Posts Tagged ‘Mike D’Antoni’

Magic Johnson Tweets That He Will Stop Complaining About The Lakers

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Over the last few years, as the Lakers have tried to get back to championship level, Lakers legend Magic Johnson has not been shy about sharing his thoughts about his former team. Johnson, who owned a portion of the Lakers before selling it in 2010, has been particularly outspoken in recent years about the failings of Lakers management to assemble a title-worthy team and staff, as well as their game play. Just last week, when the Lakers lost in overtime on a last second lay-up against the Bulls, Johnson tweeted…

Earlier this week, Johnson appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” where he was sharply critical of Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni
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VIDEO: Magic On The Lakers
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Since then, however, Magic appears to have had a change of heart. He took to Twitter yesterday to explain that his days complaining about the Lakers are over…

What do you Lakers fans think? Is Magic right? Should he stop complaining about the Lakers? Or do the Lakers need criticism from one of their all-time greats?

Los Angeles Lakers Attempt To Name Santa’s Reindeer

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If you’re not already in the holiday season, here’s video of a reporter (apparently from the ABC affiliate in Los Angeles) asking members of the Lakers if they can name all nine of Santa’s reindeer. Some players do pretty well, some have a little more trouble with the question. I agree with Pau Gasol — Rufus has always been one of my favorite reindeer.


VIDEO: Lakers Name Reindeer

Talk Show: Mario Batali

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Here in New York City, plenty of celebrities pop up in the front rows at Knicks and Nets games, although it’s not always clear just how many of them are actual NBA fans. New York-based chef and television personality Mario Batali fits both bills. Batali grew up in Seattle as a Sonics fan, but these days has allegiances to — gasp! — both the Knicks and Nets. As Batali explains, “I’m not such a fierce Geo-specific fan.”

In between running his acclaimed restaurant empire and appearing daily on ABC’s “The Chew,” Batali says he finds time to not only follow the NBA but even plan family trips to out of town games. I caught up with Batali last week on the set of “The Chew” where he was posing with the crystalized “BIG IS ON” basketball that is currently making its way around New York City.

ME: I know that a lot of NBA players have eaten at your restaurants. For example, Emeka Okafor has told me he loves your food.

MARIO: I’ll tell you one thing about Emeka: That guy can eat enough to make every kitchen happy in the world. Like, he’ll have two appetizers, two pastas, and then he’ll have a steak for two. He eats it and he loves it, he gives you goosebumps. He’s just delightful.

ME: And you’re a big NBA fan?

MARIO: Huge NBA fan.

ME: You’re originally from Seattle, right?

MARIO: (laughs) Back when we had a team!

ME: So you grew up a Sonics fan?

MARIO: Definitely. For me, the greatest thing to collect right now is original, vintage Sonics hats and shirts. They’re beautiful. That logo — come on. They hardly did one better.

ME: So that was, like, Lenny Wilkens-era Sonics?

MARIO: Spencer Haywood

ME: Slick Watts?

MARIO: Absolutely! Downtown Freddie Brown! Come on, we had the guys.

ME: I know you lived in Italy for a while. Was basketball as popular in Europe then as it is today?

MARIO: I was there in the ‘80s, and it was already — after soccer — the biggest sport. Absolutely, no question about it. We got great players who either had problems or didn’t quite make the team and they were over there playing basketball, going crazy, living in these tiny little towns. It wasn’t like all Rome and Milan, you know. Here all the teams are in major, major cities. They were in Venice, they were in Verona, towns with like 200,000 or 300,000 people. It totally changed the way Italians looked at American sports. And for the positive. The world loves American sports. We do it better than anybody else, except soccer.

ME: I’ve seen you at Knicks games. Are the Knicks your team?

MARIO: Knicks and Nets.

ME: Both? Can you have two rival teams?

MARIO: Yes! Here’s the story. Since I’m from Seattle and I’ve been disenfranchised, I can have two teams. I take a lot of heat from The Original Fan. The Original Fan says I can’t like the Jets and the Giants, but I like Eli and I like Geno. And I like Mark Sanchez. And in basketball, I like Paul Pierce. How can I not go for Paul Pierce, right? He’s a Boston guy, but he’s on my team now.

ME: You have two teenage sons. Are they fans of both teams also?

MARIO: They’re Carmelo fans. They were Mike D’Antoni fans. But they’ll be happy to go see the Nets, too. They go to school in Brooklyn so they drive right by the Barclays Center, which is an impressive building. And the Garden is also impressive, but you can drive by and not even notice sometimes. I take my sons each year on an NBA trip. We traditionally go somewhere for a long weekend with Dad, and we’ve gone to see the Hornets — this year we’re going to see the Pelicans. But we’ve been to Cleveland, during and after LeBron, we’ve been to Dallas, we’ve been to Los Angeles to watch the games. We’ll travel for basketball.

ME: Which athletes eat the most when they’re at your restaurants? Do football players eat more than basketball players?

MARIO: Linemen. Nick Mangold, baby (laughs). But no, actually I would say Nick doesn’t eat more than, say, Emeka. In terms of water displacement Emeka might displace more water than even Nick. But there’s a respect in the sports world, particularly the basketball world, where they totally dig our field, and they’re totally into what we do as well.

