Posts Tagged ‘Warriors’

Morning Shootaround — May 7

VIDEO: Daily Zap for games played May 6


Nets get rude welcome to the big time | Clippers keeping their eyes on the prize | Pressures shift to Warriors’ ownership and front office | Spurs fighting against their own history

No. 1: Welcome to the big show Brooklyn, your Nets aren’t dealing with the Raptors anymore: We tried to warn you not to count on that 4-0 regular season record against the Miami Heat. This is the playoffs. And whatever happened before now is history. It’s what you do now that counts. The time off didn’t bother the Heat. If anything, it only served to refocus their attention on that Nets team that had their number during the regular season. The victim of those eight days spent going over every detail wore black Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena. And as Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post points out, it’s a whole new world:

So this is what the varsity looks like: a little bit faster, a little bit quicker, a little bit smarter, a little bit savvier. And a whole lot better. Intellectually, you knew that.

Instinctively, the Nets knew that. But it’s still not the same as seeing it up close, in person, in living color.

“We have to put up more resistance,” Paul Pierce said.

“We have to elevate,” Shaun Livingston said, “because they’re going to force you to elevate, or else.”

“They’re the defending champions,” Jason Kidd said. “They’re going to be at a high level. You have to find a way to match it.”

None of this came as a surprise to the Nets, of course, certainly not to the grizzled and the graybeards among them who have been through this all before with the Heat. Still, it’s one thing to say things properly — We swept the season series and it means nothing! They’ve been off for a week but we don’t expect them to be rusty! — and quite something else to stand your ground in the face of a full frontal Heat attack.

And not wind up flatter than Kevin Bacon in “Animal House.”

“They’re the ones that kept attacking for 48 minutes,” Kidd said. “We didn’t.”

The Nets didn’t lose the series Tuesday night, and there’s little chance any of the key participants will be confused on the matter. The Nets came to these Eastern Conference semifinals in full grind mode anyway, snarling their way through the seven-game slog with Toronto, and the grinder’s mantra is this: Get a split. Game 1, Game 2, doesn’t matter, counts the same.


24-Second thoughts — May 6

By Sekou Smith,

VIDEO: Kevin Durant’s emotional MVP nod to his mother


Kevin Durant wins his first KIA MVP, dethroning the two-time defending champion LeBron James just hours before his Heat hit the floor against the Brooklyn Nets in their eastern conference semifinal.

The Golden State Warriors sever ties with Mark Jackson after three seasons, firing him after three straight seasons that saw the Warriors finally claw their way into the consistent playoff mix in the Western Conference.

And the NBA announced that Los Angeles Clippers President Andy Roeser would take an indefinite leave of absence, effective immediately.  “This will provide an opportunity for a new CEO to begin on a clean slate and for the team to stabilize under difficult circumstances,” NBA VP of Communications Mike Bass said in a statement released by the league.

We got all of this before Ray Allen showed up to America Airlines Arena for his early afternoon shooting workout, so you had to know it was going to be a wild night …

24 – Oh and before we get started, big ups to CJ Paul for his Happy Birthday shout out to his baby brother Chris Paul. #TaurusPower #brotherskeeper

23 – When you have two teams like Miami and Brooklyn, teams with, ahem, elder statesmen galore, you should expect the rotations to run deep for both Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Nets coach Jason Kidd

22 – Perhaps the most underrated story of the late regular season and the start of the playoffs is that Dwyane Wade seems to have gotten his old bones healthy enough to be, well, Dwyane Wade …

VIDEO: Check out Kevin Durant accepting his KIA MVP award

21 – Magic Johnson playing agent for Mark Jackson, you know this has been an upside-down day …

20 – Joe Johnson and Deron Williams doing it like you’re supposed to on the road. The pace of this one is exactly what the Nets are looking for. And LeBron’s playing well but he’s not nearly as dominant as you’d like to see him if you’re a Heat fan. Very reminiscent of some of his previous battles against Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-led teams …

19 – Pacers big man Roy Hibbert should thank his lucky stars for teammates like Paul George and George Hill. They’re holding him down at a time when plenty of folks would run for the hills, if they had hills in Indianapolis. Do them a favor big fella and show up tomorrow night in Game 2 against the Wizards …

18 – I knew the pace of this game wasn’t going to be Clippers-Thunder, or anything close to it, but wow! Only one fast-break bucket in 24 minutes?

