Posts Tagged ‘Sekou Smith’

Paul George got a new job

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — While Paul George is out recovering from his broken leg, we’ve seen him pop up a few times. But in between rehabbing his leg and working out, what has he been doing to fill the time? Well, apparently he found a new job in the Pacers’ public relations department. Yesterday Pacers PR chief David Benner posted a photo of the credentials they made up for George — who don’t forget has taken to calling himself “Young Trece.” Funny stuff, and if George works hard enough, George may one day get his photo posted in the press room like my colleague Sekou Smith.

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 5 and 6

HANGTIME_PASSENGER

By Lang Whitaker

NEW YORK CITY — Day Five and Day six of the Hang Time Road Trip are getting their own post, because at this point we’re on the way home and almost done with this whole thing.

Let’s start on the morning of Day 5. It was a beautiful day in NYC, and we were lucky enough to have the morning off before having some afternoon responsibilities. I spent the previous night at my home in NYC, so I got up and hopped in a car and rolled out to Tarrytown, New York to meet up with the Hang Time Road Trip crew, who had spent the night in a hotel.

Around noon we finally boarded the bus and hit a local diner for lunch, and then showed up at the Knicks practice facility out in Tarrytown. Whenever the bus would make a stop, Rick and Sekou and I would put together all the souveneirs we’d accumulated for the little table in the middle of the bus where we conducted interviews. So we started grabbing bobbleheads, flags, foam fingers, bags, all kinds of stuff. And the Knicks gifted us with a Carmelo Anthony and Clyde Frazier bobblehead to add to our collection.

Before long, Phil Jackson got on the bus. He’s still new at his current gig as President of the Knicks, but he’s got a rich history in New York, including winning two titles as a player with the Knicks back in the ’70s. He had also a rich history with our crew, as the former coach of our own Rick Fox. It was really cool to chat with Phil and talk Knicks and their fans and the expectations around the team.


VIDEO: Phil Jackson talks about the Knicks’ fan base and communication

Not long after Phil left, we were joined by new Knicks coach Derek Fisher, who played with Rick on some of those Lakers teams. Fish was impressive, laying out his coaching philosophy and his vision for his team. As he left he autographed the basketballs we’ve had everyone who came on the bus sign, and I asked him if it was tough to not add his number at the bottom of his signature. He said it was — he’d spent decades signing his name with his number underneath it, and now, he said, he had to make himself pause each time to remember not to put a number on there.


VIDEO: Derek Fisher breaks down upcoming season as coach

When we finished with the Knicks, Rick had to go into the city to do a radio hit to promote our Hang Time Road Trip show that will air
next week (Wednesday night at 10 ET!). Sekou and I rode with him because we’re a team like that, and we piled into a car and headed for Manhattan. And once we were in the car, it didn’t take long for Sekou to knock out.

Once in the city, Rick did a few segments on the Michael Kay show while Sekou and I sat around the control room…

The bus was on its way to Secaucus, New Jersey, where the rest of the crew was gonna grab dinner, so we found a little diner right next to the studio and grabbed a bite to eat. (Also, while we were at dinner, Rick knocked over a glass of water all over my phone. Somehow it survived unscathed.) After dinner we rode out to Secaucus, where the crew had just finished dinner and was walking back to the bus. They met us there and we headed south.

But an hour after we left, we stopped at a truck stop to refuel. While our driver, Tom Cat, dealt with the gas, Rick modeled the latest in truck stop fashion…

We got back in the bus and found the Lakers/Warriors game on NBA TV, and kicked back and talked and laughed and watched TV and laughed. Just after midnight I crawled into my bunk for the evening.

I slept great, and woke up feeling well-rested with the bus driving slowly, so I figured we were at our destination. I got out of my bunk and walked to the front of the bus and realized it was still dark, and then noticed it was still 3:15 a.m.

