Rethinking Legends: The Curious Case of the San Antonio Spurs

Old saying, “Big man make big genius.”

You could make the case that the Spurs and Popovich really benefited from some “good fortune.” They beat LeBron’s Baby Back Baby Back Cavs in ’07, and won it before that only after Shaq fled the West and the behest of the best terrified little suspect ever to get interrogated in the great state of Colorado.

This is arguably the biggest single win in Pop’s entire career:
(Somewhere Rick Fox is screaming for some recognition of his value in ’02.)
Lake Show down 25 come back and can’t close the deal.

If Pop’s Corn loses game, and we’re talking about:
1) Strike-shortened ’99 vs. Knicks san-Ewing (they didn’t ever really get props for that)
2) Finally Pushing Through in the West post-Shaq (beating a three-time champion?? about time!!)
and 3) The Baby Back Bron Bron’s (nothing to see here, keep it moving)

I guess you never know when YOU’RE GAME FIVE is going to come.

Popovich is legit in my book — I’m just sayin’. I’m most inclined to respect them for that knock down, drag out battle with the Detroit Pistons in ’04-’05. No one watched it except for the teams and their immediate families, but I heard it was good. Pop’s last minute switch of Bruce Bowen on to Chauncey Billups was as fine a coaching move as has ever been executed in the NBA Finals. It was swift, brilliant, and decisive.

It just makes me wonder how badly all these franchises actually want to win. I mean — is he competing against 32 teams or is really more like 5 teams? And if so, shouldn’t the Spurs win in a 5 team competition, given that they have Parker, Ginobili and Duncan? Pop’s had 14 50-win seasons, and he’s always had either Robinson or Duncan or both. Should they have beaten anyone besides the Pistons at the height of their powers? Should they have lost in the first round in two of the last 4 years? Should they have more than 2 Finals appearances over the past 9 seasons if their only real competition in the West has been Dallas and Los Angeles?

Since 2003:

Lakers 2-2 in Finals
Dallas 1-1
Miami 1-1
Boston 1-1
San Antonio 2-0
Orlando 0-1
Cleveland 0-1

The only teams on this list without a premier scoring big man are the Cleveland Cavs and last year’s Miami Heat.

LA and SA have won 9 of the last 13 titles with either Shaq, Duncan, Gasol or Bynum patrolling the middle. The other winners were fueled by Rasheed Wallace, Dirk No-no-no-notorious Nowitzki, and KG.
Maybe all we know for sure is that Popovich is a much better coach than whomever runs the carousel not named Carlisle in Dallas, and that he’s a better coach than Bill Fitch was in Houston. What if only 3 teams in the entire Western Conference (before this season) were committed to long-term runs at championships — or what if only 3 teams had big men who could score almost at will? What if the short list of Shaq, Duncan, C. Webb (as a King), Garnett (as a T’Wolf), Dirk, and now Garnett was really all the competition that needed to be measured?
And, to be fair, the same measure can be applied to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Mavericks, the Celtics, and the Heat. Apparently, it can no longer be applied to the Pistons. Is it more impressive to win against 5 or 6 legitimate contenders or is it more compelling to win in a league where more teams have a true chance to compete for all the marbles?

What do you say? 

Steve Nash and the Tyranny of Low Expectations

We’ve passed soft bigotry.  We’re on to the tyrannical.

Last night, the Phoenix Suns and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash were dismantled by the Los Angeles Lakers and one-time NBA MVP Kobe Bryant, 128-107.  Nash scored 13 points and recorded 13 assists in a lackluster performance punctuated by intercepted passes, excessive dribbling, and porous defense.  Too bad the national media has chosen to focus elsewhere.  No one has put out an APB on a guy who is always missing once the calendar moves to May.

Doesn’t anyone want more from Nash?

Marc Stein offers up this apologia for Nash:

One more game with only one open eye might not have been so uncomfortable for Steve Nash.

This way?

Nash saw too much of the Los Angeles Lakers. Way more than he ever imagined, wanted or secretly feared.

It was Pau Gasol’s ample wingspan greeting him as he turned corners on pick-and-rolls. It was Lamar Odom’s length obstructing the sight lines to Nash’s usual secondary targets on the wing. It was arms everywhere, basically, to compromise Nash’s restored vision and complicate his passing angles.

It was also way, way worse for the Suns everywhere else they looked in a 128-107 pounding, starting with a teamwide defensive surrender that will promptly hush all the recent chatter about how much tougher and stingier these Suns are.

Nash’s muted 13 points and 13 assists in 28 minutes would have to be classified as a bright spot for the Suns, measured against everything else they were subjected to in this humbling evisceration. As Nash later confirmed about his health, after his first game since closing out his longtime tormentors from San Antonio with his right eye swollen shut: “That was the least of my concerns tonight.”

Stein’s doing a better job of protecting Nash than Amare Stoudamire.

