SBS's blog on news opinions and developments in the NBA, with a focus on business.

Zennie62 On YouTube

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Portland Trail Blazers Forward Zack Randolph Intrigued By Trade Rumors

By David

The Portland Trail Blazers are determined to trade beleaguered star Zack Randolph before this months NBA draft.

General manager Kevin Pritchard has been searching for buyers since his team secured the number one pick in the draft last month. Boston, Chicago and several other teams have distinguished themselves as front runners to acquire the 25-year old forward.

Randolph, who averaged 23.7 ppg and 10.1 rpb last season, has been the leader on the court for the Blazers since 2001. Unfortunately, his numerous off the court incidents and managements displeasure with his attitude has placed him on the trading block.

When you break down Portland's roster it makes sense for them to deal Randolph. Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge proved last season that he has a bright future, Brandon Roy won Rookie of the Year, point guard Jarrett Jack continued to improve and various bench players displayed their skills.

The key to Randolph's departure will be how much GM Kevin Pritchard is able to receive in exchange for their best player. In a perfect world he would like to acquire a top ten pick in the upcoming draft, specifically Greg Oden's teammate Mike Conley Jr.

Randolph recently told The Oregonian "I'd like the chance to compete for a championship, and if I was able to be with the Bulls, I think I would be able to compete for a championship,"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lakers owner arrested on suspicion of DUI

May 29, 2007

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) -- Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss was arrested early Tuesday for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The 74-year-old Buss was taken into custody shortly before 1 a.m. after he drove his gold Mercedes-Benz station wagon the wrong way on a street in an unincorporated section of Carlsbad that has double yellow lines, California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Kerns said.

''Although I was driving only a short distance, it was a bad decision and I was wrong to do it," Buss said in a statement issued by the Lakers. "It was a mistake I will not make again."

A 23-year-old woman in the vehicle with Buss wasn't arrested, Kerns said.

He said Buss was "relatively cooperative" when placed under arrest, and was booked into the Vista jail for investigation of drunken driving and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or above.

Buss was released around 10:30 a.m., according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department Web site. Kerns said the final results of Buss' blood alcohol test won't be available for about three weeks.

Highway Patrol officers Sal Gutierrez and Julie Cahill administered field sobriety tests using an alcohol screening device, Kerns said.

Lakers spokesman John Black said Buss was in the Carlsbad vicinity because he has a home in north San Diego County. Buss' primary residence is in the Los Angeles suburb of Playa del Rey.

16 wins. 16 teams. 1 trophy. Tune in to the NBA Playoffs to see who is left standing as NBA champion

Updated on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:00 pm EDT

Monday, May 28, 2007

Once-suspended Richardson to coach Oklahoma City CBA team

By JEFF LATZKE, AP Sports Writer
May 24, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Micheal Ray Richardson, a former NBA player whose anti-Semitic comments to a newspaper last season drew a suspension from the CBA, was hired Thursday as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Cavalry.

Richardson coached the Albany Patroons to the Continental Basketball Association championship series but was suspended after Game 1, when the league began investigating a report that he told the Times Union of Albany he had "big-time Jew lawyers" working for him.

Richardson, 52, was cleared by the league earlier this month and allowed to return to coaching, but Albany had already decided not to renew his contract.

"It was totally blown out of proportion," Richardson said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It's over. Life goes on, you know what I mean? It was totally, totally, totally false."

Richardson said he has a lawsuit pending against the newspaper but is looking forward to a new start and another chance to win a championship.

"I really want to win it this year. I really, really want to win it," said Richardson, who was suspended for the final two games of the Yakama Sun Kings' three-game sweep. "I was so close last year, but I really want to win it this year."

Baron Hopgood, the owner of the newly formed Cavalry, said he considers Richardson cleared of any misconduct and views him as a proven CBA coach who understands the strategy needed to win in the league's system.

"I like those type of edgy individuals because they get the attention of the players and the media," Hopgood said.

The fourth overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft, Richardson was a four-time All-Star before he was banned in 1986 for violating the league's drug policy three times. He played eight seasons with the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets.

Richardson won a CBA championship as a player for Albany in 1988. He has also played in Europe and said he lives in southern France.

"The object of the game is to win. I want to win," Richardson said. "Every quarter of every game I want to win."

Hopgood said the Cavalry intend to play in Oklahoma City until the city becomes home to an NBA franchise. The CBA has already given permission to the franchise to move to a location in Texas if that occurs.

