Posts Tagged ‘Bill Walton’

The Value Of Learning How To Lose Before Learning How To Win, in Portland

Monday, December 7th, 2009

In response to a most interesting article by David Berri …

The Impact of Losing Greg Oden
The primary purpose of this post was to highlight how good Oden had played this season (to see how good, please read the post).  Certainly it’s possible that the Blazers could overcome this loss.  But it seems fairly likely that Portland’s season is not going to go quite as well as I thought earlier this year

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1. The Blazers were NEVER going to be the best team in the West this season.

2. The Blazers’ overall development arc, as “one of the best teams in the West”, will involve a wider sweep than just 2 or 3 seasons.

3. The problems with this year’s Blazers [at least, so far] this season were not rooted in the play of Greg Oden but in the following list of developments from the last 6 months:

i. Unnecessarily soliciting the services of Hedo Turkoglu [SF/Orlando who eventually signed with Toronto as an UFA], which upset/disrupted the flow they had been developing with Travis Outlaw [PF-SF] and Rudy Fernandez [SF-OG-PG];

ii. Unnecessarily signing a superfluous, ball-dominating PG, like Andre Miller [as an UFA/Philadelphia];

iii. The protracted contract extension negotiations with Brandon Roy [OG-PG-SF] and LaMarcus Aldridge [PF-C]; and,

iv. Re-integrating Martell Webster [OG-SF], a top 8 player, returning from an injury-lost season, into their everyday rotation.

v. The injury sufferred by Nicolas Batum [SF-OG], a long and athletic player who can Defend and Rebound at his specific positions;

vi. The injury sufferred by Travis Outlaw [PF-SF], an under-sized but very versatile and effective player who can: A. take/make big [jump] shots [catch & shoots, plus pull-ups] in the 4th quarter; B. Defend, at the #3/SF or #4/PF with good length and athleticism; and, C. Rebound, at the #/SF or #4/PF position with good length and athleticism.

vii. The long term effects of the “health scare” which their owner, Paul Allen, had last season, that artificially “pushed forward” the team’s perceived “development arc” this past summer in a way which their team was unprepared to cope with at this time … i.e. trying to “win now [!]” instead of gradually continuing their “incremental build-up” over an extended number of years [5-7?].

If Kevin Pritchard truly understands what’s been happening with his squad this season, from a team-building standpoint, then, what he’ll do now is:

I. Not try to “replace” Oden from outside his current group of players;

II. Continue to repair their internal relationships with Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Fernandez;

III. Move Andre Miller for another better-fitting asset, asap;

IV. Allow his group of Core Players to continue to grow together organically … while integrating this off-season’s main additions from the 2009 NBA Draft, i.e. Dante Cunningham [PF-SF], Patrick Mills [PG] and Jeff Pendergraph [PF].

If Kevin Pritchard does things things and then simply waits on the eventual return of Greg Oden … what he’ll have on his hands, 2 seasons from now, is a fully grown team that is ready, willing and able to challenge the Lakers, as the No. 1 outfit in the West, just as Kobe Bryant’s “development arc” is finally beginning to flow downwards its end-point.

On the other hand …

If Kevin Pritchard does not understand these things about the state of his own team, then, what he’ll do instead is “continue to try and rush” the Blazers through this key stage of their “upward arc” … which involves “learning how to lose before learning how to win”, just like Jordan’ Bulls and Zeke’s Pistons and Hakeem’s Rockets and Robinson’s [and Duncan’s] Spurs and Shaq/Kobe’s Lakers each went through before emerging as multiple-time league champions … then what he’ll do is make the WRONG MOVE at the WRONG TIME and end up blowing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which has come his way in Portland, i.e. to construct one of the NBA’s all-time great franchises with the likes of [youngsters] Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Travis Outlaw, Martell Webster, Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum, Jerryd Bayless, Dante Cunningham, Patrick Mills, Jeff Prendergraph and [a healthy] GREG ODEN, plus [oldsters] Joel Przybilla [C], Steve Blake [PG] and Juwan Howard [PF].

The ball is in Kevin Pritchard’s court.

For the Blazers’ sake, it’s important that he doesn’t drop it.

PS. FWIW … Please know that ”curses” do not exist in pro sports. Poor decision-making skills – e.g. bringing injured players back too soon, acquiring ill-fitting players, trying to speed up the development process, etc. - on the other hand, can be found in abundance. :-(

Related:

Latest injury will derail Oden for good

Where to now for Portland?

