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Author Topic: ¶ NBA Basketball: Tournaments, Events & Free Comments • Baloncesto NBA: Competencias, Eventos & Comentarios Libres  (Read 728413 times)
Posts: 199

« Reply #29 on: Dec 01, 2011, 05:56:41 PM »

NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

Pride put aside

Thank goodness cooler heads have prevailed.

The different factions that were blocking the NBA negotiations finally realized how ridiculous they looked to the rest of the world.

They finally realized how much money they were wasting and how many people and communities they were hurting in a time of economic dire straits.

The hardline owners - mostly from small market money-losing non-playoff teams - finally gave the players, who felt backed into a corner and disrespected, a chance to save face and get back to playing the game they love.

These owners paved the way by finally loosening up their position on system issues and player movement.

It was time for the owners to make some concessions after the players agreed to compensate for the teams' $300 million dollar losses last season by accepting a smaller piece of the pie.

If, in the end, this deal permits more teams to compete for a title through increased parity and more teams to become profitable financially, all the better.

I'll leave it to other math experts to explain the details of the agreement that got it done because I am too happy to be able to start writing about games, players, stats, tactics, signings and styles of play and not about Basketball Related Income (BRI), Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), luxury taxes and mid-level exceptions!

I care more about the NBA than the CBA!

All this talk about indecent sums of money leaves me cold because I haven't been caught up (it's a generational thing) in the modern craze of fantasy leagues where everyone becomes a general manager-horse trader dealing with millions.

David Stern saved his legacy and Billy Hunter his reputation because they finally did what they were paid to do - negotiate a deal.

Of course, there is plenty of criticism to go around after a painful, drawn-out proceedure where Stern seemed to symbolize the owners' arrogance and intransigeance dealing from a position of force all along and Hunter seemed wishy washy about letting the players decide their own fate and was too late in choosing to disclaim the union, a move that ended up accelerating the process towards a deal.

I am convinced that a large majority of players would have voted for a deal long ago if they had the chance.

The last few concessions by the owners permits Hunter to defend his own tactics.

Stern and Hunter were inextricably linked in this historic bargaining process because if they had failed and the season was cancelled, that might have signalled the death of the NBA as we had known it and tarnished their reputations forever!

There are still, without doubt, some players and owners who will vote against the agreement out of spite, personal interest and an us versus them macho, competitive mentality that almost put the NBA on its knees but this is understandable when you look at who is involved.

By that I mean elite level, mega-rich and ultra-competitive basketball players and businessmen who finally had a lot more in common than they realized. Let's just say that they were definitely in the one percent group while the rest of us lockout collateral damage victims or fans were from the 99 percent group.

I'd like to finish by paraphrasing Ian Thomsen,'s excellent analyst who drew an interesting parallel between the lockout resolution and recent major world problems by pointing out that our leaders' fundamental role is to negotiate and compromise for the greater good even when it doesn't necessarily fall in line with the vested interest and desires of their constituency.

This is definitely food for thought!

George Eddy from FIBA

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Posts: 68

« Reply #28 on: Nov 18, 2011, 07:24:44 PM »

NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

Stern, Magic, Shaq and Kareem

Four icons of NBA basketball have been in the news and it turns out that I have been lucky enough over the years to have known them personally so I thought I would give you my take on what they have said and done lately.

When David Stern was on a fact-finding tour of Europe in 1988, we met several times to project into the future what the NBA might become in terms of international marketing, TV rights and merchandising sales. I was commentating NBA games on TV, serving as a consultant for Spalding and had opened the first NBA-themed sporting goods store in France so we had a lot to exchange.

Stern's trip finished with us attending the first Final Four format of the Cup of Champions won in Gent, Belgium, by Bob Macadoo's and Mike D'Antoni's Milano team. That was a long time ago and when you see how far the NBA has come internationally since then, you can take your hat off to Stern and his men.

When I saw the ugly comments comparing David to a plantation owner as the lockout got more heated, it was a pleasure to read the response of another old aquaintance, Magic Johnson, who valiantly defended Stern's impeccable record on creating opportunities for minorities in roles of power within the NBA.

Magic said that you can disagree with Stern on lockout issues as he plays a thankless role defending the owners' position, but you can't forget what he has done relentlessly in favor of minorities and what he represents as a man (notably as a big Obama supporter).

In fact, who better to represent the success of minorities in American sports and business than Magic as we also celebrate the 20th anniversary of his historically groundbreaking announcement about having HIV.

Former Phoenix Suns owner and USA Basketball visionary Jerry Colangelo said recently in the New York Times that he is sure that this whole lockout marathon is eating away at David inside. He points out how the landscape of NBA owners has changed, how agents control a lot of the players' thinking and how the brave new world of internet and satellite communications and technology will drastically effect the way people consume the NBA in the coming decade.

At the age of 69, Stern is trying to be a bridge between a long period of intense success for the NBA and an upcoming period of greater uncertainty before handing over the reins of power. Despite his outside facade as "Easy Dave", the slick lawyer, I am convinced, is deeply saddened by the bitterness of the negotiations, the intransigence of certain hard-line owners and especially by all the painful collateral damage the lockout has caused to the global NBA family!

On a lighter note, my old buddy Shaquille O'Neal is leaking some juicy passages from his upcoming tell-all book written with the help of the excellent journalist Jackie Macmullan.

In the last 20 years, I have often been Shaq's - or Michael Jordan's for that matter - guide, interviewer or translator on his visits to France and it's true that he loves to speak his mind and take potshots at other well-known personalities.

