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Chances are that approach will only add to the one-sided local perception that Sarver is an impulsive, tight-fisted novice who, so soon after letting Johnson go, refused to give Bryan Colangelo a big raise because A) he wants both Colangelos out so B) he can really make this his team. Yet those criticisms overlook Sarver's unprecedented investment in the team . . . his behind-the-scenes moves to stabilize the Suns financially in the face of some serious debts . . . and his willingness to offer Nash a deal worth nearly $66 million that, at the time, was branded as crazy money for a 30-year-old point guard who had never, even been mentioned as an MVP candidate. Sarver also re-upped Stoudemire on a max contract before the season even though there were already concerns about Stoudemire's knee.
So . . . I don't see a reason for Suns fans to panic unless something happens to D'Antoni, who's signed through the 2008-09 season. His presence means the Suns have one of the most progressive coaches in the game when it comes to strategy and relating to players and a basketball man with the charisma, vision and worldwide experience it takes to be the point man for an organization on and off the floor. Provided he gets the right help and proper support from the boss.
• Talk back to ... Marc Stein | The Daily Dime gang
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I was so astounded to hear that LeBron James got booed by his own fans last week that I figured it had to be an erroneous report. No way this could be true. No way Clevelanders could be dumb enough to jump on one off night and risk giving LBJ even one bad memory to make him start thinking about leaving his hometown team . . . a team he has publicly pledged his future to every time some big-market media type asks him about bolting to the Knicks or Lakers in the summer of 2007.
That's why, in this week's Power Rankings, I invited Lake Erie locals to write in and tell me what really happened last Friday against Washington. Were these loud boos? A smattering? Were they booing LeBron or the team in general? The floor is yours:
Edward (Cleveland): I was at the game where booing supposedly occurred. "Exaggerated" is the understatement of the year. LeBron is our savior. This city would never, EVER jeopardize offending LeBron, because if he leaves via free agency they might as well fold the Cavaliers or move them to Vegas. If LeBron isn't re-signed long-term, you'll probably see every local resident marching up to Dan Gilbert's office with torches and pitchforks in hand. Allow me to reiterate my initial point: LeBron's booing was very exaggerated!
Rick (Edmonton, Canada): I was in Cleveland for the game and, no, the reports are not exaggerated. I was sitting seven rows back from the Cavs' bench as the final minutes ticked away and the boos got louder. LeBron did stink up that second half but as an individual visiting a city looking to revitalize itself, I thought booing the face of Cleveland was totally out of line. LeBron has two major weaknesses -- free throws and one-on-one D -- but the fans there should be booing the other four guys who stand around and wait for LeBron to do everything.
J.R. (Cleveland): I was there and I didn't hear booing. I did hear an awkward sort of moan as the team continuously fell short.
Alex (Cleveland): Yes, reports of LeBron being booed were indeed correct. Yes, it was probably the dumbest move us Cavaliers fans could have made. But when you have lived through The Drive, The Fumble and The Shot, anything that resembles a collapse gets us unnerved. We basically just don't want to see our team miss the playoffs like last year and all those missed free throws brought back horrible memories.
John (Canton, Ohio): To even call it a smattering of boos would be a gross exaggeration. You had maybe 20 drunk idiots booing and the rest of the place was just quiet. Absolute non-story if you ask me.
Duane Lumpkin (Columbus, Ohio): Please stop this mess. You need to remind LeBron that he's an athlete and every athlete is subject to being booed -- ask Namath, Bradshaw, Kobe, O.J. and A-Rod. If this is another "reason" that LBJ might be leaving, please remind him that baseball MVPs have also been booed in New York recently. Please remind LeBron and every other superstar that he (or she) may be booed in any venue where he or she may play poorly -- if they repeatedly strike out, throw interceptions or miss foul shots.
Scott (Ohio): I'd buy the Cleveland fans booing LeBron. It could have been worse; Browns fans threw beer bottles.
Andy (Cleveland): There were about 100 people booing out of 20,000. And they were not necessarily booing at LeBron missing free throws, just the overall performance during a game Cleveland needed. This was completely blown out of proportion and now everyone thinks LeBron is going to leave. Why would we boo LeBron?
Mike (Cleveland): The fans were certainly booing, but I'm not so sure it was LeBron or just the effort of the team recently and in that game. They keep finding ways to lose to teams that they should be beating. The Wizards at home? Come on. LeBron missed his last seven free throws and didn't make a single shot in the second half. When the best player in the league is missing FREE throws, then the fans tend to get edgy. If Mickey Mantle can get booed, then so can LeBron.
Kevin (Arlington, Va.): The boos were definitely audible on the DC telecast of the game. Audible to the point that my non-NBA-fan friend said, "Holy cow, why are they booing LeBron?"