Blazers confirm Oden’s season is over

Blazers take another small step forward

Diamond in the rough finally begins to glisten

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

This is some of what’s been written in this space:

Jul 1, 2009, Memo to Kevin Pritchard
Jun 23 2009, NBA Double Jeopardy, for $2000
Mar 20, 2009, What the Blazers NEED most heading towards the playoffs
Feb 17, 2009, Ranking the Best Big Men in the NBA today
Oct 8, 2008, Greg, Brandon, Rudy, Travis, Martell, LaMarcus, et al.
Sep 25, 2008, Taking on all comers
Sep 23, 2008, 2nd Coming in the Pacific Northwest
Mar 27, 2008, Educating Greg Oden
Dec 22, 2007, Blazing a New [Old] Trail in Portland

concerning the goings-on with the Trail Blazers, since the 2007 NBA Draft.

Unlike others in the on-line hoops community, nothing which has happened since those entries were first made has changed the perspective of yours truly, regarding the ability of Greg Oden.

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Trail Blazers 93, Memphis 79: Pieces come together; Greg Oden unleashed
More and more, the Trail Blazers are learning just how much Greg Oden means to their success.Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Oden, and himself.

On Tuesday, Oden was the difference for the Blazers as they jumpstarted a five-game trip with a 93-79 rout of Memphis that ran the Blazers winning streak to three.

After playing only four minutes in the first half after two quick fouls, Oden was powerful on offense and intimidating on defense, helping the Blazers break away from a 45-45 halftime tie. Oden had 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks in the second half, and keyed the Blazers’ decisive 14-1 run in the third quarter.

“I was 0-fer in the first half,” Oden said, referring to his statistical line. “I wanted to get something going. And by running and giving energy, I thought it could definitely open things up.”

The emergence of Oden is getting the Blazers close to completing the diamond that coach Nate McMillan likes to make with his hands when talking about this team. McMillan puts his forefingers and thumbs together to symbolize the connection between

Prior to this season, that diamond has never been complete because Oden has been learning the ropes. But now, the team and Oden are getting the picture.

“The biggest thing about tonight is seeing how Greg is a huge part of what we do,” Roy said. “If we can keep him on the floor it makes us a much better team. It opens everything for all of us. So in a lot of ways, it starts with him.”

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It’s only a matter of time, when you have a stud … with the skill-set, personal qualities and physical attributes of Greg Oden … at the very heart of your team, at the Center position.

On the shoulders of someone else’s talent

Monday, September 7th, 2009

In pursuit of becoming the best you are capable of becoming …

What makes someone do what they do?

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In the 1972-73 season, North Carolina State’s David Thompson was the most exciting college basketball player these eyes had ever seen, with the type of individual game that would leave an indelible imprint in this mind’s eye, finishing the year with an undefeated record [27-0], while being ineligible to compete in the NCAA Tournament … which was won by the last of Bill Walton’s great run of UCLA championship teams.

When the Wolfpack then returned to the Final Four the following season and, this time, captured the NCAA Championship, under head coach Norm Sloan, with diminutive Point Guard, Monte Towe [5-5], and gangly Center Rick Burleson, in addition to ”The Skywalker” himself … by defeating Walton’s Gang, in the national semi-finals, 80-77 … it was truly a remarkable accomplishment, putting an end to the greatest dynasty in the history of US college basketball and placing an emphatic exclamation point on the inter-scholastic career of “DT”.

At the age of 10 & 11, respectively, it seems as though a certain highly impressionable young man, from Wilmington, North Carolina, was equally enthralled, watching on tv.

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Thompson to open Hall’s doors for Jordan
“I built my talents on the shoulders of someone else’s talent,” Jordan wrote in his 1998 autobiography, “For the Love of the Game.” “I believe greatness is an evolutionary process that changes and evolves era to era. Without Julius Erving, David Thompson, Walter Davis, and Elgin Baylor, there would never have been a Michael Jordan. I evolved from them.”

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On whose shoulders YOU choose to build YOUR talent is one of the most important decisions YOU will make in YOUR life.

Be sure to Choose Wisely.

Power of THE namesake

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Courtesy of NBA.com …

A Letter to a Father
I’m going to enjoy this championship but I also know that you’ll be there to remind me that while I’m basking in the team’s success this summer, guys around the league will be working on their game. I’m sure you’ll also remind me that defending an NBA title is twice as hard.

