by Ben Osborne
This story deserves a link on our site, because it is a big deal, but I’m also posting it out of homage to Ryan Jones, who is no doubt amused that some people didn’t quite get what they were wishing for.
Words by Justin Walsh
Michael Hawkins is a baller. He’s a lefty with a slippery drive to the hoop, a quick release on his J, and a cock back so good, you’ll wanna slap yo’ momma (Like the Friday sequels).
When people think about the roughest dunkers on the asphalt, you might mention some of the TFB cats, or possibly Emak ‘n Los. Don’t forget about Street Handles, one of the best street crews in the business, haling from Phoenix, AZ. Michael played a stint in the ABA, he’s part of the Ball Up squad now, he even ran with AND 1 for a bit. Michael Hawkins has been all over the map, but he’s still the best kept secret in streetball.
SLAM: What’s up Hawk? Thanks for dropping by to answer some questions.
Hawk: What’s up… thanks for having me. It’s always a pleasure.
SLAM: First up congratulations on making the Ball Up team, your first game for Ball Up is at the LA Dub show this weekend, What exactly is the Dub Show for those that don’t already know?
Hawk: First off, I would like to thank God for putting me in this position. It’s been a long time coming. Secondly, thank you. Now for those who don’t know about the DUB car show, it’s one of the biggest car shows in the world. You will see cars from celebrities, including athletes and music artists as well as people that have a passion for working on cars. It has a very large fan base and there are about 12 stops this year throughout the country.
SLAM: Looking at the Ball Up roster you’ve got some of the biggest names on the circuit with the likes of Professor, AO, Sik Wit It, AUT, etc. What’s the story with Ball Up, and how did you get involved with them?
Hawk: Ball Up is an organization that was put together by a group of guys with an overall view to influence youth to never give up on your dreams and just because you don’t make it pro doesn’t mean you can’t live the pro lifestyle or be successful in life. I was approached with the opportunity of being a part of Ball Up and decided that it would be the best move to play alongside some of the biggest names in the streetball world. This is a very talented roster from top to bottom and we plan on making history.
SLAM: The Ball Up team was in Phoenix for the All-Star weekend last month, was this just a once off thing or will the team exist outside of the Dub Show Tour?
Hawk: I’m not too sure of the plans Ballup has but should know more within the upcoming weeks. I will make sure to keep you posted with any new information.
SLAM: Arek Kissoyan (known in the mixtape game as mixtapelive, one of BIL’s main editors) dropped a mix of you a few weeks back on Ballislife.com which had a lot of people talking, as far as Street Handles and Ballislife go, what are some of the things you guy’s are working on?
Hawk: Yeah shoutout to Mixtapelive and as far as Street Handles and Ballislife goes, we are currently working on dropping some of the hottest clips and finishing up the next DVD, which is guaranteed to be three times better than the first.
SLAM: We’ve heard you mention BKS a few times, what is the story behind this?
Hawk: I was mentioned BKS by Mixtapelive on my last clip. For those of you who don’t know, BKS stands for “Best Kept Secret.” I’ve heard this name many times throughout my streetball career and I actually kind of like it. I don’t feel like I’m the only best kept secret, but I am definitely one that you can expect to see a lot more from.
SLAM: You played semi-pro ball last year in the ABA, what was that experience like?
Hawk: Besides most of the teams folding, it was a good experience and helped me work on my all-around game a little more as far as organized basketball.
SLAM: Will you be playing again this year?
Hawk: I’m not sure right now. I might have other commitments with the Ball Up team.
SLAM: What are some of the things you do to work on your game? Jump programs, drills, workout? Or do you just ball?
Hawk: I work on my game a little bit every day, whether it’s going to the gym and lifting weights or playing in pickup games or just shooting around to stay in shape. I am not on any jump programs or specific drills, I never really got into those types of things I just go out and play the game.
SLAM: There’s always discussions about who the best dunkers in the world are and your name isn’t mentioned all that much, why do you think that is?
Hawk: Because I’m not just a dunker. I don’t have two or three hours to just sit in the gym and record dunks. As you can see, most of my dunks come in games or waiting for the next game. I’ve never been all about dunking, just something that I was blessed to be able to do.
SLAM: With the downsizing of the And 1 Tour last year, what do you think of the current state of commercial streetball?
Hawk: I’m sure there’s always gonna be loyal fans of AND 1 but the downsizing opens doors for other streetball crews as well as tours.
SLAM: As far as underground crews go, which three teams do you consider the best?
Hawk: First off, no disrespect to any streetball crew that’s doing their thing. I really don’t pay any attention to any crews outside of Street Handles. Every crew has their own style, their own fan base but outside of Street Handles, there is not really any crew that comes to mind. And I’m not just saying this because I am a part of Street Handles.
SLAM: Out of all the underground ballers you’ve played with and against who do you think has the most potential to make a living off of streetball.
Hawk: I would have to say my top three are Bone Collector, High Rizer, King Handles. Everybody else that I feel has the potential to make a living off streetball has either done it or is currently doing it.
SLAM: What are your future plans?
Hawk: I don’t know what the future holds but I hope to continue to be successful in the streetball world and continue to be a role model for my son and those who look up to me.
SLAM: Any last words?
Hawk: I want to thank God first for answering my prayers. As always, thank you for the interviews and continuing to support me and Street Handles, as well as all of the underground streetballers trying to make a name for themselves. I wanna tell all those who haven’t been as successful to never give up on your dreams and keep God first. Play every game like it’s your last and stay ready, because you will never know when your time will come. I would also like to thank everyone who supports me as well as the Street Handles family. Also, look out for the Ballup tour which will be coming to a city near you in the near future. For the current dates and locations you can check out Dubshowtour.com.
Major hat-tip to Brad Taylor of Streetballin’ for the hook-up.
by Lang Whitaker
A few weeks ago, I saw a note on the video screen on the elevator here at work that some person had passed away, and that this person was known as one of the world’s greatest thinkers. Ever since reading that, I’ve realized I need to step my thinking game up. Sure, I can produce words on a screen, I can tweet, I can write stories, whatever. But I wondered: Why can’t I be a great thinker? Because thinking is on some other ish. You can think anywhere. You can think everywhere. You can think while doing other things. And best of all, you can say you’re thinking even if you aren’t, and nobody can tell the difference.
So I dedicated myself to becoming one of the world’s great thinkers. And, if I do say so myself, I think it’s worked out pretty well. I’ve been thinking like crazy lately. I mean, I’ve had some incredibly complex thoughts, things you’d never think I’d thought, I think.
And lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the NBA’s post-season awards bonanza. I was recently told that I will, for the second year in a row, be asked to vote in the NBA’s official post-season awards show, no doubt because of my amazing thinking ability. (How did David Stern know I’m a great thinker? Because he’s David Stern. And you’re not.) And I already got an email this morning from a team PR person lobbying me to vote for one of his guys in a particular category.
I haven’t even gotten around to considering most of the awards, but two of them have me vexed right now: MVP and Rookie of the Year. The two leading candidates in my mind for ROY are Derrick Rose and OJ Mayo, and I’ll get into that debate at a later date.
As far as the MVP’s go, however, well, it’s gonna be a doozy. To me there are three obvious candidates: Kobe, Bron and Wade. I read a post on True Hoop the other day about the race, where a Lakers blogger said he felt LeBron would get the award because it’s “his turn.” Well, I don’t know who’s “turn” it is, and I don’t really care. I just want to vote for the person who deserves it the most.
And right now, I swear to you, I’m not sure who that person is. I think Dwyane Wade has been unbelievable this season, but the Heat, even with him, are only four games over .500. Without him, they’d definitely be way under .500, but how much of a difference does he really make? Then there’s Kobe, who is as amazing as always, but he still plays in what I think is one of the most dangerous systems in the NBA with one of the best coaches of all time who gets Kobe the ball in the best situations possible. And then there’s LeBron, who is surrounded by less talent than Kobe and has the Cavs battling for the best record in the League, but Bron also plays in a much weaker conference. And what about Dwight Howard? Tim Duncan? Joe Johnson? (OK, forget that last one. Sorry.)
Anyway, I thought I’d see what you guys had to say about this MVP vote. I’m looking for advice, for input, for your opinions. I’m your Super Delegate — this is your chance to have a say in how the MVP vote plays out.
I just looked at last year’s ballot and they asked for a top five. So who’s in your five?
Let me know what you think…
by Eric Woodyard
“It’s cool to love to win but it’s better to hate to lose…”
— Nas, The N—-r Tape (2008)
If there’s one thing that can be said about Kobe Bryant, it is that he hates to lose. With such a burning desire to rise above the competition, why would he even think about a negative outcome?
Despite the Lakers success this season on the road, KB24 and the Lake Show have struggled recently in the Motor City. L.A. hadn’t tasted victory in the Palace of Auburn Hills since March ‘02, losing their last nine games against the Detroit Pistons. Although the days of dominance are long gone from the Pistons’ franchise, they still managed to defeat the Lakers, 106-95, on their home court earlier this season in the Iverson era.
With Kobe so close at last night’s game, I got a glimpse of how serious he takes the game of basketball. This inspired me to focus on his every move…
After arriving only 30 minutes before the game because of car issues and finding my seat directly behind the Lakers bench, my eyes were fixed on Black Mamba. I didn’t even notice Aretha Franklin passing right by me. To be honest, I didn’t even care.
I watched my idol do his job. He was dressed in purple with yellow trimmings, showcasing a white No. 24 stitched on his fabric, a yellow wristband squeezing his left elbow, white tape on his ring finger, black and yellow, Nike Zoom Kobe IV’s tied to his feet, with tattoos on his arms billboarding his love for his family; inked in his time of turmoil.
His strength is documented, but his scrawniness baffled me. It doesn’t seem as if KB is so small until you see him in person.
As I watched him participate in the shoot around, the superstar took each shot seriously as he warmed up with teammate Trevor Ariza.
Catch. Pivot. Triple Threat. Dribble. Spin Move. Pull-up! Zoning out his atmosphere, Kobe did this over and over.
His approach to the game was more militant than any other player that I’ve watched. If you looked into his eyes, you could see that basketball to him is what Black Nationalism was to Malcolm X! (…yes, it’s that serious). His eyes lit up every time he touched the rock.
This is Kobe Bryant — the best to ever do it! (Yeah, I said it). Hated on so much, Passion of the Christ need a sequel.
Kobe didn’t waste any time getting everything started as he manhandled the smaller Aaron Afflalo and any other defender that stepped in his path. With the absence of Allen Iverson, Rip Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace, KB was like a kid in a candy store, displaying his “He-Cant-Guard-Me” swag all night while filling up the stat sheet. He dropped 30 points, grabbed 8 boards, dropped 7 dimes and accumulated 2 steals.
The fans in the arena didn’t know what to do. Some cheered while some booed the living legend. At one point early in the 3rd quarter when he stepped up to the free throw line, half of the arena chanted “M-V-P!” while half showed hasty dissatisfaction. The noise didn’t bother KB though as he sank them both down. Take that!
He may be the most loved/hated athlete to lace up a pair of sneaks and from his actions during the game, and he has become aware of this and feeds off it. Nothing could throw-off his focus, as I watched the determination in his eye during every second that he was on the court. The same determination that has his team back in tact for another championship run this season. The same determination that has propelled the Lakers to four straight victories. This game would be no different.
The Lakers would win 92-77 over the Detroit Pistons.
While waiting to get a few sound bites from Kobe, I decided to chat with Derek Fisher. When he spotted my shoes, Nike Huarache 2k4 in Lakers colorway, we had plenty to talk about.
“Man them are some of the best shoes to ever come out,” Fisher says.
“I know man, I love them,” I respond.
“Yeah, they’re really comfortable.”
“I know, didn’t you used to wear them too?”
“Yeah, I wore them when I played for Golden State. I loved them too.”
After we wrapped up our convo, Kobe walked out from the back of the locker room. Still inspired from his performance, I waited for all of the other journalists to finish up with their questions before introducing myself to him, giving him a run-down of what I do. He responded with great attentiveness, and we shook hands before he left to get on the bus to catch to plane to inspire another person in another city.
Were you expecting anything different?: “For the first time collectively, the Charlotte Bobcats are playing for actual stakes – the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Half of the eight-man rotation hasn’t done this before. They’re not managing it well, as losses to Minnesota, Indiana and Washington demonstrate. And time is running out with 11 games left in the season. ‘There’s definitely something to that,’ shooting guard Raja Bell said at practice Thursday. ‘A playoff race is a different animal. Basically we’re in playoffs right now (as far as the importance of each game) and that’s a different level of pressure. I’ve been pressing, not playing as well as I normally do, and I’m sure that’s in part’ about the stakes.”
by Matt Caputo
It’s just-under two hours until tip-off at Madison Square Garden and Mike Taylor is warming up for a game that he might not play in. He’s smiling though - an hour before his more senior Clipper teammates make it to the gym, Taylor is burying deep threes on both sides of the key. His swishes echo throughout the empty arena when the blaring sound system being tested goes mute. Taylor, who became the first player selected in the NBA Draft directly from the NBA D-League, knows that he once doubted he’d get the opportunity to be there at all.
