TrueHoop: Gerald Henderson

Bobcats, Jordan chasing dubious marks

February, 14, 2012
By Justin Havens, ESPN Stats & Info
With their 15th consecutive loss on Monday night, the Charlotte Bobcats continue to march towards one of the worst seasons in NBA history. Through 28 games, the team sits at 3-25, on pace for the worst single-season win percentage in NBA history.

Charlotte has been held below 100 points in all 15 losses, tied for the fourth-longest such streak in NBA history. The Bobcats current win percentage is .107, lower than the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers (.110), who set the all-time record for losses (9-73).

The Bobcats aren’t a good offensive team struggling to defend or a good defensive team struggling to score. Instead, they are a team that both struggles to score and struggles to stop the other team from scoring.

Since the start of the 2001-02 season, only three teams have ranked in the bottom two in the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency. If the Bobcats maintain their current pace, they will be the fourth team on this list.

Through 28 games, they are being outscored by 14.4 points per game. That is on pace for the second-worst mark since the NBA-ABA merger.

Michael Jordan was named minority owner of the Bobcats on June 15, 2006. As part of that agreement, he was given full control of the basketball operations side of the team. His primary draft selections since taking control of the basketball department have been decidedly unsuccessful.

Of eight first-round picks since 2006, only two have become above-average NBA players by Player Efficiencty Rating, and both (Tobias Harris and Brandan Wright) were traded before playing a game for Charlotte. Just three of the picks – Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin – are still on the roster.

Augustin leads the team in PER at 16.5. That is the worst mark for a team-leading PER in the NBA. The closest competition is Roy Hibbert, who leads the Indiana Pacers with an 18.6 PER. Only three players on the Bobcats roster exceed the league-average PER of 15.

Michael Jordan was the best player on the best team in NBA history - the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team that won 72 games. Jordan is now involved with a team that may end up as the worst team in NBA history.

The Bobcats are 3-25 through 28 games, on pace for the lowest single-season win percentage in NBA history. Their 3-25 record is the exact inverse of the 25-3 record the Bulls had through 28 games during the 1995-96 season.

Best NBA dream sequence?

August, 19, 2010
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
Nancy Lieberman
George Rose/Getty Images Entertainment
Ken Olin and Timothy Busfield didn't log enough minutes to establish a meaningful plus-minus rating.

The scene from "Fletch" when Chevy Chase fantasizes he's a member of the Los Angeles Lakers has generally been regarded as the gold standard of NBA dream sequences. In addition to Chase, the sequence stars Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and the late Chick Hearn ("He's actually 6-5. With the afro, 6-9") and concludes with Chase fighting off multiple defenders with his ... teeth.

For sheer comedy, the Fletch bit wins, but narrative punch and realism, you have to give the edge to a 1989 episode from the second season of thirtysomething, starring Ken Olin. When it premiered on ABC in 1987, thirtysomething was a groundbreaking series. At that time, most one-hour dramas fell into one of three genres -- workplace (usually police precincts, hospitals, law firms), nighttime soap and action/freelance vigilantes ("The A Team," "Magnum P.I."). Thirtysomething didn't conform to any of those existing formulas. Its characters were complex, often unlikable, and dealt with neuroses like career anxiety, the stuff that complicates personal and romantic relationships, and the trade-offs you confront in adulthood. The dialogue on the show approximated how human beings spoke to each other, something that made it pretty novel at the time. Thirtysomething was occasionally self-absorbed, but so are we.

Thirtysomething took place in Philadelphia, and basketball was a recurring theme throughout the series. Ken Olin and Timothy Busfield co-owned a boutique ad agency, and were forever shooting hoops at the miniature standing basket in the bullpen. The group of friends on the show would gather to watch a big Sixers game in someone's living room, and scoring Sixers tickets or the chance to meet Charles Barkley in person would pop up as a D-story.

The best basketball content in thirtysomething's four-season run surfaces during a pivotal episode titled "Success." At the outset of the series, Olin (Michael) and Busfield (Elliot) had taken a major risk by leaving an established ad agency to start their own firm where they could be their own bosses. For the first season-plus, things were going well. Michael and Elliot had landed some key accounts, which provided a solid foundation for their fledgling agency. In "Success," their tent pole account (a decent-sized dairy company) gets bought out by a large conglomerate. Despite the fact that Michael and Elliot have done solid work for the company, the conglomerate already has a relationship with a larger firm and has every intention of moving their new acquisition's ad business to that firm. This is the equivalent of Lucky Strike leaving Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce on "Mad Men."

So through no fault of their own and bad luck, Michael and Elliot are now on the brink of professional ruin. They're already leveraged to the hilt and can't borrow any more money. Michael, who is far more introspective, is internalizing what he sees as a personal failure. No matter how much reassurance he hears from those close to him, his conclusion remains the same: Scoreboard. And he's the goat.

Where does Michael find refuge? In the recesses of his imagination, where things play out differently:

There are a few oddities in the scene, most notably the fact that the Celtics and Sixers are playing an Eastern Conference finals game at the Forum (though the crowd shots are filmed at The Spectrum in Philadelphia). But you have to be impressed that the show was able to corral Sixers head coach Jim Lynam, Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks, Mike Gminski, Gerald Henderson and Ron Anderson during the season.

10 years after the episode aired, Olin had this to say about shooting the scene:
Timmy and I went down to the Forum and all the Sixers were there and there 50 photographers, Charles Barkley was there, it was a huge thing, and they said, 'OK Kenny, start doing some lay ups' and I went to do this lay-up and as I went up my feet literally went straight up and I landed flat on my back and all these cameras went click click click and Timmy says 'That was an act of God, man!'

