TrueHoop: 2005 Draft

Leandro Barbosa is a key part of the Phoenix Suns. Seems like it has always been so, doesn't it? But boy, it almost didn't happen that way.

  • Don't forget that San Antonio drafted Barbosa in 2003. The Spurs then traded the Brazilian to Phoenix for a conditional 2005 first-round pick. That pick ended up going to New York (as a major component of the package that netted Nazr Mohammed for San Antonio) and became David Lee.
  • Sources tell me that when the Seattle SuperSonics selected Luke Ridnour 14th in 2003, some people in the Sonic draft room were pulling for Barbosa instead. Barbosa, a relative unknown who had played only in Brazil, slipped to 28th.
  • Blazer broadcaster Mike Barrett says the Suns were ready to deal Barbosa for a second-round pick in the summer of 2005: "I'm not sure if many fans realize how close Barbosa was to becoming a Trail Blazer ... Basically, if the trade of Shareef Abdur-Rahim to New Jersey hadn't fallen through at the last minute (the Nets said he flunked his physical) the Blazers would have used the second-round pick they would have gained in that trade, to trade to the Suns for Barbosa. The deal was basically done, and then everything fell apart when the Nets voided the Abdur-Rahim trade."

Why does all this matter? In part, because it's a good opportunity for me to quote a funny phrase, which is coming up. But mainly because the Suns and Spurs are two of the three teams locked in a death match for supremacy of the Western Conference. TrueHoop reader Dylan emails to explain:

The Suns have brought in Diaw and Barbosa for cheap, and Barbosa is Ginobili's best competition for sixth-man award. Stoudemire is healthy, Nash is a superstar at the peak of his game and they are absolutely contenders.

Barbosa, though, really has developed and is now becoming a serious factor. He goes from one end of the court to the other in a blink. He shoots better than 40% from three, hits 47% overall and shoots 83% from the line. He can attack and get to the rack as fast as anyone in the league, and can finish. At 6-4, 188, he's Tony Parker with 10 more pounds and maybe even faster ...

The Spurs are still good enough to beat this Suns team, I believe, though that's no guarantee at all from my mouth. The Suns wouldn't surprise me if they stomped their way to a title this year.

But if that does or does not happen, the Spurs and Suns will know that this trade in 2003 ended up being a whopper-whizz-banger-danger.

(Right here I'm asking myself, did I, subconsciously, write this entire post just so I could quote the phrase "whopper-whizz-banger-danger?" Upon reflection, the answer is probably "yes," and I'm OK with that.)

Here's why you need to know about it now: when the Suns next face the Spurs in the playoffs, which could be soon, at some point Barbosa will get really hot. That's just how it goes with him. And when he does, I promise you those TV commentators will make a huge fuss about how the Spurs once had this long, fast, deadeye shooter, but dealt him to a competitor on the rise.

When that happens, you'll be in a position to take a slow pull on whatever you're drinking, turn to your friends, and declare, "I always knew that deal was a real whopper-whizz-banger-danger."

Also, just for fun, here's an interesting story from the archives about some behind-the-scenes goings on during the summer Leandro Barbosa was drafted.

