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Friday, Nov. 8


BUBBA CHUCK IT UP

With Shaq out, Kobe's been shooting a lot lately.
Andrew D. Bernstein
NBAE/Getty Images
Basketball players from Philly shoot the ball like people in Chicago vote: early and often.

Kobe Bryant, who hails from a Philadelphia suburb, put up an incredible 47 shots in the Lakers' 95-93 loss to Boston on Thursday. In scoring 41 points, it wasn't Kobe's most efficient performance of the season. Amazingly, this was eight shots short of the franchise record of 55 set by Elgin Baylor. (L.A. Times)

The Sixers' Allen Iverson, in his adopted hometown, is launching an amazing 30.14 shots per game this season to lead the league. And any one care to guess who holds the NBA record for most field goal attempts in a game? If you said Philly native, Wilt Chamberlain, you're right.

When he was with the old Philadelphia Warriors, Wilt attempted 63 shots (he made 36, also a record) in his historic 100-point game on March 2, 1962. He also has the second (62 in a triple-OT game) and third (60 in an overtime game) most attempts in a game in NBA history. He led the league in field goal attempts a -- yes -- record seven consecutive seasons.

(By the way, when you look at the record book, Wilt's name is all over the place.)

Which brings me to this question (and it's a leap I know, but that's how I work): Which town has the best ballers? Is it Philly? New York? Chicago? Los Angeles? They all have incredible basketball histories. Did I miss a town? We're throwing this out there. What do you think? E-mail Click and Roll and let us know your thoughts about the best basketball town in the nation. We should be able to figure it out over the weekend, easy.

DREAM ON!

One of the NBA's greatest centers will retire on Saturday when Hakeem Olajuwon sees his No. 34 raised to the Compaq Center rafters. Former teammate and current franchise player, Steve Francis wrote an article on how important The Dream was to his career. (Houston Chronicle)

Has time and age become Shaq's kryptonite? (Boston Globe)

It's too bad that the Knicks and the Pacers just ain't what it used to be. (New York Post)

Speaking of which, get to know former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy. Others are. (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

Yes, Richard Hamilton can score. One columnist asks Dajuan Wagner just to be himself. (Philadelphia Daily News)

COUNTDOWN TO 70:

Bibby
As we keep track of the Kings' and Mike Bibby's quest to win 70 games this season, we must note that after losing to New York, they're 3-3. The Kings aren't worried though. (Sacramento Bee)

Win No. 3: 116-99 over Grizz, Nov. 2
Loss No. 3: 95-88 to Kincks, Nov. 6
Wins needed to reach goal: 67
Games remaning: 76
Bibby's lines: On injured list

RE-ALIGN THIS!

We love getting e-mail, even if it's nasty (you know who you are).

We received some interesting suggestions about realignment. But first, a plaudit. (We like these.)

Dedicated reader Pierre from Nova Scotia (remember he hit the game winner) chimes in: "I think that your idea of the re-alignment is great." (Thanks, Pierre.)

"It would work great because you still have the Kings and Lakers in the same division. It also will work great for lots of teams. I think adding a 30th team and having six divisions in the NBA would be the best thing to happen to the game since bobblehead dolls."

Mac Daddy from Alabama wants commissioner David Stern shake the league like a Bond martini.

"I think that if Commisioner Stern REALLY wanted to 'shake things up' with realignment, he would:
1. Create new rivalries and marketing opportunities.
2. Keep teams in the same general area together.

With that in mind, I submit to you MY proposed realignment scheme."

Northeast: Celtics, Knicks, Nets, Sixers, Wizards.
Why? This one is the only one requiring no compromises.
Southeast: Heat, Magic, Charlotte, Cavs, Pacers.
Why? A couple of teams had to move from the Central, and these were the furthest East and South, respectively.
Central: Timberwolves, Bucks, Bulls, Pistons, Raptors.
Why? I don't know WHY no one is proposing to move Minnesota to the Central. They are right above Wisconsin for crissakes! Toronto is a hop and skip from Detroit. (Oh, someone is, Mac Daddy.) (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

WE GOT THE POWER
Once again, we present power rankings from across the Web. Like we said, these are opinions, while the standings are the cold, hard facts.

