Archive for August, 2012

The Atlanta Hawks announced today that Head Coach Larry Drew has added Kenny Atkinson to his staff as Assistant Coach/Player Development, and Bob Weiss as Assistant Coach/Consultant. They join Assistant Coaches Lester Conner and Bob Bender, and Player Development Instructor Nick Van Exel on the Hawks’ bench. In addition, Rick Sund has been named Senior Advisor, Basketball Operations, and Jeff Watkinson as Atlanta’s Strength and Conditioning Coach.

Atkinson comes to Atlanta after spending the last four years as an assistant with the New York Knicks where he helped the team reach the playoffs each of the last two seasons. Prior to joining the Knicks staff, he spent the 2007-08 campaign serving as the Director of Player Development for the Houston Rockets.

“Kenny has proven to be very successful in developing young players in this league, and his energy and enthusiasm are contagious,” Drew said. “We’re excited to add another dedicated and hard-working coach and teacher.”

Before starting his NBA coaching career, Atkinson spent three years as Director of Player Development/Assistant Coach for Paris Basket Racing Club in France (2004-06) and the summer of 2006 as Director of Player Development/Assistant Coach for the national team of the Republic of Georgia. He was also a Reebok EuroCamp Coach in Treviso, Italy during the summers of 2005-through-2010.

A standout collegiate player at the University of Richmond, Atkinson was an All-CAA First Team selection as a junior and senior (1989-90) and helped the Spiders to a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 1988. He went on to play professionally in France, Germany and Spain from 1991-2004.

Weiss is a former head coach for the Hawks (1990-93), San Antonio (1986-88), LA Clippers (1993-94) and Seattle (2005-06), and also spent time as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Braves, Dallas, San Antonio and Orlando. In 2008, Weiss coached Shanxi Zhongyu in the Chinese Basketball Association.

“Bob has been involved with the NBA game a long time, and brings a wealth of experience,” Drew said. “I’m looking forward to the contributions he’ll make to our staff.”

The 22nd overall pick in the 1965 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, Weiss played 12 NBA seasons for the Sixers, Seattle, Milwaukee, Chicago, Buffalo and Washington, averaging 7.6 ppg in 783 regular season contests.

Sund has over 37 years of NBA experience, including the last four years as Atlanta’s Executive Vice President/GM. The Hawks posted a record of 184-128 under his leadership, reaching the playoffs in each of his four seasons, and advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals three times. He’s also spent time as an executive with Milwaukee, Dallas, Detroit and Seattle.

He was a two-sport athlete at Northwestern University, where in basketball (as a 6-4 guard) he earned CoSIDA Academic All-America (third team) honors in 1973, and was twice named academic All-Big Ten, while also seeing action as a tight end and wide receiver on the football team. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northwestern.

Watkinson owned his own business for the last two years, working with NBA players on their strength, conditioning and basketball development. Formerly the strength and conditioning coach at Indiana University from 2006-10, he has held similar positions at Missouri, Clemson, Charlotte and College of Charleston.

The suburban Chicago native began his college studies in 1989 at Kishwaukee College in Illinois, earning an associate’s degree in pre-medicine. He then earned a baseball scholarship to North Carolina State, playing two years with the baseball team and graduating with a pre-medicine degree in 1993. Watkinson earned his master’s in exercise science from Indiana in 1996.

San Antonio Spurs hire Ime Udoka as an assistant coach

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that Ime Udoka has been named an assistant coach.

“Ime Udoka possesses an outstanding work ethic as well as a natural inclination to teach. We are excited to add someone with his potential to our coaching staff,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.

Udoka returns to San Antonio after having played for the Silver and Black from 2007-09 and during the 2010-11 campaign.  In his three seasons with the Spurs, he appeared in 160 games, averaging 4.5 points and 2.7 rebounds in 15.5 minutes.

Udoka spent seven seasons in the NBA playing in 316 career games, averaging 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 18.1 minutes .  He enjoyed his best campaign during the 2006-07 season when he started 75 games for Portland, averaging 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 28.6 minutes.  Udoka also played for the L.A. Lakers in 2003-04, the New York Knicks in 2005-06, the Sacramento Kings in 2009-10 and the New Jersey Nets in 2011-12.

Undrafted out of college, Udoka spent time in NBA Development League, USBL, IBA and internationally in Spain and France.  Udoka began his D-League career in 2002-03 with the Charleston Lowgators.  In 2005-06 he was named to the All-NBA D-League First Team and was also the recipient of Jason Collier Sportsmanship Award after averaging 17.1 points and 6.2 rebounds in 45 games for the Fort Worth Flyers.

Udoka closed out his college career at Portland State where he led the Vikings in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocked shots during the 1999-2000 season.  He was also named First Team All-Big Sky Conference and was selected as the league’s Newcomer of the Year.  Udoka began his college career at Eastern Utah and spent a year at the University of San Francisco before arriving at Portland State.

