Sports Outside the Beltway

NBA suspends training camps indefinitely

File this under not surprising news-

NEW YORK — The lockout has started doing real damage to the NBA’s calendar.

Players won’t report at the usual time. The preseason won’t start as scheduled.

And more cancellations could be necessary without a new labor deal soon.

Out of time to keep everything intact, the NBA postponed training camps indefinitely and canceled 43 preseason games Friday because it has not reached an agreement with players.

All games from Oct. 9-15 are off, the league said. Camps were expected to open Oct. 3.

“We have regretfully reached the point on the calendar where we are not able to open training camps on time and need to cancel the first week of preseason games,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We will make further decisions as warranted.”

The players’ association did not comment.

I don’t expect their to be another NBA game this year. This kind of labor conflict is usually protracted and nothing will get done till the season is on the verge of being lost. As NHL fans know from 2004-2005, even then the dispute can go over the cliff taking a whole season with it.

I have no sympathy for either owners or players. The players are rich and overindulged, the owners of small market NBA teams had to know when going in that they had little chance of making the franchise they were purchasing into NBA Championship contenders/moneymakers.


35 points down but triumphant- Sacramento beats Chicago 102-98

The last time a NBA team overcame a bigger deficit to win was in 1996. From AP-

The buzzer sounded, the 35-point comeback was complete and both the ecstatic Sacramento Kings and the stunned Chicago Bulls had trouble describing what had just happened.

“Wow! All I can say is, ‘Wow!” Tyreke Evans said after dominating down the stretch and leading the Kings to a 102-98 victory Monday night. “We fought to the end. It was amazing.”

Indeed, it was one of the most amazing comebacks in NBA history.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the biggest rally since Utah overcame a 36-point deficit to beat Denver on Nov. 27, 1996.

The loss makes Chicago 2-12 in road games. I’d say that is abysmal but point out many NBA teams are just as bad or worse. For example, Minnesota is 3-12 and Charlotte 1-12 in road games.Scratch that, Chicago blew the lead at home. Which is worse IMHO.

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Sacramento Kings fire Reggie Theus coach

Another one bites the dust.

Two days after a heavy home loss to the New York Knicks, Reggie Theus was fired Monday as coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Assistant coach Kenny Natt has been elevated to interim coach. Natt is Sacramento’s fourth coach in less than three years, following Theus, Eric Musselman and Rick Adelman, who left the club after the 2005-06 season.

Theus is the sixth NBA coach to be fired before Christmas this season, joining Philadelphia’s Maurice Cheeks, Minnesota’s Randy Wittman, Toronto’s Sam Mitchell, Washington’s Eddie Jordan and Oklahoma City’s P.J. Carlesimo. The previous NBA record for pre-Christmas firings was three.

Theus, who coached at New Mexico State before coming to Sacramento, has a three year deal. How nice must it be to get paid for nothing for a year and a half when sports franchises fire coaches with time remaining on the contract

All sarcasm aside, Sacramento was 6-18 this year. The Kings ownership does have more than enough justification for the firing on that basis alone.


Chicago Bulls take Derrick Rose with No. 1 pick in NBA draft

No surprise here.

NEW YORK – The Chicago Bulls selected Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, choosing the Memphis guard over Kansas State forward Michael Beasley.

Rose, a Chicago native, led the Tigers to the national championship game in his lone college season. The Bulls opted for the point guard’s playmaking ability over the scoring and rebounding of Beasley, who ranked in the top three in the nation in both categories as a freshman.

Rose is the Bulls’ first No. 1 overall selection since they grabbed Elton Brand in 1999. He’s the second straight freshman taken with the top pick, following Portland’s Greg Oden last year.


Rose should be an upgrade over Kirk Hinrich, who now could be traded, and gives the Bulls another option if they don’t re-sign guard Ben Gordon.

I have no idea about how good Rose will be or won’t be.

The Miami Heat(I’m from South Florida) made the next selection.

Miami settled for Beasley at No. 2, a pick the Heat considered trading. Beasley averaged 26.2 points, third in the nation, and topped Division I with 12.4 rebounds per game. But with questions about his size — he may be 2 inches shorter than the 6-foot-10 he’s listed at — the Bulls may not have believed he could play the 4 spot in the NBA.

Who misled(or lied to) people about Beasley’s height? Memphis or Beasley himself? I once remember a ML baseball team getting ready to give a former football player a tryout, thinking he was 25 years old. The tryout was cancelled after it was learned he was in his thirties.


Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah arrested for possession of marijuana

The former University of Florida star basketball player was also charged with having an open container of alcohol. From AP-

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Authorities in Gainesville have charged Chicago Bulls forward and former Florida star Joakim Noah with possession of marijuana and having an open container of alcohol.

