ESPN the Magazine's Chris Broussard talking to LeBron James (also, includes good notes of James' relationship with his high school librarian at St. Vincent St. Mary): "Some Clevelanders may not see it, but LeBron says he's as loyal as they are. In high school, Oak Hill Academy recruited him hard, but he wanted to stay with his friends and teammates at SVSM. He admitted that his decision in 2010 will have similarities to those days. 'I'm a loyal person,' LeBron said. 'I've always been loyal. I respect people who give me the opportunity. Right now, I think it is similar. But I'm more of a businessman now. You have to look at the business side of things. This is a business. So you look at all the options. I'm going to do what's best for my family, do what's best for my friends and do what's best for me at the end of the day.' While he clearly enjoys the hoopla surrounding his upcoming free agency, LeBron says he's never given Cleveland fans a reason to think he'll leave. 'Ever since I've been asked about the Cavs, I never gave any indication that I was leaving or that I wasn't happy here,' he said. 'I think the franchise has definitely done a great job of giving me a team and putting me in position to win ballgames, so I'm happy here and I look forward to getting better this year and in the years to come.' In the years to come? Sounds like good news for Cavs fans. Stay tuned."
Lang Whitaker of SLAM was working on a story about the Hawks' radio broadcasters, and arranged to sit with Steve Holman as he called a game. Then, something funny happened. Whitaker explains: "About twenty minutes before tip-off, Steve and I went up to the radio broadcast table near the top of the lower level of stands at the American Airlines Center, and I took a seat to Steve's left. An engineer was sitting to Steve's right. In front of us were two TV screens, one with stats and one showing the Atlanta broadcast of the game. Steve had with him a score sheet that he'd annotated with every player's current averages and other stats. (He said it takes him about an hour to do the sheet each game and he does it the same way he learned how from legendary Celtics broadcaster Johnny Most in the early '70s.) So I had my notebook out and was asking Steve some basic questions before tip-off, when he handed me a headset and told me I could listen to the broadcast through them. I put it on and pushed the mic way up over my head, so that listeners wouldn't hear me coughing or whatever. A few minutes before we went live, Steve said he wanted to get my title right so he could mention me on the air. Great, I thought, and I texted my family back home in Atlanta to listen in. Then, as the teams took to the court for the opening tip, Steve introduced me and asked me about SLAM. So I started talking about SLAM and SLAMonline and Hawks.com, etcetera. And then the game started, so I shut up halfway through a sentence. I motioned to Steve to ask him if should finish talking, and he nodded, so I said something about the game starting and threw it back to Steve. And we just kept going. For the entire game." You can listen to his performance here.
John Lombardo of Sports Business Journal on NBA attendance: "Seven teams that have sold at least 2,000 in new full-season-ticket sales this season are the Celtics, Warriors, Houston Rockets, Hornets, Thunder, Orlando Magic and the Trail Blazers. Last season, eight teams had sold more than 2,000 new full-season tickets. Those teams were Cleveland, Toronto and Utah, along with the Magic, New Jersey Nets, Celtics, Detroit Pistons and the Trail Blazers. Teams recognized this year for the highest group sales were Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Indiana and Washington. Through Jan. 19, the NBA is averaging 17,244 fans per game, up 0.9 percent to date from last season. The Pistons lead the NBA in attendance with an average of 22,076 fans per game. The Sacramento Kings are last in the NBA in average attendance with 12,277 fans per game. The Kings also have the largest attendance decrease in the NBA with an 11.6 percent drop at the gate. The New Orleans Hornets have the highest attendance gain with a 38.6 percent increase to an average of 16,976 fans per game."
Important note for all NBA players: Before going on air, find out if you're on TV or radio. If it's live TV, don't duck down out of the camera frame to mess with your shoes. Mario Chalmers knows this, now.
Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer says Zydunas Ilgauskas is close to returning. And she adds this note: "TNT announcer Reggie Miller said on Dan Patrick's radio show Monday afternoon that the Cavs had talked to him about coming out of retirement and playing for them. The Cavs declined to comment on Monday."
Further evidence that, because the Magic don't rebound well, they'll have to shoot well from downtown to keep winning. I can't help but wonder, though: What would it take for Dwight Howard's team to get more rebounds? Could there be improvement on the way?
Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty: "[Kevin] Martin drilled every single Cavalier who tried to guard him. He could have scored 50, but any time one of his bigs had a mismatch Kevin found them. He hit Jason Thompson, Brad Miller and Spencer Hawes. He hit his guardly friends, too. He didn't get called for traveling once. He hit the defensive glass, he played the lanes ... he played active defense (although Sasha Pavlovic blew by him a few times). And he did it all on 1.5 legs. That ankle still isn't right; you can tell every so often in transition. He won't make that excuse -- he's refused to shed some blame onto the bone bruise. But Sam Amick has noted a few times in detail that it continues to be a problem." Martin had 35 points on 17 shots, seven rebounds, seven assists, four steals, and a block.
Basketbawful: "Voskuhl (voss-cull) noun. When a big man's combined fouls and turnovers exceed his combined points and rebounds over the course of a game."