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About a dozen years ago, when I was playing for Pat Riley in New York, I remember coming off the airplane after a long road trip, and we'd get tapes from our video team at 3 a.m. from the game we just played. And there would be material in there inserted specifically to insure you watched it. Yes, you would be tested.
You had no choice but to be prepared. Riley is as good as anybody at getting a team ready for its next game.
This work showed when we'd be in the huddle late in a game, and Riley would tell us exactly what the other team would do. You'd head out on the court, full of confidence, knowing what would happen.
Not everybody is that calm and confident. Other coaches I've known would be shaking and draw six Xs on the board.
Move ahead to today, and this constant remains: players respect greatness. That's one reason Shaq wanted him on the bench. That presence. Pat Riley is a great coach. Stan Van Gundy could say the same things, but it wouldn't have the same impact.
The other big thing to look for is the growth of Dwyane Wade. We forget he's only in his third year, and as good as he is, he can take it to another level. Riley can help him get there.
Other than Wade, this is a veteran team. I think his practices are going to be tougher mentally than physically. He's no fool; wearing them out in practice when they've got a long NBA season to play does no one any good.
He's going to want to increase and improve their mental focus, remember the little things, focus on making the other team uncomfortable on the offensive end.
All that preparation shows in crunch time. In those last 125 seconds of Game 7 against the Pistons last year, you had Damon Jones turning the ball over, and Wade taking a long jumper. Not that you blame Van Gundy for those things.
With Riley, you'll see the emphasis is more about quality possessions. It doesn't mean Shaq or Wade must get the ball, but it must be a worthy attempt. Remember, it wasn't always Michael Jordan making the big shot for the Bulls. You'd see John Paxson making some.
In preparing his team, Riley will make sure quality possessions are emphasized in the biggest moments.
He can mold this team to do things. He will define roles. His best players have always been his hardest workers -- Patrick Ewing, for example.
Now the big trick. Can he make it a team that is good enough to beat the Detroit Pistons?
If they get there, Riley will have them prepared.
NBA Coast to Coast host Greg Anthony played for six NBA teams in 11 seasons, including the Knicks from 1991-95.
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• Dimes Past: December 3-4 | 5 | 6 | 5 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10-11 | 12 | 13
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS -- Ron Artest could turn the Clippers from an upstart into a powerhouse, but would they part with Corey Maggette ($7 million)? More likely is an offer of Chris Wilcox ($2.8 million) and Zeljko Rebraca ($3 million).LOS ANGELES LAKERS -- If they could get Artest for Kwame Brown ($7.5 million), they'd do it in a second. If they could get him for Devean George ($5 million) and Stanislav Medvedenko ($3 million), they'd do it in a nanosecond.
Speaking Of Stan
"Speaking for the first time about his brother Stan Van Gundy's stepping down as Heat coach, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy chose his words carefully when he offered words at all. 'I'm happy that Stan's happy, and secondly, he did a great job, and he should be very proud of what he accomplished there.' Van Gundy would not comment about Pat Riley, with whom he coached with in New York." -- Houston Chronicle
Stackhouse Hoping For Dec. 23 Return
"Jerry Stackhouse knows there are pitfalls when picking target dates for coming back from injury, but he's ready to pencil in a return. Dec. 23 at Seattle is the date. And the logic for making his season debut then makes perfect sense. The Mavericks have two days off after that game, host Indiana on Dec. 26, then have three more days off. It's a good spot in the schedule to ease back into game action with plenty of built-in recovery time for his troublesome right knee." -- Dallas Morning News
D-League Remains An Option For Bynum
"Phil Jackson said he originally planned to send Andrew Bynum to the NBA Development League during this road stretch but couldn't do so with the injuries. But Jackson said the D-League remains an option for getting Bynum the game experience not always available. 'For me to get 20 minutes in a game,' Bynum said, 'somebody's going to have to die.' Bynum is averaging 1.2 points and 1.8 rebounds in the 17 games he has played." -- Los Angeles Daily News
McCants Waits For Critical Duty
"Wolves coach Dwane Casey said a time will come when he will trust rookie Rashad McCants in critical situations, such as Monday night's overtime. Casey needed long-range shooting and played Richie Frahm down the stretch after Marko Jaric fouled out. But Casey said in retrospect that he probably could have played McCants. 'The time is coming when McCants will be in those situations,' Casey said." -- St. Paul Pioneer Press
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Bonzi Wells, Kings guard Many big games for big names Tuesday, but The Bonz hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Wolves 93-91 gets the nod. Notched 20 points with seven boards. Rick Adelman's stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Luke Ridnour, Sonics guard: Seattle's point man has had better days, and been the star of many plays. But going up against Baron Davis and scoring four points on 2-11 shooting, with four skinny dimes -- that's not going to cut it. The Warriors dish a 110-107 OT loss that dropped the Sonics to 9-11.
Quote of the Night
"I had nothing to do with it. Coach Riley's not that type of person where I can go into the office and say, 'Why don't you do this, why don't you do that.' He told me that when I first came here, that that's not how this organization is run. I knew and understood that. I would never do that anyway."
-- Shaquille O'Neal, denying a role in Stan Van Gundy's resignation.
-- Andrew Ayres
Is Ron Artest one of the best 15 players in the NBA? Indiana and his native New York think so. But most of SportsNation disagrees by a slight margin.Not Michigan though. Opinion runs against the Tru Warior by an over 2-to-1 margin in the state where Artest had a leading role in the Brawl at Auburn Hills • See SportsNation results
Twenty-two years ago, on Dec. 13, 1983, the Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in triple overtime. It was, and remains, the highest-scoring game in NBA history.Before they were the Bad Boys, Isiah and the Pistons were a high-scoring machine. 186-184. 370 total points. • See Eric Neel's full story
You might recall that a couple years ago, Rasheed Wallace was apparently getting offers from companies to tattoo their logo into his skin. At the time, the league didn't have a rule that would have explicitly prevented this, but it was just a matter of time. If a player consummated a tattoo deal this season, he would be fined for it.
At the beginning of the year, NBA teams received a memo that stated that "no player can wear any commercial, promotional or charitable name, mark, logo or other identification during any game, including, but not limited to, on his body, in his hair or otherwise." Based on this rule, Ron Artest was asked to shave his head when he came out last month with his record label "Tru Warier" etched in his head.