Right now, though, I want to keep it light and fun. Although, I’m sure we’ll jaw about whose team is better, this year’s Lakers team or the ’77 Blazers, your first NBA title team.

Lakers in six, Dad.

Who’s stopping Kobe?

Luke

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A Letter to a Son: Bill Walton remembers
You’re so lucky, Luke. You are the fortunate one. You now know how hard it is to reach this unparalleled milestone. Life will never be the same again.

The smile on your face at the conclusion of the game and throughout the locker room celebration is an image that is forever emblazoned on my spirit and soul. Thanks for making us all so happy and allowing us to share in your joy.

As a young boy growing up, Luke, you were always so embarrassed when I would write John Wooden’s maxims and Pyramid lessons on your lunch bags. From now on, I will proudly inscribe them all, “Luke Walton, NBA Champion.”

Luke, you mentioned the historical reference to your team’s abilities. When you get to be my age, trash talking is about all that’s left. I fully admit, Luke, that your team is really, really good. Kobe is supreme. Pau, Lamar and Andrew are all top of the line. And Phil Jackson is brilliant.

Right next to your smile on my spirit and soul are the immortal words of Jack Ramsay, who recently said on the 30th anniversary of the 1977 World Champion Blazers in putting that team’s abilities in historical context:

“I like our team. We’ll take our chances. Anywhere. Anytime. Against anybody.”

Blazers in four, Luke. Never forget why you are named after Maurice Lucas.

Love, Dad

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Classic stuff … heading towards this Sunday.

 

 

PS. Without home court … Blazers in 6. ;)

 

The Undertaker strikes, again

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Just before half-time of this evening’s Nuggets vs Lakers game …

[speaking about what it takes to win Game 6, at home, vs the No. 1 Seed in the Western Conference, while trailing in the series, 2-3]

“Going home is NOT The Answer. Being carried by The Energy of The Crowd is NOT The Answer. There is ONLY One Answer. Play Hard. Play Together. And, EXECUTE.”Jeff Van Gundy

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Box Score: Denver 40, Los Angeles 53

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Ranking NBA Colour Commentators

1. Hubie Brown [i.e. exacting with his X's & O's]
2. JVG [i.e. solid with his X's & O's, plus highly entertaining]
3. Bill Walton [i.e. highly entertaining]
4. Everybody Else

Superman or King James? … You make the call

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Man of Steel vs King James

Brian Schmitz has formally asked the question …

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LeBron James vs. Dwight Howard: Who’s the better franchise building block?
If you had to start a franchise, would you take Magic all-star center Dwight Howard, 23, or the Cavs all-star small forward LeBron James, 24?

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Dennis Scott has provided his answer …

Scott concedes that, as a shooter, he’s partial to taking the side of the big men. Even as good as LeBron is, “finding a seven-footer with skills is so rare.

“Traditionally, I’d have to go with the big guy — Dwight. At the end of the day, you need that inside presence … for defense, rebounding. He opens everything up and makes the game easier. Not to discredit LeBron, but as good as he is, I think it’s easier finding another LeBron than a Shaq or a Dwight.

“You can find another Kobe or another D-Wade or another Paul Pierce to put with the big man.”

With so few franchise centers around, Scott says the talent gap favors Howard, especially in the Eastern Conference. Only Yao Ming and the aging Shaq from the West seemingly can stand up to him. Scott also notes that centers also seem to have longer careers.

“Longevity,” Scott said. “Shaq’s still playing and Dwight looks like he’ll be around a long time with the shape he’s in.”

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as has Bill Walton

“I have a bias for great players — no matter the position. Today … I’d have to take LeBron,” Walton said. “He’s a little older than Dwight and right now he’s the better player. But that’s like asking me to chose one of my sons or Jerry Garcia over Neil Young.”

Walton says it all comes down to skill level. He said the Chicago Bulls, who dominated the ’90s with six titles, didn’t have an “elite center.” But “they had enough good, big men. MJ and Scottie (Pippen) and (Dennis) Rodman all could combine to control the paint.

“It’s like Coach [John] Wooden says: ‘It’s not how big you are; it’s how big you play.’”

Walton marvels at LeBron’s freakish size (6-8, 260 pounds), but he says it’s things such as his preparation and deft passing that makes teammates better.