“I looked at it as my second chance,” Taylor says in the vacant visiting dressing room in the World’s Most Famous Arena. “Being able to make all my dreams come true. At the time, the only thing I knew was going through college to make it to the NBA. Coming out of the D-League was my second chance.”
A quick glance around the empty locker room before the game and you might not recognize the skinny kid with seemingly endless body ink as a member of the team. He’s a little shorter than the 6’2 and a few pounds below the 165 pounds the team’s media material lists him as. His name is trivial at best to several beat writers and college coaches (who should have been recruiting him) and he’s only scored a total of ten points in the four previous games before meeting the Knicks. But while much of the gathering (SLAM included) was wondering where Baron Davis and Marcus Camby was before the game, as early as the second quarter they were wondering where Taylor had come from.
Although he was born in Chicago, Taylor attended John Marshall High School in Milwaukee and was All-State Honorable Mention his senior year. He’d come to the school at roughly 5-foot-4 and left really only 5-foot-10. After being named Milwaukee public school player of the year (averaging 25 points per game) he enrolled at Chipola College in Marianna, FL.
At the Junior College level, Taylor competed with one of the best teams in the country. During his time at Chipola, Taylor helped the Indians capture two Panhandle Conference Championships, a Region VIII Championship, and a NJCAA Final Four Appearance, racking up a 62-8 record along the way. Being named All-Conference and his team’s Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, Taylor signed with Iowa State and things took a bad turn.
He was arrested in Wisconsin in August of 2006 for operating a vehicle while under the influence. The incident happened away from the ISU campus and it was never clear if the Cyclones ever penalized him for the infraction. It was ultimately ruled that it was not a criminal offense and resulted in only a fine and Taylor’s driver’s license was revoked for six months. It was the first of three brushes with the law that year.
On the court though, Taylor was starting to tap into the potential he always knew he had. Though he had to sit out an exhibition game due to academic concerns, he quickly became the Cyclones’ first offensive option. He averaged 16 points and 4.5 assists en route to earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention props. Still, Taylor struggled with maturity and focus off the court.
In March of 2007, Taylor was busted for vandalizing an on-campus apartment building. The next month he was arrested for stealing a bottle of cold medicine from a convenience store and pleaded guilty to fifth-degree theft. After being suspended following the March incident, he received a vehicle registration violation and was ordered to pay a penalty of $69.80. After the series of legal setbacks, the Cyclones were forced to dismiss their leading scorer.
“I played against D.J. Augustine, I played against Mike Conley and Kevin Durant at Iowa state,” Taylor says before the game in New York. “To me, I always put up a tough fight. I was on the same level if not better than those guys, so, that was the thing that I kept in the back of my head.” At first, Taylor thought he would transfer and drop down a level in competition so that he could play right away. However, he wasn’t allowed back to Iowa State and had to make some kind of decision. He began considering turning pro.
“We had him on our prospect list, but we hadn’t anticipated seeing him for a couple of years,” says Chris Alpert, the NBA D-League’s VP of Basketball Operations. “He intended to go back to school and he never put his name in the draft of 2007. He decided in the fall that he didn’t want to go back to school and we were contacted by a representative who said that he wanted to begin his professional career. We met with him, decided to sign him, and we put him in our league.”
The Idaho Stampede signed Taylor in December of 2007. He found his role as the sixth man on a very good team that featured NBA sometimers like Luke Jackson and Randy Livingston. Taylor learned a lot about being a pro, he went to the D-League All-Star Game and was a finalist in the dunk contest and worked in the community with the “Read to Achieve” program in Idaho. The Stampede won the D-League Championship in 2007-2008, in a game in which Taylor dropped 27 points, including 4 consecutive three pointers.
“We’re a league of opportunity,” says Alpert, who has been with the D-League since it’s inception in 2001. “In terms of what happened in Mike’s background, ‘yes,’ we were aware of it, but as we discussed it, he was a bright young prospect who needed to mature a little bit. We felt as though he did so admirably. He was a model player in our league, there were no issues off the court with Mike.”
After a year in the D-League, Taylor was still eligible to be drafted into the NBA. His agent got him into the Orlando pre-draft camp and competed against the top college players in the country. It was there that Taylor earned attention as seriously being a draft worthy prospect. The Nets, Heat, Kings, Clippers, and Bulls all worked out the scoring strong combo guard, but it would be a while before anybody picked him.
“What I was hearing was I could go anywhere from the last five picks of the first round to the first five picks of the second round,” Taylor says thinking back. “I started tuning in around the 25th pick. The Clippers had the 35th pick and when I didn’t hear my name called I just went into my room and wasn’t even watching it anymore.”
A little while later, Taylor’s little brother rushed into his room to announce the Trailblazers had taken him with the 55th overall pick in the 2nd round. Quickly after, Portland traded him to the Clippers, where Taylor says he had big best pre-draft workout. In a talent heavy class, most of which was taken about 45 picks before him, Taylor’s story as the first player from the D-League selected in the NBA draft went more or less unnoticed.
Running with the Clippers in the Vegas Summer League, Taylor averaged a promising 10 points and just-under 5 assists. Despite the presence of a few guards, he found himself a spot on the roster. Taylor scored 20 points in his first preseason game and scored in double figures seven times during their exhibition tour. Still, he had time to bide.
In L.A., he became tight with Tim Thomas before he was sent to the Knicks and ultimately to Chicago and now spends a lot of time absorbing knowledge dropped on him by Baron Davis, whose playoff performances he says he’s inspired by. Despite the fact that “everything hella expensive,” he likens L.A.’s hot and sunny winters to Wisconsin’s frigid temperatures. When he did get in the game, he showed he was race car quick and that he could score. Over time, his teammates already knew what he could do.
“He’s non-stop, he’s non-stop! Imagine trying to guard him every day in practice,” says the Clippers veteran leader Baron Davis. “Imagine him picking you up full and running you all around the court.”
Even on a team that came to New York with a record of 17-54, Taylor had only seen action in 40 games before he came to the Garden. He was averaging less than four points per game and played a total of 31 minutes in the last three games. But, in a building sometimes called “The Garden of Dreams,” Taylor got his chance to run the team.
