Posted Feb 7 2011 7:09AM
Yes, he is finally starting to realize it's a big deal.
"I think about it, yeah," Ray Allen said recently. "Nate Robinson came up to me and he said, he was like, 'Man, I didn't realize what everybody was talking about, and then I looked it up. Reggie Miller had the record, and we all grew up watching Reggie, and I'm on your team, and you're about to break his record and you did it in fewer days, games, shots, whatever it may be. And that is incredible'...
|All-Time leaders -- 3-pointers made|
"And when I saw the enthusiasm in his face, I had to kind of look within myself and say, 'You know, that is something to marvel at.' Just being able to do it. And I think about all the players that existed when I came into the league, all the great shooters, and to be able to say that I've left my mark on this game, and still have the opportunity to do even more."
The playwright and poet Sherman Alexie, in the documentary "SonicsGate," said that Ray Allen may shoot a 3-point shot better than any human being has done anything. That is the magic of basketball, of course; every night, you have an opportunity to see a person at the outer edges of man's abilities, pushing the envelope with their bodies the way Chuck Yeager pushed the envelope of speed with the Bell X-1 aircraft.
And Walter Ray Allen is about to be the best gunslinger the NBA has ever produced.
It will likely come this week, when Allen makes his fourth 3-pointer. That will break Miller's record of 2,560 threes, set during Miller's 18-year career. Allen has reached the plateau in his 15th season, and will set the mark having taken about 600 fewer shots than Miller did.
Allen's record comes in the midst of his best pro season, as the Celtics cruise in the East. He's shooting better than 50 percent for the first time, including an absurd 46 percent from behind the arc. Part of the reason he's shooting so well is that the Celtics have become so efficient as a team; Allen takes only 12 shots a game. But in their fourth season together, Boston's Allen, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins -- just back following surgery -- know each other's moves before they begin.
"Doc (Rivers) always talks about, don't dance with the ball, going east and west," Pierce said. "Just make the next pass, the extra pass. That's not a knock against the guys, whoever has an open shot. But we're always looking for a better shot. The players we've got are capable of making shots. There's no stopping us when we play that way."
At 36, Allen looks as fresh and fit as ever. In the first year of a two-year extension, he will likely put the 3-point record well out of reach for the foreseeable future. (Dallas' Jason Kidd just moved into third place on the all-time list late last month, and currently has 1,742 career threes, more than 800 behind Allen).
"You see so many things happen, so many temptations," Allen said. "I just always said to myself, I wanted to be great at what I was doing. For me, it's a testament to just saying, 'Well, I'll have fun later. Right now, I need to put my work in.' Get the work in at the early part of the day, so you can enjoy the latter half of the day -- whether it's the latter half of the latter quarter of the day, you get to enjoy that knowing you put your work in."
It is no coincidence that -- like Miller, like Larry Bird, like all the great shooters -- Allen arrives at arenas hours before many of his teammates, a slave to a pregame routine that has him shoot up to 300 shots, from all over the court, for up to an hour.
Threes from the corner, from the wings, from the top of the key. Post-ups in the lane, floaters, runners. Shots off pin-downs, shots with the ball over his head, shots with the ball at his ankles. Shots backing up, where he doesn't see where he's going. Even shots getting up off the floor. He does this before every game -- preseason, regular season and playoffs.
Extrapolate that over a season. A playoff team plays at least 100 games a season, including the exhibitions. That's 300 shots before 100 games -- and Allen's frequently had seasons with many more games than that, but let's say 100. That's 30,000 practice shots per year, over the last 12 or so years. A conservative estimate, then, is that Ray Allen has shot 360,000 shots in practice during his career. That doesn't count whatever his offseason routine consists of, or the 7,600 shots he's taken in actual games. It's reasonable to assume that Allen has easily exceeded the 10,000 man-hours that Malcolm Gladwell has posited it takes someone to become an expert in a given field.
The routine came out of necessity, early in Allen's career in Milwaukee.