It's not clear where the Cavalry will play its home games. Hopgood said that the team would use Oklahoma City University's Abe Lemons Arena, but OCU athletic spokesman Rich Tortorelli said Thursday night that would not be the case.

"We're not here to try to compete with the NBA," Hopgood said. "We're just here to keep the excitement, as a conduit until the league comes."

16 wins. 16 teams. 1 trophy. Tune in to the NBA Playoffs to see who is left standing as NBA champion

Updated on Thursday, May 24, 2007 10:43 pm EDT

Friday, May 25, 2007

Mavericks coach thinks Bobcats made good choice with Vincent

Breaking News: Sam Vincent will be announced as the new head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats at a 1 P.M. news conference today.

AP Sports Writer

With Sam Vincent set to be hired as coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, there are questions about his experience.

While Vincent has coached men's and women's teams all over the world and in the minor leagues, he's spent only one season in the NBA - as an assistant.

But his former boss isn't concerned, and for good reason. Dallas coach Avery Johnson spent less than a season as an NBA assistant before taking over the Mavericks.

"You've got to start somewhere. Every head coach, somebody had to give them a shot," Johnson said Thursday. "When I took over, or Gregg Popovich or Phil Jackson or anybody, you always look back at your first opportunity."

Johnson took advantage of his chance, going 16-2 after he took over for Don Nelson late in his first season as an assistant. He's gone 143-39 in three seasons and is considered one of the NBA's top coaches.

Bobcats part-owner Michael Jordan said in March he'd be looking for the next Johnson when he replaced Bernie Bickerstaff. It led Jordan to choose Vincent over experienced head coaches Paul Silas, Stan Van Gundy and Mike Fratello, and longtime NBA assistants Lionel Hollins and Herb Williams, who all interviewed.

"I'm really excited for him," Johnson said. "Sam really did a good, solid job here. He made his first year on the bench seem like he'd done it before and that's what I wanted. He knows what he's doing. He's very competent. I knew he would become a head coach pretty quickly."

The 44-year-old Vincent, like Johnson, is a former NBA point guard. A first-round pick by Boston in 1985, Vincent had an average seven-year career that included two seasons playing with Jordan in Chicago in the late 1980s.

Vincent then set on a whirlwind tour, coaching teams in South Africa, Greece and the Netherlands before leading the Nigerian women's team to its first Olympic victory in 2004.
He also coached the Nigerian men's team before becoming the head coach of the Fort Worth Flyers of the NBA Development League in the 2005-06 season. There he came under the wing of Lee Rose, the former college coach and NBA assistant who is paid to mentor the D-League coaches.

"He's very poised in everything he does, and he's very thorough, cerebral," Rose said of Vincent.

"I found him to be a really outstanding candidate that would be able to work his way to an NBA head job. Obviously, it's happened.

"The big thing is he is a very good people person. And I think that is one of the qualities that the good coaches like Popovich and some of these guys have that are in the NBA."

It's expected many of Bickerstaff's assistants, including veteran Jeff Capel, will remain on Vincent's staff. Rose thinks that's critical, much the same way former NBA head coach Del Harris has helped Johnson in Dallas.

Speaking by phone Thursday, Johnson sounded excited that Vincent is getting his chance _ and feels his international experience will help in a league that is bringing in more foreign players.

"He went through a lot of highs and lows and has coached in a lot of different environments, learning how people think," Johnson said. "He was able to deal with a variety of personalities.

"He's got a lot of young kids to work with and he'll come prepared and do a nice job."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Coaching Changes Around The NBA

By David

Rick Adelman is in as Rockets' head coach, replacing the fired Jeff Van Gundy, and Brian Hill has been let go by the Orlando Magic.

Adelman is the quintessential choice for Houston because they already have in place two superstars in Yao and T-Mac, and they are ready to make another deep run into the playoffs. As coach of Portland and Sacramento Adelman made the playoffs 14 out of 14 times.

Most of all, Rick is a respected coach who understands how to manage a game and will get the most out of his player night in and night out.

After two unproductive seasons with Orlando Brian Hill will not have the opportunity to right the ship with the Magic. The team went 40-42 this year and were embarrassed in the first-round of the playoffs by the Pistons. The series was never close as Detroit never lost a game.

With budding talent around him, I was surprised that Hill was not able to accomplish more with the club. All-Star Dwight Howard is emerging into a superstar in the league, point guard Jameer Nelson does a solid job running the point, big man Darko Milicic has an abundance of talent and last year's first-round pick J.J. Redick is money from outside.

Since Hill's departure as head coach in 1997 the Magic have not advanced past the first-round, but if the correct coach is put in place Orlando could enjoy a great deal of success in the 2007-2008 season.

