Archive for August 26th, 2008

Kevin Duckworth dies at 44

Kevin Duckworth, 44, a two-time NBA All-Star who starred on Western Conference Championship teams in Portland in 1990 and 1992, passed away Monday evening in Gleneden Beach, Oregon.

Two recent pictures of him are here. Also join in fan reaction here.

A member of the Trail Blazers from 1986-93, the 7-footer - affectionately known to Trail Blazers fans simply as “Duck” - also played for San Antonio, Washington, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Clippers during his 11-year NBA career.

“Today is an extremely sad day for the Trail Blazers family,” Trail Blazers President Larry Miller said. “Kevin will be remembered by fans as one of the most popular and recognizable players to ever wear the Blazers uniform, but to people who knew him, he’ll be remembered as one of the warmest and biggest-hearted.”

Duckworth remained in the Portland area after his playing career ended, where he was an avid fisherman & outdoorsman, and a skilled carpenter. He was on the Oregon Coast representing the Trail Blazers as a Heritage Ambassador on the team’s 19-city Statewide Summer Tour. The cause of his death is unknown, and will be determined by a Lincoln County Medical Examiner.

A second-round draft pick of the San Antonio Spurs out of Eastern Illinois University in 1986, Duckworth was only 14 games into his NBA career when he was acquired by the Trail Blazers from San Antonio in exchange for Walter Berry.

One season later, the 7-foot center was thrust into the spotlight because of injuries to Steve Johnson and Sam Bowie. Duckworth responded by averaging 15.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, establishing himself as a pivot presence instrumental in Portland’s emergence as one of the NBA’s dominant teams.

Duckworth remains the 10th leading scorer (7,188) and rebounder (3,327) in Trail Blazers history, compiling averages of 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds in 527 games with Portland. During his tenure, Trail Blazers teams compiled a record of 356-193 (.648). In 684 career NBA games, Duckworth scored 8,085 points (11.8 ppg), grabbed 3,945 rebounds (5.8 rpg) and shot 46.8 percent from the field.

“This is a devastating loss,” said Traci Rose, Trail Blazers Vice President of Community Relations. “To this day, Duck is adored throughout this state and remains a brother to his teammates and to Trail Blazers staff. We will forever miss our beloved 00.”

Information on memorial services will be announced as it becomes available. Duckworth is survived by his mother and sister.

Shaq and wife staying together

The Miami Herald (Joan Fleischman) reports: It’s official: Shaq and Shaunie will remain a team. NBA star Shaquille O’Neal’s attorney Ira Elegant wrote to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Roberto Pineiro: “The parties have reconciled.” Pineiro signed the dismissal order on Friday. ”A happy ending,” says Shaunie’s lawyer, Marsha Elser. Elegant agrees. “An excellent result.” Shaq filed last September, when he played for the Miami Heat.

Airline loses Ginobili’s luggage

The San Antonio Express-News (Mike Monroe) reports: After more than an hour on a runway in Beijing, another 12 in the air, an hour clearing customs at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and three more waiting for a connecting flight, Spurs star Manu Ginobili arrived at San Antonio International Airport late Monday night and discovered the truth about heroes. When it comes to lost luggage, Olympic medalists get no special favors. Missing were three of the four bags he and his wife had checked in Beijing, where Ginobili collected a bronze medal as the leading scorer for the Argentine Olympic team. “I actually got 25 percent — three out of four (were missing),” Ginobili said.

The New York Times (Howard Beck) reports: Winning Olympic gold in Beijing depended partly on Team USA’s ability to cope with the unfamiliar geometry of the international game: a trapezoidal lane, a shallow 3-point arc and a contorted array of driving lanes. But in two years, the trapezoid will be dead, the arc will be a little deeper and the international game will be a bit closer in style to the N.B.A.’s. The lane will become a rectangle, emulating the United States model. The arc will move to 6.75 meters (22.1 feet) — closer to the N.B.A. standard of 22 feet 9 inches — from 6.25 meters (20.5 feet). The changes were among several adopted, to little fanfare, by the International Basketball Federation, known as FIBA, in April. The new rules take effect after the world championships in 2010, so they will be in place for the 2012 Olympics in London. The intent is to sharpen the international game and to make it more uniform from one hemisphere to another, at all levels of play. But the changes will undoubtedly provide a subtle lift to a United States team that probably needs no help.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Regardless of which international team it helps in the somewhat near future, the idea that the entire world will be playing on the same basketball court is a good one, and ultimately does benefit the collective basketball universe in the long run.

More from the New York Times (Howard Beck): In FIBA’s view, the 3-point shot has become too common. In 1984, when the arc was added in international play, only 14 percent of all field-goal attempts were 3-pointers, Baumann said. Now, he added, that number is 40 percent and players routinely make 38 to 40 percent of them. “The board felt that’s no longer now an exceptional shot,” Baumann said. “It felt something needed to be done.”

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