"I was playing golf one day," Allen said. "I was trying to hit certain shots, that I would be standing over the ball and trying to figure out, well, I really didn't know where this ball is going to go. Because I didn't really practice it. And so, I started thinking. I would go to the golf course, and I would run straight to the driving range and I'd hit my driver, just try to get that right. And I would think I was ready to play the game. So once I stood over that 100-yard shot and I didn't know where the ball was going to go, I started saying, I really need to practice this. I need to put time in so I know where this ball is going to go every time when I swing this club.
"And I started thinking about it, and I was like, that's similar to what I do on the basketball court. And I'm 24, 25 years old, and I'm thinking, there's some moves that I don't really practice. I go out on the floor and I just do it, and I get by on athleticism, but I don't know exactly what the result is going to be.
"But in a game, I can't do that. I gotta do everything that I would do in a game, because the court doesn't change. The only thing that changes is your defender. So I said, every shot that I take in a game, potentially that I could take in every spot, I'm going to start practicing."
So, 360,000 shots in practice.
"I miss a lot," he said.
Allen recalled the first game of a home-and-home, when he had 40 points for the Bucks. The next night, before the game, watching Allen work out, the opposing coach told him he didn't have to be practicing.
"I said, if I want 40 again tonight, then I gotta have the same routine that I had the day before," Allen said. "It's kind of obsessive for me, because you want to do it. You want to be good. You want to do it over and over again. It's like, leave no stone unturned if you want the same results."
The Celtics were five minutes away from a world championship last June. That clock is always ticking with this group, and now louder than ever, with Shaquille O'Neal about to turn 39, and Garnett 34, and Pierce 33, and Jermaine O'Neal 32. Boston's window for an 18th title is open, but the frames are creaking. There aren't going to be many more chances with this group. Which is why Ray Allen continues to shoot 300 shots before every game, and why he's about to make NBA history.
"You look around at anybody, and people will tell you 'I'll work out tomorrow, or I'm just going to take a nap,' or I'm going to do something later," Allen said. "The time we've been around each other, the first year, it was like, 'We want it now.' And every moment last year was we want it now, the year before was we want it now. 'Cause we don't look around the corner and think there's something that's going to happen down the road that's going to be given to us. We've got to try to go out and take it."
Big issue still looming in Orlando?
They insist, like Kevin Bacon in Animal House, that all is well.
Losing at home to Miami on Thursday?
"We'll be fine," Dwight Howard said Friday. "This team knows how to play. We've got enough talent. And we're just going to continue to get better."
Gilbert Arenas struggling mightily from the field and having problems adjusting to playing almost exclusively at point guard?
"He's got, really, nothing in his comfort zone," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I think as he gets more comfortable he'll bust out and people will see the dynamic offensive player that he can be."
Don't the Magic need to add one more big man, especially with starting power forward Brandon Bass out until the All-Star break?
"In terms of one big short other than (Bass), I don't know," guard Jameer Nelson said. "No matter who's out there on the court, we just all have to step up. If some guys have to play out of position, they have to play out of position."
After losing to the Celtics Sunday, Orlando is 2-4 against Miami and Boston this season. Since the nine-game winning streak in late December and early January that included wins over the Spurs, Celtics, Knicks and Mavericks, the Magic are 7-8.
"If you want to be honest," Van Gundy said, "and people never really look at this a lot, part of it was scheduling. We were at home against the better teams (during the win streak), and our road games were against weaker teams. Now the schedule has turned the other way. We've played a lot of road games against good teams. We've played really nothing but good teams (in February). I don't know that we're really, to be honest, even though the record's different, I don't know that we're playing a lot worse. We've lost a lot of very difficult, close games."
Orlando's half-full approach would point out that in the 109-106 loss to Boston last month, the game was tied with 38 seconds left before Paul Pierce's three-point play, followed by Kevin Garnett's rip of Nelson at the other end. And even though the Magic was outplayed most of the way in their 104-100 loss to the Heat last week, and gave up 51 points to LeBron James, Orlando liked the fact that James had to make contested jumpers for many of those points.
"We've just got to continue to be consistent," Howard said. "At the offensive end and the defensive end, just be consistent. We've got to come out every night and play hard. If we play hard every night, we should win a lot of games."