I remember emceeing Shaq's rap concert in Paris and playing pick-up ball with him and his bodyguard uncles as well as an hour-long talk show interview at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 accompagnied by Yannick Noah and his 11 year-old son, Joakim. Great memories!

It was no surprise to me to read that the exuberant Shaq never hit it off with the shy and taciturn all-time NBA leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was our guest of honor for the 10-year anniversary of the French Canal Plus TV channel in 1994.

Apparently, the eternally outgoing Shaq would have appreciated some advice from the legendary but ultra-sensitive Jabbar, who got the impression that Shaq and his entourage considered his sky hook advice unnecessary because O'Neal was doing just fine dunking on everybody!

It's ironic that Shaq was thirsty for Kareem's consultation when it's common knowledge that he was deplorably reticent to listen to advice (including mine) on his terrible free-throw shooting just as the great Wilt Chamberlain was.

Shaq is great company and easy to approach whereas Jabbar is much more profound and reflective about subjects like religion and African-American culture and history.

Both men are definitely worth knowing. Bill Russell should invite them over for tea and discussion because I'm sure they would all have plenty of things to share with each other!

George Eddy from FIBA

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« Reply #27 on: Oct 05, 2011, 03:41:09 AM »

NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

50-50 start

The one thing that you and I both know is that we hope this is my LAST article concerning the never-ending and eternally boring NBA lockout situation!

The one positive aspect about the lockout is that it has pushed me to become better informed about the economics of the NBA and pro sports in general.

I've learned that in reality the NBA has eight to 10 teams from the big market cities that make good profits thanks to the increased potential for local TV revenues and corporate sponsorship or luxury box income, while 10 to 15 teams hover around the break-even point and five to seven teams are bleeding big money in small markets without much hope in their future.

This breakdown means that the 30 teams which make up the NBA don't have the same priorities and outlook for the future.

The latest proposals filtering out of the behind-closed-doors talks try to address this fact like the increased severity of the luxury tax rule in order to redistribute more money from the rich teams to the poorer teams.

This is probably a good way to permit rich teams like the Los Angeles Lakers or Miami Heat to keep intact their trio of high-paid superstars which is important because the fans want to go to the arenas and watch the home team try and beat these high-profile franchises who are also big ratings draws on television.

The problem in applying a strict hard salary cap to all teams is that it would oblige the Lakers, for example, to break up their roster to get under the cap and render the NBA, in general, more balanced but probably more mediocre too, dragging the top teams down to level of the weaker teams!

The NBA wants to help the poorer teams improve themselves but not necessarily weaken or disarm the stronger franchises for the sake of parity.

Parity and equal distribution of all TV revenues has been a cornerstone of the NFL's success but the NBA is more star-driven with highly-recognisable faces for the fans and the rich franchises are less apt (for the time being) to share their local revenues.

This brings us to the key issue of sharing BRI (Basketball Related Income) also known as one big delicious PIE!

The more recent owners who paid high prices and heavily leveraged their aquisition in order to own an NBA franchise (which might even have lost some value in the last few years) would like to inverse the 57%-43% split that was in favor of the players in the previous agreement and it seems that the magic number for the owners right now is 48% for the players and 52% for the owners to get a deal done.

Excuse me, but a six-year-old child dividing up candy in a schoolyard would clearly see that the final solution is 50% for you and 50% for me and let's play ball on November 1st!

This would flatter the players' egos to be considered an equal partner in the global NBA business picture and this seems perfectly justified to me because the players ARE the business!

If the negotiators could just agree on this basic principle, then all the other issues like salary cap exceptions, length of guaranteed contracts etc... would fall rapidly into place and a lot of the collateral damage that the lockout is producing could be reduced or avoided because no regular season games would be missed.

Apparently, the meeting this Tuesday afternoon could be an opportunity to really make some progress in good faith after months of tactical positionning and doomsday announcements by both sides in an effort to get an edge.

My one hope is that the owners' hidden agenda is NOT to wait until regular season games are cancelled and the players start losing real paychecks in order to be able to negotiate from a position of force because the players have their financial backs to the wall!

Only time will tell.

George Eddy from FIBA

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« Reply #26 on: Jun 29, 2011, 09:34:56 AM »

NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

Draft and lockout

It was supposed to be an historically weak draft and only time will tell which teams made horrible decisions with high draft picks and which teams found diamonds in the rough with lower picks as San Antonio has become famous for over the years.

For American fans, the big question is whether NCAA superstar Jimmer Fredette can do better than Orlando's JJ Redick or Charlotte's bust Adam Morrison who had about the same profile coming out of college with reputations as big scorers. From an international standpoint, Fredette's case is of little interest since many non-American basketball specialists consider the NCAA basketball level of play extremely overrated!

On the other hand, the international community did notice that seven of the first 25 players chosen in the draft were non-Americans and more importantly four of the top 10! This can be explained by the weakening of the US talent pool over the years - the best players only stay in school for one year - as well as increased respect for the way international clubs develop players around the world.

There is also a permanent research for quality tall players from Europe or Africa, notably, which explains a lot of the high draft picks for international players.

Let's give a special mention to Lithuania, a country like Montenegro in the women's Eurobasket tournament, which squeezes the utmost talent out of a very small population! This, though, was not a good draft for France which had been a big producer of young talent for the NBA over the last decade.

Let's move on to the lockout situation which has the whole NBA planet sitting on pins and needles out of fear of losing a season or games or salaries once the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) runs out at the end of June.

Let me try and simplify for you a complex negotiation process. In the end, the owners need a deal that will permit all teams to make some kind of a profit by reducing the percentage of revenues dedicated to players' salaries but also by better sharing local TV revenues between big market and small market teams to make for a more level playing field.