Around 7:30 a.m., our super producer Gregg Waigand woke me to tell me we had reached Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Because there were no NBA games on the East Coast — well, Charlotte and Washington play tonight, but we we’ve already seen both of them play. So we decided to hit UNC, where Rick played his college ball. We stopped and showered at a hotel,grabbed some breakfast, then hustled over to the UNC basketball offices, where they rolled out the Carolina blue carpet for us.

Coach Roy Williams came out and met us, and walked us through their facilities and out onto the court. He’d actually recruited Rick years ago, so we talked about that, and talked about UNC and their long history of sending players to the NBA. We also ran into assistant coach Hubert Davis, who was Rick’s roommate for three years when they were in school.

After our tour we grabbed lunch downtown and then walked around the campus some, where Rick and I put our Vine skills to work…

We finished up our time in Chapel Hill by filming the closing of our show, and then, for the final time, we boarded the bus and headed home. And of course, someone fell asleep immediately.

There are a ton of stories to tell from this trip, which has been outstanding, but really I’d say just watch the special next week on NBA TV to get the entire tale. As for me? We’re almost home, and I need a nap. Later…

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 4

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By Lang Whitaker

NEW YORK CITY — Day Four of the Hang Time Road Trip is in the books, and man, it was quite a day.

We were supposed to arrive in Philadelphia early in the morning, with enough time to for all of us to take showers and clean up before we headed to the Wells Fargo Center to bank some more interviews. But because of an accident on the Pennsylvania turnpike, we spent an few hours stuck in traffic and rolled into our hotel in Philly with barely any time to spare. So Sekou Smith, Rick Fox and I ran in and grabbed some showers, while the crew did their best to get clean with whatever options were available to them. Here, our super producer Gregg Waigand brushed up in the parking lot.

We then hustled over to the Wells Fargo Center, where, for the first time all week, the sun blessed with us an uninterrupted presence. After the early winter in Cleveland and Chicago and the rain in Indianapolis, it felt awesome to just spend a few seconds basking in the sun. (more…)

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 3

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PHILADELPHIA — Day Three is in the books, and after a night on the (bumpy and not-so) open road, we just rolled into Philly and it feels like we’re trying to chase our tails, so to speak. The plan was to drive overnight from Indianapolis to Philly, and be here in Philly in time to grab some showers and breakfast before our first interview of the day. But apparently there was some sort of slowdown on the turnpike last night and we spent nearly two hours stopped on the highway.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s talk Day 3: At some point yesterday morning before sunrise, we pulled into a hotel parking lot near Plymouth, Indiana. We had two hotel rooms reserved, so we took turns using the facilities and getting prepped for the day. Once we were all cleaned up and ready to roll, we boarded the bus and chugged toward Indianapolis. We rolled through cornfields and amber waves of something or other, and it was a lovely ride through the heartland of America.

Unfortunately, by the time we got to Indianapolis, we were running late, and one interview we lined up had to cancel at the last minute. Hey, stuff happens. Luckily, we had Rick around to make some smoothies with a blender he bought at Wal-Mart, to help me get my voice back.

David Benner, the Pacers’ longtime senior VP or PR, was standing in the parking lot holding an umbrella waiting for the bus upon our arrival in Indy. For Sekou, this trip was something of a homecoming. Back in the 1990s, Sekou spent five years living in Indianapolis and writing about the Pacers and the NBA for the Indianapolis Star. (more…)

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 2

PLYMOUTH, INDIANA — To be honest, I’m not exactly sure when it left me. It could have been while walking from the United Center through the brisk Chicago evening air to our bus in the parking lot. Maybe it was while yelling over a bad cell phone connection trying to talk to Kyrie Irving about Call of Duty. Perhaps it was being in close to the perpetually-hoarse Tom Thibodeau. To be honest, it was probably when we stopped at that farm-themed restaurant near the Illinois/Indiana border near midnight.

Whatever the cause, the effect is this: I woke up this morning with absolutely no voice.

