,” Wittman said of Harrington, who played just 31 seconds the night before against New Orleans as Nene matched his career high with 30 points.


No. 5: It’s gotta be the shoes for Portland’s Lillard — Portland All-Star point guard Damian Lillard made waves with his busy schedule during All-Star Weekend. There could be more waves on the horizon where he is concerned, courtesy of a budding tug of war over his shoe company. It’s been a while since a battle between shoe giants made noise in the NBA, but Lillard’s story is about to get interesting as Adidas and Nike get ready to tussle over the young star. Chris Haynes of provides the minutiae:

Lillard, 23, has a profitable rookie shoe endorsement deal with adidas, though that could change abruptly due to clever language in his contract.

Being that he took home the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year award, became an NBA All-Star and reached other unique incentive clauses in his first two seasons, Lillard will be able to opt out of his shoe contract at the end of the basketball season and either renegotiate a more lucrative deal with adidas, or open negotiations with Nike, Brand Jordan, Reebok or Under Armor, league sources informed

Another source that’s vastly briefed on Lillard’s situation added, “There’s no doubt about it, he’s opting out.”

Rival shoe companies have been well-versed on the matter for months and are expected to make competitive offers, but is told that Nike stands the best chance of luring Lillard away from adidas.

Adidas is in no position to lose their accomplished young standout point guard.

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is currently viewed as the basketball face of adidas. However, his string of knee injuries in addition to the fact that he has only participated in 49 games in three seasons has adidas apprehensive he can remain the company’s headliner.

In 2012, Rose signed a multiyear deal in the upwards of $200 million.

Lillard hasn’t missed a game in his one and half years as a professional and the way in which he carries himself on and off the court is without glitch if a company seeks to market him as the face of a national corporation.


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Sunday proved to be a great day/night for quite a few players from around the league. that lists include Kevin DurantJamal CrawfordGoran DragicRudy GayDanny Granger is still MIA for the Sixers on the practice court. The buyout has to be negotiated if he plans on moving on without suiting up in Philly … The Commissioner speaks on openly gay pro athletes … Harvey Araton of The New York Times weighs in on Collins, too, and the impact he can have going forward

ICYMI(s) of The Night: Thomas Robinson showed up and showed out for the Trail Blazers in so many ways …

VIDEO: The Thomas Robinson affair folks

Celtics-Nets Talking Trade … Celtics Already In Full-Blown Rebuilding Mode?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — That rebuilding process Doc Rivers was trying to avoid in Boston is apparently already in effect for the Celtics, who are reportedly exploring their trade options for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce with their Atlantic Division rivals in Brooklyn.

The complex deal, first reported by Yahoo! Sports and later confirmed by both and The New York Times, would not be finalized until July 10, at the earliest, which is after the end of the NBA’s moratorium on signing new contracts during the free agent season. In order to get a deal done the Celtics need to wait until after July 1, when the final year and $15.3 million of Pierce’s contract becomes guaranteed and then wait until the moratorium is ends to complete the proposed deal.

In it’s current form, the deal would involve the Celtics trading Garnett, Pierce (and possibly Jason Terry) to the Nets for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humprhies and his expiring contract and multiple first-round Draft picks.

Of course, the entire deal would be contingent on Garnett waiving his no-trade clause and agreeing to join Pierce on a Brooklyn team coached by Jason Kidd and already boasting stars Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson.

This is a twisted end to Garnett’s six-year run in Boston. Pierce has spent his entire career with the Celtics. But Celtics boss Danny Ainge made it clear Tuesday, when he discussed Rivers and his departure for the Los Angeles Clippers, that no concrete decisions had been made about the futures of the remaining members of Boston’s famed “Big 3” that helped them to the 2008 NBA title.

Ray Allen was the first to leave, bolting for Miami and another title in free agency last summer. Rivers opted for a chance to take the Clippers to the same plateau he reached with the Celtics in the final six of his nine seasons with the team. Ainge is clearly trying to make the next move by engaging in these talks, and what sources indicate are many more, in regards to the remaining members of his core.

