Author Topic: ¶ NBA Basketball: Tournaments, Events & Free Comments • Baloncesto NBA: Competencias, Eventos & Comentarios Libres  (Read 753502 times)


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That fabulously intense NBA Finals Game 7 in Los Angeles: A True Grit
« Reply #10 on: Jul 02, 2010, 10:11:15 AM »
NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

That fabulously intense NBA Finals Game 7 in Los Angeles: A True Grit

I got back to France after covering that fabulously intense NBA Finals Game 7 in Los Angeles where Phil Jackson's Lakers squeezed the last drop out of their home court advantage and improved their defense to just barely scrape by a courageous wild bunch of aging Boston Celtics veterans who watched their last window of opportunity close before their crying eyes.

What a glorious and rare moment these two valiant teams offered us, as multi-millionaires played their hardest until there was absolutely nothing left in the tank, played together because the defenses were so good there was no other way to score, and played smart because their two brilliant coaches gave them no choice!

Ah, Dean Smith's old formula for success is still very contemporary, the proof being that Jackson and his counterpart Doc Rivers must have said some version of "play together and share the ball" during EVERY single timeout in the 2010 NBA finals!

The crazy series of made three-point shots in the last minutes was delicious frosting on a concrete cake of impenetrable defense. The triumphant trio of Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol all learned precious lessons from their whupping in 2008 by these same Celtics.

Phil did not let himself get out-coached this time as he showed with great adjustments in Game 6 that completely reversed all of the Celtics' favorable key tendencies of Game 5.

Pau put on eight kilos of pure muscle in the Laker weight room since 2008 that came in useful to dominate the boards and as he aggressively attacked his primary defender one on one throughout the series to relieve a lot of the pressure on Bryant to create and finish plays.

Only Kobe can compete with Gasol's extraordinary worldwide results in the last four years, but Pau was much more open and analytical than Kobe in the post-game press conferences showing his total mastery of the game but also the English language. Hat's off to you Pau, nice guys DO finish first!

Kobe was less taciturn with the media after the immense relief that came with his fifth NBA title and he admitted then how much his numerous injuries were weighing him down. Despite those and his Game 7 overly pumped up jitters, Kobe played more of a team game than in 2008, good examples of this being his defense on Rajon Rondo but also that assist on Ron Artest's enormous and decisive three-point shot at the end.

These Lakers and Celtics were true pros with true grit and we can only hope and pray that Phil Jackson leans towards keeping everyone together for a shot at an unprecedented FOURTH three-peat because as Kobe says, without his calm coaching attitude, things just wouldn't be the same.

These wonderful images of what pro sports can be clashed violently with the sad spectacle of the French national soccer squad at the World Cup and the disastrous effects on their image among French sports fans upon my return to Paris.

Money isn't the problem because the NBA guys make more anyway. On the other hand, they didn't play hard, smart or together! The absolute irony being their one goal scored in the competition in their last game when all was already lost thanks to Franck Ribery at long last making the simple extra pass which leads to easy goals instead of the preceding long litany of overly individualistic attempts.

Between poor chemistry, idiotic preparation and weak management of the team, the French soccer team could learn a lot from studying Jackson and the Lakers !

George Eddy from FIBA

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NBA Basketball: Where in the world will the next Pau Gasol come from?
« Reply #9 on: Jun 18, 2010, 12:50:03 AM »
NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

NBA Basketball: Where in the world will the next Pau Gasol come from?

Mr. Gasol, a Spaniard drafted in 2001, comes from Western Europe – the source of many of today's best international basketball players.

Fellow top players Dirk Nowitzki (drafted in 1998) and Tony Parker (drafted in 2001) come from Germany and France, respectively. All three are among the few non-Americans with repeated appearances on the NBA All Star Team in the past decade.

Sasha Vujacic, the Los Angeles Lakers' shooting point guard, is from Slovenia, but started his professional basketball career at age 16 in Italy. And teammate Didier Ilunga-Mbenga was born in Congo, but fled at an early age to Belgium.

Such Western European dominance is a trend of the past decade, whereas in the 1990s and 1980s the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia provided the wellspring of basketball greats.

And now, scouts are trying to gauge where the next shift might appear.

In May, the National Basketball Association (NBA) opened its first office in Africa, in South Africa’s capital of Johannesburg. In the past year, the league launched the NBA in Arabic and the NBA in India. In addition to 16 offices already in major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, the league plans to set up offices in India, Russia, and Brazil by the end of 2010. While most offices are geared toward bringing in new NBA fans, there's nothing that draws fans like a star from their own country.

“We’re doing a real big push right now in India,” says an NBA spokesman.

Some see something special in Africa.
The next hotbed for basketball stars?

“To me, the most interesting thing is Africa,” says Jack McCallum, who has covered the NBA for Sports Illustrated since the mid-1980s and is now writing a book about the 1992 Dream Team. That year, the NBA had only 21 international players. Now, it has 79; one in five NBA players is from outside the US.