Notes: Former heat head coach Stan Van Gundy rejected the Pacers' head coaching offer, opting to stay with his family in South Florida.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Results From 2007 NBA Draft Lottery Show

By David

Tonight's selection show to determine what pick each of the fourteen non-playoff teams would have was full of surprises and intrigue.

It looks like losing purposely to win the Greg Oden or Kevin Durant sweepstakes did not pane out for Boston or Memphis who will have the fifth and fourth selections respectively in next month's NBA draft.

The Portland Trail Blazers, who finished 32-50 last season and played to win each and every night were rewarded with the number one pick in the draft. The second pick is staying in the Northwest as the Seattle Supersonics secured the second overall pick in June 28th's draft.

It now appears that Ohio State phenom Greg Oden will be joining Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, point guard Jarrett Jack and forward Zack Randolph to bring a winning ball club back to Portland. With last year's acquisition of LaMarcus Aldridge and the soon to be selection of Oden, Nate McMillan and his team have a formidable front court that has the potential to reek havoc on Western Conference opponents for the next 10-15 years.

Not only are the Blazers not a push over anymore, they are a team that can compete for a playoff spot in the ardent Western Conference next season. I'm smelling early season honors for Nate McMillan, former leader in Seattle, for the Coach of the Year award.

Ironically, the ping pong balls played many tricks on fans, the media and every club in the draft lottery. It was a consciences, almost a guarantee as ESPN analyst Jon Barry put it that the Celtics and Grizzlies would have the first two picks. When NBA deputy commissioner Larry Silver pulled out of the envelope the C's logo with the fifth overall pick I was stunned.

Based on the odds, it seemed much more likely that Boston with a 19.9% chance or Memphis with a 25% opportunity would secure the number one overall pick. There was no conceivable way that the Blazers, with a 5.3% chance of winning the lottery, could win the rights to a franchise player like Greg Oden or Freshman of the Year Kevin Durant.

One notable club that has a lot to be thankful for are the Chicago Bulls, who advanced to the second-round of the playoffs and are now the proud owners of the ninth pick in the draft.
Their good fortune is due to the stupidity of Knicks general manager Isiah Thomas who traded for the services of Eddy Curry several seasons ago.

Other teams that made out very well with their draft position include: the Atlanta Hawks with pick number three, the Charlotte Bobcats at pick number eight and the Milwaukee Bucks at pick number six.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

X Factors In The Western Conference Finals Between The Utah Jazz And San Antonio Spurs

By David

In my opinion, there are four x factors in this series. Derek Fisher and Mehmet Okur of the Jazz, and Manu Ginobili and Michael Finley of the Spurs.

Fisher is one of the few veterans on Utah's roster that has extensive playoff experience. He provides leadership and a confidence boost to his teammates and most importantly starting point guard Deron Williams. Fisher also has the ability to sink shots in clutch situations and he could be called upon by head coach Jerry Sloan later in the series.

Okur might be the biggest x factor of all in what will be a competitive and grueling series. He's tall enough to be a major presence in the paint, but also has the range to step back and drill three-pointers on a consistent basis. The effectiveness of his shot will be a major determinant towards his teams success.

For San Antonio, Manu Ginobili will key integral to their success. The 29-year old Argentinian has struggled so far in the playoffs, shooting a dismal 38% from the field and averaging 15.8 points per game. If he can duplicate the success he enjoyed during game six where the Spurs eliminated the Suns, then his team will be in good shape.

He went off for thirty-three points, eleven rebounds, six assists and four steals in game six, while shooting 11-17 from the field.

Twelve-year veteran Michael Finley is in his second season with the Spurs and would love to reach his first ever NBA finals. I consider him an x factor due to his propensity for knocking down big time shots from behind the ark.

So far in this year's playoffs he's averaging 14.5 points per game on 44.1% shooting from the field and 45.9% from three-point land. He is also shooting 88% from the charity stripe during the first two rounds of the postseason.

Western Conference Finals Preview

By David

The red hot Utah Jazz square off against the veteran lead San Antonio Spurs tomorrow in game one of their best of seven series to decide who will represent the Western Conference in the NBA finals.

Both teams are very similar in their style of play, each trying to play aggressive defense and make timely baskets on offense. Neither wants to run the score into triple digits like their semifinal opponents Golden State and Phoenix did, with Utah holding the Spurs to 85.5 points per game in their two victories during the regular season.

