Archive for June 13th, 2011

charlotte bobcats

Rich Cho became the third General Manager in Charlotte Bobcats history on June 14, 2011, and will enter his first season with the Bobcats in 2011-12. As General Manager, Cho will collaborate with Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins in areas including player acquisitions, salary cap management and compliance with league rules and the collective bargaining agreement.

A native of Burma who immigrated to the United States with his family in 1968 when he was three years old, Cho became the first Asian-American general manager in American major league sports when he served as General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers in 2010-11.

Prior to his stint in Portland, Cho spent the previous 10 seasons as Assistant General Manager of the Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder. Cho entered the NBA as an intern with the SuperSonics in 1995 while earning a law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law.

After serving as a part-time consultant for the SuperSonics in 1997, Cho was hired as the team’s Director of Basketball Affairs in 1998 before being promoted to Assistant General Manager in 2000.

A member of the Washington State Bar, Cho also served as Vice President of Legal for the SuperSonics from 2005-07 in addition to his duties as Assistant GM. In that role, he was responsible for all legal work involved with sponsorship agreements, licensing issues, employment contracts and immigration issues.

Following the team’s move to Oklahoma City, Cho also oversaw the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the Tulsa 66ers, and their run to the championship game in 2009-10.

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Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports:

mickael pietrus

Agent Bill McCandless would not have been doing his job had his client, Suns swingman Mickael Pietrus, opted out of his contract this summer and declined a $5.3 million option to be a free agent.

Pietrus waited to decide on the option until Monday afternoon but he is no fool. McCandless said Pietrus will opt in. That does not necessarily mean that he will remain a Suns player for the final year of his contract, given Phoenix’s overabundance of wing players.

McCandless said he and Pietrus are aware of the possibility of a Suns trade to better balance their roster.

“I’ll be surprised if Lon (Babby, Suns president of basketball operations) doesn’t make a couple deals on draft day or later,” McCandless said.

ESPN Chicago reports:

lebron james

Scottie Pippen had it all wrong when he recently compared LeBron James with Michael Jordan, said one former Chicago Bulls teammate.

“The irony to me is that LeBron is not Michael. LeBron is actually Scottie,” former Bull and current television analyst Steve Kerr said Monday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “He’s so similar to Scottie in that defensively he was just a monster, could guard anybody, really more of a point forward than scoring guard. Scottie always loved to distribute the ball. That’s really where LeBron’s preference is.

“Phil Jackson used to call Scottie a ’sometimes shooter.’ Sometimes they would go in, sometimes they wouldn’t. That’s how it is with LeBron. He’s a great talent and a great player but you can see his flaws as a basketball player. He doesn’t have an offensive game that he can rely on: no low-post game, no mid-range jump shot so when the game really gets tough he has a hard time finding easy baskets and getting himself going. That’s what Michael did in his sleep so that’s why the comparison is wrong.”

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Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports:

kevin mchale

When Red Auerbach, the late Boston legend who drafted Kevin McHale, lit victory cigars on the Celtics’ bench, he had no right-hand man to share the moment. He had no assistant coaches, no player development staff, no one staying up nights studying video.

As stunned as Auerbach might have been had he been told of the career path of McHale, the playful rookie he drafted, he likely would have been amazed at the changes in NBA coaching since he left the bench in 1967.

When McHale signed on as Rockets coach last week, his first order of business was to begin interviews with assistant coaches, with one expected to serve in the lead assistant role that has become popular in the NBA.

“You try to get the right people,” McHale said. “The head coach is a guy who has a lot of irons in the fire. Guys who are looking at things just from an offensive standpoint or defensive standpoint, they can spend a lot of time on that and really concentrate on that. That’s really important, because there are times that you’re going to need someone to just auger in on one thing and help you. I think those models do work.

“You’ve seen it done in a lot of ways, but I think the league is trending more toward that model. I do like that model.”

Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas reports:

deshawn stevenson

DeShawn Stevenson admitted that beating self-proclaimed king LeBron James made the Dallas Mavericks’ championship even sweeter.

“It makes me feel good, man, to beat him, to beat that Miami team,” Stevenson told ESPNDallas.com in an AmericanAirlines Arena hallway after the Mavs clinched the title with Sunday’s Game 6 win. “The way they act, the way they treated Dirk [Nowitzki], all the things that they said were very classless. To win on the court the way we did it, it was wonderful.”

