A really good Eddie Griffin article by Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer remembers one of the great moments of his young life: when his AAU team beat local rival Dajuan Wagner's team: "'He'd give you the shirt off his back,' said John Lucas, the former NBA player and coach who has turned to counseling troubled athletes. 'I had two friends put out of their house. Ed took them in. They slept on his sofa. He put blankets on them. A lot of ways, he was selfless to a fault.' Then there was the time Griffin's Roman Catholic team was set to play Dajuan Wagner and Camden in a classic battle of the titans in a tournament at Temple. Earlier that day, as tickets went on sale, promoter Jeremy Treatman glanced at the line of about 100 people at the ticket window. Eddie Griffin was second in line. Treatman said, 'What are you doing out here?' Griffin, who went on to score 29 points in a dominating performance, replied, 'I've got to get tickets for a lot of people.'"
Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times on the Sonics' lease: "If it comes down to a fight, the specific-performance clause in the Sonics' lease could give the city important legal leverage. While it would not permanently prevent a move, the clause could jack up a settlement price or even encourage a team sale. 'That's the silver bullet,' said Fred Nance, a Cleveland attorney who used similar lease language to fight Browns owner Art Modell's efforts to move the NFL team to Baltimore in the mid-1990s. Nance said the language in the Browns' lease allowed the city to get an injunction requiring the team to play the remaining three seasons on its lease at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. That prompted Modell and the NFL to negotiate a deal that eventually allowed the team to move to Baltimore but guaranteed Cleveland an expansion franchise that kept the Browns name. In 1996, King County relied on similar language in the Seahawks' Kingdome lease to halt then-owner Ken Behring's plans to take the team to California. Behring still had 10 years left on his lease at the Kingdome, and the county got a temporary injunction to stop him from leaving. That gave local officials time to broker the team's sale to billionaire Paul Allen and devise a new stadium deal."
Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley on the ownership debacle in Seattle: "This situation has gotten so ugly and so contentious, Stern almost has to get involved."
Nets Daily Blog on some of the craziness (reportedly: rodeos, mass Hasidic weddings, the Boom Boom Huck Jam Extreme sports show) that will happen in the Nets' new Brooklyn Arena besides basketball. The blog reports: "The Center will also include 'a non-denominational meditation room' (available for Nets fans after losses?)"
Kevin Martin is reportedly offered 55 million reasons to stay in Sacramento. My two cents: without having any idea what the Kings' future might look like, why not test free agency? He can get the money from a lot of places, but a franchise headed deep into the playoffs, that's another thing entirely.
An academic paper about sports agent ethics.
ESPN's Eric Neel on Team USA: "They bring it, start to finish. Every pick is a switch. Every ball handler and shooter gets chased and harassed. Every defensive rebound is a quick-turn opportunity for a fastbreak. And every time James gets the ball near midcourt, no matter what the score is, he's going to dunk all over your sorry butt. They're not just playing well, they're playing mean. 'It's awfully impressive,' says Team Canada coach Leo Rautins. 'They play together and they play hard.'"
The Bulls wanted more size in the backcourt. How's that going? And how's that going specifically if your name is Ben Gordon, and you have not, presumably been growing?
Here's my new thing: if you're going to smear people, be specific and provide evidence. (I invite you to hold me to this, too.) I know this shouldn't bother me, but it does. Mark Monteith of the Indianapolis Star has a good blog. But every now and again, for reasons that remain unclear to me, he insults all two bajillion writers (himself included) who write online. Case in point: "There's no news, or even rumors, to discuss at the moment. So, in lieu of doing the internet thing and just making up something to stir some conversation ..." If someone is doing shoddy work on the the internet, call them out specifically.
If Danny Ainge's Boston Celtics send players to the D-League, they'll be sending them to the Utah Flash, a team that is very heavily influenced by the Utah Jazz. The Salt Lake Tribune's Ross Siler writes that doesn't bother Danny Ainge at all: "'I am told they will pattern much of what they do after the Jazz,' Ainge wrote in an e-mail. 'I can't think of better people to pattern an organization after. They are a model for other franchises in hard work and teamwork. I'm excited about our affiliation with the Flash.'" Can't think of a better organization? What about, you know, the one you run, Danny?
Benjamin Hochman of The New Orleans Times-Picayune: "For an NBA team to thrive, or even survive, in post-Katrina New Orleans, experts say it will take successful ticket and suite sales, a football-centric city embracing basketball, corporate sponsorship in a city with few marquee corporations and, oh yeah, a winning team."
Independent basketball scout Jordan Mallin spent some time watching top high school players at the Rucker in Harlem. He liked a lot of players, including Tyreke Evans. He emails: "A case for top billing would have to be made for Tyreke Evans. This 6-4 point guard used his combination of strength and ball skills to embarrass the opposition. In this case, highly touted Jrue Holiday was receiving the punishment. Time after time, Tyreke was attacking the basket with vengeance, racking up buckets. His entire section was on their feet and the electricity was building as he began to dominate. Looking around it became clear why the game is played at this fa
mous Harlem Park. There is definitely something special about having the game at 'The Rucker.' I felt a vibe, or energy you just don't get anywhere else. It was like being in Cameron Indoor ..." According to DraftExpress, Brandon Jennings was another standout.
After hurting himself in the first game, Gerald Wallace had a lousy first-half to last season. Then, on a day in December, he kicked it into another gear, and from that day forward his numbers were almost all-NBA, and the Bobcats won at the rate of a team on the playoff bubble. Lesson: if Wallace is healthy, they're not a laughingstock, especially when you add Jason Richardson to the mix.
Who invented "the whip?"
You ever read Jim Carroll's "Basketball Diaries?" The autobiographical tale of the top New York City basketball player who lost his career to drugs (evident in the narrative) or poetry (the author's later contention)? Here he is on video, talking about playing with players like Grant Hill's dad, Calvin Hill. This could probably also serve as a "stay in school and don't do drugs" video for some young basketball players.
Basketbawful: "You shouldn't eat the macaroni without the cheese, you can't kill Superman without Kryptonite, and you don't get to scream 'And one!' if you didn't hit the shot." I'd even add that "and one" is especially dumb in pickup basketball without referees and free throws. The "one," you know, being a free throw and all.
Basketball needs an infusion of ideas.
You don't care about things that are really meaningful. Or Gilbert Arenas is sexy. Or something.
Thoughts from NPR about stiff penalties for gambling in sports.
NBA personalities and who they are giving to this election cycle. The players favor Barack Obama, the owners are all over the map, but David Stern is giving his money to Hillary Clinton.