Gainesville police spokesman Sgt. Rick Roberts said Noah was arrested around 1:50 a.m. Sunday after an officer spotted him on a sidewalk holding a plastic cup containing an amber drink, a violation of city law. During a search at the station, officers found marijuana in his pocket.

Noah was released after signing a notice to appear before a judge — standard procedure for such offenses. He could face up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine for the marijuana charge.

Noah won’t go to jail, and may not even be fined but sentenced to community service. Anyone else have an opinion?


Phil Jackson’s Hall of Fame Career

Phil Jackson is about to be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. J.A. Adande takes a look at his unique style of coaching.

Phil Jackson enters the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend, and to understand how he coached his way there, it might help to familiarize yourself with the concept of “antimatter” — that is, to realize that the opposite of something is still something, not nothing. That way, it makes sense that some of his best coaching moves come from not coaching, that the best way for players to appreciate him is to not play for him.

For a man with such an immense ego, the irony is Jackson has derived so much success by taking himself out of the equation. He realizes coaching isn’t about getting the players to do what you want, it’s about getting them to want to do what’s right. He always put the game above himself, placed his trust in the players more than his ways.

Opposing coaches might wonder why he doesn’t make an adjustment while they run the same play successfully against him time after time. Fans get agitated when the other team runs off 10 consecutive points and Jackson steadfastly refuses to call a timeout, sitting as motionless as if he were modeling for a Buddha sculpture. Jackson always believed that during times of duress, if the players discovered their own solutions they would benefit in the long run. He was right.

What is the essence of coaching? Getting the most out of your players and putting them in position to win. You won’t find a coach or manager who did that on a more consistent basis than Phil Jackson.

Jackson’s big number is the record nine NBA championships he shares with Red Auerbach, but here’s the telltale stat: Only once has Jackson lost a playoff series in which his team had home-court advantage. That means that nearly every time they were supposed to win, they did. A grand record of 35-1 when starting at home. His squads almost always maxed out, even these past two Lakers first-round departures, who traveled just as far as they were built to go.

Sure he’s had great players, most notably Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago and Shaq and Kobe in L.A. But Auerbach coached 10 future Hall of Famers in Boston, so he wasn’t exactly doing it with scrubs. And if the best talent always guaranteed the best results, Marty Schottenheimer would still be coaching the San Diego Chargers. Why didn’t the 1991 Portland Trail Blazers or the 2002 Sacramento Kings win championships? Oh, that’s right, Rick Adelman was coaching them.

Another sign of Jackson’s success: the way his critics keep turning into allies.


When players see the alternative usually involves more stress and less winning, they realize they’re better off with Jackson. That’s why these days you’ll hear Bryant praise Jackson for “his understanding of the game, his understanding of unit cohesiveness, his patience. I think all of those things, the little intricacies of the game that he’s really picked up, that a lot of coaches and players don’t really understand, he’s mastered. It’s separated him from the pack, in my opinion.”

Jackson can do X’s and O’s. But he isn’t the best at it. And it’s not what he does best. Sometimes less is more.


The goal of Buddhism is nirvana, a state of being that’s devoid of wants and fears, the extinction of the individual consciousness. There’s that notion of nothing again. For Jackson, it might be more of a means than an end. He might not have reached nirvana, but he has made it to Springfield, Mass. He’s the “Seinfeld” of the sidelines, turning the concept of nothing into success.

It’s been an amazing thing to watch. He’s simply unparalleled in modern professional sports, with its free agency, massive league expansion, and culture of individuality. Nobody has come close to getting this much of out teams since the era when great coaches could stockpile talent and keep the same stars together for a decade or more.


NBA Mock Draft

ESPN’s Chad Ford offers the Sports Leader’s take on the impending NBA Draft.

It’s almost draft day, and the picture is getting clearer and fuzzier simultaneously.

We’ve been able to narrow down the list of prospects that each team is considering, but two things stand in the way of getting a complete picture.

One, this is a time when many GMs are notorious for dropping smoke screens. A source in Memphis swears the team is taking Joakim Noah. Another says to bank on the Grizzlies’ taking Mike Conley. Someone is misinformed or bluffing.

Two, there is a flurry of trade conversation, starting with Memphis, Boston, Charlotte and Chicago all talking about trading away their lottery picks. Meanwhile teams such as Golden State, Phoenix and the Lakers are trying hard to move up. Others — like Portland, Indiana and Toronto — are trying to get in or grab another pick.