The Mavericks thought James and Dwyane Wade disrespected Nowitzki, who was named Finals MVP, by mocking his cough in front of television cameras after the Game 5 shootaround. Nowitzki, who played Game 4 with a sinus infection that caused a nasty cough and a 101-degree fever, called the incident “a little childish, a little arrogant.”

Stevenson’s hostile history with James goes back much further than these Finals. Stevenson’s Washington Wizards were eliminated by James’ Cleveland Cavaliers three consecutive postseasons.

The last Wizards-Cavaliers series, in 2008, featured a feud between Stevenson and James that eventually involved a pair of high-profile rappers.

It started with Stevenson calling James “overrated.” LeBron answered that responding to Stevenson would be like rap icon Jay-Z getting into it with one-hit wonder Soulja Boy.

The AP reports:

“It’s an odd position, when the game is the best it’s ever been, when the ratings are the highest they’ve ever been, when the excitement is the greatest it’s ever (been),” Players Association attorney Jeffrey Kessler said last week. “It’s sort of odd to see the owners say we’re going to destroy this game unless you change this whole system. Players just want to play.”

Nobody can predict when they’ll get that chance again. When the Dallas Mavericks finished off the Miami Heat on Sunday night in Game 6, it sent the NBA into a most uncertain offseason.

Owners and players are nowhere close on a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expires June 30. Without a new deal, players say they have been told by the owners they will be locked out.

The NBA was reduced to a 50-game season by a work stoppage in 1998-99, and the loss of games is a threat now. Citing leaguewide losses of about $300 million this season, the league hasn’t budged on its desire for significant changes to the financial structure, ranging from reductions in the length of contracts and the amount of guarantees, to an overhaul of the salary cap system that would prevent teams from being able to exceed it, as they can now under certain exceptions.

And Stern said the record TV ratings and all the other positive attention the league has received doesn’t make him any more motivated to get this settled, since he’d want to do it anyway.

“I don’t need any external prod to want to be able to make a deal,” he said…

The sides are scheduled to meet twice this week and say they hope for frequent discussions before the end of the month. Should those fail, the NBA could follow the NFL’s labor situation right into the court system, which both sides say they want to avoid. So although a work stoppage in July wouldn’t seem to have much effect since games aren’t going on, Stern insists “we very much feel the weight of the deadline.”

The AP reports:

The Dallas Mavericks’ clinching victory in the NBA finals earned the highest preliminary television rating for a Game 6 in 11 years.

The Mavericks’ 105-95 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday on ABC drew a 15.0 overnight rating. That’s the best for a Game 6 since 2000, when the Lakers clinched a title over the Pacers. There had been five series since that went at least six games.

The rating was up 35 percent from Game 6 of the 2006 finals between the same teams, when the Heat clinched a championship. It was up 22 percent from last year’s Game 6, when the Lakers routed the Celtics to force Game 7.

The AP reports:

A full-page ad that ran in Monday’s Miami Herald reads “Congratulations Miami” next to photos of Heat championship T-shirts and hats from Macy’s. One T-shirt reads “Heat 2011 NBA Finals Champions” and the ad shows the Heat’s logo on a hat with the words “NBA Champions.”

The ad ran under a story about the Heat’s loss.

The newspaper has issued a correction and apologized for any inconvenience.

Champion Mavericks arrive home in Dallas

The AP reports:

Mvaericks

The Dallas Mavericks returned home in triumph on Monday, cheered by hundreds of fans celebrating the franchise’s first NBA title and the first professional championship of any kind in the area in more than a decade.

Owner Mark Cuban walked off the plane at Love Field carrying the championship trophy he was handed after Sunday’s Game 6 win over the Miami Heat.

Next came forward Dirk Nowitzki with hardware of his own: The NBA finals MVP trophy that was awarded after he overcame a finger injury, illness and smothering defense from the Heat to power fourth-quarter comeback wins…

The team charter passed under a water cannon salute after it landed. Cuban, a cigar in his mouth, walked off first, followed by Nowitzki, both holding the trophies high. They then went across the runway to a security fence, touching off a celebration that lasted about 30 minutes and allowing fans who spent hours waiting in 90-degree heat to get a taste of the title.

