Archive for February 14th, 2009

No surprise Danny Granger is All-Star

The Indianapolis Star (Jeff Rabjohns) reports: Several fellow All-Stars said they were not surprised Danny Granger has become an All-Star. Denver guard Chauncey Billups worked out with Granger in Las Vegas over the summer. “He’s stronger than people think. He’s long. He can score. He can shoot it from anywhere. He can post up and score. He puts it on the ground pretty good. He’s a difficult cover,” said Billups, the former Detroit Piston in his fourth All-Star game. The 6-9 Granger entered All-Star weekend sixth in the league in scoring, behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant. “Danny’s been doing it for a while now. We played against each other in college when he was at New Mexico, and now he developed a great confidence and his teammates have that confidence in him,” said New Orleans star and Wake Forest product Chris Paul. “Every night, you expect 30 from Danny, and that’s the way you become an All-Star.”

The Phoenix Suns have signed free-agent center Courtney Sims to a second 10-day contract, the club announced.  Sims will join the team on Monday, Feb. 16 following the 2009 NBA All-Star break.

The 6-11, 245-pound Sims signed his first 10-day contract with Phoenix on Jan. 20 but did not appear in a game for the Suns.  Sims has spent the last two seasons with the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League.  The Energy, coached by Nick Nurse, became the Suns’ affiliate this season.

The Suns’ roster now stands at 13.

The Suns open the second half of the NBA season on Tuesday, Feb. 17, hosting the L.A. Clippers at US Airways Center at 7 p.m.  Game action can be seen live on FS Arizona and heard on Sports 620 KTAR.

The New York Times (Vincent M. Mallozzi) reports: Ralph Kaplowitz, who appeared as a member of the Knicks in what is considered the National Basketball Association’s first game in 1946, when Jewish players were often showered with anti-Semitic catcalls, died Feb. 2 at his home in Floral Park, Queens. He was 89. The cause was kidney failure, said his daughter Barbara Kaplowitz. “My father often told us that the first Knicks team, which had other Jewish players on it, was broken up because fans, especially on the road, would often chant nasty things,” Barbara Kaplowitz said. “But my father was too self-confident a man to ever let stuff like that bother him.”

The NY Post (Marc Berman) reports:  Nate Robinson, who this week revealed he has an alter ego known as “KryptoNate,” will try to sap the powers of “Superman” tonight in the All-Star Weekend’s Slam Dunk competition. The 5-foot-7½ former Slam Dunk champ has been in hiding in Phoenix for most of the past two days, practicing a mysterious Kryptonite dunk he feels will take down Dwight Howard. The Magic’s 6-foot-11 “Man of Steel” is the reigning dunk champ who captured the world’s imagination by flying through the air like a bird, like a plane, jamming home a superhuman slam that overpowered his enemies… “It’s something new I just thought up,” said the popular Knicks guard, who already has put forth a superhero effort in winning the 2006 dunk title. “I did my homework. You have to see. I’m not giving out no secrets. I’m not telling nobody nothing. I just have a kryptonite dunk. That’s all I’ll say.”

Chauncey Billups remembers All-Star snub

The Rocky Mountain News (Chris Tomasson) reports (via blog) on the Nuggets point guard remembering not making the All-Star team in 2005, when the weekend was held in his hometown of Denver: The point guard the previous season had led Detroit to the NBA title was named Finals MVP. And Billups was in the midst of a season in which he would lead the Pistons back to the Finals. Nevertheless, he wasn’t chosen for the game at the Pepsi Center. “I came home and everything and I wasn’t going to go to the All-Star Game, man. ‘I can’t believe I’m not in it,”’ Billups said. “My wife (Piper) was like, ‘Don’t be like that. Still go.’ So I went and I sat there the whole time. I don’t think I said one word the whole time. I was sitting there like, ‘I can’t believe I’m not in this.’ That’s just another one of the pains that fuels my fire. Try to get in next year.”

The Indianapolis Star (Jeff Rabjohns) reports on what Julius “Dr. J” Erving said: “The more the slam dunk resembles the actions of the mascots, it seems the more the crowd loves it,” Erving said during All-Star weekend. “It seems about playing to the crowd. I guess if I was 26 and I were in it, I would do something that would play to the crowd. “I think that’s unfair that the slam dunkers, as talented as they are, have to resort to that to get favor from the judges or the crowd. “I’d rather see no props allowed; maybe a teammate because I think playing against opposition brings out the best dunks. I think my best dunks were when somebody was trying to block my shot. If you want props as far as resistance, OK. But chairs and ladders and trampolines? That’s turning it too much into a sideshow.”

The Salt Lake Tribune (Steve Luhm) reports: LeBron James showed up at Friday’s All-Star media availability session with a Steuben Glass crystal for each of his Eastern Conference teammates. I went on the company website and, by comparing what I saw at the media availability to some of the items for sale on-line, I’m guessing LeBron spent at least $10,000 for the gifts. Boston’s Paul Pierce seemed genuinely pleased about getting a present from the best player on the team that has the best chance of derailing the Celtics’ bid for a second straight title. “That’s what the All-Star break is all about,” Pierce said. “We’re all friends here. Then, we we break, we’re enemies again.”

Top stars not entering dunk contest

The New Orleans Times-Picayune (John Reid) reports (via blog): As impressive as the dunk contest was in New Orleans, the league’s biggest stars continue to not participate. For the sixth consecutive year, Cleveland’s LeBron James will be a spectator instead of a participant. James said he has no interest in competing, which is the same response other stars such as Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Boston’s Kevin Garnett have given. Lakers star Kobe Bryant has not entered since winning in 1997. “It would take more hops,” said Wade, when asked Friday what it would take for him to enter. “That has to be first, along with more creativity. I can’t jump as high as those guys to do what they do. I’m a game dunker.” Hornets point guard Chris Paul said he would enter but only under one condition. “If they lowered the goal to about 8 feet,” Paul said.

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