I've always liked the fact that the play call wasn't for Michael -- it lent the scene some realism. Of course Barkley gets the ball in that situation. But when Barkley gets doubled, Michael makes the smart read and dives to the hoop, where Barkley finds him against the double-team.

The Michael character always carried a degree of self-deprecation, and it's fitting that, even as he constructs his fantasy, Michael casts himself as a role player.

Wednesday Bullets

May, 26, 2010
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz

Bruce Bowen: NBA Archetype

September, 4, 2009

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

Kevin Pelton writes that Bruce Bowen's legacy is a complicated one -- charitable spirit, borderline dirty player, hopeful symbol for the undrafted and, of course ... 

I would also say Bowen brought a certain level of attention to the unglamorous work of defensive stoppers. Bowen wasn't the first player to gain accolades for individual perimeter defense, and he won't be the last. However, an entire generation of offensive-challenged defenders gets the luxury of the "next Bruce Bowen” tag, not unlike talented young swingmen in the post-Michael Jordan era. For a guy who took nearly a decade just to become the first Bruce Bowen, that's not bad at all.

That hyperlink to the "next Bruce Bowen" reveals 24,700 Google search results. For the record, the names include Trevor Ariza, Quinton Ross, Tony Allen, Corey Brewer, Ime Udoka, Kyle Weaver, Dahntay Jones, Justin Cage, Luke Walton, Marcus Dove, O. J. Mayo, Yakhouba Diawara, Paul Harris, and Gerald Henderson. And that's just the first 50 results.

The Salt Lake Tribune's Ross Siler has this dispatch from the Orlando Pro Summer League, where the Sixers and Nets are strange bedfellows: 

The union became official at halftime of Monday's summer-league opener at the RDV Sportsplex, when 76ers general manager Ed Stefanski pulled up a seat along press row next to Nets president Rod Thorn.

For one week at least, the Atlantic Division rivals have come together, with a joint New Jersey/Philadelphia entry in the Orlando summer league prompted by the worst economy in a generation.

Terrence WilliamsNets rookie Terrence Williams: Would this man steal Eddie Jordan's trade secrets?  (Fernando Medina via Getty Images)

Whatever they lose in individuality, the Sixers and Nets hope to save in costs. They took the court Monday in generic blue NBA jerseys, coached by a staff of two New Jersey and two Philadelphia assistants.

"I'm not a fan of it,” Philadelphia coach Eddie Jordan admitted. "I like working with your own players and teaching your own guys, getting your own guys in your system.”

"I don't want to have to berate their player for not picking up. It just doesn't seem right to get on their players for doing something that you want them to do.”

The marriage has led to some strange scenes, to be sure. Philadelphia's newest first-round pick, Jrue Holiday, warmed up for Monday's game in a Nets shirt, leading one Sixers staffer to observe that a free shirt is a free shirt.

After Monday's game, Jordan was asked about Nets rookie Terrence Williams, prefaced with the qualifier: "You won't have him beyond this week ...”

(Jordan's answer: "He's a very competitive player. He's strong, he's a bull out there. He's got great, quick moves. He can change direction in a heartbeat. He's an aggressive player. I really like him.”)

In addition to their own draft picks and players, the Nets and Sixers each made four selections for the team. The offense can best be described as an overlap of Jordan's and Lawrence Frank's systems.

"It's a combination of what they've done and what we're going to do,” Jordan said. "And that's why we make it work, because we know the Nets.”

Frank called it "a little bit of an introduction” to his offense, adding, "But I think this has to be more about the development of the guys as opposed to putting in your system. Especially when you're
splitting a team, it makes it tougher.”

The biggest benefit, Frank said, comes in having a deeper summer-league team than most. The Nets/Sixers have four recent draft picks in Chris Douglas-Roberts, Holiday, Marreese Speights and Terrence Williams.

Were it not for the history between Jordan and Frank, Thorn and Stefanski, as well as assistants Tom Barrise and Mike O'Koren, the Philadelphia and New Jersey pairing probably would be doomed to

"It's a joint venture, where it only works for us because we know the Nets guys,” said Jordan, who nevertheless described the partnership as being "different” three times in one answer.

Of course, the Nets and Sixers players still have it better than Bobcats second-round draft pick Derrick Brown, who is playing with the Jazz in Orlando with Charlotte not fielding a summer-league team to cut costs.

Brown ended up with the Jazz thanks to a longtime connection between Charlotte coach Larry Brown and Utah general manager Kevin O'Connor. (There's a lengthy explanation as to why the Jazz didn't also end up with Bobcats lottery pick Gerald Henderson.)

Brown had nine points in his NBA debut Monday night, which came in a Jazz jersey, playing for a team coached by Jazz assistants. In fact, Brown wasn't even sure if the Bobcats were sending a representative
to Orlando to watch him.

"It's definitely a good opportunity to be out there and start the ball rolling in the NBA,” he said. "Whatever it takes for me to make a stand in this league, I'm going to do it.”

Frank was asked if the Nets and Sixers were just ahead of the curve, whether next summer will feature other entries based on geography and cost-saving, like the Heat and Magic, the Bulls and Bucks, the
Warriors and Kings or the Jazz and ... nobody.

"In these economic times, look, you've got to be fiscally very responsible and I think you just have to be prudent in the decisions you make,” Frank said. "Every group is different. This worked for us and Philly and it made sense, and who knows what the future holds. Hopefully, things get better.”