There will certainly be a reduction in the length of guaranteed contracts with more optional years non-guaranteed to avoid the costly contract mistakes teams have made in the last decade and a gradual move over the coming years towards a hard salary cap with less exceptions compared to today's CBA.

I doubt the players union will accept a 10-year deal. In this rapidly changing world economic context, a five-year deal seems more likely. The owners could reduce fines and increase pension payments to players to lessen the impact of the bitter pill the players will eventually be required to swallow. I think a 20 percent rollback in players' salaries will probably be close to the final compromise.

An essential point will be a change in mentality where the players will negotiate from a stronger position as future partners of the owners in a global NBA enterprise instead of the conflictual owner-employee relationship of the present.

An interesting parallel can be drawn with the situation concerning labor relations in Germany where an intelligent  partnership between companies and unions has permitted that country to turn its economy around faster than its European neighbors.

For the NBA, we will get a better feel for the outcome of these negotiations at several signpost dates starting with the expiration of the current CBA.

If a deal is not hammered out, the next important date will be the start of the season at the end of October when players concretely start losing paychecks and teams are blocked by forced inactivity!

Since I love covering the NBA, my fingers are crossed that we won't have to reach that extreme which everyone agrees would be detrimental to the image of the league and its players!

George Eddy from FIBA

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« Reply #25 on: Jun 15, 2011, 04:36:53 AM »

NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

Old School Dallas Victory

Wow! The 2011 NBA Finals were ultra close and hard-fought battles from start to finish, full of comebacks, runs, emotions and diverse story lines!

After five games, just FOUR points separated these two teams that couldn't be more different.

Coach Rick Carlisle of the winning Dallas Mavericks finally let out a sigh and a big smile as he described the victory as a win for old school basketball and teamwork over individual brilliance.

Dallas played close to the floor with old veterans desperate to taste a title and willing to sacrifice and watch each other's backs after years of frustration and criticism (think Dirk Nowitzki), whereas Miami was more of a permanent, airborne, reality TV show caravan starring young divas of a newer generation who teamed up to try and find a shortcut to a championship.

For me, the shared experience and roster continuity over the last few years gave Dallas a decisive edge on the biggest stage during the biggest moments. Their ability to spread the floor, penetrate the Miami Heat defense and hit big shots was crucial.

Carlisle rightly added: "Miami will have their time but this OUR time and it had to be now" because every Mavs player's biological clock was ticking!

As Nowitzki knows better than most, anything worth having is worth waiting for so you have to pay your dues which guys like Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson and J.J. Barea have certainly done, in spades!

Nowitzki, the hard-working and quiet humble leader of this special group shared his Finals MVP spotlight with all his team-mates, pointing out the key contributions of even the most modest role players.

What an irony that Dirk struggled mightily in the first half of the decisive Game 6, shooting one of 12, as Terry, Stevenson and Barea stepped up big time just like in Game 5 and Dallas miraculously led by two at halftime.

It was Dirk's worst half, by far, of the playoffs but the NBA's best bench this season once again showed its resilience to hold the fort until Dirk got himself together in the second half.

Dirk said: "They carried me in the first half when I couldn't find my rhythm".

Some of the other keys for Dallas in the series were: Marion's all-around play and defense on LeBron James; Chandler's energy on the glass, on defense and in the locker room; Kidd's leadership, defense on all comers plus timely shot-making, which is a Dallas trademark along with their ability to play 48 minutes, never say die and always find a way to make a comeback when they are in dire straits.

Dirk pointed out that coming back and winning Game 2 in Miami was the turning point of the series and I will add that that was the starting point for LeBron's gradual meltdown in the last four games (Dallas won four of the last five).

James was heavily criticised for holding the ball to much in the money time of Game 2 and this seemed to provoke hesitation and doubt that became progressively worse as the games became more intense and important.

Dallas' confusing mix of man and zone defense always helping out on LeBron's and Dwyane Wade's penetration was efficient at making James question his own decision-making and threw his outside shot off. Do I pass or do I drive or do I shoot? The look of perplexity on LeBron's face was painful to watch for a heroic Wade who played almost as stratospherically as in 2006.

In fact, the scenario for these Finals was 2006 backwards with Miami seeming to dominate early in the series winning two of the first three games and then letting it slip away after a major turning point which made the confidence level change sides, whereas in 2006 it was Dallas in the bad role after letting Miami come back to win Game 3.

Rumours circulated about problems in LeBron's private life and the 2,000 media members spent more time trying to figure out what was wrong with James rather than talking about what was right with Dallas! This only fueled Dallas' colossal motivation and mental toughness even more.

Dallas had more resourcefulness, unity and experience starting with the head coach and going all the way down the bench to the 12th man.

This result was also satisfying revenge for Mark Cuban, their owner, who put all the pieces together, built around Dirk and who stayed surprisingly and wisely silent during the last two weeks.

This unique series produced a unique, perseverant champion that basketball fans everywhere can appreciate. This beautifully intense sports spectacle also makes our desire even more powerful to see the NBA avoid a destructive lockout in the summer of 2011!

George Eddy from FIBA

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Posts: 86

« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2011, 07:06:12 PM »

NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

NBA Playoffs ~ The Closers:
Miami did the same thing to Chicago that Dallas did to the the young Thunder

A lot of us were fooled into thinking, after Game 1, that Chicago's defense could put a stranglehold on Miami's Big Three but in the end that was just one game!

