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11-07-2004, 07:57 PM
Here are a few articles that I saw today that were somewhat interesting.

And the
winners are...

The people have spoken. In this case, the people are the NBA's 30 general managers, who were recently polled by the league on 50 topics. Here are some of the results, along with our own comments:

If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?

Tim Duncan - 48%
Kevin Garnett - 29%
LeBron James - 14%
Shaquille O'Neal - 10%

Our view: What, nobody voted for Trevor Ariza?

Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments?

Shaquille O'Neal- 81%
Kevin Garnett - 10%
Tracy McGrady - 5%
Tim Duncan - 5%

Our view: Frankly, we're amazed that Shaq didn't get 100%.

Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2004-05?

Al Harrington - 37%
Yao Ming - 11%
Dwyane Wade - 11%
Jamal Crawford - 5%
Marcus Camby - 5%
Brian Scalabrine - 5%
Eddy Curry - 5%
Willie Green - 5%
Manu Ginobili - 5%
Chris Bosh - 5%
Jonathan Bender - 5%

Our view: For about the past eight seasons we've been waiting for Camby to break out.

Who is the toughest player in the NBA?

Ron Artest - 33%
Ben Wallace - 29%
Shaquille O'Neal - 14%
Karl Malone - 5%
Allen Iverson - 5%
Kurt Thomas - 5%
Kenyon Martin - 5%
Mark Madsen - 5%

Our view: If the topic were "the craziest player in the NBA," Artest would have gotten 100%.

Which was the most underrated player acquisition?

Brent Barry - 33%
Steve Nash - 10%
Lamar Odom - 10%
Brian Cardinal - 10%
Jason Terry - 5%
Antawn Jamison - 5%
Erick Dampier - 5%
Al Harrington - 5%
Nick Van Exel - 5%
Antoine Walker - 5%
Stephen Jackson - 5%

Our view: When all is said and done, it just might be the Pistons' signing of Antonio McDyess.

Which team will be most improved in 2004-05?

Phoenix Suns - 31%
Orlando Magic - 31%
Miami Heat - 14%
Cleveland Cavaliers - 5%
Los Angeles Clippers - 5%
Philadelphia 76ers - 5%
Washington Wizards - 5%
Houston Rockets - 5%

Our view: Hard to believe that the Nets didn't get a vote.

Who is the best head coach in the NBA?

Larry Brown - 38%
Jerry Sloan - 33%
Flip Saunders - 10%
Gregg Popovich - 5%
Rick Adelman - 5%
Rick Carlisle - 5%
Hubie Brown - 5%

Our view: About five of those coaches made the list only because Phil Jackson took the year off.

Which head coach makes the best in-game adjustments?

Larry Brown - 45%
Hubie Brown - 15%
Don Nelson - 15%
Flip Saunders - 10%
Jerry Sloan - 5%
Gregg Popovich - 5%
Paul Silas - 5%

Our view: We honestly don't know how Silas made this list.

Which head coach is the best in the last two minutes of a close game?

Larry Brown - 35%
Gregg Popovich - 20%
Flip Saunders - 15%
Hubie Brown - 10%
Jeff Van Gundy - 5%
Don Nelson - 5%
Jerry Sloan - 5%
Rick Carlisle - 5%

Our view: Yet another list Lenny Wilkens didn't make.

Which active player will make the best head coach someday?

Avery Johnson - 35%
Eric Snow - 25%
Steve Nash - 15%
Voshon Lenard - 5%
Lindsey Hunter - 5%
Kevin Willis - 5%
Antonio Davis - 5%
Mark Jackson - 5%

Our view: Mark Jackson will be coaching the Knicks before Phil Jackson.

Which player in the NBA would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?

Kobe Bryant - 80%
Tim Duncan - 5%
Dirk Nowitzki - 5%
Allan Houston - 5%
Reggie Miller - 5%

Our view: That's an impressive figure for Kobe, until you think back to how Michael Jordan used to score on this question.

Slam Dunks

In what had to be a record, after the Nuggets lost their opener to the Lakers, high-ranking members of Denver's front office skewered Jeff Bzdelik for his strategy of fronting Chris Mihm, whose 23 points in L.A.'s win marked a career-high....

The Rockets were none too happy that their schedule called for them to open the season with back-to-back road games (losses at Detroit and at Toronto) and four games in five nights. Compared to Charlotte's cushy opening with only four games over the first 11 days. The Kings and Wizards were the only other teams to open with back-to-back road dates, with Washington going 2-0, including a huge win vs. Memphis, and Sacramento going 0-2 in Dallas and San Antonio. ...

They say after Smush Parker finishes his stint on Detroit's injured list, the ex-Fordham guard is going to have to find a new team. ...

