Chatting with a whole bunch of draft prospects. Kevin Durant compares himself to Dirk Nowitzki, which really only proves that there is no perfect comparison. They both shoot over people all night, but Durant moves like a gazelle and breathes fire, while Nowitzki moves like a carthorse and breathes Hasselhoff. There's also the reality that one is an unproven college freshman, and the other is the reigning MVP.
It's official now: Sam Vincent has left Dallas to become the head coach in Charlotte.
An email from TrueHoop reader Miguel: "After seeing LeBron James in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, I just wanted to congratulate David Stern and the league for implementing the age limit. These two games have made me long for the 1994 Rockets-Knicks finals. It's impossible to watch LeBron play without cringing. He's a young player, sure, and a terrific passer who's not to blame for his woeful teammates, but it's painful to watch as he constantly avoids the jumper, continuously overdribbles and nine times out of ten tries to just overpower/run over whatever Piston appears in front of him. It's terrible to watch. I'd feel sorry for him if he wasn't making so much money. So thank God for David Stern, and I think two years of college ball would actually be better for high school phenoms than just one. The nba is a business, and seeing this brand of basketball is terrible from a spectator standpoint. The difference between James (no college) and Wade (college) is fire and water, and I sure do miss Wade's finesse and basketball IQ this year. James may be good one day; right now, he isn't. He's just a tremendous physical specimen with great court vision whose team wouldn't even go to the playoffs in the West."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Branson Wright writes: "Cavs guard Daniel Gibson is living a dream in the conference finals, facing his all-time favorite player in Pistons guard Chauncey Billups. Gibson imagined he was Billups when he played on the playgrounds. 'Most of the time I was him,' Gibson said. 'When I would play by myself, I'd try to do what he does, the little shimmy he does, the back down, the hesitation and shooting 3s at the end of the game. If they made a movie about him, I could play a pretty good Chauncey.'"
Everybody knows Jason Maxiell had a great night. But make sure you know more about him. He's certainly one of my favorite players. Watch this video in which Chauncey Billups makes the salient point: "When he gets that ball, he has bad intentions." Imagine if you could transplant Maxiell's savage heart into Dirk Nowitzki or LeBron James.
There has been talk of Darius Miles retiring. I think it started with a John Canzano column in the Oregonian suggesting Miles should retire. But suggesting does not make it so, and Miles's agent, Jeff Wechsler, tell me: "Darius Miles is not retiring. He's working hard, rehabbing, and looking forward to coming back."
Speaking of NBA players hearts, am I understanding correctly that not only is there a routine heart procedure akin to rebooting a computer, but Fabricio Oberto just had it done and returned to work in under a week?
Yet another attempt by a reporter to explain arguably the best player in the NBA, even though Tim Duncan almost never helps the cause by saying anything too insightful. A lot of those articles might as well be in Mandarin for all you can really glean about what happens in the man's mind. Might as well just watch him play, I guess.
Micheal Ray Richardson is back as a head coach on a different CBA team.
Smiling and dialing: selling season tickets for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith -- I feel I must point out he's the king of unsubstantiated trade rumors -- muses on possible destinations for Zach Randolph. Washington, Atlanta, and Chicago are, says, Smith, in the running. Smith also provides a tidy little roundup of just about every time Zach Randolph has ever been in trouble.
Just when Vince Carter is starting to look less helpful than ever, the Knicks are reportedly ready to nab him.
Look, my corporate parents made a good ad.
Steve Kerr, on TNT last night, on the mindset in Cleveland: "I remember when I arrived in Cleveland, the talk was of the Miracle of Richfield,' that was the nickname for the 1976 team. I didn't know much about it, so I asked what that was and they said (that Cavaliers team) won one round of the playoffs and then they lost in the conference finals. I thought that doesn't say much about the history of the franchise, if that's the miracle."
When we look at draft prospects, it's tempting to fall in love with players who allegedly do everything. But if you look at who wins, most of those teams have players that do certain things really well. (It's easier to make the league, I'd wager, as Bruce Bowen or Lindsey Hunter -- guys who aspire to play super tough defense and hit the occasional shot, than as Nikoloz Tskitishvili who aspires to do, essentially, everything.) That same mechanism is alive and well in James Surowiecki's examination in the New Yorker of what works in product design. Bear with me, it'll make sense: "You might think, then, that companies could avoid feature creep by just paying attention to what customers really want. But that's where the trouble begins, because although consumers find overloaded gadgets unmanageable, they also find them attractive. It turns out that when we look at a new product in a store we tend to think that the more features there are, the better. It's only once we get the product home and try to use it that we realize the virtues of simplicity. A recent study by a trio of marketing academics-Debora Viana Thompson, Rebecca W. Hamilton, and Roland T. Rust-found that when consumers were given a choice of three models, of varying complexity, of a digital device, more than sixty per cent chose the one with the most features. Then, when the subjects were given the chance to customize their p
roduct, choosing from twenty-five features, they behaved like kids in a candy store. (Twenty features was the average.) But, when they were asked to use the digital device, so-called "feature fatigue" set in. They became frustrated with the plethora of options they had created, and ended up happier with a simpler product."
Rudy Tomjanovich does look a little like Bryan Ferry.
ESPN's Chad Ford (Insider) on some European sleepers with names you should learn. I'll add one more: Ukrainian Kyrlo Fesenko. I watched a DVD of one of his recent games. He's enormously tall and long -- his reported seven feet is believable -- but he looks and moves like an athlete, unlike a lot of players that tall. And he absolutely dominated play at both ends in a league that I'm told is pretty solid. I left the game with no idea if he could shoot from the outside, because he got layups, dunks, rebounds, and blocks all night and never had to venture beyond the paint. He's slated to work with David Thorpe before the draft, so I'll hit David up for more details when he has seen Fesenko up close.
Last time the Hornets had the 13th pick, they drafted Kobe Bryant.
UPDATE: Cleveland fans should be thanking league officials, not complaining to them.
UPDATE: Good update on Italian coach Ettore Messina, who many believe will one day become the first European import to be a head coach in the NBA. He now says he'd be willing to be an NBA assistant coach for a year or two first.