Archive for February 17th, 2008

Final score: East 134, West 128. Fun game!

The East’s LeBron James was awarded the 2008 NBA All-Star game MVP award.

For the East: Ray Allen (10-of-14, 5-of-9 threes) had 28 points in just 19 minutes. LeBron James (12-of-22) had 27 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists (4 turnovers), 2 steals and 2 blocks. Dwight Howard (7-of-7) had 16 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Chris Bosh (7-of-15) had 14 points and 7 rebounds. Dwyane Wade (7-of-12) had 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Paul Pierce scored 10. Jason Kidd dished 10 assists.

For the West: Brandon Roy (8-of-10) had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Carmelo Anthony (8-of-17) had 18 points and 7 rebounds. Amare Stoudemire (8-of-11) had 18 points and 5 rebounds. Chris Paul (7-of-14) had 16 points, 3 rebounds, 14 assists (just 2 turnovers) and 4 steals. Carlos Boozer (7-of-15) had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki (just 5-of-14) had 13 points and 4 rebounds.

The best East players were LeBron, Dwight Howard and Ray Allen. The best West players were Chris Paul and Brandon Roy.

Read unedited 2008 NBA All-Star game notes taken live as the action happened.

Gerry McNamara signs in Latvia

The Syracuse Post-Standard (Mike Waters) reports: Former Syracuse University basketball star Gerry McNamara has signed with a professional team in Latvia, according to his agent. Bill Neff confirmed today that McNamara will play for Ventspils. McNamara left for Latvia on Thursday, Neff wrote in an email.

LeBron praises Hedo, talks Cavs

Here’s LeBron James at 2008 NBA All-Star weekend:

Q: Are things good enough to go to the Finals without making any move?

LeBron James: It’s going to be tough because of how the Eastern Conference has gotten better with the addition of how Boston recreated themselves. Detroit is always going to be better. Orlando’s much better. They’ve had some off season acquisitions. It’s going to be tough for us. It’s going to be a challenge. We have to mentally prepare ourselves to go out there and play the game of basketball the right way.

Q: If you don’t make any moves, can you guys get better?

LeBron James: We’ll see. We’re going to let the game do the talking. It doesn’t matter who you have on paper, you’ve got to go out there and win a seven game series.

Q: Are there any players that didn’t make the All Star team that you thought should have?

LeBron James: I thought Hedo Turkoglu in the Eastern Conference played well, to make the All Star team and he’s not a part of it. He played great basketball for the third best team in the East. He played great basketball.

Q: Is this easier than your first All Star Game?

LeBron James: Most definitely easier to take in. It was erratic my first year. I was excited being my first year. I’m kind of used to it now, but at the same time I’m always excited to get around these great athletes.

Q: It must be a surprise having a lot of big names move. What was the most surprising thing?

LeBron James: This year has been most surprising in season and off season we’ve had in the NBA in a long time. With the Lakers dealing Pau, and Miami and Phoenix dealing Shaq and Shawn Marion, and the off season acquisitions… you look at Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett going to Boston, and Rashard Lewis going to Orlando. There’s been so many new faces. I mean, same faces, new teams. At times it can be hard to keep up with. So it’s been good for the NBA. And hopefully, you know, it’s been good.

Q: Does it put more pressure on everybody to have to try to keep up?

LeBron James: You know, you always want to get better. Especially with me. I’m a competitor, I want to get better. Hopefully we can continue to get better. If not, we’re going to stick to our guns that we have, and get ready for the second half of the season.

Atlanta Hawks star Joe Johnson speaks at All-Star Weekend:

Q: What does it mean for the Hawks to have you here representing the team at the All-Star Game?

Joe Johnson: I think it means a lot, you know, not only to me, but to our organization as well, considering that it’s been such a down past few years for us. It gives us a bright spot, and with Al Horford playing in the Rookie game, that’s a plus — but I think we’ve just got to keep going strong and stay positive and continue in the right direction. I think we’re getting better and better.

Q: Do you find yourself taking a more vocal role as the season winds down and you’re fighting for a playoff spot?

Joe Johnson: I try to just tell guys that we don’t want to get down late April or mid-April and have to win every game trying to fight for a playoff spot when we can take care of our responsibilities now, and then when the time comes, we’ll already be set. It’s tough. You look at our record right now and it’s not great, but we’re still in the playoff race. That’s a good thing. We’ve just got to stay positive and focus in these last thirty-something games of the season.