After a pretty toneless performance by the Clippers in the first quarter, Coach Mike Dunleav sent Taylor into the game and he went into attack mode. He drove to the basket with a fearless sense of urgency and quarterbacked a comeback from a 16-point deficit. It was as if he began using the most rugged tactics to score, defining the term “instant offense.”
In 36 minutes, including one overtime period, Taylor hit 14 of 20 shots from the floor and all seven of his foul shots. He scored 17 points in the second quarter alone, eclipsing his previous career high by two points. Taylor said he found the zone that had made him the MVP of the D-League finals. More than that, he found himself out there.
He finished with 35 points off the bench in a game that essentially killed the Knicks playoff dreams. He had the single best scoring game by a rookie in the Garden since Allen Iverson dropped 35 in ‘96, who he mentioned once before the game and once after the game. The Clippers earned a five point OT win over the Knicks and it’s because of Mike Taylor.
“I thought he carried the team,” Davis says, walking out of the locker room. “He didn’t want to let us lose this basketball game. He got into a good groove and hit some jumpers and I thought that really got his confidence going. He’s tough getting to the basketball because he dribbles the ball so well.”
Taylor felt comfortable, he says, for the first time this season. He provided the spark that closed out a rare Clippers victory. More so, he got his chance on the world’s biggest stage and didn’t buckle. Still, people might not know where Mike Taylor came from, but he’s likely to stay where he is for a while to come.
“To me, I want to be a franchise player one day,” Taylor said before the game. “I want a GM or a Head Coach to build a team around me. I know I have a long way to go, but every chance I get I’m going to get better.”
How charitable of you, Mr. Thomas: “Thomas is doing what he can to try to get back into the game, and with his daughter set to attend Loyola Marymount, he offered to work for the Clippers without getting paid because he is still receiving money from the Knicks, Dunleavy said. The Clippers were sympathetic to Thomas’ overtures. ‘Isiah came to us,’ Dunleavy said in a telephone interview Thursday morning. ‘I wasn’t going to be a jerk and say, ‘I can’t talk to you.’ But there’s no position in the organization for him.’ Thomas ran into Sterling at a party and apparently pushed for work and asked whether he could sit next to the owner at an upcoming game, according to Dunleavy. That didn’t happen.”
by Aaron Kaplowitz
On Saturday, the battle for Pennsylvania will be settled in Boston. Following Pittsburgh’s 60-55 victory over Xavier and Villanova’s 77-54 manhandling of Duke, Penn’s pride is on the line when the two Big East powers meet for a chance to reach the Final Four.
In the opening game, Xavier took a 37-29 lead to the locker room, putting the Big East on notice. The Musketeers beat the Panthers at their own game, grabbing 11 offensive rebounds and outscoring the favorites 16-10 in the paint.
Pitt came out hungry in the second half with DeJuan Blair leading the charge. Blair played determined, devouring rebound after rebound to power the Pitt charge. He finished with 10 points and 17 boards.
With five minutes left to play, Pitt’s Jermaine Dixon jumped the passing lanes perfectly to intercept the basketball. He pushed the ball ahead and went in for an uncontested layup. Embarrassingly, he lost his footing, missed the layup and fell to the floor. Lucky for Dixon, Levance Fields followed his miss to save the two points. Dixon’s pride, however, is still in question.
“[My teammates] asked me what I was thinking, someone said I took off from too far,” Dixon said. “That happened before in a game when I missed the layup. And after that Levance told me he’s always going to follow the shot when I take a layup.”
Shining moments aside, the teams found themselves deadlocked at 52 with two minutes to play. Xavier’s Dante Jackson struck first, going up and under for a nifty layup to push Xavier ahead, 54-52. Fields answered with a tough three that splashed through the net. Pittsburgh 55, Xavier 54.
Looking to respond, Xavier lost the ball with 27 seconds left. Fields poked the ball away and coasted in for the lay-in to push the lead to three. On the next trip down the court Blair fouled Terrell Holloway on the drive. He would only hit the front end of a one-and-one, clinching the win for Jamie Dixon’s squad.
In the second game, Villanova outscored Duke 44-18 in the paint to power its way past Coach K’s squad.
The Wildcats played patient and under control, finding open shots from all over the court throughout the second half. They rotated the ball efficiently around the perimeter and Duke had no answer for Dante Cunningham inside.
“We’re getting better this late in the year, which is exciting,” said Villanova head coach Jay Wright.
Tomorrow we’ll see how much better the Wildcats can get in a showdown that promises to flip the Keystone State on its head.
– Stat of the night: Duke hit 47.1 percent from downtown in their first two Tournament games. Against Villanova they shot only 18.5 percent (5 for 27).
– Sam Young’s motor never stops. He is consistently on the go.
– The Pitt pep band gets East region’s Top Song award for its rendition of The Offspring’s “The Kids Aren’t Alright.”
– Despite trailing at the half seven to 11 on offensive rebounds, Pitt grabbed 11 second half offensive rebounds to Xavier’s six.
– If a Field of 64 for cheerleaders existed, Duke’s squad would get a 16 seed.
– Xavier head coach Sean Miller spent his college days drilling threes for Pitt.
– Duke’s Gerald Henderson didn’t score his first points of the game until he hit a pair of free throws with 1:10 to play in the first half.
– At halftime I happened to walk off the court at the same time as the refs. Let me tell you, it’s a harrowing experience. These refs have to be totally secure with themselves, otherwise they must cry themselves through halftime.
– Like most schools facing Duke, Villanova’s fans lost all credibility. They complained every single time a foul or non-foul didn’t go their way.
– I’ve paid special attention this tournament to players’ feet during inbounds plays. Rarely is the case when a player doesn’t travel on a static inbounds play.
– In two years, can we arrange for Greg Paulus to play Gerry McNamara one-on-one?
– The most under-appreciated guy on the court is the Villanova male cheerleader who stands at halfcourt during timeouts and hoists a co-ed straight up in the air. With fully extended arms he holds her up by her feet. I’ll think twice next time I want to snicker at a male cheerleader. But I’ll probably end up snickering anyway.
– Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson shot a combined 4-32 from the field.
– Question: Can anyone name the last two schools from the same conference that met in the Regional Final? First person to give the correct answers wins an autographed pair of Ben’s bronzed baby shoes.
by Marcel Mutoni
Seems like he does this almost every week, doesn’t it?