ME: Last thing: If you had to cook and serve a basketball, how would you prepare it to make it even semi-edible?

MARIO: The best way to cook a basketball would be to slice it into paper-thin strips like spaghetti, and toss it with a little Bolognese.

Another Stinger In Valley Of Sun

By Jeff Case

 

No one will confuse the 2012-13 Phoenix Suns with a legit title contender, but they haven’t been as awful as some thought they’d be this season. At 3-4, they’ve beaten the teams they probably should (Cleveland, Detroit and Charlotte) and lost to the ones they probably should have (Utah, Miami) and taken losses in two others that were a toss-up (Orlando and Golden State).

Still, the memories of Steve Nash directing coach Mike D’Antoni‘s Seven Seconds Or Less offense are still somewhat fresh. Don’t forget about that great small forward they had too … what was his name … oh yeah! Shawn Marion. In remembering those days, though, Suns fans also recall the way those peak D’Antoni-Nash-Marion-Amar’e Stoudemire teams used to routinely falter against the Spurs, Mavs and Lakers in the West playoffs.

Since those glory days, D’Antoni has been hired (and fired) by New York, Marion was traded to Miami, Stoudemire bolted as a free agent for New York and Nash skipped town, too.

All that to say: is there any fan base that’s seen more of their icons tied to different successful eras leave more often than Phoenix has?

Consider these Suns icons who left town:

  • Paul Wesphal, a three-time All-Star in Phoenix and the leading scorer on the Suns’ 1976 Finals runner-up team, was dealt to rival Seattle in the summer of 1980. The Sonics, at the time, were easily one of the most dominant teams in the West and had won it all in 1979. Westphal, who coached Phoenix to the ’93 Finals, also coached Seattle in the late 1990s. Double-ouch.
  • Charles Barkley won the MVP in 1993, led Phoenix to The Finals that season and is, perhaps, the most well-known Sun ever. He forced a trade to Houston in 1996 so he could chase a ring with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, who were key pieces to the Rockets’ last title team in 1994-95. That ’94-95 squad ousted a 59-win Phoenix team in the West semis.
  • Marion, he of the great nickname (“The Matrix”), was a four-time All-Star in Phoenix before the O’Neal trade. That opened the door for his trade to Toronto, which led to his eventual signing as a free agent with the rival Mavs in 2009. Dallas won the whole thing in 2011.
  • You name it, Nash did it for Phoenix. Yet in the summer, the chance to be closer to his children and have a good shot at a ring made the Lakers the easy pick. Need we explain the Suns-Lakers rivalry?
  • D’Antoni’s Suns exploits are many, but is there any worse place he could have landed for Suns watchers than the L.A. Lakers? Sorry to break the news …

Look around the NBA’s history and every so often you’ll see an MVP (Karl Malone to the Lakers) or a Finals MVP (Chauncey Billups to Denver) or an overall franchise face (Chris Paul to the Clippers) get moved or sign elsewhere. But it’s hard to think of a team outside of Phoenix that has seen more iconic players either move on or be moved on to chase a ring elsewhere.

Don’t know about a thousand, but this picture talks, Part XIII

by Zettler Clay

Like the title says:

The new-look New York Knicks: losers of five straight and eight of nine.

Extend, trade or cut – Eastern Conference All-Stars edition

by Micah Hart

It’s been a minute or two since we’ve done one of these, but with the announcement of the All-Star starters, everyone’s attention is now on which players will be named All-Star reserves.

Last night on the TNT pregame show, Kenny, Charles, and EJ gave their picks for the East, and they all agreed on five players: Atlanta’s Al Horford, and the Celtics’ foursome of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen.

There was no consensus for the last two spots, as they each picked a different pair from amongst Miami’s Chris Bosh, Atlanta’s Joe Johnson, and New York’s Raymond Felton. Given the lack of agreement,  I thought now would be a good time to revisit everyone’s favorite game, Extend, Trade, or Cut.

Just to refresh you on the rules, picture yourself as the GM of a mythical NBA franchise, and pretend that you have to choose between three players. One player you can extend with a new contract, one player you have to trade for some mythical asset(s), and one player you must cut from your roster for eternity (it’s a harsh world). You may choose each option only once.

Let’s examine the evidence:

Chris Bosh: Is he on the same level as his more famous teammates? No, he’s not. But he’s still a guy that can get you 20 and 10 on a given night, and he’s one of the sweeter-shooting big men in the game. He has caught some flak lately for suggesting that players maybe shouldn’t try so hard all the time.

Joe Johnson: For this exercise, we are only considering his merits as a basketball player. Therefore, you should disregard the fact that he most likely has at present the worst contract in the NBA. JJ’s had a bit of a down year, but some of that was due to an elbow injury, and he seems to have regained his form in January.

Raymond Felton: Has helped reignite the age decade old NBA question, is it the point guard, or is it Mike D’Antoni‘s system? On the other hand, some might argue that Felton has always been a capable PG, but was too restrained in Charlotte under the heavy hand of Larry Brown. Either way, there is no doubt that Felton is having a career year in his first season in New York City.

That’s the choices. What’s your decisions?

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