The question posed to Bradley Beal was, “If Derrick Rose was your teammate, would you lose respect for him?”
The following is what he said:
“A little bit. Yeah, I would,” he told the Washington Post. “The type of player he is, and the mentality and competitiveness that he has, I think he would have gave (sic) it a go. I don’t know what was holding him back. I think he’s scared it’s probably going to happen again and he won’t be the same. But you’re never the same after an injury. But you just have to fight through it and do something else to be able to impact the game. I’m not sure what it is he has to do. I really can’t speak for him. …”
“That’s hard, because I’ve never experienced that injury,” Beal said. “And I know what type of injury that is, it’s possible it’s gonna happen again. Knock on wood. But at the same time, you might have to give it a go. If you’re practicing for two months and everybody in practice is saying you’re practicing well, I figure you gotta give it a shot in a game.
“But it’s his decision. I can’t really have a say so in it. If he doesn’t feel he’s mentally confident to be able to go out there and help the team, I guess I can’t really blame him for it.”
On one hand, he would lose respect for Rose but on the other hand, he can’t blame him. He thinks Rose is probably scared the injury may occur again and, because he knows the kind of injury it is, Beal says he thinks it might. Also, because Rose might not be the same if he did injure it, he would need to do something else to impact the game - but Beal admits he know what that would be. In addition, Beal wants Rose to “give it a shot” - but he can’t really blame him for not doing so.As is said about politicians (and lawyers for guilty clients):
“The only way he could have said less is if he had talked longer.”
Following the 1991-92 basketball season at USC (where I was an assistant coach), then-junior swing man Harold Miner, a fabulous basketball player, had a difficult decision to make. It was whether to return for his senior campaign or leave school for the NBA draft. Our head coach, George Raveling, had done his due diligence and found out that Harold was a surefire lottery pick, going possibly as high as seventh (he wound up the twelfth pick).
Someone, somewhere, at some time had stuck the moniker, Baby Jordan, on Harold years earlier. He was about the same height and build as Michael, jumped like him (he won the NBA’s Slam Dunk competition twice) and had a shaved head. But, we all, including Harold, knew he was not another MJ, nor was anyone else. That kind of attention was both unrealistic and unfair. It really didn’t matter where he was picked, however, because Nike offered him sixth pick money, i.e. if he was selected in the sixth slot, he got that money, BUT if he were picked anywhere lower, Nike would make up the difference between the money he was offered and what the player drafted sixth got. So, when he dropped to #12, he still received #6 money, what #12 got (all rookie contracts are preset), plus the difference between that and #6 which was picked up by Nike.
The reason I share this bit of history is to show that Harold Miner was a sensational college basketball player. When he was deciding, one factor in favor of him returning to school was he absolutely loved campus life. It was a real blast for him to go to the student center the day after a big game and hear his fellow students reliving the game and some of the jaw dropping moves from the night before. Or hear praise from a professor. Or a custodian. Didn’t matter. He found it invigorating.
Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. This year, the school has announced that, because it is such a distraction whenever Johnny Football shows up on campus, they are allowing him to take his classes online. Now, I am by no means comparing Harold Miner’s popularity in LA with Johnny Manziel’s in College Station. First of all, Miner’s situation was twenty years ago. And it’s an apples vs. oranges comparison because Los Angeles is a pro city and SC is a football school. Yet, at 6′6″, black with long arms and a killer body, people knew who Harold Miner was. Few would pass by without making a comment or asking for an autograph or picture.
Manziel related the following story when he received the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback, according to Bernie Augustine of the New York Daily News. “I went one day — it was a small class of 20 or 25 — and it kind of turned into more of a big deal than I thought.” Regarding the decision to take classes online, he said, “It just happened to work out where it was good after the football season with all of the stuff going on. It was a good time not to have to worry about being on campus and some other things, too.”
At his press conference declaring for the draft, Harold Miner made reference to how much he was going to miss not only the guys on the team, but also his fellow classmates. He realized that experience would be gone once he became a professional - and he’d never again get to feel it.
Now, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has become so popular in College Station that the Texas A&M quarterback can no longer attend classes with the rest of the student body. Someday, he might wish he had found a way.
It’s a shame that:
“Some people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.”
The guys from TNT’s NBA studio show are an interesting bunch. I feel they had it perfect a few years ago before adding a fourth member. Ernie Johnson is a true pro who can keep a show going and, when necessary, throw in a quip or two of his own. He realizes the stars of the show are the analysts, i.e. the former NBA players, much of their commentary being based on past experiences.
