Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 4:58pm
By: Ron Wolfley
Full disclosure: I thought the Golden State Warriors would force a Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinals matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. The reasons for this matter little, I was wrong.
But watching the Spurs compete reminded me of who they are and why they're so tough to beat in a seven-game series. You have to be more disciplined than they are; you have to execute the fundamentals of the game better than they do and that's not going to happen very often over the course of seven games.
The culture of the Spurs is what makes them great. They might be the best example of what a team is all about in the NBA. The Nuggets use teamwork to beat you, the Thunder (when Russell Westbrook is healthy) play as a unit and the Miami Heat are capable of beating you a number of ways when their great skill plays as one, but the Spurs seem to play as a team better and more consistently than most.
It all starts with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Even after all these years, this triumvirate has afforded Gregg Popovich a luxury that most coaches typically don't have: they allow themselves to be coached, even screamed at.
Watching Game 6 reminded me of what humility can do for a player and an organization when their best players care more about winning than they do scoring points.
Gregg Popovich screams at everybody. It doesn't matter who you are, Tim Duncan (whom he benched for the last 4:38 of the game), Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker. He screams at them all. And if he screams at these players and gets in their grill (because of their humility), what excuse does Kawai Leonard, Tiago Splitter or Danny Green have if they reject Pop's rebuke?
You want to talk about culture within an organization? Talk about your most respected and best players and how they handle being dressed down in front of thousands/millions of people/viewers?
But that's the culture of the San Antonio Spurs; that's who they are.
It's this dynamic -- where Pop coaches everybody the same -- that makes the Spurs the NBA's version of the New England Patriots. Popovich has the same luxury Bill Belichick has in New England: your best, most respected player(s), allow themselves to be coached. And if it's good enough for Tom Brady, what's your problem rook?
And what does that truth translate into for the Spurs? Unselfish, team-oriented basketball. The Spurs had 27-assists on 33 made baskets; they had 5 players in double figures; and they played the best defense I've seen from them in the post-season so far. Their rotations were near perfect. The Warriors got very few easy baskets and every shot was seemingly contested.
Gregg Popovich owes much of his career to Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Not because of how many points they have scored, not because of the effort they give on the floor, not because of their talent, but because of their humility. These players have been great for a long, long time and their humility has established a culture within the Spurs organization that has set a standard for years.
Enjoy it and appreciate it now; I don't think we'll be seeing this dynamic very often in the years to come.
Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 2:00pm
By: Doug Franz
Please don't do it.
Please step up now and alleviate all concerns.
Please don't hire Kelvin Sampson as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns. He has an excellent basketball mind. He's an excellent basketball teacher. In all honesty, he's actually a good basketball coach.
Sometimes, it's about more than just basketball. On two different occasions as a head coach, he openly disobeyed the rules. Judge all you want whether the stupid rules of the NCAA should apply, but Sampson knew the rule at least once because he had already broken it and then broke it again. There is a clear-cut aversion to authority. With these actions on his character, he shows a pattern that rules don't apply to him. Sampson represents those who take the quick way out and hope it doesn't come back to bite them. The Suns are so bad that there won't be anything close to a quick fix. Anyone who tries short-cuts with this franchise will only set us back.
I know there are no choir boys. I accept almost everyone cheats at the college level, but I don't have to accept them as NBA coaches.
Brian Shaw has played and coached in the league. He's the only person in the world that kept Kobe and Shaq happy together. He's coached under an old veteran with Tex Winter and Phil Jackson as well as the new age Frank Vogel. Shaw is the clear choice as Suns' head coach. I'm pretty sure he won't be and I hate that.
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 8:24am
By: Doug Franz
I am happy for Ian because there were so many games in 2010 that he got the loss or a no-decision that he didn't deserve. Josh Byrnes and the 2010 bullpen cost him so many wins, it seemed like a weekly occurrence. It was nice for him to get a win he didn't deserve on Wednesday. Unfortunately, and there's no doubting this, he didn't deserve this win.
An ace can never be happy with a five-inning outing. It is inexcusable for an ace to walk in a run. However, Kennedy struck out seven. He used his curveball more. He was much more aggressive. He went 2-0 on curves to Freeman that were strikes but not called. Arizona didn't get the results they need or expect from Kennedy, but a scout would say he looked better.