A look at the most active movers, upward and downward, in ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings: Highest Rise: No. 7 Denver Nuggets
Bulls G Kirk Hinrich: Goes off for 30 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in the 111-100 win over the Timberwolves. Bulls are still six below .500. At least they get to play the Knicks on Friday.
Enduring Frightening Blow:
Bulls forward Malik Allen was injured when he rotated to guard a driving Rashad McCants 20 seconds into the second quarter. As he fell backward, Allen's head banged into teammate Darius Songaila's knee. Allen remained on the floor for several minutes, and his neck was immobilized before he was carted away. As he left the court, Allen moved his arms and raised a fist.
Quote of the Day
"At the tender age of 40 I'm ready to branch out."
The deal collapsed, however, when the Hornets' earlier acquisition of Marc Jackson last Thursday consumed more salary-cap space than New Orleans/Oklahoma City anticipated. With 30 minutes to go before the trade buzzer, San Antonio thought it had saved the deal by finding a third team to absorb the contract of second-year Hornets forward Jackson Vroman, but time ran out before the trade could be completed. But not before Barry was advised by the Spurs that he was about to be dealt . . . and then told to get back on the team's plane to Memphis.
Readers respond to the latest edition of the ESPN.com NBA Power Rankings:
HoustonHam (Houston): The Rockets are the hottest team in the NBA and you put the Wizards in front of them? I don't see the logic in that. Houston's schedule hasn't been the toughest, but Yao has been a monster lately. You'll see -- we can match up with the Mavs in the first round. If we get there.
Stephen Gilbert (NYC): How can any team be ranked below the Knicks? They lead the NBA in turnovers and are last in assists. Has any team ever done that before? As a recovering Knick fan, I have to say they're in a class by themselves.
Casey (Los Angeles): Denver? Seventh? Are you crazy? They're winning their division, but that's because it stinks. How many teams in the NBA have better records? Come off it. The Clippers are hoping to fall to the sixth spot in the West just so they can draw Denver in the first round instead of Dallas or San Antonio.
Paul Fuller (Dallas): You just HATE the Mavs, don't you? You admit the facts -- they're .800 for the year, they're 22-3 since Jan 1, they've SMOKED Detroit (by 27), split with the Spurs (won by 19, lost by two) and clubbed Miami twice. And if they lose in San Antonio this Thursday, even by one, you've promised to drop them to No. 3. Somehow it's the Mavs' fault that while they've been going 22-3, they've failed to separate from the Spurs? How about this perspective: While the Spurs have gone 19-5 in 2006, they've LOST ground to the incredible, streaking Mavs. THAT would be quite a story.
Keith Buohl (Bridgewater, Mass.): Doctor Detroit: I take offense to your comment that the Mavs are headed to No. 3 if they lose at San Antonio. Why would losing to the third-ranked team on the road be so damaging? It wouldn't be like Dallas lost to the Hawks (as Detroit did two weeks ago) or the Sixers (San Antonio before the break). Dallas' record against the top teams is unbelievable, as you wrote recently. You've kept the Pistons in the top slot after a loss. Why not make life easy on yourself and just leave Detroit at No. 1 and San Antonio at No. 2 for the rest of the season?
Ed's note: Tip of the hat to Mr. Buohl, who I'm pretty sure is the originator of the Doctor Detroit nickname for the committee (of one). But I can assure him and everyone else that nothing is decided in advance. Official, final rulings are not made until Sunday night after taking stock of the whole week and using our secret formula to sort everything out 1-to-30.
John (Chicago): Are the Pistons going to contest any of the technicals against Rasheed Wallace? I think it's bunk how a lot of the refs single Rasheed out. They need to focus on doing their job. They are clearly out to get him.Marc Stein: Yes. Teams do contest Ts occasionally and one team exec told me that Ts are rescinded (but not announced as such) roughly 10-to-15 percent of the time. With 'Sheed at 13 Ts for the season, meaning he's three away from a one-game suspension, I'm sure the Pistons will protest against anything protest-able. Furthermore: 'Sheed's T count is obviously, eventually going to cost Detroit its streak of starting the same five guys every game, since I highly doubt he can make it through the rest of the year getting only two more. You also have to wonder how many one-game suspensions he'll get . . . and how that might impact Detroit's ability to hold off Dallas and San Antonio for the best record in the league and home-court advantage in the Finals. One-game suspensions, remember, follow No. 16, No. 18, No. 20, etc. The good news? 'Sheed's T slate IS wiped clean before the playoffs. However . . . a new T count DOES start in the playoffs and one-game suspensions start when you get your seventh T. Can 'Sheed stop himself at six Ts in the postseason?