17 – Heat playing bully ball. LeBron getting whatever he wants in the paint. Shaun Livingston, as much as I love him and his comeback, is locked in an unfair fight.

16 – Did someone say Billy Knight?

15 – We need LeBron mic’d up more often …

14 – No more Birdman tonight. Right knee contusion. Heat will be fine without him. They’re rolling the Nets right now.

13 — This wasn’t a contest. The Heat were the far superior team. Rest worked just fine for the Heat. #NoRust And LeBron had an easy time of it, way too easy, if the Nets are going to make this series interesting. KG being held scoreless for the first time in 139 career playoff games … wow!

VIDEO: LeBron James keeps it classy after the Heat’s Game 1 rout of the Brooklyn Nets

12 – Spurs start 8-0 and remind us all that they’ve been doing this longer than half the Trail Blazers’ roster has been alive … not really, but it always feels that way when you see the Spurs schooling some upstart squad.

11 – Gone but not forgotten Dr. Jack Ramsay

10 – Euro step my … foot! Calling Manu Ginobili for traveling is like a holding call on an offensive lineman in football. You could blow that whistle on just about every snap if you wanted to. But you don’t, because it’s Manu!!!!!!

9 – Welcome to Role Player Tuesday, when guys like Shane Battier, Marco Belinelli and Aron Baynes — yes Aron Baynes — move into the spotlight after not being heard from in the first round. #baynesanymeansnecessary …

8 – The Conference Semifinals would like to apologize to the basketball world for not being nearly as intriguing and flat-out wacky, so far, as our wild and crazy cousin, the First Round!

7 – This is what they call Night School where I’m from. The Blazers are finding out the hard way … you don’t take any of the same mojo from one series to the next. Treat it like it’s brand new or you’ll get popped. Youngsters take notes for Game 2!

6 – Sure, it looks ugly now. Really ugly. Bubba Sparxxx Ugly! But I don’t think there is any need to overreact to the first half of the first game of a series, any series …

5 – Spurs are not messing around tonight. They’ve never made back-to-back trips to The Finals in the Duncan-Pop era. Would be an accomplishment this year, even for an outfit that has done just about everything else imaginable when it comes to winning …

4 – Reasons, the reasons that we hear, The reasons that we fear, Our feelings a-won’t disappear

3 – Game recognize game. And truly elite players know the MVP when they see him …

2 – Great point … even though I think the circumstances are dramatically different. But great point …

Because …

1 – These three words …

VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs got in a flow early and never let up on the Trail Blazers

Firing Jackson daring move by Warriors

By Scott Howard-Cooper,

VIDEO: GameTime crew discusses the Warriors firing Mark Jackson

And so it turns out that hiring Mark Jackson to coach the Warriors wasn’t the risky move by owner Joe Lacob.

Firing him was.

Jackson’s future in Golden State had been in obvious peril for months, since Lacob made it a very public issue in an interview with Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group, and so the announcement Tuesday that Jackson was gone was no surprise. When 51 wins in the regular season followed by a commendable playoff showing in a seven-game loss to the better team, the Clippers, with the complete backing of star player Stephen Curry doesn’t save a job, then Lacob was clearly heading in this direction for a long time.

Now all Lacob has to do is find someone better.

The emotional owner wanted a coach who would take the Warriors from the traditional fun bunch of an offensive threat to a group that would defend, and Jackson delivered. The owner wanted a team of passion that would offer something more than the signature Golden State pratfall of regular-season thrills replaced by zero playoffs or a few games as the sparring partner, and Jackson delivered. The owner wanted someone who could mesh veterans together while developing prospects, and Jackson delivered.

