Tag Archives: NBA

No end to Cheeks’s classiness

71797411JG_D040738006A rash of firings have happened in the NBA season, with eight coaches being shown the door before All-Star Weekend. None have gone before the public to give thanks as Cheeks did in a recent press conference.

Only three days removed from his firing, former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Maurice Cheeks held a press conference to thank the media and fans. He also used to time to absorb the blaim for his team’s slow start, which is unheard of in many coaching, or professional sports, circles, for that matter.

The classiest coach in basketball continued to lay on the charm that marked his all-star career and stellar coaching stay in Philly.

“Sometimes being fired is one of the things that entails being a head coach,” he said. “”In my case, it was the coach.”

Or a team full of millionaires who underachieved — not to mention the acquisition of an all star in Elton Brad who his new team needed time to become accustomed to, and he the team. The potential-filled team got off to a 9-14 start, leading to Cheeks’s firing.

The time spent as head coach weren’t the only years in Philly for Cheeks, he was a player for more 15 years in which he was a four-time all star. His jersey was retired by the 76ers in 1995. Cheeks said there was no way he’d up and leave the city of Philadelphia.

“I think it would have been selfish for me to just pick up and leave and go and not show my appreciation to the people that have supported me,” he said. “I pretty much grew up in this town.”

Cheeks also said he was in favor of staying with the organization, although he has not been approached by the 76ers for any position thus far.

“I’ve been a part of this town a long time and I don’t plan on going anywhere,” he said. “If the opportunity is there for me to be in the organization, I’m more than happy to do that.”

Cheeks is a great man, whom did a great job in his time in Philly. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be sorely missed by the 76ers.


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Another coach bites the dust

mauricecheeks_ncOnly a week removed from Randy Wittman’s firing in Minnesota, another NBA coach has been sent packing.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Maurice Cheeks, by far one of the classiest coaches in the NBA, was  fired today– from a team seemingly on the rise. Assistant general manager Tony DiLeo will be interim head coach for the rest of the season.

Is it just me, or is it becoming extremely difficuilt to keep up with all the coach firings in recent weeks? Along with college football, the NHL and the NBA there is enough material for this blog to simply be a clipboard of which poor coach will be axed next. And the common argument made in most cases is that coaches increased salary upped expectations on the playing field, but I happen to think many coaches aren’t receiving a fair shot.

Cheeks, on the other hand, was given ample time. I still don’t believe his firing was warranted at this juncture, as I feel about many of the coaches recently let go. Cheeks is, hands down, the classiest coach in the league, his team made a trade for Elton Brand, have Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller and Louis Williams, and are only a couple of moves away from major contention in the Eastern Conference of the NBA. Lets not forget, the Philadelphia 76ers made the playoffs last year without Elton Brand, however brief their stint in postseason play was.

Sure, 9-14 isn’t exactly what was expected from a team that showed glimpses of potential late last season. But the NBA season is a marathon, and I believe the 76ers pulled the cord at the wrong time.

Over the past couple of years, Cheeks’ job security has been the subject of many stories. His teams were struggling, inexperienced and far younger than most of their opponents. To pull the plug, maybe two, three years ago would have been fine. But why now, when his team seems to be turning a corner in a conference that isn’t obviously weaker than its western counterpart.

Cheeks will get back on his feet and find another coaching job in no time. Too bad he’ll be moving into the spot of another coach, who will probably experience an unwarranted firing himself.

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Karl calls Iverson out

georgekarl800I shared my opinon on the Iverson-Billups trade a couple of weeks ago, and Denver Nuggets head coach, George Karl, and I seem to share similar thoughts on Allen Iverson’s brief stay in Denver.

Karl recently broadcasts his feelings on Allen Iverson’s brief stay in Denver, proclaiming that his team now has “less bad plays, more solid plays,” he said. “I think the wasteful, cheap possessions that we used to have 10 to 15 a game, they don’t exist very much anymore.”

On a team with a bonified scorer in Carmelo Anthony, Iverson was simply another superstar, calling for 20-30 shots a night. But Chauncey Billups has proved to be more of a floor general, easing the demand for shots and delivering the ball to trailing big men and cutting teammates, which is something Karl says Iverson had a tough time doing.

“A.I., at times, had trouble trusting the guy he’s throwing it to,” Karl said.

It was that very notion that Karl took issue with, the fact that Iverson looked for his own shot on most occasions and was opposed to passing to lesser players.