Not even Rajon Rondo, the Celtics’ injured All-Star point guard, is off-limits, according to a league executive who informed that Rondo is waiting to see who Ainge replaces Rivers with and what happens this summer before deciding if he wants to be a part of the rebuild that the other members of the core are clearly trying to avoid.

Ainge, one of the league’s true, front-office risk takers is willing to push the envelope to see what he can salvage for the aging stars who helped lead the Celtics back to prominence. Rivers netted them a first-round Draft pick in 2015. Moving Pierce and Garnett will potentially a couple more and Ainge would have a stockpile of assets to work with in two seasons in the Draft and free agency.

For the Nets the future would be now if this deal were to get done. For the Celtics, the necessary assets to rebuild for the future would be the key.

Anthony, Knicks On A Familiar Path?


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks could win 48 straight games and Anthony would still have critics who could find something wrong with his game.

That’s just the world we live in and the one Anthony has had to survive in since he came into the league with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others in the celebrated NBA Draft class of 2003.

A league-best eight-game win streak, in the wake of the Miami Heat’s 27-game streak and the Denver Nuggets’ 15-game streak, would normally be plenty to be excited about. Anthony and the Knicks, however, are taking it all in stride. A rugged playoff road lies ahead and they know it. But the potential to dispel notions about who and what this team is about, to redefine who Anthony is as a player, in relation to his Draft class peers as well as the larger scope of the league, could be on the horizon.

With his contemporaries enjoying loads more playoff success than he had during his career, this Knicks team in particular offers Anthony an opportunity to close that gap a little.

For years, Anthony’s critics have made their case … that Anthony’s not an elite leader, he’s not a big-time playoff performer (as the Prime Minister likes to remind me regularly) and that he wasn’t willing to sacrifice what he does best (score) for the greater good. I’ve always argued the other side, that those teams he led in Denver were never quite as stout as they appeared on paper.

The one time they had all of the required parts healthy and ready to go in the playoffs, they made their run to the 2009 Western Conference finals, where they fell to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. The Lakers, of course, went on to win the first of back-to-back titles that year.

Those championships, sans Shaquille O’Neal, helped redefine Kobe’s legacy.

Might Anthony be on a somewhat familiar path to redefining his own legacy this season? At least one observer thinks so. Harvey Araton of The New York Times makes the case for Anthony following in the transformative footsteps of Boston Celtics enigma-turned-superstar Paul Pierce, whose image and reputation changed dramatically after the Celtics broke through and won a championship in 2008 with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen:

With the Knicks poised to displace the Celtics as Atlantic Division champions after beating them, 108-89, on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, this would be a propitious time to present Pierce as Exhibit A in the case for Anthony’s potential growth into no-questions-asked superstardom.

Anthony’s critics, including me, have never underestimated his combustible package of size, strength and first-step speed. But his teams in Denver and in New York have produced poor playoff results, and he has admitted to failing to fully grasp the essence of collective elegance until last summer’s Olympics.

Isn’t it fair to say that when it comes to winning at the highest level, Anthony is still an undergraduate student trying to complete a master’s program?

Pierce captured his championship in 2008 after he sacrificed more than 5 points off his scoring average from the previous season to accommodate Allen and Garnett. He also embraced the defensive tenacity brought by Garnett and preached by Tom Thibodeau, who then was an assistant to Doc Rivers.

“You may need that one person in someone’s life, or something to happen off the floor in that person’s life, family-wise, or something,” Rivers said before Pierce gave him 24 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists, not enough against the streaking Knicks, winners of eight straight. “You just never know what triggers a player to play and do all the right things.”

Before their title season, the Celtics’ best playoff run with Pierce was in 2002, when they were beaten by Jason Kidd and the Nets in the Eastern Conference finals. Pierce was 24, the same age Anthony was when his Nuggets lost in the Western Conference finals to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009.

A coincidence, for sure, but the Pierce-Anthony comparison of 20-something high-octane, low-team-grade forwards is no novel concept. While Anthony was contriving his endgame in Denver two and a half years ago, reporters and bloggers noted the same crossroads that Pierce had reached in Boston after the 2006-7 season, and how he had warned the Celtics to improve the roster, or else.

