My old teammate and fellow Bay Area native Brian Shaw is rumored to become the new head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. If the current Cleveland Cavaliers owner (Dan Gilbert) does sign Brian Shaw then I believe the chances of LeBron James staying in Cleveland will go up dramatically. Brian Shaw has instant credibility having played in the NBA for years and as a basketball mind he’s not only a point guard but he’s either played in the triangle offense or coached it for much of the past decade. When I was on the Lakers B. Shaw was one of the few players that had the complete respect of Shaq and Kobe both. Most importantly he has not only NBA playing experience, but championship experience as a player and as a coach.
When there were problems in the locker room it was Shaw who was able to communicate with everyone on the team from the best player all the way down to the 15th man. Sometimes he would reason with Phil Jackson in team meetings about strategy or different things going on with the team. One day during such a time, Phil Jackson laughed and told Brian that “he should really consider going to law school when he was finished with his playing career.” Obviously Phil respected Brian’s basketball mind so much he didn’t give Brian time to take the LSAT and brought him directly into the Lakers fold.
My prediction is that the new credibility that Shaw brings will absolutely play a factor in increased odds that LeBron James stays in Cleveland. With the mayor of NYC making overtures to LeBron and practically every other team in the NBA trying to woo him, things seem to be getting a little bit brighter in Ohio.
If he does NOT stay in Cleveland, how can he turn Chicago down. It’s a large media market with a great young nucleus of talent with Rose, Noah, and Deng. But my prediction is that he’s going to stay in Cleveland and a few years from now a newly minted banner will be hanging from the rafters.
Trenton Hassell told me that if he was an NBA General Manager he would rather have the 2nd pick in this year’s NBA draft instead of the first pick. When I asked him why, he said, “Because you can’t go wrong with the 2nd pick….I’d hate to be the GM that had to choose between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.”
When NBA teams are getting ready to make a draft selection, nothing is left to chance. Teams will fly groups of players in to work them out and match them up against each other to see who is toughest and who competes hardest. A lot of teams administer the same written, multiple-choice psychological survey. I must have seen the same survey four times from four different teams. One team (Chicago Bulls) actually brought in a psychologist to administer a whole set of unique tests. One of the sit down interviews in Chicago may have been a type of IQ test. I’m still not sure.
They test your strength in the weight room, your body fat, watch how you interact with the equipment manager and trainers, and seem analyze everything you do and say. Then, a lot of teams will have you sit down with the General Manager for an interview. I still remember my interview for the LA Lakers. “Do you drink?” They asked. “No,” I said. “That’s the first time in years we’ve interviewed two players in a row who both don’t drink,” they replied. The player before me was a UCLA player who has ended up having a very nice professional basketball career.
Mitch Kupchak (Current LA Lakers GM) asked me an interesting question during the interview process. “Who is the best [current] college player you have played against?” I knew right away. “Jaron Rush,” I said. I still think he was the best I played against in college. I ended up playing with his brother Kareem Rush for the Lakers for a year.
Mitch probably got some good information from all the people he interviewed. What better way to try to assess the draft class and future drafts than asking the people who have grown up playing against each other in high school, AAU, pickup games and college games.
Over the course of years, I’ve probably spoken to well over 10 different NBA general managers. I asked one with a pretty nice draft history “How do you know who to draft each year?” His exact words to me were: “It’s a crapshoot.”
Then it clicked. There are just too many unknown variables that are impossible for GM’s to predict. If every GM was perfect, then there’s no way that Kevin Garnett and Kobe would have been selected as low as they were in the draft. There would never be any draft “busts.”
But someone has to make the decision and that’s why the GM’s go to great lengths to get as much information as possible. When Brevin Knight was a senior at Stanford, the rumor circulation around campus was that there was a private investigator going around campus asking questions to verify Brevin’s very high personal character. We were told that for the top 10 projected picks, private investigators came around asking questions.
When they make a great pick, they are hailed as “great talent evaluators.” When they mess up with a pick they are labeled by the media as “out of touch” or “can’t see the obvious.” To the GM who ends up with the 1st pick in this years NBA draft I say “good luck.”
Last night against the Chicago Bulls I think that we showed some flashes of what is to come. First of all, Craig Smith threw down a thunderous dunk in the first have that had people on the bench remembering what Charles Barkley used to do on the court. Craig Smith has had a phenomenal training camp and pre-season. Trenton Hassell compared Craig’s jump hook to the way Antawn Jamison is able to score on much taller defenders using the same un-blockable shot. Craig and I have become good friends. I didn’t realize it, but he was in High School at Fairfax High in Los Angeles at the same time that I was in my first few NBA seasons with the Lakers. I think that Craig is going to be a big time contributor this season as a rookie and it is clear that we got a steal by getting him in the Second round of the draft. One of the reasons why Craig slipped is because he had a wrist injury around draft time and he wasn’t able to workout for teams so they didn’t want to take the risk. The funny thing is that I’ve had a similar wrist surgery and the only bad thing about it is that it just takes a long time to get better (3-6 months). Once it’s better though, you are as good as new.
We’re staying in “The Lodge” hotel close to Moline, IL and on the border of Iowa getting ready for our game tonight. Every time we get close to Iowa, Fred Hoiberg always sings the same tune: “Iowa is the best state in the union.” Freddy, I like Iowa too, but I just hope that Iowa State doesn’t have to face Stanford in the NCAA tournament!