One of the best fan bases in the league, supportive in the drought years and all the right kinds of maniacal in the payback of the playoffs the last two seasons under Jackson, is going to want an explanation from Lacob and deserves one.

Jackson’s attitude of superiority created the distance from ownership and the front office that would become his undoing, but he had the locker room. The underdog Warriors went to Denver, nearly an impossible place for road teams to win in 2012-13, lost All-Star David Lee, didn’t flinch, had a hobbled Curry, beat the Nuggets and pressed the Spurs to six games in the second round. The underdog Warriors faced the Clippers this season without the important defensive and emotional presence of Andrew Bogut, didn’t flinch, and got to the final minute of the final game on the road before losing Saturday.

Amid all the positives of the roster in place combined with the aggressive and smart early history of Lacob and general manager Bob Myers joined with the support around the Bay Area, there will be no shortage of interested replacements. They will wonder about whether Lacob’s passion leads to unrealistic expectations, but people like Steve Kerr will also be able to rationalize it to themselves. This has become a destination franchise, and putting the Knicks and Warriors back to back is a no contest, with the added appeal that Kerr would be relatively close to his San Diego home base. New York has the singular advantage of the relationship with Phil Jackson.

The classic part is that if Jackson had this exact run with another team and he was available at the same time there was a vacancy in Oakland, he would be the epitome of what Lacob wanted. Instead, Kerr has emerged as the leading candidate as what Jackson was immediately before the Warriors hired him in 2011: a former veteran guard used to pressure situations but with no experience on the bench at any level and a post-playing career in broadcasting.

The absence of coaching experience made Jackson a daring move for Lacob then, before Jackson repaid the confidence. It just wasn’t the ultimate gut call that could blow up on the Warriors. Firing Jackson was.

VIDEO: Jackson gets emotional after Warriors’ Game 7 loss in Los Angeles

Warriors or Knicks for Kerr? Go west!

By Sekou Smith,

VIDEO: The Inside Crew discussed Mark Jackson’s future with the Warriors before he was fired Tuesday

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Steve Kerr doesn’t need professional advice from me or anyone else.

But as a concerned colleague, I’m going to give it anyway.



Listen to everything they have to say. Soak it all up. But no matter how much they sweeten the offer, no matter how intoxicating the idea of joining force with Phil Jackson sounds, you need to resist that urge. Don’t make this an emotional thing. Keep it about business. Strictly business.

If you’re going to dive into these nasty coaching waters, where guys get fired with winning records, after 51-win seasons that include playing in Game 7s of playoff series, do it somewhere other than New York.

The Knicks are not yet ready for the sort of success that can be attained with the core group the Golden State Warriors have assembled. And if you are indeed atop their wish list as well, that’s an opportunity you cannot let pass.

The Warriors fired Mark Jackson this afternoon, surprising no one with the decision to part ways with their coach of three seasons after three straight years of improvement.

The Warriors made the playoffs in two of the past three seasons after making it just once in the 17 seasons before Jackson arrived.  They made it in back-to-back years for the first time since 1991 under Jackson, whose 51-win season this year wasn’t enough to save him from Tuesday’s chopping block.

That first round exit against the Los Angeles Clippers, a Game 7 for the No. 6 seed Warriors against the No. 3 seed Clippers, was again, not enough to save Jackson. Neither was candid and extremely public endorsements from the Warriors’ most high-profile players, including the face of the franchise, All-Star point guard Steph Curry.

But sometimes a fresh perspective is warranted.

Kerr brings that, the same way Jackson did when he was hired.

The window for most coaches to keep a team locked in on their vision is roughly three to four seasons anyway. Walking into that Warriors situation now is the ideal time for someone who has been crafting their own vision of the game and how he’d want his team to play in this era, could be a dream scenario for the right coach.