Shaquille O’Neal was back it last night, following his Suns’ loss in Portland. When the subject of his his little tiff with Joel Przybilla during the game was broached (plus his thoughts on Greg Oden), reporters in the locker room perked up as they knew that some typically Shaq-esque responses were on their way.
Hoopsworld got the quotes:
“He said I threw the ball at him and I said, yeah. That’s what I did. So what? Do something about it. I’m not much of a talker.” When asked if he could receive a fine for admitting he “threw the ball” at Przybilla, Shaq quickly corrected himself.
“I didn’t throw it. I dropped it. Hey, it doesn’t matter to me - whatever they do. It’s been done before. You move on. I just dropped it. He was in the way. If he wouldn’t have flopped and been on the floor, he wouldn’t have been down there.” You don’t like the floppers do you, asked one reporter. “No. It just shows you are giving in. The referees are probably going to go for that every time. You’ve got to now (flop). It’s the only way you can stop a person. It’s kind of crazy the refs go for that.”
So what did Shaq think of Oden? “I don’t. I’m a Shogun. You can’t ask me about a low level ninja. I still have to worry about Yao Ming, Dwight Howard.”
Someone should poll big men that O’Neal has gone up against in his career, and figure out how many have had to seek some sort of emotional counseling following his barbs.
Bosh wants the world to know that he’s no deadbeat father: “In the immediate aftermath of the lawsuit being made public on Tuesday, Bosh would only say he loved his daughter, loved himself and respected his daughter’s mother. His attorneys, meanwhile, said earlier this week they will respond to the Mathis filing ‘within the next week or so.’ It was revealed yesterday in another Toronto publication that Bosh had in fact filed a petition in Dallas before his daughter was even born, and six weeks after he split up with Mathis, to begin arranging custody and financial support for the child. ‘I love my daughter,’ Bosh said in a statement delivered by a team spokesman following practice. ‘Of course I am financially supporting her.’”
It’s so palpable that musicians are paying him unsolicited visits in the Nets’ locker room: “Bruce Hornsby was ushered into the Nets locker room by Kiki Vandeweghe Sunday, and the GM asked the musician whether there was anyone he’d like to meet. Hornsby said he was interested only in Josh Boone, ‘because he looks so sad.’”
by Holly MacKenzie
Happy it’s Friday? I don’t know where this week has gone. Durant/Green/Westbrook and Co. in town tonight and I’m excited.
My hands are also tired of typing. I had two liveblogs last night and those college games took forever! Villanova took down Duke… Well, slaughtered them would be a better way to put it. How many of you had them defeating Duke? How many of you are happy people today?
16-60. That’s what the Blue Devils shot for the game.
And, dammit. Didn’t my heart pull for Paulus when they took him out. I can’t handle the seniors when they finish on the losing end of things. Or when they foul out. It’s such a look of helplessness and despair. Bah.
Speaking of heartbreakers, on Raptors NBATV, which is Canada’s version of NBATV, they’ve got this commercial that they just played as I’m here writing this, going through highlights of all of the Raptors success over the years. PAIN-FUL. How did we get to this point?
I also had Memphis winning, if we’re counting. Oops. Kinda dropped the ball on that one, didn’t I?
If you haven’t read Michael Grange’s article clearing up some details on the Chris Bosh situation, I recommend that you do so. Looks like Bosh was making arrangements to take care of his daughter before she was born and there is more to this story than the side we heard a couple of days ago. Hopefully this situation can get resolved quickly and these parents can love their daughter and respect each other.
One more link for you this morning, amazing piece on Corey Fisher. Written by Dana O’Neil, this is right up there with Jackie MacMullan’s piece on Wade and then the Jenkins article on Lamar. Some fantastic pieces coming out lately. This one really killed me. You know there is room inside of my heart for Fisher!
One more NCAA note: Syracuse plays tonight. While the Raptors play. I will be watching Madness on Demand on this mac of mine while at the game. You know it.
Oh yes, according to Russ, Wade became the first player under 6′4″ to record 100 blocks. Kinda crazy, isn’t it?
Okay, quiet NBA night, Lakers over Detroit 92-77, to snap a nine-game losing streak in Detroit. While the Pistons lead early, the Lakers used a 20-0 run to take care of business and quiet the Palace. With Will Bynum as your leader scoring a career-high 25 points to go with a career-high 11 assists, you know it’s not the normal Pistons lineup out there. Still without Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and of course, Allen Iverson, the Pistons struggled to put points on the board, with Antonio McDyess being the only other Piston to reach double figures with his 14-point 12-rebound double-double. The Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant’s 30 points and 7 assists as Pau Gasol scored 12 points to go with 11 rebounds and Lamar Odom had 12 points to go with 10 boards.
The Bulls rolled over Miami, 106-87 and with that loss, Dwyane Wade took his name out of the running and essentially handed Bron the MVP trophy. Yes, it’s only one game, but I think by now, the award is safely in LeBron’s reach. I don’t think the Heat can come back Didn’t catch any of this one, but it looks like the third quarter was the story as the Heat collapsed, getting outscored 32-14 in the period, as Chicago ran away with this one late. John Salmons led the way with 27 points while Ben Gordon scored 18 and Kirk Hinrich had 15. Tyrus Thomas also scored 15 points to go with 12 rebounds. Wade led the Heat with 31 points while Udonis Haslem scored 13 and Jermaine O’Neal added 12.
One night after getting a big win against the Jazz, the Suns fell to the Blazers. With each game more and more crucial in the Suns race for eighth in the Western Conference, losing 129-109 to Portland doesn’t help Phoenix inch any closer to the Mavs. Tired legs in the third quarter doomed the Suns who were content to try and outscore the Blazers. Getting outscored 35-22 didn’t play into that plan as they gave up 60% shooting to Portland in the game. LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 12 rebounds for the Blazers while Brandon Roy had 26 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Rudy Fernandez had 23 points off of the bench on 8-10 shooting from the floor. The Suns were led by Shaquille O’Neal’s 20 points as Jason Richardson scored 16 and Steve Nash added 15.
