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David Aldridge

Summer leagues getting bump from infusion of NBA players


Posted Jul 19 2011 8:53AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Brandon Jennings has played ball all over the world, so he should know a basketball truism: there are some referees you just don't challenge. Yet on this night in Washington, D.C., in the Goodman League, Jennings, playing for a team called Hobo, is all over a ref who all around here know simply as Liston.

"That was a (bleeping) foul," Jennings says to Liston as he jogs up the court.

Liston's response is about the same as Joey Crawford's. Bang. Technical foul.

"Brandon don't know," says Mac Williams, a coach for one of the league's teams. "Liston don't play."

And so goes another night in the Goodman, D.C.'s top pro-am summer basketball run. It operates in Barry Farms, a housing project less than a mile off South Capitol Street from the gleaming, $600 million Nationals Park that is home to Washington's still-new Major League Baseball team. It might as well be a thousand miles away, in Kansas. Barry Farms is about as removed from life across the Anacostia River, where official Washington lives and works, as you can be. It is in Southeast Washington, the poorest and most neglected of the city's four quadrants, almost always forgotten except at election time and absent from the economic renaissance that has occurred in downtown D.C., near Verizon Center, where the Wizards and Capitals play.

But the Goodman has thrived for 28 years. The crime that often occurs in the neighborhood almost never takes place "Inside the Gates," as they call the Barry court. The Goodman always draws a cross-section of hoopers from all over, and this year's rosters are no different. There are players who've spent years toiling in basketball's minor leagues, returnees from playing abroad, And 1 vets (Hugh "Baby Shaq" Jones, a D.C. native and 2003 Goodman MVP, is a regular here), current college players like Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard and former ones like Georgetown's Nat Burton and Virginia Tech's Jeff Allen. Guard Brian Chase, who had brief stints with the Jazz and Heat, is here. The Goodman's stars are one-name wonders just like Kobe and LeBron; here it's Sponge Bob, D Nice, Gumby, Scrambled Eggs. And NBA stars who come in to play create their own buzz. When Gilbert Arenas was with the Wizards, he made an annual pilgrimage to the Goodman, drawing sellout crowds.

This summer, Jennings, the Bucks' guard, is a regular. So are Spurs guard Gary Neal, Grizzlies second-round pick Josh Selby and Kings forward Donte Greene -- all Baltimore area natives. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who works out in D.C. in the offseason, and Grizzlies guard Greivis Vasquez, who played at Maryland, come through. John Wall was here and dropped 41 in his Goodman debut earlier this month. And Kevin Durant, from nearby Seat Pleasant, Maryland, also played earlier this month, and the league's commissioner, Miles Rawls, is trying to get him to play here again before the summer ends.

"I told him, 'I know you're just back from (a Nike tour) in China, so take a couple of days off, catch up on your sleep," Commissioner Rawls said Saturday. "But tomorrow, your (behind) better be here."

Durant didn't show Sunday. But he will. More on that later.

The pro-am leagues have their own history, charm and character, from the fabled Rucker League in New York City to the late Long Beach Pro Summer League just outside of L.A. The Goodman League has been in business 28 years. But their status has gotten a bump this summer as the NBA lockout enters its third week, with no realistic end anywhere in sight. With the NBA's summer leagues in Orlando and Vegas shuttered, and players unable to organize runs at NBA arenas, leagues like the Goodman are, for now, close to the only game in town -- unless they go play in Europe or China.

"It's the life for a while," Jennings said afterward. "It's cool, just to be here. I'll be here and Baltimore for two months. So I'll be playing basketball a lot here in D.C. I'm real concerned (about how long the lockout will be). If anything, I'll probably have to get the passport out and go back overseas like I did when I was 18 years old. I'll probably get more playing time and more money this time. Unfortunately, that's not what I want to do, but if it comes to that then that's something I'll do."

Greene, who said he's contemplating offers in Israel and Italy in the fall if the lockout is still ongoing, is using the Goodman as part of his austerity plan to deal with the lockout. He made $930,000 last year in Sacramento, and is due $1.6 million next season--if there is a next season. But the union has been telling players for more than two years to save their money, not to buy expensive toys that would be hard to re-sell or get rid of in a hurry. And even though Greene acknowledges he doesn't know all of the minutiae of the discussions with the league, he says he paid attention when it came to expenses.

