Archive for February 15th, 2009

Shaquille O’Neal was introduced at the 2009 NBA All-Star game along with the dance crew Jabbawockeez. And he made it special.

Coming out in the crew’s trademark white mask, Shaq danced as he was introduced and showed breakdance moves you wish you had. See the video below:

Nate Robinson beat Dwight Howard to win the 2009 NBA Slam dunk contest.

After the win, Nate talked about it. Here’s what he said.

The New York Daily News (Frank Isola) reports: Over a spectacular 48-hour period two weeks ago, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James had the basketball world buzzing and their peers thinking: If they can do that in New York, why can’t I? “I wish I could have caught (the Knicks) right after that,” Dwayne Wade said. “I wish I could have been the third guy to go up in there because they were giving up so many points at that time. Maybe I could have snuck in and gotten 48, 49 or 50. I don’t know. You always want to play well at the Garden. I wish I had one more game there.” … “It was crazy,” he said. “As a fan of the game, once you saw Kobe score 61 points and you look and see that LeBron is coming to town it’s like, ‘Oh wow, I’ve got to be in front of the TV to watch that.’ To see him to come out and get, before they took the rebound away, a triple-double performance with the 52 points, that was some of the best basketball we’ve seen.”

Ray Allen talks about winning

Here’s what Boston Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen said at 2009 NBA All-Star weekend about his legacy and how important it is to win games that matter:

Ray Allen: (Winning) does take you over the hump.  People talk about great players in the league and you compare greatness with what you did on winning teams.  Did you ever win the big game? I remember for the longest time that discussion, and that discussion still takes place today with Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing, two guys we feel are two of the best players in the history of the game. That’s the one negative that people always talk about.  Now I’m talking about it.  It does take you to that next level.  Then they start comparing you to other players that have won and are on that level caliber of player.

Indiana Pacers swingman Danny Granger is an All-Star, and has made his strides in improving his shooting ability. Here’s what he said Friday at NBA All-Star weekend:

Question: How did you improve on your jump shot? It’s clearly gotten better.

Danny Granger: I had surgery on my shoulder in my junior year and I started altering my jump shots to make them more efficient.  And my rookie year I changed them, just to fine‑tune, and it has been helping me.

Question: So you changed it twice in two years?

Danny Granger: Not dramatically.  I don’t know if anyone else would be able to really tell other than myself, but I actually did change it.

Question: What did you change the second time?

Danny Granger: A lot of times I was shooting the ball with all my fingertips.  Actually, I’m better shooting off my palm I found.  I’m much more accurate with it.

Here’s what Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis said Friday at 2009 NBA All-Star weekend.

Question: Talk about this experience, of being an All-Star.

Rashard Lewis: I didn’t expect to be here.  We knew Dwight would be here.  When the coaches vote, you never know what could happen.  There are a lot of guys not on the All‑Star Game that really, you know, have a chance on the All‑Star team.

Question: Talk about your role on Orlando and how it changed from your Seattle days.

Rashard Lewis: They got me playing the four now, pretty much banging with the bigger guys, trying to defend the bigger guys. It works.  We try to spread the floor with Dwight Howard in the middle.  You shoot a lot of three‑pointers.  It helps opening it up for him as well as it opens up for us.

Question: How is this season different from last?

Rashard Lewis: I think this year we gelled a lot more and we connected with the coaches and that’s why we have been successful.

Question: Does the All‑Star selection make it so now people can talk about you as one of the tops in the game?

Rashard Lewis: Hopefully. This is my second All‑Star team and I’m most definitely happy to be here.  But obviously fly under the radar a little bit.  It kind of keeps the fire burning in the NBA. It keeps me playing at the level because there is always something you have to go out there and prove.

Dirk Nowitzki speaks on Mavs season

Here’s what Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said Friday at NBA All-Star weekend about the team’s season so far:

Question: When you look at the first part of the season, why has it been such a roller coaster, with five wins in a row, then five losses in a row?

