By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
SURFING THE NETS
New Jersey Nets president and general manager Rod Thorn is a smart man.
But we knew that already, even before we saw him reading The Economist while riding a recumbent bike in the gym of an All-Star hotel. After all, as Bulls GM in the early '80s, Thorn drafted Michael Jordan. He could have hung his hat on that alone. Yet, Thorn sealed the deal when he brought Jason Kidd to New Jersey in 2001.
So, when Thorn "dismissed" Byron Scott on Jan. 26 and named Lawrence Frank coach of the Nets, some wondered if Thorn had lost his marbles by handing over the two-time defending Eastern Conference champs to a 33-year-old basketball know-it-all that no one knew nothing about.
So, 13 consecutive wins later, including a record 12 straight wins under Frank, it looks as if Thorn has his marbles and then some.
(An aside: The former record holder for most wins to start an NBA coaching career, Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis, thinks the record is kind of silly.)
The Nets have shot 9˝ games ahead of the Knicks (more on them later) in the, uh, less-than-stellar Atlantic. Still, in a league where the same coaches seem to show up in different jobs year after year, it's only natural to ask questions about the guy no one had heard of.
How has Frank done it? Well, the mantra seems to be hard work, hard work and more hard work.
He's a motivator, as this pregame speech before the Nets played Atlanta last week indicates:
Don't get distracted by the legs of the chair? I'll have a hard time trying to co-opt that one.
He's made the stars happy and helped them recapture that championship feeling.
He has even managed to keep the bench fresh and content as well.
Not even Detroit's trade for Rasheed Wallace could dampen the Nets' outlook. After all, to them, that trade is just the legs of the chair.
Well, that didn't take long.
Sometimes, there are stories we wished we would have noticed first. This story about Hubert Davis playing for two different teams that had a combined 25-game winning streak deserves a tip of the hat for a job well done.
Davis' streak could reach 26 against the Vince Carter-less and Jalen Rose-less Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
LBJ AT MSG
Even seen-it-all New Yorkers hadn't seen LeBron James in person before Sunday.
Like a Broadway show that previews to rave reviews in the heartland, New Yorkers don't believe it until they fork out hundreds of dollars to see it for themselves.
And there they were, congealed in the seats behind the basket where the Cavs warmed up for their game against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. TV cameras and photographers crowded the baseline. Fans stood on their seats to get a glimpse of James. LeBron's jersey outnumbered Knicks jerseys 2-to-1, especially among the kids.
We wanted to get an opinion, and in turn, we ran into the biggest human being, next to Shaq or Yao, that we have ever seen. Standing roughly seven feet, and weighing at least 425 pounds, "Matt" was big enough to block the view of the people in the row of seats that rest nearly seven feet above the walkway where we were standing. He had "Grizz" tattooed on his left forearm and had hands has big as catcher's mitts.
"He just has to play his game," Matt said. "But the Knicks have played pretty good defense on him so far."
That was true, the Knicks didn't let James break out. If you could have a quiet 22 points and five assists in your Garden debut, James did it. Unfortunately for the Knicks, by concentrating on James, they forgot Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who with 31 points and 15 boards, stole the show and the game for the Cavs.
ALREADY DOUBTING THOMAS
Sorry about the stupid headline, but here it fits.
Seems like everyone lately has an issue with Tim Thomas, freshly shipped from Milwaukee to New York.
Thomas had problems with the Bucks former Big Three -- Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson -- when they were in Milwaukee and even after.
After hearing the Sonics' Ray Allen say this:
New Knick Thomas responded with this:
I wonder what the heck (heck) means. Anyway, the Knicks and Sonics don't meet again this season. And don't expect Allen to invite T-squared to Ray-Ray's nuptials this summer.
Then Wolves All-Star Sam Cassell got wind of Thomas's comments, which also stated that Cassell envied Thomas' monster contract, and said this: "Tim Thomas is about excuses . . . He said I didn't show? They traded me, they traded Ray, they traded Big Dog [Robinson], and Tim Thomas still wasn't the man on that team. Michael Redd became the man there. Right now, he's not a good basketball player."
Finally, Knicks fans had their say. As he was in the middle of a 4-10 shooting afternoon against the Cavs on Sunday, Thomas was serenaded by the cranky Garden crowd with chants of "Keith Van Horn!"
That's as cold as the weather in the town those guys left. (I should know, I grew up there.)
Could we see the dawn of Darko? Mmmm… maybe.
-- Detroit News
Congratulations to Del Harris on being named coach of the Chinese national team for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Did you know Steve Kerr writes a column for Yahoo! Sports? Did you know it's good? We do and now, we present it to you. His most recent piece is about how the Kings and Timberwolves could finally break the Lakers' and Spurs' stranglehold on the West.
-- Yahoo! Sports
An Alonzo Mourning update: He's feeling better, but a comeback is "the last thing on his mind."
-- New York Post
He left as Lew Alcindor and he's returned to his hometown as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He, like head coach Lenny Wilkens, is now coaching for the hometown team.
Tracy McGrady got his kicks and paid for it.
A rookie comes to the defense of the got milk? Rookie Challenge. Good for you, Josh Howard, though Jerry West and Doc Rivers don't. (Psst, I'm on Josh's side on this one. It wasn't as if the game was close at that point. Anyway, after disagreeing with "The Logo" and Doc, the basketball gods will probably strike me with lightning.)