Sports Outside the Beltway

NBA Iron man Randy Smith dead at age 60

He once held the NBA record for consecutive games played. RIP.

Randy Smith, a blindingly fast All-Star with the Buffalo Braves in the 1970s who once held the NBA record for consecutive games, died while working out on a treadmill. He was 60.

He had a massive heart attack Thursday while exercising at the Connecticut casino where he worked, son-in-law Lekan Bashua told The Associated Press on Friday.

Smith was pronounced dead at William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich. The Mohegan Sun Casino declined to comment on circumstances surrounding the death, citing medical confidentiality laws.

Jack Ramsay, Smith’s coach in Buffalo, called the 6-foot-3 guard the best athlete he ever coached.

“He had stamina, great speed and developed into a very good player,” Ramsay said Friday from the NBA Finals in Los Angeles. “And was so fun to be around. There was not a bad day in Randy’s life.”

Smith was drafted by the Braves in the seventh round in 1971 and averaged more than 13 points in his rookie season. He went on to play 13 years in the NBA and appeared in 906 consecutive games from 1972-83. His mark was broken by A.C. Green in 1997.

“He played hurt, gave it 100 percent and took pride in that,” said Durie Burns, a college teammate of Smith’s at Buffalo State.

Smith was a good shooter and great jumper who wowed fans with reverse dunks. He was one of the most popular players in Braves history, and in teaming with scoring champion Bob McAdoo he helped make the Braves under Ramsay one of the league’s exciting clubs.

“We could run,” Ramsay said, “and nobody could keep up with Randy’s sheer speed.”


Philadelphia 76ers hire Eddie Jordan to be head coach

He will replace Tony Dileo who was interim coach after Maurice Cheeks was fired. From AP-

Eddie Jordan is the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, leaving Sacramento’s vacancy as the only remaining coaching opening in the league.

Jordan and the Sixers have reached an agreement on a multi-year deal to reunite the former Washington Wizards coach with Sixers president Ed Stefanski after Jordan and Stefanski worked together in New Jersey.

Jordan was the first to interview for the Philly job — which came open May 11 when Tony DiLeo returned to his front-office post after taking over for Maurice Cheeks in December and guiding the Sixers to the No. 6 seed in the East — and the only other candidate interviewed twice by Stefanski besides Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey.

Sources said Jordan was also the top candidate in Sacramento, but it was believed from the start he preferred to land with the Sixers, largely because Philly is coming off back-to-back playoff appearances. The Kings are essentially starting over after going 17-65 last season and coming out of last week’s lottery with the No. 4 overall pick despite finishing with the league’s worst record.

The status of the NBA franchise Philadelphia is obviously much rosier than that of the one in Sacramento. However the 76ers are nothing more than a run of the mill team. Jordan will have to work hard to improve on that and quickly or he could be fired just as fast as Cheeks was. I will grant this- Jordan did achieve a 20 game improvement in his second year in Washington from what the Wizards did in his first year as their coach. Maybe he can do it again.


Hall of Fame Basketball coach Chuck Daly dead at 78

He passed away after a short battle with cancer. Besides his NBA days, Daly was an Olympic coach and in his early days, a college basketball coach at Penn and Boston College. He was one of the great ones. RIP.

Chuck Daly, who coached the original Dream Team to the Olympic gold medal in 1992 after winning back-to-back NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons, has died. He was 78.

He died Saturday morning in Jupiter, Fla., with his family by his side, the team said. The Pistons announced in March that the Hall of Fame coach had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was undergoing treatment.

He was renowned for his ability to create harmony out of diverse personalities at all levels of the game, whether they were Ivy Leaguers at Pennsylvania, Dream Teamers Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, or Pistons as dissimilar as Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars.

“It’s a players’ league. They allow you to coach them or they don’t,” Daly once said. “Once they stop allowing you to coach, you’re on your way out.”

Daly was voted one of the 10 greatest coaches of the NBA’s first half-century in 1996, two years after being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was the first coach to win both an NBA title and Olympic gold.


Former Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly diagnosed with cancer

He coached in the Motor city for nine seasons. From AP-

Former Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The team says Friday that Daly “is being treated for the cancer and his family is requesting privacy.”

The 78-year-old Daly coached the Pistons to NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. He also was the coach of the 1992 gold medal-winning US Olympic squad dubbed the “Dream Team.” He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to Chuck and his family following today’s tough news,” Detroit president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said. “He holds a special place in our hearts and we’ll be here to support him in any way we can.”

Dumars played for Daly on both championship teams, winning the NBA finals MVP award in 1989.

The Pistons were scheduled to play the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

“I wish him the best. It’s a tough cancer to get,” Golden State coach Don Nelson said. “He beat my (butt) probably more than anybody.”

Family spokesman Matt Dobek says in the release that as a coach Daly was “known as the Prince of Pessimism, right now Chuck Daly is the King of Optimism.”