Q: Is it different for you because you have experienced it before?

Joe Johnson: Yeah, we’ve got a lot of guys who haven’t experienced the playoff atmosphere and I really want them to… it’s such a great feeling, it’s unbelievable. For those guys who haven’t had that experience, I always try to embed it and give them visuals about it.

Ray Allen ponders NBA expansion overseas

Here’s Boston Celtics All-Star Ray Allen, speaking at All-Star weekend:

Q: What are your thoughts on the NBA expanding overseas?

Ray Allen: I’d be excited about it. I think it definitely shrinks the world, and to be able to shrink the world through a sport that I play is awesome. I welcome that idea to be able to travel on a consistent basis. As much as I travel between the United States of America through all these great cities and states, I get to see so much and see so many different cultures and people. To be able to extend that to Europe… I think that would do wonders for not only basketball, but for people and cultures in the world bringing them all together through basketball.

Q: Would American players want to live overseas or would that be a problem?

Ray Allen: Well, I’m sure there’s a lot of international players who don’t want to live in America currently. It’s easy for a player now in the league to say that from having lived in America right now, but if you’re a player in college and you get drafted, you get drafted to, you know, the London Gators, you’re happy to be in the NBA. You know, when I came out of college, people were asking where I wanted to play, and I said it doesn’t matter because I’m in the NBA. I’m getting paid to do something I love and get to travel, and I’m pretty sure those would be those guys’ sentiments as they come up out of college. Right now, people are just used to their routines… living in America, thinking I wouldn’t want to play overseas… but once you understood the feel to it, I’m pretty sure a lot of people’s ideas and perceptions of those ideas would change.

Rasheed speaks on being named All-Star

Detroit Pistons forward/center Rasheed Wallace, who was named to the All-Star team as an injury replacement:

Q: What was your reaction when you heard you were selected for the All-Star Game?

Rasheed Wallace: Hot. But my wife was more hot than me. You know, she tried to act a little surprised or whatever, but hey, we had to come here. When I told her that, I thought she was going to beat me up.

Q: What are your thoughts now that you’re here?

Rasheed Wallace: I mean, it’s cool, seeing all these young boys out here being able to do their thing. It ain’t nothing new though.

Q: Did you miss Media Day yesterday on purpose or by accident?

Rasheed Wallace: No, no, no, it was a real [delay]. Yeah, it was a real [delay]. I wouldn’t have done that. I would have not come at all if I didn’t come yesterday. It was strictly an accident.

Q: What are the Pistons looking to do during the second half of the season?

Rasheed Wallace: Just to lock it down, buckle it up, and get ready for the playoffs. Let’s get into the transition where we can run everything smooth without really thinking, make it our second nature. Just go out there and do it ‘ keep doing what we’ve been doing these last couple weeks.

Q: Which kind of style do you prefer? Sometimes it seems you have a running game, sometimes not.

Antawn Jamison: With our offense, the Princeton offense, and Eddie kind of tweaked it a little bit, with our personnel, we can play both styles. Of course, you’d like to get up and run up the court a lot more, but we’re also a team that can slow the ball down, read what the defense has given us, and make an assessment that way. When Gilbert is out there, he gets the ball in the zone, and he’s just running and things like that. And I think when he comes back, you still can have that type of offense. I think when he comes back defensively, he still needs to be in the middle of the pack and still get some stops as well. Any time you have to run up and down the court, it’s always fun to be part of that.

Q: How does it feel to be here?

Antawn Jamison: It’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. As a kid, for me, seeing Michael and David and Scottie and all those guys. When I first got into the league one of my good friends Vince Carter was participating every year. I finally got my call a couple years ago. It doesn’t get old. You know, it’s history. It’s fun to be a part of these festivities. To enjoy it with my family and friends makes it even more sweeter. But I can never get used to it. I can never get done with it. It brings out the kid in me. As a kid you’ve seen it. I’m 31 now, but every time I walk in and see the All Star logo, and you get bags every day. It brings the kid out in you. Like I said, these moments never get old, you always enjoy it.

Q: Do you think there is some misperception as to Rasheed Wallace and the emotion he plays with, and the person he is?

