Thursday, April 03, 2008

TrueHoop, A Great Place To Read

If you’re a basketball fan, ESPN’s TrueHoop is a must-read place for ya. Yea, it’s that damn good. Kudos to its founder, Henry Abbott, and I’m doing him and his blog the biggest service of all - adding the TrueHoop site to my blog’s ‘More Hoops...’ list. I’ve come to conclusion - it’s time. It’s necessary. OK, if you’re a hoops starter and don’t know that much about the NBA (or don’t know TrueHoop section of ESPN), I’m here to help you, by introducing (in short) the TrueHoop, what you can find there and what’s like.

I’d like to recommend you the ‘Special Categories » The Playbook’ section of TrueHoop... great place to learn more about respective team’s playbook and intentions on the floor. It’s done by interviewing assistant coaches and the like... and, by the way, the latest interview is with Terry Porter, Pistons assistant coach. He talks about how they try to defend Garnett and much more. Obviously, there is a lot more stuff of interesting categories, shame on you if you’re not eager to check ‘em out.

We can start out guide with the first of April...

First Cup: Tuesday
April 1, 2008 9:55 AM (ET, U.S.)

What You Can Find Out Here (WYCFOH):
-When their rookie season ends, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green are going back to school.
-Pat Riley says that at least 20 players have caught his eye in the NCAA tourney (btw, my bracket is stainless! I got all four teams in the Final Four!!) that he's written a lot of notes about.
-Avery Johnson's book is titled Aspire Higher. *Being born is easy. So is taking your last breath. Everything in between, that's the hard part.*

Idea: Lottery Auction
April 1, 2008 11:44 AM

-One TrueHoop reader has an interesting idea to change the draft lottery.

Tuesday Bullets
April 1, 2008 1:34 PM

-Emeka Okafor gets a nice dunk, exposing Raptors’ defense. And the commentator says it's *just like going through Canadian ketchup*. It's one of those super random things that Abbott’s sure his broadcast partners wished would pass without further comment. But they proceed to talk about Canadian ketchup for minutes and it's hilarious.
-Channing Frye on the pros and cons of being really tall: *Even though small cars are cool I can't fit comfortably in any of them. I try and save the earth by conserving gas but I can't fit in a Subaru or Honda, so I ride in a really simple Tahoe. I try to do my part.*

The Numbers: Kevin Garnett is "Snuffing Them Out"
April 1, 2008 3:38 PM

-Players that KG is guarding are shooting 13.1% below the league average at their position. So he's guarding power forwards, and they're shooting 52% league-wide, or whatever it is. Guys that he's guarding are shooting 39% all year. That's just KG, one on one, against his man, when he's on the court. LeBron's guys are shooting 2% below the league average for their position. Kobe's are 3% below. Chris Paul's are 4% below. And KG is keeping people 13% below. In other words, he's snuffing them out.

Tuesday Afternoon Amusements
April 1, 2008 4:54 PM

-Simply, a lot of make-you-smile stuff.

First Cup: Wednesday
April 2, 2008 9:51 AM

-In a recent Sports Illustrated poll of current NBA players asking who scares you the most, Bryant earned 35% of the vote.

Donnie Walsh Brings Daylight
April 2, 2008 12:19 PM

-(Abbott) In 2000, I went to my first NBA Finals games, at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The weather was good, the building was brand new, and the Pacers were going toe-to-toe with Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the mighty Los Angeles Lakers.

Although it didn't turn out so well for the Pacers -- they lost the series and have not returned to the Finals since, while Conseco is a ghost town these days -- that was a fine moment for a proud franchise.

It was the kind of experience Knick fans haven't even been able to dream about in recent years.

One thing that really stood out to me about that week, was that the ringleader of the whole deal was so... available. Donnie Walsh was hardly hiding away in some executive suite. He was out and about, all week long. There he was in the stands, shaking hands. He was smiling as he talked to players and coaches. And during shootarounds, and practices, there he was in the stands, watching Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, Travis Best, Dale Davis, Austin Croshere and the like put in their work.

You had a question for him? Sure, plop on down. He didn't know me from Adam, but he took plenty of time to talk nuanced basketball. Through his undeniable New York accent -- a tad out of place in Hoosier country -- he talked about the strategy he used to build the team, what he liked best about some of his players, and how he thought the Finals might play out.

The conversation didn't feel like an executive talking to a reporter. It seemed like a guy who knows a lot about basketball talking to a friend. He was not at all guarded -- there certainly was no PR minder hanging around -- and everything he said made sense.

Compare that to the tortured scene at Madison Square Garden.

... The ways that the Knicks have been relating to the media and the public:

What really separates the complaints of Knicks writers from those of every other browbeaten city reporter - and reporters are definitely a whiny lot - are their unironic, and apparently accurate, tales of systematic repression.

