Posts Tagged ‘Larry Bird’

What happens when you’re young stays with you forever

November 4, 2008

In the early 1970’s, the fact is, ‘Mr. Clutch’ was the first favourite NBA player of this corner …

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Jerry West still is a reluctant sports hero
West can best be described as one of the most conflicted legendary sports heroes of our time. He is a man who has had a lifetime of success in nearly all facets and has never been comfortable with that.

Part of that might hark back to the third nickname, the one he likes the least: “Zeke from Cabin Creek.” That was placed on him by other players from bigger cities when he arrived in the NBA in 1960, the second pick of the draft and perhaps a comparative hick. He had been an All-American at West Virginia, and nobody questioned his basketball credentials. Nobody but him, that is.

“I didn’t think I was good enough to play in the pros,” he said back then.

As the second-youngest of six children growing up in the relative poverty of Cheylan, W.Va., and learning his basketball craft mostly alone on muddy outdoor courts with cheap hoops, West couldn’t have been less prepared for something like Los Angeles.

“Cabin Creek was about a mile away,” he said, elaborating with a snapshot of life in the ’50s in a coal mining state. “That’s where we got our mail. I’d run there and back. Maybe that’s why I was in such good shape to play basketball. I remember running past Wade’s Pool Hall on a Saturday morning. You could tell how wild a time the coal miners had had the night before by how many of the windows were broken out.”

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While time and increased maturity have succeeded in developing an increased appreciation for the outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the game of terrific players like, e.g. The Great Bill Russell, the ‘Big O’, Kareem, Dr. J, the ‘Moutain Man’, Magic & Bird [because they will forever be linked together], Isiah, MJ, Hakeem, Duncan, etc., it can never overshadow what it meant to these young eyes, late at night, watching on a grainy black & white TV a certain player, wearing #44, who just kept hitting big shot after big shot, in an effort to help his team win a rather silly game, played the Right Way, in short pants with a round ball and an elevated basket.

Although time marches on … you can never ever replace THAT.

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Pacers have their ‘Man’

November 4, 2008

In the aftermath of their trade with the Raptors, Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations, Larry Bird, expressed his feelings about the type of Leadership he is looking for with his current team.

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Bird says team poised to fill leadership void
“Just because you make the most money doesn’t mean you’re the leader,” Bird said last month. “A lot of guys didn’t want to step on toes. Not only here, but other places I’ve been at. They’d say, the guy makes the most money, that means he’s the leader. That’s not the case. The leader comes from the guy doing the right thing, the guy that’s going to be there every day at practice, the guy that plays through pain without complaining. They do the necessary things to prepare themselves.

“I think the situation you have here, you had one guy making a lot of money and everybody just took it as he’s going to be leading us, and in some instances that was true. But I think more now that since it has opened you’ll see a number of guys stepping up.

“Really, you just need one voice. Usually your best leaders are ones that don’t say anything, they just play, prepare and do the right things.”

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Well, today … it says here that Larry Legend has now got his man …

Broken teeth, not broken spirit
“As professional athletes, we’ve bled throughout our careers,” he said. “We’ve broken bones, torn ligaments, busted teeth. It’s part of the game. It’s kind of fun when you do it, and you actually win.”

Granger’s refusal to leave the game after the collision impressed his teammates and coaches.

He made the play with the Pacers ahead by 16 in the fourth quarter. He stayed in the game.

“That one play epitomized what we want from our leaders — toughness, refusing to get knocked out of the game because you’ve lost your choppers,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “That was just great.”

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After a period of significant upheaval, the Pacers have now righted their ship … at last … and will be in playoff contention this season.

It’s baaaack …

October 28, 2008

Rolling the dice on an oft-injured player

October 23, 2008

The sort of quotes which make a keen NBA Observer scratch his head and say, “Hmmmmmmm.”

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Star dimming, O’Neal sees brighter days in Toronto

1. re: Jermaine O’Neal’s physical condition

O’Neal admits as much, directing most of the blame at his left knee. He had surgery to repair a cartilage tear the summer before last season, and was on the floor for opening night. By mid-January, however, O’Neal felt like he was playing on one leg. Tired of crunching Advil – “12 a day,” he claims – he sought the advice of a couple specialists and shut down for the next 2½ months. He returned for the final two weeks, and the Pacers finished one win shy of claiming the Eastern Conference’s last playoff berth.