Though American-born, Udoka’s late father was of Ibibio descent and was born in Nigeria which allowed Udoka to play for the Nigerian National Team.  He represented Nigeria in multiple tournaments, including the 2005 African Championship, the 2006 FIBA World Championship, where he averaged 14.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and the 2011 African Championship where he helped lead Nigeria to a bronze medal.

Summer to remember for Canada Basketball

Though the senior men did not qualify for the London Games, this was one of the best summers ever for Canada Basketball.

Canada’s senior women qualified for the Olympics only about a month before they began and going on to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time ever, where they ran into the buzz-saw that is the top-ranked American team.

A year after two players were drafted into the NBA — including Brampton’s Tristan Thompson who went fourth overall to Cleveland — three more players were selected, led by Mississauga’s Andrew Nicholson, who went 19th to Orlando.

Nicholson, Kris Joseph (from Montreal, drafted 51st by Boston) and Robert Sacre (North Vancouver, 60th by the Los Angeles Lakers) all showed up for Canada’s training camp this weekend, significant since Nicholson had never previously been at a Canadian get-together and Joseph had chosen to leave camp the last time he showed up.

Canada’s future stars also fared well this summer.

The junior men’s squad took home bronze at the FIBA Americas U18 tourney in Brazil, finishing 4-1 and beating Argentina to reach the podium.

– Reported by Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun

Former NBA all-star Yao Ming has called for China’s school system to invest more in sport at the grassroots level, claiming much was needed to be done in his homeland to prevent further stagnation.

“The growth of sport’s status in school life in our country has halted now,” the giant former Houston Rockets center told the China Daily newspaper.

“We should start over and let it go beyond just a function (for) keeping (students) fit.”

With the inaugural season of Yao’s “Foundation Hope” elementary school basketball program recently concluded, he has been making a considerable push of his own.

– Reported by Reuters

Maccabi Tel Aviv great Tal Burstein announced his retirement from professional basketball at a press conference on Monday evening at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. Burstein, 32, took the decision to walk away from the game after learning that he would have to undergo surgery on his injured hip, which would have cost him the entire 2012-13 season. Injuries have plagued Burstein over the past few years. He missed the first nine Euroleague games of the 2006-07 season and played in just two games the following year. Burstein was a starter on the great Maccabi teams that conquered back-to-back Euroleague titles in 2004 and 2005. His first continental title came in his first year with Maccabi when he helped the Israeli juggernaut win the 2001 SuproLeague in Paris.

– Reported by Euroleague.net

It has been 23 years since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar last played for the Los Angeles Lakers, but soon fans headed to Staples Center will see him every day.

The Lakers plan to erect a statue outside the arena to honor The Captain, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

The Lakers plan to announce the date of the official unveiling of the statue in the near future, according to a league source.

While Abdul-Jabbar’s on-court accomplishments were no-doubt stellar, racking up six championships and six MVPs during his 20-year career, his relationship with the Lakers had become strained in recent years. The team cut ties with Abdul-Jabbar as a special assistant following the 2010-11 season and the former 19-time All-Star also voiced his frustration at Jerry West receiving a statue before he did, after West’s statue was unveiled during the 2011 NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles.

– Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

Jazz assistant coach Scott Layden has accepted an invitation by Spurs management to interview for the organization’s assistant general manager vacancy, according to a source.

The meeting was scheduled for Monday night with general manager R.C. Buford and head coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, the source said. Spurs ownership will not be in attendance.

This San Antonio position opened three weeks ago when the Jazz hired then-Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey to replace Kevin O’Connor as Utah’s general manager.

– Reported by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News

Bulls might make Brian Scalabrine an assistant coach

When NBA training camps open in a little over a month, there’s a good chance that like the last two seasons, Brian Scalabrine will be in Deerfield, Ill., at the Berto Center with the Bulls–just not as a player.

According to sources familiar with the situation, the fan favorite is in line to join Tom Thibodeau’s coaching staff for the upcoming season, CSNChicago.com has learned.

Since former Bulls assistant coach Rick Brunson departed for a position with the Charlotte Bobcats in the offseason, the organization has had an opening and while the likes of former Magic assistant Steve Clifford was considered–the member of Stan Van Gundy’s staff in Orlando recently accepted a job with the Lakers, where he’ll be reunited with All-Star center Dwight Howard–it appears that Scalabrine is now a front-runner for the spot.

– Reported by Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago

The Charlotte Bobcats today named Dan Leibovitz and Brian Winters as assistant coaches on the staff of new Head Coach Mike Dunlap.  Leibovitz and Winters will join Stephen Silas and Rick Brunson, who officially signed with the team in July.