With a ton of experienced coaches, guys like George Karl, Stan Van Gundy, Byron Scott, Jeff Van Gundy, Lionel Hollins, Mike Woodson and others all available, the Warriors should have no shortage of candidates interested in coaching a team capable of  doing what we’ve seen out of the Warriors under Jackson?

In short, the Warriors have plenty of options. And since they didn’t worry about Curry’s feelings regarding Mark Jackson’s future with the franchise, they probably won’t bother consulting with their franchise player in the selection of Jackson’s replacement.

In years past I’d have worried about a franchise making a move like that. But not now. Not in this day and age of players and coaches making moves of their own in free agency and trades (Doc Rivers from the Celtics to the Clippers seems to have worked out well in LA).

If the Warriors’ front office feels as strongly about Kerr as most insiders believe they do, hence their quick decision on Jackson while the Knicks were trying to negotiate a deal with Kerr, the only thing left to do is make it official.

I’m going to miss Kerr’s sharp analysis on TNT and during March Madness, like plenty of others.

But if he’s hell-bent on coaching, on doing it to win and win big, then it’s pretty obvious to me where that needs to happen. And as much as I love the mystique and intrigue of what could be in New York, the better spot right now has to be in Oakland.

Clippers have little time to recover

By Scott Howard-Cooper,

VIDEO: Previewing the Clippers-Thunder semifinal matchup

LOS ANGELES – About 11:15 Saturday night, Jamal Crawford was sitting in front of his stall in the Clipper locker room deep inside Staples Center, both feet and ankles in a bucket of water and melting ice cubes up to mid-shin and both knees wrapped with ice packs, a common post-game look for a player.

The first-round series against the Warriors was finally over after 15 days, the max seven games and the last one at 2 hours, 50 minutes without overtime. The Donald Sterling firestorm had drained energy from both sides. The underdog opponent that refused to act like it took more out of the Clippers. And then they had to go down to the final minute of the final contest to determine a winner in the first round.

“I’m exhausted,” Crawford conceded. “And everybody is. Not just physically, but mentally.”

The Clippers needed to call a 20-day timeout.

They got a few hours instead.

No sooner had they dispatched the Warriors 126-121 in a gripping Game 7 than players walked from the court to the locker room and received the scouting report on the Thunder and saw the departure time for the flight to Oklahoma City written in black ink on the white dry-erase board on one of the walls. Take the booklets home and start reading, coach Doc Rivers said, later jokingly calling it homework. And be ready to take off at noon Sunday.

The Thunder would have a similar quick turnaround from playing Game 7 on Saturday night, in their case against the Grizzlies, to the Western Conference semifinals opening Monday night, except that Oklahoma City didn’t have travel as an additional layer. Even the relatively easy trip, a little more than 2 ½ hours if all goes according to plan, is a factor at a time in their lives when, actually, there is no such thing as easy for the Clippers.

“It’s tough,” Rivers said.

There’s not much quiet time during the series, either. Unlike the first round that included two instances of two days off between games and the benefit of the breeze of travel of one-hour hops, Thunder-Clippers will be longer flights and games every other day until the two-day break between the potential Games 6 and 7.

“We have the best training staff in the league,” Chris Paul said. “I believe that. I’m not just saying that. Jasen Powell and all the other guys, we have the best training staff in the league. We’ll fly to Oklahoma (on Sunday), maybe Blake will have us at his house or something like that, and we’ll be ready to play on Monday.”

The Clippers have business in the hostile territory of Loud City, the apt nickname for Chesapeake Energy Arena, on Monday and Wednesday. Blake Griffin as an Oklahoma native will have to do for a comfort zone, for now and maybe for a while.

In the end, trust helps the Clippers move on

By Scott Howard-Cooper,

VIDEO: Paul, Jordan lead Clips past Warriors 126-121 in Game 7

LOS ANGELES – Coach Doc Rivers warned his players in advance, flat out told them before the postseason started to brace for inevitable adversity because the Clippers would face unexpected challenges. He could not have imagined the threat would come from the inside and land on the doorstep ticking. But he knew from the experience of deep runs with Boston there would be something at some point.