"When I came in the league, three years ago, there was already talk about the lockout," he said. "I started saving my rookie year. I didn't really think it was going to happen. But it's here, and it's real. So you've got to be smart. Myself, I cut back on a lot of things. I moved from Sacramento. I don't even live in Sacramento anymore. I moved out of my house in Sacramento. All I have is my grandmother's house in Baltimore, and I have a house in Charlotte with my family. You've got to do little ways to save money. So cutting back was definitely a big thing for me. I turned in my BMW."

The games, as ever, are utterly lacking in any kind of defense. There are only misses, mostly from way behind the three-point line. But this isn't about doing Five-Star drills until you lose all feeling in your brain. The Goodman is about the community, about the guys frying the fish and chicken in the back at the Farms or at Spingarn High, in Northeast D.C., where the "indoor" portion of the season is played. It's about the local DJs who run their mixtapes during every timeout and during the half. It's about the old heads like former Maryland star Ernie Graham coming through, and the coach who coaches with the Bluetooth in his ear and a backpack strapped behind him, and the ever-present tug-of-war between the guys who play here year after year and the young guns who are looking for their chance to shine.

Rawls, who's been running the Goodman since 1997, provides running commentary during the game on the PA, and is famous for clowning bad plays, bad dress, and bad calls. He spends almost five minutes killing Liston for a bad call, saying that Liston's vision has been bad since he was in Vietnam and fell asleep on guard duty. "Got 102 men killed," Rawls says to howling laughter. "Been mad at the government ever since." A light-skinned big man gets the nickname "Fake Griffin;" a guard in dreads is "Wyclef Jean" for the rest of the day. When an unfortunate guard playing for the Face Mob team gets crossed over, Rawls is merciless: "Ziggy is drunk at the bar!," he says. "Somebody get his keys. Friends do not let friends drive drunk. His equilibrium is (bleeped) up."

Later, something small and blue skitters onto the court.

"Somebody dropped their inhaler," Rawls says on the mic, as Baltimore Lou, playing for the P.A.P.A. team, runs by. "This you, Lou?"

"I need it," says Baltimore Lou, aka Lou White, a veteran of the Goodman League and basketball's minor leagues for almost a decade. Like a lot of the guys in the Goodman League, White can play (and unlike most of the guards, he's as willing to pass as to shoot.) He was third-team all-America at Voorhees (S.C.) College, an NAIA school, in 2000, averaging 25 a game, and has beat the bushes ever since: the Dominican Republic, the ABA, the USBL, the CBA and the D-League, where he got 18 games with the Colorado 14ers (now the Texas Legends) in 2007-08. Had a tryout with the Wizards in '03 and the Nuggets in '08.

Now, Lou is contemplating going to a league in Mexico. There are apparently two leagues down there--one that plays four games a week, the other, three. Lou, now 35, is letting the young bucks play in that four-game a week league. He'll go for three. But here, he isn't backing down from anybody. He engages Neal in some yapping during Sunday's game. That's a frequent by-product of leagues where guys have been playing against each other for years. Some rise, others stay put. There's still the hope that a guy can make a name for himself if he has a big day against an NBA player.

"You have to keep your shoelaces tied up," says Neal, who was on the other side of things, playing three years in Europe, before signing a three-year deal with San Antonio last July -- based, mainly, on his play for the Spurs' summer league team.

Before he left San Antonio for the summer, Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford told him he had to keep working on his game and not be satisfied. Now that George Hill has been traded to Indiana, Neal says he was told to expect some minutes next season backing up Tony Parker at point guard. The Goodman may be the only chance for him to try that new position before the Spurs get together again for training camp. He can't do any work with Popovich, who was hands-on last summer with Richard Jefferson. The only hands on Neal these days are his Goodman opponents.

"You're a marked man," Neal said. "You're in the NBA. A lot of guys out here are striving to get to the NBA. That's their dream. You definitely have a target on your back when you step out here. You have to bring it every day. It's just like an NBA game as far as competitiveness, because you set the bar so high and the mark's on your back. If a guy has a great game against you, he's gonna go back to his neighborhood and tell 'em."

Bragging rights are always a major chit in the summer circuit, and this year is no different. As Sam Amick reported last week, the Goodman League and its Los Angeles version, the Drew League, are finalizing plans for a streetball showdown on Aug. 20 in D.C. The game is tentatively set to be at Georgetown University's McDonough Arena. The Drew has had the likes of Ron Artest, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Tyreke Evans and L.A. natives Nick Young and Jeremy Tyler come through this summer. Compton native and Cavs guard Baron Davis is handling logistics at his end; the D.C. squad will likely feature Durant, Michael Beasley, Cousins, Neal, Jennings and Shelby, maybe Ty Lawson and Nolan Smith, among others. The trash-talking has already begun.