The talk in Phoenix about trading up in the draft has gotten so hot that the Suns have gotten Noah, Jeff Green and Corey Brewer to agree to a workout on Tuesday. They’ll try to add Brandan Wright as a fourth. That shows you how much players want to play in Phoenix — they’ll drop everything just for the chance. It could be the most competitive workout of the draft.

Their consensus draft board:

    1. Portland TrailblazersGreg Oden – C
    2. Portland TrailblazersKevin Durant – SF – Texas
    3. Atlanta HawksAl Horford – PF – Florida
    4. Memphis GrizzliesMike Conley – PG- Ohio State
    5. Boston CelticsYi Jianlian – PF – China
    6. Milwaukee BucksJeff Green – SF – Georgetown
    7. Minnesota TimberwolvesJoakim Noah – PF – Florida
    8. Charlotte BobcatsCorey Brewer – SG – Florida
    9. Chicago Bulls (via New York Knicks) – Spencer Hawes – C- Washington
    10. Sacramento Kings- Brandan Wright – PF – North Carolina
    11. Atlanta Hawks (via Indiana Pacers) – Acie Law – PG – Texas A&M
    12. Philadelphia 76ersAl Thornton – SF – Florida State
    13. New Orleans Hornets – Nick Young – SG- USC
    14. L.A. ClippersJulian Wright – SF – Kansas
    15. Detroit Pistons (via Orlando Magic) – Rodney Stuckey SG – Eastern Wash.

Click the link for more in-depth analysis and for the second half of the draft.


NBA Playoffs Talking Points

Justin Peters provides “a cheat sheet for those of you who can’t tell the difference between a Mikan drill and a three-man weave” to help fake your way through the NBA playoffs. A sample:

On the strength of strong seasons from Ben Gordon and Ben Wallace, a breakout year by forward Luol Deng, and generally strong team play, the Bulls enjoyed their most successful season since the Jordan era. Raise some eyebrows by arguing that the Bulls are a better team qua team now than they ever were in the Jordan/Pippen 1990s.

Heh. And probably true.


Phil Jackson and Roy Williams Elected to Hall of Fame

Phil Jackson, Roy Williams, and some people I’ve never heard of have been elected to the basketball Hall of Fame.

Phil Jackson can add Hall of Famer to his resume Monday as the current Los Angeles Lakers coach was named to the 2007 basketball Hall of Fame class that will be inducted this September.

Joining Jackson in Springfield, Mass., will be North Carolina coach Roy Williams, WNBA coach Van Chancellor, the 1966 Texas Western NCAA championship team, referee Mendy Rudolph as well as international coaches Fedro Ferrandiz and Mirko Novosel. Jackson and the Texas Western squad earned the honor in their first year of consideration. To gain election, each finalist needs at least 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee.

Jackson’s coaching accomplishments include six NBA titles with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls as well as three more titles with the Lakers. He is also the fastest coach to reach 900 wins.

There’s no question Jackson and Williams deserve the honor. I’ve never heard of the other coaches. While, frankly, I’m dubious that someone coaching in the WNBA could possibly qualify, Chancellor’s credentials are solid:

He spent 19 successful seasons as the head coach of the University of Mississippi Lady Rebels. Under his guidance, the Lady Rebels posted a winning percentage of .740 (439-154), made 14 NCAA Tournament appearances. As a collegiate coach, Chancellor ranks 14th in all-time winning percentage amongst women’s basketball coaches.

He has been the Comets’ only head coach, the longest tenured in the WNBA. His team won the first four WNBA championships, from 1997 to 2000.

Still, it’s women’s basketball and being 14th best is hardly that big a deal. And the WNBA isn’t exactly the most competitive league in all of sports.


Scottie Pippin Planning NBA Comeback

Scottie Pippin is tired of being retired.

Scottie Pippen is tired of retirement. He wants to return to the NBA for a chance to win his seventh championship ring.

With most of the league’s stars and decision-makers gathering at the All-Star weekend festivities in Las Vegas, the 41-year-old Pippen announced he’s hoping for a late-season return to a contending team — preferably in a warm-weather city — nearly 2 1/2 years after he left the league.

“I know that I have the skills,” Pippen said. “I think it’s sort of been on my mind the last couple of months. It’s just about me going out and polishing my skills.”

The forward hasn’t played since his retirement on Oct. 5, 2004, following a 17-season career with Chicago, Houston and Portland. He won six titles in his famed role as Michael Jordan’s wingman with the Bulls, and was part of two gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic teams.

It’s a shame these guys can’t stay retired. He’ll certainly never be able to live up to his former greatness. Still, it’s easy to understand why it happens. Going from being a household name pulling in millions a year to a semi-ordinary life has to be one huge letdown.


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