Charles Barkley gives the perspective of the team stud who, although close, could never get his guys an NBA championship. He has no problem admitting how frustrating it was being on a number of teams, yet never grasping the golden ring. While Kenny Smith was a starter and integral member of a championship squad, he was by no means the superstar. Not with Hakeem as his teammate.
It was a perfect trio. Everybody had enough time to express their opinion and still inject a good deal of humor, some of it inside stuff, some of it from “down home” (Charles), some of it from the street (Kenny). Ernie was a wonderful foil for the other guys, often serving as the butt of the joke, but having no ego or issue with accepting his role. When the station added a fourth, no matter who filled the seat, he upset the timing. What information he added wasn’t as necessary as the time he took away from the show.
During a recent broadcast, one of the guards involved (a good possibility is J.R. Smith) was going through a miserable shooting series - not just a game - and the question was posed regarding how to snap out of it. Opinions were offered. One I remembered, and have heard on other occasions, was to get to the free throw line. Many coaches agree with that idea. Then Kenny was asked what he thought. His reply made a great deal of sense as well - certainly for players who cared enough to attempt it. It was “to play better defense.” He explained that many times players thought about their shooting woes and thinking was the last thing they needed to do. “Focusing at the defensive end” kept a player’s mind from being overwhelmed by negative thoughts and making a key defensive play or getting a steal which led to an easy hoop was a better formula.
In the world of TV, as in other areas, it’s often true:
“More is not always better.”
It’s great to be back but I’m leaving again. I’m honored to be the emcee at the party in Las Vegas tonight to celebrate Jerry Tarkanian’s induction into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. When I get back, it’s off to the Stanford Pain Management Center for a pump refill and check up. Then, into the car to drive down the 101 to Monterey to pick up Alex who just finished his first year of college at Cal State Monterey Bay and bring him home for the summer. He claims he nailed it academically this semester. If he can match his inaugural season in college hoops, in which he was one of only ten players in the country to make the Division II Freshmen All-America team - and the only one from the west coast - he’ll have had a successful beginning to college life.
Not done yet. For those of you who have ever checked out CoachGeorgeRaveling.com, the website for my boss previous to Tark, you might have seen the video section entitled #JackAndCoach. On it, I turn the tables on George who has interviews with individuals such as Oscar Robertson, Nolan Richardson, David Falk (MJ’s agent) and my man, Tark, among many others. In our segment, I pose questions to get to know “the inside Rave.” Currently, there are between 25-28 “shorts,” about 3-5 minutes in length. Some are very funny, others quite moving, all entertaining. We spent about five hours shooting last fall and it’s time for round two, so I’ll be, ahem, on location in LA, as they say, this weekend. This blog will return Monday.
The Chicago Bulls teased the entire country when they won Game One of their best-of-seven series with the Miami Heat - in Miami. Nate Robinson showed what a little guy can do when given a chance - and is playing for a contract. The fact that Nate hasn’t stuck with any of his five teams yet has more to do with his just being an ultra-short little guy. The performance that night - and his continued aggressive play despite all the odds - raised the eyebrows of fans and, probably some general managers. Last night was an abomination of a contest. Tired or other issues? Why haven’t the Bulls been able to repeat an effort like they did in the opener?
ESPN has four guys talking about it when the games are on their stations; TNT has four (in my opinion, better) analysts discussing the contests when they’re aired on their network. The groups chime in on what has happened and what needs to be done to fix the problem. In each case we hear about how some player needs to contribute more, to become that all-important creation of analysts - the X-factor. Basically, the talking heads aren’t necessary for this series. When a superstar is forced into street clothes, it’s obvious the team’s getting nothing from him that day. In addition, they’re probably going to encounter a serious drop off at that spot in the lineup.
The complete analysis for the Bulls and Heat goes as follows:
“The Bulls have lost their starting point guard and both wings. They’re playing against the best basketball team in the world. Next?”
It’s vacation time! This will be my last blog until Tuesday, May 14. Look forward to returning with more stories to entertain and inspire.
Whatever anyone says about Jerry Tarkanian, no one refutes he was the master of getting guys to play hard. The one type of guy who Tark couldn’t stand to have on his team, whom he knew that if he played, sooner or later, they were going to lose. He called that kind of player a “Cool Guy.” I haven’t talked to him yet about the Chicago Bulls but I imagine he was totally impressed. Not because they won in Game 7 but because . . . they don’t have any cool guys.
One coach Tark has always been unbelievably impressed with is Tom Thibodeau. Tibbs doesn’t like cool guys either. He took a Chicago Bulls team without Kirk Heinrich, Luol Deng and, of course, Derrick Rose, a former MVP whose services he hasn’t had all year, into Brooklyn’s brand new digs and came out a winner. He took a franchise which has had incredible success - but had never, NEVER, won a game 7 on the road. Yet they did it. Why?