"I got to play," Greene said. "I've been hearing a lot about this L.A. unified stuff. I'm real cool with Baron Davis and Dorell Wright and Pooh Jeter. They're bringing some guys out here, so we've got to represent. It's all over Twitter right now."

It's better than contemplating the exchange rates for the Euro.

"It's a tough situation," said Jennings, who played for Lottomatica in Italy out of high school before being taken 10th in the first round of the 2009 Draft. "You just don't know. With guys, if they go overseas, who knows if the lockout ends and you have to come right back over? So it's like, do you want to do it or do you not want to?"

Nobody asked me, but ...

Can NBA fans take anything positive from the NFL's settlement of its lockout?

Probably not.

The fact that NFL owners and players are on the verge of ending that sport's four-plus months work stoppage and getting back to work isn't likely to move the NBA talks. The calendar for each sport has pressure points, past which you begin to lose the revenue from paychecks and playing games in your arenas or fields. The NFL was at such a pressure point last week; go any further and the league would have probably had to begin canceling exhibition games. Those games frequently are derided, and rightly so, for foisting a product decidedly less than regular season quality on NFL fans for regular season prices. But they still bring in an estimated $200 million a week to NFL owners.

The NBA has cancelled the Vegas Summer League and its other off-season leagues, but there's still three months before the normal start of training camps, with the preseason beginning a week or so later. Unfortunately, it looks like there's no sense of urgency.

"There has to be real urgency for the parties and I don't think public pressure will get either side to move -- economic pressure will," says Gabe Feldman, an associate professor of law at Tulane University and director of the school's Sports Law Program. "And no economic pressure will be felt by either side until we get closer to the season. The public eye may be on the NBA now but I don't think that will have any impact on when a deal gets done. The end of the NFL battle will paint a clearer picture for the NBA. The NFL helped create a road map, but it's still an unclear road map ... I think we have more questions than answers."

The NFL and its players have made significant progress in recent weeks on several contentious issues, including:

-- The implementation of a rookie salary scale, an issue the NBA addressed 16 years ago, in 1995, the year after the Bucks gave Glenn Robinson, the first pick in the '94 Draft, a $68 million deal. (Robinson had been asking for a $100 million deal; Bucks owner Herb Kohl, half-jokingly, asked Robinson's representatives during the negotiations if they would rather just take his franchise off his hands, as it was worth $75 million at the time.);

-- Players have reportedly agreed to reduce their split of revenues from their current 60 percent to a range between 46.5 and 48 percent of future revenues. However, the revenue pie will be bigger in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement; the league will begin a 16-game Thursday Night football schedule in 2012, doubling the current eight-game schedule on NFL Network, that should bring in a few hundred million more dollars in television rights fees. Owners tabled a proposal that would have given them an additional $1 billion in revenues off the top before they spend on player salaries. And teams have also agreed to spend a minimum of 89 percent of the projected new salary cap of $120 million in the first two years of the new deal, and 95 percent of the cap in year three, as long as the league's total outlay for player salaries averages 99 percent of the cap. Including benefits to players, the yearly team budget will start at $141 million;

-- The league agreed to player requests for fewer "OTAs," known as Organized Team Activities, during the offseason, and limiting two-a-day practices during training camp;

-- The NFL tabled a proposal for an 18-game regular season, up from the current 16 games;

-- Owners agreed to a four-year limit until players become unrestricted free agents, and tabled a proposal that would have designated three players per team as, essentially, restricted free agents, with their current team able to match any offer for them.

There are still a few outstanding issues, such as the resolution of the antitrust suit filed against the league by 10 players, including quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and settlement of a separate lawsuit in which U.S. District Judge David Doty ruled in favor of the players, who had argued that owners did not negotiate in good faith by getting guarantees from the television networks that broadcast NFL games that they would pay owners in 2011 even during a lockout. But most expect the NFL lockout to end by Thursday, when owners will discuss the new CBA in a previously scheduled meeting in Atlanta.