“It was important to me to put together a coaching staff that mirrors my coaching philosophy and one that will consistently challenge our players to get better each and every time they hit the basketball floor,” said Dunlap. “When I selected my staff I wanted to assemble a group that will care about the players, care about the team and love to teach the game of basketball.”

Brunson enters his fourth year as an NBA assistant coach after previously serving as a player development coach in Chicago (2010-12) and Denver (2006-07), where he first worked with Dunlap. Following his stint with the Nuggets, Brunson served as Director of Basketball Operations at the University of Virginia from 2007-09 before spending the 2009-10 season at the University of Hartford as an assistant coach under Leibovitz. A former standout player at Temple University under Naismith Hall of Fame coach John Chaney, Brunson played in the NBA for nine seasons, appearing in 337 games for eight different teams including Portland, New York, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, Houston, the Los Angeles Clippers and Seattle. His ties to Dunlap also extended overseas in 1996, when he played for Dunlap with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s NBL.

Leibovitz brings over 16 years of collegiate coaching experience to Charlotte, joining the Bobcats from the University of Pennsylvania, where he spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater.  Prior to joining the Penn staff, he served as head coach at the University of Hartford from 2006-10.  Leibovitz also served as an assistant coach at Temple University for 10 seasons under John Chaney (1996-2006) and was named Best Assistant Coach in the Atlantic 10 by Street & Smith’s magazine in 2005. Leibovitz played collegiately at Franklin & Marshall College.

Silas is entering his 12th season as an NBA assistant coach and is the lone holdover from the previous coaching staff. He initially joined the Bobcats on December 26, 2010, after spending the previous four and a half seasons as an assistant coach in Golden State.  Prior to joining the Warriors, Silas served as an assistant coach with the Hornets (2000-03) and Cavaliers (2003-05) and as an advance scout with the Wizards (2005-06). Silas originally joined the Hornets in the summer of 1999 as an advance and college scout. Silas also played four seasons at Brown University.

Winters brings a wealth of experience to the Bobcats staff, having been an NBA head coach in Vancouver (1995-97) and Golden State (2001-02), in addition to serving as head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever (2004-07).  His coaching career also includes time in Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver and Golden State, as well as a stint at Princeton University. The 12th overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft after a collegiate career at the University of South Carolina, Winters played nine seasons in the NBA, appearing in 650 career games for the Lakers and Bucks with averages of 16.2 points, 4.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds.  He made two All-Star appearances and was selected to the NBA All-Rookie Team following the 1974-75 season.

Kendall Marshall was in New Jersey from Aug. 16-20 to work on his life grip along with the rest of the 2011 and 2012 rookie classes. The NBA’s Rookie Transition Program hosted 110 players because last year’s lockout canceled the event.

From new women to old friends, from newfound riches to old stories of bankruptcies and from illegal drugs to social slugs, the program introduced rookies to problems that are more common than they imagined and more issues than they could master…

“It was a real eye-opener for us,” Marshall said. “You hear the financial stories about guys who go bankrupt and you hear about the relationship stories about guys that have things go wrong with their spouse or girlfriend. You always think that can’t happen to you but the odds are that it can happen. They’ve done a great job of preparing us for that and bringing it to realization and making us want to make the right decisions.” …

“The female species are a lot smarter than us so we have to realize maybe it’s not always that we’re the best-looking guy they’ve ever seen,” Marshall said. “Maybe there is some incentive behind it. At the same time, there are great cases where guys have happy marriages. They’ve shown us both cases. We just have to be smart (and realize) that people don’t always have our best interests in mind.”

– Reported by Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic

Dwyane Wade discusses LeBron vs Jordan

Dwyane Wade discusses LeBron vs Jordan

‘Michael is the greatest player I’ve ever seen play. I think LeBron is in that conversation of one day becoming. It’s all speculation, in a sense. He has a long way to go. He knows that. He has one championship. Michael has six! There’s a lot to say about that.

‘‘LeBron is a dominant player. . . . But Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time.’’

– Reported by Dan Cahill of the Chicago Sun-Times

Dirk Nowitzki expects to play at least two more NBA seasons

Dirk Nowitzki has racked up a lot of mileage on his body in 14 NBA seasons. He’s seen action in 1,055 games and played 38,314 minutes over his career, putting him 11th and sixth, respectively, among active players.

So how much longer will Nowitzki stick around? He answered that question — sort of — during a Q&A session with fans on Twitter Sunday afternoon.

Nowitzki, who uses the Twitter handle @swish41, told a fan that he’d play two more seasons “for sure” and then “see how I feel.” Nowitzki has two more years left on his current contract with the Mavs, which expires when he’ll be 36 years old.

– Reported by the Dallas Morning News

LeBron James would happily make Space Jam 2

LeBron James is constantly being compared to Michael Jordan.