Here they are. Argue amongst yourselves:
NBA.com
ESPN.com
CNNSI.com
CBS Sportsline
Sporting News
InsideHoops.com

These are not the opinions of NBA.com's Click and Roll. If you don't like the rankings and want to complain, write to the guys and gals who compile them. (OK, you can complain about the NBA.com rankings through us).

Northwest: Sonics, Blazers, Kings, Warriors, Jazz.
Why? Here the fun starts. The Jazz just fit, and I sent the two northern California teams.
Southwest: Lakers, Clippers, Suns, Nuggets, Spurs.
Why? I can hear it now...but SOMEBODY needed to go here, and San Antonio is in western Texas, and Denver is west just as far. If a California team can move, so can a Texas team, as big as that state is.
Midwest: Rockets, Mavericks, Hornets, Grizzlies, Hawks.
Why? The three South Central teams fit naturally, and I added the two easternmost Texas teams. Voila!

Anthony from Menomonie, Wis. suggests we make a (Anthony) Mason-(Juan) Dixon line through the league" "Why not go with North-South Conferences?"

Northern Conference

Northwest Division: Seattle, Portland, Utah, Denver, Minnesota
Great Lakes Division: Milwaukee, Chicago, Indiana, Detroit, Toronto
Northeast Division: Cleveland, Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia

Southern Conference

Southwest Division: Sacramento, Golden State, Phoenix, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers
Central Division: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, New Orleans, Memphis
Southeast Division: Atlanta, Washington, Charlotte, Orlando, Miami

Yvette from Hacienda Heights doesn't like my idea of divisional rivals playing eight games against each other: "I do not want to watch the Lakers play the same team eight times, especially if one of them is Sacramento."

Don from Eureka, Calif. suggests that the league goes to 32 teams and in the deal, we get a lesson in geography.

"Keep the divisions the way they are now. A total realignment would just confuse people.

"Use natural borders to keep teams in their respective places. The Mississippi River could serve as a divider between the East and West. The Appalachian Mountains could separate the Atlantic and the Central and the Sierra Nevada could go between the Pacific and the Midwest. "Thirty teams is a nice whole number, but 32 is the number to be focusing on. With 32, that makes 16 in the East and West with eight from each conference making the playoffs. "You could bulk up the West by adding teams in Nevada, or Canada, or a few of the Midwestern states: Oklahoma City, St.Louis, Kansas City, or if all else falls through, California could always support another team."

And finally, from Fletch from Lexington, Ky. I get my knuckles rapped about my grammar: "Since when is 're-alignment' a compound noun?"

Could it be that I made a mistake? That can't be! But just to be sure, I called the Grammar Hotline (800-279-9708) I found on The Grammar Lady site.

Q: Is realignment a compound noun?

A: "What? Realignment? No."

Q: Is it just a noun?

A: "Yes."

Q: Are you sure?

A: "Yes." Click!

I stand corrected. Until Monday.

Rob Peterson, NBA.com

Wednesday, Nov. 6


EAST MEETS WEST (WE THINK)

Raise your hand if you dig Click and Roll's suggestion that the Hornets move the Western Conference.
Layne Murdoch
NBAE/Getty Images
No (compound) noun in sports freaks out more people than re-alignment.

Arguments immediately pop up against it: "No, no. We can't do that. There's too much tradition to consider."

Arguments pop up for it: "Memphis isn't in the West!"

And, of course, every columnist comes up with their own wacky plan (see mine below).

