Archive for May 12th, 2012

don nelson

Fifty years ago, Don Nelson left the University of Iowa eight credits and a student-teaching requirement shy of a degree. Nelson took correspondence classes to complete the credits. But it took the most coaching wins in NBA history for the university to decide Nelson didn’t need to be a student teacher to earn a diploma.

On Saturday, the former Hawkeyes’ star player returned to receive his bachelor’s degree in physical education during Iowa’s commencement ceremony at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

”I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long, long time. I wish it would have happened 50 years ago. But it didn’t,” Nelson said, ”and I think that the moral to that story is it’s never too late as long as you keep working and keep having dreams. They can come true.”

Nelson is known for the 1,355 coaching wins he picked up over 31 seasons as an NBA coach, a career he wrapped up with Golden State following the 2010-11 season. It’s easy to forget that it all started over five decades ago in the Midwest.

Nelson, who turns 72 on May 15, starred for Rock Island High in Illinois, just across the river from Iowa, and joined the Hawkeyes in 1959. Sporting a spiky blond flat top and a versatile game that would serve him well in the pros, Nelson finished his Iowa career as a two-time All-American.

– Reported by Luke Meredith of the Associated Press

Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel has been fined $15,000 for his comments about how the referees should officiate the Pacers’ upcoming series with the Heat, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President Basketball Operations. Vogel’s comments were made during a media session on Thursday, May 10.

Atlanta Hawks forward Ivan Johnson has been fined $25,000 for directing an obscene gesture toward fans, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President Basketball Operations. The incident occurred following the conclusion of the Hawks 83-80 loss to the Boston Celtics on Thursday, May 10 at TD Garden.

Michael Gearon, an owner of the Atlanta Hawks, has been fined $35,000 for publicly criticizing NBA officiating and making negative comments about an opposing player, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President Basketball Operations. Gearon made his comments on Wednesday, May 9 at a speaking engagement in the Atlanta area.

The Heat’s second-round playoff series with the Indiana Pacers hasn’t even begun, but already, Miami has drawn the first charge.

This one had nothing to do with Udonis Haslem or Shane Battier stepping in the way of a driving Pacer and it did not result in a referee blowing a whistle. Rather, Pacers coach Frank Vogel assumed the whistle-blower role, labeling the Heat the worst floppers in the NBA.

Given an opportunity to backtrack, Vogel instead went on South Florida radio Friday to say there are times Heat defenders begin to fall “before contact is even made.”

Scoffing at the suggestion he was providing the Heat with bulletin-board material, Vogel told 640-AM host Orlando Alzugaray he was merely saying something that “needed to be pointed out.”

The Heat refused to fire any counter charges, saying the series is about Game 1 at AmericanAirlines Arena at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, not about any verbal lobs.

– Reported by Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post

Metta World Peace suspension is over

ron artest

It had been 20 days since Metta World Peace last slipped on his practice jersey with a game to play the next day.

Back on April 22, in the Los Angeles Lakers’ penultimate game in the regular season, World Peace threw his left elbow and connected with the head of Oklahoma City’s James Harden. The mercurial forward hasn’t had a game to look forward to since.

After serving the seven-game suspension levied by the NBA for the Harden hit, World Peace is set to return for Game 7 of the Lakers’ first-round series against the Denver Nuggets.

As his team is teetering, having lost two in a row and three of the past four against the Nuggets to tie the series at 3-3, World Peace did not want his return to the lineup to throw the Lakers off any more.

“(Saturday) is more about, kind of like all bets are off,” World Peace said before the Lakers practiced on Friday. “All in. Whatever we have to do as a team. It’s not about what I can and what I can’t do. It’s about really what I’m going to do.”

– Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA

mike d'antoni

Though the rumor is Mike D’Antoni has some interest in taking his speedball offense to Orlando if Stan Van Gundy is fired, a person close to the former Knicks coach said he is just as likely to spend next season at home in New York “for personal reasons’’ as his son finishes high school in Westchester.

D’Antoni, who was in West Virginia yesterday continuing his fundraising work for his alma mater, Marshall University, will be on Mike Krzyzewski’s Olympics coaching staff from early July to mid-August, reuniting him with Team USA member Carmelo Anthony. The logistics of inheriting a new NBA position while preparing for and coaching in the London Olympics may be unwise. D’Antoni’s son, Michael Jr., will be a senior guard next season.

If D’Antoni is wooed to the Magic, he may want to bring along 3-point sharpshooter Steve Novak and even try to entice restricted free agent point guard Jeremy Lin. Nevertheless, the Knicks can match any offer for Lin.

– Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

lebron james

LeBron James of the Miami Heat is the winner of the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 2011-12 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, the NBA announced today. James earns the honor for the third time in four seasons and becomes the first player since Michael Jordan to win at least three MVPs.

James totaled 1,074 points, including 85 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 voters that consisted of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada as well as an NBA.com MVP fan vote. For the third consecutive season, the NBA and Kia Motors America gave fans the opportunity to submit their votes by ranking their top five choices through a dedicated Web page on NBA.com. The fan vote counted as one vote and was compiled with the 120 media votes to determine the winner. Players were awarded 10 points for each first-place vote, seven points for each second-place vote, five for third, three for fourth and one for each fifth-place vote received.

kevin durant

Rounding out the top five in voting are Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (889 points, 24 first-place votes), the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul (385, six first-place votes), the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (352, two first-place votes), and San Antonio’s Tony Parker (331, four first-place votes).

James led the Heat to a 46-20 mark and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Despite averaging a career-low 37.5 minutes, the eight-time All-Star led the NBA in plus-minus score differential (+7.6) and ranked third in scoring (27.1 ppg), while pacing the Heat in assists (6.2 apg) and tying for the team lead in rebounds (7.9 rpg). In addition, James established career bests in field goal percentage (.531) and three-point field goal percentage (.362).

This season, James was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month twice (January and February), and he captured Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors six times, extending his NBA record for the most Player of the Week awards to 37. James has scored double-figure points in 419 consecutive career games, the seventh-longest streak in NBA history, behind Michael Jordan (866), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (streaks of 787 and 508), Karl Malone (575), Moses Malone (526), and Oscar Robertson (428).

The NBA MVP trophy is named in honor of the late Maurice Podoloff, the first commissioner of the NBA who served from 1946 until his retirement in 1963.

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marc gasol

This time, the fourth quarter belonged to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Long the domain of the Clippers’ Chris Paul, it was the Grizzlies who rallied in the closing minutes to beat Los Angeles 90-88 and force a decisive seventh game in their playoff series.

Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph worked their inside-out game to perfection on a night when Paul and Blake Griffin were limited by injuries and the Clippers’ bench couldn’t quite put them over the top.

”This one has to hurt,” Paul said. ”If it doesn’t hurt, it means you don’t care.”

Gasol scored 23 points, Randolph had 18 points and 16 rebounds, and Rudy Gay and Mike Conley added 13 points each to help the Grizzlies win for the first time in the Western Conference series at Staples Center and stave off elimination…

Griffin scored 17 points despite a sprained left knee that limited his jumping ability, and Eric Bledoe added 14 off the bench to lead the Clippers, who blew an eight-point lead in the fourth along with a second consecutive chance to close out what would have been a landmark playoff victory for the beleaguered franchise…

Only eight teams in NBA history have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a seven-game series. Top-seeded San Antonio awaits the winner in the conference semifinals…

The Grizzlies led by nine points in the first half, when they outrebounded the Clippers. Paul twice drew the Clippers within one in the second quarter before Gasol’s three-point play extended Memphis’ lead to 42-38 at the break. Paul and Griffin combined for 12 points and six rebounds in the half, with Paul playing 18 minutes and Griffin 15. The Grizzlies had 13 turnovers in the half, when neither team shot well…

– Reported by the Associated Press

Memphis did all of the little things this time. The Griz got steals, offensive rebounds and made it nearly impossible for the Clippers to score at the rim.

Center Marc Gasol led the Griz with 23 points, and Zach Randolph added 18 points and 16 rebounds.

The Clippers, who led 76-68, early in the fourth quarter, were at full strength despite questions about whether Chris Paul (hip) and Blake Griffin (knee) would play. Both started and didn’t appear limited.

However, the Grizzlies couldn’t have been more impaired handling the basketball if they had tried. They turned the ball over 22 times, breaking a franchise playoff record set against Dallas in 2006.

– Reported by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Paul turned the ball over twice and missed a key free throw in the final five minutes, helping the Grizzlies reclaim home-court advantage in the series before Game 7 Sunday in Memphis.

Despite some poor late-game execution on the offensive end, the Clippers had a chance to make one last push. With 25 seconds left in the game and the Clippers down four, Tony Allen missed two free throws, but after Randy Foye jumped to grab the rebound, his foot landed on the baseline.

– Reported by Dan Woike of the Orange County Register

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