It's important to note that Utah is winless in their last 16 games at San Antonio and for the Jazz to return to the finals for the first time since 1998 they will have to take at least one-game in front of a hostile Spurs' crowd. Conversely, Gregg Popovich and his club are looking to advance to their third NBA finals in the last five seasons.

There are several key matchups that could decide the outcome of this series. The battle up front between all-star forwards Carlos Boozer and Tim Duncan will determine who has the advantage in the rebounding department and ultimately what team wins the series. While Duncan is one of the best power forwards of all-time, Boozer is making a strong case that he is the MVP of the playoffs. Through the first two rounds he's averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds, but more importantly he has served as that dominating force down low that the Jazz were looking for.

The second critical matchup in this series involves point guards Deron Williams and Tony Parker. Williams, 22, is playing in his first postseason, while Parker is looking to win his third championship in the past five years. Williams had a magnificent regular season and followed it up by averaging 16.8 points and 9.6 assists in the second round against the Warriors.

He is the table setter for Utah, the leader on offense and the one player in this series for the Jazz that can guard and contain the offensive prowess of Tony Parker. If his team is to have any chance against the Spurs he must do a superb job defensively against Parker. Consequently, the native of France must be able to contain the quickness and shot making ability of Utah's point guard.

Even though my heart says to go with the Jazz, my mind says to stick with the experience of the Spurs. San Antonio will prevail in a grueling six game series.

Friday, May 18, 2007

New Jersey Nets' Fall To The Cleveland Cavaliers In Six Games

By David

Friday, May 18th, 2007 might have been the last time Vince Carter took the court as a member of the New Jersey Nets.

After falling to the Cavs at home 88-72, the Nets lost their best of seven series by the count of 4-2. They had the opportunity to tie up the series in front of their home fans, but LeBron James and his teammates made sure there would be no game seven .

With free agency looming, it is possible that Carter might be too expensive for New Jersey to keep and he would have to look elsewhere if he wants to receive the estimated three-year, $60 million contract that he has been rumored to be asking for.

After being down by twenty-two points in the first half New Jersey mounted a fierce comeback in the third quarter, but it was not enough to prolong the series. The Nets went on a 14-0 run in the quarter and trimmed Cleveland's lead to 61-60 going into the fourth.

But LeBron James and veteran Donyell Marshall were too much for the undersized Nets who ended up losing the game by sixteen points. Marshall, who celebrated his 34th birthday yesterday, was all smiles as he went six for ten from behind the ark and finished the game with eighteen points. Superstar LeBron James scored twenty-three points, grabbed eight rebounds and had eight assists to advance to his first ever Eastern Conference Finals.

When the Nets look back on their season they will find disappointment in the fact that they were not able to accomplish their goal of reaching the NBA finals, but at the same time Lawrence Frank and his players reached the playoffs for the sixth straight season. After upsetting the third seeded Raptors' in the first-round, New Jersey gave a valiant effort against a much better Cavaliers team.

Due to a season-ending injury to 23-year old center Nenad Krstic and chronic aliments to forward Richard Jefferson the Nets were not able to secure a higher seed in the playoffs. Their window of opportunity to reach the finals might have ended last night with the possibility of Vince Carter leaving due to free agency and Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson being traded. These three players represented one of the best tandems in the league and it's unfortunate that they were not able to reach their full potential together.

Notes: Point guard Jason Kidd averaged 14.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 10.9 assists over the Nets' playoff run. He joins NBA legend Oscar Robinson as the only two players to average a triple double during the playoffs.

Detroit Pistons Advance To Their Fifth Straight Eastern Conference Finals

By David

The young and energetic Chicago Bulls gave the veteran Pistons a scare, but in game six at the United Center Mr.clutch Chauncey Billups guided his team to their fifth straight Eastern Conference Finals appearance.

After being down 3-0, Chicago mounted a courageous comeback winning games four and five, but faltered at home in game six. In front of a hostile environment, the Pistons won game six 95-85 and outscored the Bulls 52-37 in the second half.

Even though he struggled from the field, point guard Chauncey Billups was a perfect 14-14 from the free throw line and added seven assists. Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince combined for 40 points and Rasheed Wallace chipped in with thirteen rebounds.

Detroit will now have several days off before they face the winner of the Cleveland/New Jersey series. Currently, the Cavs are ahead 3-2 in the best of seven series.

The Chicago Bulls, lead by Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon and veteran center and former Piston Ben Wallace, put fourth a valiant effort against the Pistons, but they were no match down the stretch.

The Pistons are a tight knit, cohesive unit that decided winning a championships is more important than striking it rich in free agency. In an era where players are constantly leaving their teams due to free agency, the Pistons have stayed together and as a result have been extremely successful.