The Miami Heat came back like a Florida hurricane and swept four games in a row by defending even better than the Bulls, shutting down the MVP Derrick Rose, and closing out fourth quarters beautifully using their advantage in big game experience to the hilt.

Miami did the same thing to Chicago that Dallas did to the the young Thunder.

They would hang around for three quarters then make a decisive surge in the money time profiting from youthful mistakes by their opponents and executing better in the most important possessions of each game.

This concerned most importantly Rose, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Those three young superstars had made the big decisive plays all year for their teams but at this elite level, they were often pushed into bad decisions, lost balls and poor shot selection by two sly and adaptable defenses thrown at them by their opponents.

Miami played Pat Riley-esque man-to-man defense with the incredible LeBron James doing his Scottie Pippen imitation by defending positions one through to four according to necessity.

One game he blocks Carlos Boozer's shot three times and in the last two games he suffocates Rose who played too much and was always worn out when it was time to close out the tight games in this hyper-defensive series where transition buckets were rare and the second chance points "well" went dry for Joakim Noah and Boozer in the last four games.

Tom Thibodeau tried all kinds of different line-ups to attempt to get Rose some help on offense but Miami always had a response.

Notably the Three Amigos making some miracle fourth quarter shots but also periodic help from series-changer Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller in Game 4 in a shortened eight-man rotation well chosen by coach Eric Spoelstra.

Dallas, on the other hand, mixed man-to-man and zone defenses to confuse OKC who, like the Bulls, blew some fourth quarter leads.

Game 4 was the turning point when the Thunder couldn't hold onto a 15-point lead with five minutes to play and lost in overtime after Dirk Nowitzki brought Dallas back with some miracle shots of his own!

For the young guns from OKC and Chicago the future is rosey (especially for the Bulls, haha!) and the disappointment of coming "so close but no cigar" will fuel their motivation and desire to improve.

In the present, the two more experienced teams left will battle it out in the NBA Finals with Miami having homecourt advantage (they are unbeaten at home in the playoffs) while Dallas is in the midst of an incredible five-game winning streak AWAY from home which is the absolute proof that THIS veteran Dallas team is on a last ditch mission for the title and all those past playoff situations where the Mavs choked are dead and buried!

The 2011 NBA Finals oppose a typically American, classic NBA style team full of exceptional one-on-one athletes coming truly together at just the right time against a much more internationally-flavoured squad with tons of height, shooters, experience, a crafty zone defense and THE most unstoppable force of these playoffs, Dirk Nowitzki, the best non-US NBA player, an exemplary gentleman and faithful team-mate that a lot of longtime NBA observers - including myself - would like to see lift the trophy in June because he doggone deserves it!

Can LeBron stop the unstoppable Dirk? Who is the BEST of the Closers? These are the questions!

George Eddy from FIBA

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Posts: 450

« Reply #23 on: May 03, 2011, 02:48:22 AM »

NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

NBA Playoffs ~ First round-up

The two big upsets of the first round of the NBA playoffs came about for essentially the same reasons - poor three-point shooting by San Antonio and Orlando.

Both teams had built their success from behind the line, but the young and athletic defenders for Memphis and Atlanta closed out quickly and efficiently on the shooters.

Atlanta didn't double team Dwight Howard as much so there were fewer open looks and even Superman couldn't beat the Hawks single-handedly!

Memphis held the best three-point shooting team of the regular season, the Spurs, to under 30 percent for the series while also dominating the paint considerably thanks to Marc Gasol and comeback kid Zach Randolph, the undisputed MVP of the series and even the whole first round!

It's funny how that trade implicating the two Gasol brothers doesn't look so bad for Memphis now.

These two upsets hinged on one rebound for Atlanta in Game 6 and Memphis showed extraordinary mental toughness when the vampire Spurs went ahead with less than five minutes to go in their Game 6.

The inexperienced Grizzlies could have cracked at that moment like they did at the end of that incredible Game 5 in San Antonio, but finally it was the Spurs who caved in as the Grizz stuck intelligently with their game plan and match-up advantage built around Randolph in the half court offense.

If these two series had gone to a Game 7, I am not sure the same two teams would have qualified for the next round!

For me two other major bits of information surfaced in the first round.

Primo, Chris Paul is back in the discussion concerning who is the best NBA point guard along with Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo who were both fabulous in the first round for their respective teams.

Segundo, the key to success in these playoffs revolves around having TWO top notch inside players, which was the case for five of the teams who qualified for the second round.

Boston, Miami and Atlanta, on the other hand, compensated with superior guard and wing play while all the losing teams in the first round lacked that second star inside presence.

Now the question is, for example, can Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki counter Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum? My response is no.

The old dictom that the playoffs is all about match-ups in a long series is still true, more than ever in today's diluted NBA talent pool after years of expansion. And teams will milk an advantageous match-up until their opponent adjusts.

With a rejuvenated model citizen like Ron Artest playing his best ball of the season and Kobe picking his spots, I see Dallas being ushered out in six.

The duel between those young, midwest whippersnappers in Memphis and OKC should be epic and could go to seven, but in the end Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka can defend Marc and Z-Bo while the explosiveness of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook gives the Thunder a higher offensive potential that Memphis lacks without Rudy Gay.

These two up-and-coming teams play a european style built on good defense, patience, sharing the ball and limiting costly turnovers. So this series should be a purist's dream!

In the East, the purists will pick Boston while the new-age fans will go with the Miami Hate! I would say that if the games are close that's an advantage for the Celtics, but if there are big leads built up that favors the Mo-Heat-os. I see the NBA youth movement started by Memphis continuing with Miami squeaking through in seven.