As you know, the NBA may soon have an expansion team in Charlotte. Yes, Charlotte. (ESPN.com)

That would give the NBA 30 teams, 15 for the East, 15 for the West. Problem is, the East already has 15 teams and Charlotte, if they get a new team, ain't in the West.

Ruh-roh! What to do, what to do? NBA Commissioner David Stern has an idea. (ESPN.com)

"If we were to (expand), I think we should go to six divisions and start some real trouble," Stern said. "Let's start from scratch. ... If we ever were to add a 30th team, that would be the occasion to turn it upside-down."

The NBA knows something about upside-down when it comes to geography. When the NBA and the ABA merged before the 1976-77 season, the San Antonio Spurs, joined the Houston Rockets, in the Eastern Conference, while Indiana joined Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee in the Western Conference.

To prove the myth true that men never ask for directions, the league had the Spurs and the Rockets in the East for four seasons before shipping them to the West before the 1980-81 season.

The league has added six teams since that season, and two of those teams have moved: the Grizzlies migrated east to Memphis while the Hornets headed West to New Orleans.

Since the Commish weighed in with "start some real trouble," those crazy columnists have weighed in. Jack McCallum from CNNSI.com sends Atlanta to the Western Conference. (CNNSI.com)

One Detroit columnist looks ahead, way ahead, and claims re-alignment could help the Pistons. Then he notes that maybe two 15-team divisions, with the top eight teams going to the playoffs, may be the right course of action. (Detroit News)

And a San Antonio columnist weighs in as well. (San Antonio Express-News)

With six five-team divisions, the schedule breakdown could go like this: Two games against the teams in the other conference (that's 30), two against the teams in the other divisions (that's 20) and eight, four home, four away, against teams in your own division (that's 32). I was no math major, but that's 82 games. We're talking full-chiropractic, back-straightening re-alignment.

Following that crazy notion, here my ideas for the division breakdowns:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic: Celtics, Knicks, Nets, Sixers, Wizards
Why? Tradition. Can you imagine the Sixers, Celtics and Knicks not in the same division?

Central: Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Pistons, Raptors
Why? Four of the five teams have been in this division since 1980-81, and the Raptors have been in this division since they entered the league in 1995.

Southeast: Hawks, Heat, Magic, Pacers, new Charlotte team
Why? The Pacers? Well, someone had to go from the Central and they're the furthest south.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Midwest: Hornets, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Jazz, Nuggets
Why? While the Grizzlies and Timberwolves will say they need to be in the East, no team in this division is in the Pacific time zone. By virtue of their move west to New Orleans, the Hornets get to move to the Western Conference. Plus, three teams -- the Hornets, the Jazz and the Grizzlies -- can make a three way trade for each others' nicknames or send the Hornets name back to Charlotte for a nickname to be named later (but that's another column).

Southwest: Clippers, Mavs, Rockets, Spurs, Suns
Why? The three Texas teams are a natural, the rest I'll explain below.

Pacific: Blazers, Lakers, Kings, Sonics, Warriors
Why? Well, the Commish said turn it upside down and separating the L.A. teams would certainly do that. And while we know familiarity breeds contempt, how much more important would the games between the two L.A. teams be if they faced each other only two times instead of the proposed eight.

COUNTDOWN TO 70:

Bibby
As we keep track of the Kings' and Mike Bibby's quest to win 70 games this season, we must note that after losing to Orlando, 125-121, on Nov. 5, the Kings are 3-2, a .600 clip. To win 70, a team must win at an .854 clip. The big question is, can the Kings go 67-10 (.870) the rest of the way?

Win No. 3: 116-99 over Grizz, Nov. 2
Loss No. 2: 125-121, to Magic, Nov. 5
Wins needed to reach goal: 67
Games remaning: 77
Bibby's lines: On injured list
Remember, we're just throwing this out there. What do you think? E-mail NBA.com's Click and Roll and let us know your thoughts about possible re-alignment.