Thibodeau has been telling us all along:
“We have enough.”
So LeBron James is going to be the MVP of the NBA. A probability nearly as certain is that he will lead the Miami Heat to their second consecutive championship. A year of debilitating injuries to guys who could influence games’ outcomes, e.g. Rose, Rondo, Westbrook, Nash, Bryant, Griffin, Gallinari and Lee seemed to align the stars perfectly for a Miami repeat. Not that they weren’t poised for a repeat anyway, but if ever was there a year they could get by without Dwyane Wade at 100%, this one’s it.
Tomorrow’s MVP award will be his fourth, as many as Wilt, one shy of MJ and Bill Russell, two fewer than Kareem. It will also be his fourth in five years, the string split by Derrick Rose, who, after taking the entire year off in order to be 100% when he returns, could pose a threat to both accomplishments (MVP and NBA champion) in the future.
Michael and Russ accomplished the duel feat a record 4 times, Larry and Kareem twice, and eight others once. So, assuming the Heat live up to expectations, the championship would be theirs and LBJ would move into the company of Bird and Jabbar. Certainly elite company but, as anyone who knows LeBron, or has talked to him, or has read about him, or has heard about him, . . . understands is that elite company is not his goal. Unique is the level to which he aspires.
He turned 28 a little more than four months ago. He’s in better shape than 98% of the guys he plays against and has enough resources to keep up with any new advances in science and technology, be they in nutrition, strength training, flexibility, cardiovascular or psychological. How much longer can he play barring serious injury, at a championship/ MVP level? Eight more years puts him at 36. That’s a lot of hardware he could haul.
The obvious question then is: Is he the best player of all-time? Maybe it’s my age or when I was involved with basketball at a level just below the NBA but my answer could lie in an old joke:
“George Washington was first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen. First president of the United States. But he married a widow - which just goes to show, that no matter how hard you try, you can’t be first in everything.”
The Los Angeles Lakers were so decimated they should have come out led by a guy with a bandage around his head and a drum. Their top two point guards, top two second guards and top small forward were all unable to play. Tony Robbins would have given up.
The Chicago Bulls lost their point guard - for the year - and then lost his (shutdown defender) backcourt mate for Game Six. As if they needed any more bad news, they went into a closeout game with much of their team with the flu, or as it’s become known throughout the years in the NBA as “flu-like symptoms.” Only this time, the Bulls didn’t have the guy who can play even better with it so now it’s off to Brooklyn for Game Seven.
The Lakers’ NBA co-host at Staples Center could have used some good news since they’ve lost a couple guys to injury. Having suffered through more than enough “player games lost” they found out just prior to Game Five their poster boy was hobbled. And it couldn’t have happened against a worse team. Usually, a team can switch defensive assignments to help an injured player out a little but when you’re a post player and Memphis is the opponent, it’s . . . pick your poison. Only getting 19 minutes in a Game Five loss doesn’t bode well for a Game Six - on the road.
Injuries that occurred prior to the playoffs to Boston’s flamboyant leader and just before they began to Denver’s major offensive weapon really doomed them and now each is trying to stay alive but have formidable paths ahead of them.
In reality, all of these match ups are window dressing. Sure, the playoffs will make money for the league but this year’s NBA Playoffs might be as much of a forgone conclusion than any other year in recent memory. The Miami Heat are soooooooooo much better that they can deal with injuries of their own and still have no worries. I don’t believe I’m going out on a limb saying the engraver can start on the O’Brien trophy as soon as he wants. I’m fully aware that “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” Well,
“The fat lady might not yet be singing but, if you’ll listen closely, you can her clearing her throat.”
Jamal Crawford deserved the Sixth Man of the Year Award. If, for no other reason, than it’s hard to believe that a guy like JR Smith ought to be honored for anything.
George Raveling told me his grandmother used to say:
“There are more horses asses in the world than there are horses.”
And I’ll still feel that way if the Knicks win the next one. Or the next one.
Many years ago I roomed with one of the other assistant coaches on our staff for an extended road trip. Because we were on the road so long, we discussed a variety of subjects, one of which was gays. Not gay athletes (or lesbians), just gay men. My “roommate” absolutely despised homosexuals, saying he was disgusted a man would choose to live that way. I said that I didn’t think they necessarily wanted to be gay. He maintained it was a way of life and whoever lived that style of life had to have selected it. Nothing I said seemed to shake his profound belief until I finally came up with a scenario that, while it didn’t change his mind, it did rattle his foundation - a little.
