The best bench reactions from the NBA and beyond. Be prepared to be held back.
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After much speculation and deliberation, UCONN Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Calhoun announced his retirement today. UCONN Assistant Kevin Ollie will take over next season. The decision is a surprise, but not shocking since Calhoun recently broke his hip and has constantly battled health issues over the past five years. UCONN and it’s fans knew this day was coming, although we hoped for at least two more years (when his contract ran out).
Calhoun’s basketball legacy is obvious. Three National Championships, building the Connecticut program up from nothing, churning out several NBA stars in the past two decades. He is one of the greatest coaches alive and is already a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, the last few years have been rough on the man and the NCAA recruiting violations will be a silly footnote on an illustrious career.
All the numbers and accolades are great, but unless you’re from Connecticut, you just don’t understand how much the man did for the University, but also the state. Connecticut has no professional sports teams. The Whalers left Hartford in 1997, making UCONN sports the only game in town. That was right about the same time when Calhoun’s teams started to make an impact on a national level. Ray Allen’s championship game-winner against Georgetown in the 1996 Big East Tournament is one of the ultimate sports highlights of my youth.
Since that bucket, UCONN basketball has been the only game in town. (OK, the women’s team has been good, but…) Jim Calhoun made Connecticut relevant. He made me proud to be from the nutmeg state. He gave us something to root for. Some people trash Calhoun for his crusty attitude and hot temper, but I love it. Calhoun has never minced words and has always been a thoughtful, intense and passionate coach. His famous “Not a Dime Back” press conference is a YouTube classic. Calhoun was ours and we had his back.
The UCONN program is in good hands with Ollie. He knows has learned from the best, knows the tradition and still has connections to the NBA. The post season ban will hurt them this year, but the team will still be competitive. It is good to hear the Calhoun will still be involved with the team and university, just not on the sidelines. The Jim Calhoun retirement tour/celebration will be long and deserving, although he probably will hate all the extra attention. Coach Calhoun has given me some of my greatest athletics experiences and memories. The games won’t be the same without him.
Calhoun has always had a quick hook for his players, never hesitating to go to his bench after a turnover or terrible play. Well, Calhoun has finally called his own number and is hitting the showers. Thank you, Jim and good luck at whatever is next.
The 2012 NBA Draft is all about that one dreaded word: potential. Beyond Anthony Davis, there are no sure-fire All-Stars out there. Sure, a few guys could develop and work their way up, but we’re a long ways away from that. General Managers are in the unenviable position of picking the one player that could either make or break their careers. Do you pick Kevin Durant or Greg Oden? Fans always know what their team needs. Unfortunately, the NBA Draft is all about what a player could be or how his current skills compare to others players in the league. Common sense is, “we need a point guard, so we’ll draft a point guard.” Rarely do things play out this way. I expect numerous trades and movement from teams on draft night, so my mock below will probably be blown to shit by the second pick. This mock is based on the current order, basic team needs and simple common basketball knowledge. No one knows what will happen beyond New Orleans’ first pick. And that’s half the fun of watching.
1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
Pretty much a no-brainer. Davis needs to put on some muscle, but he’ll make an immediate impact for a shitty team.
2. Charlotte Bobcats – Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Rumors are that Charlotte will trade down to acquire more talent. And they need it at basically every position besides point guard. I would love to slot Andre Drummond in here simply for the bust possibility and the Jordan-Kwame Brown comparison. Thomas Robinson is a solid forward with a great personal story who knows how to handle adversity. Perfect for the worst team in the league.
3. Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Why is Beal so hyped? I have no recollection of this dude playing at Florida. Good for Brad, but seriously, Eric Gordon is your best comp? And you’re going top-5? This is why the NBA Draft sucks. Fun “What If”: Cleveland trades up, steals Beal, Washington says “fuck it” and gambles on Drummond where he can be mentored by Emeka Okafor (another UCONN guy) and Nene. Completely stole this from Chad Ford.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Kentucky
Kyrie Irving was a good start last year, now they need to build with more talent. Kidd-Gilchrist was the catalyst for the Wildcats’ championship run and will add to the rebuilding process. He still won’t make up for Lebron abandoning his home state.
5. Sacramento Kings – Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Barnes will probably be a better pro than college player. He has the size, skill and potential, but does he care more about his “brand” than becoming a better player? Sacramento, with head cases Cousins, Evans and Fredette, will fit him perfectly.
6. Portland Trail Blazers – Damien Lillard, PG, Weber St.
Who? Supposedly the best point guard in the draft, Lillard will try to be a good point guard in Portland. I got nothing.
7. Golden St. Warriors – Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
Slip sliding. At what point does potential out-weigh common sense? Drummond is a physical freak with all the tools to be a beast on the court. He could be Dwight Howard or Kwame Brown. I watched Drummond for a season at UCONN and he was a huge disappointment. He doesn’t assert himself, he’s not aggressive in the paint, and is totally raw offensively. In the NBA, all he needs to do is rebound and dunk, which he can do–double-double every game. But does he want to? It feels like he only balls because of his size and not because of his passion. If he goes to Golden St. or a team that doesn’t know how to utilize him, he’ll flounder on the bench and only have a couple “Holy Shit!” dunk highlights in his rookie season.