It's been a hard spring for the NFL, with occasional rancor. But the deal is almost done now, months of gab and near-collapses of the talks now a distant memory. Football used its calendar about as well as could be expected; the only exhibition game that may be in danger is the Hall of Fame Game Aug. 7, a game absolutely no one outside of Canton, Ohio cares about or wants to play.

The NBA doesn't have that luxury.

Football's off-season starts in early February after the Super Bowl and, other than the OTAs, lasts until late July, when camps begin. That's about four and a half months. The NBA's offseason starts in mid-June after the Finals and lasts only until late September, when most training camps begin. That's a little more than three months. The six-month regular season and two-month postseason leaves the NBA with far less time off than the NFL. Every day in July and August is crucial for negotiations. As many have written, there was a five-week break between the start of the 1999 lockout and the next collective bargaining session.

And yet, after saying on June 30 that the plan was to talk in small groups after the Fourth of July, then hopefully resume formal negotiations last week, all that occurred was a mid-level meeting on Friday. No new full-blown talks are scheduled, as far as can be determined. The NBA is doing exactly what Stern warned against a month ago.

"If we were out as long as it appears the NFL will be out, even on a best-case scenario, given the length of our season, that would take us to a place that would assure a lot, I think, more damage," Stern said then. "To say that one (lockout) is three months and the other is three months, or one is four months and the other is four months -- four months, to us, in football time, that's like six months ... if we were to lose July and August and September and October, we're well into the season, and the losses will be considerably larger. So it's different than the NFL."

Well, July is dwindling. And there are any number of issues outstanding between the NBA and its players, from the still-enormous gulf between the sides on the split of Basketball Related Income and whether the next system will retain its soft cap or go to a hard cap, to whether NBA players will decertify their union as the NFLPA did in order to potentially file an antitrust suit, to the resolution of the National Labor Relations Board suit the NBPA has filed against the league for unfair labor practices.

Advertisers who seek national advertising buys on ESPN and TNT will want some assurances in the coming weeks that the season will start on time before making commitments. It's quite likely they have lockout language in any contracts covering the 2011 season, but can owners afford to start paring back the bucks they're used to getting from their car and beer buddies on Madison Avenue?

Whether the NBPA will ultimately decertify is still up in the air. The NFLPA's lawsuit was initially upheld by a Minnesota judge, who ordered an injunction that temporarily lifted the lockout in May, but the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis vacated that injunction earlier this month. It is important to note that the 8th Circuit didn't rule on whether the antitrust suit filed by the 10 players was or was not legitimate, only that the NFL's owners were not violating federal law by locking out their players. It also left open the question of whether free agents or rookie players that aren't currently under contract are parties to the NFLPA's suit. But the 8th Circuit ruling also showed that the decertification-antitrust track is not without risk for the NBPA.

"I think the dissolution of their union showed it's certainly not a silver bullet strategy and there are risks to both sides," Feldman said. "I think it helped the NFL players create some leverage but it wasn't the overwhelming victory they were looking for."

There is also the matter of the NLRB case. A source indicated last week that there may be a quicker resolution to that case than has been expected. Both sides indicated before the lockout that the NLRB would take weeks, if not months, to bring the case to the parties. But the source indicated it may be ruled on in a couple of weeks. That matters because, if the NBPA opts to decertify, it then has to abandon the NLRB case. So the union may hold off on decertification until after the NLRB ruling. But even if the players win the NLRB case, it would only provide partial momentum. It's not a game-changer.

The courts likely friendly to a decertification lawsuit, Feldman said, are the First Circuit Court of Appeals, in Boston, the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, and the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. But the Seventh has made two rulings -- in a lawsuit filed, ironically, against the NBA in 1991 by Chicago television station WGN in which the station wanted to broadcast more Bulls games than the league limit at the time allowed, and in the American Needle lawsuit filed against the NFL -- that are viewed as quite owner-friendly. The basketball union may have more luck in the First or the Ninth. A successful filing in one of those courts, combined with the NFL ruling in the Eighth Circuit, could potentially set up a Supreme Court review down the road.

Great, even more lawyers involved.

But the toll is already pronounced. Several teams have laid off staffers. The Bobcats' play-by-play guy was RIFed -- he hopes, temporarily. The Lakers laid off almost their entire scouting staff. Other teams are putting their basketball employees on half-pay until the lockout is over. The league laid off 114 people last week, including friends of mine. Their pain is not collateral. It's real. This is not the time to be looking for a job. No one will come out and say it's because of the lockout, but what would you think if you were working on June 30, and not working two weeks later?