And if James’ dreams come true, you’ll be able to compare their acting skills on top of everything else.

On Sunday, James was fielding questions from his Twitter followers, when one asked if the three-time MVP loved the movie, Space Jam.

James offered this reply: “I love that movie. Wish I could do Space Jam 2!”

– Reported by CSN Philly

Scottie Pippen understands the magnitude of the challenge facing the Chicago Bulls while Derrick Rose recovers from ACL surgery, but Pippen believes the opportunity presents a silver lining.

“He’s going to be a bigger, better, stronger player,” Pippen told Comcast SportsNet Chicago on Friday. ” I think it’s great to have something like this happen if it’s going to happen at a young age (23). He’s going to heal fast, and he’s going to push himself now to be better than he probably would have ever been.

– Reported by ESPN Chicago

The U.S. Embassy said Sunday that four ‘’sports envoys” will be in the country this week as part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored program ”to emphasize the importance of academics, cooperation, and respect for diversity.”

The group will conduct several sports workshops with local youth before leaving Friday. Three of the envoys arrived this weekend and the last one is due to fly into Yangon later Sunday.

The group includes Charlotte Bobcats basketball team manager Richard Cho, a Myanmar native who migrated to the United States. Also traveling are Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham, former Women’s National Basketball Association player Allison Feaster and former NBA player Marty Conlon.

– Reported by the Associated Press

In the summer of 2014, the Magic will have roughly $36 million in cap space. The prospective free-agent class is stunning: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce.

None of those stars (several aging) are expected to leave their teams, although Pierce might go exploring. The Heat trio has the option to terminate its contracts…not likely.

Other ‘14 would-be free agents: Pau Gasol, Amar’e Stoudemire, Zach Randolph, Andrew Bogut, Danny Granger and Andrea Bargnani. None of them — other than Granger, a good but not great player — seemingly fit the Magic plan.

The Magic will have even more cap room in the 2015 offseason, depending on what they do the next two summers. And there are some free-agent jewels: Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love.

– Reported by Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel

Collins doesn’t seek the subject, but when asked during this weekend’s reunion of the ‘72 team about whether he would like to be the Olympic coach, he showed typical candor while also professing a desire to stay with the Sixers long-term.

“It’s a tremendous honor that somebody would even throw my name out there,” Collins said. “It’s four years down the road and I understand in this business you hope you are an active coach at the time.”

Which means obviously with the Sixers.

“I am hoping that I am still active and I would like to coach four or five years in Philadelphia,” he said.

So much for the assumption that Collins was taking things in Philadelphia on a yearly basis.

“I feel good about our team and I love my staff, what we are doing and where we are headed,” Collins continued. “The ownership, Josh [Harris], has been so good to me, so I feel really good about that.”

– Reported by Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Wade thinks Heat will keep evolving

Wade thinks Heat will keep evolving

To a degree, Wade said it is essential that he, James and Chris Bosh continue to evolve, that each add enough nuance to their games that it forces Spoelstra to reach the level of creativity he achieved last season.

“You never know what player is going to start off and be playing a certain way and you switch things up a little bit,” Wade said. “But we have that luxury, because we have not only three marquee players, but we have a lot of other players on our team that’s very capable, highly capable, and very good.”

And there will be decisions to be made, from how to maximize [Ray] Allen’s role in the rotation, as stressed during his recruitment, to where to play [Rashard] Lewis, with length suited for the power rotation but a frame more befitting a perimeter player.

“So our plan to come out,” Wade said, “is, let’s get together as a team, let’s get our team defensive concepts down, let’s get our offensive continuity down and  we’ll see what comes out of that.”

– Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Clippers forward Blake Griffin now fully healthy

When Blake Griffin injured his knee on July 11 while training with Team USA, his chance to represent his country at the Olympics ended.

Griffin had surgery on July 16 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and it has healed to the point where he is working out.

“I came back after surgery and started rehabbing and getting back into it. I’ve been shooting and lifting [weights] and all that for a while now,” Griffin told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “So, I’m pretty much back at 100%, been back at 100% for a little bit. So I’m good.”

– Reported by CSN Philly

Confident Brooklyn Nets talking NBA title

The Nets have yet to play a single as a game as a Brooklyn franchise - or unveil their uniforms, for that matter - but they’re already targeting a championship in Year 1.

Cornerstones Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson set the lofty tone in recent interviews, buoyed by the Nets’ expensive offseason.

“Obviously our main goal is no question the NBA championship. I think it is realistic for us,” Lopez told the Philipine Star during his NBA goodwill tour of the Philippines. “We’re already a good playoff team so with the addition of other pieces, we can target the ring.”

Johnson echoed that sentiment to Sports Illustrated, continuing his confident evaluations of his new squad. During Johnson’s introductory press conference in July, he declared the Nets were “definitely” already better than the Knicks.

– Reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News

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