The Celtics delivered and, to his everlasting credit, Pierce responded. Although Anthony chose a different path, forcing a trade, he is approaching his 29th birthday, on May 29, with still much to prove, and gain, similar to Pierce at that age.

Unlike Pierce and the Celtics, there is an Eastern Conference and NBA juggernaut standing in the path of Anthony and the Knicks. The Heat aren’t going anywhere any time soon. And much like those Bryant-led Lakers teams that were always blocking the way for Anthony’s Nuggets teams, these LeBron-led Heat teams will likely be in the way now and for at least the foreseeable future.

That will make things substantially tougher for the Anthony to complete his career rewrite, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible …

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 106) Featuring Howard Beck Of The New York Times

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With roughly two months to go in this NBA regular season we are still trying to sort through the contenders and pretenders in the Eastern Conference.

Early on the New York Knicks looked like contenders, with Mike Woodson, Carmelo Anthony and Jason Kidd leading a team capable of competing with the reigning world champion Miami Heat in a playoff series.

The Brooklyn Nets took that baton and ran with it later, digging themselves out of a rut 30 games ago and compiling a 20-10 record under P.J. Carlesimo‘s watchful eye.

These days the Indiana Pacers are looking like the one true foil out there for the Heat, provided they don’t get into any more shoulder scuffles between now and the playoffs (they’ll need Hang Time Podcast fave Roy Hibbert, David West, Paul George, Danny Granger  and the rest of their rugged gang in uniform).

We’ll find out which of these three teams, or Atlanta or Boston, are ready to seriously challenge the Heat in the postseason. In the meantime, Howard Beck of The New York Times joins us on Episode 106 of The Hang Time Podcast to help us analyze the New York area members of the group.

We also break down what a real NBA scrap is supposed to look like, Kobe Bryant‘s hilarious Twitter habit (“Amnesty That!”), Derek Fisher rejoining the Oklahoma City Thunder, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski not returning as coach of the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team (Phil Jackson anyone?) and a whole lot more on Episode 106 of The Hang Time Podcast:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of,  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.

Knicks Keep Getting It Done

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Perfection doesn’t last forever. Not in the NBA. So this dazzling start to the season for the New York Knicks does have an expiration date.

That doesn’t mean Knicks fans shouldn’t enjoy the ride, though. They not only have the only unblemished (5-0) record in the league, but also a group that has the makings of a legitimate contender for a top-four playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

Again, it’s early. And the true tests will present themselves in the coming days and weeks. Specifically, Thursday night’s tilt against the best team in the Western Conference (San Antonio) and a potential Friday night slugfest (in Memphis) will be key. The early overall returns, however, show a much-improved defensive team capable of winning even when their shots aren’t falling at a ridiculous clip.

Their effort last night showed us that they have the intestinal fortitude to come back from a late challenge as they dumped the the Magic in Orlando to preserve their perfect record. (And for you armchair historians out there, the last time the Knicks started a season 5-0 was the 1993-94 season — a campaign that ended in Game 7 of The Finals).

J.R. Smith's shot chart

J.R. Smith’s shot chart (through Nov. 13, 2012)

Credit for this turnaround should be spread all around, starting with Knicks coach Mike Woodson and All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, who has embraced the change without so much as a hint of displeasure. Having the oldest team in the league doesn’t always translate to having the wisest crew. But veterans like Raymond Felton and, more specifically, Jason Kidd, bring an element of understanding to every game in the natural grind of a season that you don’t get from a younger and inexperienced point guard (like … don’t say it … Jeremy Lin).

All that said, perhaps no player epitomizes the Knicks’ mini-metamorphosis better than the oft-embattled swingman J.R. Smith, who has become a consistent force off the bench for the first time in his career while leading the league in 3-point shooting (72.2 percent). With Kidd on one end of the spectrum and Smith on the other, Woodson has found a way to make it all work, as Nate Taylor of The New York Times pointed out after last night’s game:

“At halftime, Coach really got on us about our defense,” J. R. Smith said. “We played harder, we got through the screens and we closed out on shots. I think that was the difference.”