Low expectations are a bitch.  Do you expect more from Steve Nash?  If not, why not?   Is Steve Nash being held to a lower standard because he’s a minority?  Is the failure of the media and the public to demand more standing between Nash and true greatness, rather than hollow accolades issued by a politicized press corps?  What does he need to do for the Suns to compete?

ESPN’s Chris Broussard on Cavs Coach Mike Brown

Read Broussard’s piece on the leader of the Cavaliers:

“It happened at barbershops, on radio interviews, at playgrounds and in church. It even happened at the home of my parents, proud season-ticket holders since the day after the Cavaliers won the 2003 draft lottery.

Everywhere I went — in Cleveland and sometimes elsewhere — I seemed to find myself defending Mike Brown.

Folks who had never played one minute of organized basketball, who couldn’t diagram a pick-and-roll on the chalkboard, who didn’t know a jump stop from a jumpsuit, were killing the Cleveland coach.


2009 NBA Coach of the Year - Mike Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers

I had no vested interest in standing up for Brown, but I did so every time. Because to me, the criticism was bizarre.

After covering the NBA since 1995 and witnessing various coaching styles, philosophies and demeanors — from hotheaded control freaks to laid-back delegators — I had come to this conclusion about the men who roam the sideline:

A good coach consistently gets his team at least as far as, and sometimes further than, it should go. Period.

And for all the ugly offensive sets the Cavaliers ran during Brown’s first three years as coach, he always, without question and without fail, pushed his team further than it should have gone since his arrival in 2005.”

Click the link above for the rest of the article.

From Blacklist to “A-list”: Craig Hodges On the Rise

There was a time not so long ago when one of the greatest three-point shooters in the history of the NBA was blacklisted in large part due to his political philosophy and association with the Nation of Islam.  Times have changed and Craig Hodges is back in the Association, working with his former coach, Phil Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers.  Hodges has been working closely with players like Trevor Ariza.  Improvements in Ariza’s game caught the eye of the Utah Jazz and a few other observers.


The Starting Five on Chris Paul

Check out what Michael Tillery of The Starting Five is saying about the SuperStar, SuperPerson Point Guard of the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets.
clipped from

There is a sense of urgency that rests with CP. Like so many athletes of his ability, tragedy has struck twice to those influential in his professional athletic formulation. One was his grandfather. Nathaniel Jones was as close to Chris as any other, and the life unfair chose to tear away the soul behind CP’s early development. Jones was beaten to death during a 2002 robbery and Chris was devastated. I could see the reality of loss in the eyes of the young and accomplished. This was a turning point in CP’s life and fortunately, Chris has strength and armor surrounding his promise and potential. These are his words describing what Jones meant to him personally: “My Grand dad was my best friend. He passed away the day after signing my letter of intent (Wake Forest). Five days later we have the funeral and I thought
  blog it

The Fashion Industry II – 10 Years Ago and Not So Long Ago

From Black Enterprise, June 1997:

“The mentality on Seventh Avenue is that blacks can work for the most part in the back rooms,” says Rice. “You have to be an insider to get in. The garment industry is not an outsider business.” Even those who have been relatively successful in the fashion industry believe racism has had an effect on their careers. “I can’t discount the fact that for black designers there might even be some sort of quota system in this business,” notes Lars. “Since Willi Smith and Patrick Kelly [Smith died in 1987 and Kelly in 1990], it’s almost like there’s got to be only one top black designer at a time.”

But Fern Mallis, executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, one of the most powerful designer trade associations in the world, says African American designers are equally well respected as are other designers. “From my vantage point I don’t see race being one of the obstacles,” she says. “Talent is talent. When people look at clothing, they most often don’t know who designs it or what color their skin is. The talent shows through in the product. And in our industry, the final product is what people are going after.”


Black designers say another barrier to their success in the industry is a lack of support from African American consumers. While blacks spent almost $20 billion last year on clothes and accessories, only a small fraction of those dollars went to black designers. The vast majority of those dollars went to white store owners and designers. Had just a small portion of those dollars gone to black designers, many of them would have multimillion dollar fashion empires.

“The Patrick Ewings and the Charles Barkleys of the world are steadily getting custom wardrobes from the Donna Karans and the Ralph Laurens of the world,” says New York designer Shaka King, who is also the president and one of the founders of the Black Fashion Collective, an organization formed to support and assist African American designers.

“We need the support of one another,” says Bandele. “You know when you were a child and you used to put your hands together and give your friend a boost over the fence? It’s the same principle. If I’m an entertainer making millions of dollars, I can afford to buy an Armani suit, but Armani doesn’t really need my money and I’d be better serving my community by buying a suit from a Shaka King or an Anthony McIntosh. Blacks, not only entertainers and sports figures, need to spend money in our community and help strengthen it,” explains Bandele.

