Friday, May 27, 2005

Larry Brown for President?

Numerous sources (for example, here) have suggested Detroit head coach Larry Brown will become Cleveland's new president of basketball operations at the end of this season. Brown denied contact with Cleveland management, and still has three years remaining on a five-year, $25 million contract. Other sources have Brown peeking at the Knicks and Lakers.

But why would a team want Brown to be their President? The man is a teacher, not an administrator, plain and simple. Exactly what in his background would make people believe the man has talent choosing pro personnel? In Philadelphia, the Sixers (with Brown and Billy King calling the shots, but mostly Brown) made a team in Brown's defense-first image, then collapsed when Brown departed for the Pistons. Since the team was tailor-made for Brown, first Randy Ayers and later Chris Ford took the fall when the team struggled. And remember it was Brown's bright idea to bring Derrick "Team Cancer" Coleman to Philly, not just once, but twice. Coleman played hard only in his contract year. But apparently he was Larry's kind of player.

I'd mention our last Olympic team too, which couldn't hit a three (or the broad side of a barn), but allegedly Brown didn't have a large role in player selection, so I won't hold that against him.

Bottom line, he'll be coaching next year in Detroit or retire. I just don't see him taking the Cleveland job and there is no good reason they should be offering it to him. The Knicks are a mess, and if Larry thought he had problems with Allen Iverson, wait until he runs into Kobe Bryant. Big, big mistake if he comes back any place other than Detroit.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Another one?

"We do not want to change coaches [again]," Ed Snider said. "We've seen enough coaches."

Quick - was Snider talking about
A. his Flyers? Or
B. his Sixers?

B. On Monday, the Sixers fired Head Coach Jim O'Brien and replaced him with Maurice Cheeks. The Sixers will be paying three former or current head coaches next year, four if Chris Ford sticks around (though he's classified as some sort of super scout and is not technically drawing a coach's salary). Reminds me of when Joe Conklin was doing a Pat Croce imitation on WIP, writing out monthly checks to coaches and players no longer here, but still on the Sixers' payroll. It went on and on and on...

So, did Allen Iverson get O'Brien fired? I say no. Iverson had the highest scoring average of his career (something a point guard shouldn't do, but this is not your typical point guard situation), plus finished 5th in assists (something a good point guard should do). The lack of a stable rotation, the lack of developing the core of the team (if Willie Green is "untradable" shouldn't he have played more?), the incoherent defenses, the lack of getting Chris Webber involved in the offense, O'Brien's communication breakdown with multiple players - all of these contributed to O'Brien's exit.

One question posed on Comcast SportsNet last night was: if Mo Cheeks were not available, would this move still have been made? Hmmm. Remember two years ago that Detroit fired a very capable Rick Carlisle, who was still under contract, in order to get Larry Brown, despite the fact that Carlisle had just taken the Pistons to the Eastern Conference Finals and had back-to-back 50-win seasons. The Sixers have coveted Cheeks for years but were rebuffed by Portland each time contact was requested. I don't think the Sixers would have made the move just to get Flip Saunders, for example. We'll find out if this all works. In the meantime, the Sixers need some shooters and some rebounders.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Nash vs. Shaq

Steve Nash won the 2004-2005 NBA MVP Award. While some heatedly (pardon the expression) disagree, and others naturally bring up race, let's look at some of the arguments:

First argument:
"Shaq is a better player."
Yeah. So?

MSNBC's Mike Celizic argues that
for the 12th time in Shaq's 13 Hall-of-Fame seasons, someone other than the most dominant player in the game is the most valuable player in pro basketball. by this definition, Michael Jordan should have won the MVP for every year he was in the league, since he was the most dominant/best/greatest player in the league at the time. Not Magic, not Bird, not Duncan, not Shaq.

Next argument:
"If you take Shaq off Miami and Nash off Phoenix, you'll see how valuable Shaq is."
Oh? Let's see:

Miami with Shaq, 2004-05: 59-23, made playoffs, 17-game improvement
over previous season

Shaq missed 9 games (Heat went 6-3)

Miami without Shaq, 2003-04: 42-40, made playoffs


Phoenix with Nash, 2004-05: 62-20, made playoffs, 33-game improvement
over previous season

Nash missed 7 games (Suns went splat!)