He’s got his teammate’s back no matter what: “Garnett is well aware of the criticism Marbury has received at various NBA stops. In fact, it’s likely he had his own bone to pick when the point guard left him and the Wolves to pursue glory on warmer stages. But Garnett insists that none of what he’s heard can alter his impression. ‘That’s what you hold onto,’ he said. ‘Someone can have an opinion. It don’t make or break what you know about that person. I feel like as youths, as young guys - especially in the early parts of our career - opportunity-wise we could have did a lot of special things. But individually guys have different things they want to obtain in this league and they want in this league. So I chalked it up. Then I used to see him in the media. I never played in New York. I never experienced that. For whatever reason, it was what it was. I never assessed it, never talked about it. It was none of my business. I just watched it from the side and just knew that the Steph I know is sometimes not the same person that people perceive or put out there.’”
by Marcel Mutoni
Two nights ago, the Orlando Magic defeated the Boston Celtics in Florida, and in the process leap-frogged the C’s in the Eastern Conference standings. This made their coach a very happy man, and one who simply couldn’t resist throwing a shot at the team he’d just beaten.
Stan Van Gundy, who’s already gotten into one war of words this season, is tired of hearing Boston’s injury moans.
The Providence Journal has the details:
“I want to know how some teams get on the list, where they get excuses and other teams are not on that list. All I’ve been hearing about is all the injury problems the Celtics have had this year.”
Van Gundy talked about his own team’s loss of All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in early February. The Magic have continued playing well in part because of a three-way trade that brought Rafer Alston from Houston.
Van Gundy doesn’t have to see Shaq on the court this season again, but the Celtics are likely to meet his Magic in the second round of the Playoffs. The two teams will then have a good opportunity to properly discuss these so-called excuses.
Photo by Pier Nicola D’Amico
Originally published in SLAM 103
Ben Wallace’s stare, along with his work ethic, hustle and tenacious defense, once sent chills throughout the League and caused opponents to think twice before coming in the lane. Undrafted out of college, the four-time Defensive Player of the Year probably never saw himself kicking it in a whip that nice. Playing D pays off, kids. — Adam Fleischer
PRODUCED, DIRECTED & EDITED BY: ERIC WOODYARD
There’s nothing like writing and reporting on an NBA game… but to be able to bring that text to life with video is even better!
Game Notes may be the coldest game reviews on the ‘Net, but if you could really see what we see behind-the-scenes wouldn’t that be magical? This is why I wanted to enhance SLAMonline and show the editing skills that I’ve learning at my internship this semester.
Take a trip with me to last Sunday’s game when the Detroit Pistons hosted the Miami Heat. Make sure you watch the end when I became the first to do something for Dwyane Wade…
The Flinstone, Eric Woodyard
by Russ Bengtson
There are many ways I could start these notes. For example, I could ask a not-so-rhetorical question: “If Team A loses a game against Team B because Player C celebrates a would-be dagger dunk a bit too exuberantly, what chance is there that same player gives the refs the chance to make the same exact call in the same exact situation the very next time the teams meet?”
Or I could go to the same well I drew from for my last batch of notes—the local media surrounding a player with local ties, in this case Zach Randolph, who was sent forth to Los Angeles earlier this season. A favorite amongst the ink-stained wretches (and microphone holders) for his gravelly good-natured candor, Randolph took on all comers, pausing only to greet Nate Robinson when he poked his head in the visitor’s locker room (both to say hi and to collect on an old debt, which Randolph settled with the large knot in the front pocket of his tan Levi’s).
I could try the misdirection approach, effusively praising the speedy and tattoo-laden No. 4, un(der)estimated from Day One, who came off the bench and dropped 35 clutch points in 37 minutes. No, not Kryptonate, but the Clippers’s Mike Taylor, a second-round pick out of the D-League who piled up the most points for a rookie in the Garden since some fella named Allen Iverson more than a decade ago. Like Iverson, Taylor is listed at a hard-to-believe 165 pounds (soaking wet and fully dressed, maybe), like Iverson, Taylor is covered with more ink than it takes to print the Sunday Times, like Iverson, Taylor is fast enough to run literal circles around would-be defenders. As for the rest—the scoring titles and MVPs—we’ll have to wait and see. Coming into last night, Taylor was averaging a robust 3.9 ppg. That’s since gone up a bit.
Maybe I could use the Twitter tie-in. Although I’ve been on there for a while now, I wasn’t aware of the sheer number of NBA players who Tweeted until I saw Lang’s comprehensive list. But one guy I have been following is Baron Davis, who at one point yesterday posted looking for a restaurant near Central Park to hit up for lunch. So as the local types surrounded Z-Bo, I quietly asked Baron—sitting on the bench immediately to Zach’s right—whether he ever found a place to eat. He just started laughing. Turns out he went to Nobu—a rather fine Japanese establishment I’ve never had the pleasure of patronizing—but didn’t share that information with his legion of followers because the last time he did, the restaurant was flooded with phone calls. Honestly, that’s why I never Tweet where I’m going to lunch, either.
Then again, I could also just start from the beginning.
(I’ll try to not do play-by-play and not transcribe everything, because then this’ll be 4,000 words and won’t be up until April.)
(It’s worth noting that, while I brought my computer to the game, I never even took it out of my bag. And I forgot my recorder entirely. So these notes are brought to you by AMPAD (“Since 1888: America’s First, America’s Finest”) reporter’s notebooks and the Pilot G-2 07. And Seattle’s Best coffee.)
Since the Clippers have exactly zero beatwriters traveling with them, I get to sit on the baseline with the New York beatwriters, big-time national media and traveling scouts. In other words I’m two seats down from Chris Ford and a row behind Chris Sheridan. Big time! It’s amazing how different the game looks from up close—you get a far better sense of how fast and physical the game really is. I wish they put the retail value of the seat on each nametag.
You could say the Clippers get off to a slow start, but that would imply they get off to a start at all. Baron throws the ball away on an entry pass and gives the added gift of an and-one on the other end. And when Wilson Chandler misses a jumper, Zach Randolph beats out Marcus Camby for the rebound and tips it in. Which would have been a good idea if it were still November and Z-Bo were still a Knick. David Lee gets two free points for being vaguely near the play.
With 5:50-something to go, the Knicks are up 27-8, and Mike Dunleavy calls a 20-second timeout to discuss, I don’t know, the price of tea in China or the AIG bonuses. They’re certainly not going to figure out what’s ailing THEM in 20 seconds.
The Knicks do their part with back-to-back turnovers, Eric Gordon hits a corner three, and LIKE THAT, the Clippers are only down 14.
If Baron Davis looked any more disinterested, he’d actually be posting to Twitter on the court: “Maybe I should pass it to Z-Bo, LOL.”
The Knicks pass 40 with two minutes to go in the quarter. The Clippers don’t appear to believe in defense at all, and I’m wondering whether a team could possibly score 200 points in regulation.
Baron must have heard my thoughts, because he fires an entry pass directly into press row. It’s more towards the AP writer, though. Knicks lead after 1, 44-28. They’re shooting a robust 79 percent from the floor.