Tuesday Bullets

December, 5, 2006
  • The previously discounted view that animal rights activists had a hand in the switch to the new ball gets some new mojo with a report that those activists were the wives of an owner and a commissioner.
  • I was looking at HoopsHype's list of the 30 highest NBA salaries. Something interesting: you can make an airtight case that six (Chris Webber, Allan Houston, Michael Finley, Brian Grant, Stephon Marbury, Jalen Rose) of the top 15 are severely overpaid. (If there were all on the open market today, how much could those six make? I wonder if all together they could command Chris Webber's nearly $21 million.)  That's more than a third of the biggest contracts that really hurt the owners. But look at the next 15. Out of that batch I'd say only Eddie Jones is clearly making more than he would get on the open market today. Take away lesson: careful with those $15 million+ per season contracts.
  • It has to do wonders for Kwame Brown to be the older, wiser big man on a team with a straight-out-of-high-school phenom (Andrew Bynum) who's getting ripped by his coach.
  • Eddy Curry coming out of hibernation, with his seventh straight game of 20 points or more. I'm torn. Either this is the first things Knick fans have had to be hopeful about in a long time, and Isiah's vision of a dominant big man is finally coming to fruition. Or, maybe this is the best month Curry will ever have, and the Knicks should trade him right now.
  • In follow-up to Michael McCann's concerns about David Stern, McCann quotes Skip Oliva, president of the Voluntary Trade Council: "Stern's actions should raise serious 'corporate governance' concerns. In what other business is a CEO permitted to silence shareholders who criticize management? If a publicly-traded company imposed such a gag rule, it would obviously be ignored, and I doubt the SEC would be happy." Of course, the NBA is not publicly traded. But it's weird all the same.
  • Late night TV has screwed with Mark Madsen's head in such a way that Mad Dog, who went to Stanford, thinks Donald Trump is brilliant. But he can't side with Trump in his alleged recent critique of Mark Cuban as "not a real billionaire." Madsen writes: "Of course within the world of the NBA when someone from the outside world goes at one of our own, (We consider Mark Cuban one of our own), we always stick with our guy and even though I love Donald Trump, Mark Cuban is well-loved in the NBA fraternity and he's our guy. Once Trump buys the New York Knicks he'll be on par with Cuban within the circles of NBA players." Also, Mark Cuban is all tickled that Madsen commented on his blog.

  • Two tough pieces of news in Toronto: Chris Bosh has scary eye trouble that makes him super sensitive to light, and the fast-break is busted and reportedly shelved.
  • A surprising amount of chatter about trading Zach Randolph (including the notion from Detroit that Portland might give him away for cap space, which makes no sense to me). Here's the deal: Portland, if you're ever going to trade him, trade him now while he's healthy and his PR is OK. If you're not going to trade him, remember that you decided to keep him when you had the chance, and hang with him through the rough periods. Just, please, fans, don't wait until his value's in the crapper again to start demanding a trade, because it'll be a terrible trade.
  • Ray Allen is sounding like someone who would welcome a trade.
  • Sitting very close to the court in the corner gets a mediocre review. I have been on the baseline, and it's great to hear everything, and you can see a lot of stuff really well (and a lot of stuff not so well). I have always wanted to really sit courtside, like Jack Nicholson courtside, but I'd bet the best seat is where I notice David Stern tends to sit: about 15 rows up at halfcourt.
  • Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards stop the mighty Mavericks. Mike Wise quotes Arenas: "I don't know what it is, I think I try to manage the game on the road -- set people up and do things I don't normally do," Arenas said after the Wizards ended Dallas's 12-game winning streak. "I'm an open-court player and for some reason we haven't been able to get out and go on the road as much." And at home, where the Wizards are 7-2? "When I'm at home, I'm free," he said. "I'm like a bird. I just go."
  • John Hollinger writes that Orlando, Detroit, and Chicago are the most likely to win the Eastern Conference Finals. On Chicago: "Believe it or not, the sub-.500 Bulls have been the class of the East thus far. Granted, this is a complement along the lines of "the best sushi in Wyoming" or "the best beach town in Siberia," but in spite of a losing record the Bulls have done well against their conference mates — going 6–3 vs. the East — and remember, only five of their first 16 games were at home. Moreover, the Bulls have more potential for improvement than any team from here on out. That's true both internally — rookies Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha figure to improve substantially as the year goes on. And externally, no team has more trade assets than Chicago, which could allow it to net a Big Kahuna like Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen at the trade deadline. Even though the Bulls are off to a rough start, the rest of the conference has been so disappointing that this still looks like the team to beat."
  • Maybe Jarrett Jack is really quiet? He is reportedly losing some minutes to a player who is more vocal. And that player, Sergio Rodriguez, speaks just a little English.
  • Raymond Felton highlights.
  • Sacramento voters said hell no they didn't want to pay for a stadium, but David Stern is sure they didn't really mean that. Being discussed: statewide tax support, ie like how Maryland used lottery money to build some stadiums in Baltimore.