Orlando has only had five or six full practices since the trades in mid-December, and still expects a lot of improvement will come in the lab, when Arenas can get his timing down better both with the reserves with whom he is currently playing, and with the starters, with whom he is getting a little more run of late. Even though Hedo Turkoglu already knew the system from his previous years in Orlando, it's a different team without Rashard Lewis at power forward, creating mismatches.
And even though Van Gundy put Richardson in the starting lineup and knew his preferences -- "as soon as I came in the first day, he knew where I liked the ball at. He said 'you like it off the curls, you like to get it in the post.' It was amazing that he knew that much about my game," Richardson said -- the ninth-year pro has rarely had to play off of a big man like Howard. With most of his career in Golden State and Phoenix, Richardson's used to an up-and-down game, with plenty of driving lanes. Now, he's more of a catch-and-shoot player.
"This is probably the first time in my career I've played with somebody like that," Richardson said. "You just kind of don't sit and stand. You have to cut and do other things. He's so dominant down there, we can't just get stagnant and expect him to carry us every time."
Until Bass (ankle) returns, backup Ryan Anderson has to start, leaving Orlando with Earl Clark and Malik Allen as its backup bigs. But GM Otis Smith insists he is under no great pressure, and is in no great rush, to make a deal for a power forward or center who can back up Howard. And, at least publicly, Howard expresses no great concerns about the team's personnel or its chances to get through Boston or Miami in the playoffs.
"It's coming along," Howard said. "We still have our ups and downs. I think we're getting better in the areas we need to get better at, which is mainly defensively. Offensively we have guys out there that's going to make plays and make shots...the main thing we just need to continue to work on is just helping one another and working on individual defense"...
Trade deadline names to watch
Two-plus weeks until the trade deadline, and the Carmelo Circus aside, along with those guys who everyone knows are on the block -- like the Nets' Troy Murphy and the Knicks' Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry -- here are the guys that, according to front office sources around the league, are eminently gettable before Feb. 24:
Golden State center Andris Biedrins, Memphis guard O.J. Mayo, Lakers forward Ron Artest, Portland centers Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla, Philadelphia forward Andre Iguodala, Phoenix forward Josh Childress, Washington forward Rashard Lewis, Detroit guard Rip Hamilton, Cleveland forward Antawn Jamison, Minnesota guard Jonny Flynn, Charlotte forwards Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw and Houston forward Jared Jeffries.
There was less consenus on whether three former All-Stars -- Pacers forward Danny Granger, Memphis forward Zach Randolph and Clippers center Chris Kaman -- were really available, despite their names being out there in Rumorville the past few weeks.
Many of those names are unlikely to be dealt because of their prohibitively expensive contracts, which is why they're on the block in the first place. Count among these Iguodala (three years and $44.1 million remaining after this season), Lewis (two years and $43 million remaining after this season, though only $10 million of the 22 million due to Lewis in 2012-13 is guaranteed), Childress (who just signed a full mid-level exception for $34 million), Biedrins (three years and $27 million left after this season), Jamison (one year and $15 million left after this season) and Artest (three years and $21.775 million left after this season).
With the lockout looming, it's unlikely in the extreme that any team would take on any of these deals.
There could be takers for Flynn, who has never really taken over the starting point guard job in Minnesota and who likely won't next season when and if Ricky Rubio comes over from Spain (though Rubio is not having a great season this year playing for FC Barcelona, one of the ACB and Euroleague's top teams).
Mayo has been involved in trade rumors for weeks, and at 23 and still on his rookie contract, he'll likely be moving on (the fight with teammate Tony Allen on the team plane last month was not the only time Mayo has gotten into verbal altercations with teammates, I'm told).
Jackson was on the block before Larry Brown was "retired" by Charlotte, and even though interim coach Paul Silas has rarely met a tough guy he didn't like, S-Jax's inability to stay clear of the refs may be wearing out his welcome...
