Archive for June 4th, 2008

Lakers bring Finals TV ratings

The AP reports: The NBA finals’ television ratings for the last eight years fall into two unmistakable categories: series with the Los Angeles Lakers, and series without them. The four times that the Lakers—with their large market, big stars and storied tradition—reached the sport’s grandest stage, the finals’ average rating was never lower than a 10.2. The four times they weren’t involved, the number was never above an 8.5. But none of the Lakers’ opponents during that span had the fan base, history and star power to rival their own. That changes this week, as ABC gets a glamour matchup overflowing with story lines when Los Angeles faces its old nemesis, the Boston Celtics.

Pistons may want Mike Woodson

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Sekou Smith) reports the following via blog: According to my spy the Detroit Pistons have asked for permission to speak with Hawks coach Mike Woodson (that’s his title for at least the next 26 days or so unless something breaks before the end of the month) about their vacant coaching position. Solid reports out of Detroit have Pistons assistant Michael Curry lined up for the job. But the Pistons have apparently covered their bases if that doesn’t work out by contacting the representative of Woodson, who was the lead assistant on Larry Brown’s staff when the Pistons won the NBA title in 2004.

Bobcats add most of coaching staff

The Charlotte Bobcats today named Dave Hanners, Phil Ford and Jeff Capel as assistant coaches on the staff of new Head Coach Larry Brown.  The club also named 15-year NBA veteran LaSalle Thompson strength and conditioning coach and Steve Stricker head athletic trainer.

“It was important to me to put together a staff that I feel comfortable with but also one that mirrors my coaching philosophy,” said Bobcats Head Coach Larry Brown. “When I selected my staff I wanted to assemble a group that will care about the players, care about the team and love to teach the game of basketball.”

Hanners is reunited with Brown, having served as an assistant coach with him for six seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers (2000-03), Detroit Pistons (2003-05) and New York Knicks (2005-06).  Hanners, who spent the last three seasons on the Knicks bench, was an assistant coach for Detroit’s 2003-04 NBA Championship team, as well as the 2000-01 76ers and 2004-05 Pistons teams that won Eastern Conference titles.

Prior to his NBA career, Hanners spent 11 seasons alongside Ford as assistant coaches at their alma mater, the University of North Carolina, helping the Tar Heels to the 1993 NCAA Championship, six Final Fours and four ACC titles under Hall of Fame Coach Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge.

Hanners played guard at UNC under Smith from 1972-76, sharing a backcourt with Ford for his final two seasons.  He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Tar Heels from 1976-78, then spent three seasons as an assistant coach at UNC-Wilmington, two seasons at Furman and four seasons at East Tennessee State before returning to UNC in 1989 as an assistant coach.

Ford, who enters his second season with the Bobcats, also spent time on Brown’s bench in Detroit (2004-05) and New York (2005-06).  In his fourth season as an NBA assistant coach, Ford’s coaching experience spans over 16 years, including a 12-year period as an assistant coach at UNC under Smith and Guthridge.

The 1979 NBA Rookie of the Year, Ford averaged 11.6 points in 482 games over his seven-year career with the Kansas City Kings, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets. The second overall pick in the 1978 draft, he also earned All-Rookie and All-NBA Second Team honors that season. During his third year in the league, he led the Kings to the 1981 Western Conference Finals.

No stranger to the North Carolina region, Ford was a standout player for the Tar Heels, where he earned All-ACC First Team honors (1976, 1977, 1978) and All-ACC Tournament First Team honors (1975, 1976, 1977).  In addition, he was also named First Team All-American in 1976, 1977 and 1978 and was the winner of the John Wooden Award and ACC Player of the Year during his senior season. Ford was also a member of the gold medal-winning United States team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where he averaged 11.3 points during competition.

Ford was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 and was voted one of the ACC’s Top 10 All-Time Male Athletes during the conference’s Golden Anniversary celebration in 2003.

Capel enters his fifth season with the Bobcats, having joined the team during its inaugural season in 2004-05 after serving as head coach of the D-League Fayetteville Patriots for two-plus seasons.  In Fayetteville, Capel guided the Patriots to the D-League Finals in 2002-03.  Prior to his minor league tenure, he spent 12 years as a head coach at the collegiate level at Old Dominion, North Carolina A&T and Fayetteville State with a combined record of 201-162.

In seven seasons at ODU, Capel compiled a 122-98 record, including a school-record 25-win season, two NCAA tournament appearances and one NIT postseason berth. In his one lone season at N.C. A&T, Capel led the Aggies to the MEAC Championship and an NCAA tournament berth.

A 15-year NBA veteran, Thompson played for Brown in two separate stints with the Indiana Pacers from 1993-95 and again in 1997.  Thompson, who was selected fifth overall in the 1982 NBA Draft by the Kansas City Kings, posted career averages of 7.9 points and 6.8 rebounds in 985 games for the Kings, Pacers, 76ers and Nuggets.  He finished in the top 10 in the NBA in rebounding in both 1984-85 and 1985-86 and still ranks among the Kings’ franchise leaders in rebounds (sixth – 4,214) and blocked shots (second – 697).

