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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Walton’
If you are a fan of what is good, and right, and just … in this crazy, mixed-up – and, most of all wonderful – world in which we all live … then, you should enjoy reading these next 2 stories:
First, from Paul Flannery …
On a blazing hot Monday morning, Mayor Tom Menino along with Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca announced the location of the statue in City Hall Plaza. It’s a splendid site based on its proximity to Faneuil Hall and the Freedom Trail, but the symbolism goes much deeper.
Some 35 years earlier — not far from where the mayor spoke — a young man bludgeoned a black lawyer named Theodore Landsmark with an American flag at the height of the busing crisis. The iconic image The Soiling of Old Glory snapped by Stanley J. Forman for the Herald-American stood for far too long as the enduring image of Boston racism and provincialism. After all these years, the harsh modernism of the Plaza is finally giving way to a long-overdue turning point in this city’s history.
Menino raised the possibility of turning the site into what he called a “Plaza of champions” in the future. Fittingly, he added, “We want to make sure Bill Russell is the lead champion.”
and, second, from Jonathon Maus:
Bill Walton loves bikes. From his college days riding to class at UCLA to his daily ride through Northwest Portland to practice at the Rose Garden Memorial Coliseum, bicycling has always been a part of Walton’s life. So, when the nearly seven-foot tall, Hall of Fame basketball legend and member of the Portland Trail Blazers 1977 NBA Championship team visited Portland for a speaking gig earlier this month, he used the trip as a perfect excuse to put in some miles on the open road.
Many people spend a considerable amount of time asking the following question:
What does it take to become ‘the best’ in a particular field of endeavor?
The most complete answer yours truly is aware of includes a rather simple set of 17 character traits:
“You can never get to the top if you think it’s just a job,” said Walton, whose son Luke plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. “It has to be your life, and it has to be the most important thing in the world to you as an individual and leader of your team.”
Coach Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”
3 Competitive Greatness
8 Team Spirit
Make these the Guiding Principles of your life and success is sure to follow.
The best Center-Power Forward combination these eyes have ever seen play together on a NBA court belonged to none other than the 1977, NBA World Champion, Portland Trail Blazers.
Maurice Lucas was a proud, fierce and independent man. He lived in a world that did not encourage or value his greatest traits and strengths.
The nicest thing that can ever be said of someone is that they make other people better. No one ever made me better than Big Luke.
He was simply better than perfect on all fronts.
Big Luke was a towering, statuesque pillar of supreme principle where loyalty, commitment and leadership were a way of life—not just words of convenience.
Loyalty—the human attribute that enables people to achieve extraordinary things because we care. Maurice cared—about everything. He cared about right and wrong. He cared about truth and justice. He cared about his family, friends and teammates. And he was always willing to do something about it.
Commitment—the willingness and persistence to stick to what matters most. Maurice was ever so determined to make things come out right; he would do, and ultimately did, anything to ensure our success—at every turn.
Leadership—the ability to do what others can’t, or won’t do, themselves— by pulling the team together, by defining the terms of the conflict, by leading the relentless offensive attack and by hitting first.
Nuff said, Mr. Walton.
‘Big Luke’ will be dearly missed by all those whose lives he managed to touch.
… is that the once-All-Time-great-former-redhead-of-the-pacific-northwest is just about ready to get back in saddle:
For those who keep track of Walton comebacks, this is probably his zillionth, and quite possibly, his most important.
Walton, who retired from broadcasting two years ago because of debilitating back pain, and who weeks ago revealed that he contemplated suicide at one point because of unrelenting discomfort, says he is “climbing back into the game of life.”
Fifteen months after undergoing innovative spinal surgery, he can stand again. He can sit again. He can sleep again. He can travel again. He always talked a great game, and so the next step, this next giant stride, transports him into the Kings’ broadcast booth on a limited basis.
If you’re a fan of:
i. The playful nature of the English language, in general;
ii. Eclectic individuals, specifically;
iii. The Game of Basketball;
and, in particular,
iv. The Game of Life;
then, today is most definitely a time for you to cheer … for the return to good health of Mr. Bill.
Throw It Down, Big Fella! …
hopefully, for plenty of years to come.
PS. Kudos to the Kings for this making this happen!