Remember how Orlando didn't take Emeka Okafor with the first overall draft pick last June because the Magic had legit concerns about his back? Well, his strong start still hasn't allayed any fears in Charlotte about long-term back problems for ex-UConn star. They're already allowing him to skip practices. ...

Did you notice? The Cavs decided not to pick up the option on Dajuan Wagner. Unless they did it to light a fuse under him, they're basically admitting that they blew the pick (No. 6 overall, 2002)...

. NBA owners are intent on scaling back maximum contracts from seven to four years, part of a plan to "come up with a system that's a bit more profitable (for the owners, who else?) than the existing system.... that doesn't reward players who are no longer basically in the league, or shouldn't be in the league at their higher prices," according to David Stern. That's going to pose a major problem for players. Players Association suits plan on stressing to the rank and file in their visits to dressing rooms just how much of a concession that would be....

All this talk about Phil Jackson coming to the Knicks in case Lenny Wilkens falters runs counter to the kind of team Jackson wants to coach. It has to be good enough to win a title and perhaps be an underachiever (as the Lakers were before he got to L.A.). Do we have to remind anyone around here how far the Knicks are from that point?

11-07-2004, 07:58 PM
The 2004 Olympics proved to the world that basketball is a truly global phenomenon. But it's the National Basketball Association that's poised to cash in.
The NBA is already planning to support teams globally, and Dave Checketts, former Madison Square Garden president, has been working on a feasibility study for the league, sources said.

Big bucks are at stake when it comes to taking basketball worldwide. Last season, the NBA made nearly $200 million from selling programming internationally, with 151 broadcasters in 212 countries televising NBA games. In the 2004-2005 season, which kicked off on Tuesday, there will be 157 broadcasters in 214 countries.

The NBA still receives the bulk of its revenue — $4.6 billion — from its six-year domestic deals with ABC/ESPN and Turner. But those figures may soon be dwarfed by the windfall from international media and licensing deals.

"Luckily for us, our business is continuing to grow around the world," said Scott Levy, senior president of International Television and Marketing Partnerships for the NBA.

Media rights are only a small slice of the global potential. Merchandise sales outside of the U.S. topped $600 million last year, and more than half of the 3.1 billion page views of the NBA.com Web site were from non-U.S. fans.

It's that potentially uber-devoted fan base that led the NBA Commissioner David Stern to develop a strategic plan to expand internationally by adding NBA teams abroad.

To build on the momentum and bring the global plan to home plate, the NBA has found new and innovative ways to increase its international appeal and standardize the game.

Last summer, McDonald's sponsored an NBA coach's camp in Beijing for top Chinese coaches to learn the mechanics and fundamentals of the U.S.style of basketball. Don Casey, former head coach of the New Jersey Nets, took part in the program.

"The Chinese are fascinated by the athleticism in the NBA and what these players can do — dunking, flying through the air," Casey said. "The Chinese are genuine fans and not like, say, Knick fans, who can be critical or fair-weather fans. The Chinese are simply in awe of the NBA."

Global expansion is really the next logical step for the NBA. This season, the NBA opening-day rosters featured 81 players from 35 different countries — 20 percent of all the professional ballers.

The reigning emperor of international appeal and the NBA's face of globalization, though, has to be Chinese All-Star Center, Yao Ming. Ever since Yao was drafted by the Houston Rockets, the NBA tripled its broadcast deals within China alone. And the Rockets even have a Chinese beer as a corporate sponsor because of that growing fan base.

Recognizing the stunning celebrity appeal of the international players, the NBA has centered its foreign broadcasts on these star players, but there's even a passionate fan base for the U.S. players.

Levy said, "Even featured players like Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett have international appeal, so that the demand for NBA broadcasts goes beyond just the superstars of that particular country."

In the U.S., DirecTV and most of the cable operators offer NBA TV, the league's 24-hour all-basketball channel, but the channel has expanded internationally, where a similarly customized channel offers all NBA programming from six to 24 hours a day.

Country-specific NBA TV programming has been tailored for international distribution and is available in 40 countries, including France, Russia and Hong Kong.

"International content has been developed specifically for the international audience," said Levy. "Programming in 42 different languages is done in conjunction with local broadcasters and is customized. We have [Sacramento Kings' forward Peja] Stojakovic-centered programming in Serbia, and we focus on Yao Ming in China."

This strategy is clearly paying off. Last season, NBA programming was seen in 42 languages and reached an audience of more than 750 million households. Globally, more than 19,340 hours of programming were distributed to the NBA's international broadcasters.