Cuban eventually handed off the championship trophy to members of the team, who walked along the fence as fans held cell phone high to take photos. As Nowitzki was driven away, he held the MVP trophy aloft through the sun roof of his sport utility vehicle.

Details have not been announced on a celebration parade. Cuban repeated Monday that he will personally pay for the event.

The AP reports:

Dirk Nowitzki

For Dirk Nowitzki, the resume is complete. He’s an NBA champion.

For LeBron James, the agonizing wait continues for at least one more year.

A season that began with Miami celebrating the signings of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh—along with the promise of championships—ended on the very same floor, with the Dallas Mavericks hoisting the title trophy for the first time in their franchise history after beating the Heat 105-95 on Sunday night. The Mavericks won four of the series’ last five games, a turnabout that could not have been sweeter.

“I really still can’t believe it,” said Nowitzki, who had 21 points and took home finals MVP honors.

He and Jason Terry, who led the Mavs with 27 points, were the two remaining players from the Dallas team that lost to Miami in the 2006 finals.

“Tonight,” Terry said, “we got vindication.”

James did not. Not even close, and a year unlike any other ended they way they all have so far—with him still waiting for an NBA title.

He scored 21 points for Miami, shook a few hands afterward, and departed before most of the Mavs tugged on their championship hats and T-shirts. Bosh had 19, Mario Chalmers 18 and Wade 17 for the Heat.

The AP reports:

lebron jame

LeBron James said losing the NBA finals to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday felt like a “personal failure,” but he refused to let it bother him that so many people were happy to see him falter.

James’ first finals with the Miami Heat ended Sunday with the Mavericks’ 105-95 victory in Game 6. James started strong and wilted at the finish, just the way the Heat did in the series.

The AP reports:

Mark Cuban zipped his lips and won a championship.

And when it was time for his old nemesis David Stern to hand him the shiny gold trophy, this was his big chance to say anything he wanted, with everyone watching.

So, what did he do?

He stood behind a 78-year-old man and let him take center stage, a reward for Donald Carter having founded the team 31 long years ago. He brought his wife and three kids on the podium to enjoy the moment. He even realized how corny he was being when he told his toddler son, “This could be yours.”

Then, out came the Mark Cuban most sports fans remember.

He swore in multiple TV interviews to emphasize how proud he was of his fans. He walked into a postgame news conference talking on the phone, hung up and hollered, “Did anybody inform you guys, we’re the world champions?!” On his way out, he took the trophy with him and declared it was spending the night in his room.

The AP reports:

The Mavericks took control in the second half of the game after some wild momentum shifts in the opening two quarters. Miami took its last lead of the game just 64 seconds into the second half, lost it 16 seconds later and chased the Mavericks the rest of the way.

Nowitzki sealed the win with 2:27 left, hitting a jumper near the Miami bench to put Dallas up 99-89. He then walked to the Mavs’ side slowly, right fist clenched above his head.

“This is a true team,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “This is an old bunch. We don’t run fast or jump high. These guys had each other’s backs. We played the right way. We trusted the pass. This is a phenomenal thing for the city of Dallas.”

Carlisle joined a highly elite group with the win—those with NBA titles as both a player and a head coach. He was a part of the Boston Celtics team that won the championship over the Houston Rockets in 1986.

The AP reports:

Dirk Nowitzki has been named Most Valuable Player of the NBA finals for his huge role in leading the Dallas Mavericks to their first championship.

Although the German star struggled in the Mavericks’ Game 6 victory on Sunday, he certainly put them in position to win it all, overcoming injury and illness to power fourth-quarter comebacks from deficits of 12, nine and four points in Dallas’ previous wins.

The AP reports:

Nowitzki missed 11 of his first 12 shots and matched his series low with 21 points, yet with Jason Terry scoring 27 and every starter and reserve making some sort of significant contribution, the Mavericks beat the Miami Heat 105-95 Sunday night to wrap up the first title in franchise history.

The difference-makers were everywhere: from Ian Mahinmi with his step-back jumper and third quarter buzzer-beater to DeShawn Stevenson and his three 3-pointers in the first half; from Brian Cardinal making a 3 and drawing a charge to J.J. Barea improving to 3-0 as a starter.

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