  • These people just e-mailed to let me know that if I want to host a slammin' All-Star party in Vegas, they can bring the "models."
Right? I mean, that seemed to me like one of the first really important games of the season. Message: Jazz not a flash in the pan.

The interesting part was Jerry Sloan's decision to put his star, Carlos Boozer, on Tim Duncan down the stretch. After the game, Duncan whined about non-calls (wonder if he'll get fined) but Boozer certainly wasn't intimidated. Johnny Ludden writes about one episode:

Tim Duncan poked the ball away from Carlos Boozer near Utah's free-throw line, scooped it up and set his sights on the Spurs' basket 50 feet away.

For all of Duncan's skills, however, foot speed is not among them. After lumbering down the floor, Duncan started to go up for a dunk only to have Boozer crack him back to the floor.

The hard foul not only prevented a basket, it sent a message. Apparently, the Jazz have grown tired of being pushed around by the Spurs.

At one point down the stretch, Boozer just took the ball out of Duncan's hands, keying the game-winning run. Duncan didn't score in the fourth quarter.

Boozer finished with 23 and 16. The Jazz outrebounded the Spurs 50-34. And, as part of my mounting "Deron Williams is Good" campaign, he not only (along with Matt Harpring) hit big buckets down the stretch, but may have provided a little pre-game spark for Boozer's performance, too.  Phil Miller reports:

Williams dropped by Boozer's locker before the game and pointed out Duncan's place in his life. "I told him, 'That's one of the guys who can keep [you] out of the All-Star Game,' " Williams said with a smile. "You see what he did."

Good Gregg Popovich quote on Deron Williams:

"He's not playing like a rookie anymore. He's out there to put his foot on your throat."

Deron Williams is Good

November, 27, 2006
With Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, Nate Robinson, Monta Ellis and Jarrett Jack, (not to mention Roko Ukic, Travis Diener, Orien Green, any of whom could still find places in the NBA) that 2005 draft will go down as one that was rich with ball-handling guards.

The one who is winning the most right now is the one that gets very little national TV exposure, and that's Deron Williams. David Thorpe just told me that in his book Williams is one of the three best point guards in the NBA right now. I made it a mission to watch a whole bunch of Deron Williams clips on SynergySports. Here are some things I noticed:

  • He's big, strong, and fast.
  • He pushes the ball when he can, and effectively. Utah is ready to score on the break or in the half-court.
  • He's decisive as all get-out. He knows what he wants to do with the ball, and he's not bashful about directing teammates, who seem more than willing to take direction from him. Similarly, Jerry Sloan clearly trusts him to make things work on the court.
  • He's gritty. On the break, he welcomes contact with the defender. In the half-court, he doesn't panic among the tall trees in the lane. He wins more than his fair share of 50/50 balls.
  • Thorpe explains that his size and strength are especially valuable in the "flex" offense Utah runs fairly often. In that arrangement, all five players have to be interchangeable, and Williams has no trouble filling in anywhere on the court.
  • I know we all like to think of Utah as the model of self-control, but make no mistake: Deron Williams dribbles and shoots a lot. Threes, spot-up twos, off the dribble in the lane, on the break... it's the nature of their four-forward offense that someone has to be the creator, and it's usually Deron Williams.
  • He's a willing and excellent scorer, and gets his points in a number of different ways, most commonly as the ball-handler in a pick and roll, in transition, coming off screens, spotting up, and in isolation. At times, especially when the defense clamps down, he is Utah's primary option.
  • The fact that he has the green light to shoot makes extra sense when you consider that Utah is an excellent offensive rebounding team. A lot of his misses find their way back to the Jazz.
  • He clearly loves getting the ball to Carlos Boozer (and, to a lesser extent, Mehmet Okur). Sometimes he attempts overly difficult passes to those guys that get picked off. He appears to generate more than his fair of steals, and they're almost always trying to pass in the range of a long-armed defender.