The last conference semi-final between Chicago and Atlanta will be an ultra-defensive affair with the winner being the first team to score 85 points! Let's just hope Carlos Boozer's "turf toe" injury reacts well to hardwood!

I'll be back in two weeks to preview the conference finals between Miami and Chicago and LA and OKC.

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« Reply #22 on: Apr 30, 2011, 05:47:37 AM »

NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

Prospect of NBA lockout of mounting concern

Although the collective bargaining agreement does not expire until July 1, and the NBA and players could reach a deal before a lockout, the impact of a labor stoppage is mounting:

•Some NBA head coaches and assistants, especially those hired in the last year or two, have lockout language in their contracts that potentially could prevent them from getting paid.

•National teams set to compete in important tournaments this summer are concerned they won't be able to obtain insurance at reasonable rates on players' contracts, which the NBA has helped to provide via a broker.

•The NBA did not schedule 2011-12 preseason games in Europe or Asia.

•The league's popular Las Vegas Summer League, which offers rookies and young players a chance to learn and impress, runs the risk of cancellation.

•The Los Angeles Lakers did not offer contracts to four training staff members for next season in a cost-cutting move before a lockout, the Los Angeles Times reported.

•A judge's decision Monday to end the NFL lockout is regarded as a win for pro sports unions. The National Basketball Players Association has gotten enough signatures to approve a decertification vote, which could make a lockout wieldy for the owners.

Decertification is "a very serious action, and this is a very serious time for us in these labor negotiations. You have to be prepared to use all of the available means to get something done," Miami Heat forward and NBPA secretary/treasurer James Jones told USA TODAY.

The generic lockout language in contracts states a coach will be paid no less than half his salary if more than 41 games are lost and will be paid on a pro-rated basis if more than 41, but not all, games are played. There also is concern coaches' salaries will decrease as the league seeks a new economic model.

"Coaching salaries have always been a market unto itself," said Michael Goldberg, NBA Coaches Association executive director. "Some coaches may be affected by the overall marketplace. If teams aren't making money, salaries could go down."

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« Reply #21 on: Apr 16, 2011, 01:33:39 AM »

NBA Basketball  & Free Comments •  Baloncesto NBA & Comentarios Libres

NBA Playoff Preview

Well, at least we avoided a coin toss to decide home court advantage in the NBA Finals!

Chicago finishes No 1 and will have homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs even though I feel that their lack of post-season experience together will be their downfall in the second round against Orlando or the conference finals versus Miami.
I love everything about their future though because Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau and MVP Derrick Rose are on the same page and in fusion with the rest of this talented and disciplined group of players.

My reasoning for Chicago being upset is that players like Lebron James and Dwayne Wade in Miami or Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglou in Orlando have already taken their teams a lot further into the playoffs.

The early season favourite, Boston, ruined their chances when they traded Kendrick Perkins,the heart and soul of the team, to Oklahoma City, a team which has become the equivalent of Chicago in the West, an up-and-comer with a LARGE window of oppurtunity. Let's just hope a lockout doesn't clip their wings!

Back to the East where the Boston-New York nostalgia match-up seems to be fueling the net. I see the Knicks making it a series by winning two or three games but in the end Boston will have enough pride to squeak through.

On the other hand I don't think their pride will be enough to stop Wade and LeBron (in that order) from qualifying against Boston in six games in the second round thanks to their trident but also a host of shooters and big men foul-makers.

Rondo has been in a funk since his best buddy Perkins was traded and he would have been the key to Boston winning if he had dominated the point guard matchup dishing out 15 assists a game to the Celtic's Big Three.

I don't see why Indiana or Atlanta will win more than one or two games in their first round duels but for the Pacers making the playoffs is already sufficient whereas Atlanta will once again finish frustrated and puzzled. Hey, maybe Mike Woodson wasn't the problem!

Like Indiana, if Philly wins a couple of games against Miami, then their season can be considered a success.

I may be the only predictor who sees a Floridian derby in the East finals but somehow the logic of it all seems clear to me. Miami with the homecourt advantage should push through and meet the Lakers in the NBA Finals IF Andrew Bynum's knees hold up.
The latest news is encouraging after the scary hyperextension suffered against San Antonio and despite the Lakers limping into the playoffs their inside dominance is still decisive, be it against New Orleans, Dallas or the Spurs... or even Miami; in the NBA finals.

Many observers think Portland might upset Dallas who cringes at first round difficulties and that a rejuvenated Denver team might upset Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. I see the Mavs and Thunder pushing through regardless.

In the following round, the Thunder could create a major shock by eliminating the Spurs on their home floor in a mythical Game 7 that would put Durant - the most underrated superstar - on the historical playoff map.

The Lakers should beat Dallas in six and the Thunder in seven and then win a Game 7 on Miami's floor!

To me, this seems like the only possible conclusion to the fruitful collaboration of the last decade between Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson before Phil rides his Harley off into the Dakota sunset.

As far as the international players are concerned, Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki will be major factors for their teams' success and in the East Joakim Noah and Luol Deng will be key factors in an eventual Bulls coming out party.

So far, the only sure thing is that John Paxson is a better team manager than his former team-mate Michael Jordan. Less clear is the future of Blake Griffin with the Clips, of Steve Nash and the Suns, the move by the Kings from Sacramento to Anaheim and the effects of an eventual lockout after an excellent NBA season.

I forsee the big winners this summer as being Phil and Kobe but also David Stern who will become a hero if no games are cancelled and an intelligent compromise (by reducing all new NBA player contracts by 20 percent) is negotiated.

Only time will tell... I am waiting for YOUR predictions!

