The Fundamentals

» November 25, 2009 8:53 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

Mike Jones of The Washington Times:  “The first thing Washington Wizards forward Antawn Jamison realized Tuesday night after he carried his team to a 108-107 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers was that he never would hear Abe Pollin’s voice after a victory again. Jamison, who had 32 points and 14 rebounds (both season highs), had grown used to receiving a call from the Wizards’ owner the day after wins – or occasionally seeing him in the locker room minutes after the final horn sounded. But when Pollin died Tuesday at age 85, Jamison lost not only the owner of the team that he has captained since arriving in the District in 2004 but also his biggest cheerleader. Jamison knew Pollin hadn’t been in the best of health, but he was shocked when he received news of the owner’s death roughly five minutes before he got to Verizon Center for the pregame walkthrough. He and his teammates immediately aimed to ‘win the game for Mr. P.’ Afterward, Jamison struggled to keep an even voice while discussing Pollin. ‘I talked to him about a week and a half ago, and he was still the same Mr. Pollin, knowing we were still going to turn things around,’ Jamison said. ‘Telling me I’m his guy and he appreciates everything I’ve done for him, and now to know that after wins I won’t hear that voice saying ‘Good job, man’ and ‘I believed in you’ – it’s going to be tough.’”

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:  “The most intense basketball battles in San Antonio this season haven’t always occurred at the AT&T Center. Some of them haven’t been in front of any fans at all. Some of the toughest, grittiest, winner-take-all-basketball has been played in an unmarked gym on the city’s Northwest side, away from the prying eyes of the public and with pride as the only spoils. Those scrimmages between the Spurs’ first and second units can get pretty chippy, say those who have seen them. ‘We’d toss it up in a scrimmage, and it was almost like a game atmosphere,’ guard Keith Bogans said. ‘One team would win one day, the other team would win the next.’ Eleven games into the season, that dynamic has often transferred to actual games played in front of actual crowds. Squint your eyes just right, at the court or at the box score, and it can be difficult to tell the Spurs’ starters from the reserves. Heading into tonight’s game against Golden State, the Spurs’ reserves can lay legitimate argument to the title ‘Best Bench in the NBA.’”

Ronald Tillery of the Memhis Commercial Appeal:  “Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins was often caught beaming during training camp with his former NBA coach, Dr. Jack Ramsay, observing a clear emphasis on fundamentals. Ramsay always insisted that fundamentals had to be a starting point even at the professional level. Hollins bought into that philosophy, and now he’s borrowing from another coaching mentor, Hubie Brown. Before the Grizzlies won 50 games during the 2003-04 season, Brown divided the 82-game schedule into five-game segments. The expressed goal was to win three out of five contests. Hollins, an assistant under Brown, has adopted the same strategy for these Grizzlies with a modest twist. He’s shooting for two wins out of every five games in hopes of guiding the Griz toward at least a 10-game improvement from last season. ‘It just depends on what the realistic expectations are for your team,’ Hollins said as the Griz prepared to start a five-game road trip tonight at Phoenix. ‘If we’re better, we’re better. But we should start focusing on getting a certain amount of wins every five games. You’ve got to stay in the moment.’”

Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune:  “Guards Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and Anthony Morrow. Forwards Anthony Randolph and Vladimir Radmanovic, and center Mikki Moore. That’s all it took, six players, for the Warriors to score their biggest win of the season, a 111-103 upset of the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. Six guys, an assistant coach in the big chair and a spirited, unified brand of basketball. The Warriors came back from nine points down with just over six minutes left in the game to post their first winning streak of the 2009-10 season. That’s four straight impressive performances since trading swingman Stephen Jackson to the Charlotte Bobcats. ‘This win went out to our man in charge,’ said assistant coach Keith Smart, who filled in for pneumonia-ridden head coach Don Nelson. ‘Our guys pulled together for him. … Coming into this game, we had nothing to lose. We were loose. We could play the way we needed to play. Worst case scenario, they blow us out and we move on to San Antonio.’ Though Nelson was in the Bay Area resting, he still gets credit for the victory and is 19 wins away from becoming the NBA’s all-time winningest coach.”

Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:  “It took Don Nelson’s absence Tuesday night to produce a glimpse of the Warriors’ future. It wasn’t so much the 111-103 victory in Dallas – although the team’s stretch-drive play was positively invigorating – but rather the look and feel of a performance achieved with just six players. The key to the Warriors’ future is change, and they won’t make a hint of progress until Nelson retires. That’s just the simple truth. It sounds particularly cruel now, with the storied coach fighting a case of pneumonia, but that has to be the message of the get-well card: Get some rest, Nellie. You’re about to turn 70, for God’s sake, so let Joy take good care of you. Forget about the road, the hotel bars, the all-time wins record and your deeply flawed team. Your body is sending you a message. Get well, and stay home. Nelson was right last month when he said a coach his age deserves a veteran roster, a bunch of seasoned players who know how to nail down tough victories on the road. He could do wonders with such a group, maybe carve out one last bit of playoff magic. He could also be the king of Spain, while we’re dealing in fantasy.”

T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times:  “Donald Sterling talks publicly about as often as his team wins, the last time sitting down here nearly two years ago — his remarks igniting a firestorm between Clippers owner and his own coach, Mike Dunleavy. Dunleavy challenged Sterling to dismiss him if not pleased with his work, while going on to say at the time, ‘I’m totally willing to be the guy on the line; just let me do it. You put the trust in me, gave me the contract, so let me do what I want to do and if it doesn’t work out, it’s all on me.’ Since then, the Clippers have compiled a 39-106 record, criticism of Dunleavy’s coaching style mounting, chants calling for his firing getting louder, and ‘yes,’ Sterling says, ‘that affects me.’ ‘If he wins,’ Sterling says, ‘and he deserves the chance to win with healthy players, it will be perfect. But he has to produce when the players return; there has to be accountability. If he doesn’t, then I will have to do what an owner has to do.’ In a wide-ranging sit-down at his Malibu home Tuesday, Sterling talked about his admiration for Jerry Buss, the day Dunleavy told him ‘Kobe is a Clipper,’ his willingness to spend more money than Buss this season, as well as touching on the $2.725 million paid to settle a discrimination lawsuit with the government and, unknown until now, the Clippers’ efforts to support suspended broadcaster Ralph Lawler.”

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:  “Points aren’t the only measure of a player’s offensive impact. Sometimes it’s how a player’s presence skews the other team’s defense. Eight seasons into his NBA career, Charlotte Bobcats center Tyson Chandler appreciates that. Ask him about the slight offensive up-tick he made just before getting hurt, and he doesn’t talk about himself. He talks about Stephen Jackson and Flip Murray, and how those two offer hope for the worst offense in the league. ‘Having Jack and Flip out there – two playmakers – makes our offense flow so much easier,’ Chandler said. ‘When I’m setting those screens for Jack, he can make those reads. He’s a bigger guard who can see those passes. I’ve always been someone who feeds off other guys.’ The difference in skill set between shooting guard Jackson and his predecessor, Raja Bell, became apparent quickly. Bell is a fine defender and strong long-range shooter, but he’d be the first to say he isn’t much of a ballhandler or driver. And the wrist injury he suffered in the preseason prohibited him from passing with his left hand. Jackson can create his own shot, as can Murray, and that fills a void.”

Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:  “Word is getting around about Brandon Jennings. The Milwaukee Bucks point guard is hardly a secret after the dynamic start to his rookie season, including his 55-point game against Golden State. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said he was ‘legit’ before the Mavericks outlasted the Bucks in overtime last week. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was impressed, too, and he tried to wear down Jennings by repeatedly sending Tony Parker and George Hill at the rookie in the Spurs’ 112-98 victory over the Bucks on Monday night. ‘They made a concerted effort at going at him on the other end of the floor,’ Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of the Spurs’ strategy. ‘They were putting him in pick-and-rolls, and it’s still not something he’s as good as he’s going to be at. They did a nice job of trying to attack him.’ Jennings also is seeing different defensive schemes designed to limit his open shots and to make it harder for him to initiate the Bucks’ offense. ‘A lot of teams are starting to trap a lot, and teams are starting to be more physical,’ Jennings said. ‘They’re not leaving me on pick-and-roll situations; a lot of the big guys are staying with me.’”

Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:  “With Shaquille O’Neal out of his lane and court spacing restored, Nash has been as good as ever. He is averaging 11.6 assists, matching his career-best average, and shooting 52.4 percent, the second-best rate of his career. With a burning desire to improve, Nash drove himself to college basketball, the NBA and future Hall of Fame status. Five years ago, the worth of his six-year, $66 million contract at age 30 was challenged. He became MVP and the Suns surprised the league. Extending that deal to 2012 with $22 million more was questioned this year, until the team turned NBA darlings again. ‘I feel just as good as I’ve ever felt,’ Nash said. ‘I’m not sure if that’s true or not. Maybe I’m fooling myself but I don’t know where the difference is, if there is one.’ Nash is the team’s reluctant No. 2 scorer, having rescued it in Miami with a 25-point second half. He has delivered two 20-assist games and a pair of game-winning shots. I think he’s playing better right now, or at least as well, as he did when he won his two MVPs,’ Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. ‘I don’t think anybody gave our team a chance to be where it is. Obviously we couldn’t be close to where we are without him.’”