Monday Bullets

October, 23, 2006
  • Will Smith, Julius Erving and others are said to be interested in the Sixers.
  • The people at Daily Basketball clearly have excellent taste.
  • Kevin Broom: "Does defense win championships? Yes. But it’s equally true that offense wins championships. Not surprisingly, what the evidence shows is that championship teams are usually good at both ends of the court. One thing that’s interesting (and which may lend itself to the popular notion that defense wins chamipionships) is that championsip teams tend to play at a slower pace than the league average. Since playing at a slower pace leads to lower scoring games (both points scored and points allowed), it probably contributes to the media’s notion that defense is what wins championships. Since mainstream sports media relies almost exclusively on per game stats, it’s possible that they’re not noticing good defense, but a pace effect."
  • Paul Shirley was the last player cut by the Timberwolves (and Vin Baker, well, wasn't): In a little more than an hour Shirley will be chatting about it.
  • FreeDarko requested a particular Tyrus Thomas block/dunk highlight, and got it.
  • Stephon Marbury, would-be talk show host in search of a network. He has a heartfelt interview with Kobe Bryant in the can already.
  • Ahmad Rashad (most arrogant man I have ever met, by the way) has some new TV show too.
  • Mark Madsen loves Craig Smith, on and off the court.
  • Billy King still has his job, it says here, because the Sixers are for sale.
  • The Eric Musselman drinking scale. And some nice Musselman background. The Association points out that new we all have carte blanche to ask "What, are you drunk?" whenever Musselman makes a mistake. (And, Musselman has a motivational video.)
  • You've been dying for video of the Wizards' fashion show. Here you go.
  • Chris "Birdman" Andersen, suspended for testing positive to an unspecifed drug, admits to having taken an unspecified drug. He has his eye on the date in 2008 when he'll be eligible to return. Good article.
  • Kevin from ClipperBlog: "...the Sonics aren't going to do anything with Luke Ridnour as their primary point guard. We all appreciate Ridnour's David Eckstein-like grit and passion. But do you think it's a coincidence that Seattle was one of the worst defensive teams in NBA history with Ridnour at the point? It ain't all Rashard Lewis."
  • If the Heat are Supermen, the Spurs are their kryptonite.
  • NetsDaily: "...preseason statistics are showing that Antoine Wright has made a remarkable turnaround. He has gone from a rookie season where many thought he was a bust to a preseason where he is the leading scorer among those taken in the 2005 Draft."
The current Sports Illustrated (the print version at least, I couldn't find this part online) has extensive "Behind Enemy Lines" quotes from anonymous scouts on nearly every team. Here are some of my favorite highlights, and don't stop until you get to the Al McGuire donkey theory:

  • On LeBron James: "Have you noticed that his toes turn out? Most good athletes are pigeon-toed; Michael Jordan is. I've never seen a guy with a duck walk run as fast as LeBron does."
  • On the Pistons: "During their great start last year they developed this cockiness--you could see it in their faces. They started toying with teams by playing close for three quarters, then turning it on in the fourth. That turned me off."
  • On Ruben Patterson: "I'm a big Ruben Patterson fan. I know he has a lot of issues, but he's a dirty dog and he'll do whatever you ask."
  • On Sam Mitchell: "They play hard for Sam Mitchell, but I thought he'd be more organized. He's a little off-the-cuff. There are too many times when they come out of the huddle with a play that they haven't practiced enough and it doesn't get executed."
  • On Allen Iverson: "You can't win with a 'me' guy as your point guard."
  • On Eddy Curry: "I thought Eddy Curry could make a big difference if he was motivated and in shape. But once he signed his big contract, he reverted to the underachieving player he used to be."
  • On the Celtics: "Paul Pierce is going to be frustrated with Telfair because he isn't a pass-first point guard--he gets to the lane, and then if he can't score, he dishes it out. He still hasn't proved that he's capable of finishing, so it's not like he's going to force the defense to collapse and create open shots for Pierce... Jefferson needs to overcome his inability to play with some pain, which is a huge detriment for a big man."
  • On Marvin Williams: "Everyone knew Marvin Williams was raw, but he turned out to be an average NBA athlete with below-average skills. I can't figure out what they saw in him to warrant drafting him No. 2 [in 2005]."
  • On Dirk Nowitzki: "I also think that he's close to maxing out his talent, so if they want to take the next step, they're going to need improvement from young stars Josh Howard and Devin Harris."
  • On the Spurs: "We fear Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili 10 times more than we do Duncan because the way the rules are structured now, you can't stop penetration and both of those guys are great drivers. They can also kick it out to any number of players who are very dangerous from the perimeter."
  • On Bonzi Wells: "The Rockets have so many good citizens that Bonzi Wells will be O.K. It reminds me of the old quote from Al McGuire: You can afford to have one donkey, but you can't have two because then they'll breed."
  • On Elton Brand: "If the Lakers offered Kobe Bryant for Brand, I would tell owner Donald Sterling not to do it. It's harder to replace the effort and production Brand gives you at power forward than the scoring Bryant provides on the wing."
  • On the Nuggets: "They're on shaky ground considering George Karl's history. As good as he is, you know that things will eventually blow up around him... There are only a few guys capable of leading a team to a title, and while Carmelo Anthony is very talented, I wouldn't say that he's one of them because he doesn't make his teammates better."
  • On the Timberwolves: "I have a hunch this will be [G.M.] Kevin McHale's last year. And the feeling in the league is that assistant Randy Wittman will take over for Dwane Casey if things don't go well... Let's give them credit for drafting Randy Foye out of Villanova. I'll be shocked if he doesn't become a perennial All-Star."
  • On Brandon Roy: "They're creating higher expectations for rookie Brandon Roy than the Bobcats are for Adam Morrison. Roy is good, but if they think he's going to be the savior, then that's very, very unfair."

Maybe you saw in Chris McCosky's article in today's Detroit News that Maxiell says the secret to his free throw shooting is "I just say 'Happy Gilmore' and try to go to my happy place. I think of my happy place, picture my girl and shoot."

Erin Podolsky reflects:

so when he’s at the free throw line, he thinks about , in this order:

a) adam sandler golfing

b) his happy place

c) his girlfriend

If he's channelling his inner Happy Gilmore, Erin points out that means he's saying this:

“You little son of a bitch ball! Why you don’t you just go home? That’s your home! Are you too good for your home? ANSWER ME! SUCK MY WHITE ASS BALL!”

And, she also makes note that he's currently 25-44 from the line.

Hard to imagine Maxiell could improve his mental approach. Maybe he should start tinkering with his release.