Because neither O’Neal nor the Pacers wanted to further diminish his trade value, “we didn’t really want to speak much about my injuries,” he said. “Whenever it got to the point where I had to sit out, we just had to call it something else. But over the last 2½ years, that knee was the issue.”

i.e. O’Neal had surgery on his injured left knee 2 summers ago, not this past season or during this current off-season.

2. Jermaine O’Neal’s mind-set

There were other issues, not all of them external.

“Mentally, I was just worn out,” he said. “When you get to that point, you just kind of lose that fire.”

3. re: probability & what to worry about

“Bryan Colangelo isn’t dumb; he didn’t trade for an injured player,” said one Eastern Conference scout. “Jermaine will probably dedicate himself this season. He quit on Indiana. I guess if there’s anything to worry about, it’s that he could always do the same in Toronto.”

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Based on the following observations:

* Jermaine O’Neal is not coming back from an injury he sustained this past season
* Once a NBA player ‘loses his fire’, rarely does he ever get it back
* Jermaine O’Neal is perceived to have ‘quit’ on the Indiana Pacers

it is simply not a given that the Raptors are actually going to get their money’s worth this season, and next, from the trade which brought them Jermaine O’Neal and cost them TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston & the No. 17 Selection [overall] from the 2008 NBA Draft, which the Pacers used to choose Roy Hibbert [C, Georgetown], in exchange for the #41 Pick, Nathan Jawai [C/PF, Australia] who is still inactive at this point with a suspected heart condition.

[Note 1: O’Neal missed his first ‘in-game’ action with the Raptors this season, on Tuesday, sitting out the 2nd Half of their exhibition loss vs the Nuggets, due to a ‘sore right leg’.]

Next One from Georgetown

October 14, 2008

As the NBA’s pre-season continues to move forward, it becomes increasingly interesting to evaluate some of the Draft Night transactions which involved young men who had yet to play a single game in the NBA and were deemed by certain GM’s to be valuable building blocks for their respective franchises, or not.

Such is the case for Roy Hibbert [C, 7-2, 278, 2008 NBA Draft, No. 17 (overall) Selection].

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Hibbert shows he can score
Hibbert, the No. 17 pick in last summer’s draft, had his best offensive game of the preseason, scoring 17 points against the Grizzlies on Monday.Quantcast

“We really like Roy,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “He works his heart out. He knows how to put the ball in the basket around the basket. We couldn’t be happier with Roy right now.”

Hibbert came out of Georgetown labeled as being primarily a defensive player. Hibbert will help the Pacers defensively — he had three blocked shots against the Grizzlies — but he’ll also offer more. He had nine rebounds in 23 minutes.

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Time will tell just how effective Roy Hibbert is eventually going to be, in the NBA … but if this corner’s assessment proves to be correct, he is destined to have a long and productive career, as a ‘Robert Parrish-esque’ player, i.e. no fuss-no muss, consistent on both ends of the floor, plays within himself at all times, Rock Solid Big … following in the grand tradition of Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutumbo, Alonzo Mourning and [to a far lesser extent] Othella Harrington.

Of further intrigue, at least, to this corner, is the fact that he was acquired on Draft Night by a GM like Larry Legend [of all people 🙂 ], as part of the Pacers’ trade with the Raptors … i.e. Jermaine O’Neal + the 2008 NBA Draft No. 41 (overall) Selection [Nathan Jawai], in exchange for TJ Ford [PG] + Rasho Nesterovic [PF/C] + Maceo Baston [PF].

5 years from today … it is going to be very interesting to assess where the Raptors have gone, in the interim, with the front-court players they have right now … i.e. Chris Bosh, O’Neal, Andrea Bargnani, Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai & Jamal Sampson … in comparison with the Pacers [i.e. Rasho Nesterovic, Jeff Foster, Troy Murphy, Austin Croshere, Josh McRoberts, Maceo Baston & Roy Hibbert].

It says here … that Larry Bird has his Center for the next 10-15 years, and the Pacers are but one or two more moves away from returning to the EC playoffs on a consistent basis.

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UPDATE:
* A 2nd set of solid numbers for Roy Hibbert
Box Score: Pacers 100, Mavericks 93 [Wed Oct 15 2008].

Pacers and Raptors … moving forward from here

October 7, 2008

There’s an interesting interview with Larry Bird on NBA.com today which gives his interpretation of the Pacers’ situation looking forward to this season and their future in the next few years ahead.