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… in a way ↑↑↑ that makes complete sense to this corner.

Specifically, THE CORRECT ANSWER is that Lebron James is the superior basketball player, in every sense imaginable …

Including, at least:

* Shooting off the catch [2's & 3's]
* Shooting off the dribble [left & right]
* Dribbling [left & right]
* Passing
* Finishing at the rim
* Shooting/Scoring in the Low Post
* Movement without the ball [cuts & slides]
* Screening
* Picking
* Rebounding [defensive & offensive]
* On-ball Defending on the Perimeter
* On-ball Defending in the Interior
* Off-ball Defending on the Perimeter
* Off-ball Defending in the Interior
* Basketball IQ [in general], Offensively, Defensively & Rebounding
* Various Physical attributes [e.g. explosive quickness, agility, strength & size]
* Various Mental attributes [e.g. focus, attention, agility & perception]
* Various Emotional attributes [ e.g. stability, intensity, selfishness/unselfishness, energy & "competitive greatness"]

plus a whole lot more.

and it simply isn’t even a close contest.

That said, there are any number of others in the blogosphere who might well CHOOSE to disagree with the perspective which is shared by Mr. Walton and yours truly.

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Who's the better foundation block to build your NBA franchise upon?

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Either way … please feel free to share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section.

What it’s all about …

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Those who are able to watch this video clip and then try to blame the Captain of the Toronto Raptors for the current state of affairs with this team simply indicate their own lack of basketball acumen and sophistication: 

Although this young man can definitely score the ball, in this League, he is not a Prime Time scorer, per se.

What he is, at 24 years of age, in his 5th NBA season, is wise beyond his years, and made of championship material.

1. Find him the right teammates to play beside … like Jose Calderon, for example;

2. Use him at his best position, which is CENTER;

3. Make him focus on his individual strengths, as a person and a player … which include his intelligence, his imagination, his curiousity, his sense of team, his Rebounding, his off-the-ball Defense, his Shot-blocking, his transition game, his quickness and his agility;

4. Help him to better understand his place within the history of the game, and where it is he fits today within the panoramic landscape of Big Men … like Russell, Reed, Cowens, Hayes, Walton, Sikma, Abdul-Jabbar, Moses, Parrish, Laimbeer, Olajuwon, Robinson and Duncan … each one an unique center-piece for a championship team;

and what you will end up with is an extended run in the upper echelon of the NBA … if you really do know what you’re doing, in terms of building a TOP NOTCH organization, from the gound floor up, in the world’s best professional basketball league.

Fail to heed these words, however … and, instead, ask/demand/expect of him to be something which he is not … and it will simply be Just Another Lost Opportunity for the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club.

Players like this … with this sort of ability, stability and strength of character … only come around every so often Where Amazing Happens!

What happens when you’re young stays with you forever

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

In the early 1970′s, the fact is, ‘Mr. Clutch’ was the first favourite NBA player of this corner …

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Jerry West still is a reluctant sports hero
West can best be described as one of the most conflicted legendary sports heroes of our time. He is a man who has had a lifetime of success in nearly all facets and has never been comfortable with that.

Part of that might hark back to the third nickname, the one he likes the least: “Zeke from Cabin Creek.” That was placed on him by other players from bigger cities when he arrived in the NBA in 1960, the second pick of the draft and perhaps a comparative hick. He had been an All-American at West Virginia, and nobody questioned his basketball credentials. Nobody but him, that is.

“I didn’t think I was good enough to play in the pros,” he said back then.

As the second-youngest of six children growing up in the relative poverty of Cheylan, W.Va., and learning his basketball craft mostly alone on muddy outdoor courts with cheap hoops, West couldn’t have been less prepared for something like Los Angeles.

“Cabin Creek was about a mile away,” he said, elaborating with a snapshot of life in the ’50s in a coal mining state. “That’s where we got our mail. I’d run there and back. Maybe that’s why I was in such good shape to play basketball. I remember running past Wade’s Pool Hall on a Saturday morning. You could tell how wild a time the coal miners had had the night before by how many of the windows were broken out.”

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While time and increased maturity have succeeded in developing an increased appreciation for the outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the game of terrific players like, e.g. The Great Bill Russell, the ‘Big O’, Kareem, Dr. J, the ‘Moutain Man’, Magic & Bird [because they will forever be linked together], Isiah, MJ, Hakeem, Duncan, etc., it can never overshadow what it meant to these young eyes, late at night, watching on a grainy black & white TV a certain player, wearing #44, who just kept hitting big shot after big shot, in an effort to help his team win a rather silly game, played the Right Way, in short pants with a round ball and an elevated basket.