It's quite ironic that Ben Wallace, four-time defensive player of the year and main piece to the Pistons run of success, left Detroit in the off season to sign a four-year, $60 million contract with the rival Bulls. Many critics said that the departure of Wallace would leave too big of a rift in the Pistons defense and that they would not be able to compete with the best teams in the East.

Detroit went on to sport a 53-29 record, fourth best in the league and are now four victories away from reaching yet another NBA finals.

Notes: With their victory last night, the Pistons became the fifth team in the past 30 years to advance to five straight conference finals.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Plethora of NBA Coaching Vacancies Around The League

By David

With one month remaining in the season, there are at least half a dozen vacancies in the coaching ranks.

Sacramento, Indiana and Seattle fired their head coaches at season's end and Charlotte, Memphis, Toronto and most likely Houston will be left without coaches by the end of the playoffs.

Management with the Bobcats stated during the regular season that Bernie Bickerstaff would not be running the sidelines next season, Memphis ended their relationship with interim coach Tony Barone Sr., Toronto is likely to low ball coach of the year Sam Mitchell with a new contract offer, forcing him to look elsewhere, and there is a genuine consciences around Houston that Jeff Van Gundy will retire.

This leaves seven coaching positions to be filled and most general managers would like that position filled sooner rather than later because the draft is only six weeks away. A lot will be determined May 22nd when the lottery is announced and teams know what selection they will have for June 28th's draft.

If the Grizzlies are able to secure the first or second pick and land either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant, coaching legend Larry Brown would be very intrigued by the Memphis job and most likely gain control of yet another franchise.

Two Western Conference teams, the Kings and Sonics, have conducted countless interviews so far in their search for a new head coach, but it appears that both clubs will continue to wait until they find their right man. The latest report out of the Chicago Tribune has the Sonics very interested in Lakers' assistant Jim Cleamons to succeed the fired Bob Hill.

With the retirement of Jeff Van Gundy all but certain, it appears that former Kings head coach Rick Adelman would be next in line for the job. While Adelman would fit in very nicely with the veteran Rockets, there have also been rumblings that ex-Hornets coach Paul Silas is in the running for the job.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Could Jermaine O'Neal Be Headed To The L.A Lakers?

By David

There is no question that if Kobe Bryant and the Lakers want to advance past the first-round of the playoffs they will need a dominating presence down low.

If Mitch Kupchak, general manager of the Lakers, is able to clear out enough salary, it looks apparent that Pacers' all-star Jermaine O'Neal could be headed to the city of angels.

The only road block preventing O'Neal from joining the underachieving Lakers is his massive salary. The 28-year old will make $18.1 million this season and effective July 1st his salary will accelerate to a ridiculous $19.7 million. Beyond next season, the five time all-star has two years and $44.4 million left on his massive contract.

The one chip the Lakers will be forced to surrender is 19-year old center Andrew Bynum who is slowly progressing into a quality NBA big man. Last season, the tenth pick in the '05 draft averaged 7.8 ppg and 5.9 rpb in 21.5 minutes per night. I feel that it would be a mistake for L.A. to trade Bynum who is not only inexpensive compared to O'Neal, but has a promising career ahead of him.

Even though Kobe and the Lakers want to win now, taking on an excessive salary like O'Neal's would not be a wise choice because there is no guarantee that he and Bryant can coexist on the court. Both superstars will constantly want the ball and I think that Kobe has made it clear that the Lakers are his team and they will only go as far as he takes them. Unfortunately, he has only been able to take them to the first-round of the playoffs and not any further.

If the Lakers were to acquire O'Neal, they would be forced to trade several more players
besides Bynum. If anything, L.A. needs to find a true point guard to replace Smush Parker and players who can play defense on a consistent basis.

Utah Jazz One-Game Away From Defeating Golden St.Warriors

By David

The Golden St. Warriors could not have suffered their first playoff loss behind their raucous home fans at a worse time.

After demolishing the Jazz in game three by the final score of 126-105, it looked inevitable that Baron Davis and the high flying Warriors would tie their best of seven series with the Jazz at two games a piece.

Unfortunately, someone forgot to send that memo to all-star Carlos Boozer and his teammates who defeated Golden St. 115-101 last night to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. For the first time in months it appears that the Warriors luck is coming to an end.

To be able to win games five and seven in front of a hostile Utah crowd would be down right amazing, but that task seems even more difficult than having to defeat the Mavericks in the first-round.