Mr. McCallum says NBA scouts are constantly searching in Africa for the next Hakeem Olajuwon or Dikembe Mutombo. “It’s just unbelievable. There, you’re literally working around revolutions,” he says.

It may well be worth the hassle. As basketball has gained international popularity, foreign players are now recognized for having a deeper skill set than American players – and are of increasing importance to NBA franchises.

“The players in Europe tend to be raised with a team-first mentality, while the US players tend be raised with a me-first mentality,” says Ian Thomsen, a basketball columnist and senior writer for Sports Illustrated.

In the United States, says Mr. Thomsen, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) dominates teenage basketball, but it's more focused on playing games than building skills. Many players then leave college early to join the NBA (or, like Kobe Bryant, skip college altogether).

from FIBA Today

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Doc, Phil and John: the coaching match-up in the 2010 NBA Finals
« Reply #8 on: Jun 16, 2010, 10:31:50 PM »
NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

Doc, Phil and John: the coaching match-up in the 2010 NBA Finals

The coaching match-up in the 2010 NBA Finals is an interesting duel between two men who respect but don't particularly like each other. This is understandable at such an intense level of competition where reputations, money and historical positioning are all at stake for coaches, owners and players alike.

The sometimes not-so-subtle psychological warfare between Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers is reaching a peak as we move back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Tuesday.

In general, Rivers is more outgoing, down to earth and communicative whereas Jackson is more manipulative, sneaky and mysterious when he tries to score points with the media or the referees. They are great spin doctors and probably good dinner companions. When dealing with their players, Doc is more direct and honest with his guys using the same “We don't need no heroes out there, let's do it as a team” spiel throughout the playoffs compared to Jackson's continuous silences, mind games and even insults that go against his Zen Master image.

Jackson, known more for his psychological talents than for his mastery of X's and O's, has made a brilliant career for himself as a management genius when dealing with superstars who have mega-egos like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

On the other hand, you could make a case for his poor handling of Lamar Odom's fragile confidence level in the Finals and the fact that he is overusing Andrew Bynum, who is playing on one leg and producing feeble stats since Game 3.

When Phil doesn't like a reporter's question, he passively talks about some other subject or simply doesn't comment while Rivers, a former TV commentator, likes the give-and-take repartee that animates post-game press conferences.

If we compare the two coaches' NBA results over time, it looks to me like Jackson is the greatest coach of all-time – followed by his nemesis Red Auerbach – thanks to his 10 titles. In fact, Phil and Red shared a similar arrogance and serenity about their own omnipotence even though Auerbach was more fiery in the vein of Phil's mentor, Red Holzman, his coach with the Knicks and Auerbach's arch-enemy!

Phil and Red both profited from having the best players but also from knowing how to make them play together. Doc Rivers should by far be considered the best coach of this year's playoffs and he was one of the few coaches in NBA history (along with Larry Brown in 2004) to have out-coached Jackson in the Finals back in 2008.

Both Doc and Phil bait the referees about overly physical play, moving screens and rules interpretations. This is a big part of their jobs, but the real controversy cropped up when Jackson took offence to the Celtics super-subs over-celebrating and trash-talking in the crucial fourth quarter rampage of Game 4. Phil didn't feel it showed a positive coaching philosophy and Doc said he didn't care what Phil thought!

Trash-talking, arrogance and being hated by opponents are also a Celtic tradition going way back so this is nothing new, but Rivers knows there is a fine line between playing with emotion and going overboard and getting technical fouls called!

Jackson's comments can be considered either hypocritical or ironic when you remember that he has coached and given a loose leash to two of the dirtiest players in NBA history in Dennis Rodman and now Ron Artest.

All of this verbal jockeying adds spice to these exciting and hard-fought Finals where Rivers is using his bench better and juggling the ups and downs of his Big Four (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo) skillfully compared to Jackson who rides his veterans as usual and will need to squeeze every last drop out of the home court advantage to squeak through to an 11th NBA title.

My only regret is that the legendary college coach and American philosopher John Wooden is no longer around to give his humble but pertinent take on this battle between two top flight coaches! Wooden knew better than anyone that high moral values and technical excellence will go a long way but to win titles you really need the better players! I'll finish with my favorite Woodenism: “He who is through learning, is through”. Amen!

George Eddy from FIBA

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NBA Basketball: Tournaments, Events & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA: Competencias, Eventos & Comentarios Libres

Finals preview time:
Here we go for a remake of the greatest rivalry in NBA history

Greetings! Here we go for a remake of the greatest rivalry in NBA history, as the Lakers meet the Celtics in the NBA Finals version 2010.

Since I predicted a repeat for the Lakers before the season even started, I'm happy, but I admit I never imagined Boston would be the opponent after the mediocre second half of their regular season.