Then the Donald Sterling scandal hit, the Warriors struck and the Chris Paul hamstring injury impacted, all the way until Saturday at 10:45 p.m. on the Staples Center digital clock. That’s when the Clippers had finally survived the first round that was so much more than a first round. That’s when they finished the 126-121 victory as a Game 7 instant classic to advance to play the Thunder beginning Monday in Oklahoma City.

This is how it will have to be, maybe for now and maybe for the rest of the season after one of the most bizarre series in league history. They got this far, to the Western Conference semifinals, with seven games that were far more gritty than Lob City glamorous, overcoming typical basketball-related concerns along the lines of foul troubles for Blake Griffin and the troublesome right leg of Paul, but mostly overcoming the owner as a human time bomb.

The Clippers got through it. It wasn’t overwhelming, requiring seven games to beat an opponent missing its second- or third-best player with Andrew Bogut lost the entire time to injury, and it wasn’t always fun. But it was over.

“This was a hard week,” Rivers said. “Was it a week? I don’t even know. It felt like two months.”

Maybe even longer to the carryover Clippers, who have been waiting for a chance to live down the 2013 playoffs that started with two wins over Memphis and was immediately followed by four consecutive losses. A first-round loss then and the alarming possibility of another now, especially trailing by three points with nine minutes remaining Saturday night and rarely leading by more than five points the final six minutes.

“I just thought this team really needed the game,” said Rivers, in his first season as coach. “Honestly, I just wanted us to win the game. Not because of not winning last year. I just thought with all this stuff, this team just needed this win. We grinded. They [the Warriors] played great. Mark Jackson is a terrific coach. I want to start with that. They had injuries, he got his guys to compete. I thought out of timeouts they were very difficult to defend. … Through all that, I thought that our guys fought the adversity. They went through it. I thought it drained them and they found enough energy to find a way to win a game.

“I think Matt Barnes, in one word, said it was trust. After we walked in the locker room, he said, ‘Guys, thank you for trusting each other.’ I think you have to go through adversity to learn how to trust each other. We went on that one little stretch where we stopped moving the ball offensively, and down the stretch the ball was moving so fast that they [the Warriors] couldn’t find the open guy and we had dunks and layups and open threes. Chris was on fire. We come out of a timeout, run a play for J.J. [Redick] and he trusts and gets the ball. I thought that really helped our team.”

This was something to be at once endured and enjoyed. A loss Thursday in Oakland that sent the series to L.A. for a deciding Game 7. Such an unproductive film session and light practice Thursday that Rivers sent players home to clear their heads — the second time he’d done that in the series. And then the back and forth of an incredible Saturday night inside Staples Center and the cauldron of emotions for loud fans and scrapping teams.

“Our trust is real,” Jamal Crawford said after scoring 22 points off the bench. “It’s easy to all be together when things are going great. But when there’s adversity and you still hang together and get even closer, I think that’s special.”

Survival felt good. The Clippers had outlasted the Warriors and overcome the controversy surrounding their owner to reach the second round and maybe put a little more distance on the Sterling saga. The Clippers had handled the adversity just well enough. This is how it will have to be for a while.

Heading into Game 7, Mark Jackson makes his case

By Scott Howard-Cooper,

VIDEO: Chuck, Ernie, Kenny and Shaq discuss the pending Game 7 of the Warriors-Clippers series

OAKLAND, Calif. – They were suddenly in a race of attrition, already without center and defensive presence Andrew Bogut the entire series, then Jermaine O’Neal, Bogut’s initial replacement as the starter, went out with a sprained knee, then Draymond Green got his fifth personal with 10:15 remaining, then David Lee, Bogut’s second replacement, fouled out with 9:44 left Thursday night. At least the Warriors had the benefit of knowing the longer Game 6 dragged out, the more time for their nails to grow to make the difference on the finger-tip hold on the season.