Smith provided the Knicks with the offense they desperately needed, scoring 21 points (12 in the third quarter) and shooting 9 for 14. He also had 2 steals and 4 rebounds.

By playing more aggressively, the Knicks held the Magic to 36 points in the second half.

The Knicks have yet to allow an opponent to score more than 40 points in the second half.

“We have active hands,” Kidd said. “You have guys who understand where to be on defense. Sometimes it’s not always going to be perfect, but guys were making the second and third effort. That just comes with trust.”

Trust isn’t a word you heard tossed around a whole lot with these Knicks last few seasons. And it’s a word that will no doubt be tested when Amar’e Stoudemire returns from injury (knee). He’ll have to trust Woodson and his staff if and when they ask him to assume a role outside of the superstar one he’s used to playing.

But he’ll have to trust that they are doing what’s best for the Knicks if/when they ask him to come off the bench and work himself back into form with the reserves rather than starting and altering the chemistry for a group in a groove.

Presidential Politics: Obama’s ‘The Heat’ To Romney’s ‘Jeremy Lin’

You knew it was only a matter of time before Presidential politics and the NBA crossed paths during this election season.

In a Sunday piece in The New York Times detailing President Barack Obama‘s ultra competitive nature, an unnamed aide to tells a story of the Commander-in-Chief (and No. 1 hoops fans) comparing his reelection team to the eventual NBA champion Heat and his opponent’s, Republican nominee Mitt Romney, to former Knicks sensation and current Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin:

This February, in an otherwise placid meeting with Democratic governors — routine policy questions, routine presidential replies — Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana asked Mr. Obama if he had what it took to win the 2012 race.

For a moment Mr. Obama looked annoyed, a White House aide said, as if he thought Mr. Schweitzer was underestimating him. Then he came alive. “Holy mackerel, he lit up,” Mr. Schweitzer said in an interview. “It was like a light switch coming on.”

No matter what moves Mr. Romney made, the president said, he and his team were going to cut him off and block him at every turn. “We’re the Miami Heat, and he’s Jeremy Lin,” Mr. Obama said, according to the aide.

We’ll know the start of the NBA season if President Obama is correct in his categorization of both sides. Election night will decide that.

Win or lose, President Obama will reign forever as basketball’s first and favorite Commander-in-Chief. He’s shown more love for the game than any of his predecessors.

The World Weighs In On The Lin Decision

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The reaction to the news that the Knicks passed on an opportunity to keep Jeremy Lin in New York has been as one-sided as it has been swift.

Few people (fans, pundits, casual observers, cab drivers, finance experts, etc.) think it was wise for the Knicks to allow Lin to go to the Houston Rockets because they thought three years and $25.1 million (back-loaded in the third year for the Knicks) was a sum too rich for a guy who has started just 25 games.

That blowback from the public might have something to do with the Knicks’ history of being generous with their funds —  for example, Jerome James did collect $30 million from the Knicks for what amounts to a tiny crumb of the excitement Lin produced, on and off the court.

Dive in as the (media) world weighs in on the decision by the Knicks to pass on Lin …


Report: The End Of (NYC) Linsanity?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It appears we’ve seen the last of Jeremy Lin in a Knicks uniform.

The New York Times is reporting that Knicks’ brass has made their decision and they will not match back-loaded the three-year, $25.1 offer sheet from the Houston Rockets that Lin signed over the weekend.

The Knicks have until just before the stroke of midnight to make up their minds, but according to Howard Beck of The Times, they’ve all but made their decision:

The Knicks are not expected to announce their decision until this evening, and there is still a chance — albeit incredibly small — that it could be reversed. But as of 4 p.m. the decision had been made and was considered final by those with knowledge of the deliberations. Indeed, the deliberations were said to be over.

The Knicks have first-refusal rights on Lin and by rule have until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time to either match the offer or let him walk.

The decision was ultimately financial, not emotional, according to people briefed on the deliberations. The contract with Houston includes a third-year balloon payment of $14.9 million, which would have cost the Knicks another $35 million or more in luxury-tax penalties had they matched the deal. The so-called poison pill was designed to dissuade the Knicks.