SAFE AT HOME

In our rookie profile of the Nuggets' Nikoloz Skitishvili, he mentioned how his mom was going to make his new house in Denver a home. (NBA.com)

Now, that Skita's mom and 12-year-old brother are in the U.S., the 7-foot rookie can put his mind at ease. (Denver Post)

SHOW US THE LOVE

Here's the incredible story of former Chicago Bull Bob Love. He shows his words now speak as loudly as his actions. (New York Times)

MORE HOOPS LINKS

DOUBLE DRIBBLE:
"When things are going bad the stress starts to show up on your skin, your personality. Fortunately, it was my skin and not my personality."
--Washington's Kwame Brown, on how when things were rough last season, he tried to keep an even keel (Washington Times)
Kobe wants to go to Greece in 2004, and it's a business trip in search for gold. (L.A. Daily News)

The Spurs' Devin Brown was raised to play hoops. (San Antonio Express-News)

Yes, George Karl will face questions all season long. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Cavs are finding that practices will be worth the weight. (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

I'll have what Kwame Brown is having. Last season's No. 1 overall pick is enjoying a breakout season. In his rookie year, he just broke out. (Washington Times)

Wow! I never thought I'd hear Michael Jordan compared to Mick Jagger. Does that make Scottie Pippen Keith Richards? (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

What has received more attention in the Sunshine State the past two weeks: the Florida's (once hotly contested) governor's race or Grant Hill's ankle? (Orlando Sentinel)

Boston's Antoine Walker is not worried about his numbers. (Boston Herald)

Meanwhile, it's not Walker's numbers that has this columnist worried. (Boston Globe)

From the "Ya Think?" files: Zones vulnerable when shots fall. (Detroit Free Press)

Despite being traded by the Pacers last season, Travis Best returns with his new team, the Heat, with fond memories of Indy. (Indianapolis Star)

Rob Peterson, NBA.com

Monday, Nov. 4


IN THE 'ZONE

M E D I A W A T C H
Two smooth for the rest of the league, the Nets' Jason Kidd and Byron Scott.
(Andy Hayt, NBAE/Getty Images)

TAKE IT TO THE (MAGAZINE) RACK
-GQ's Men of the Year issue (November) named the Nets Jason Kidd as team sports player of the year and the Nets' Byron Scott as coach of the year, not for being the best dressed, but for dressing up a franchise that no one would mention without sneering before those two arrived.

In Sports Illustrated's most recent issue, they start a virtual barroom brawl with a feature on the Overrated/Underrated in sports. And many quirky topics are discussed as well as many NBA topics:

  • Keys to Phil Jackson' success: Zen (overrated); X's and O's (underrated)
  • Ways to improve your NBA team: Draft (overrated); mid-level players (underrated)
  • Coach: Lenny Wilkens (overrated); John Kundla (underrated)

    One veteran NBA scribe believes that Wilkens, if anything is underrated. ESPN's David Aldridge made a case for Wilkens in the preseason. (ESPN.com)

    You can state your case on Overrated/Underrated at CNNSI.com.

    ESPN the Magazine published its NBA 2003 Power 25 issue. Instead of lengthy team previews, ESPN gives us a handle on the "NBA's Shapers and Shakers" from the most exciting dunker (Darius Miles) to the play that slammed the backdoor on the USA Men's national team (the Flex Cut) to the most connected adviser (the NBA's own Leah Wilcox, who once helped Jamal Mashburn open a car dealership).

    In the meantime, we'll re-run this link -- one, because the interview is funny; and two, I wrote a pretty good punchline.

    Also, Dan Patrick grabbed a little quality time with NBA Commissioner David Stern. No word as to whether they had this conversation in their bathrobes while waiting for Wally Szczerbiak to pretty up in the bathroom. (ESPN.com)


  • You could argue that the Miami Heat need Alonzo Mourning right now more than ever.

    Then you could argue the greater Miami area needs him even more.

