By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
LOBBYING FOR A TRIP TO L.A.
Now that the starters have been named for the 53rd NBA All-Star Game, the lobbying for potential reserves, who are named Tuesday, has begun in earnest. Whereas lobbyists in the halls of Congress curry political favors through campaign contributions, the coin of the realm in the NBA is a player's performance on the court.
As far as touting players for the final seven spots in each conference, we'll leave that up to the local writers. Here are some of the articles making cases for players across the league:
The case for Sam Cassell.
(One bit of editorializing, which is strictly the opinion of this author and does not reflect the opinion of NBA.com or the NBA, but if Cassell doesn't make the Western Conference All-Star team, every head coach in the West should have his head examined.)
The case for Lamar Odom.
The case for Michael Redd.
And another for Redd.
The case for Paul Pierce.
The case for Stephon Marbury, from Stephon Marbury.
The case for Richard Hamilton.
The case for every Maverick.
The case for Rasheed Wallace and Zach Randolph.
The case for Erick Dampier.
As for All-Star Weekend Feb. 13-15, Click and Roll will be there. We'll have our normally scheduled Click and Roll on Feb. 9 and then we should have reports from Los Angeles throughout the weekend. Check back next week to see what you can expect from Click and Roll during the NBA's midseason classic.
I promise this is the last time we'll talk about fired coaches this season. Would you like an explanation as to why this is?
Because we're running out of coaches!
O'Brien resigned because of philosophical differences with Danny Ainge, the Celtics Executive Director of Basketball Operations.
Scott was fired for too many reasons to go into and too much speculation as to who said what to whom and when about whatever it was that placed Scott on the unemployment line.
With just more than a year's tenure with one team, Atlanta's Terry Stotts, who replaced Lon Kruger in the middle of last season, is the dean of Eastern Conference coaches.
That's "madness," Hawks assistant Jim Boylan said.
Every other coach is new to his team beginning with this season. Britney Spears has marriages that last longer.
Even coaches who were hired this season still aren't safe, or in the opinion of this Chicago columnist,
not right for the job.
One writer thinks all the coaching changes hurt the game.
Yet, another writer essentially says, "if you can't get your team to go, you should go."
Well, at least one Eastern Conference coach earned a vote of confidence that he'll be around for another season. We'll see about that.
INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF HOOPS
Meanwhile, fellow Islander Raja Bell admired Tim Duncan's decision to step aside this past summer when the U.S. played the Virgin Islands in the NBA qualifying tournament.
Or not to play ball, that is the questionable clause in your contract.
Last week, Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone tore an ACL playing basketball and could miss the 2004 season, just proving -- if Michael Jordan and the movie "Baseketball" didn't already -- basketball and baseball sometimes don't mix.
And while that dig was a chance to playfully tweak the one of the greatest basketball players of all time, an agent said hoops should be left those who can afford to sacrifice their bodies for the great game of basketball.
"You give up a normal lifestyle, but you agree to it when you sign it," said an agent who has negotiated contracts with the Yankees. "Playing basketball, that's just lethal. You might think it's a harmless game, but sometimes you get a little bit too competitive, and that's all it takes -- one drive to the basket, one jump shot where you land on another guy."
Lethal, eh? Gives new meaning to the term, "No blood, no foul."
Still, baseball and basketball do mix on occasion. Such is the case of Jordan's former teammate, Rusty LaRue, now of the Asheville Altitude. LaRue played football, basketball and baseball at Wake Forest. Current Bucks point guard Erick Strickland was a farmhand in the Marlins organization. Danny Ainge won titles with the Celtics, but not when he played with the Blue Jays.
But, as far as I can tell, only one man, Gene Conley, played both in the majors and in the NBA and won titles. Conley, a 6-8 forward, won three NBA titles with the Celtics from 1959-1961, and won one World Series in 1957 with the Milwaukee Braves.
If anyone knows of anyone else accomplishing such a feat, e-mail Click and Roll.
ONE MORE REASON TO LOVE THIS GAME
By now, you've seen the NBA ad campaign featuring celebrities and Muppets explaining the 1000 reasons why we love this game!