Although time marches on … you can never ever replace THAT.

Greg, Brandon, Rudy, Travis, Martell, LaMarcus, et al.

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Sometimes … fully animated pictures do tell the story much better than 1000′s of words ever could.

As I’ve said before …

the Lakers best do their part to win the NBA championship THIS year!

It’s been a stretch of 31 seasons, in Portland, but … it’s safe to say that,

The Mojo has now returned to The Rose Garden … for REAL … with ‘The 2nd Coming’.

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[Please Note: Someone NEEDS to make a Photoshop poster, right now, of these 6 Young Guns, together, in the Pacific Northwest, as they set off on 'the trail', in search of 'The Holy Grail', last seen in this part of the USA when the original 'Mountain Man' walked these hills, at the very apex of his game ... with the Final Destination already determined, in advance ... cause it says right here, that ... It's ONLY A MATTER OF TIME, for a wrecking crew like this.]

2nd Comings in the Pacific Northwest

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Q1. What are the reasons you have lost your mind and predicted boldly that the 2008-2009 LA Lakers will win 70+ regular season games and capture the NBA Championship?

A1. If you must know, it’s a two-part answer.

PART ONE
The Lakers have done a solid job re-assembling a 1st-class roster of highly talented, athletic, skilled, complimentary players around Phil Jackson & Kobe Bryant, two expert practicioners in their respective fields, i.e. ZenMaster Warlord, and his Most Trusted Samurai. On the heels of the experience this team gained last season, losing in the NBA FINALS, it is now poised to strike back with lethal vengence, this season … to provide the 10th NBA Title, as a coach, for their venorable Sensai; and, the 1st Ring (overall) for his protege, Black Mamba, unaccompanied by his former partner-in-crime, the Biggest-Shogun-of-All-Time. According to these eyes, this is THE season for these Lakers to make history, as a group. Here & Now. Next season? Who knows where Phil Jackson is going to be, at his age? Or, Lamar Odom? Or, Derek Fisher? Or, Tex Winter? Or, the rest of the Lakers’ extended family. The time for this group, to ‘Be In The Moment, as One‘, is NOW. 

“Life is fast; and, things happen quickly”.Derek Fisher

PART TWO
This MAN, right here …

is about to make his long-awaited debut, in the NBA, this season …

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Q & A with Greg Oden
NBA.com: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Greg Oden: Just to win. To try to get out there and help my team win as much as possible. I’m not really worried about individual stats. For me, if my team can make the playoffs or we can win a lot more games than we did last year, then that will satisfy me.

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and this corner just happens to believe that he is going to prove to be, in the long run, the closest thing this League has seen, in the LAST 40 YEARS, to the re-incarnation of The Great Man, himself … Mr. Bill Russell (figuratively speaking, of course, as the original incarnation is still going strong!) combined with Wilt Chamberlain (at his most powerful best) … in terms of his Commitment to REBOUNDING, Defense, Team & Individual Offense AND his overall attitude toward The Game (specifically) & Life (in general).

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NBA.com: You got to know the greatest big man in Blazers history, Bill Walton, a little bit. What advice has he shared with you?
Greg Oden: He’s just telling me if you go out there and play, you don’t have to worry about what people say about you in the news or the media. Just go out there and play your game and have fun with it. It’s just a game. You’ve got to understand that you’re a rookie. Don’t put any pressure on yourself that isn’t needed.

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If the Lakers DO NOT win the championship this season … each year that goes by it is going to get more and more difficult for them – and the other elite level teams in the Western Conference – to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers, anchored in the middle by Gregory Wayne Oden, Jr., over the course of the next decade, or so.

When you find yourself standing squarely between a Rock (i.e. last year’s group of Boston Celtics) and a Hard Place (Greg Oden’s Portland Trail Blazers for the next 10-15 years) … it can do wonders to create an extraordinary sense of urgency, and R.E.S.P.E.C.T., for the moment at-hand. Carpe Diem!

Destiny Awaits! … THIS, specific Lakers’ team

… which will NEED to strike while the iron is hot … and, before the sparks ignite, full blown, up the Pacific Coastline, in the Emerald City.