Bird, Pacers play waiting game
Now that Jim O'Brien is gone in Indiana, what about the future of team president Larry Bird, who's also in the final year of his deal -- along with any number of front-office personnel? Bird told SI.com last week that he has purposely not asked owner Herb Simon about a new contract because he wanted to give the owner maximum flexibility to decide whether he wanted to clean house after this season. The Pacers will have less than $35 million committed next season in player salaries, giving them incredible flexibility if Simon wants to open up his checkbook.
But will the 55-year-old Bird stick around if asked?
One close friend of Bird's thinks he'll be back next season, and shares my view that Simon wouldn't dare cashier one of Indiana's favorite sons, mediocre record the last few years or no. It's still Indiana, and he's still Larry Bird. "You look at it honestly, (Bird) helped get Conseco [Fieldhouse] built," the friend said, referring to the Pacers' still-state-of-the-art arena. But the friend disagrees with my view that Bird might return to the bench if asked by Simon.
(Last week's rankings in brackets; this week's record in parentheses)
1) San Antonio  (2-1): After last-second win in Los Angeles over the Lakers Thursday and easy win in Sacramento Friday, Spurs could get rolling through the remainder of the Rodeo Trip -- at Detroit, at Toronto, at Philly, at Washington and at New Jersey before finishing with a tough one at Chicago just before the All-Star break.
2) Dallas  (3-0): Per Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, Mavericks are 25-1 this season when scoring 100 points or more. Dallas has broken century mark last seven games during eight-game win streak, including big victory Friday in Boston over the Celtics.
3) Miami  (4-0): LeBron, D-Wade taking turns dominating as Heat gears up for major test next Sunday at TD Garden against the Celtics.
4) Boston  (2-1): The only thing that can slow the Celtics is injuries. Jermaine O'Neal undergoes knee surgery last week, and Marquis Daniels was carried off on a stretcher on Sunday after suffering a bruised spinal cord against Orlando Sunday. Fortunately, Daniels looks like he's going to be okay, though he's going to miss some time.
5) Chicago  (1-1): Six-game winning streak ended Saturday at Golden State, but D-Rose gets voted in as an All-Star starter for the first time by fans.
6) L.A. Lakers  (2-1): Think they got the message after Mitch Kupchak and Magic Johnson both said last week it might be time for a trade?
7) Oklahoma City  (3-0): Thunder have taken control of the Northwest Division with five wins in six games, including Saturday's dominant victory over the Jazz in Salt Lake City.
8) Orlando  (1-3): Magic still looking for answers against East's elite.
9) Atlanta  (3-0): We're going to have to redefine "snub" if it now includes Josh Smith not making the Eastern Conference All-Stars. Tell me who he should replace on the team. Paul Pierce? Kevin Garnett? Chris Bosh? Who?
10) New Orleans  (1-2): Injuries to Okafor, Ariza slow Hornets' momentum.
11) Portland  (2-2): Dante Cunningham starts at center for the Blazers against Cleveland Saturday. Dante Cunningham gets hit in the face in the second quarter by a Samardo Samuels elbow. Dante Cunningham does not return to the game Saturday. Dante Cunningham says his face is "broken." Of course it is.
12) Memphis  (3-1): Grizzlies battling Portland for final playoff spot in west; Z-Bo battling Cousin LaMarcus for potential All-Star replacement berth in case Dirk sits it out.
13) Utah  (2-2): Who'd have thought the Jazz would be in the bottom half of the league both in points allowed and field-goal percentage allowed this late in the season?
14) Denver  (2-2): Even after loss to Jazz at Pepsi Center Friday, Nuggets still impressive 21-6 at home.
15) New York  (1-2): Dropped 10 of their last 15, but awfulness of the Eastern Conference has left Knicks comfortably in sixth place in the playoff chase for the last few weeks.
Indiana (4-0): Pacers unbeaten under interim coach Frank Vogel after Sunday's win over New Jersey. This would be a great time for Frank Vogel's agent to talk with management about an extension.
Cleveland (0-3): This is progress? Cavs lost last three games by an average of six per game. Average margin of defeat in previous 21 games during losing streak: 15.5.
Is this a bad time to mention the referees' contract with the league also expires after this season? No? Not a good time? Then I won't mention it. Oops.