So, for now, the only hope is that the current silence filling the basketball landscape is not the same as inactivity.

"Both sides are wary of the legal impact of every action they take," Feldman said. "At a minimum, they have to create the impression that they're negotiating in good faith. Every move now is calculated. They're leaving a paper trail that they hope will help them in a legal case ... you can almost be more confident that they'll get a deal done when they stop sniping in public. They were not going to negotiate a deal on Twitter. The fact that it's quiet now in the NBA doesn't mean that they're not talking at all."

... And nobody asked you, either

The C Word. From Woody Walters II:

Why don't we hear more about contraction during the labor negotiations? If so many teams are losing money, it stands to reason that situation would be improved by contracting a few teams to improve the talent pool, reduce travel costs, reduce free agent competition/salary, redistribute fans ($), etc. I understand no owner wants to give up their club and they all think they are a new CBA away from sudden financial success, but that is not what is best for the league.

I have heard next to nothing about contraction being on the table, Woody. That was never a serious consideration, one of those topics thrown about early in the negotiations that never gains traction. Teams don't want to limit the number of partners, because that limits the money they get from the TV networks and other sources. Obviously, the union is reluctant to cut the number of jobs available.

From Jase Hopkin:

I know that you have said that one of the major issues in the new CBA is the idea of a hard salary cap. I was just wondering why the owners need to get the players permission to decide how to spend their money. Can't the owners just tell the players they won't change the cap, then create a contract among themselves regarding salary cap? I know the players have suggested that the owners could avoid more of their financial losses if they were smarter about the contracts they chose to offer the players, and this seems like a good way to go about doing that.

One word, Jase: collusion. Teams cannot decide as a group that they will set artificial limits on what they'll spend. If they did, the players would sue the league for damages, just as Major League Baseball's players did, successfully, three times in the late 1980s, ultimately costing baseball's owners $280 million in fines paid to the players. That makes leagues blanch at even thinking about any type of "gentleman's agreements" limiting salaries.

And still more on gay marriage. From Jesse Glancy:

I just read your July 4th article with the four opinions on gay marriage and I felt compelled to share my opinion as well.

First of all, I am a Christian and believe that marriage is something created by God for a man and a woman. I believe that it is something sacred that has a specific definition and purpose and that purpose is to remind us of our relationship to God.

Having said that, marriage today is not what it was supposed to be. Many people already use it to gain citizenship, insurance purposes, tax breaks and financial stability. The divorce rate is higher than it's ever been so the overall view of the sanctity of marriage is not what it used to be.

I have a lot of friends that are gay or lesbian. Although I don't agree with their choices, I don't hate them and I want them to be happy and secure. If they want rights as partners for insurance benefits and tax cuts, I believe they have a right to that just not under the definition of marriage. If a gay or lesbian couple spend years together building a nest egg and one of them dies suddenly, they should have access to the other's estate in the same way a married couple would. Just call it a domestic partnership or something else.

As Troy Hale pointed out, the decisions being made by others definitely affect me too. When we make a law that says marriage can include same-sex couples, then our children will be taught in different values in school than we want to instill in them. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the California SB 777 which is trying to redefine the term gender to let children decide what sex they want to be instead of basing it on their anatomy. Also, churches could risk losing their tax benefits if they choose not to marry same-sex couples even though it conflicts with their teachings.

It's a touchy subject because those in favor of same-sex marriage accuse those opposed as being hateful and uncaring but for the most part, I think we just want to protect our values.

All I know about 777 is what I read, and if you read liberal blogs and organizations, they defend it, and if you read conservative ones, they attack it. I will only refer you to what I said before, Jesse. I just don't believe that what two people decide to do with their lives impacts anyone else's. You say that schools will teach different values than what you want to instill. But what if your values are different from mine, or someone else's? Whose "values" are superior? Who chooses whose values are better? Doesn't it make more sense to make no judgments, and let our children choose the values they want to use in their lives? That doesn't mean you can't give them your opinion, or expose them to your teachings and beliefs.

Send your questions, comments, criticisms and donations to take care of this debt ceiling thing to daldridgetnt@gmail.com. If your missive is especially smart, thought-provoking, challenging or snarky, we might just publish it!