The decision ends two weeks of suspense and speculation, which began when Lin became a restricted free agent on July 1. Now will come the inevitable backlash.

Lin saved the Knicks’ season in February and instantly became their most popular player in a decade, as well as a global phenomenon. Fans started at least two online petitions to keep him last weekend when it became apparent the Knicks were leaning toward letting him go. Twitter, blogs and fan forums have been filled with anguished comments for days.

Whatever outrage there is New York will be met with cheers from Houston, where the Rockets have been searching for a face of their franchise since Yao Ming retired.

Lin proved in his 25-game starting stint on Broadway that he had the chops for the job under the brightest of media spotlights. In Houston he’ll have to prove that there is substance behind the hype.

If his debut was any indication, the next three years should be a wild ride … on Rockets fans will enjoy from the front row and one Knicks fans will have to watch from afar, wondering what might have been had the franchise matched that offer.

NBA Types Weren’t First To Miss On Lin

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Jeremy Lin‘s underdog story has been well documented recently, with the Knicks star rising from relative (or perhaps complete) obscurity to the first name on the minds of NBA fans everywhere in roughly one week of action.

But we’re here today to take the heat off of NBA scouts, coaches and executives who missed on Lin coming out of Harvard. All they did was continue a trend started by their college counterparts.

Mark Viera of The New York Times tells an intriguing tale of a player that has embodied the underdog role from the very start, and we’re talking about all the way back to his high school days:

The story of Lin’s college recruitment illustrates how talent evaluators overlooked his ability even when Lin was young. It is something that was repeated in the professional ranks as he moved from Golden State to Houston to New York, where he has infected Knicks fans with Linsanity, becoming a sensation over five transcendent games.

… All of that would have been hard for some college coaches to have predicted while watching film of Lin as a skinny, average-shooting guard at Palo Alto High School, even though he was a standout for the modest program, leading it to a 32-1 record and an upset of the powerhouse Mater Dei in the 2006 California Division II championship game.

“He was a good student, a good player and, yeah, it’s amazing what he was doing,” said Steve Donahue, now the coach at Boston College, said in a recent telephone interview. “But he didn’t look that athletic and he didn’t shoot it all that well. Even after his freshman year at Harvard, you didn’t give it a second thought that we made a mistake.”

Now we’re not suggesting that Lin’s surprising rise is cause for a complete restructuring of the scouting process. It’s going to take more than one stunner to do that.

But it should be a lesson to college recruiters and NBA scouts alike, to trust more than the measurables when evaluating talent. If nothing else, Lin will make them pause the next time they see a guy that doesn’t fit the mold.

Horry: Phil Created Shaq V. Kobe …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — There’s nothing like news from Russia that the Shaquille O’NealKobe Bryant feud that fueled the Lakers all those years was the creation of Phil Jackson.

Stunner, huh?

Not exactly. But when Robert Horry weighs in on the topic, from Russian website Sports.Ru (translation courtesy of  Alexander Chernykh and his Rush’n Hoops blog):

I think Phil Jackson started that feud. It happened many times that after team practice he would say, “Kobe said this about Shaq, and Shaq said that about Kobe… We couldn’t believe how could that happen, because just the day before we saw them together, jumping on one another. Phil liked it when there was conflict of some sort.

I always tell people; if you look at those championships, you’ll see who were the closest players on the team. Normally those are the guys who are the first to hug each other. And when we were winning, it was always Shaq and Kobe who hugged. I think this will answer your question. Later it was blown out of proportion by the media and both players started doing something that didn’t make sense.

We’ve already heard from two people who were around the Lakers from the start of that run until ended that dispute the origins of the feud and insist that Jackson only fanned the flames that were already there.

Both Roland Lazenby and Howard Beck of The New York Times, a beat writer for the Los Angeles Daily News during the Shaq-Kobe era, dispute the claim that Jackson started the feud.

In his own defense, Horry tweeted that the translation was, a bit scattered, to say the least.

I know Jackson is considered a wizard in many circles, but even he would have a hard time starting one of the greatest beefs in the history of sport before he ever showed up to coach the two players involved.