“I don’t think there’s any question coaching a team for many minutes, without a passing and point guard mentality, is frustrating for a coach. Sometimes I saw something, but I couldn’t get it done on the court because I didn’t have a playmaker out there.”

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Fallout from unlikely brawl

nba_ap_suns_rockets_fight_580If asked to pinpoint the player who would incite a brawl in the Phoenix Suns-Houston Rockets game on Wednesday night, any sane person who say new Houston Rockets acquisition Ron Artest. But Artest was wary of any backlash from the fight and stayed on the bench, far away from any of the action that ensued on the court.

In an odd turn of events, Steve Nash, by far the least imposing of nearly any player on the court that night, seemed to fuel the brawl. Nash was given a one-game suspension Friday for his part in “escalating” the fight. Nash had to be held back by teammates after he was pushed to the ground by Tracy McGrady.

However, the little man had the diesel on his side and Shaquille O’Neal immediately put McGrady on his back for his indiscretions. Houston’s big man, Yao Ming, chose to play peace maker and removed teammates from the scene.

Other suspensions included Rafer Alston and Matt Barnes, who were given two games for starting the fight. McGrady and O’Neal were also fined $35,000 and $25,000 respectively, for the shoving they did on Wednesday night.

What was lost in all this was the foresight and maturity, or fear, that allowed Artest to stay clear of the battle. He was a key culprit in one of the worst scenes in NBA history. A scene that, no doubt, left a black eye on the league and was followed by the dress code and other measures to assure that the NBA was taking measures to temper such behavior.

Whether his actions were based on fear for his own job and way of life or the knowlege one gains from inciting one of the most notorious brawls in sports history, Artest did that right thing, which can not be said for other superstars involved.

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Iverson not Denver’s answer; but another question begs

a_iversonAllen Iverson was sent from the Denver Nuggets to the Detroit Pistons in a trade for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess, sending McDyess to his back to his old stomping grounds.

While Iverson is an obvious asset on the offensive end with a near 30-point career average, it’s hard to say who won in this trade.

Sure, Iverson averages nearly 3 steals for his career, but he doesn’t exactly play on-the-ball defense, but Chauncey Billups does and he also has a nickname, “Mr. Big Shot” which didn’t come about by coincidence. He hit shot after shot at the end of big games in leading his Pistons’ team to an NBA championship in 2004 to beat a legend-laden Lakers team.

Billups’ injury single-handedly sunk the Pistons playoff chances in the 2007-08 season. And Detroit may think they’ve found their next great point guard in Rodney Stuckey who is, indeed, a future star, but he’s no Billups — at least not now.

This trade also signals the disbandment of a group that was the model of what an NBA team should look, act and play like. Model citizens on and off the court — even though Rasheed Wallace is due a technical foul every once and a while. They showed that a “team” could win a championship. Since the days of Magic and Bird, hell, maybe even Wilt, there hasn’t been a team without a focal point who everyone knew was getting the ball and who took a countless amount of bad shots.

Richard Hamilton doesn’t know what a bad shot is; Allen Iverson surely does though. I’m sure many people will look at this trade and paint a picture illustrating what Denver loss, but I think we all lost — we all lost out on what “real” basketball is.

80391817AE026PISTONS_MAGICWallace rebounding the ball and shooting his fade away, Tayshawn Prince playing shut-down defense and Rip cutting to the ball at the free-throw line for — what is a lost art — the mid-range jump shot. And then, there is Chauncey Billups — the focal point if there ever was one on the Pistons — playing tough defense and hitting three-point shots that caused joy for his teammates and anguish for his opponents.

Iverson will change all that; he’ll take bad shots, play shoddy defense and use passing lanes as a means for offense while he leaves teammates out to dry. I might seem to be coming down hard on the little man, but it isn’t so much him as a style of play. He’s a great talent, no doubt, but I always felt like any NBA player could score 30 if he had 30 cracks at it — just my opinion.

As for the real answer to the question of the real winners, we’ll know in June. But I’m guessing Detroit will be a bit better with a host of weapons and a pass-first point guard.

Oh, I literally almost forgot and was wrapping up this post; where does Antonio McDyess play in this? He doesn’t. He’s going to a team full of high-flying, three-point shooting big men, which doesn’t bode well for his playing time. The vintage, before knee surgery McDyess would flourish in Denver’s offense, but he’s been a shell of himself for years.

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