From Imad Akel:
On the subject of picking the Western Conference All-Star reserves, (h)ow do you discard selecting Blake Griffin on the basis of his team not winning, while locking Kevin Love as a reserve, whose team is the second-worst team in the NBA (better only than the CAVS!)
I mean, be fair. Blake Griffin's team started 1-13, but do you realize they are now 18-28? Do some math here: they are 17-15 in their last 32 games. That's a .530 winning percentage, and it's practically playoff material! Not to mention that some of those victories were against some championship-contending teams like the Lakers!
Proof that Griffin is worth way more to his team than kevin love is in the +\- stat! Griffin is -46, Kevin Love is -160!!!! I mean both stats are bad because they are on bad teams, but Love is almost the worst on his team!
If you compare Blake Griffin's stats with Kevin Love's, he is averaging 1.0 points, 0.1 steals, 0.2 blocks and 1.0 assists per game than Love. Kevin Love has 2.8 more rebounds per game. Their stats are basically similar. Are you really going to give Kevin Love an All-Star seat based on 2.8 more rpg alone?
Let's be fair, sir: Blake Griffin might have not made history on a stat sheet this season, but he's had some historical games, and some historical dunks! No one has dunked so fiercely as him in game since Shawn Kemp!
So I ask you this: What do people want to see at the All-Star game? What do you want to see at the All-Star game: Kevin Love rebounding or Blake Griffin dunking?
I think I wrote exactly what you said in the column, Imad. I understand if people want to see Griffin play; he's electric. And the game is in Los Angeles. I get it. I just believe that Love, for the reasons I articulated, is having a season that few players have had in the last 30 years. Yes, getting more than 15 rebounds a game in a season is special, in my book. It's only been done seven times in the last three decades. Add to that Love's scoring -- and his 3-point shooting -- and you have a truly unique individual, who deserves to be showcased in L.A. And while I respect the +/- stat, as you point out, both Griffin and Love have horrible numbers there.
For sale: Hall of Fame point guard. Anyone? Bueller? From Ricardo Carmo Vaz:
I want to ask about Steve Nash. He's an absolutely fantastic player, I love the guy, two-time MVP, etc, resumé speaks for itself. But realistically, the days of those fun-to-watch, run-n-gun Suns are long gone, and now it's just a recipe that doesn't work, because the ingredients (Marion, Stoudemire, etc) aren't there anymore. So now everyone talks about trading Nash to a "contender" to start rebuilding. My question is: who is that "contender"? All the teams considered in the running for the championship have good PG's (it's hard to contend without a good PG running the show!), so I don't see where he would go. People talk about Atlanta, but in my opinion they aren't contending for anything anytime soon. Best case scenario is them getting to 2nd round (again), and the future isn't brilliant because they don't have cap space. And besides Crawford's expiring contract, they don't have much more to offer. If that's the only destination, Nash might as well stay in Phoenix until sunset...
You're not going to let facts get in the way of good sports radio trade talk, are you, Ricardo? I don't see a realistic dance partner, either, though I have learned never to say never. And if Steve went to Robert Sarver and said he'd like to be moved to have a chance at a ring, I'm sure the Suns would try to accomodate him.
In local news, John Elway retires to Baltimore. From Tommy Hoas:
If Ron wants out and Mitch is serious about a roster shake up, would it make sense to send Ron to Detroit for Prince? And would it make sense for Detroit?
Just for the perverse pleasure of seeing how Pistons fans would react to Artest -- who was at the epicenter of The Brawl in 2004 -- in the home white, I'd love to see this trade happen, Tommy. But it isn't going to happen. It makes zero sense for Detroit to take on the additional years in Artest's deal while jettisoning a still-productive player in Prince who's on an expiring deal. If Detroit moves Prince it'll be for somebody young, or somebody cheap. Preferably both.
As they say in the executive branch, mistakes were made. From Barry Benjamin:
Three errors in one article. Not up to your usual stuff, my man! Does three = "riddled" with errors? Just curious.