"It's the gulag." ...
"We all know what it's like to cover a normal team. Covering the Knicks is so much worse." ...
"Some of the things they practice here are completely against what you'd expect a normal team to do. There's zero access to players. They would rather you don't even write." ...

The stories from the reporters are endless: layers of institutional paranoia; public relations officials who openly eavesdrop on private conversations with executives and players; the threat - and implementation - of cutting off reporters who are perceived to be critical of the team.

"Everyone is so worried about upsetting Jim Dolan, or getting fired, and as a result people aren't themselves. If you transplanted the same individuals and put them in another city, then they'd be far more interesting. They'd be themselves." ...

In the tangle of relationships between a sports team, fans, and the media, winning really does cure just about everything. But that's probably not an option right now for these Knicks.

In the interim, the Knicks, as a cultural institution and a business entity, are in dire need of infusion of credibility and honesty. They need to go about re-building trust with a jaded fan base. On that basis alone, Donnie Walsh is an inspired pick.

Best of all,'s Chris Sheridan reports that Walsh will have the power to change how the team relates to the public and the media:

An NBA source told on Wednesday that the Knicks yielded to Walsh's wishes on several key terms regarding authority and autonomy in reaching agreement on a four-year deal that installs Walsh as the new team president.

The Knicks are expected to introduce Walsh at a news conference at 1 p.m. ET.

Walsh will report directly to owner James Dolan, rather than to Madison Square Garden president Steve Mills, as was the arrangement under previous Knicks administrations.

Walsh will also have the authority to establish a new media policy, one that presumably will allow him -- and the Knicks' players -- to have full freedom of speech.

The Knicks have long had the simplistic idea that the best thing for the team was to hide the bad news while hyping the good news. That game only works so long -- there is only room in that closet for so many skeletons, you know?

Knick fans have essentially been told that "everything is great" through the most bizarre series of mis-steps: Disgruntled players, an injured star who dreams of playing in Italy, ineffective trades, massive salaries, a sexual harassment settlement, and countless tales of general organizational creepiness.

They don't make lipstick big enough for that pig. Even trying to gloss it up is an insult to the truth.

Restoring credibility is a long, slow, tedious walk on a road paved with painful honesty. Think of it like a marriage: you get busted cheating, suddenly it's no good to making promises of loyalty. At that point it's all about establishing that you're the kind of person who deliver tough news in a straightforward manner. (To put this in the corniest possible terms, there's a Billy Joel line: "You've given the best of you, but now I need the rest of you.")

In the long run, winning will be the best possible things for the franchise. (ESPN Insider Chad Ford wrote an in-depth piece about what it will take -- his recipe is to buy out Stephon Marbury, trade one of the highly paid big men, shed salary as possible, and draft like crazy. It's a long road to title town.)

The Knicks are lucky: smack dab in the middle of the biggest market in America, they can always sell tickets, and they can afford talent. If they believe the team is headed in the right direction, Knick fans will happily cling to the tiniest signs of progress. And the cupboard is not totally bare. There are some talented players like Jamal Crawford, Renaldo Balkman, and David Lee who could be part of the long-term solution.

Donnie Walsh is highly respected by his peers for his ability to rebuild a team -- in Indiana, he even managed to re-tool once without going below the salary cap, something that might appeal to the Knicks. Hopefully he proves worthy of the accolades he has been receiving as a basketball strategist. The good news, however, is that Walsh can help the franchise immensely even before he waives his first player, by bringing credibility, honesty, and daylight to what has been a sunless corner of the NBA.

Wednesday Bullets
April 2, 2008 1:50 PM

-Barack Obama and Michael Jordan teaming up to sell Chicago as the site for the 2016 Olympics?

You Can Not Beat Mark Madsen
April 2, 2008 4:14 PM

-Al Jefferson interview. One topic they cover is Jefferson's teammate Mark "Mad Dog" Madsen. Madsen is famous as a bench player on title-winning Laker teams.
#Well, I was going to ask you who's funnier: Your favorite actor Eddie Murphy or Mad Dog?
~I have to go with Eddie Murphy, but Mad Dog is crazy. He'll surprise you. He'll say something and you're like 'Wow, that's Mad Dog!' Every time someone makes a joke on him, he can reverse it. Every time.
#How many times has Dog mentioned his two championship rings to close an argument?
~Oh man. (Thinking). I've heard it probably, 25 to 40... thousand times.
#Basically, any time you start with him on something and he doesn't have a comeback, it's ring time.
~Yes. But he's got something a lot of people don't have.
#No doubt about that. But be honest with us... You can't take Mad Dog 1-on-1.
~I am really scared of Mad Dog 1-on-1. I wouldn't want to play Mad Dog if I had to. Now, we've played, but... I'm very scared of Mad Dog 1-on-1.

Fortify the Northern Border
April 2, 2008 11:53 PM

-The Canadians are getting angry about the Raptors' loss to the Hawks, and not without reason.

