Michael Murphy wrote an amazing story in the Houston Chronicle about Sam Anderson, the starting power forward at the University of Houston: "... everyone in the Anderson family knew how much Sam loved basketball. It had been Sam's haven as a child back home in Detroit, a refuge from the cold realities of the streets, where friends were devoured by drugs and violence. Sam loved the game so much he walked away from a football scholarship at Eastern Michigan because the coaches reneged on their promise to let him play basketball, too. And everyone in the Anderson family knew that Sam, 25, had recently realized one of his biggest dreams, going from long-shot walk-on to starting power forward for the Cougars, so making the phone call was one of the hardest things Steven Anderson had to do. But Steven, who had been on dialysis for five years and could feel his life slipping away, needed help. And by asking for it, Steven also was asking Sam to give up college basketball. That's because Sam also would have to give up something more precious than basketball - one of his kidneys."
You know how teams have five minutes to make their picks in the first round, and two minutes in the second round? A reader wondered what happened if a team just did not make their pick in time. I checked and found that the NBA recently sent a memo to teams that states: "In the event that a team does not make its pick within 4½ minutes (1st round) and 1½ minutes (2nd round), a 30-second warning will be given on both the web conference and the team line. Once the warning is given, the pick must be made within the next 30 seconds or your team will be subject to substantial penalties from the League Office, including fines, loss of future draft choices, or the suspension of relevant personnel."
Blazer owner Paul Allen tells the Oregonian's Jason Quick that he's thinking not just about draft picks, but also about free agents: "I think with the young core like we have, you want to bring in somebody who is going to be with you for a while. I don't think we are at the point where you bring in a Chris Webber or a veteran hired gun at the end of his career to help put you over the top. You are looking to bring in a player who is in the prime of his career to help you do some damage in the playoffs the next three, five years down the road. So there are some guys we are talking about in that respect." He also states openly what I have heard quietly for some time: at least several months ago, Kevin Pritchard was all about Kevin Durant. Also, Brian Berger of Sports Business Radio has a one-on-one with the reclusive Allen, and gets him to tell the story of how he came to own the Trail Blazers. X-rays of Sam Bowie were involved.
The people behind the Draft Kevin Durant blog have written an impassioned essay. You'll notice on that blog that I'm quoted as being in favor of taking Durant. Then in a mock draft last week, I took Oden on behalf of the Blazers. What gives? Oh man, don't make me pick, OK? I keep learning more about each, and liking each more. I feel like Little Orphan Annie in the movie's opening scene (about the 2:25 mark). She's got parents out there somewhere -- she just knows it -- but she doesn't know who they are. One of these two men will be the daddy of the Blazer fan in me. They're coming by the adoption agency to pick me up on Thursday evening.
How Kevin Pritchard learned to be sneaky.
Weird story that implies Eric Musselman was partying with his players, and word that the Maloofs did not want to interview Geoff Petrie's candidate, Terry Porter, because Porter is close to Rick Adelman. What's it going to take for Geoff Petrie to quit? Couldn't he get any job he wants?
Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog: "The Clippers need a person - at any position - who can pass the ball."
Steve Adamek of the Bergen Record talked to lots of executives, who said it's a no-brainer to pick Oden, but ... "'If five years from now, Durant becomes a combination of Michael Jordan and George Gervin and Oden turns out to be an ordinary center, destroy the tape of this conversation,' said Orlando senior vice president Pat Williams, an NBA executive for more than three decades who chose Shaquille O'Neal ahead of Alonzo Mourning atop the 1992 draft. 'Because of Jordan ... you always have to be a little careful about passing on a potentially great player,' said Indiana president and CEO Donnie Walsh, a veteran of more than two decades of drafts. 'That's why it's not an exact science,' Washington president Ernie Grunfeld said."