1. "The Celtics' core group has been together for three years now." Actually, it is 3 1/2. Perhaps you meant 3 "full" years, but there are into year 4.
2. "Anything less than a third straight appearance will be a severe disappointment." Third straight? I seem to recall a rather large Dwight Howard appearance 2 years ago.
3. "Ray is only in his third season in Beantown." Actually Ray is in his fourth season in Beantown.
Thanks for pointing out these errors, Benny. See what I did there, purposely messing up your name as a joke to call attention to all the errors I make! Nor will I point out that you wrote "there are into year 4" instead of "they are into year 4." Seriously, though, thanks for pointing them out. It is my job to do better, and I will try.
Send your questions, comments, criticisms and Oscar nominations to email@example.com. If your e-mail bon mots are sufficiently thought-provoking, challenging, funny or snarky, we just might publish them!
(weekly averages in parenthesis)
1) LeBron James (26.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 7.3 apg, .552 FG, .806 FT): This is just a suggestion from me to the Magic: perhaps you should stop talking about LeBron and mocking him before games. Just sayin'.
2) Derrick Rose (23 ppg, 3 rpg, 10.5 apg, .515 FG, .800 FT): Bulls whining because D-Rose is the team's lone All-Star representative. I'd say the fans and coaches got it exactly right.
3) Dwight Howard (23 ppg, 14.5 rpg, 0.5 bpg, .544 FG, .500 FT): Hasn't shot less than 50 percent from the floor since Dec. 29, a span of 19 games.
4) Kobe Bryant (26.7 ppg, 8 rpg, 8.7 apg, .431 FG, .952 FT): Kobe's biggest assist of the week may have been lighting a fire under Pau Gasol, who went for 34 in the Lakers' win at New Orleans Saturday.
5) Dirk Nowitzki (26.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.5 apg, .592 FG, 1,000 FT): Diggler looks back to his old self and jumps back into the MVP talk as the Mavs rip off eight wins in a row.
Dropped out: Chris Paul
16 -- Assists by the 76ers' Andre Iguodala Friday against the Knicks without committing a turnover, the first time in franchise history that a player had that many dimes in one game without a single miscue.
102 -- Consecutive sellout streak at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, which ended last Monday when the Cavaliers only drew 19,642 for their game with the Nuggets.
$25,000 -- Fine amount du semaine by the league, which issued said fines against Miami's Eddie House for grabbing his, um, lower abdomen in a game Monday, the Hawks' Josh Smith for an obscene gesture in Atlanta's win over the Knicks Monday, the Nets' Avery Johnson for contact with an official Friday and Denver's J.R. Smith for his flagrant 2 foul against Utah's Raja Bell Friday.
1) As much as I love Cousin LaMarcus, the Commish got it right with K-Love as the injury replacement for Yao Ming.
2) Who is this "R. Hamilton" that was in Detroit's box score Saturday, scoring 15 points on 7 of 14 shooting from the floor in 20 minutes off the bench? Perhaps we should keep an eye on him and see if he plays again soon.
3) If you're surprised that Jrue Holliday is playing much better at point guard (12.5 points, 6.6 assists his last 17 games) for the 76ers, and that the Sixers have been rolling for much of the last month, you haven't been paying attention to Doug Collins for the last two decades.
4) It is, admittedly, a bit perverse, but who outside of D.C. and Cleveland isn't rooting for the Cavs to lose three more games in a row, starting tonight against Dallas, which would set up a game for the ages next Sunday at the Q. The Wizards, winless in 25 games on the road this season (Washington is at home all week and thus can't threaten its mark of road futility until then) versus a Cleveland team that would be working on a 27-game overall losing streak. Immovable force, meet immovable object.
5) Caron Butler reiterated to us on The Beat last Tuesday that he still has an outside hope he can come back by the playoffs. This would make me very happy.
6) Behold the power of Cheese. Congratulations to the Packers, who made the woman (and Caron Butler, the Racine, WI native) very happy with their Super Bowl XLV victory.
1) I hate to point this out, but the Cavs have not only lost 24 straight, they'd lost 10 straight before their last win. That means they've lost 34 of their last 35 dating to Nov. 27.