Wednesday Bullets

October, 4, 2006
  • The kinds of things Rolando is noticing after spending long hours working on TrueHoopWiki: "Remember how last year Larry Brown was so high on Jackie Butler? Didn't play him a lot, but said nice things. Now he's with the Spurs, with brown's good friend Popovich. Coincidentally, Butler's agent is Keith Glass, who is the son of Joe Glass, Brown's agent. Ah, mysteries revealed by the wiki."
  • Stephon Marbury appears not to know that Larry Brown was once an All-Star point guard. Ken Berger writes: "It's more free flowing and free going," Marbury said of Thomas' first practice. "You don't have somebody who couldn't handle the ball telling you, 'Don't do this, don't do that.'"
  • The good people at The Painted Area have good previews and background for those NBA preseason games in Europe. This rare coverage actually breaks down the other teams, too.
  • Randy Hill reports that officials are under orders this season to cut down on whining about calls. Practice your free throw shooting, everybody. It's going to be technical city.
  • Basketbawful is tougher than Marquis Daniels.
  • is still getting some mileage out of this Jason Whitlock thing.
  • Ever wonder what Dale Davis would look like as a member of the Village People?
  • Every time a new young player is brought in to play behind a great All-Star, somebody writes an article like this about getting a chance to learn from the best. In reality, I think there's precious little mentorship in professional sports--they're all competing for minutes, roster slots, endorsements, and dollars. I'd like that learning to be documented in some fashion, rather than assumed.
  • Plenty of paperwork in the Larry Brown hearings. Mitch Lawrence reports: "Brown appeared in the Olympic Tower atrium lobby, accompanied by his wife, Shelly, long-time agent Joe Glass and lawyers wheeling three handcarts holding five cartons of legal briefs." David Stern has to be wishing this could have gone to some arbitrator instead.
  • Don't let Sekou Smith coach little league. His thoughts on training camp in Atlanta: "I needed a good fight or something to let me know that these guys were serious about climbing out of the NBA basement. (I hadn’t witnessed so much as a shoving match since I’ve covered these Hawks, nice guys all of them but no one strikes me as particularly rowdy or nasty)... While pulling into the parking lot for practice this morning I spot Hawks equipment man Zach Walsh rolling past me with Zaza Pachulia in the passenger seat holding a bag of ice wrapped in a towel over his eye. Turns out Zaza caught an inadvertent elbow to the dome from Lorenzen Wright during a defensive drill. He missed the rest of the morning session but was expected back for the night session, with 20 or so stitches to close up the gash above his eye. I know it wasn’t Hearns-Hagler or Tyson-Holyfield. It wasn’t even a skirmish. But blood has been spilled. And even when it’s accidental, it sets a certain tone..."
  • Steve Kerr is worried about Amare Stoudemire's health, and says even when he is 100% there are questions: "One of the things coach Mike D'Antoni and his staff will have to figure out is whether or not Stoudemire and Diaw can play together. Will the ball stop once it hits Amare's hands, or will he move it along? And when he does have the ball, will opponents sag off of Diaw, who is a decent shooter but not a great one? If so, the Suns won't be able to spread the floor with their three-point shooters, a staple under D'Antoni. As for Marion, he has been most successful under D'Antoni as an undersized power forward. Assuming Stoudemire and Diaw play alongside him, Marion will become a small forward, where his quickness is not quite as big of an advantage. In other words, while D'Antoni has plenty of options, he also has plenty of issues."
  • Top ten reasons Christian Laettner's playing days are probably over.

  • Mike Bibby's summer was about lateral speed, so that opposing coaches will stop yelling at their point guards to attack him.
  • The Cavaliers might play Eric Snow less, let Larry Hughes and LeBron James handle the ball, and hope David Wesley or Shannon Brown can guard the opposing point guard.
  • There was a medical reason Larry Hughes "flicked off" a bunch of reporters.
  • The Sonics are learning dark arts from a former NBA referee. Brian Robinson of SonicsCentral was there: "Lastly it was extremely interesting to see a 15 minute sermon by ex-NBA official Mike Mathis who was brought in by the team to teach players how fouls are called... Today he focused on post defense and how fouls are called. It was amazing watching him to describe the angles involved and the indicators referees use to determine whether or not to call a foul. He focused not on what the rules are, but how those rules are usually enforced, how they can be avoided, and how some players in the league work to draw fouls. Specifically the conversation of the day focused on the topic of “re-routing” the offensive player with your forearms."
  • Mike Barrett, at Blazer training camp, tells about the gruesome Nate McMillan fitness test, and this: "The morning practice ended with what Nate McMillan likes to call 'pressure free throws.' Sometimes Nate calls players out to step to the line, and sometimes he takes volunteers. Today, it was up to the players to take it upon themselves to walk to the foul line. Two free-throw makes means no running. One miss means one full-court down-and-back. Two misses means two down-and-backs." In the photo on Barrett's blog, you'll see the whole team is lined up on the baseline, staring at the shooter. This is brilliant, to me, as I believe more free throws are lost to the panic of the spotlight than bad form.
  • Best collection of Gilbert Arenas quotes you'll find anywhere. He loves him some Harry Potter. And let me be the first to say: he doesn't strike me as crazy at all. He's just a little eccentric and uninhibited--which makes him ten times more interesting than most athletes.

  • Fran Vasquez talks about abandoning the Orlando Magic last year. Sounds like he might still return.
Over on the Lakers Blog they're throwing around terms like "Rock Star" in the same sentence with 18-year-old Andrew Bynum. Mainly, Andrew Kamenetzky is reliving Bynum's exciting few minutes against Shaquille O'Neal.