Phoenix without Nash, 2003-04: 29-53, did not make playoffs

Hm. Seems like someone had a little more impact.

"Statistics don't lie. Shaq scored more - he had a better season."
Apples and oranges. One's a point guard who's paid to distribute (11.5 apg, league leader). The other is a big 'ol center who's paid to hit shots from two feet away from the basket (60.1 fg%, 1st in the league, and 22.9 ppg, 12th in scoring - behind Dwayne Wade. In other words, Shaq wasn't even the leading scorer on his own team, though he certainly was the most accurate. Oh, you say there are more important things than scoring? Bzz. You just disproved your own point.)

No argument there. Shaq's a better defender. I don't think Nash has discovered the word "defense" yet.

Let's face it - would I rather have Shaq over Nash if I had to pick first when making my team from scratch? Sure. Just as Wilt dominated the league, Shaq does the same thing now. But does that mean Shaq automatically gets the MVP vote? Nope.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Did you see the Yankees have been hovering around last place in the AL East? Forgive me, but HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Life is good. The Sawx could finish in third and it wouldn't matter! You can take that $206 million lineup and stick it where the sun don't shine.

OK, rant over.

Did you see David Wells is on the DL, but felt well enough to go to the Pacers-Celtics game 7 at Fleet Center (or whatever it's called now)? Nice shot of him reaching over a row to shake hands with Reggie Miller after the Pacers ripped the C's.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

JFK, UFOs, and Yao Ming

David Stern does not like conspiracy theories.

Rockets Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy was fined $100,000 by NBA Commissioner David Stern for JVG's comments regarding NBA officials targeting Houston center Yao Ming. Stern also suggested he could end Van Gundy's career:
"If he's going to say things like that, he's not going to continue in this league," Stern said. "If the attitude reflected in those comments continues to be public, he's going to have a big problem with me as long as I'm commissioner."
Normally that would be called a threat and result in a lawsuit. Stern, commissioner for 21 years, is widely regarded as the most effective top man in the four major US pro sports and such a lawsuit would probably go nowhere.

Van Gundy told reporters that he recently spoke with one of the 40 refs not working the playoffs. This referee indicated Director of Officials Ronnie Nunn issued a directive instructing officials to watch Yao closely. If what Van Gundy said was true, then he is on the prongs of a dilemma. Does he "rat out" his source as requested by Stern (and apparently, as compelled by league by-laws)? Or does he keep silent and invite suspension, additional fines or even banishment from the league?

Wonder if anyone's asked Nunn to comment about the alleged directive. No comment, right?

And will anyone actually do anything about the bad calls? For example, players stepping out of bounds and refs not seeing this (Dallas)...players slipping and opponents getting called for fouls (i.e. Carmelo and Duncan - his sixth foul in Game 4).

Stern was right to fine Van Gundy, but went overboard on the amount and with his comments. For some reason, Stern didn't see fit to "ban" Mavs owner Mark Cuban for anything Cuban said about officials - just fine, fine, fine. Double standard here, folks. But as long as Stern's in charge, it will stay that way.

Update, 5/9/05:
From the NBA Front Office today:

NEW YORK, May 9 – NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik today issued the following statement in regard to Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy:

“Over this past weekend, Coach Van Gundy publicly apologized for his comments last week suggesting bias in the league’s refereeing relating to Yao Ming. He has also confirmed directly to an NBA representative that, during the Houston/Dallas playoff series, he did not have any communication with a referee (working or non-working) other than, of course, during an ongoing game. In fact, his only conversations with league employees during the series were with league personnel in the normal course. In light of these circumstances, we now consider the matter to be closed.”

So, Van Gundy went the 3rd way ("I made it up"), apologized, and won't get a suspension. We think.

Net loss

After going down to the last day of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs, the Nets were Swept by the Heat in 4 games. This is not a surprise. It did point out the Nets' lack of a dangerous 3-point shooter. But to paraphrase Richard Jefferson's complaint of racism after Team USA's poor showing in the last Olympics, "All we heard about was Hoiberg, Hoiberg, Hoiberg." Gee Richard, maybe it's because y'all could have used Hoiberg to shoot off the bench. Or maybe Michael Redd? Let's see, for 2004-05, regular season 3-point FG%:
Jefferson 33.7%
Kidd 36.0%
Hoiberg 48.3%

Wouldn't turn down that kind of help.