2) Explain this to me: the Nuggets fired Mark Warkentein as their general manager last summer. They thought the team's front office structure was in desperate need of streamlining. The Knicks hired Warkentein as their pro personnel director last week. Nothing has changed the Nuggets' opinion of Warkentein from last year. So, why, exactly, is his hiring by New York supposed to facilitate a trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks? Yes, CAA represents Warkentein now, and CAA represents Anthony. But what does that have to do with the Nuggets--who still have to sign off on any trade?
3) It's a mess in Detroit right now between the players and John Kuester. Trust me. A mess.
4) The Knicks get a slap on the wrist for conducting illegal pre-Draft workouts? Does that mean the league doesn't care much when its rules are broken, or that everyone breaks the rule, so it's not that big a deal? Neither is a good answer.
5) I always hear from the NFL's apologists how that league does everything better than the NBA. Don't recall this ever happening at The Finals.
re my medical condition, I am 100 % cancer free !!
-- Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33), Friday, 12:55 p.m., Tweeting great news about his chronic myeloid leukemia, diagnosed in November, 2009. Abdul-Jabbar is also about to release his new film about the great Harlem Rens team of the 1920s and '30s, On the Shoulders of Giants, later this month, based on his book of the same name.
This week's Mr. Fifteen is Milwaukee's second-year forward/center, Jon Brockman. The 23-year-old Brockman has appeared in 38 games this season, starting two, and averages a little more than nine minutes per game, 1.8 points and 2.4 rebounds. He's gotten more playing time of late with the Bucks' run of injuries to their big men, including Andrew Bogut and Drew Gooden. Milwaukee acquired Brockman last summer from Sacramento for forward Darnell Jackson and a 2011 second-round pick.
Brockman -- who helped himself immensely before the 2009 Draft with a great performance at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament -- was only the third player in Pac-10 history to lead the conference three straight seasons in rebounding, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. Brockman was taken in the second round of the 2009 Draft by Portland but was immediately traded to Sacramento.
Me: When the playing time is not as consistent as you like, how do you stay sharp?
Jon Brockman: I think the biggest thing is just keeping the conditioning level the same as the rest of the group. A lot of what we're doing right now, we're playing so many games, a lot of the conditioning is in games. And if you're not getting those minutes, you've got to be doing extra. I like to do a lot of that in the weight room. I'll do some circuits, sled pushes and all sorts of, we have all sorts of fun little activities for me. But the conditioning level is probably the biggest thing. And also just trying to improve on your game, so you can earn even more minutes.
Me: Is that something you work on with Marc (Boff, Milwaukee's head athletic trainer) or Jeff (Macy, the strength and conditioning coach) specifically?
JB: It's me and Jeff mostly. Just really, I'm trying to do something practically every day, just to make sure I'm staying even with everyone, so when my name does get called, I'm not out of shape and I can kind of seize the opportunity.
Me: How much grief are you getting about the DeAndre Jordan thing?
JB: It's died off now. But it wasn't terrible. It definitely won't be the last time, I'm sure. It's part of the game, especially when you're a 6-foot-7 center. It's going to happen.
Me: Your calling card coming into the league was energy and rebounding. When you look at a guy like Kevin Love and his success, is that -- I don't know if "inspiring" is the word -- but do you look at him and see a guy with a similar skill set that's really excelling?
JB: Definitely. I mean, Kevin is not just a rebounder, but he is one of the best rebounders in the game right now. You can say it's inspiring a little bit. I know what you mean by searching for that word. I think it's more just really impressive. Because I understand how hard it is just to get one rebound. And the fact that he's pulling down 15 a night, it's fun to watch.
Me: Is there a guy on your team that you look at to emulate, with what they do on the court and how they stay on the court?
JB: We really don't have a player that I try to model my game after exactly. I watch Bogut, I watch Andrew, just 'cause he's been in the system for so long. He knows the plays and he knows where he's supposed to be, and floor positioning, better than anyone. Me being new here, I can look at him and see what he's doing. Not exactly model my game after him, but when I go in, I'm usually giving him a break. So look and see who he's guarding, and how he's had success guarding them, and what they've taken advantage of, and just watching that way.