Jazz forward Carlos Boozer dominated the smaller Golden St. defenders as he exploded for 34 points and twelve rebounds in game four. Going into this series I was worried that the undersized Warriors would not be able to defend big men like Boozer, Okur and Millsap, and my doubts might have come true last night in Oakland.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Warriors Shock Utah In Game 3 - Win By 20 Points At Oracle Arena

The Golden State Warriors, elevated by the energy of an amzing home crowd, motored out to as much as a 30-point lead and coasted to a 125 to 105 victory. The series picks up again on Sunday, in Oakland.

The game was spiced by what will go down as one of the most amazing dunks in NBA history. Baron Davis -- the spritual leader of the Warriors through the year -- slides past Utah's defense and shocks the arena.

The video is here:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Can The New Jersey Nets' Come Back To Defeat The Cleveland Cavaliers?

By David

Two games into the Eastern Conference semifinals and the New Jersey Nets' find themselves down 2 games to none.

After upsetting the third seeded Raptors in the first-round New Jersey was primed to do the same thing to LeBron and the Cavs. With veterans Jason Kidd and Vince Carter leading the way against an inexperienced Cleveland club it appeared as if the Nets had a feasible opportunity against the second best team in the East.

In game one, New Jersey played a defensive oriented style of basketball as they fell 81-77 to the Cavaliers. VC, Vince Carter struggled from the field going 7-23 and was held to 21 points. Point guard Jason Kidd who was unstoppable in round one scored a measly seven points and went 2-11 from the field.

The main reason New Jersey lost in game one was because of a lack of rebounding. Cleveland's big guys, led by Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas combined for 28 rebounds and collectively as a team the Cavs outrebounded the Nets 51-37. If New Jersey expects to win the series they can not permit LeBron and company to capture 20 offensive boards.

In game two Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena the Cavaliers continued to roll against the under sized Nets. Just like in game one New Jersey had no answer for the Cavs big guys as they were outrebounded 49-32. Nets coach Lawrence Frank later said ''they are just kicking our tails on the boards.'' Due to a lack of rebounding, the chances of New Jersey coming back in the best of seven series is very slim.

While Vince Carter struggled to assert himself as a leader on the court, LeBron James stole the show. Number 23 scored 36 points and 12 assists to lead his Cavs past the Nets. Unlike in previous postseasons when he was unable to receive adequate assistance from his teammates, his supporting cast came to play. Forward Sasha Pavlovic chipped in a career playoff-high 17 points and Drew Gooden added 14 boards.

With game three Saturday night in the Meadowlands, LeBron and the Cavs will look to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

Study: NBA sets records for minority VPs, league office

By TRAVIS REED, Associated Press Writer
May 9, 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- When it comes to handling race in sports, nobody does it better than the NBA.

So says a new study released Wednesday that found the NBA had the highest ever percentages of minority vice presidents and league office personnel in men's sports history -- 15 and 34 percent, respectively. The study was conducted by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

The findings follow a separate report last week from a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell graduate student concluding white referees called fouls against black players at a higher rate than they did against white players.

UCF researcher Richard Lapchick, who specializes in diversity in sports, said his report focuses on the bigger picture: Who's getting top NBA jobs, not whether unconscious racial bias could affect the game.

"Was there validity to the (referee) study? It's hard for me to tell," Lapchick said. "If (the bias) is true, it's more of a reflection of what's going on with society. Decisions made by corporations, decisions judges make."

Pro hoops has received top diversity marks among men's sports in Lapchick's study for the last decade and a half.

Fifteen percent of NBA team vice presidents were minorities, 3 points higher than last year, according to this most recent study that used data from the 2006-07 season. Thirty-four percent of professionals in the league office were minorities, a 2-point climb.

The NBA also has the only black CEOs and presidents in professional sports. The CEOs are Terdema Ussery, Dallas Mavericks; Fred Whitfield, Charlotte Bobcats; Steve Mills, New York Knicks; and Billy King, Philadelphia 76ers. The presidents are Joe Dumars with the Detroit Pistons and Isiah Thomas with the New York Knicks.

About 79 percent of NBA players were minorities. The proportion of black players jumped two points from last year to 75 percent, amounting to 330 players, while Latino players remained constant at 3 percent (13 players). There were 91 white players, slipping a point for the second straight year to 21 percent of the total.

The proportion of white players has hovered just above 20 percent for most of the past 16 seasons Lapchick has studied. It peaked at 28 percent in the 1990-91 season and dropped to a low of 18 percent in 1994-95.