George Eddy from FIBA

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« Reply #20 on: Mar 29, 2011, 07:14:13 PM »

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International standouts

This week I would like to do a roundup on the international players, especially those players who have showed net improvement while maybe staying under the radar.

Hidden gems, so to speak!

It is a secret to noone that for instance, Dirk Nowitzki is having another MVP type season. The proof being that if you take away the losses during Dirk's absence earlier in the season, then Dallas would be at the Spur's level of performance at the top of the league.

Like Tim Duncan, the problem is that Dirk has been so consistently brillant during his whole career that it makes us take him for granted. Michael Jordan had the same problem.

The other elite international NBA players are the Spurs eternal trio, The Gasol brothers, Steve Nash, Al Horford, Luis Scola, Néné, Luol Deng, Andrew Bogut and Andrea Bargnani.

All these players produce stats and wins although the last two hold the wooden spoon in terms of victories.

The next group would concern players who fulfilled their potential this season but who haven't quite attained elite status yet.

Guys like Frenchmen Joakim Noah - who needs to work on his offence - and Nicholas Batum and three-point gunner Carlos Delfino are all finishing strong as starters for their respective teams.

I include Galinari, a consistent scorer, and Turkoglou, who is making a nice comeback spurt before the playoffs with Orlando, among this group.

Now we move on to players who had devellopped good reputations in the league but seemed to stagnate this season for different reasons.

Andris Biedrins and Andrei Kirilenko have seen a steady drop in their playing time and production, the former over the last five years and the latter over the last two. A steady decline has also been the tendancy for Mike Pietrus and Vlad Radmanovic, two players who have been perturbed by multiple trades during their careers.

Ersan Ilyasova has seen his season ruined by injuries and poor shooting. Rudy Fernandez and Boris Diaw seem to have reached their ceiling in the league too, while Calderon,Barbosa and Casspi are having decent seasons for losing teams.

Let's move on to a more joyful category, the under-the-radar guys who are playing above and beyond their budding reputations.

From eastern europe, much-maligned Darko Milicic is having his best season as he has started all the games while developping into an impressive shot blocker and alter ego for Kevin Love in Minnesota.

Same deal for Marcin Gortat who has become a double-double threat with more playing time as a top sixth man in Phoenix. He has tripled his scoring output with the uptempo Suns!

Omer Asik has also shown big improvement recently backing up Noah in Chicago. Marco Belinelli and Rodrigue Beaubois have become consistent starters for their teams in New Orleans and Dallas.

Same thing for OKC's Thabo Sefelosha who starts all the games for a top flight team as the league's new Bruce Bowen.

From the African continent, which I expect to produce some top notch players in the next decade, two players stand out; Serge Ibaka a thundering shot blocker showing big-time all-around improvement as a starter and from Cameroon, and Luc Mbah a Moute, who has put together three very consistent seasons without getting much attention outside of beer country!

Since there are 88 international players in the NBA now, I couldn't write about everyone but if I must choose one player who will show a big improvement next season similar to Ibaka this season, I would vote for Tiago Splitter in San Antonio who has learned alot backing up Tim Duncan.

Probably the most impressive fact concerning the international players is the number of truly elite standouts. Eleven of the top 50 players in the stats efficiency category on are international stars! I'm waiting for your comments!

George Eddy from FIBA

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« Reply #19 on: Mar 17, 2011, 09:59:12 PM »

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Stretch Run

The NBA thorough-breds are coming down the stretch of this regular season which feels as long as the Belmont Stakes but still can reserve some surprises and suspense up to the 82nd game!

The two biggest questions are who will win the East and who will finish second in the West?

Boston seems to be faltering after the Kendrick Perkins trade put a hex on their chemistry, while Chicago is constantly brilliant thanks to coach of the year Tom Thibodeau's playoff-style defense and sharing offense and MVP Derrick Rose's progress in all aspects of the game. If Michael Jordan thinks Rose is MVP and Chicago a serious candidate for the title NOW, then that's good enough for me!

Miami is making a nice comeback after hitting rock bottom in the "crying game", but their lack of shared experience will be a handicap against the big boys in the playoffs.

Let's say that an Eastern Conference Finals pitting Boston against Chicago looks probable and the home-court advantage looks decisive. The idea of LeBron meeting up with Boston in the playoffs or Joakim Noah duelling with Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett has me licking my chops already.

Other questions in the East concern whether Indiana or Charlotte will finish eighth and make the playoffs but also, will New York hold on to sixth place despite an improved Philadelphia team that coach Doug Collins has nicely molded into a winning young group.

I applaud the way the Bobcats have not given up despite the trade of their leader, Gerald Wallace, and I applaud my own prediction that Tyler Hansbrough could play at the NBA level despite all the expert doubters.

I'll conclude this Eastern Conference overview by predicting that Ettore Messina will finally be making the jump to the NBA in some capacity with either Toronto or New Jersey next season.

Let's go West,young men, and try to figure out who will finish second behind an untouchable Spurs winning machine.

The Lakers have a string of seven home games coming up and that should be the difference even though Dallas has played great all season except when Dirk Nowitzki was hurt.

French role players Roddy Beaubois and Ian Mahinmi are fitting in smoothly and Dallas has some big bodies to throw up against the Lakers' forest in the Conference Semi-Finals but if Andrew Bynum keeps up his recent level of play the Lakers should beat Dallas and San Antonio (homecourt advatage or not) to go back to the NBA Finals for Phil Jackson's last "Last dance"!

Once again Phil has gotten his team to play its best basketball as the playoffs approach, just like he said he would do.