Thompson played three seasons at the University of Texas before leaving early for the NBA after leading NCAA Division I in rebounding as a junior and ranking fifth as a sophomore.  A consensus all-Southwest Conference selection in both his sophomore and junior years, Thompson was inducted into the UT Athletics Hall of Honor in 1998.

Thompson spent the 2000-01 season as General Manager of the San Diego Wildfire in the ABA.  Since then, he has operated his own businesses, TNT Motorsports, a car and truck customizing business, and a land development firm.

Stricker brings over 20 years of experience to the Bobcats in a career that includes stops with the Washington Wizards, University of Michigan, University of Texas-Arlington and Iowa State University.  Stricker began his career at his alma mater Iowa State, where he served as both a student trainer and assistant athletic trainer while earning both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.  He went on to serve as head athletic trainer at UT-Arlington from 1993-95 before moving on to Michigan, where he held the positions of assistant athletic trainer and associate supervisor of athletic medicine.  In 2001, Stricker joined the Wizards, serving as the team’s athletic trainer for three seasons. Most recently he served as marketing manager at Gatorade for team sports, handling all contracted college and professional teams in the Central and Northeast regions of the United States.

Jerry Sloan returning for 21st season

The Deseret Morning News (Tim Buckley) reports: When the 2008 NBA playoffs ended for the Jazz last month, coach Jerry Sloan as he typically does declined to say for certain that he would return for yet another season. This morning, however, Sloan said he indeed will work for at least another year in Utah. “I’m planning on coming back, and looking forward to it,” Sloan said by telephone during a break in chores on his farm in southern Illinois. In doing so, Sloan will be fulfilling the final season that remains on his current contract with the Jazz.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Jeff Caplan) reports: Mavericks coach Rick plans to travel to Germany next week and spend five days with Dirk Nowitzki, who is training with the German National team in its quest to qualify for the Olympics for the first time. Without a first-round pick in the June 26 draft, the Mavs will likely try to buy or trade their way in, although Carlisle said it can be difficult working out a deal with teams with only one first-round pick. New Jersey (from Dallas in the Jason Kidd trade), Seattle and Memphis each have two first-round selections. The Mavs have the 51st overall pick. Carlisle said he is getting closer to naming a staff. Former NBA head coaches Dwane Casey and Terry Stotts have standing offers. Carlisle gives a slight edge to the Boston Celtics to beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA title. Carlisle was a member of the Celtics during the most recent NBA Finals meeting between the two franchises, in 1987.

The Boston Globe (Christopher L. Gasper) reports: When Kevin Garnett was recognized as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, Celtics coach Doc Rivers commented that Garnett had changed the team’s culture when it came to defense. The same can be said of Tom Thibodeau. The first-year assistant coach and former Salem State player is the Celtics’ defensive coordinator and the man charged with molding a plan that will help them slow down league MVP Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Rivers hired Thibodeau last summer as associate head coach and promptly turned over control of the defense to the longtime NBA assistant. And Thibodeau transformed the Celtics into the best defensive team in the league. During the regular season, Boston led the league in fewest points allowed per game (90.1), field goal percentage allowed (41.9), and 3-point field goal percentage allowed (31.6). Last season, Boston ranked 24th in field goal percentage allowed (46.8), 18th in points allowed (99.2), and allowed opponents to shoot 35 percent from beyond the arc.

The Orlando Sentinel (Mike Bianchi) reports: But when faced with tough situations in Orlando, Doc Rivers didn’t fare nearly as well. He, perhaps more than anyone, allowed Tracy McGrady to turn into a prima donna. And, consequently, when McGrady’s play became inconsistent and his work ethic non-existent at the end of Doc’s tenure in 2003, there was nothing Doc could do to save his job. Grant Hill may have been the biggest reason Doc failed here, but not the only one. With Hill’s massive contract tying up much of the salary cap, Doc and former GM John Gabriel needed to work together and work miracles in the draft. Instead, they became engaged in a power struggle. Gabriel rightfully gets blamed for some poor draft picks, but Magic insiders will tell you Doc was just as responsible and pushed for such first-round busts as Jeryl Sasser and Steven Hunter. And although Doc refutes it, former Magic exec John Weisbrod said Doc made one of the most monumental miscalculations in Magic history. “When given the choice between [keeping] Ben Wallace or John Amaechi, Doc chose John Amaechi,” Weisbrod said. “Most every personnel decision that was made was because Doc was in favor of it.”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Gary Washburn) reports: For months, a Boston-area woman thought she was dating a Sonics front-office employee and former NBA player named Jeff Turner, a handsome, 6-foot-8 40-something who was polite, compassionate and respectful. She thought she had scored a figurative slam-dunk in the Internet dating game. But when the man she was falling for suddenly left his Somerville, Mass., home and stayed away for three weeks, the woman became suspicious. A Google search helped her discover that this man was not Jeff Turner, but a habitual impostor who had been posing as a Sonics employee for the past several months. Just when it appeared matters couldn’t become any more bizarre for Seattle’s downtrodden basketball franchise, the Sonics have emerged as victims in a case of identity fraud perpetrated by a smooth-talking con man.

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