    In a great article by Linda Robertson, 'Zo, who has made a great impact in the Miami community, continues to do so as he battles his kidney disease. He recently opened the Overtown Youth Center, "a place he envisions as a haven of hope and education in a neighborhood where only one of 14 kids graduates from high school," Robertson writes.

    "There's a reason I'm not playing,'' Mourning said. "God has a plan. If I was playing ball, I wouldn't have had the time to do this. This is very therapeutic for me.'' (Miami Herald)

    THE BIG 3-D'OH!

    In journalism, the number "30" signifies the end of a story, but what does it signify in the NBA?

    It seems that 30-year-olds in the NBA face a different, somewhat more painful, life in the NBA than those young guys who don't stretch before games. It's not that they're over the hill, it's just that the hill is tougher to climb. (Orlando Sentinel)

    Speaking of which, Grant Hill is sore all over, and it's not just his ankle. (Florida Today)

    Also, Minnesota's Terrell Brandon tries to get back on the floor, but a setback in his rehab from knee surgery has him thinking about the future. (ESPN.com)

    And, yes, yes, we know the Mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays, but this is kind of silly. (Salt Lake Tribune)

    Todd MacCulloch isn't 30 (he's 26), but he is feeling old. (Philadelphia Daily News)

    Then again, youth isn't always served because sometimes it just sits. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

    In the meantime, Glenn Robinson should be thankful he doesn't turn 30 until January. For those who are counting, and we are, Robinson has started the season with three 30-point games and leads the league with 31.3 points per game. I guess you can teach an old Dog new tricks. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    Here's one young pup (he's only 24, people) who's having no trouble with the number 30 either. The Lakers' Kobe Bryant has had back-to-back triple doubles in the past two games, scoring 33 points and dishing 12 assists in each game. In Friday's win over the Clippers, he had 15 rebounds. In Sunday's win over the Blazers, he had 14 boards. Slacker! (L.A. Times)

    ESPN.com's Charley Rosen, who created a firestorm with his Page 2 piece on Bryant and assistant coach Tex Winter arguing after a game this season, weighs in with part two. Where does Kobe get his focus and drive? To answer that question, Rosen takes a look at the career of Bryant's dad, Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant. (ESPN.com)

    LAST-SECOND SHOTS?

    Last week, we highlighted what it was like to win a game with a last-second shot and to lose a game with time running out. We asked you for your response and we recieved two perfect examples of the thrill of victory and the agony of not setting your feet.

    First, we have Pierre from Nova Scotia, who found out that thinking in a last-second situation sometimes just gets in the way.

    "There was about 35 to 40 seconds left in the game and we're down one. I bring it up, I fake right and take it left and I see that I'm about three or four feet behind the three point line ... but I just thought I had to put it up. So I throw it up and ... cash! Money in the bank. We win by two."

    COUNTDOWN TO 70:

    Bibby
    Before the season, Kings guard Mike Bibby told a crowd at ARCO Arena he thought the Kings could win 70 games this season. We're keeping track.

    Win No. 3: 116-99 over Grizzlies, Nov. 2
    Loss No. 1: 88-78 to Heat, Nov. 3
    Wins needed to reach goal: 67
    Games remaning: 78
    Bibby's lines: On injured list
    Nice job, Pierre. Meanwhile, we go from North of the border to far South of the Mason-Dixon line with Ryan from Florida, who can't stop thinking about his missed last-second shot.

    "At the end of a semifinal game in a varsity church league, I was passed the ball at the three-point line with three seconds left. I lined it up and let it go, It was straight on, but about a foot short.

    That was the absolute worst airball I have ever shot. I've never felt so horrible. I stayed on the court for a while and just shot from that spot over and over until the next game started. That feeling lingers, it's like after you throw up and the taste stays in your mouth for a while.

    Missing a last second shot, especially when you're open is the worst."

    Thanks for the letters, gents, and better luck next time, Ryan.

    Rob Peterson, NBA.com