Trenton Hassell Saves the Day Last Thursday, the day after our loss to Memphis, we had to report to the Tria Medical Center in Bloomington for our end-of-season physicals. It was probably the last time our entire team will be together until next fall. Trenton Hassell came to the 7:30 AM physicals and he was talking about how he was bummed out because he had to cut off his dream he was having that morning. When we asked him about the dream he said that in the dream he was on a plane that had been hijacked and he was in the middle of “saving everyone on the flight” when the alarm clock sounded. He’d be the right guy though in a situation like that–I can tell you that for sure.
Today I decided it was time to do some long distance running so I went over to Lake Calhoun to see if I could run the entire lake. I did some sprinting and walking and finally finished running two thirds of the lake at a good pace. I was shocked at how many people were out there running and rollerblading. It was awesome to be out there doing something normal during the summer time. I’m glad to be here in MN for some of the warm months too. I really love it out here. If any of you readers are ever at the lake be sure to say hello. I’ll be the tall guy running on the dirt path getting passed by all of the marathon runner people with the heart rate monitors on. Hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll be one of those people and I’ll be going fast like them too. I’ll head to Nebraska soon to see my sister and her husband and four kids and then out west for a while, but I’m really looking forward to doing my kids basketball camp in Champlin in late June at Champlin High School.
I think the question the media and fans ask the most is “does KG want to stay in Minnesota” and “How is KG doing?” Most of the questions I get from people are related to Kevin. Well, let me address both of those questions by saying that of all the teammates I’ve had, Kevin is one of the guys who always is going to speak from his heart whether he’s talking to us behind closed doors or whether he’s talking to reporters. So whatever he says to the media is a pretty accurate portrayal of what he’s thinking about because he’s upfront about things. I know that towards the end of the season he took some time to himself to focus on training and having a little bit of privacy, but the answer that I give people is to just let Kevin have a normal few months free from worrying about all this stuff. Until then, I think that he’s taking some much deserved time to spend with his loved ones and friends. Personally I think that there are a lot of national media members that like to stir up the pot and try to put words into the mouth of KG. Of course fans and media people in NYC, Chicago and L.A. are going to fill message boards and chat rooms with rumors about KG going each place because those markets would love to have him. Personally, I think that the mojave desert would freeze over for ten years straight before Mr. Taylor would trade Kevin Garnett. There is no trade that would give MN equal value for Kevin.
Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls
Just a little while ago I was watching the playoffs on TV. I have to admit that it’s very tough to watch other teams still playing. Two nights ago, I got so frustrated that I called one of my friends and we went up to Flagship Athletic Club in Eden Prairie where he rebounded for me to help me work on my jump shot/set shot. But tonight I was able to see what was going on in the Bulls/Heat series. At halftime, Craig Sager highlighted the fact that In the first twelve posessions of the game, Shaq only touched the ball twice for the Miami Heat. That was the reason why they lost the game tonight. They never got Shaq involved. I still remember game seven against the Sacramento Kings a few years ago when I was with the Lakers. Before the game, Shaquile told everyone in the huddle to find him and to “give him the ball.” When you are the big man like shaq it is tough to watch your teammates hoist up a lot of threes without getting to touch the ball a lot. Sometimes he’d come to the huddle in LA and say, “Fellas, just let me touch it.” When we got him the ball it opened things up for everyone. If the Miami Heat will give Shaq more touches it will open everything else up for the rest of the team and Antoine Walker will be knocking down threes and Jayson Williams and Gary Payton will have a field day. If not, it’s going to be the Chicago Bulls getting long rebounds and turning the series into the proverbial “track meet” with all the runners they have on their team.
Let’s start off by taking a look at the statement issued by Kenyon Martin. It’s refreshing when someone like Kenyon immediately comes out and apologizes for whatever happened. To me that shows he’s a man.
“First and foremost, I want to apologize to my teammates and coaching staff for my actions on Monday night,” Martin said in his statement. “There is nothing more important to me than being a good teammate and giving 110 per cent effort each and every day. Nothing will ever change that. I sincerely regret if this situation has been a distraction for the team, (Nuggets owner) Mr. Kroenke and the Denver Nuggets organization,” Martin said. “I take the responsibility of representing the Denver Nuggets very seriously and I truly hope that Nuggets fans understand that.”
I know Kenyon Martin as an opponent, but more importantly I know Kenyon as a friend. This man is warrior and a GREAT basketball player. He may be the quickest big man in the nba and one of the smartest players in the association. I roomed with Kenyon Martin on a World University Games USA college team and this man is a class act. I feel badly for what Kenyon is going through right now and I think his immediate statement that he issued shows he is very contrite. I also saw George Karl’s interview on SportsCenter and Coach Karl seemed to really show that he felt for what Kenyon was going through and seemed to express empathy for the tough knee injury that Kenyon has been fighting through.
As I’m sitting here watching the Denver/Clippers game the commentators are saying that Kenyon wants to talk to Coach Karl about the incident but Coach Karl does not want to talk about it right now with Kenyon because it’s the playoffs and it’s a busy/stressful time. Who knows if they really know what’s going on or not but having been through the playoffs I kind of understand where both sides are coming from. I remember two years ago Kevin Garnett telling Ndui Ebi something like “Just get prepared because things in this locker room are about to get really intense during the playoffs and just know that nothing said in this room is personal even though it might seem like a hostile place.”
Now, I wasn’t there for whatever incident took place, but the sooner the Denver staff can meet with Kenyon and the sooner they can crush whatever happened in the “incident” the sooner they will get one of the best players in the league back on the court as a contributor and a dominant force.