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NBA.com: What do you see as the No. 1 area of improvement for the Pacers this season?
Larry Bird: Obviously we have to get better on the defensive end. Last year we committed too many fouls and we didn’t defend the three-point shot. So overall our defense has to get better to win games. Offensively, we’ll score a lot of points. Defense was the problem last year. As far as the team goes, I think we did something in the draft to help us overall, and I think we solidified our point guard position with
Travis [Diener],T.J., and Jarrett Jack so we’re very strong in that area right now.

NBA.com: How big of an impact will rookie Roy Hibbert have on the defensive end in the role of shot blocker, overall defensive presence?
Larry Bird: It’s always good to have a big guy in there. Without Jermaine last year we didn’t have that potential to block shots. With Roy in there he takes up a lot of space and even if we don’t block a lot of shots, you can get guys to shoot up over him and maybe distract them a little bit. I think it’s going to be a major plus for us. Obviously he’s a rookie and he’s got a lot of learning to do, but in the long run he’ll be fine.

NBA.com: Who is the team leader?
Larry Bird: I think it can be a couple guys. We’ve had some players around here just waiting for the opportunity to step in and I think now they’ll look at the training camp and go through and you’ll sort of see after a while who the players gravitate to.

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What’s of most interest to this corner is:

(1) The possible location of two former Raptors on Indiana’s current depth chart, i.e. TJ Ford and Rasho Nesterovic; and,

(2) The overall level of optimism Larry Legend has for the likes of Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, Roy Hibbert, et al., as a core group of players which the Pacers can build around over the next few seasons …

specifically, in comparison with the current roster of the Pacers’ trading partner in the deal they made this summer for Jermaine O’Neal.

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2008-2009

 

 

A) Raptors’ Current Roster

B) Pacers’ Current Roster

 

 

1 PG – Jose Calderon *

1 PG – Travis Diener *

2 OG – Anthony Parker

2 OG/SF – Mike Dunleavy 

3 SF – Jamarion Moon

3 SF – Danny Granger 

4 PF – Chris Bosh *

4 PF – Troy Murphy *

5 C – Jermaine O’Neal **

5 C – Rasho Nesterovic **

 

 

6 PG – Will Solomon **

6 PG – TJ Ford **

7 OG – Jason Kapono

7 OG – Brandon Rush **

8 SF – Joey Graham

8 SF – Marquis Daniels

9 PF – Kris Humphries

9 PF – Austin Croshere **

10 C – Andrea Bargnani

10 C – Jeff Foster 

 

 

11 PG/OG – Roko Ukic **

11 PG/OG – Jarrett Jack **

12 OG/SF – Hassan Adams **

12 PG – Roy Hibbert **

 

 

 

 

13 PF/C – Nathan Jawai **

13 SF – Stephen Graham

14 ? PF – Jamal Sampson **

14 SF/PF – Shawne Williams 

15 ?

15 PF – Josh McRoberts **


LEGEND:
* New Role this season; ** New Player Added

While most of the ‘2008-2009 NBA Season Forecasts’ these eyes have read, thus far, see the Pacers finishing toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference; and, the Raptors with a solid chance to finish in the top third of the EC … looking strictly at the rosters of these two teams, paints a very different picture in the mind of this NBA connoisseur.

Is it possible that the Raptors manage to navigate the entire NBA season without a significant injury to one [or more] of their key players [i.e. Bosh, O’Neal or Calderon]?

Yes it is.

If so … then, it is certainly possible to see how the Raptors might finish this campaign higher in the EC standings than the Pacers.

However, on the flip side … even if Toronto goes injury-free this year …

Is it also possible to see how this Pacers’ roster … with the Quality Depth it has … might, in fact, be able to generate just as many W’s this season as the Toronto Raptors?

Yes it is … if Larry legend is correct and the players he’s mentioned are indeed capable of stepping up their games to assume Leadership Roles with their team this season.

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From the perspective of this corner, these are just two of many teams in the EC that could realistically finish anywhere from #6-14 this season should the breaks go their way or not.

Shaq’s all-time ranking, as a dominant player

September 17, 2008

In his weekly chat, David Thorpe [ESPN NBA Insider/Analyst] provides his succinct assessment of Shaquille O’Neal’s legacy, as an NBA player, when all is said and done:

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Christopher, Germany: Hi David, love your chats. After they ended their carreers, who ranks higher on the all-time list: Shaq or Kobe?

SportsNation David Thorpe: Shaq.

Nate (New Haven): David, no way shaq ends up higher. Kobe’s got 3 rings, 5 finals appearences, same number of all nba teams and 8 more defensive team appearences. What planet are you living on?

SportsNation David Thorpe: Shaq is top 3 all time in terms of pure dominance. His stats are unreal. Here on earth, we consider such things.