His three first half minutes head to head with Shaq electrified Staples in a way I haven't witnessed in person since the first PJ era. It felt like a concert. You'd have thought Bono was playing center, the way that kid had the crowd on their feet and in the palm of his hand. To watch him battle the Big Fella was absolutely awesome. Everything about it, from start to finish. Even the part when Shaq severely posterized him, which I was terrified would leave Bynum with a broken neck. He looked somewhere between helpless and dead. It was like watching the roof collapse on a wheelchair bound puppy. But the kid got up, brushed himself off, sprinted down court, and on the very next possession, faked the Diesel on a spin move for a buoyant dunk. Bouncing like a Super Ball and stoked outta his skull, he even gave Shaq a little elbow action on the very next possession, which was met with a forearm shiver that would have intimidated many an Ultimate Fighter. And just for good measure, their little scuffle gets broken up by Kobe Bryant, the man who spent his first eight seasons feuding with Shaq! Are you kidding me?! You could bring together a team of Oscar winning writers and still not come up with that script.

That, my friends, is a full three minutes!
I know, it sounds incredible, and I know it was exciting at Staples that night. But watch the video of the highlight of Andrew Bynum's career. The good things he did for his team come down to one post move, which wouldn't have looked so good if O'Neal hadn't been unbelievably lead-footed. This just isn't playoff basketball from either team. It's Bynum getting dunked on. Credit him with coming back with tremendous energy, but then he exploits lead foot O'Neal, and proceeds to party like it's 1999, nearly getting himself ejected in the process. I see excitement. I see a pumped up crowd. But if that's the high point of his career thus far...

The best thing I have seen from Andrew Bynum? I like how, in a Lakers Blog interview, he is frank about some of his faults, and talks about not making the same mistake twice. That attitude, to me, is consistent with getting better. Here he discusses his summer league performance:
AB: I couldn't get the ball against Memphis. They did a good job. The big kid from Greece (Andreas Glyniadikas) was high siding and he had help from behind and I got frustrated, so I just stopped working hard, calling for the ball and holding my position. Kind of started getting pushed around. And the one game against Dallas, I kind of slipped a little bit. But other than those, I had a pretty solid performance. Better than last year and that's all you can ask for.

AK: In terms of the Memphis game, where you got frustrated and stopped asking for the ball, is that a mental thing, in terms of keeping yourself in the game?

AB: Both of those games were off a back-to-back, so it was little bit of an energy problem, combined with being frustrated. I guess that's it.

AK: So what do you take away from that, in terms of learning from it?

AB: Well, I've learned a whole bunch of new counters for anybody that high sides me. Just to step up some more, so if they continue to high side me, the whole back side is open. You can go "corner and in," where we close the triangle and kick back to the corner. Come right in if he's high siding me. Pretty much just learned to hold my field, because as soon as the ball gets swung to the other side of the court, you're gonna be wide open. I gained a lot from that, actually.
Later in the interview he says he has stopped eating junk food. Stuff like that. If he can stay focused and working hard, and keep up with the tenacity--then maybe in three years we can talk about rock stars.

Wednesday Bullets

September, 13, 2006
  • Charley Rosen loves those lists. This one is all-time underachievers, and includes the likes of Vince Carter, Stephon Marbury, Tim Thomas, Eddy Curry, Ralph Sampson, Rasheed Wallace, Bonzi Wells, Zach Randolph, and plenty more. (via Justin Rogers)
  • More good thoughts from Tim Kawakami on the Warriors, who was asked by Golden State of Mind if hiring Don Nelson might help the team lure Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Jermaine O'Neal, Vince Carter, or similar: "Big picture, I think Mullin wanted Nelson, period. But he also saw that, when he shopped for talent, nobody was that thrilled about a team coached by Montgomery, who was dominated by Davis. I'm not sure Garnett or O'Neal say, hey, Nellie's there, I gotta get to the Warriors. But it's something that helps, especially if Nelson's able to shove the Warriors to 43 to 45 victories. If."
  • The Associated Press discusses a lawsuit in which Karl Malone is accused of bribery to cover up some sort of elk hunting violation. Harlan Alderman reports: "Former Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone is accused in a lawsuit of offering a former business partner in eastern Idaho a $25,000 bribe to take the blame for an illegal elk hunting trip. The suit filed by Sidney Ray Davis of Soda Springs against Malone's Salt Lake City-based property management firm also alleges that Malone's brother-in-law, Ken Kensey, 'threatened physical violence' if Davis didn't make the investigation 'go away.'" (Malone's lawyer says it's all just people trying to take advantage of the rich guy. "It's a little like terrorism," Alderman quotes, "you can't buckle into it at any time or else it will prevail.") Judging by this photo, it doesn't look like Robert Horry will be Malone's character witness. Need4Sheed has video of "Karl Malone" that will make you laugh. UPDATE: If you ever wanted to see Bostjan Nachbar make Karl Malone look stupid, this is your video.