Now, normally not having a voice wouldn’t be a big deal — I’m a writer, after all, not a talker. HOWEVER, right now, for the duration of this trip, I’m a talker. We’re filming interviews with players and podcasts and videos. And being able to, you know, talk, is sort of important to this endeavor.

My co-host Rick Fox says I’ll be fine — “You just need some tea.” I appreciate Dr. Fox’s confidence in this matter, so I’m sitting here on the bus in the early morning half-light of Northern Indiana, guzzling tea and mostly not talking.

Yesterday was the second full day of the Hang Time Road Trip, and it was indeed a full day. We drove overnight from Cleveland to Chicago, and woke up in the parking lot of a hotel near O’Hare airport. I rolled out of my bite-sized bunk bed and stumbled into one of the two hotel rooms we booked to use as a base for showers. Considering the size of the bed I’d been in 24 hours earlier, it was quite an adjustment…

http://instagram.com/p/t0JcXkGZXu/ (more…)

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 1

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VIDEO: Sekou tries to get the Hang Time Road Trip rolling

CHICAGO — And so it begins. Hopefully you’ve read about the Hang Time Road Trip over the last few days. We’ve been writing and tweeting (#hangtime) about it, and it won’t stop.

This morning we kicked it off bright and early in downtown Cleveland, where Sekou Smith, Rick Fox and I met our bus, our home for the next week. You can see bus in the video above. I mean, it’s really our home, and it’s tight quarters — the three of us, our producer, a camera man, an audio guy, two editors and two drivers. All in one bus for seven days. Last night we stayed in a Cleveland hotel. Tonight we will sleep on this bus. It’s a really nice bus though, as you can see in a video here.

Anyway, first thing this morning we drove around Cleveland for a bit before ending up over at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We discovered a photo shoot for a car magazine underway. So of course we put our best face forward and had Rick join the photo shoot …

The Rock Hall was terrific. We were given a tour and saw everything from James Brown‘s suit to Beyonce‘s tour outfits to Jimi Hendrix‘s guitar to Alex Van Halen‘s drum kit. Also, a video outfit from one of my favorite groups of all-time …

We spent about an hour wandering around the place and checking it out, and could have easily spent another hour or so there. If you’re in Cleveland, it’s a must-see. Here’s a video of our experiences there …


VIDEO: The Hang Time crew visits the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (more…)

The Hang Time Road Trip

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By Lang Whitaker

For the last few years, about once a week I’ve hopped on Skype with my NBA Digital colleagues Sekou Smith and Rick Fox to record a new version of the Hang Time Podcast. We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together… no wait, we haven’t done any crying, unless it was from laughing. Basically, we’ve had a lot of fun, and done a lot of chatting, and we’ve learned a lot about each other and the NBA. Oh and we got honored by the Webby Awards, which was pretty cool.

The past few months, we’ve been trying to spread our wings a bit. During the Finals, whenever we were all in the same place — normally I’m in New York, Sekou’s in Atlanta, and Rick’s somewhere in the ether — we recorded a couple of video podcasts. (We also had a pig roast in Miami thanks to friend of the podcast Genesis Rodriguez.) This summer at the Las Vegas Summer League, we actually called a few games together.

And on Sunday, we’re embarking on our biggest adventure yet: Can you say Road Trip?

NBA training camps have convened around the country, as franchises put last season behind them and focus on the future. Anticipation abounds, as franchises see where all the wheeling and dealing over the last few months has left them and fans buy into that as-yet untested and unproven vision for the future.

How do we best explore that lovely feeling of hope, the unanimous excitement that comes around once a year? How do we capture how much fun this time of year is? How do we check in with players and coaches to see how their summers went, to find out what their expectations are, and most importantly, to discover which teams really are ready for the new season to begin?

That picture up above? That huge bus? That’s how we’re doing this.

And, just so you hush that fuss, here’s the back of the bus!

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So yeah, the bus is our home for the next week-plus. Starting on Saturday in Cleveland, Sekou, Rick and I will be zig-zagging around the country to take the pulse of players, teams and fans. We’ll sleep on the bus, drive on the bus, and interview players and coaches on the bus.