The five to eight seeds in the West are a toss-up but the top eight seems pretty much set.

I see Kevin Durant finishing second to Rose in the MVP voting because the Thunder beautifully progressed from eighth to fourth in the conference but Rose's Chicago might go from eighth to FIRST in the East.

New Orleans, Memphis, New York, Philadelphia and, of course, Miami have also improved considerably compared to last season.

Let me add that FIBA's decision concerning Great Britain's participation in the 2012 Olympics is a golden oppurtunity for basketball to finally take off there, somewhat similar to the way the Dream Team took the NBA global in 1992.

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My last comment is a message of profound friendship and respect for our Japanese friends in Sendai where I thoroughly enjoyed covering the first week of competition during the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

I discovered Japan, its people and culture at that time and was deeply touched. My heart sincerely goes out to you all.

George Eddy from FIBA

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« Reply #18 on: Mar 02, 2011, 02:55:06 AM »

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Trade Deadine

What a great All-Star Weekend in LA which saw the revival of the Slam Dunk contest thanks to the innovative Javale McGee and a real hard-fought game Sunday dominated by the ultimate competitor Kobe Bryant in front of his home fans.

If only the participants in the Rookie challenge could copy the All-Stars and play hard instead of continuing to think it's cool to stand around and look bored!

I went on vacation in Guadeloupe after the tiring weekend and almost fell off my jet ski when all those trades went down just before the deadline.

Now let's see which teams were dead on target and which were dead in the water after this pre-collective bargaining agreement(CBA) trade orgy.

First, the never-ending Melo-drama finally ended! The best article criticising the whole soap opera was by Rick Reilly on and the best article defending the trade was by his colleague Bill Simmons.

Reilly says the NBA needs a franchise player tag like the NFL to prevent mega stars from disappointing home fans by leaving to join other mega-stars in the most attractive cities. This would increase parity, loyalty and avoid Melo or Lebron type dramas while protecting and strengthening small-market teams.

The NFL's hard cap, revenue sharing, return to profitabiity and avoiding the rich just always getting richer is probably as good a recipe for the NBA as it is for the world economy!

Simmons points out that mega stars have been running the show and choosing their destinations since Wilt Chamberlain in the 1960s and that having a few teams loaded with talent isn't bad for the NBA.

I tend to agree with Reilly that Melo and Amare Stoudamire go together like microscopes and peanut butter- funny line - but Simmons is also right to say that in general the team that gets the best player in a trade is usually the winner but at least Denver got more than Cleveland or Toronto last summer in a similar situation...

I see Melo being motivated since he got his contract AND the team he wanted and the Knicks will be a little bit better but their severe lack of defense will hurt them in the playoffs and the new CBA won't permit them to sign a third superstar in the summer of 2012 when Chauncey Billups will be 35!

This all adds up to a blip on the radar screen but not a fundamental change in the NBA hierarchy.

One major move that might is the trade of Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City. The Celtics look to the future getting Jeff Green but risk losing their amazing chemistry and the low post defence that Perkins provided against Pau Gasol or Dwight Howard.

Those qualities now reinforce the Thunder's chances in the playoffs as they continue to out-think their opponents proving that Sam Presti, the GM, learned his lessons well in San Antonio!

Utah decided to avoid any chance of a Melo-drama concerning Deron Williams by shipping him to New Jersey who gets an excellent consolation prize but maybe only until the summer of 2012. This looks a lot like the Melo trade with both teams re-shuffling their rosters but not really improving by leaps and bounds.

Moving unhappy players was also the goal of Houston trading Aaron Brooks while saving money was Michael Jordan's motivation by giving away Gerald Wallace to a much-improved Portland team which might also get some help from Brandon Roy.

I think that playoff teams in the West are going to try and avoid the Thunder and Blazers come April and May, preferring to play Utah or Denver.

In the East, Chicago missed out on improving their shooting guard position while Boston rolled the dice, so wait and see.

By standing pat the Lakers and Heat improved their chances of meeting in the NBA Finals.

I'll finish by re-assuring all the Blake Griffin fans out there because Mo Wiliams knows how to throw lob passes too and he is younger,cheaper and in better shape than Baron Davis who is the unfortunate and over-paid recordman for being traded from one bad team to another!

George Eddy from FIBA

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« Reply #17 on: Feb 21, 2011, 07:02:10 PM »

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Jerry Sloan

Jerry Sloan always did things his way, the right way, and his way of walking off into the Utah sunset was no exception.

The longest tenured coach in all of pro sports had had enough. It is too simplistic to put all the blame on Jazz star guard Deron Williams who vehemently denied having asked the team to get rid of the legendary coach.

"Sloan has done a lot more for this franchise than me," he rightly stated and he doesn't want or deserve the label of coach-killer!

Sure Deron wanted to play faster and call more plays himself. Sure he felt this would lead to more victories and now it is the equally competitive Deron who is going to be under pressure to prove he is correct.

But Williams didn't push Sloan out because nobody pushes Jerry around. As a player he practically invented sacrificing the body to take a charge and he got the most out of his limited physical talent as the "Original Bull".

I remember watching Jerry and Norm Van Lier on black and white television putting belly-up pressure on opponents and thinking that it must be hell trying to score on those guys. Years later, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen used this tactic to win six titles.

I listened to Jerry a lot during the two Finals (1997 and 1998) he lost to Jordan's Bulls and his down to earth, humble, country style was a breath of fresh air as was his way of answering questions honestly and with no holds barred.

His teams played that way too, using tried and true double high-post systems with lots of back picks and sharing the ball for a good open look.

