The Fundamentals

» September 5, 2008 7:51 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal:  “Arthur profusely apologized for an embarrassing, early-morning incident at a New York-area resort that resulted in the league asking him and former Kansas teammate Mario Chalmers to leave the otherwise mandatory seminar. The 6-9 forward acknowledged making a mistake but denied using marijuana. And in addition to a $20,000 league-imposed fine and whatever punishment the Griz may present, Arthur said he plans to rectify the situation in part by counseling youths throughout the city. “I want kids not to make the mistake I made,” Arthur said. “I want to try to teach them the right thing to do. If you follow the rules you won’t be in the same position I’m in. I feel terrible. I should have never opened the door. If I wouldn’t have done that, everything would have been cool. I knew the rules and I made a mistake.”"

Janis Carr of The Orange County Register:  “The two were supposed to be a single game of H-O-R-S-E, where each player gets to pick fancy shots and the other has to match. Many of Kalb’s were high-bouncing, off the backboard or swinging around the backboard pole that delighted the eclectic crowd that gathered. James stuck mainly to outside – way outside, 45-feet out – shots. But after Kalb edged him in the first game, James declared a best-of-three. Kalb won the second handily then the two delighted the crowd with dunks and flips by Kalb. “I was glad he was missing those outside shots because it gave me a chance to do the ones I had been practicing,” Kalb said.”

The Hoop:  “Soviet Sport says that they contacted Nikos Zabaras, a basketball reporter of the greek newspaper Fos and asked him about the article that was published on contra.gr about Ben Gordon. Nikos Zabaras said that the agent of Ben Gordon wanted the article published on contra.gr in order to increase the projected salary of his client. He also said that the player was offered to other NBA teams but only under his conditions and that CSKA was willing to pay him 5.5 million dollars per year. Finally the greek correspondent said that CSKA and Ben Gordon are still in negotiations. So Soviet Sport decided to speak to the big man of CSKA Moscow, general manager Andrey Vatutin who eloquently said: “This whole thing is a dirty trick of the newspapers, we are NOT in negotiations with Ben Gordon. At the moment all of our staff are currently on holiday. I’m personally on holidays in France and I haven’t heard anything about Ben Gordon.”"

Mark Lelinwalla of The Daily News:  “Stephon Marbury has carried the stigma of being a selfish player for the majority of his 12-year NBA career. Now, his older cousin is saying Marbury is even more self-centered off the court and is dishing details on the Knicks point guard in his autobiography, “The Beautiful Struggle,” the Daily News has learned. The book, due out in late September from Xlibris Publishing, has former NBA pro and current overseas player Jamel Thomas alleging that Marbury ruined a potential deal for him with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In it, Thomas includes a conversation that he allegedly had with Kevin Garnett, in which Garnett tells him how Marbury’s presence on the team spoiled his cousin’s chances of signing with Minnesota.”

Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:  “The moves also embody a new coaching era. Each addition was a nod toward the direction that coach Terry Porter wants to move the Suns. With no full-court play to view yet and three rookies on board, Porter can say only that the Suns are deeper on paper. He is sure the defense will improve. “Our defense will be better just because we’re going to have different schemes,” said Porter, who will have the Suns denying middle penetration, a change from previous seasons, when the Suns forced dribblers to the paint. “It’s always a challenge when you get a new group together. You have to see how everyone responds and plays off each other. From an energy standpoint, we’re going to be solid. Effort is going to be consistent. It really comes down to having more of a presence at the defensive end.”"

Jerry Brown of The East Valley Tribune:  “The buzzwords for the Suns this season have been energy conservation – whether it entails bringing solar power to US Airways Center or resting their aging starting lineup. Suns guard Steve Nash threw his support behind the latest “green” effort by the Suns, who are spending $1.5 million to put atop the parking garage solar panels that will produce enough energy to power the center’s pavilion area for 26 home games beginning next year. Nash is also all for the idea of conserving the two-time NBA MVP’s energy this season by cutting his minutes and having him sit out selected back-to-back games – even if he’s somewhat skeptical about the postulate in practice. “It’s a great idea. Everyone would love to go into the playoffs rested, and it makes a lot of sense,” said Nash. “But competition being what it is, especially in the West, we’ll have to see if it’s plausible.”"