11-07-2004, 08:07 PM

Don't be alarmed by spending spree

By Chris McCosky / The Detroit News

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AUBURN HILLS--Last week was extension week in the NBA. Tracy McGrady (three years, $63 million from Houston), Zach Randolph (six years, $84 million from Portland), Jason Richardson (six years, $70 million from Golden State), Troy Murphy (six years, $60 million from Golden State), Tony Parker (six years, $66 million from San Antonio) and Brendan Haywood (five years, $25 million from Washington) got contract extensions.

Whenever that much money gets thrown around all at once like that, it sends out alarms. People start to think that owners have gone mad, that the financial structure of the league has been knocked out of whack.

It’s not like that at all. It’s just more proof that the collective bargaining agreement is meeting its objective.

Remember, when the CBA was signed back in 1998, the league was looking to create a financial structure that would not only be fair for the players and allow owners a chance to make a profit, but also help facilitate teams to keep their star players.

That’s what’s happening here. Teams are trying to stabilize their franchises and build fan bases by identifying core players and signing them to long contracts. They don’t want to risk letting them test the free-agent market, and thus are willing to pay them a little above what might be considered market value.

“I wouldn’t say it’s out of control,” said John Hammond, the Pistons’ vice president of basketball. “And I don’t think the fact that the agreement expires after this season affected any of those deals. It was just, there was a drop-dead date (Oct. 31) on guys who were key players for those teams and they decided they couldn’t afford to lose those players.

“I think, when you look at guys like Tony Parker, Pau Gasol (six years, $86 million from Memphis) or Andrei Kirilenko (six years, $86 million from Utah), in four or five years people are going to look at that and say, ‘Great players, good contracts, we were lucky to retain them.’”

And don’t start in about setting salary precedents for other teams. Each team has its own salary structure and the power to create or maintain flexibility. Those teams above had the foresight to plan for these eventual extensions — or, if they didn’t, they’ve decided it was worth paying the luxury tax to keep those players.

Utah, for example, probably inflated Kirilenko’s value by signing Carlos Boozer ($60 million) and former Piston Mehmet Okur ($50 million) over the summer. But, they bought themselves a young, talented frontcourt for the next six years.

“Different teams are in different situations in terms of salary cap,” Hammond said. “And the value of every contract is relevant to your flexibility, your structure and your needs.”

Exactly as it should be.

Ingrates all

Of course, the onus is still on the teams to make sure they give the extra years and extra dollars to the right players. Sometimes they don’t and the mistakes are costly.

Chicago’s Eddie Robinson malingered his way to a $10 million contract buyout and is now free to join the New York Knicks — which could happen as early as this week.

Robinson had one decent 10-game playoff run with Charlotte in 2001 and parlayed it into a $32 million deal with the Bulls. In return, Robinson gave the Bulls 122 games over three years (averaging 6.7 points, 2.7 rebounds).

He refused to take part in pregame or postpractice shooting drills. He missed large chunks of each season because of minor or imagined injuries. He refused to take part in the team’s off-season workout program. And, finally, he said he refused to play or even practice for Coach Scott Skiles because Skiles publicly criticized him.

So, he will take his $10 million and run off to another situation, where he will get paid another $800,000. Besides the Knicks, the Raptors, Heat, Clippers and Blazers have expressed interest.

To complete the charade, here was the parting shot fired by Robinson’s agent, Paul Collier: “Eddie Robinson is about one word: winning and losing.”


Then there is Alonzo Mourning, who will become the poster child for the owners who desire to limit the maximum number of years on guaranteed contracts. Zo, the great warrior, has asked the New Jersey Nets to buy out the remaining three years and $17 million of his guaranteed contract so he can hook up with a contending team.

He’s mad at the Nets for not re-signing Kenyon Martin and Kerry Kittles, and for alienating Jason Kidd.

“Looking back, would I have made the decision to come here if they would have gotten rid of K-Mart and Kerry? No, because I had a couple of other options,” Mourning said.

Part of the reason the Nets couldn’t sign those two was because of the contracts they’d given to Kidd (more than $100 million) and to Zo (four guaranteed years at $24 million, for which they’ve gotten a total of 13 games).

And now Zo wants to bail.

This is wrong on so many levels. The Nets took a huge leap of faith with Mourning — giving him four guaranteed years despite knowing he had kidney disease. They stuck by him when he went through the transplant last season. They stuck by him through his rehabilitation. Knowing they would likely not get anything in return, yet continuing to cut the checks every month.

And now that Mourning is playing again, he shows his gratitude by wanting to play somewhere else (as soon as he gets every penny he’s owed by the Nets)? Come on, man.

The Nets have offered to buy him out for about $10 million, but Zo wants the whole $17 million. Earn it then.

Sound bytes

* The Mavericks’ Jason Terry, when asked about what kind of pain he was in after having four wisdom teeth extracted last week: “It doesn’t hurt any worse than being in Atlanta right now.”