As far as aging teams go, Boston did better than San Antonio by finding their rythmn, defence, shooting and togetherness at just the right moment, which means coach Doc Rivers pulled a Popovich on us by bringing his players to top form just before the playoffs without being too concerned with the regular season standings, bravo!

Rajon Rondo is competing with Steve Nash and Deron Williams for the title of best point guard on earth right now and the Big Three of Boston is clicking like in 2008, when the Celtics outmuscled the Lakers on their way to the crown.

Will Boston's wide- body inside players once again be able to discombobulate the long and lanky tandem of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom?

This will be the key! If Paul Pierce or Ray Allen can oblige Kobe to play a lot of tiring defense and therefore reduce Bryant's stratospheric level of play of the last few weeks, then Boston has a chance.

After the way they first surprised and then dominated favorites Cleveland and Orlando, you have to give them their due and maybe even fear them, and knowing Kobe, he's not going to let the Lakers under-estimate Boston.

The Lakers showed they can get a little too cocky vs. Oklahoma City and Phoenix whereas the wild inconsitency of Ron Artest can certainly give Phil Jackson headaches and Boston hope.

After six days rest, Rondo should dominate the point guard position and Boston's bench seems to have a real advantage in this series. An interesting tactical point might be that Rivers will be tempted to use more zone defence than usual after the success Phoenix had with the zone against LA.

The Suns, the other big surprise in these playoffs, came within a hair of taking game 5 in LA and Alvin Gentry, Steve Nash et al deserve nothing but colossal kudos for proving that their run and gun style added to a bit of defensive savvy can take them deep into the post-season.

Regarding Orlando, the loss of Turkoglou and the feeble production of Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis weighed heavily in the balance. Their series with Boston swayed with their poor management of the last few possessions in games one and two at home. Little details had big consequences for the Magic!

In the end, I feel that the triad of Jackson-Bryant-Gasol are going to impose their science, will and all-around brillance and experience along the lines of what president Obama recently predicted!

The Lakers will win in seven with Kobe authoring the coup de grace!

George Eddy from FIBA

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NBA Basketball & Free Comments • Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

Ricky Rubio’s, Wolves’ top pick, will someday suit up in Target Center !

As David Kahn gears up for this year’s draft, he sounds more excited than ever about … last year’s draft.

Kahn had dinner in Paris earlier this month with Ricky Rubio’s parents and a representative of his agent, then watched the Wolves’ top pick from last June lead his team to the European championship. Minnesota’s basketball boss sounded nothing like a man looking to trade Rubio’s rights.

“He was arguably the best player on the floor” in the semifinals, Kahn said. “There’s been a lot of talk over the last couple of years about his outside shot. He stepped up and shot a couple of threes that really looked natural. He’s really worked on that, and you can see it.”

Rubio remains the property of Regal Barcelona and will for another year or two, so Kahn limited his contact to a couple of text messages while he was in Paris, in order not to distract Rubio from the Euro Final Four. But he sounded delighted by the progress the point guard has made, and optimistic that he will someday suit up in Target Center.

“This kid’s different. You just don’t accomplish what this kid’s accomplished at this age without being really special,” Kahn said. “He’s 19. The notion of him wasting away over there is far-fetched. He’s actually getting better over there, on somebody else’s dime.”

Chad Ford theorized on Monday that the Wolves would be reluctant to draft John Wall, should they win the No. 1 pick on Tuesday, because they “may not want to scare (Rubio) off any more than they already have.” He also said he had heard that the Wolves have indicated to Evan Turner that he would be their choice.

But Kahn, though he cautioned that Wall’s status as No. 1 “isn’t open and shut,” didn’t sound afraid to pick the point guard if he’s available, either. “It’s only problematic in that we may have to make some roster moves down the road. But I don’t see those as problems, I see them as opportunities,” he said. “Especially in a league that seems to be gravitating toward guard-oriented, I don’t see how we can get hurt” taking Wall.

Meanwhile, Kahn also met with the agent for Nikola Pekovic, and said the 6-foot-11 Montenegrin center “wants to come over.”

“We are not anywhere close to a deal. The next step is, I want to take Kurt (coach Kurt Rambis) to take a look at him, and in June, we need to plug him into our plans and figure out if his future is with us, or is it to wait a little longer, or is his future for us to trade,” Kahn said. Pekovic is a good low-post scorer who can play with his back to the basket, Kahn said.

Perhaps making that decision more complicated: Darko Milicic has also informed the Wolves that he wants to play in Minnesota next season.

“He had a really enjoyable two months, he likes the way we play and he responded well to Kurt,” Kahn said of the free-agent center, who averaged 8.3 points in 24 games after being traded to Minnesota in February. “And he sees that even though we’re not winning yet, there are some pieces here to build around and other pieces to come.”


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