Steve Weinman of CelticsBlog:  “The big focus area of improvement, however, is at the other end of the floor.  For all of the work Jefferson has clearly put in on his offensive game, it’s hard to imagine he has done the same on ‘D’ given how stunningly bad the results there have been.  The guy simply doesn’t guard anybody.  He doesn’t stick his man, doesn’t rotate well, consistently misplays pick-and-rolls, is slow getting to the spot and often winds up completely out of position on that end of the floor.  The numbers back it up: He gave up a less than desirable 50.2 percent effective field goal percentage while playing center last season, and the team was an astounding 12.1 points per 100 possessions worse defensively with him on the court than off it. Yes, the claim has been made that Jefferson is not playing his natural position at center, but it some point, it needs to be accepted that if that’s where he is going to spend the brunt of hs minutes, he needs to be accountable at that position and become less of a defensive liability.  Jefferson played 69 percent of the Timberwolves’ total minutes at center last season (compared to three percent at power forward), and with Kevin Love coming to town as a power forward, that doesn’t figure to change any time soon.”

Jason Friedman of Rockets.com:  “Ask an NBA veteran how his offseason is going and you’re likely to receive a slight chuckle and quick correction in return. That’s because the truth is that there’s no such thing as an offseason anymore; there’s too much money involved, the stakes are too high and the competition for roster spots and playing time is too fierce.  Spend a summer slacking off and you can rest assured that a handful of hungrier, more dedicated players will be waiting in the wings ready and eager to take your place.  In other words: you snooze, you lose.”

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “Billups, 26 when he began his first season in Detroit, quickly blossomed into one of the league’s top point guards and was at the helm as the Pistons won the 2004 NBA Championship. He has since led Detroit to six straight appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals and made three straight All-Star appearances along the way. Billups is not only the most dramatic success story amongst players signed for the mid-level exception, his deal is one of the few that teams did not ultimately come to regret. The mid-level is a product of the post-lockout Collective Bargaining Agreement. In exchange for the introduction of the luxury tax on team payrolls and limits on individual player salaries, the NBA Players’ Association won increased minimum salaries and the mid-level exception, designed to give the league’s middle class more options in free agency. In theory, the mid-level exception also helped teams over the salary cap by giving them an opportunity to add quality talent in free agency. In practice, it has been a disaster.”

Free Darko:  “A few weeks ago, Kobe prepped for his thirteen-hour flight to Beijing by making an after-hours pit stop at a comic shop to foster his new graphic novel hobby. Boldly proclaiming that he is “into that dark shit,” Kobe allowed the flabbergasted store clerk to steer him towards Garth Ennis’ brilliant, twisted Preacher, new-age noir 100 Bullets, along with a collection of Alan Moore DC Universe tales, among others. If Kobe is the most intriguing figure in basketball, it’s largely because of his highly polarizing persona, an all-encompassing public guise that often overshadows, or creeps into, our appreciation of his transcendent play. Condemnable man that chased affable Shaq-Fu out of town, or misunderstood hero who could no longer take The Big Aristotle’s obnoxious postulations? Baller who will never measure up to Jordan, or relentless worker who’s left an undeniable mark on the NBA? Sexual assault-prone scumbag, or repentant man who made one mistake? The sheer volume of controversy Kobe creates is breathtaking.”