The series deficit and the fouls and the injuries and the 39.3 percent from the field and 62.2 percent from the line… and Golden State very comfortably works in the grinder. After an inconsistent season of too often failing to scrape together energy to play to the end, even at Oracle Arena as the passionate home fans push them, this would be the counter. Warriors 100, Clippers 99, Mark Jackson a couple million.

Jackson may still get fired no matter what happens Saturday night in Game 7 in Los Angeles amid a disconnect with upper-management, as plugged-in Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group outlined, but it just got a lot harder for owner Joe Lacob to make the case to change coaches. If the Warriors win those kind of games, with players standing up to the challenge, against a better opponent if both teams were full strength and certainly in this case, Thursday goes at the top of the list of arguments for the pro-Jackson faction.

“(The Clippers) made tough shots and you’re thinking, ‘Oh, my goodness, can we get out of here and make sure there is a Game 7?’ ” Jackson said. “But that is the way we want to leave ball games, where we’re on fumes. It’s a shame that we leave ball games with something left in the tank. I thought (Thursday) everybody that stepped on the floor was engaged. They were involved. We made mistakes, but they battled. They battled.

“I can think of folks saying, ‘Why are we playing small? Why is Draymond Green in the game?’ It’s because of moments like this. We didn’t play for last year or the year before. We played for the future and he’s ready because of those moments. Those guys just competed. I’m excited to see this young basketball team experience a Game 7 on the road. They haven’t experienced it as players. It’s new to Klay Thompson. It’s new to Stephen Curry. It’s new to Draymond Green. It’s new to all my guys other than the veterans that have been around and have been on other teams. It’s new to me. It’s going to be a lot of fun because a lot of folks didn’t think we’d be here.”

He got that right. The teams split four regular-season meetings that were often contentious, but the Clippers finished six games ahead in the standings as the top teams in the Pacific Division. Even the Warriors’ best player, Curry, wouldn’t win a head-to-head matchup at his position, not with Chris Paul his opposite at point guard. And then with Bogut sidelined by a fractured rib, forget it.

It turned into the strangest series from there. Blake Griffin was immediately a force, but fouled out after 19 minutes in Game 1 and Golden State won. The Clippers responded with center DeAndre Jordan appearing unstoppable in the absence of Bogut. Donald Sterling made an appearance. The teams talked about boycotting at least a game as protest if commissioner Adam Silver did not make a strong ruling against Sterling. The Warriors are winning without Curry dominating, the Clippers without Paul consistently starring.

Jackson said before Game 6 the pressure was on L.A. because shorthanded Golden State wasn’t supposed to make it this interesting, so imagine now that it’s at a Game 7 and the Clippers are at home and in an elimination situation. Imagine now that the Warriors are on the brink of the second round and what that would mean for Jackson’s future.

Clippers head into Game 7 with hobbled CP3

By Scott Howard-Cooper,

VIDEO: Warriors top Clippers to force Game 7

OAKLAND, Calif. – Game 6, a clinching opportunity, the chance to finally get away from a first round that tested them in agonizing ways the Clippers never could have imagined, and the best point guard in the world is hard to find.

Chris Paul is on the court for 34 minutes, except that it’s not really Chris Paul. Maybe Cliff Paul. Maybe. But the inability to turn the corner with the ball, the challenge of staying with the Warriors’ shooters in the backcourt, that is more like CP1.5.

The Clippers have a problem, in addition to the obvious of Golden State extending the series with the 100-99 win Thursday night at Oracle Arena. Make that problems, plural. They have an anything-can-happen Game 7 in Los Angeles on Saturday as part of a matchup where pretty much everything has happened before we even get to the actual crescendo, they have a wounded Paul while staring at a first-round elimination complete with a blown series lead for the second year in a row, and they have a concerning pattern.

