Demarus Dye| BKD TV Insiders
The Rebounds(Best) & Blocks(Worst) of the 2015-2016 season & lets take a look below from All Star Weekend & before, also thanks to ESPN.com for stats & articles also.
- West beat East in ALL Star Game, Russell Westbrook repeats as All Star MVP– Kobe Bryant exited the All-Star Game for the final time to watch Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry wrap things up with 3-pointers.Bryant’s gone, and these young guys are good.Bryant said his All-Star Game goodbye and the next generation of the West’s best sent him off a winner, rolling to a record-setting 196-173 victory over the East on Sunday night.
“It was fun,” Bryant said. “I had a blast playing with those guys, laughing and joking with them on the bench.”
The first All-Star Game outside the U.S. was the highest-scoring ever. Bryant didn’t provide much of the offense but many of the memories.
“To see him now, it’s like the passing of a generation,” West coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s been such an iconic figure for so long, and he passes it on to that other group of young guys that you saw out there tonight.”
Bryant finished with 10 points, so few that he lost his career lead in All-Star scoring to LeBron James.
But Westbrook scored 31 points in his second straight All-Star MVP performance and Curry added 26 — the final three on a 42-footer. Anthony Davis had 24 on 12-for-13 shooting and Kevin Durant chipped in 23.
Paul George finished with 41 for the East, tying Westbrook’s total from last year in New York that was one off Wilt Chamberlain’s record. John Wall added 22 points.
James finished with 13 points, just enough to move ahead of Bryant for most ever in the All-Star Game. James has 291, while Bryant, who is retiring after this season, leaves with 290.
He checked out with 1:06 left to cheers and hugs from his fellow All-Stars who now put up points in bunches the way Bryant did for so long.
Bryant had seven assists and six rebounds, but shot 4 for 11 in a game where there isn’t really much defense and had never been less. The 369 combined points were 48 more than last year’s record, and both clubs blew away the previous individual team record of 163.
But people just wanted to see Bryant play, not necessarily play well.
“We all at one point in our life wanted to be Kobe in our driveways somewhere,” the East’s Dwyane Wade said. “We watched him growing up and we wanted to pay respect to him.”
The pregame was a celebration first of Canada, then of Bryant.
A video message from Dr. James Naismith, the Canadian who invented basketball in the early 1890s, was followed by player introductions by two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and Grammy winner Drake. Canadian Nelly Furtado sang her country’s national anthem.
Then it was time for two video tributes for Bryant, whose 18 All-Star selections are second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bryant thanked his millions of fans as the other All-Stars lined up in the background to salute him.
“I know it’s been overwhelming for him over this year, but our fans across the world and here in the States and here in Toronto, as well, has just been paying so much respect,” James said. “It’s all well-deserved.”
Toronto hosted the very first NBA game on Nov. 1, 1946. Neither Naismith nor anyone who saw that game would recognize the way it looked Sunday.
Curry and Durant launched shots from spots where only buzzer-beating heaves were once attempted, and Westbrook put together another combination of speed and force that turned it into a rare All-Star blowout in the second half.
The West has won five of the last six even without longtime mainstay Bryant, who hadn’t played since 2013 because of injuries. But players like Westbrook, Durant and Curry are more than ready to shoulder the load.
At 37, Bryant has trouble keeping up with the youngsters — especially the real young ones. Chris Paul’s son stole the ball from him as Bryant warmed up for the second half.
But he was the star without playing a starring a role. He had said he didn’t want players forcing him the ball in an effort to make him the MVP — he’s already got four of them in this game — but he was never far from the center of attention.
The West led 92-90 at the break, both teams surpassing the previous record of 89 points in a half.
The game goes back to the U.S. next year, and for the first time since 1997 won’t have Bryant. He made his All-Star debut in New York in 1998, a game also remembered for Michael Jordan’s last with the Chicago Bulls.
Jordan, now chairman of the Hornets, was on hand Sunday for a ceremonial passing of the All-Star torch from Toronto to Charlotte, the 2017 host.
Paul finished with 14 points and 16 assists and is the leader in All-Star assists per game. DeMar DeRozan scored 18 points for the East and Kyle Lowry had 14 points and 10 assists as both Raptors played well in front of their home crowd.
“I think everybody got the feel of the energy that we witness every single night when we play as Raptors players,” DeRozan said. “I think all the guys really got insight on how in tune the city of Toronto and all of Canada is to basketball.”
- All Star Weekend delivers mainly with the Slam Dunk Contest– Zach LaVine was fresh out of dunks, having been pushed to the limit by Aaron Gordon in an epic final round in the NBA’s slam dunk contest on Saturday night.In need of some magic, he reached deep down into his repertoire and found just enough left for one more go.
“We were looking in our bag of tricks. Ain’t nothing left,” LaVine said. “I just found a little piece of dust.”