NBA commissioner David Stern "has long felt that a diverse workplace is the only workplace," spokesman Brian McIntyre said. "It's just something we kind of do as a normal way of doing business."

The NBA also had 12 black head coaches, the best in pro sports and 40 percent of the league's total. The league has far more black coaches across its history than any other -- 53, compared with 25 for Major League Baseball managers, the second-best total.

According to Lapchick's study, sixty-four percent of the NBA's referees were white, 32 percent black and 3 percent Latino. One of the 59 referees was a woman.

Not all the news in the report was sterling. The percentage of women in the league office dipped for the third straight year, down 2 points to 39 percent overall. Still, the study said it was the highest total in men's pro sports.

On the Net:

Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport:

16 wins. 16 teams. 1 trophy. Tune in to the NBA Playoffs to see who is left standing as NBA champion

Monday, May 07, 2007

Will Rockets' Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy Return Next Season?

By David

Houston Rockets' head coach Jeff Van Gundy has the critical decision of deciding his future NBA plans in the coming weeks.

The NY Post reported that after his team lost at home in game seven of the first-round against Utah that Van Gundy would be retiring for the second time in his coaching career. Previously, Van Gundy, the brother of former Heat head coach Stan Van Gundy, retired mid-way through the 2001-2002 season with the Knicks and later resurfaced with Houston in 2003.

Although he has been successful as coach of the Rockets, winning over 50 games for the second time in four years and taking his team to the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, he has yet to elevate the Rockets passed the first-round.

For whatever reason this recent playoff exit has taken a strenuous toll on him and his superstar Tracy McGrady who was extremely frustrated Saturday night when he failed to yet again win a first-round series. McGrady has never advanced to the second-round of the playoffs either in Orlando or here in Houston.

Personally, T-Mac has placed added pressure on his shoulders because he wants to transform into more of a team leader and guide his team to the finals.

Van Gundy has one-year left on his contract and by all accounts it seems that he will step away from coaching. Still, that doesn't mean he won't return in the future when the situation is right and he feels comfortable with a new organization.

Houston has not won a playoff series since 1997 and despite the progress they have made they are not a serious contender in the Western Conference. That is real disappointing considering they have two superstars in McGrady and Yao playing together.

Jeff Van Gundy said ''I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to help'' and this past season might have been the last opportunity Van Gundy had to help the Rockets win.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Golden State Warriors Upset Dallas Mavericks In First Round

By David

The eighth seeded Golden St. Warriors pulled the unthinkable by defeating the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.

At the end of February Golden St. was coming off a 21-point loss at Milwaukee and a 30-point beat down at the hands of the Bulls. Entering March it was an after thought that they'd make the playoffs, but with a stellar performance in March and April the Warriors demonstrated that they did in deed believe.

Golden St. went 16-7 through the final two months of the season and ended the 2007 regular season by winning their final nine out of ten games. They were able to hold off the feisty Clippers on the last day of the season and were rewarded with a matchup with the best team in the NBA. Dallas steam rolled through the regular season, going 67-15 and appeared primed for a return to the NBA finals.

Luckily, the high flying Warriors went 3-0 against the Mavs in the regular season and would continue their success in the playoffs. Under the leadership of head coach Don Nelson and veterans Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis, the Bay Area quickly transformed into a city that was excited about playoff basketball. That fact was made evident by the record crowds at Oracle Arena.

In winning the first-round series 4-2, Golden State became the first eigth seeded team to knock off a number one in a best of seven series. Point guard Baron Davis single handily took over the series by averaging 25 ppg, 6.2 rpb, 5.7 apg and shooting a handsome 54% from the field and 45.5% from three-point land.

As a team, the Warriors elevated their game to the next level and many of their young players like Matt Barnes and Monta Ellis stepped their games up big time. Conversely, the Mavericks did not resemble the team that won 67 games during the regular season and dominated every opponent they faced.

Dirk Nowitzki struggled mildly in the series and did not play like the MVP that he was during the regular season. He will continue to receive negativity by critics who say that he's not a leader and can't carry his team when it counts the most.

That argument was supported by his performance in game six where the Warriors clinched the series. Dirk went a dismal 2-13 from the field with eight points and 10 rebounds. Dallas' defense that played so well during the season did not show up in the playoffs. In each game they allowed at least 97 points and on four occasions the Warriors scored over 100. On the flip side, Golden State allowed the Mavs to score at least 100 twice and three times they were held to 91 points or less.