He was a throwback coach who didn't use the pick and roll or iso game as much as other coaches even though John Stockton and Karl Malone turned the pick and roll into an art form under his management.

Watching young whippersnappers force a lot of one on one play wasn't his cup of tea and in the end this eternal conflict between old school and new wave finally wore him down to the point that he said "whoah, horsey" at the ripe age of 68 after head coaching Utah for 23 years!

A lot of disappointing home losses this season exacerbated the simmering dissensions that all coaches deal with in their careers (Larry Brown this season or Kobe pushing Phil Jackson out in 2004 are examples) and Sloan, humbly and truthfully, said through sincere tears that he didn't have the necessary energy to continue and that younger, faithful assistant Ty Corbin deserved a chance to try and do better.

What a classy exit! As I fly off to tinseltown for the All-Star Weekend, the ultimate modern marketing and partying madhouse, I will keep an image of Mr Jerry Sloan, the ultimate competitor and his old school values in the back of my mind.

George Eddy from FIBA

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« Reply #16 on: Feb 17, 2011, 07:53:25 PM »

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Australia shoots high to bring an NBA game Down Under

Basketball Australia wants to bring an American league game Down Under.

BA chief executive Larry Sengstock said the National Basketball Association wanted to bring games to Australia, and he would do everything he could to make it happen. ''It is our ultimate goal,'' he said.

"There is a lot of work to do and we would need a lot of support but I am confident it will happen.
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"For now we need to work on smaller events in the build up to having an NBA game."

Sengstock said BA officials had met with NBA Asia officials who have already taken NBA games to Chinese cities.

NBA international visits usually involve two teams playing each other twice over two nights.

He said the main obstacle was the cost of hosting a visit which he expected to be more than $10 million.

The other major issue is which stadiums could host games with BA needing to find the biggest indoor venues available.

"It would be like when soccer brings David Beckham out here," he said.

"You want to play him on the biggest stadiums so you can get the biggest crowds."

Sengstock could not say when he expected to host the NBA.

Sengstock added the NBA could play a vital role in the battle to keep emerging players from moving to other sports, especially AFL.

''I think we need to promote the NBA more especially while we have players in it,'' he said.

''We can say to kids that you can come through our programs and make it all there just like these guys did.''

Victorians Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee Bucks) and David Andersen (New Orleans Hornets) along with Canberra's Patty Mills (Portland Trail Blazers) all play in the NBA.

Sengstock also announced BA officials would make their final presentation to FIBA in Lyon, France on March 13 to win the right to host the 2014 World Championships for Women.

Australia and Turkey are the only countries bidding, with Melbourne to host all matches.

Sengstock said the National Basketball League was also making progress on adding a second Melbourne team and a Brisbane team.

Sengstock said he expected the second Melbourne team to enter by the 2012-2013 season.

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« Reply #15 on: Feb 03, 2011, 11:52:03 PM »

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Mid-season awards time !

It seems evident that, at the half-way point of this NBA regular season, we are more likely to see a Celtics-Spurs finals then an LA-Miami battle.

Boston proved last season that it is possible to have a tough regular season campaign and still go to Game 7 of the NBA Finals but it's not easy!

This is good news for a struggling Lakers team which often seems disinterested this season while Kobe and the bigs dispute supremacy on the offensive totem pole à la the Shaq-Kobe era.

They have to go back to playing inside- out within the triangle instead of outside in with Kobe overdoing the one-on-one stuff; getting the bigs involved and implicated early in each game because otherwise they are going to stop moving on offence and stop hustling back on defence.

Ron Artest is in a deep funk and Phil Jackson keeps insisting this is his last season as if he wants OUT! All of these factors were on display Sunday as the Celtics collectively outplayed LA at both ends showing why they are the best shooting and passing team in the league along with, surprise...

...San Antonio.

Why are these the two best teams so far?

They play great team ball making the extra pass for a better look systematically while also helping out like clockwork on defence. They both have a veteran starting five full of Hall of fame candidates who just want to win and young benches full of players coming into their own and jelling at the right time for their clubs.

The players totally buy into what the coaches are preaching and the leaders guide by example but also with a good yell now and then! The Lakers are like a gourmet who has just plain had too much to eat; they are fed up and want to jump straight to the dessert of the playoffs but things don't work that way.

This well-known phenomenon makes the run of Bill Russell's Celtics,winning 11 titles in 13 seasons, all the more remarkable!

Let's move on to individual mid-season awards, because you twisted my arm, starting with my MVP, Kevin Durant. He is once again the NBA's leading scorer and despite the spectacular emergence of Russell Westbrook, I feel he is the superstar player with the weakest supporting cast in the league-along with Derrick Rose and Chris Paul- who is still putting up good results.

Even Amare Stoudamire has deeper talent surrounding him in New York. Once you look beyond Westbrook, you see Nenad Krstic and James Harden in the starting five who, thank goodness, are complementary and well-used by the coach and stars but they are role players at best.

My mid-season All-NBA top five would put Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose and LeBron James next to Durant and Stoudamire.

My international top five would be Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Al Horford.

The top coach is either the mentor, Greg Popovich or the student, Monty Williams, but Doc Rivers and Scotty Brooks deserve kudos too.

Most improved is Kevin Love, best sixth man is Big baby Davis, and Howard is still the best defender.

Blake Griffin has as much a chance of not being rookie of the year as I have of becoming a runway model! In fact, he would be the first to state that individual awards don't mean much when you look at the big picture and for the time being that photo consists of the two best TEAMS, San Antonio and Boston.

George Eddy from FIBA

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