LaVine pulled off a between-the-legs dunk from the free throw line on the second tiebreaker to take home his second straight dunk contest trophy, becoming just the fourth player — after Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson — to pull off that feat.
The Minnesota Timberwolves guard had never tried the dunk before. Not in practice. Not at the playgrounds back home in Seattle. But he had already used all four of the dunks he planned to do when fellow contestant Will Barton told him to try it.
He pulled it off, putting an emphatic punctuation on a contest that instantly drew comparisons to the showdown between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins in 1988.
“I just think that was the best contest,” LaVine said. “There was some stuff that’s never been done before. I don’t want to get into the greats — Mike, they’re in a different breath. If you really look at it as a whole, we were doing dunks that professional dunkers take four or five tries to do and we were doing it on the first try. It was ridiculous, man.”
Lavine dedicated his win to his late coach Flip Saunders, who died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October.
- Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming & Allen Iverson among 2016 HOF finalists– Shaquille O’Neal was just 9 years old when his stepfather began teaching him basketball with a plan to dominate like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Young Shaquille didn’t even know who they were. Now he’s on the verge of joining them in basketball immortality.”He told me this day would happen and I never believed him,” O’Neal said of Phillip Harrison, who raised Shaq along with his mother and died in 2013.O’Neal was chosen Friday as a finalist for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, joining Allen Iverson to highlight the potential class.
Yao Ming could accompany them in Springfield, Massachusetts, in September, though he was nominated by the Hall’s International Committee and wasn’t subject to the step O’Neal and Iverson had to clear Friday.
Former Phoenix Suns point guard Kevin Johnson, college coaches Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan, Lefty Driesell, Eddie Sutton and Muffet McGraw; women’s superstar Sheryl Swoopes, longtime referee Darrel Garretson, high school coaches Leta Andrews and Robert Hughes, 10-time AAU national champion Wayland Baptist University, and John McClendon, the first African-American coach in a professional league, also were chosen as finalists by the North American or Women’s Committees.
The entire class will be unveiled April 4 in Houston before the NCAA championship game and enshrinement ceremonies are set for Sept. 9 in what could be an overcrowded birthplace of basketball if O’Neal, Yao, Iverson and their fans are all there.
“We’re going to go on tour,” joked Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Hall of Fame board. “It could be a big one.”
O’Neal and Iverson couldn’t be much different as people or players. The 7-foot-1 O’Neal, dressed in business attire wearing a jacket and tie, lived up to his stepfather’s vision by becoming an inside force like Chamberlain, Russell and Abdul-Jabbar on his way to four NBA championships and an MVP award.
“Later on in my career people started comparing me to them, so I was like if you want to compare me to the greats, I have to represent the game with grace and honor, and hopefully I did that,” O’Neal said.
Iverson came casually dressed as he did for most of his career, wearing a T-shirt, Yankees hat and faded jeans with a couple of neck chains as accessories. It was his look that made him as popular with a generation of fans as his game.
“I’m a product of Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, all those guys that paved the way for us,” Iverson said. “They might not have no idea of what they did for us as kids wanting to be like them.”
And many of today’s small, speedy guards wanted to be like Iverson, a 6-foot, relentless wave of energy who averaged 26.7 points, won four scoring titles and an MVP award.
“I was fast until Allen Iverson. I’m not afraid to admit it,” Johnson said. “They called me the fastest point guard in the NBA with the basketball, and I knew I had to relinquish that title the moment I saw Allen Iverson play.”
Yao recalled first watching the NBA live in China during the 1994 finals, when Houston won the title. He went on to play for the Rockets after they made the 7-6 center the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft, and now he could find out he’s a Hall of Famer in that city.
“I feel very peaceful,” Yao said. “I’m glad it all can be connected to Houston.”
He, O’Neal and Iverson all benefited from a recent change in Hall of Fame rules that made a player eligible for candidacy after four full years of retirement. It was previously five, which meant they were actually six years removed from their playing days before they could be enshrined.
“Now we benefit this year by a couple of people who are going to be eligible, but we’ve been talking about this for a while as a board,” Colangelo said. “So I think it’s a good move for the Hall of Fame.”
Longtime NBA reporter David Aldridge and ESPN broadcaster Jay Bilas won the 2016 Curt Gowdy Media Awards, while Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
“I am honored beyond words,” Bilas said in a statement released by ESPN. “I am so grateful to be the recipient of such a prestigious award, and when I look at the list of Gowdy Award honorees, I cannot help but feel unworthy.”