Christopher, Germany: who are the other two all-time-best in pure dominance?

SportsNation David Thorpe: I’d suggest Wilt and Kareem, in totally different ways.

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Well … this corner of the blogosphere does NOT concur with Mr. Thorpe’s opinion … in regard to the ‘Big Aristotle’, as a once dominant NBA player.

Speaking strictly as a Center … Shaq doesn’t place in the Top 5 all-time … amongst those I would choose to anchor the middle for a Dream Team.

1. Bill Russell [11 NBA titles in 13 years … nuff, said]
2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar [the greatest offensive force in hoops’ history]
3. Hakeem Olajuwon [the most skilful Post Player of all-time]
4. Wilt Chamberlain [the most physically dominant player in any era]
5. Tim Duncan [the Big Fundamental … nuff, said]

When considering other players, as well, who’ve played other positions … at least, the following individuals would also rank well above ‘the Diesel’, in terms of their all-time dominance … 

1. Michael Jordan
2. Oscar Robertson
3. Magic Johnson
4. Larry Bird
5. Kobe Bryant

at the height of their physical prowess.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that Shaquille O’Neal is the single Most Powerful Force [of Nature] in the history of the game … i.e. combining Size, Strength, Speed, Agility, Quickness, Explosivity and Intelligence.

This FACT is a given.

BUT[T] … and, it’s a rather LARGE One, at this point … there is simply NO WAY, SHAPE or FORM, he should legitimately be listed amongst the MOST EFFECTIVE [i.e. ‘the Greatest’, or ‘the Best’, or ‘the Most Dominant’] players of all-time.

Whether your are ranking by (i) most championships won, (ii) most all-star appearances, (iii) most prolific individual statistics, or (iv) most combined areas of standard productivity/efficiency measures … including overall skill level and/or competitive will, etc., … neither Shaq’s actual performance nor his crunched numbers [associated with his overall body of work] stack up well, in comparison with the greatest players in the history of the game.

The most exciting basketball player on earth

September 5, 2008

For those who came of age through the 1970’s & early 1980’s … it doesn’t get any better than this … as the ‘White Shadow‘ profiles Julius Winfield Erving, II.

Part I

Part II

Part III

youtube.com is absolute Gold … when it comes to things like …

the Doctor’.

NBA owner No. 1

September 5, 2008

In so many different ways … and, crucially, some of THE ones which matter most …

(for example)

* I depend, 100%, on the people who are in charge of whatever they’re in charge of. And nobody has run the Pistons better than Joe [Dumars].

* The reason I get rid of a coach is if he’s lost the players. I don’t want to subject my players to a coach they don’t want, basically and in whom they have lost faith.

* I’ve been living with this for 30 years or more, I don’t see color. I don’t distinguish color anymore, which is a good thing. Thirty years ago, I might have. But by being with the players, getting to know them, if you asked me do we have a white player on the team, I couldn’t tell you — well, I could tell you, but it wouldn’t make any difference. I get to know the personality much more than the color of the skin. Color means nothing.

Bill Davidson

Bill Davidson

this Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee [2008] fits the Bill Laimbeer to a tee.

Aptly described as “honest, direct, self-assured, and charming” by Mitch Albom, this is the first extensive interview this correspondent can recall by the octogenarian owner of the Pistons and the Shock.

And, it’s a beaut.

Bill Davidson Speaks … on Isiah, Laimbeer, Joe D., Rasheed, Race, He who is not what he appears to be, Carlisle, Flip, Curry, NBA Owners, NBA Referees, Hugh Evans, tips of icebergs, the City of Detroit, Politics & Business, the Commish, etc.

Yet another ALL-TIME CLASSIC!

Commemorating the greatest basketball player of all-time

June 9, 2008

Calls grow louder for Boston to erect statue to honor Bill Russell
He’s the most decorated sports champion in a city of sport champions. He won 11 world titles as a player, two of those while simultaneously coaching and playing. He was named to the All-Star team 12 times and Most Valuable Player five times.

But in the city he so decorated, there is no statue, plaque, street marker or tunnel that mentions the name Bill Russell …

“It needs to be done,” Kilbert Pierce Jr. said. “It’s not an easy thing either. It’s a real touchy subject. Russell was never one to mince words. That was then, this is now. It doesn’t seem Bill Russell is holding a grudge against Boston. It’s time for Boston to show appreciation by building a statue to him.”

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Time for the City of Boston to step up to the plate and simply Do The Right Thing for Mr. William Russell.