Three seasons Paul has been on the Clippers, three seasons he has been banged up in the playoffs. A strained groin that carried over from the end of the regular season in 2012 followed by a strained hip flexor in the first round against Memphis, a bruised thumb in 2013 against the same Grizzlies, and now the strained hamstring and a bruised right thumb. He has persevered enough to play big minutes each time. He just hasn’t been able to be his best.

This time, the right leg has been a factor much of the way, from clearly being bothered in Game 1 to the Clippers openly appreciating the extra recuperation in the schedule break of two days off before Games 3 and 4, to Paul laboring along in Game 6. The hamstring was often wrapped when he was out. The attention was always on when he was in.

“He’s dealing with a lot of stuff,” coach Doc Rivers said. “But listen. He’s on the floor and Golden State doesn’t care, bottom line. He does have injuries, there’s no doubt about that. I’m sure (the Warriors) have some too, but I think once you’re on the floor, you’re on the floor. Chris is playing terrific to me defensively and that’s what we need him to do in this series. It probably does take a little bit of the offense away, but I’m good with that.”

Paul did give the Clippers 34 minutes on Thursday, a heavy workload under difficult circumstances with his mobility and ability to control the flow. But he made just 3-for-10 shots, had eight assists against four turnovers and scored nine points, his fewest of the series. All the Clippers combined to shoot 36.8 percent.

Now it’s Game 7, the first time they have had one at home in franchise history, and the Clippers have to rely a lot on hope over what to expect CP3 will be able to give them. An earlier stretch of two games over seven days was not close to being enough healing time, as it turned out. A treatment regiment, sometimes constant, was not enough.

He has about a day and a half of recovery this time, from when the Clippers left Oracle Arena late Thursday, all Friday and until the scheduled 7:30 p.m. tip Saturday. He has one more chance in the series. After that, who knows.

“I’m OK,” Paul said. “Tough game, bumps and bruises, you get through it. But we’ve just got to be ready for Game 7. Every game is different. Me and Blake (Griffin) both battled foul trouble tonight. We’ve just got to be ready for Game 7.”

Hang time podcast (episode 158): the Sterling verdict and featuring Bob Rathbun

By Sekou Smith,


Those three words, those three simple words uttered by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Tuesday, will alter the landscape of the league for generations to come.

The racist and bigoted comments from longtime Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will not be tolerated. Silver made that clear in response to a nasty exchange between Sterling and a lady friend of his that surfaced over the weekend.

We dive in on the fallout, the playoffs and all that comes with it this time of year in the NBA on Episode 158 of the Hang Time Podcast: The Sterling Verdict and featuring the TV voice of the Atlanta Hawks Bob Rathbun.

The Washington Wizards have already pulled off the first shocker of the playoffs, sending the Chicago Bulls fishing. Can the Hawks really pull off this first round upset of the Pacers? And the Grizzlies over the Thunder? The Trail Blazers over the Rockets?

Dive in for all of that and more on Episode 158 of the Hang Time Podcast: The Sterling Verdict and featuring Hawks TV voice Bob Rathbun …


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’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 sound designer/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.

VIDEO: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver annouces that he has banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life

Even in midst of Clips’ off-court struggle, Rivers still in charge in L.A.

By Scott Howard-Cooper,

VIDEO: Doc Rivers talks about how he dealt with the Donald Sterling situation

LOS ANGELES – The bold course was made clear opening night: Doc Rivers would isolate Donald Sterling from anything to do with the basketball side of the Clippers, even if it took embarrassing the owner into keeping his distance. And actually, building that moat with a public-flogging chaser was preferred.

Sterling tried to scuttle the J.J. Redick signing as part of a three-team trade in the summer and Rivers wasn’t going to cover for his boss when the meddling became public the way other GMs would. Rivers, hired away from the Celtics with the promise of being able to craft the roster as well as coach it, denied nothing with the 2013-14 opener about 90 minutes away. If it would be viewed as insubordination and resulted in being fired, fine. Rivers put Sterling into a corner and dared Sterling to do something about it, knowing that wouldn’t happen.