Antawn Jamison: I certainly do. I know his family and things like that. But when Rasheed is away from the game of basketball, his personality is more low key than mine. I mean, laid back. He’s a family man and things like that. During the course of basketball, emotions take over. I don’t want to say like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but it’s definitely two totally different personalities. When he’s playing basketball, that’s the personality you need. That is the personality that’s gotten him to the point he is in his career. So I definitely think there is a misconception as far as the type of person that he is; because away from the game of basketball you couldn’t find a more humble guy. I think Rasheed is one of those guys that it doesn’t bother him. He tries to please everybody all the time. But he’s definitely a good guy. He’s a guy I would love to have in my corner, and love to play with.

Q: You guys just missed each other at UNC.

Antawn Jamison: Yeah, we just missed each other. That’s his fault. We could have had a ring that year. But I won’t hold it against him. You know, when I came in he was just leaving, him and Stackhouse. But when I was in Carolina, he used to come back every summer and take me under his wings and show me the ropes and things like that. That’s how I got to know Rasheed.

Chris Bosh mini-interview

Toronto Raptors All-Star Chris Bosh is in New Orleans for 2008 All-Star Weekend. Here’s what he had to say during media availability:

Q: Can you talk about the community effort here in New Orleans?

Chris Bosh: I think with the Day of Service they’re showing they are really committed to being serious about trying to help out rebuilding the city since a couple years back. I think it’s really showing commitment, because I know we have an opportunity to help out in a couple hours too, so we’ll see how it goes.

Q: With your video, were you just trying to connect with fans like how Gilbert Arenas does with his blog?

Chris Bosh: Yeah, I think connecting to the fans in this day and age with the internet and TV the way it is, I think it’s very important because you can connect to fans that are out there and probably didn’t know very much about you, and then you can gain fans, too. So, I think putting yourself out there in a positive way is good.

Q: Were you surprised at the reaction your video got?

Chris Bosh: I was surprised at the reaction. I was expecting a reaction, but not as big. I think it really exceeded my expectations. I was trying to do something pretty funny and the minute it got out, a lot of people got a hold of it and they really played it.

Caron Butler speaks on All-Star Weekend

Washington Wizards star Caron Butler is an All-Star this year but not participating due to injury. Here’s what he had to say about the weekend:

Q: How are you dealing with being here but not participating in the All-Star Game?

Caron Butler: I’m truly enjoying it; I’m living through Antawn [Jamison] right now. We’re just bonding and I can’t wait to go out there and just see him. I’m the biggest fan and biggest supporter of Antawn right now. Obviously, it was something I really wanted to do, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to, but I did what was best for myself and the team by sitting out and just resting my body and healing and being 100 percent. I’m just going to enjoy the weekend. I have my family out here and will do as much as I can since I’m not playing.

Q: How do you feel about the coming to New Orleans and playing a role in the revitalization of the city?

Caron Butler: It’s just great. You witness everything that the city went through and obviously it was televised and you witnessed from afar but it felt like you were right there. It was real heartfelt. I was watching TNT last night and I saw Charles Barkley with a young lady, and hearing some of the things she was saying … and it was really heartfelt and my mother and I got really teary-eyed and I was just like, “Man, it’s great that the league brought this game here.” And to be a part of the recovery process and enlighten this city … it’s amazing what basketball can do to bring excitement to people’s lives and help with the recovery.

Q: Where you out there with the hammer and nails?

Caron Butler: I mean, they don’t want me doing to much out there like lifting and doing stuff like that, but I’m going to be doing as much as possible. Every little bit helps. I’m going to be out there and do my treatment. Whatever they want me to do, I’m free and open to anything.

SportsTicker reports: Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh will start in place of Kevin Garnett in Sunday’s All-Star Game. Bosh has averaged a team-high 22.7 points and 9.1 rebounds for the Raptors and is making his third consecutive All-Star appearance and second straight start.

The Toronto Sun (Mike Ganter) reports:  Rivers was asked what made Bosh his choice. “Because of the Canadian dollar — you know, it’s grown in value, and so we figure we’d go with that,” Rivers said to much laughter. “No — I think he deserves it, I really do. I think he’s terrific, a terrific player, and I think he deserves more attention than he’s getting, so I think he should start.”

Marcus Fizer injured overseas reports: Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv (Israel) suffered a blow over the weekend as it learned that the injury big man Marcus Fizer suffered in Thursday’s road win at Olympiacos Piraeus has likely ended his season. During the first quarter of the game, Fizer was fouled on his way to the basket and landed badly on his right leg. He did not return to the game. After returning to Tel Aviv, an MRI revealed that Fizer sustained an internal and external tear of the meniscus in his right knee.