Pancreatic is a particularly nasty cancer. Say a prayer that Daly can beat it.


Minnesota Timberwolves fire coach Randy Wittman

He will be replaced by former wolves coach, Kevin McHall. From AP-

Randy Wittman was fired as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, two days after an embarrassing 23-point loss at home to the last-place Los Angeles Clippers. Kevin McHale took over as coach, leaving his job as the club’s vice president of basketball operations.

The young team is 4-15 and has not responded to Wittman’s demands for tough defense and consistent effort. The Timberwolves are in the midst of a five-game losing streak in which the average margin of defeat has been nearly 17 points.


This was the fourth NBA coaching firing this season following P.J. Carlesimo (Oklahoma City), Eddie Jordan (Washington) and Sam Mitchell (Toronto).

Wittman was 38-105 since taking over for Dwane Casey in January 2007. McHale picked Wittman to preside over the team’s rebuilding following the trade of Kevin Garnett, but the second year of the plan has not produced results.

Only 38-105? Why did Minnesota take so long to fire this guy?


Washington Wizards fire Coach Eddie Jordan

The second head coach firing of the 2008-09 NBA season has taken place.

Eddie Jordan was fired as coach of the Washington Wizards on Monday after opening the season 1-10 without injured starters Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood.

Ed Tapscott, the Wizards’ director of player development, will replace Jordan on an interim basis, running his first practice as the team’s new head coach Monday morning, a team spokesman told The Associated Press.

The firing was first reported by The Washington Post on its Web site.

Assistant coach Mike O’Koren was also let go, and the Wizards named Randy Ayers as top assistant coach, a source told ESPN’s Ric Bucher.

Jordan was in his sixth season with the Wizards and led the team to the playoffs each of the past four. In September, shortly before the start of training camp, the Wizards picked up a one-year option to keep him under contract through the 2009-10 season.

Frankly I would have been more inclined to giving Jordan more time to work out the problems in Washington. These two recently fired coaches were producing dismal results too but didn’t have Jordan’s success in previous season.


In Five or Six

Cavs all the way, baby.


Fit for Lebron

Fit for a king

LeBron James’ 35,440-square-foot house under construction in nearby Bath Township is shaping up as a castle fit for a king — with a theater, bowling alley, casino and barber shop.

Sounds like it has all the comforts of … a shopping mall. And then some.

But then he is a king.

h/t Jack’s Shack.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.


The King’s Resurgence

Brian Windhorst of the Akron-Beacon Journal, probably the most knowledgeable writer in the country about Lebron James, has an excellent article on ESPN discussing Lebron’s sudden resurgence over the past month. In the article, he questions what exactly it was that ‘set Lebron off’:

So then perhaps there was a column that proved to be the final straw. Maybe it was a private call from Wade or another peer. Maybe James’ bed at a posh Beverly Hills hotel was particularly comfortable. Whatever it was, something cracked Feb. 15 in Los Angeles.

I think it was none of those. On February 14th, the night before that game, I called up my brother. “I think that tonight was the best thing that could have happened to the Cavs”, I remember saying. The Cavs had just lost 99-98 to the Jazz – in Utah – on a terrible non-call at the last second when Sasha Pavlovic was clearly fouled at midcourt as he was running down the court to take what would have been the game-winning shot. They were furious, and had no problems stating as much to anyone who would listen.

The Jazz game was important for the Cavs, who seemed to only put effort into games against top-tier Western Conference teams for a while. This was a chance to beat yet another top Western team in their own arena – and it was stolen from them. Suddenly, the Cavs had something to prove… and this was compounded by tough losses to both the Bulls and Heat a week later. But the Cavs then went out to Dallas, and not only hung with the best team in the NBA on their own court, but had the game come down to the final seconds – only to watch Lebron miss two straight shots that could have tied the game. Again, I spoke to my brother, and once again, we agreed: This has the potential to be, combined with that Jazz loss, the spark that really lights the Cavs up for the rest of the year.

The Cavs went on to win their next eight games, and were surely looking ahead to tonight’s rematch against the Mavericks when they blew a 10-point lead to the lowly Bobcats before eventually losing in overtime last night. During those eight games, they took out a measure of revenge against the Pistons, beating them in Auburn Hills, and defeating Utah at home during Carlos Boozer’s return to Cleveland – while Lebron played absolutely incredible basketball.

Tonight, the Cavs have another chance to beat the Mavs and show that they truly are legitimate championship contenders. This is a huge game – for the Cavs as a team and for Lebron as their superstar. Tonight, we’ll finally see what the Cavs are really made of. A win tonight will put the Pistons and Heat on notice, not to mention the Mavericks, that Lebron wasn’t kidding when he said this is the year the Cavs go for the NBA championship.

A win tonight will show that when the Cavs are playing with some fire under them, they may be the best team in the NBA.

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