Along with players and fans I believe in the Warriors and hope they can advance past either Houston or Utah and have the opportunity to knock off the Suns or Spurs. Eight more wins is all Golden State needs to reach the NBA finals.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Nuggets are five - and finished

Nuggets bow out of NBA playoffs in five games for fourth consecutive season
By Anthony Cotton
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 05/03/2007 01:04:49 PM MDT

San Antonio

While it may be true that there was very little difference between the Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs during their opening-round playoff series, the NBA postseason isn't about shades of gray.

As the ubiquitous television commercials state, it's win or go home. So it is that, despite five closely contested battles, Denver found itself eliminated Wednesday night in a 93-78 defeat.

The loss marked the fourth straight season Denver was eliminated in the first round.

Unlike those previous years, the Nuggets clearly belonged on the floor with their favored opponent - none of the previous four games were decided by more than nine points. However, the Spurs ultimately proved too experienced and too savvy to overcome.

Michael Finley, a 34-year-old guard playing in his 12th NBA season, was the latest San Antonio player to bedevil the Nuggets. He scored a game-high 26 points, setting a Spurs playoff record with eight 3-point baskets.

"I look at them and I see where we want to get to," Nuggets guard Allen Iverson said. "I see what we can be if we get into training camp next year and get an identity of how we want to play all year on both ends of the court."

There was a numbing inevitability Wednesday night at the AT&T Center, the sense that no matter how much the Nuggets competed in Game 5 of their opening-round playoff series, no matter how close they came to scaling the formidable mountain that is the San Antonio Spurs, the climb would fall short.

That had been the case over the previous week, and it happened once again in what proved to be the Nuggets' season finale. The visitors fought hard, but the Spurs used a timely 3-pointer here or offensive rebound there in a convincing 93-78 clincher.

"I can't say they were the better team than us. Each game was close, each one could have been flip-flopped to our advantage," center Marcus Camby said.

That was certainly a slight upgrade from how the Nuggets played in opening-round losses the previous three years, each of which ended, like this series, in a 4-1 deficit. But perhaps it was being so tantalizingly close in losses in games 2, 3 and 4 that left Carmelo Anthony sighing in the visitors' locker room.

"This is the worst feeling ever," the Nuggets' star forward said.

Ultimately, the Spurs proved too experienced, too savvy. After shooting down the Nuggets on Monday night with a late 3-pointer by veteran Robert Horry, the Spurs turned to another veteran, Michael Finley, Wednesday night. The 34-year-old set a Spurs playoff record with eight 3-pointers; the fourth cut the Nuggets' 48-44 halftime lead to a single point. The fifth, coming with 1:30 remaining in the third quarter, extended his team's lead to six points.

Not long after two 3-pointers from Allen Iverson helped cut the Nuggets deficit to 77-71 with 7:16 to play, Finley made No. 7 to push the Spurs to an 11-point edge.

No. 8 was just overkill, a bomb from the left corner that put San Antonio ahead 89-76 with 2:32 remaining.

Soon, Spurs fans were dancing in the aisles and the team's coaches were beginning preparations for their Western Conference semifinal series.

"He was ridiculous," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of Finley.

The Nuggets, while earnest, weren't able to sustain a consistent offensive threat and scored
a franchise playoff low in a half with 30 in the final two quarters. Anthony, who averaged 26.8 points in the series, had 21 and just three in the fourth quarter. Guard Steve Blake, who rallied Denver from an 11-point opening-half deficit by making four 3-pointers, went scoreless in the second half.

And Iverson, despite his near-heroics in the fourth quarter, ended a disappointing postseason by missing 16-of-22 shots. For the series, Iverson made but 37 percent of his field-goal attempts.

"I felt like this was the worst playoff series of my career," he said. "It was frustrating; I came to Denver, wanting to be the one to get this team over the hump, but I didn't play the way I was capable of playing."

In the end, what may have hurt the Nuggets the most were the after-effects of a tumultuous regular season that included Anthony's 15-game suspension for fighting and, soon after, its trade for Iverson. While the team was able to come together enough to win 10 of its final 11 games, gaining the sixth seed in the West, that wasn't enough to avoid meeting the battle-tested Spurs in the opening round.

"You don't want to play Phoenix or Dallas or San Antonio in the first round," coach George Karl said. "The only way to avoid it is to win 50-55 games during the season."

And, as the players slowly emerged from the showers and packed their bags to mark the end of the season, the Nuggets were indeed already beginning to think about how to do just that.

"I look at them and I see where we want to get to," Iverson said. "That's the way we want to play. We have to get into training camp next year and get an identity for how we want to play all year on both ends of the court."

Staff writer Anthony Cotton can be reached at 303-954-1292 or