The language we used in the conversation was salty so out of respect for those readers who would be uncomfortable with it, I’ve changed the exact words. Independent of who you are, you will thoroughly understand the message so there’s no need to put it down verbatim. I initially asked him if (a female star whom I can’t remember now but who would be that day’s equivalent of Beyonce) walked into the room and began to disrobe, would he get excited? He said of course he would. I asked him if he was sure, if there was anything that would prevent that from happening. He assured me that, other than being blind and deaf (he did put those qualifiers on his answer), he would be aroused. Maybe he thought it was a trick question.
Then I asked him if (the equivalent of LL Cool J, Chris O’Donnell or Eric Olsen - hey, I think NCIS-LA has a good-looking cast - including Daniela Ruah) did the same thing, if he’d experience similar feelings. “NO WAY!” he screamed, as if I should have been drawn and quartered for even suggesting it.
Wait, I asked, how about if the lights were low, some Barry White was playing and . . .”NO!“ I go the “caps” answer to that one.
C’mon, what if he’d been out drinking and just got really wasted and hadn’t had sex in a month (this guy was in his early 30s and was a very eligible bachelor) and the dancer was wearing provocative . . . There aren’t enough expletives for his response.
I went for the trump card. “Even if you tried to talk yourself into it?” When he remained steadfast in his belief, I said to him, “Don’t you think that’s how it is for gay guys? What you’re saying is you’re wired into feeling the way you do - and couldn’t change if you tried. Don’t you think it’s the same for them?”
I noticed in one of the past couple issues of SI there was a letter from a reader which corrected a previous SI story that used the term “sexual preference.” The writer said it should have been “sexual orientation.”
The following quote from Warren Bennis’ was referring to how business leaders should treat employees in general. I’m not sure this topic is what he had in mind, yet it fits perfectly.
“Accept people as they are, not as you want them to be.”
Accept people as they are, not as you want them to be.
In the April 28, 2008 addition of Sports Illustrated - yeah, five years ago - there was an article about the NFL draft. Not surprising, since it was the same time of year as the one held a few days ago. The article was about the 1998 draft, the one with Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf, and with the #5 pick (Curtis Enis, who retired from the league two years later) and the #92 pick (Hines Ward, who became the Super Bowl XL MVP). A couple of the people quoted in the piece were New Orleans coach Sean Payton and former Green Bay Packers general manager, and current San Diego Chargers consultant, Ron Wolf.
Their discussion was, naturally, about the “science” of drafting football players. Their comments, however, rang just as true as if they were discussing the NBA draft. Payton’s comment was, “You get excited about a guy because of his tools and projecting his ability, but so much of this is looking beneath the surface.” As the NBA playoffs continue, it’s impossible not to look at the “nobodies” who slipped through the draft cracks and the high profile picks which have yet to live up to pre-draft hype. Everybody knows the Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan gigantic mistake and Greg Oden before Kevin Durant humongous error. Another interesting example would be the 2009 draft in which the Minnesota Timberwolves were in the market for a guard (several as it turned out). They took Ricky Rubio, Spain’s version of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, with the fifth pick. They also had the sixth pick and, because most thought Rubio would be difficult to sign, they decided to go with an additional point guard. Their choice was Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn - whose career mostly has been in the NBA, although last season he played for the Melbourne Tigers in Australia.
What Payton meant can clearly be seen in that selection. Not only did Minnesota select Flynn over the next pick, Stephen Curry, whom the T-Wolves are constantly being reminded went to Golden State but they also passed on #10 Brandon Jennings, #17 Jrue Holiday, #18 Ty Lawson (they actually did draft Lawson but it was only to trade him to Denver for a future first round pick) and #19 Jeff Teague. It’s more than a stretch to say that guys picked in the first round “slipped through the cracks” but it does show how the draft is such a crap shoot for a team when its name comes to make its draft selection.
Other classics? How about the Clippers, a year after they wisely (OK, that year, a three-year-old would have) picked Blake Griffin at #1, they felt they needed to get a small forward with the ability to get his own shot. They chose Al-Farouq Aminu with the eighth pick. The Jazz took Gordon Hayward next, just before the Pacers who grabbed (and has never let go of) Paul George. Why would the Clippers pass on Paul George for Al-Farouq Aminu?
For the answer, listen to the eerie crossover similarity between football and basketball, as told by Ron Wolf:
The fascinating thing about pro football is, no matter how long you’re in it, you can’t predict how guys are going to handle the pressure, the limelight, the money.”