John Canzano of The Oregonian:  “It is not a political statement. It is not a protest. He said it is not intended as a slap on patriotism, or the ongoing war but Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy has long been absent from the Rose Garden Arena floor during the national anthem. For two seasons now, Roy leaves the court before ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is performed. He waits out of sight, in the arena tunnel, and has a quiet moment of prayer while his teammates stand and honor America together. Something about that feels troubling. Roy is the Blazers captain, and leader, and two-time All Star. And while I understand his desire to have a personal moment to gather his thoughts, I think there is ample time for a meditative moment in the hours leading to the game and I worry that the statement he’s making is one of individualism. … ‘It’s not me doing some (star-treatment) thing,’ Roy said, ‘Kobe Bryant is out there for the anthem. It’s just something I’ve done for the last two years to have a quiet moment to myself.’ It just doesn’t feel like the right moment.”

Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times:  “The Nets could be better prepared to capitalize on their long-range blueprint than the Knicks, with the deep pockets of the prospective owner Mikhail D. Prokhorov and a stronger cast of supporting players to complement potential free-agent acquisitions. Lopez and Harris will still be under contract in 2012-13 and occupy the center and point guard positions, two of the most difficult spots to fill in the N.B.A. ‘They certainly are two positions that you’d like to have a quality player, and we’re fortunate to have two guys in Brook and Devin who are young players and still have room to grow and hopefully they will,’ Rod Thorn, the Nets’ president, said. Both will be relatively young and in their prime. Harris will enter the final season of his contract in 2012-13. Meanwhile, the Nets also have the option of retaining Courtney Lee and Terence Williams, two promising young players, that season. Lastly, they are headed toward a high lottery draft pick after this season and possibly a run at the Kentucky freshman guard John Wall.”

Steve Politi of The Newark Star-Ledger:  “If you thought this latest court ruling meant New Jersey could say goodbye to the Nets, once and for all, a few words of advice: Don’t start waving just yet, unless you really want to strengthen those wrist muscles. This is going to be a looong goodbye — assuming, of course, this is really the end. Remember when Aunt Edna came over for Thanksgiving dinner and decided to stay the weekend? Well, imagine that, only instead of staying the weekend, she stayed for three years. Or longer. The Nets finally won something Tuesday, and it was a New York Court of Appeals case that allows owner Bruce Ratner to claim (read: steal) property for the dream arena in Brooklyn. Ratner might be cleared to break ground now, but he still needs to sell roughly $700 million worth of bonds by Dec. 31 to pay for the thing. There are still four outstanding lawsuits against the project, still the possibility for so many things to go wrong.”

2 Responses to “The Fundamentals”

  1. Adriana Says:

    All of you may be correct. But that’s not the cautlrul purpose of war spending. To the tribal “conservative”, all institutions in society, church, state and private property, must support the perpetuation of the tribe, meaning a system of organized conformity impressed on each generation. The good tribesmen must be rewarded by all institutions, the aberrant and radical tribesmen must be punished. Even the free market must be overridden if it interferes with this sacred mission, though that rarely happens in practice. War, in a sense, begins at home, the value of war itself to intimidate reformers into silence, to elevate men even further over women, to prize the ruling elites who supply a monopoly of military leadership and weaponry and thus deserve their privileges.War spending rewards violence and paranoia, racism, religious bigotry, economic expansion thru invasion, regimentation, manual labor and mindless obediance. All good tribal values.Welfare spending and education rewards inquiry, dissent, diversity, and insolence against traditional authority. Very modern values that threaten the identity of many Americans and their entire reason for being.And that is why many Americans would literally spend every cent in the country to buy useless weapons from “patriotic” businessmen and arm bullies, rather than let that money feed or employ a single person who is different than themselves. The businessmen easily expoit this sentiment to lobby for the Pentagon budget that suits their real purposes.How do we make the numbers of an objective study matter more to a nation of idiots than their prideful sense of entitlement to a teat on the great war pig?

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