Me: What has Scott (Skiles) told you about what he expects your role to be?
JB: Just the energy and the rebounding, and just kind of always staying ready. I don't think he can tell me when exactly I'm going to go in. It just kind of depends on what happens throughout the game. You know, just be ready and do my best, even when I'm on the bench. I'm trying to get guys involved and be that supportive teammate on the bench.
Me: Do you have to be careful with being the positive guy, because I would imagine some times guys don't want to hear that.
JB: Our guys are pretty good. And I'm not a, I make an effort to make sure I'm not that pestering, annoying one. And it's not fake. It's me. I'm just trying to be real. And I think they realize that me doing that is not to put on a show or anything. It's just kind of the way I am. And it's cool. Other guys get involved and it's cool to see how that grows during the season.
Me: What is it about guys from the University of Washington of late -- Brandon Roy, Spencer Hawes, Nate Robinson, Quincy Pondexter -- making it in the NBA? Why is Lorenzo Romar having so much success getting guys in the pros?
JB: First of all, he's a great person. And I think people want to be around people who are good people. The fact that he's a good person and he's real, he'll shoot you straight, and he's a person that you want to be around. I think that has a lot to do with it. And because he is that person in Seattle, there's been a lot of talent that's come out of Seattle lately. I don't think anyone knows why it just kind of blew up, but for the last 10, 12 years, there's been some great players coming out of the Seattle area. For the most part he's been able to keep a lot of that talent at Washington.
Me: You're a hunter, right?
JB: More fisherman.
Me: What's the biggest fish you ever caught?
JB: I caught a sturgeon. It was on the Columbia River, down in between Washington and Oregon. And it was about 500 pounds.
Me: What? How did you catch it, with a howitzer?
JB: It was about eight feet, and it was a big fish.
Me: How did you do this?
JB: It was me, my uncle, my brother and my dad. And we got a guide to take us out there, on the river. And he's been doing it forever. It took about an hour to reel the thing in, and then once we got it to the surface, you turn it over on its back, and it falls asleep. So it just sort of lays there beside the boat. And you've got to reach your hand inside its mouth -- they don't have any teeth -- so you have to reach your hand inside its mouth and pull out the bait. But it was pretty cool. Especially 'cause those, when you're reeling them in, they'll come to the surface, and then, probably 100 feet off the boat, 100, 200 feet off the boat, they'll breach. So they'll jump out of the water. So seeing an eight-foot fish jump out of the water on the river is pretty amazing.
Me: The fish falls asleep?
JB: Yeah, it just kind of, I don't know if it falls asleep exactly, but it doesn't move. It almost [is] paralyzed there on its back.
Me: So is this mounted at the Brockman Family Home?
JB: No, you can't keep them. You can only keep the little ones. They're pretty, they're really old. They're like dinosaurs, basically.
Me: You've got a long-term deal there in Milwaukee. What do you expect your role to be and how will it change in the coming years?
JB: I don't think I'm going to be the team's leading scorer, ever. But definitely get into the rotation, and earn more minutes, keep improving on my game and being more of a factor in the game. Still doing whatever I can do to help the team, but just kind of working my way in a little bit more.
"They say you can't win 'em all, but in the same light, you can't lose 'em all, either."
-- Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson, after Cleveland tied the NBA record for consecutive losses in a single season at 23 with a 112-105 defeat in Memphis on Friday.
"Regarding a trade, I may have to."
-- Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, telling our SHC on Monday that he is considering a shakeup of the two-time defending champions after L.A.'s lackluster play this season against the NBA's elite teams -- and that was before the Lakers' last-second loss to the Spurs Thursday.
"It's good for him personally; I'm not no hater. But I am biased toward my teammate. Number 1, we have a better record, and number two, (Aldridge) is just as good and he has paid his dues."
-- Blazers guard Andre Miller, making the case for forward LaMarcus Aldridge to make the All-Star roster instead of Clippers rookie Blake Griffin -- with whom, it must be said, he appears to bear some animus.
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