8. Toronto Raptors – Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Lamb is another guy that lets the game come to him. He’s much better off playing the sidekick than the star. Again, huge potential, but it comes down the right situation and his drive to get better. I think the Toronto experiment hasn’t really worked out, so it would be a shame for Lamb’s talent to be wasted in Canada.
9. Detroit Pistons – John Henson, PF, North Carolina
Another big, athletic forward. Just what the Pistons need!
10. New Orleans Hornets – Austin Rivers, PG, Duke
If the Hornets land Davis and Rivers, they’ll win the draft and set themselves up for a bright future. They’re in a tough division, but with Eric Gordon coming back, New Orleans becomes an exciting, young team.
11. Portland Trail Blazers – Tyler Zeller, PF, North Carolina
Portland is still trying to recover from the Greg Oden bust and Brandon Roy retirement. With two picks in the lottery, they might trade out, or try to set themselves up similar to the Hornets, mixing big and small.
12. Milwaukee Bucks – Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
A big white dude from the Midwest. Perfect for Milwaukee in their attempt to replace Andrew Bogut.
13. Phoenix Suns – Dion Waiters, SF, Syracuse
There are rumors of a promise to Waiters here at thirteen but even stranger rumors of teams pulling the trigger even earlier on the Syracuse sixth man. He could be a great roll player on a good team, or an obnoxious ball hog on a cellar dweller.
14. Houston Rockets – Perry Jones, PF/C, Baylor
Two years ago, Jones was a top-3 prospect. Last year he was still top-5. Now he’s fallen to possibly out of the lottery. At fourteen, Houston should go for the best available and he could really blossom with the right coaching and weight room. Look for teams to trade up into this spot too, as Houston is always a big mover and shaker on draft night.
Tune in Thursday night to see how things play out and laugh at how wrong I am.
NBA Jam is back and I’m on fire!
I’ve had the new game for about a week and it’s great. The nostalgia factor is way high. Jam has always been my favorite sports video game because of its simplicity. Two on two. Dunks. Defense. The new version has everything I loved about the original (and T.E.), just brought to the next level of 2010. The players are all current stars, the dunks are bigger, arenas are accurate and there are some new features like alley-oops that are very diesel. Continue reading
Deadspin has a great on-going feature called “Look at These Fucking Hoopsters,” the latest installment being from the recent Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago. It appears that hipsters have now decided to take their irreverent and ironic fashion sense to the hardwood. Original, replica and throwback jerseys are all the rage for fans of shitty music who spend hours trying to look like they just don’t care. The older, more obscure and irrelevant the player’s jersey you choose to sport, the better. Champion seems to be the brand of choice for the “hoopsters” and either everyone has saved their childhood idol’s gear from age eight, or they’re spending hours sifting though piles of shit at the local thrift store. Continue reading
I love the NBA Draft. Love the hype, love the projections, love the bad suits. The NBA Draft is the chance for teams to load up and re-tool their rosters for next year. It’s also the night when some of the biggest trades of the year go down. Now obviously, this whole LeBron thing is weighing over the head of several franchises. This draft will be interesting to watch simply to see how teams position themselves for the up coming free agency period. Will Miami trade it’s pick to clear more cap room? (YES) Will Chicago draft a small forward? Do the Knicks try to trade into the first round? How will Minnesota and Memphis fuck up this year? All compelling story lines.
Now it’s hard to deny that this draft blows. I see one star (Wall) and a bunch of bench players who will probably end up in the D-League. Beyond the top five, anything could happen and I hope chaos reigns. I’m writing this on Wednesday, June 23. The draft will be held tomorrow night. Here is my mock. If trades or moves come in between now and the first pick I will try to update accordingly. Let’s do this!
1. Washington Wizards: John Wall, Kentucky
What impressed me most about Wall in his one year at Kentucky is his speed and quickness. Fastest guy on the floor and break you down off the dribble. The obvious choice for the Wizards at number one. Needs to work on his shooting and passing, but can step in immediately and be a force on defense.
I’m not going to rip LeBron for his performance in this past playoff series with the Celtics. It was odd and disappointing, but everyone else seems to have covered that already. It’s clear though, that in studying LeBron over the past several weeks, he’s gone. I firmly believe he will not play for the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. I don’t know or really care where he’ll play–New York, Chicago, Miami–but I highly doubt it will be in his home state.
You see, it’s not about the money. By rule, Cleveland is the franchise that can offer him the biggest contract. It’s about LeBron, his ego and whatever legacy he’s trying to build. He said it. “Global Icon.” That’s James’ life goal. He’s more concerned about jet-setting with Jay-Z, establishing his ‘brand’ and looking cool than winning basketball games. Basketball is his conduit. And that’s fine. But the only problem with that, is for it to work, you have to win. Continue reading