We’re starting in Cleveland and heading East, at least on this initial trip — saving the West for next time — and we’ll be recording and posting a couple of video podcasts each day. We’ll attend NBA preseason games each night, then power on overnight to the next city. We’ll stop at roadside attractions and truck stops at midnight and cool restaurants and pull pranks on each other and try to have as much fun as we usually do. And when the whole thing is done, we’ll edit together a best-of show that will air on NBA TV.

Our first game will be Sunday night in Cleveland, where the Cavs take on Maccabi Tel Aviv in an exhibition, and then we’ll go from there. We’ve got a schedule tentatively mapped out, but we’re keeping it fluid, so the best way to keep up with us will be to follow us on Twitter or Instagram, where all three of us will be posting real-time updates (using the hashtag #HANGTIME):

Rick Fox (twitter | instagram)
Sekou Smith (twitter | instagram)
Lang Whitaker (twitter | instagram)

I’ll also be posting regular updates here on the All Ball Blog. If you see us out on the road or in your city, please come say hello! Interacting with you folks is what makes this so much fun, and we probably have questions for you about how you’re feeling about your team.

I think that’s everything. Saddle up, everyone. See ya on the road…

Horry Scale: CDR pays dividends

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com


VIDEO: CDR’s game-winner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s been three weeks since we last fired up the Horry Scale, and in the time since, we’ve been mostly focused on the playoff race. As teams fought for position, somehow we had no game-winning buzzer-beaters that would require the Horry Scale to be utilized. Tonight that all ended, in the inked-out arms of Charlotte’s Chris Douglas-Roberts, as the Bobcats knocked off the Atlanta Hawks, 95-93.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain why we’re here: What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.

One thing I’d like to clear up: The Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. So when I gave Randy Foye a 3 Horry rating, that wasn’t only a reflection of his shot, which was admittedly remarkable, as I wrote, but also the play, which was awful. Taj Gibson’s lefty layup wasn’t the toughest shot, but that inbounds play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.

We all clear? OK, let’s break tonight’s shot down, our 17th Horry Scale entry of the season…

DIFFICULTY
A runner over two defenders? Tougher than it sounds. We should say here that the Hawks weren’t playing with a full deck, as they gave rotation members DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap the night off. (The Bobcats also limited the minutes of their key players.) With playoff berths secure for both teams, they seemed content to let some of their bench players battle this one out. That said, CDR was well defended, and his shot flew high into the air before splashing through the net.

GAME SITUATION
Gary Neal and Sekou Smith’s favorite player, Luke Ridnour, carried the Bobcats throughout the fourth quarter. But the Hawks rallied late after a 5-0 run from Shelvin Mack brought them within two, and then a jumper from Lou Williams with 2.6 to play knotted the game at 93. With the game tied, the Bobcats inbounded the ball on the side in front of their basket. With Martin Sargent-lookalike Josh McRoberts inbounding, the Bobcats sent Ridnour and Chris Douglas-Roberts running in a wide arc, as Al Jefferson set a pick and Gary Neal flashed to the corner. The Hawks covered all of this very well, and none of the initial options were open. With maybe a second left to inbound the ball, Douglas-Roberts flashed from the basline to the top of the key, and momentarily lost defender Lou Williams on a brush screen from Jefferson. CDR drove left, pulled up from just inside the free-throw line, and knocked down the game-winner over a recovering Williams and help defender Mike Muscala, with no time to play.

CELEBRATION
The celebration was mostly subdued. Gary Neal wrapped Douglas-Roberts in a bear hug in front of the Hawks bench, and even Bobcats sideline reporter Stephanie Ready got in a high five. it felt like both teams were more concerned with the playoffs starting later this week.