Shaka King!

The N.B.A. Dress Code

garnett_150_051018.jpg (K.G. on the league’s web site)
From the New York Times:

When the National Basketball Association instituted a business-casual dress code this season, plenty of grumbling ensued among players, commentators and fans alike.

Do not count Bruce Teilhaber among the disgruntled.

As members of the Toronto Raptors descended on the three levels of his family shoe store in downtown Atlanta the other day, Teilhaber came to the telephone to offer his take on the new dress code. For decades, Friedman’s Shoes had been a favorite destination for teams visiting the hometown Hawks. Few stores, after all, carry shoes in sizes 7½ to 22 (a measurement just right for the feet of Shaquille O’Neal).

But the new dress code has increased an already thriving specialty trade. Two days earlier, Teilhaber recounted, the store’s van unloaded players from the Miami Heat after picking them up at the Four Seasons Hotel. Prodded by Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton, Heat veterans and long-time snazzy dressers, the players spent more than $20,000 that day on dress shoes that average about $250 but can soar to $750 for alligator shoes. On similar visits last year, Heat players dropped half as much, many steering clear of the dress shoes for less expensive sneakers.

“If a player’s wearing a $3,000 suit, what’s he going to wear with that?” Teilhaber said before quickly answering his own question. “He’s not going to wear $99 shoes.”

Since the new code has been instituted, few designers have garnered as much business as Elevee

Not everyone has such visceral contempt for Black consumers – at least on the front end.

Steve Nash and White Privilege

From COSELLOUT…check this!!!

An excellent and comprehensive post on the packaging of images and personality — to suite the tastes of a white supremacist public.  Tasty!!

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf/Chris Jackson II

Ed hit me up with a comment on my Chris Jackson/MAR post from awhile back. He mentioned that there was some video on YouTube. Thank goodness. I had to check it out for myself. In this first video, which I believe must have been from 1996, MAR goes off on the Bulls and the Nuggets break their 18-game winning streak. Some juveniles over at YouTube were under the impression that Michael Jordan could have enjoyed some success guarding MAR…not a chance. The NBA and David Stern should say a prayer every night thanking their white supremacist stars that a conscious Black man with that level of skill was slowed by Tourette’s Syndrome. For the league, there was no question that MAR posed a challenge to the Empire and his steadfast refusal to bow down was an occasion for relocation. If his level of performance forced a reckoning of the questions raised by his actions, it would be a different day in the league right now. The disease did what no man could do. Jordan was helpless. The same would have been true of Joe Dumars and all of the other elite defenders the league could summon. That’s another post for another time.

As you can see in the video, Jordan starts out on MAR. I can’t tell if that was the result of switching during the game. That Nugget team, if I remember correctly, still had Todd Lichti (man, he could ball before the injury), Bryant Stith, LaPhonso Ellis, Dikembe [Fill in Five Names Here] Mutombo, and some other nice complementary players. Jordan couldn’t keep up. It was worse with Steve Kerr. Ron Harper even had a taste.

Today’s point guards would have to head for the hills if they saw this guy coming. In the gym range, super quicks, deft passing and an air tight handle spell D-O-O-M.

Quick Release 101

Baton Rouge 1 – check out the rip off the dribble at 1:18!

Baton Rouge 2 – The Repertoire

Floating one hander in traffic at :31

Reverse spin dribble pull up at :37

I can’t tell you what happens at :45

Jab step from HELL at 1:02

Alley at 1:15

King David’s Army

Who knew the National Basketball Association was so prepared for Al-Queda, Black Panthers, and Mafia types?

From TheStartingFive:
(David Stern’s Transcript concerning NBA official Tim Donaghy, etc.)

“We have a security department that is large. It’s headed by Bernie Tolbert, the senior vice president of
security, former FBI, head of the Buffalo office second in command at
Philadelphia who has a background in undercover work. We have in house
representatives that are from Secret Service, U.S. Army, New York
Police Department, and New York State Police Investigation.

Mr. Bernie Tolbert

We, in addition, have a security network that includes a security
representative with respect to every NBA team. Those security
representatives are routinely judged and either changed as appropriate,
and instructed on the ground to be listening to what goes on, what they
hear, what they see, what they can observe. And those security
representatives are for the most part either FBI retired, local police,
in some cases DEA. And we are permitted by work rules, some of them are
actually functioning in their regular capacity for local PD and working
for us at the team level.

In addition to the constant communication with our security
represents of what goes on in the cities, we are in continuous
conversation with DEA, the FBI section on organized crime which deals
with sports betting, and with the Homeland Security Department. Our
security department operates rather extensively, and has actually been
beefed up more recently with respect to its activities in connection
with Homeland Security, which occupies since 9/11 a more substantial
time, a more substantial amount of its time.”

Bernie Tolbert, leader of the Stern Gang…outstanding.

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