I really want to believe that the NBA owners vetoed the move of the Kings to Seattle because that's in the best interest of the league. When teams relocate, it looks bad for the league as a whole. It exposes a great deal of failure if a team moves. It even reeks of instability like the early days of every league. Owners would have made so much more money if they okayed this move. It appears they put the best interest of the league in front of their own.
I wish I could believe that was the case. The true reason this is happening is because the owners want to stick it to Seattle, stick it to any NBA city with an old arena and stick it to the Maloofs. By keeping the Kings in Sacramento, the NBA can show Seattle they should have listened the first time. By keeping the Kings in Seattle, the NBA can say "Remember the Sonics" to any current city rejecting the idea using tax payer dollars to build an arena. Most importantly to them, the message to the Maloofs is "get out of our league if you're not going to negotiate with us."
The Angels owner gave the dreaded vote of confidence to manager Mike Scioscia. It's over in Anaheim. I completely understand the future firing of Scioscia on one condition: Moreno admits it's his fault.
Scioscia is an outstanding manager. Everyone in baseball knows it. It's not his fault the general manager built a team that doesn't play to his strengths. A situation like this is almost always the GM's fault. This team is the exception. There is no way Jerry Dipoto wanted to spend over $200 million dollars on two players. This is an ownership move clearly designed to keep up with the Dodgers. In order for advertising agencies to buy commercials on television, they want buzz. These signings created buzz which creates ad buys at the beginning of the year. The Angels are the fault of the owner and firing the manager won't fix that.
I think he'll be the next head coach of the Suns. I think the Suns will be mad at me until 2016 when I stop railroading against the hire of Sampson because they will have fired him.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 @ 3:39pm
By: Ron Wolfley
Rolando McClain says he will retire at the ripe old age of 23. The eighth overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft has been arrested three times in the last 11 months. His life is in turmoil and the peace that passes all understanding eludes him.
Every man is responsible for the decisions that he makes in his life. Every man must pay the toll of consequences for the choices he makes. But this one really bothers me. I'm tired of seeing young men throw their life away. And it's happening more and more.
The question is, why? It's a question without an easy answer, impossible to quantify and critique. But theories abound.
Our society teaches young men the real measure of a man can be found in athletic prowess, sexual conquest and financial gain. And if you don't believe it, watch television. And make no mistake, TV is the matrix of pop culture, the tip of the pop culture spear.
It certainly doesn't espouse values and virtues, does it?
How many boys dream about being a fireman, police officer, scientist or teacher? And how many boys grow up dreaming about being a professional football, baseball or basketball player?
As C.S. Lewis said, ""We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We remove the organ and demand the function. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful."
And it's only going to get worse unless we start talking to our boys about faith, honor, courage, sacrifice, honesty and love.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 9:57pm
By: Doug Franz
He came in studio on Tuesday. As you can guess, when an NBA head coach comes in studio to talk basketball, he's a friend of the show. In our conversations during "not-so-beautiful-parts-of-the-program" it was apparent how strong the passion is in this man to coach. Chalk it up to another terrible decision by Michael Jordan if Gentry is not the head coach of the Bobcats.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people try to justify Carmelo Anthony as a basketball player. He is the furthest thing from a championship player. Sure, Syracuse fans will disagree but that's the difference between NCAA and NBA. Melo isn't terrible. He's one of the greatest one-on-one players of all time. Anthony apologists have yet to realize basketball championships are determined by the best collection of 12 players.
Players of Anthony's skill are automatic fixtures as the team's franchise player yet he dooms the franchise to an exciting life and playoff misery. Anthony is a moped player. The ride is fun, but sooner or later you need to grow up and go somewhere.
He said the marshal said he could hit. The marshals are instructed not to talk to the players. So Tiger lied on the course. Next thing you'll know he'll take an illegal drop and claim he didn't know the rule.
Every time I hear him talk, I hear a respectful man. He has nothing against the media, but I hear something else. I hear a man who talks to the media because he completely understands that it comes with the job description of an NFL QB. But he doesn't enjoy it because few in the media talk football. I'm sure Palmer is more complex, but he seems like a guy who cares about football, family and not much else.
If you have low expectations of Palmer, I understand. Past history certainly casts doubt on his ability to be a successful NFL quarterback. However, I think there have been very limited opportunities in Palmer's career where a season wasn't interrupted by a diva uprising, injury or Raider futility. I think Palmer will surprise some people.