Nowitzki:  Well, I think we just had to work and keep improving.  We had a new coach.  We tried to put a new system in that wasn’t really working the way we wanted.  We had stuff from both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively. I think once we got comfortable with that, we started to be a little more consistent. We didn’t lose that many games anymore.  It is all about a work in progress, getting all the players on the same page with the coach.  It has been better here the last two, three weeks.  We have beaten two, three teams.  In the Western Conference, it is so tight.  I think we are fifth or sixth now.  We are setting ourselves up for these last 30 games we got and hopefully make a great run at the playoffs. We were struggling and it was a little up and down, but the good thing is other teams were too.  If you look at New Orleans, lost some tough games.  Utah, Boozer has been out for a couple months.  They lost some games.  Phoenix is struggling. There are a lot of teams that are up and down a little bit. And I think that’s what helps us.  I still think we are in a great position to have a great playoff run.

David West talks about being an All-Star

Here’s what New Orleans Hornets power forward David West said Friday at 2009 NBA All-Star weekend:

Question: Talk about how special it is that both you and teammate Chris Paul are here as All-Stars.

David West: I think obviously it is a respect from the coaches around the league and how they regard you and what they feel you bring to the basketball floor. We know our teams prepare for us and we actually have the opportunity to ‑‑ as guys coming in from the other team talking about how they prepare for us. Especially someone like myself, this doesn’t persuade me one way or the other.  It is about the fact that I’m on the basketball court and dealing with that as such.

Question: Your first year in the league was kind of tough, especially with health issues. Now you’re a two-time All-Star. Talk about that.

David West: Obviously the keyword was “health.”  I was able to stay healthy.  Like I said, this is not something that I work toward.  One of the goals at the beginning of my year, sometimes I hear guys say it their goal is to be an All‑Star. That’s not something that I shoot for.  I have a goal at the beginning of the year just to be effective and healthy.  Those are the two goals I set.  I don’t set personal goals or anything like that. My whole theory coming into the NBA was showing people I could be effective and show people I could play the game, just be a role guy, sixth, seventh man off the bench.  I wanted to show people I could be effective.

Dwyane Wade 2009 All-Star interview

Here’s what Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade said Friday at 2009 NBA All-Star weekend:

Question: Talk about the trade for Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon.

Dwyane Wade:  It gives us some power down low which we need to compete.  Our main thing is we can get it together faster.  We just got to get everybody on the same page.  Hopefully we can get a breather during the All‑Star.  It is really under the radar for what he can do.

Question: What are your thoughts on Amar’e Stoudemire while you are here in Phoenix?

Dwyane Wade:  You hear he is one of the best in the game.  You never know if it is real or not.  Everyone’s name is eventually going to come up in a trade rumor.  That’s what happens.  I think the best thing is not to worry about it.  Just continue to do what you are doing.  If you go somewhere, embrace it.  If he doesn’t, try to stay here and lead your team to the playoffs?

Question: Talk about Shaquille O’Neal, what you think of him.

Dwyane Wade:  There will never be another him, his creativity.  We got a chance to see him in Miami for a couple years.  It was unbelievable.  Dwight Howard has that personality somewhat and he can bring it once he gets more comfortable in the star role.

Question: How does the dynamic of the team change with the trade, getting Jermaine O’Neal?

Dwyane Wade:  It gives us a presence down low.  Jermaine, he gives us what we have been missing in Alonzo Mourning as a shot blocker.  I think he is going to help us.  He is the push we have to make it to the end of the year.

Question: One thing the trade does is pull Beasley out of the trade rumors.  Are you glad he is sticking around?

Dwyane Wade:  Michael is a guy, as you can see, he is 14‑6 off the bench in limited minutes.  He proved last night going 9‑for‑10 on the road versus the Bulls, that he is very capable.  This will give him more opportunity to showcase his talent.  He is the future of our team. He is 20 years old with an unbelievable upside.  I think this will give him opportunity, more confidence to go and be the player we want him to be.