- Knicks fire Head Coach Derek Fisher– The New York Knicks fired coach Derek Fisher on February 8 after the team lost its fifth straight game and nine of its past 10.ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Ian Begley first reported the firing.The Knicks are 23-32 this season after going 17-65 in Fisher’s first season in 2014-15. New York’s current losing skid contributed to the timing of the move, but the team was already convinced Fisher was not transitioning from the role of player to coach effectively, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
Fisher was hired by team president Phil Jackson to rectify the struggling New York franchise. Fisher and Jackson have a history together dating back to when Jackson coached the Lakers, and Fisher was a point guard on the team that won five championships.
“I know it’s a relief for him, taking away some of that stress from the job,” Jakcson said. “It’s also a person I have a long relationship with and care deeply about and hope for his success. It’s time for us to make a change, turn this team around and move forward and get some wins and keep going down the road we started here at the beginning of the year.”
Fisher, who had no previous head-coaching experience, took over for Mike Woodson, who went 109-79 in parts of three seasons in New York but won only one playoff series. The Knicks currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference.
Fisher thanked Jackson, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan and his players and staff.
“This is a very talented team with strong character and I am confident they will succeed,” Fisher said in a statement. “Obviously, I’m disappointed, but have learned an immense amount from this experience and hope to grow from it.”
Jackson said that he and general manager Steve Mills made the final decision on firing Fisher. As is common when a major personnel decision is made, Jackson consulted Dolan, who signed off on Jackson’s decision. Fisher was guaranteed $17 million on his four-year deal. He is owed the balance of this year plus $8.5 million over the next two years, a source told Windhorst.
Jackson said Fisher was prepared, and he instilled some mental toughness into the team.
“Some of the onus is on the players,” Jackson said. “It’s a lot easier to fire a coach than 15 players. Unfortunately, it’s not always the coach.”
Jackson took some blame for Fisher’s performance. He told Fisher recently that he could have done a better job mentoring him.
“I may not have communicated enough in that area,” the Knicks president said.
Jackson did say that adding veteran assistant coaches to Fisher’s staff helped; however, he didn’t think everyone was on the same page.
“There wasn’t really a consensus in our staff,” he said.
One of those veteran assistants, Kurt Rambis, will serve as interim coach. Rambis played on four Lakers title teams and was a coach or executive for four others. He has a 56-145 mark as coach of the Timberwolves from 2009 to 2011 and 37 games with the Lakers in 1998-99. It appears Jackson will give him a chance to turn things around, saying that right now the team is “not looking for anyone else.”
“I have big confidence in his ability to coach this team,” Jackson said.
Rambis said that he has had a meeting with players to discuss “where I stand and what’s expected of them.”
“We’ve got to figure out a way to right this ship so we can make a push for the playoffs,” he said.
Rambis also said that he’d be retaining Fisher’s assistants and may look to add another.
Two other former players under Jackson, Brian Shaw and Luke Walton, are candidates for the full-time coaching job, sources told ESPN. Shaw coached parts of two seasons in Denver, while Walton led the defending champion Golden State Warriors to a 39-4 start this season, filling in for injured coach Steve Kerr. Walton is determined to see out the rest of this season at Kerr’s side before considering head coaching offers in the offseason, league coaching sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
Walton is widely expected to be pursued by a number of teams in the summer. He counts Jackson as one of his biggest mentors in the game and still has close ties to the Lakers, who, sources say, have given Byron Scott no assurances about keeping his job beyond this season. Walton also played collegiately at the University of Arizona and is believed to interest the Phoenix Suns as well, after the Suns’ dismissal last week of Jeff Hornacek.
Jackson said that he’d be looking for a coach who shares his philosophy, which likely means finding a coach willing to run the triangle offense.
“It’s not paramount, but it’s important,” Jackson said. “Someone has to match the style of the way we do things, and there’s a certain style that I have that I think works and I’ve found worked before.”
Another of Jackson’s former players, Dennis Rodman, took to Twitter to say he also was available, although it wasn’t immediately known whether it was a joke or he was seriously interested in the job.
The Knicks, who haven’t won the title since 1972-73, upgraded their roster during the summer with the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis and the signing of veterans Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez. They had the look of a playoff team most of the season but are stumbling into the All-Star break, and fans loudly booed when they fell behind by 19 points Sunday during a 101-96 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Fisher accepted some of the blame for the team’s recent slow starts after Sunday’s game, though All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony said that was the responsibility of the players.
In addition to the Knicks’ struggles this season, Fisher had been involved in a well-documented feud with Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes. Barnes had said that Fisher was involved with his ex-wife, and Barnes and Fisher were involved in a physical altercation at the woman’s house last year. Barnes was suspended two games by the league for the incident.
Jackson said Monday that the situation was embarrassing to the Knicks and Fisher but “that had nothing to do with what happened here today.”
