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Monday, Feb. 24


By Rob Peterson, NBA.com

CLEAR YOUR SLATES

M E D I A W A T C H
Wallace and three admirers make sure this moment is 'fro-zen in time. (Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

TAKE IT TO THE MAGAZINE RACK
Ben Wallace is the James Brown of basketball -- the hardest working man 'fro business.

This ESPN the Magazine feature showcases his rough upbringing as the youngest of eight boys in an 11-children family, which honed his tough-as-nails 'tude on the court.

Basketball is not playtime for Wallace, it's time to go to work. You can see that in the guy's body. If his back were any wider, you could show a drive-in movie on it and the veins that transverse his biceps are wider than the Alaskan pipeline.

ESPN the Magazine also takes a look at the only woman referee in the NBA, Violet Palmer. The six-year veteran has earned the respect of the players and coaches. She also has "the look" -- a stare that stops players in their tracks -- down cold.

The New York Times Magazine has an interesting article on the enigmatic Chris Webber.

Even if you have something important to do on Thursday night, you should cancel your plans.

Meeting the fiancÚs' folks? Forget it. They'll be your in-laws forever.

Your first child's first piano recital? Ah, the kid needs a little more practice and Norah Jones wins all the Grammys anyway.

Giving a speech at the Harvard Business School on the brilliance of Keynesian economic theory, especially in times of international unrest? Drop it and head to The Red Line to watch the third Kings-Mavs contest of the season (9:30 p.m. ET, TNT). I mean, what's more important than watching the Western Conference's two best teams duke it out on national TV? Nothing, especially with the Kings having already walloped the Mavs twice before, once on Jan. 15, 123-94 and once on Feb. 4, 110-109.

If they win Thursday, the Kings will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Mavs. And when it comes to claiming the top spot in the West, that tiebreaker may come in handy.

BACKCOURTSHIPS

On Sundays, most NBA beat writers put together notes columns that focus on news outside of their beat.

So you can imagine what the talk was in many of the papers around the country: Thursday's deadline deal between the Sonics and the Bucks.

We looked at the deadline deals on Friday. (NBA.com)

The dust hadn't settled before everyone began to weigh in, including the principals themselves.

Ray Allen was relived to get away from George Karl's scathing bromides, while Gary Payton won't be ponying up $4.80 for a venti double-mocha latte anytime soon. (Tacoma Tribune, Seattle Times)

Some say the Sonics will be better without Payton. (Tacoma Tribune) No, another argues, the Bucks will be better with him. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Even Sonics owner Howard Schultz penned an open letter to Sonics fans. (Seattle Times)

As with everything these days, the Bucks-Sonics trade was about, well, the stars' bucks. (CNNSI.com)

After Allen's near triple-double in his Sonics debut on Sunday, some in Seattle suggest Allen needs a nickname. The writer suggests "Sugar" Ray Allen, which would be appropriate considering that some called Allen "The Candyman" when he was at UConn because he had a sweet game. (Tacoma Tribune)

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, they're saying Payton and Sam Cassell could be a neo-Clyde Frazier-Earl Monroe type of backcourt, according to Milwaukee GM Ernie Grunfeld.

"Both of these are big point guards - Gary is 6-4, Sam is 6-3 - and they're both offensive-minded point guards. It reminds me a little of Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, where you didn't know which one was the point guard, which one was the shooting guard.

"They were just guards."

Payton in purple? Yes, it looks strange.
Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images
And this got us thinking about current backcourt combos. While Payton and Cassell may not be the best backcourt in the NBA (we'll give our opinion in a couple of paragraphs), they could be the chattiest. No two guys in the NBA like to talk more than Payton and Cassell.

So, here's our compilation of various facts and tidbits about the league's best starting backcourts.

Chattiest Backcourt
Bucks, Cassell and Payton -- NBA officials and opponents will be getting an earful from No. 11 and No. 20

Quickest Backcourt
Rockets, Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley -- Their speed creates matchup problems throughout the league

Shortest Backcourt
Sixers, Allen Iverson and Eric Snow -- With Iverson at 6-0 (if that) and Snow at 6-3, the Sixers get it done with Iverson's speed and Snow's defense

Tallest Backcourt
Blazers, Bonzi Wells and Scottie Pippen -- Pippen at 6-8 and Wells at 6-5 give teams fits at both ends of the floor

Youngest Backcourt
Nuggets, Junior Harrington and Vincent Yarborough -- Harrington is 23 and Yarborough is 21 (Honorable mention: Cavs. When they start Dajuan Wagner (20) with Ricky Davis (23), the Cavs are the youngest)

Oldest Backcourt
Jazz, John Stockton and Calbert Cheaney -- Cheaney at 31 is a whipper-snapper compared to Stockton (40)

Most Prolific Scoring Backcourt
Lakers, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher -- These two combine to average 41.4 points per game, just a smidge ahead of Tracy McGrady's and Darrell Armstrong's combined 41.2 points per game for the Magic.

Most Prolific Passing Backcourt
Bucks -- Together, Payton and Cassell combine to dish 14.6 assists (yeah, we know they've played one game together)

Most Prolific Rebounding Backcourt
Celtics, Paul Pierce and Tony Delk -- Pierce and Delk combine to grab 11.3 boards per game

Backcourt of the Future
Tie, Warriors and Rockets -- While some would say the Rockets' backcourt has arrived, Francis and Mobley are still relatively young. As for the Warriors, with Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson, the last two winners of the got milk? Rookie Challenge game MVP, the future is bright indeed (if they can re-sign Arenas in the offseason).

WHO'S BETTER? WHO'S BEST?

Earlier this year, we (Click and Roll and it's loyal readers) debated on who was better: Tracy McGrady or Kobe Bryant.

We still completely haven't figured it out.

After his ninth consecutive 40-point game, how could one not argue in favor of Kobe Bryant? (NBA.com, L.A. Daily News)

But did you see what Tracy McGrady did this weekend with 98 points in two games and an amazing triple-double against the Nets on Sunday? (Orlando Sentinel)

We won't give our opinion. That's for you to discuss among yourselves.

TIP-INS

Talks of trades hurt a lot of feelings in Atlanta. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

In January, Click and Roll noted that Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury were publicly at each other's throats after Suns rookie Amare Stoudemire had a breakout game in Minneapolis. Well, on Feb. 23, the two teams had their first meeting since that cold January evening and here's how the principals handled it. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Many of us fondly remember our college days, none more so than Christian Laettner. (Washington Post)

Seems like Eric Musselman is getting the hang of this coaching thing. (Washington Post)

The Pacers have lost four consecutive games and they can't shoot straight. (Indianapolis Star)

Yes, Drew Gooden was destined to become a basketball player. (Orlando Sentinel)

Where do the Lakers, Phil Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal go from here? (L.A. Times)

Knicks great Patrick Ewing will have his number retired on Friday. According to one report, it should be a dreamy night. (N.Y. Post)

Just one man's opinion on this season's MVP race. (San Antonio Express-News)

Being a rookie is tough. Dajuan Wagner is finding that out. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

While the Pistons are quietly flying under the radar, Milwaukee's Tim Thomas is just plain quiet. (Newsday, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Philadelphia center Todd MacCulloch is in a tough spot. Let's hope he gets well as soon as possible. (Philadelphia Inquirer)