We don’t receive engraved invitations or anything, but The Mike Taylor Show begins regardless. Drives to the rim, free throws, and ones, you name it. And all of a sudden the Knicks once insurmountable lead is in danger of being surmounted. Just a few minutes into the second Mike’s got 11 points and it’s 49-45. Unbelievable.
Jared Jeffries stops the bleeding by connecting on a pair of free throws. Later, he’ll turn water into wine, cure a particularly nasty case of athlete’s foot, and feed a cast of thousands with a single Happy Meal.
You want more Mike Taylor? You got it. Two more points.
With 1:50 to go in the half, a Taylor layup gives the Clippers their first lead at 62-61. There are more embarrassing moments in Knicks history, I suppose, but this is up there.
When halftime mercifully arrives, the Knicks cling to a 66-65 lead. Taylor had 17 points in the quarter on 5-7 from the floor and 7-7 from the line, with no threes attempted or made. His previous career high? 15.
Mike Taylor starts the third quarter, Baron sits on the bench. Chair. Whatever. Camby doesn’t start either. Harrington hits an open three in transition to give him 25 on the night with 11-plus minutes to go, but yet another Taylor bucket allows the Clippers to regain the lead at 70-69. Wilson Chandler comes right back with a three. There will be 20 ties and 11 lead changes over the course of the night, so I won’t be noting all of them.
(Although I suppose it’s worth mentioning Mike ties it on the very next possession with a jumper over a rather effective and thorough Z-Bo screen.)
Around this time is when a lot of threes start to happen. I suggest to Chris Ford that they only take threes from hereon out. Can’t tell whether he agrees it would be a good idea or not. Nice mustache, though. And the championship ring he’s wearing is so delightfully unostentatious. Pretty soon they’re gonna start making crowns for the champs. Or solid gold Bentleys.
There’s a play right in front of us where David Lee clearly goes over Mike Taylor’s back for an offensive rebound and basically knocks him down while laying it back up and in. Taylor has clearly established position, has clearly not done anything wrong, and clearly gets called for the foul. He clearly looks surprised at the turn of events. Lee hits the freebie to put the Knicks back up by three.
Not long afterwards, the Clippers are back up five, but, as dictated by law, no one plays any defense, and Larry Hughes gets in the game for roughly .8 seconds before hitting a game-tying three from the wing. (I could look back through the running to see who scored the two first, but you don’t really care, do you?)
Nate Robinson throws a pass directly into an unsuspecting David Lee’s face from less than six feet away. Mike Taylor picks up the loose ball, is fouled by Lee.
Z-Bo misses in close, Al Thornton soars in for a fairly impressive dunk putback, and the only Clipper on the bench who stands up is Steve Novak. The rest of the guys are busy, I guess.
Couple plays later, Thornton gets the ball at the top of the key beyond the three-point line with the shot clock running out, and his man actually LEAVES him. He rattles home the open trey.
Larry Johnson, who hasn’t set foot in the building in eight years, is at his second Knicks game in three nights. Introduced to thunderous applause yet again, he stands and throws an L up. Thirty-seven minutes later, Antonio Davis is whistled for a foul with continuation.
Al Thornton jumper, in n’ out.
The Clippers lead 95-93 after three, and the natives are restless.
Marcus Camby starts the fourth quarter after sitting the entire third. I’m sure he’s overjoyed. He drives baseline, is fouled by Harrington, misses both.
Jared Jeffries misses a corner three. This does not come as a surprise.
Some interesting matchups going on, like Jeffries guarding Baron on the perimeter and Baron guarding Harrington in the post. Apparently no one has mentioned to Baron that they outlawed hand checking some time ago. If they were calling it, he’d foul out in seven seconds or less.
Mike Taylor checks back in at 8:45 with the Clippers up 1.
With 7:51 to go, Harrington is fouled by Kaman and heads to the line. He makes the first, gets dap from his teammates, and Baron steps up to slap his hand, too. Harrington obliges. Not sure whether I’ve ever seen that before.
The Clippers are over the limit with 5:56 to go. Jared Jeffries hits another pair of free throws, successfully pairs a plaid shirt with a polka-dotted tie, and mixes oil and water so they don’t separate.
Baron is called for a touch foul contesting a Harrington fallaway on the baseline. He colorfully disagrees, to no avail.
Lee picks up his fifth foul, the Knicks commit a 24-second violation (good defense?) and Baron wets a fading three over Wilson Chandler. Clips by four with 3:03 left.
(According to Lawler’s Law, the Knicks are going to win because they broke 100 first—like, five minutes ago.)
(Then again, the Clippers get to 115 first, so there’s that.)
(First team to 150?)
Baron misses a layup, gets mad there’s no call, Jeffries converts a driving dunk on the other end, and the Clippers turn it over on an inbounds violation. Yep, they’re still the Clippers.
The Knicks get to 120 first on a Larry Hughes 3.
Taylor almost gets a steal in the backcourt on a lazy cross-court pass—Mike D’Antoni looks like he’s going to pull his hair out—but Chris Duhon scores off glass—and one—and the Knicks lead by four with 1:30 left.
Clipper possession, 12 ticks on the 24, and the refs stop play to re-set it to 22. Chris Ford can’t believe it: “They had an open three and the refs stop play for that??”
Z-Bo can’t be Z-Stopped. Past Jeffries for a layup. He’s just posting and calling for the ball every time down. He’s got 29.
Hughes gets a bailout call on a falling away pass in the lane. Clips over the limit, Knicks go up four with under a minute. Until Baron hits a three eight seconds later.
This is when Al Harrington converts on a driving dunk along the baseline, pulls himself up on the rim and gets that tech. Mike D’Antoni goes ballistic, Harrington looks pained and perplexed, and an Eric Gordon free throw cuts the Knicks lead to two. Here’s what I thought: Was the call a no-brainer? No. Al Thornton was under the hoop. But the pull-up looked more exuberant than safety required, and if you’ve been called for more or less doing the exact same thing against the exact same team at the exact same time in the exact same situation, why even give them the opportunity to make the call?
Z-Bo Z-Beasts his way to the line, Wilson Chandler misses a three, and we’re headed to overtime knotted at 127. Deja vu all over again.
If you want more Mike Taylor, you got it. He runs completely around Harrington before sinking this one.
Taylor’s final points come off a runner off glass with 1:35 to go, and the Clippers go up four. He’s got 35.