The Washington Post (Michael Lee) reports: Gilbert Arenas will not be invited to try out for the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team this summer, national team managing director Jerry Colangelo said on Friday afternoon. Speaking after a ceremony to announce the finalists for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Colangelo said USA Basketball will invite 18 players to Las Vegas for a short training camp June 27-30 to determine which 12 players will represent the country in Beijing. “He’s not part of the mix,” Colangelo said of Arenas. “Not at this point, because of what transpired the first year and he was out the second year. He’s on the roster, but as of right now, we don’t see him as one of the 18.”

David West gives New Orleans hood advice

The Orlando Sentinel (Brian Schmitz) reports: Hornets forward David West admits that fellow all-stars have asked him what parts of town to avoid. “Guys have been asking me about security and safety, and all those other things,” he said. “I just tell them, some places you can go and some places you shouldn’t go. But you can’t let that overtake your mind and prohibit you from having a good time.” All-star weekend, with its celebrities and big spenders, is expected to have an economic impact estimated between $80 million to $90 million on New Orleans. “It just means more to have the game here,” Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. “The city needs it. It brings in more money.”

Dwight Howard dunk contest interview

After Dwight Howard shocked the world, he spoke for a long time about the amazing dunk contest.

Here’s a piece of it:

Q. Can you take us through the three dunks. The first one, obviously from behind the backboard, Superman, and then that self alley-oop.

DWIGHT HOWARD: Well, the first one I’ve been working on it for about two years. And I could never really get it done. I saw Iguodala did it, and I was working on it after that, coming up with my own little thing. I had my legs under me tonight and I got that one down. And the second one, the Superman dunk, I really wanted to get the crowd into it and try to show a little bit of my personality. You know, putting the cape on, and Superman. I thought everybody liked it. I enjoyed it. And then to make the dunk to finish it, it was unbelievable. And the third dunk, the self alley, I didn’t think I was going to do that dunk tonight in the Dunk Contest. But I was getting a lot of calls and text messages from my friends. And they said I’ve got to do that dunk, I’ve got to let the world see it, and I had to do it.

Q. I thought you were going to bust out with the telephone booth. Was that part of the plan? Or you just kind of invented that, the cape?

DWIGHT HOWARD: The telephone booth? Oh, I didn’t have time to get the telephone booth and all that. But I think the cape and the Superman, and the outfit, I think it worked.

The full-length Q&A session is here. You absolutely have to read the whole thing.

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Peja Stojakovic, a great outside shooter, didn’t fare too well in the 2008 NBA Three-Point Shootout, not reaching the second/final round. He shot pretty well, but it wasn’t good enough tonight. Here’s what he said afterwards:

Q: Were you disappointed in how you finished?

Peja Stojakovic: No, no, I just wanted to enjoy myself and enjoy the weekend and that’s about it. It’s a tough competition and Jason Kapono deserved it, he shot the ball and congrats.

Q: What was going through your mind watching Kapono shoot the way he did?

Stojakovic: I knew that the way I started I didn’t have a chance. As I said yesterday, it’s different than playing a game — you can’t come right from the warm-up and step into the competition, you have to wait and once they call your name you got to be ready. It’s different, but its fun, and I haven’t done it in a long time and it’s a good experience.

Q: Is it better to go early or go late in the competition?

Stojakovic: It’s better to go early, right after the warm-up — you step into the competition and you’re ready to go. As I said, it’s different than shooting by yourself in practice and obviously, 60 seconds shooting 25 shots is tough.

Chris Paul lost to Deron Williams in the final round of the 2008 Skills Challenge. Here’s what CP3 said after the event:

Q: What are your thoughts on your rivalry with Deron Williams?

Chris Paul: Always, always. But it was fun. That was my first time getting to the second round. You know, I thought I had a shot going second, but then he got 25.8 and I can’t mess up. He set the bar real high but it was fun.

Q: What do you remember the most from watching All-Star Weekend when you were a kid?

Paul: Just all the excitement behind this and seeing all the glitz and glamor and flashing lights - and now to be a part of it is something that I would have never imagined.

Q: Is there one player you always looked up to and were amazed by?

Paul: MJ, all day long. It seems like he won MVP every year or the dunk contest or something like that. To actually know him on a personal basis now makes it even crazier.

Q: If you could add an event or change something about this weekend, what would it be?

Paul: Probably “Horse.” I play “Horse” just about every day with one of my teammates, Jannero Pargo, so we have a lot of crazy shots we do.

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