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Thursday Bullets

  • For the last year or so, everyone has been all atwitter about Spanisn teen sensation Ricky Rubio. Lang Whitaker of SLAM went to Barcelona, communed with the Rubio family, and suggests Rubio may well be the next ... Magic Johnson: "An NBA scout saw Ricky play earlier this season and tabbed him the next Pistol Pete, but I think that's mostly because of the way he looks, with his shaggy hair and prominent nose. I was really reluctant to come up with a comparison for Ricky, because he's still so young, but the player he most reminded me of? Magic Johnson. Yes, I said it. In a way I hate to say it, but it's true. I've tried to think of any other comparison I could, but it's Magic." Here's grainy video of the game when a then 15-year-old Rubio got 51 points, 24 rebounds, 12 assists and 7 steals in the gold medal game of the Under-16 World Championships. Here's a bunch more Rubio video. He's not a secret anymore, that's for sure.

  • First someone made a great Beatles shirt. Then Wizznutzz made it even better, with the names of the players on the bench of the 1998 Bullets. Now, lookie here, a real trend is born. Will it be long before I can buy a "Jarrett, Sergio, Brandon, LaMarcus and Ime" shirt? (Sorry Jamaal, you're about to be a free agent, and your offense stinks.)

  • TNT's David Aldridge is hearing the Blazers are willing to trade their lottery pick this year as part of some kind of package for a real veteran.

  • Golden State of Mind, after a big win against Houston, shows what it's like to be a Warrior fan these days: "Tonight my friends, I am proud to be a Warrior fan. Please, please don't let this great win go to waste with a loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis on Friday."

  • Sonics Central detects bad basketball: "Chris Paul, who happens to be just barely 6 foot tall, collected more rebounds than any of our front court players (and actually more than any Sonic player). David West, the starting PF for the Hornets totaled as many or more assists than either of our PG's."

  • George Karl's son Coby is reportedly feeling a tad plucky again as he recovers from his second thyroid cancer surgery.

  • ESPN's John Hollinger (Insider) knows Detroit's secret: "I had been trying like crazy to figure out how the addition of Chris Webber could have had such a profound impact on Detroit's results when Webber's own production wasn't vastly different from that of the man he replaced, Nazr Mohammed. Then I stumbled across McDyess' splits. Good golly, Miss Molly. Getting Webber was nice and all, but the real difference in Detroit was that the Dice Man suddenly remembered how to play basketball. The change in his numbers between the first two months and the last two has been phenomenal -- especially when you consider that his minutes have hardly budged. In the first two months of the season, his production was positively Ostertagian: 5.4 points per game, 41 percent shooting, just half a block per night and an appallingly low free-throw rate for an interior player. Compare that to what he's done since the All-Star break, and it's hard to believe it's the same player. McDyess' scoring has more than doubled, up to 11.3 points per game, and he's done it on 56.9 percent shooting. He's also earned nearly three times as many foul shots and tallied twice as many blocks and steals."

  • More legal challenges for the Nets' new arena.

  • A good NPR story from last weekend about college players still balling many decades after school.

  • ESPN Insider Chad Ford speculates that the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament could be on its last legs: "'It's a waste of time,' one prominent NBA GM who passed on Portsmouth said. 'The talent isn't there. The timing is wrong. There are no NBA coaches or offenses. The most you can learn from Portsmouth is that a small handful of seniors played well enough to get invited to the real predraft camp in June [actually late May now]. Why not just wait to see them there?'"

  • Is this the way minutes are distributed on teams that are trying to win? (Or, more importantly, how long will it be before I can watch Allen Ray play and not picture his eye popping out of its socket? No way I'm linking to that video. It'll haunt you. Seek it out at your own risk.)

  • Chris Kaman gets hot early, and Kevin from ClipperBlog breathes a sigh of relief: "Punching it into Kaman early always presents risks because, well, let's face it, the guy is capable of missing five early layups. The subsequent meltdown is never pretty, and when it's all over, Tim Thomas has logged 32 minutes, which is never a good thing. So when the Clips take the court and Kaman amasses a nice 3-4 FG before the first timeout, things look good for the Clippers."

  • Sonic co-owner Clay Bennett ducks questions about who'll be coaching and GMing. That's never good.

  • Steve Kerr points out that the top overall pick often turns out to be so-so, but says that likely won't be this year's story.

  • Statisticians should study Carlos Boozer's game last night. Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune reports: "At Portland, however, Carlos Boozer finished with 21 points and 21 rebounds and played about as poorly as I can remember. He had eight turnovers, including a couple when he simply threw the basketball to a defender. He also missed four of his 11 free throws, including the first two, which could have given the Jazz an 8-0 lead in the opening minutes, when Portland seemed a little disinterested. Defensively, Boozer had a difficult time finding a comfortable matchup."

  • Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News quotes Isiah Thomas on Maurice Cheeks' chance of making the Hall of Fame: "'I think it's safe to
    say, on that Philadelphia team, they probably wouldn't have won the championship had he not been the guard on that team,' said New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, a Hall inductee who won two championships playing for the Detroit Pistons. 'The way he was able to manage the egos and keep everyone happy and execute the game plan, he had a tough job, maybe one of the toughest ones on a championship team as a point guard. ... But I think defensively, in our era, he set the standard in terms of how to defend the point guard position. Defensively, he was one of the toughest opponents I had to play against, if not the toughest. I thought the two guys who gave me the most difficult time were he and [onetime Villanova star] Rory Sparrow. I remember my first 3 years, I couldn't even get the ball upcourt. [Cheeks] was really, really good, and he definitely deserves a nod.'"

  • UPDATE: Anyone else out there get the feeling that maybe Mark Cuban isn't in the NBA for the long haul?