And the rest is just paperwork. Clippers win 140-135, proving once and for all that the first team to 140 usually wins.
Mike Dunleavy is what passes for happy: “I didn’t like the way we came into the Garden, but I like the way we’re going out.” And he’s effusive in his praise for Taylor: “Mike Taylor—that young man played a great game. We changed the lineup in the second half because you don’t want to go away from a hot hand like that.”
A little more on Taylor: “He has this great speed—but speed kills unless you control it. We’re trying to tell him to dribble all the way through the paint just like Steve Nash does.” He also compares him to a young Tony Parker. Good company.
In the Clipper locker room, everyone’s waiting for Taylor (who talked to all of one reporter—Matt Caputo, stand up!—pregame). so Baron Davis is free to commiserate with Larry Johnson—who saunters in and sits in Chris Kaman’s locker across the way—about Marcus Camby’s impossibly baggy jeans, which make Wu-Wears look like Diesels. It’s possible he has Marithe in one leg and Francois in the other.
Mathematically, the Knicks playoff hopes are still alive. In reality? Even Jared Jeffries couldn’t pull off that kind of miracle.
I almost forgot the best part of postgame. Was standing in the tunnel afterwards with Caputo, waiting to say hey to LJ, when Z-Bo came out of the locker room. He was wearing a brown zip-up hoodie with a huge skull applique on the back, with two equally huge words framing it: SEX and DRUGS. You could read them from space—or at least from across the room. Amazing. Matt asked where he got it, and Z-Bo happily told him that one of his boys in Atlanta made it for him. So much for the dress code.
Slamonline proudly presents the third and final SLAM/NBA Breakdown Trivia Challenge (Pt 2 was detailed here, and won by Albert of New York, who reports that he loved his prize). All you have to do to win is check out the April trivia question here on the contest page and then listen to the entertaining NBA Breakdown show on internet radio to win a great SLAM prize pack.
Hosts Dave Mendonca and Audley Stephenson will reward the first caller with the correct answer.
Here’s Dave and Audley’s question for April:
“Besides Kevin Garnett, Darius Miles and Eddy Curry, who is the fourth Illinois Mr. Basketball to go straight to the NBA from high school?”
Tune into The NBA Breakdown at 9pm Eastern on Sunday, April 12th to call-in your answer for your chance to win!
SLAM Editor-in-Chief Ben Osborne will be on the show that night to share his insights on the magazine and latest happenings in the League. For more from Dave and Audley, check out their blog here.
Comments are off so no one puts the right answer here…save it for April 12th!
Even it’s at a Bar Mitzvah: “In an event that took place Saturday night, a Bar Mitzvah that featured T.I. as a performer and Dwayne Wade as a guest, it’s being reported that fisticuffs broke out. Not between the Hip-Hop artist or his crew, or Dwayne Wade and his associates, but between Cleveland Cavalier’s owner Dan Gilbert and former Rock Financial honcho David Hall. There have been rumors, since Hall’s abrupt departure from Rock Financial over a year ago, that there was friction between Gilbert and Hall. Mojo in the Morning, the morning radio show on 95.5 FM in Detroit, apparently has sources that were at the event Saturday night. During a segment the show talks about what happened and tells their listeners that the friction between Gilbert and Hall came to a head during an altercation, with the two men getting into a physical confrontation. Security had to intervene to calm down the two.”
The MVP debate this year has centered around three players. LeBron, Kobe and D-Wade. Though it’s pretty clear to everyone that James has the award all but locked up, the complete list of candidates continues to take shape.
Tony Parker’s name has now been thrown into the hat by his teammate, Tim Duncan.
Parker was brilliant Wednesday night with 42 points and 10 assists, helping the Spurs solve their recent struggles closing out games in a 102-92 victory over the Hawks. Parker’s performance was so good, it prompted Duncan to say he deserves to at least be in the top five on voters’ MVP ballots in a few weeks.
“I think absolutely,” said Duncan, a two-time MVP. “Of course I’m biased, obviously. But with the position that we’re in — second or seventh in the West, however many games it can switch — we’re right in the mix with that. The amount of injuries we’ve been dealing with all year … he’s keeping this team consistent. He’s been the consistent one all year long. Absolutely, he should be at least given an opportunity to be one of those top five. “
Parker is having the best season of his career, and has beautifully steered an aging, injury-depleted ship in the brutal Western waters all season long. He certainly deserves to have a couple of votes thrown his way.
There must be something in the Bay Area and Dallas water systems: “I think anybody can beat anybody, just like when we beat Dallas, we were eight and they were one,” Nelson said. “I think it could happen again.” Why? Because injuries are playing havoc with the West. Nelson believes that with the Lakers missing center Andrew Bynum, nothing is guaranteed. “I don’t think everybody’s as deep as they thought,” Nelson said. “Even the Lakers are lacking something. They’re still winning, but they’re not as powerful… If Bynum doesn’t come back, they’re as vulnerable as anybody else who’s missing a major player.”
by Marcel Mutoni
Though A.I. maintains that he will be a good soldier, and faithfully come off the bench for the Pistons once his back feels better, a lot of people are skeptical. Among those is Reggie Miller, who shared his feelings with a national TV audience.
From the Detroit News:
What Reggie Miller said on the TNT broadcast Tuesday night was what a lot of people, myself included, have thought and hinted and even wrote about — that Allen Iverson’s injury was more about a bruised ego than a hurt back. Here’s what Reggie said:
“I’ve played a lot of games against Allen Iverson when he was with the Philadelphia 76ers, and he is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever gone against. But having said that and knowing the information we know, what [strength and conditioning coach] Arnie Kander is saying, it’s almost like (Iverson) is holding this team hostage because he cannot accept the responsibility of coming off the bench and that’s sad because he is one of the truly great little men we’ve ever had in the game.”
Kander told TNT pretty much what myself and others have repeatedly reported. Every test that’s been run on Iverson’s back has shown no structural damage. The original MRI that was done in Orlando at the end of February has never been disputed.
It’s funny and sad in a way, as Iverson’s legendary toughness seems to now be working against him.
Had he not gutted it out so many times in the past, fighting through injuries that would’ve sidelined most other players, would any of this even be up for debate? Unlikely.
You can’t touch the refs, Nene: “Nuggets center Nene has been suspended by the league for [last night's] game here and Friday’s game at Dallas for his role in an altercation Monday. Nene was ejected Monday night in Phoenix after throwing an elbow at Louis Amundson. It appeared he had slight physical contact with official Bill Spooner upon leaving the court.”