  • Ann Meyers, legend of women's basketball, becomes a vice president of the Phoenix Suns. Her main responsibility will be the WNBA's Mercury.

  • The female Team USA has no trouble adjusting to the international game.
  • Mike D'Antoni says several interesting things to Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic. He says this should be the year Phoenix wins the title, that a half-healthy Amare Stoudemire can wreck a team, and that it's possible Gilbert Arenas will make good on his promise to score 100 on Phoenix and Portland combined (as punishment to Nate McMillan and D'Antoni for being part of the staff that cut him from Team USA): "I can see why he's a little upset that he didn't make the team. He shouldn't be. It's an honor to be among the top 25. But also, I'm an assistant coach. He has to understand that. But the only guy he can take it out on is me and (Portland coach) Nate McMillan. And you know what? With our defense, he has a chance to get 100. God love him. I hope he can do it. But all I can say is 100 might not be enough."
  • Elton Brand as quoted by Sam Alipour: "In the Olympic qualifier in Venezuela next year, I promise you you'll see us play zone defense and other things that cater to the international game."
  • Mark Madsen has been scrimmaging and says Randy Foye "has a floater that he seems to be able to shoot over anyone."
  • Two NBA players make GQ's list of most hated athletes. Think: west-coast shooting guards.
  • Here's the good news: a two-hour conversation with Chris Paul, live this evening. Here's the bad news: what can you talk about for two hours in the slow days of the off-season?
  • Blogger tries his hand as a referee, is told he isn't even good at blowing the whistle.
  • Mike Barrett with a great Jarrett Jack "love of the game" story: "A good friend of mine, was on a flight with Jarrett from Atlanta a little over a week ago. My friend flew down for the Cal-Tenneesee football game (the Bears got completely waxed, but I didn't go there with him), and Jarrett had just watched the Georgia Tech-Notre Dame game. My friend told me Jarrett brought a basketball on the plane, and, like a responsible traveler, put it in the overhead bin during take off. But I was suprised to hear that during the flight Jarrett actually took the ball out of storage, and began dribbling it, while seated, during the flight. Jack then would occasionally lean forward in his seat and, with his legs out, would go back and forth, dribbling between his legs. In first class you can do just about whatever you want, of course, and apparently no one cared about the constant "thud, thud, thud, thud," from the ball being pounded in the aisle (nice that he had an aisle seat, by the way. I'm not sure what would have happened if he had been in the window seat). When the flight arrived in Portland, Jarrett dribbled the ball off the flight, up the jetway, and all the way to baggage claim. While waiting for his bags, Jarrett found a spot where he had some room, and was actually practicing his crossover. I know you're thinking I made this up, but my buddy swears it's true. I just heard this story over dinner, and you can bet I'm asking Jarrett about it on Wednesday."

Monday Bullets

July, 31, 2006

Monday Bullets

July, 31, 2006

Monday Bullets

July, 31, 2006

Monday Bullets

July, 31, 2006

Tuesday Bullets

July, 25, 2006
“You just don’t know fashion,” said Pierce.

 “The guy signs a $60 million extension. You think he could afford the whole suit,” said Connor.

 “This is a vest. I’m in fashion,” said Pierce.

 “You look like George Jetson,” said Connor.