- The Tragic Death of Ingrid Williams Wife of Monty Williams– Ingrid Williams, the wife of Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams, is dead at age 44, the team announced February 10.Ingrid Williams was involved in a car crash Tuesday night in Oklahoma City when she was hit head-on by a car that crossed over the center lane. She was taken to a hospital and died Wednesday evening from injuries suffered in the crash. The driver of the other car was pronounced dead at the scene.The Oklahoman reported that Ingrid Williams was traveling with three of her children at the time of the crash. Oklahoma City Police Department Captain Paco Balderrama told the newspaper that one of the children has been released from the hospital and “the other two are banged up but expected to be OK.”
Monty and Ingrid Williams have five children ranging in age from 5 to 17 years old.
“The Thunder organization has heavy hearts tonight with the news of Ingrid’s passing,” the team said in a statement. “Words cannot adequately describe how deep our sorrow is for the loss of Monty’s wife. Our thoughts and prayers are with Monty and his family, and we will support him in every way possible. We know the entire community of Oklahoma City has them in their prayers.”
Thunder star Kevin Durant became emotional when asked to comment Thursday.
“I tried to think about what I’m going to say, but I just love Coach Monty so much, man. I feel for him. Somebody we all love … I just don’t know what to say. I’m sorry, excuse me,” he said.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan, discussing how the news has affected the team’s tight-knit coaching staff, said “the harsh reality is we have a game to play” Thursday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.
“We’ve got to go out there and do the best job we can. And that’s really all there is. It doesn’t mean that we’re not hurting as an organization, as a team, as a coaching staff, but we’re called to have to play tonight, so we have to go out and play tonight,” he said.
Before joining the Thunder coaching staff, Monty Williams served as the Pelicans’ head coach from 2010 to 2015.
“The New Orleans Pelicans are devastated to hear the news of Ingrid Williams’ passing,” the Pelicans said in a statement. “Ingrid was beloved by the Pelicans organization and the New Orleans community and will forever be remembered as one of the most generous, kind and humble individuals we’ve ever known. Our thoughts and prayers are with Monty Williams and his family during this difficult time.”
The Thunder’s Anthony Morrow, who also played for Williams with the Pelicans, said he’s keeping Williams’ family in his prayers.
“In my opinion, God called one of his true angels back home,” Morrow said. “She was the person you could always go to with anything. Coach Williams as well. Those two are the standard when it comes to marriage, when it comes to being believers. Just inspirations. I feel like I lost a family member for sure, and I’m sure everyone else feels the same way.”
Alvin Gentry, who replaced Monty Williams as Pelicans coach, said the team said a prayer for Williams’ family in the locker room before Wednesday night’s game, and the arena’s public address announcer asked for a moment of silence before tipoff.
“The players that were here with Monty and their family definitely felt it,” New Orleans point guard Jrue Holiday said after a 100-96 win over Utah. “Obviously we’re all blessed to play the game of basketball, but family comes before that. And I know most of the guys were thinking about our families, thinking about his family.”
Monty Williams played three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs and served there as a coaching intern. The news of Ingrid Williams’ death almost led Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to not coach his team’s game Wednesday.
An emotional Popovich walked out of the locker room several minutes after San Antonio’s 98-96 win over the Orlando Magic with a tissue in one hand, tears in his eyes and remnants of tears wiped away as he addressed the media.
“I’d rather talk about basketball,” Popovich said. “The personal stuff’s none of your business.”
Popovich changed clothes and later re-entered the locker room. He walked over to Tim Duncan, who had been coached by Williams, and the two shared a private moment.
Kawhi Leonard’s last-second jumper gave the Spurs their sixth consecutive victory, and their 20th win in their last 22 games, but the locker room afterward was a somber place.
“Coach [Williams] was a Spur,” guard Danny Green said. “He’s still a part of our family, and my prayers go out to him and his family.”
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers also had a close relationship with the Williams family.
“Monty Williams and his wife, Ingrid, I’ve known them since I was married,” Rivers said after the Clippers’ 139-134 loss to the Celtics. “So I don’t know if — there’s no words. There really isn’t. I am heartbroken. I’m sick to death. Once again, it puts this stuff we do in perspective. This is awful. Obviously our love and support and all that, but sometimes that doesn’t seem fair. There’s no better human being in the world than Monty and Ingrid, and for this to happen, sometimes you question everything, and this is one of those times, for me at least.”
Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone said he is a friend of Monty Williams and that the news of Ingrid’s death affected him during his team’s 103-92 win over Detroit.
“I apologized to the team. The first half, I coached very angry,” Malone said. “I don’t know if you guys heard, Monty Williams, a good friend of mine, his wife was killed in an accident.”
After a long pause, he said, “So I apologized to them because it’s taking my anger out on them, and they don’t deserve that.”
A memorial service for Ingrid Williams, the wife of former New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams, has been set for Thursday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City. Video of Reaction from Ingrid Williams death is below, Our thoughts & prayers are with the Williams Family during this trying time.