Hoops Addict:  “James has become a worldwide star. Thanks to his play and numerous endorsement deals, his name and image are known universally. He was once asked what his main career goal was and responded that he strives to become a “global icon.” Having a film made that focuses on his overcoming controversy and being successful intends to add to the global ‘Brand of LeBron’. The film will also have the positive marketing impact of humanizing James, as it shows him amongst his high school friends in ordinary, everyday circumstances. Certainly seeing James go through common teen activities will positively enforce that he is likeable and relatable. In these ways, it is clear why James would encourage such a film. It pays tribute to his successes, lionizes his talents, and lets the world glorify him like a king (pun-intended). And while I do not doubt that “More Than A Game” will be an interesting film, it has little hope of resonating with this writer as much as the genre-defining 1994 film “Hoop Dreams.””

Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel special to The LA Times:  “”The fresh white shirt, tie, Armani suits, the image, the hair,” the Miami Heat president says, “that was the mantra, ‘Look fresh as a daisy,’ even though there were times after losses I felt like I wanted to die.” The coach who was blessed with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy at the start, who arrived in New York with Patrick Ewing at the peak of performance, and who stepped back to the bench when Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal were poised to present Miami with its first NBA championship, mostly made it look easy since inheriting the Showtime Lakers 11 games into the 1981-82 season. Tonight, that perfectly pressed package will be inducted into his sport’s ultimate cathedral. “He kind of changed the game of coaching, with his smoothness, especially when he was younger, with all his Armani suits,” Wade says. “He made it cool to be a coach.” The legacy is that he made it look easy. The legacy lies.”

Sarah Rothschild & Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald:  “”Whatever interest I have out there and whatever friends I have, I will have more time as president, even though that will keep me busy, to do other things,” Riley said. “To follow other ventures without being involved in the spotlight.” Among those ventures, Riley said, will include longer vacations, more travel with family and friends and “a meaningful, very meaningful commitment” to philanthropic and public service efforts. Riley said he also plans to take on more book projects. And he isn’t completely done with coaching. “At times, I will coach a kid, coach a player (individually),” he said. “At times, I may go talk to a junior college. Teach, motivate, inspire people. I’m not completely done yet. I think I still have a lot to offer. So this won’t bring my career to an end. It’s going to be a lot more fun this time.”"

20 Second Timeout:  David Friedman pays tribute to one of today’s Hall of Fame inductees — Adrian Dantley

Marc Berman of The New York Post:  “We can say that now because of what happened to this franchise after he left and what this franchise meant to this city when he was here, patrolling the pivot, sinking turnarounds, inhaling rebounds. I wrote a book on the first season following Ewing’s trade to Seattle, when the Knicks were knocked out of the playoffs by Toronto in a series remembered for Charlie Ward’s Christ-killing remarks and the kidnapping of Marcus Camby’s sister. The title of that book proved prophetic, though I remember taking heat for the title when it came out in November at the start of the Knicks’ second season without Ewing. The title read “Living Without Ew: The Crash of the Post-Ewing Knicks.” I remember specifically Spencer Ross taking me to task during a radio interview, saying isn’t the title premature. Turns out not. The Knicks crashed. Oh, did they ever crash without Ewing. Congrats on a Hall-of-Fame career, “Big Fella.” No championships, but no apologies necessary.”

Detroit News:  “Davidson, who has owned the Pistons since 1974 and the WNBA’s Shock since their inception in 1998, has earned the reputation as a man who isn’t afraid to get rid of somebody. Despite reaching the Eastern Conference finals the past six years, he has parted ways with three coaches — Flip Saunders, Larry Brown and Rick Carlisle — during that span. “Each of them had a different problem, I guess you could call it,” Davidson said. “If a coach loses the backing of his players, for any reason, it’s difficult to keep him around.” Former Pistons player and assistant coach Michael Curry was hired as coach during the offseason, which began with Dumars planning to shake up the team by trading at least one starter. Davidson built The Palace two decades ago with a different type of financing: one without a penny from taxpayers. He also didn’t follow a trend when he bought a plane for the “Bad Boys” to travel in, replaced it with a newer one and built luxury suites into the lower level of his arena.”