* Lame duck Sonics Coach Nate McMillan, when asked if he thinks he will be back next season: “In my heart? (Pause) I can’t say.”

Chris McCosky’s quick hits

* It’s open season for teams looking for unhappy multi-millionaires with bloated contracts and blighted games. You can get Glenn Robinson and the final year of his contract ($12 million). He has been put on the injured list by the Sixers while they seek a trade for him. You can get Shandon Anderson, who, along with his three years and $24 million, is on the inactive list in New York. Latrell Sprewell, who is making $14 million, balked at the Timberwolves’ offer of a three-year, $24 million extension and wants to be traded.

* Heat Coach Stan Van Gundy is apparently considering the notion of taking Shaquille O’Neal out of some close games, to prevent teams from sending him to the free-throw line. Here is his rationale: “Are you tied and want to run a play late in the game? I’ll go to Shaq. Why not? So the game is tied and he’s going to the line to shoot two. If we’re down one late in the game, yeah I’ll go to Shaq. If you’re down two, it gets a little bit more tenuous. If it’s an inbound situation and (the other team) has to foul late in the game, forget Shaq, I’m going to have my five best free-throw shooters on the floor. That’s regardless of Shaq.” Can’t wait until that situation arises and Van Gundy tries to take Shaq out of the game. It could mark the end of the honeymoon in Miami.

* Orlando’s Steve Francis has been saying all the right things about Houston trading him for Tracy McGrady. But, after leading the Magic to a season-opening victory, he finally spoke his true thoughts: “People can say that they got the better of the trade. But I think both teams got what they wanted. If they want guys to walk up the court and shoot fadeaway jumpers, then they got what they wanted. And if Orlando wanted a team of players that is going to get after it up and down the court, then they got what they wanted.” Touche.

* Give an assist to Cleveland’s team doctor for the Pacers’ season-opening, double-overtime victory against the Cavaliers. Already without injured starters Jermaine O’Neal, Reggie Miller and Jeff Foster, the Pacers also had scratched Ron Artest because of a twisted right knee. Artest, though, wanted a second opinion, so he took his magnetic resonance imaging exam results to Cavs physician, Richard Parker. When Parker told Artest he couldn’t do further damage, Artest cut him off in mid-sentence, ran out of the room and said he was playing. “I said, ‘Thank you, Doc, I don’t need you no more,’” said Artest, who declared himself ready to play 20 minutes before tip-off and ended up scoring 31 points in 50 minutes.

* Bucks point guard T.J. Ford vows that his career is not over, although nobody knows when he will be able to return. “I will play in the NBA again,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind. That’s not even a question.” Ford injured his spine after a nasty fall Feb. 24 and hasn’t been able do anything basketball-related since. He had surgery on his neck May 5. It is doubtful that Ford will return this season, but he and the Bucks are holding out hope he will be back for the 2005-06 season.

* The Raptors weren’t at all amused that The Sporting News ranked Vince Carter 41st among its list of the top 50 players in the league. “To rank him that low, it’s kind of like a slap in the face,” Chris Bosh said. “But at the same time, that might be motivation for him to pick his game up and have the will to kill every night.” Said Jalen Rose: “It’s easy to kick people when they’re down. I can’t name 40 players who are better than Vince Carter — or Jalen Rose, for that matter.” All five of the Pistons’ starters ranked in the top 50, with Ben Wallace the highest at No. 16.

* Hello, Mr. Delusional. Dallas’ Erick Dampier was asked where he ranked among the best centers in the game. “I consider myself right behind Shaq,” he said. “Some people are going to say top three, but personally, I consider myself the second-best.” Hmmm, that means Sacramento’s Brad Miller scored 24 points against the second-best center in the league on opening night. Dampier might not even make my top five — Shaq, Tim Duncan, Ben Wallace, Jamaal Magloire and Yao Ming.

* The Kings are one big happy family. And to prove it, they took out an advertisement in last Wednesday’s Sacramento Bee. Six players pitched in for the $12,000 ad, which on an all-white background with no team logo proclaimed, “Our spirit will never be broken.” Each word was hand-written by the six contributing players — along with five vacation-style photographs of Kings in street clothes — Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Jackson, Doug Christie, Mike Bibby, Chris Webber and Brad Miller. Said Jackson: “(There was) so much negativity from this past summer, people talking this and people talking that, we just want people to know that we haven’t lost anything.” Except their first two games.

Material from personal interviews, other beat writers and Detroit News wire services was used in this report. You can reach Chris McCosky at (313) 222-1489 or

Slick Pinkham
11-07-2004, 09:50 PM
Said Jalen Rose: “It’s easy to kick people when they’re down. I can’t name 40 players who are better than Vince Carter — or Jalen Rose, for that matter.”


pacertom thinks that is so, so funny, and so, so JALEN.