It’s the same thing now. Rivers won’t let Sterling in, doesn’t care who knows it, and it’s not just because Sterling is more toxic than normal right now. When news first broke of the audio recording that would lead to Sterling receiving a lifetime suspension and possibly being forced to sell the team, a seething Rivers wouldn’t so much as consider a phone call. When commissioner Adam Silver announced the discipline Tuesday, Rivers still had no desire to talk, because he was personally disgusted by the comments and professionally aware that Sterling should be at a distance even in the best of times.

This is Rivers’ team, period. That was the plan all along, his championship credibility from the Celtics as important as anything he would draw up on a dry-erase board, only it became a lot more important and a lot more obvious starting late last week. If the Clippers were going to climb from this deep valley, he would be the one to get them out.

There were more signs of that Tuesday, late in the morning when Silver made his finding public and Rivers realized it would be easier to stay with the organization if Sterling was gone. And more signs showed up last night in a 113-103 win over the Warriors at Staples Center. Both were critical developments.

The victory gave Los Angeles a 3-2 lead in the series and the chance to close out Thursday in Oakland. The clean air the commissioner pumped into the franchise gave Rivers a reason to hint that his conscience would now allow him to return to the team next season.

“I haven’t thought about it,” Rivers said. “I haven’t thought about leaving, staying. The main thing is, honestly, this should not be about me and what I’m doing and want to do. I want to coach. I love coaching. I’ve enjoyed these guys. Other than that… I don’t have an answer because I had given it zero thought as far as that goes. Obviously Adam’s decision, if there was going to be one made, makes mine easier.

“I think we’re just going to let this whole thing run its course and then we’ll all have better clarity. I’m not in the position, nor do I want to be in the position, where it sounds like I’m threatening anything. I want my players to be comfortable. Honestly. I think that’s the most important thing. Let’s just see where it goes with them. That’s important for me, their comfort.”

There is obviously uncertainty — if he was definitely coming back, Rivers would say so. But wanting the whole thing run its course means waiting to see Sterling’s location come July or August, and whether or not he still owns the team at that point, too.

Rivers had several advantages on Sterling all along, most of all that he didn’t need this job. He would be in great demand as a coach if things went bad with the Clippers and might even have the same deal in other organizations of running basketball operations as well as the sideline. And if no appealing job came along for a while, he would be sifting through network TV analyst gigs.

He knew the Clippers needed him more than he needed them, an attitude few coaches can afford. He also had a hammer in L.A. no one had before.

The organization appreciated the brilliant mind of Larry Brown and all he brought, but Brown didn’t make the personnel decisions, saving what would have been a weekly turnover of the locker room depending on his mood. Mike Dunleavy had Rivers’ dual role as coach and head of basketball operations, but he was also expendable like all those who had passed through the turnstile before him. Doc marked the first time the Clips had to hold on to someone, as opposed to the someone needing to hold on to the job.

Rivers never wanted to work for Sterling. He wanted to lead the Clippers, in a city he enjoys, with a roster he felt could win a title. He knew he would have to live with the fact that his paychecks would be signed by the same guy who needed to be neutralized. So Doc, aware of some of Sterling’s shortcomings as a human but insisting he didn’t know about the racial problems, lowered his standards in the name of a desirable job. He felt he could tolerate Sterling from a distance.

Now, though, Rivers not only tries to manage the locker-room firestorm his boss created, with poor results Sunday in Game 4 at Oracle Arena in taking the blame for the Clippers appearing listless and a better outcome Tuesday back home, he wants the morality play. He gets that this is about the bigger issue of race in America and understands people who argue teams should have boycotted at least one of the two.

Rivers welcomes the debate with the explanation that he wants to play because he knows his late father would have said not to let anyone stand in the way of doing your job based on what they think about you. Doing good work in the face of adversity would be the biggest statement. That’s why he didn’t want the boycott. Because Rivers wanted to be in charge.