Synergy Sports Technology is really catching on around the NBA. Marc Narducci reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "The Synergy system was developed by current CEO Garrick Barr, who began delving in this area when he served as the Phoenix Suns' video coordinator and assistant coach for 11 seasons. When Barr and the Suns first purchased a digital editor, it showed him the vast possibilities it could create. Yet Barr, who began the company nearly three years ago, couldn't envision the explosion he has seen. At the beginning of the 2005-06 season, just four NBA teams subscribed to this service. Now, Barr said that 24 teams are using the product, either under contract or testing it. 'This is even surprising me,' Barr said from his office in Phoenix. 'It's the biggest landslide in sports technology history.'"
Bad timing: Julian Wright, a player who could go high or low in the lottery, sprained his ankle working out for Boston (picking fifth) a few days ago. After a couple of days off, he gutted it out through a shortened workout for the Bucks, who have the sixth pick.
Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express News: "'If I have to guess,' said an NBA team executive always full of inside info, 'I say KG gets traded, but Kobe stays put. And if the Timberwolves list their best possible deals, one through five, I think they're more apt to get deal No. 5 than deal No. 1.'"
Steve Nash is in a print ad campaign for a brand of watches. CNBC's Darren Rovell has some thoughts about how it could be better. Way better.
Great idea: Piston fans are all talking trash about what the Pistons will do. Detroit Bad Boys is inviting them to back it up with actual predictions of next year's roster, complete with a scoring system and everything. Wonder if Joe Dumars has picked his fake na
Thoughts about how the Cavaliers might get a draft pick or two. Also, read down for links to the three-part behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to cover the Cavaliers.
Bonzi Wells is, according to his agent, not opting out of his contract with the Rockets.
Ohm Youngmusik of the New York Daily News is still selling the "Jail Blazers" idea: "Potentially the next Bill Russell, Oden, expected to go No. 1 to the Blazers, will have to play in obscurity in Portland and attempt to turn around a franchise known more for its arrests than wins." Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jarrett Jack, Joel Pryzbilla, Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, Ime Udoka, Fred Jones, and Sergio Rodriguez wish you'd stop smearing their good names. And I'm not buying the "I'm just saying that's what everyone thinks" line ... even if that's true at all, and I have heard no such claims for the last year or so, it's only because some lazy media types are still telling people these are the Jail Blazers.
Billy Knight is looking for certain attributes in a young player. High on the list, apparently, is a big butt. Atlanta should be back on the winning track in no time.
In the current ESPN magazine there is an excerpt of David Walsh's new book about illegal performance enhancement in professional cycling. (If it's online, I can't find it.) It's pathetic, to be honest. If what a lot of riders are admitting to is true, then it seems to me that the cost of not staying ahead of cheaters is the loss of your sports heroes. That's a steep price to pay. I hope the NBA sees to it that this sport never has to deal with these kinds of scandals.
ESPN's Chris Sheridan (Insider) says that if he's willing to be a training camp hold out, Kobe Bryant has more leverage than the Lakers.
Jerry Krause: not terrible.
I thought Kevin Durant wasn't going to work out for the Sonics ... and why would he? But, apparently, he did, briefly.
A really great David Owen article about structural engineering (I know, off the beaten path a tad) in the New Yorker (only the abstract is available online) includes an interesting note that's relevant to international basketball's biggest stage, the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Owen writes: "During the week of my visit, the smog became so thick that flights were delayed, sections of five expressways were closed, outdoor activities were discouraged, and buildings a block distant were visible only as dim silhouettes in the brown miasma. 'This is unusual for November,' a resident told me. 'Ordinarily, it only gets like this in August.' August, incidentally, is the month of the Summer Olympics, which are coming to Beijing in 2008."
UPDATE: ESPN Insider Chad Ford's latest (free) mock draft has Brandan Wright slipping all the way to Sacramento at the tenth pick. Boston is now once again picking Yi Jianlian in Ford's estimation, and Chicago ends up with Spencer Hawes.