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:  “It’s easy to look at Stern today – the guy who’s been the driving force in not only growing NBA revenues to unforeseeable heights but also in fostering a worldwide spike in the sport’s popularity – and see a visionary. But Davidson was pretty much the lone wolf on Stern back when owners were looking for a successor to Larry O’Brien, who always drove 55 and kept it between the lines. The Hall’s selection process is a great mystery – voters are not made public, and even the grapevine doesn’t produce much in the way of fruitful rumors – but Stern did his part behind the scenes to advance Davidson’s candidacy, so deeply does he appreciate the support and respect the advice the Pistons’ owner has provided him during the length of his tenure. Stern told me a year ago that Davidson has influenced every aspect of NBA business. He was a vital voice among the NBA’s board of governors. His international business expertise helped Stern navigate waters on the other side of the world as he sowed NBA seeds in foreign soils. When they were vetting future owners, or debating franchise relocations or expansion, or negotiating TV contracts or corporate partnerships, Davidson was a rock for Stern all these years.”

Fran Blinebury of The Houston Chronicle:  ““You must remember, I was coming into the unknown,” he said. “All I knew is I could play in Nigeria. I was dominating. But I did not know if I could play in America.” The trainer took Olajuwon to the locker room and gave him a T-shirt and shorts. “Then he asked about basketball shoes and what size I wore,” Olajuwon said. “I told him 14 was my usual size. I was shocked that he produced a brand new pair. It wasn’t something you could find in Nigeria. “I squeezed them on and they were tight. I was going to take off a pair of socks and he said, ‘No, let’s try 15.’ More new shoes. Still tight. He got 16s. I could not believe all of these brand new shoes. I put them on and they fit. For the first time ever, I would play basketball without pain in my feet. It was always a distraction when I was running and jumping. But this was comfortable. I thought, ‘Oh, man! They’re in trouble out there on the court.’ “”

Fran Blinebury of The Houston Chronicle:  “Michael Young was a high-flying member of those Phi Slama Jama teams and marvels at how far Olajuwon progressed so fast. “They told us at the time that he had only been playing basketball for three months and that was tough for me to believe on that first day,” Young said. “Because the guy could catch and didn’t have a bad touch. In our early practices, coach Lewis would put Hakeem at one end of the floor to defend the basket and we would go three-on-one against him. The first few times, we’d go down and dunk on him, because he couldn’t recover fast enough. “But as we got deeper into the season, we’d go up to dunk and he’d contest that shot. So you’d pass to another guy and before he could go up for a dunk, Hakeem had already closed and was over there to block that shot, too. That’s three-on-one and we couldn’t score.”"

Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle:  “I also flash back to a night in the Meadowlands when the New York media eagerly wanted to talk to him. They had gotten used to the New York way and assumed such a superstar might be difficult before a game. One by one, other beat reporters asked me if Hakeem had a policy about pre-game interviews, assuming he would be unavailable. I told them that his policy was that if they asked a question, he would answer it, and then mentioned — to their doubts — that when the interview was over, he would thank them for their interest. Later that night, one by one, those six guys came back to say that Hakeem answered every question and ended each session by thanking them for their interest. They could not have been more shocked if after the game he sprouted wings and flew to the next city.”


4 Responses to “The Fundamentals”

  1. TSmith Says:

    Hey Brandon- Just wanted to say thanks for the encouragement/links that you’ve put up in “The Fundamentals” recently to my stuff over at Hoops Addict. I’m I big fan of the site so seeing anything I did being linked from Ballerblogger is awesome. Thanks and cheers.

  2. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Trevor,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I love what you guys have going on at Hoops Addict. Your site has been a must-read for me for quite some time.

    Cheers.

  3. dusty Says:

    when is the pinky operation?

    KOBE!!

  4. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    dusty,

    I don’t know. Hopefully soon. Ginobili underwent surgery yesterday so I don’t see what the hold up is.

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