The Dallas Morning News (Eddie Sefko) reports (via blog): We were all reminded Saturday night of Gerald Green’s lasting legacy (so far). His cupcake blowout in the dunk contest two years ago was destined to be replayed on an annual basis whenever the dunk show is on display. Green has said he hopes to re-appear in the contest next year when it’s in Dallas. It remains to be seen if he gets an invite or not, but if he’s with the Mavericks, you can bet he’ll get strong consideration. Unfortunately for Green, that remains his claim to fame. Actually, one of his two claims to fame. Nothing he’s done on the court has gotten him as much claim as his dunk and the fact that he was part of the trade that brought Boston Kevin Garnett and laid the foundation for the Celtics’ championship last season.

Derrick Rose the new face of Bulls

The Chicago Sun-Times (John Jackson) reports: As the last player introduced at the United Center, Derrick Rose already is the focal point of the franchise and will be the cornerstone of the team for years to come. Expect to see him on television, to hear his voice on radio and to see his face plastered all over town before next season. ”We will most likely be more aggressive in the future in featuring him in the things we do,” Schanwald said. ”We walk a fine line in that regard because so much of the success a basketball team enjoys is related to five individuals playing as one. ”Derrick is a genuinely humble kid, which, given his athletic gifts, is a major part of his appeal and so refreshing in this day and age. He is always the first one to credit his teammates for his success. So we walk a fine line in regard to how much we put him out there. His play is so good, his skills so great and our coverage in the media so extensive that we don’t necessarily need to artificially try to hype him up.”

Pacers plan on renegotiating arena lease

The Indianapolis Star (Jeff Rabjohns) reports: NBA commissioner David Stern expressed confidence professional basketball would remain in Indianapolis but stopped short of saying he was certain it would. The Indiana Pacers have the right to renegotiate their Conseco Fieldhouse lease after this season, and plan to do so. The team has lost a reported $7 million the past two seasons, but co-owner Herb Simon told The Star at the end of January the amount is more than that… The Simons pay the cost for operating Conseco Fieldhouse, estimated at $15 million. The Capital Improvement Board pays the operating costs for Lucas Oil Stadium, which it says were $27.2 million in 2008.

Allen Iverson slowing down

The Detroit Free Press (Vince Ellis) reports: Allen Iverson is showing signs of wear (if you’re a fan) or age (if you’re a critic). One NBA scout, who requested anonymity because it’s against the code to criticize players publicly, said of Iverson: “His first step is not quite as explosive.” Also, if you watch many Pistons games — and the scout agreed — you know Iverson misses lay-ups. These aren’t the lay-ups when you’re out in the driveway messing around. In the NBA, more often than not, there is contact in the lane when you try to make a shot. Iverson used to finish through the contact or explode to the basket so fast the only thing a defender could do was foul him. These days, defenders also can keep him out of the paint a little easier than before. That’s a tell-tale sign that his legs, the base for finishing around the basket, aren’t what they were.

The Boston Globe (Marc J. Spears) reports: Suns center Shaquille O’Neal is sentimental about playing in tonight’s All-Star Game since he knows it could be his last. “I’m soaking it in,” O’Neal said. “I’m getting real happy about knowing it’s all about to end. I remember when I was [young], I looked at people and said I wanted to do this. When it’s all said and done, I’ll be able to say I’m in the top five in scoring, not bad, the top 10 in blocks, not bad, four different teams, not bad, hell of a player, everybody liked him, not bad. I was able to accomplish more than I wanted to accomplish.” O’Neal will be reunited with Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant on the West team tonight. They won three titles together with the Lakers, but after several verbal battles with Bryant, O’Neal was dealt to Miami in the summer of 2004. “To us, it’s really not that big of a story,” Bryant said. “I’m not revisiting that. It wasn’t a fun time for me, so I’m not about to revisit it.”

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