(And we do!)
But here's the 1001st reason, and you won't find in the ads. To get to the bottom of the story (and the article), we send it over to former Knicks assistant Brendan Malone: "The game of basketball is five guys on the court playing in their underwear."
To be continued ...
Here's another version of fantasy basketball.
-- Oakland Tribune
Grant Hill hopes to come back for the season's final 10 games. Or, as one headline puts it, Hill is practicing "softly."
How valuable is LeBron James to the Cavaliers off the floor. We have two words for you: Cha! Ching!
Everyone is picking on the Eastern Conference.
Ladies and gentlemen, your Charlotte Bobcats! It takes two years to put an organization together and then you get 10 days to make the correct choices. No pressure.
The NBA plans to ban the designer steroid TGH for next season. Well, it's about time someone did something to stop Reggie Miller. (We're kidding, Mr. Miller, we're kidding.)
17.34 -- Michael in Toronto
18.10 -- Vivek in Toronto
19.20 -- Jamal of Glen Carbon, Ill.
19.32 -- Barkada in Philippines
19.48 -- Phenix in Salt Lake
Then, Josh of Kokomo, Ind. writes: "My best time in the 989 challenge was 20.06 (this took a few attempts and was undoubtedly the spawn of severe boredom). By the way why can't the player dunk instead of a layup since his head gets above the rim?"
Click and Roll: Because this is about skills. We save the dunks for another contest.
Or, as Chad from Portland, Ore. wrote: "The standard for the 989 Sports Skills Challenge has been set and broken. Click & Roll's 25.52 was not bad for beginners but I think 19.32 is a better standard judge your skills, or lack of. Good Luck!"
Click and Roll: Insult me, then wish me luck. That takes guts.
This also takes guts. We're going to hold off on the "best hands for a big man" question for another week. We've received numerous responses, but this week, we don't have time to include them.
We also received some other mail that we enjoyed and will print next week, with the exception of these two.
To Derrick of Milwaukee (My hometown!): From the first round to the Finals, all NBA Playoffs series are seven games. This began last season. From 1984, when the NBA expanded its playoffs from six teams per conference to eight, the first round was a five-game series. Hope that helps.
And this from Lynne in Sacramento. You may recognize the name, considering I ran her e-mail last week. Or rather, I put her name under another person's e-mail. I'll let Lynne explain.
"I got a chuckle out of the fact that poor Phil of Sacramento had his name under my comments on "pure shooters" and my name was under what were probably Phil's comments. (Lynne is correct about this.)
"His comments were more astute and he's probably red in the face. By the way, no, I have not actually laid 20 Peja pics side by side, but since I live in Sacto we see loads of pics of Peja in the Sacramento Bee and on TV and I see plenty online at various sports websites. I really feel kinda bad for poor Phil. LOLOLOL."
I shall rectify this.
Here's Lynne's original e-mail: "Your question about a "pure" shooter is interesting to me, because I've always wondered what people mean by that exactly. I too would think that it's how good a completely unschooled, unpracticed shooter is. Take 10 people who've never seen a basketball and if someone can make 50 baskets out of 100, then maybe they have a pure ability. By that definition, no one that we know of in the NBA is 'pure.' They are all physically gifted guys, but they all have been coached and have practiced countless hours by the time they get to the NBA.
"What amazes me and what I find 'beautiful' about Peja's shooting is that you can put 20 pictures of his jump shot next to each other and they are all so close to being exactly the same form. Now that takes a great deal of never-ending practice to achieve! You certainly can't argue with the result."
Here's Phil's original e-mail: "Absolutely, there's such a thing as a pure shooter. It's a player that embodies all the basic fundamentals on how to shoot that we're all taught as youngsters: shoulders and feet square to the hoop, shooting elbow in (for the most part), follow through, backspin, swish! The best pure shooters of the last 20 years: 1. Chris Mullin 2. Glen Rice 3. Ray Allen 4. Allen Houston 5. Mark Price 6. Steve Nash."
Click and Roll regrets its first turnover of the season.