By the Numbers

$280,000,000 -- Sale price for the lion's share (90 percent) of the 76ers to a group led by billionaire Joshua Harris, a deal finalized last week. Current team chairman Ed Snider will retain 10 percent of the team, according to terms of the sale, but give up operational control, and the team will continue to play in the Wells Fargo Center, owned by Comcast-Spectacor.

$250,000 -- Amount that a Chicago KFC franchise says it will donate to charity if native son Dwyane Wade will work in a drive-thru window of a local store during the lockout.

17:40 -- Time in hours and seconds that Paul Pierce spent as a player at the World Series of Poker before being eliminated on the second day of competition, according to ESPN.com. Pierce reportedly did very well on his first day, but ran out of luck and chips on Day 2, succumbing to a pair of jacks from an Allan Vrooman that beat Pierce's pair of twos.

I'm feelin'...

1) It was not the ending we were all looking for, but the U.S. Women's World Cup soccer team was amazing all the way through the championship match with Japan on Sunday. What a powerful example they set not just for young women who might want to play soccer, but for all of us, on the values of teamwork, perseverance and sacrifice. Sometimes a loss is a win, if you know what I mean.

2) Along those lines, though, if we were going to lose to anyone, after all that Japan has been through this year, it's not all bad that they have something to, finally, cheer about.

3) That's a smart hire, Alvin Gentry, bringing in Elston Turner to be your defensive coordinator in Phoenix. And it's also a confident one; Turner is going to be a head coach very, very soon, and it well could be with the Suns if the team struggles next season. Team president Lon Babby seems as serious about putting a defensive footprint on the team as ex-prez Steve Kerr was, and Turner is a terrific defensive mind.

4) Thank you, Timberwolves, for finally putting Kurt Rambis out of his misery. Although he didn't look too broken up the day he was officially let go, evidently fishing with this older gentleman in Montana (h/t Jeanie Buss, who somehow knows the older man, via Twitter).

5) You know what, Bow Wow? I'm glad Kobe killed you in that $1,000 charity game. You're crazy enough to challenge the man on his turf, you deserve what you get. No mercy, Kob. No mercy.

6) A week where Damages and Curb Your Enthusiasm both have season premieres is a good week, indeed. I think Damages has taken the overall lead from CYE in F-bombs dropped.

Not Feelin'...

1) I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that there probably aren't as many jobs available for NBA players in Europe during the lockout as there are players who've been quoted as saying they're mulling over European offers. Teams overseas will pay top dollar for star players like Deron Williams. After that, the pay is a lot less enticing -- and there still are a lot of teams that stop paying American players when things go south.

2) Never thought I'd miss the average 108 degree temperatures in Las Vegas this time of year.

3) My man Nellie seems like he's getting yet another team, the Timberwolves, to buy what he sells -- low risk, high entertainment, good times, more wins than you had the season before, not a prayer of going anywhere in the playoffs. I'm not hating. It's good, high-paying work if you can get it. Personally, I'd hire Rick Adelman, who's actually gone to a Finals as a coach. But that's me.

4) Gil? I love you. Please stop Tweeting.

5) I truly enjoyed baseball's All-Star Gazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Did anyone who was voted in actually play? Can you imagine what kind of heat that, say, LeBron would have gotten if he had cited "exhaustion" and pulled out of an NBA All-Star Game?

Tweet of the Week

There should be a statue of Reggie Miller in front of Conseco Fieldhouse!

--Warriors Coach Mark Jackson (JacksonMark13), Monday, 12 a.m., advocating some bronze for his former Pacers teammate, and my current TNT colleague. I concur. Mama, there goes that man!

They Said It

"I might go play football. Do something that nobody's tried to do."

-- Thunder guard Nate Robinson, a former cornerback at the University of Washington -- and a star at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle whose team won the state championship in 2002 -- telling SLAM Magazine that he is thinking of embarking on an NFL hiatus during the lockout.

"I just stayed inside the whole time. I didn't go anywhere else. I wore pajamas, watched a lot of movies, drank Powerade and got delivery food. My body was just sore and wore out."

-- Derrick Rose, telling Yahoo! Sports about his near depression after losing in the Eastern Conference finals to the Heat.

"If he doesn't get two or three championships I'll be disappointed because he has no competition out there anymore. None. Zero."

-- My new (yeahhh!) TNT colleague Shaquille O'Neal, on a conference call with reporters announcing his hiring by Turner last week, on his expectations for Dwight Howard in the post-Shaq era.

Longtime NBA reporter and columnist David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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