For those of you who might not be old enough to have seen him play in-person, in college or the NBA, you should know that the current head coach for the Memphis Grizzlies was a fierce and talented competitor in his hey-day, which included a leading role with one of the best teams in NBA history:
Once you understand this properly, it then becomes a great deal easier to appreciate the perspective with which HIS eyes see the game, and the way it SHOULD be played at the highest level of competition.
Each point which Coach Hollins makes about the game and the individuals who play it in this lengthy interview [transcript below] is spot on.
GC: Do you expect Rudy Gay to be on the team next year?
LH: I do.
GC: If he gets a massive offer, something close to a max offer, is it a smart basketball decision to pay that much salary to a guy who is not a proven superstar? At some point, is there price where it’s no longer a smart basketball decision to match it?
LH: There will always be a point where it’s not a smart business decision but I don’t know if it’s not a smart basketball decision. See, there’s a difference there. The basketball decision would be, where does that team go without him? Where does the fan base go without him? The business decision is what you just stated. From a basketball perspective, we’ve grown so much, we’ve invested so much in him to get him to this point after four years that it would just truly be a waste to let him walk and go to another team and now all of a sudden he blossoms into the player that everybody was hoping he could be.
GC: Do you think there’s much more than that what we saw, for example, this past year?
LH: Of course. He’s got a lot of ceiling left. He’s just scratching the surface. And the reason he’s just scratching the surface is because, for Rudy Gay, there’s a skill level that still has growth. To be a more consistent shooter, to be a better ball handler so you can attack the basket better and increase your free throw shooting, but also, as a playmaker, and also thinking the game, making the right play, when to take shots, when to make the pass, understanding the situation. It’s not all there.
GC: And yet the rap against Rudy has been the same rap as when you drafted him. He has this incredible athleticism and yet, somehow, what you get is always a little bit less. Is that changeable?
LH: I don’t think no matter what Rudy Gay does, the media is always going to want more. It will be based on how much money he makes, what the expectation for Rudy is. It’s the unfairness of this business but it’s also the price you have to pay with the territory. I’ve always wanted more from Rudy. I think, with a player like Rudy, there’s components that have to be all brought together. It takes time for guys who are just athletic. It’s the mental toughness of the game, it’s the physical toughness of the game, it’s understanding the game from a winning perspective and not just a scoring perspective. That, to me, is why a lot of young teams don’t win in the NBA. And then, the second part of that, why they don’t win, is that there’s not a pecking that’s been established. One night, one guy gets 30. The next night, another guy gets 30. Now a third guy, now everybody thinks that they’re the man because of one 30-point game. Not understanding that it’s the consistency level of the scoring, but also the consistency level of everything else. Rudy can be a much better defensive player. He’s come a long ways, got a ways to go.
GC: He’s been in the league longer than Kevin Durant, longer than Derrick Rose, and yet those guys seem to be elevating their franchises in a way that, with Rudy, it’s still, let’s wait.
LH: Well, you’ve got two different talents there. Derrick Rose is a point guard but he’s basically a penetrator/scorer and he’s been that way his whole life. Durant has been a 30-point scorer his whole life. You know, Rudy has been an athlete his whole life. There’s a big difference in all of that.
GC: And yet we’re saying that Derrick will continue to be what he’s always been, that Durant will always be a 30-point guy, yet Rudy the athlete will become something other that what he’s always been?
LH: Durant led the league in scoring. He probably led his fourth grade team in scoring, too. He led Texas in scoring. He’s always been a guy that could shoot the ball and score. And so his growth is going to come outside the scoring. He showed that this year with his shot blocking, his rebounding, his passing. That’s all going to get better. Derrick Rose has improved his shot. He’s improved a little bit on making other guys better but that’s not his game and that’s probably why he’s struggled a little bit with how far Chicago has gone, that’s just my opinion. Whereas, Rudy has just been one of the guys and when the game goes up and down he excites you. When it’s a half-court game he doesn’t excite you, but he’s getting to the point where even in his half court play, he’s getting better at it. When you’re young, your focus is real narrow and it’s usually on you. Versus seeing what the team needs and when it needs it. The guys who are super duper stars, they have that vision at a younger age.
Terrific stuff from “The Little L-Train”.
Take the time to read and watch it all.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
In pursuit of becoming the best you are capable of becoming …
What makes someone do what they do?
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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.
Classic stuff … heading towards this Sunday.
PS. Without home court … Blazers in 6.