GRADE
I’m going to give this one two Horrys. It was a nice shot, sure, but when one team doesn’t care enough to have their best players in the game, it detracts from the fun a bit. Not that this should matter to Charlotte — they wanted to win and ran the best play possible for them to win it. Heckuva shot from CDR, no doubt. But all in all, I’m going two stars …

horry-star horry-star

What say you? How many Horry’s would you give Chris Douglas-Roberts’ GWBB?

Rich Cho has other interests outside of basketball

by Micah Hart

Talking to my main man Sekou Smith yesterday about these crazy playoffs, and Sekou (who is covering the Mavs-Blazers series for NBA.com) mentioned that one thing he’s learned in being out in Portland is that the Blazers GM Rich Cho has other interests outside of basketball — namely, food. This was confirmed when I saw this video interview of Cho by Forbes Magazine (via Dime):

First off, I want to eat at whatever restaurant they are sitting at, because the food looks amazing.

Second, living in Atlanta, I’m going to have to give Verasano‘s another try. I went there the first week it opened and was unimpressed, but I imagine they were just working out the kinks.

By the way, Sekou ended up at some Italian restaurant where he had some sort of gnocchi with shredded goat meat that required the use of profanity to describe it was so good.

I may need to book a trip to Portland.

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This week in Heat schadenfreude

by Micah Hart

What a perfect day for Heat hate, coming off Miami’s home loss to the Jazz in overtime Tuesday night. One fascinating subplot to the Heat’s season so far has been the over-analysis of every loss, dissecting the team’s performance  for clues about how it will affect the Big Picture.

One thread that seems to be congealing into a narrative is the play of Chris Bosh — specifically, whether he is deserving of being a part of a Big Three, and whether or not he has the intestinal fortitude to withstand the onslaught of negativity heaped on him from the outside world.

Jason Whitlock of FoxSports, never one to shy away from making a grand statement, makes this suggestion to Miami: If you want to win, trade Bosh.

The relevant text below:

Bosh has to step up. This week.

By Christmas, if he hasn’t drastically changed his approach and production, Pat Riley will surely explore every option to move Bosh and acquire a goon.

–//–

If I’m Pat Riley, I watch the next two games very closely. If things go poorly for Bosh, I bring Dwyane Wade into my office and question him about how upset he and LeBron will be if the “Big Three” undergoes an official name change.

The “Big Two” makes the most sense.

Now that is some Grade-A hatin’. Bosh has played all of eight games in Miami, and Whitlock is already ready to cut bait.

Bosh is an easy target (and before we start feeling too bad for him, he most certainly asked for this), but as my main man Sekou Smith illustrates, he’s not Miami’s biggest problem by a long shot:

This notion that either James or Wade can handle those duties and all you need is a warm body to put in the starting lineup at point guard is faulty logic, especially after watching Deron Williams shred the Heat the way he did last night (following the lead of fellow elite point guards Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul in their dismantling of the Heat in the only other losses Erik Spoelstra‘s team has incurred this season).

The math doesn’t match up either:

– In that season-opening loss to the Celtics, Rondo scored just four points and had two steals but controlled the game with his defense and 17 assists while Heat starter Carlos Arroyo managed just three points and didn’t have a single assist (compounded by 14 turnovers from James and Wade).

– When the Hornets ambushed the Heat over the weekend, Paul destroyed them with 13 points, 19 assists and five steals while Arroyo went scoreless and managed just one assist, with Wade and James putting together another double-digit (10) turnover performance.

– Williams abused them for 21 points and 14 assists last night before fouling out late in regulation, with Arroyo fighting back with 10 points and two assists while James (triple-double) and Wade (season-high 39 points) kept their turnovers to a minimum (just four), but the result was the same.

For those math-challenged members of our little club, that’s a healthy 38-10 scoring advantage for the opposing starter at point guard in those losses and a staggering 50-3 assist advantage for the opposing starter.

Miami’s issues in the paint and at the point are what threaten to derail their championship aspirations, but as long as Bosh is aligned as part of a superstar triumvirate with Wade and James, he’s going to hear it any time things go south on South Beach.

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