TrueHoop reader’s email is indicative of many:

#This is unbelievable and extremely frustrating!!!! On the last play in regulation of tonight's Raptors-Hawks game in Atlanta, with the game tied, this is the final play with 0.5 seconds to play:
Carlos Delfino is set to inbound the ball. He throws an alley-oop to a wide open TJ Ford, who tips the ball in the basket in what SHOULD'VE been the winning and final play. The refs review it and decide the ball didn't leave the hands of Ford in time, basically a 10th of a second if you look at the replays which they showed over and over again. What the refs DIDN'T however take into account, and what the Raptors bench was complaining about is this: Before TJ Ford even touched the ball, the shot clock was ALREADY RUNNING. A tenth of a second passed before Ford ever made CONTACT the ball. You could say a tenth of a second doesn't matter... WRONG... cuz guess what, it would've made the basket GOOD, it SHOULD'VE made the basket good, and the game SHOULD'VE been over with a Raptors win.
What makes this even more infuriating is the fact that last year, again, in Atlanta between the Raps-Hawks, the scorekeepers didn't count a basket by who else, TJ Ford, which would've totally changed the complexion of the game, plus that basket was in the fourth quarter. UNBELIEVABLE. Plus keep in mind that Atlanta is where the re-do had to be played between the Hawks and Heat. Something is not right here. The league stepped up for the Heat-Hawks game, they BETTER do something about this. I'm not expecting a replay of that last possession, it wouldn't be fair since it is practically impossible to conduct that same play and result, but the league better at least recognize that this is UNETHICAL and just downright UNACCEPTABLE!!! My GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!#

(Abbott) That's a lot of exclamation points, and boy, it is hard not to understand the frustration. Three games messed up in one season in the same city?
One thing I'm really not sure about here: how long is a tenth of second, in terms of human reactions? Can a regular person push a button that precisely? And does the timing system even react to the press of the button that precisely? My point is, is this the kind of thing that happens every night, but we never normally notice, just because the system isn't as precise as it purports to be? Is the clock often a tenth or so early or late?
Or is this truly an egregious mistake?
That's a question for an NBA scorekeeper or referee. ...
... As much as everyone is eager to blame the same scorekeepers who famously made errors in favor of the Hawks in games against the Heat and these Raptors, in this case, it was a referee at the controls this time.
There's no disputing the call on T.J. Ford's almost buzzer-beating layup that would have won the game for the Raptors in regulation; the ball didn't leave his hands until after the game clock had expired.
But there was a lengthy discussion in the Raptors' locker room after the Hawks' 127-120 overtime victory about the clock starting early on Ford's layup attempt. TV replays clearly showed that the clock started before Ford caught the ball in mid-air and began stretching for the basket.
The Hawks' official scorer was at fault for the error in the Miami game. But the culprit Wednesday was one of the game officials, Eric Lewis, who started the clock with a mechanism on his belt.
What would really help Raptors fans right now is a killer photo. The dream shot would be one showing 0.4 on the clock and the ball not yet in Ford's hands. Nice clear video could do the trick, too. Anyone who can point us to those things online... it'd be much appreciated.
Until then, I'm thinking, there could be tension on the northern border.

Pat Riley on Coaching
April 3, 2008 10:02 AM

-Riley says he don’t belong in the Hall of Fame. Want to know why?

First Cup: Thursday
April 3, 2008 10:06 AM

-New Orleans and Orlando already are two of the NBA teams that use the alley-oop play most. And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the tandems of Paul and Chandler and Howard and Hedo Turkoglu have converted the most alley-oops this NBA season. Paul and Chandler have converted 92 dunks off lob passes, while Howard and Turkoglu are second in the NBA with 32 alley-oop dunks.

p.s.: (pat riley on shaq’s rants) *he wanted to go to a contender and we sent him there. we sent him to utopia and we're left here with the carnage and i don't know why he's not happy.*
p.s.2: (lebron on chris paul) *he's got eyes in the back of his head. that's why he's the best point guard in the league.*
p.s.3: with $100 million-plus in advertising profits at stake if there's a celtics-lakers or celtics-suns finals, it will be interesting to see if the spurs get a single borderline call in may or june. my guess is that somebody on the suns or lakers could use a chainsaw and nunchaku to stop duncan in a game 7 and the refs wouldn't call it. but I'm cynical that way. (-bill simmons)
p.s.4: after being waived by sonics, brent barry spent most of his time off at local health clubs /in san antonio/, trying his best to stay in shape. *i saw a lot of old men naked. it wasn't great.*
p.s.5: *i don't know what kind of supplements he /dikembe mutombo/ takes in the offseason. but i'm going to find out and start taking them myself,* joked tim duncan.

Posted by Foreigner in CS - Apr 3 2008 8:57PM

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