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Tag:Houston Rockets
Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 5:37 pm
 

Manager steals millions; gets 3 years in jail

Posted by Ben Golliversteve-francis-nyk

Infinitely wise advice from the rapper Nas: "Watch them [people] that be close to you."

Those words should have been heeded by a number of Washington, D.C. area professional athletes who were taken for a million-dollar ride by their crooked sports manager. 

The Washington Examiner reports that a D.C. manager who worked for multiple NBA players and a prominent heavyweight boxer copped to misusing and pilfering millions of dollars generated by his clients.
Nathan A. Peake, 41, of Silver Spring, admitted in federal court in the District that he didn't file tax returns from 2000 through 2007 and diverted about $5.8 million in management and agent fees from his business to personal accounts.

He also admitted to misappropriating proceeds from a $3.5 million line of commercial credit that one of his athlete clients guaranteed and paid off.

"Nathan Peake's efforts at tax evasion were much less successful than the careers of the professional athletes he managed," said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. "Today's sentence sends the unmistakable message that everyone -- especially those bringing in millions in income -- must pay their fair share."
There's nothing quite like a good lawyer zing. Or a bad lawyer zing for that matter.

Among Peake's clients, the paper reports, were Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson and former NBA All-Star Steve Francis.

Francis raked in more than $103 million in salary during a 9-year NBA career playing for the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, and New York Knicks. Most recently, he played professionally in China.

Lawson is still on his rookie deal with the Nuggets and has career NBA earnings of less than $3 million. Back in August, he signed to play professionally in Lithuania. 

Hat tip: @NZbeFree
Posted on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
 

First up for each team in a post-lockout world

Posted by Royce Young



So the lockout could be ending soon, depending on who you're listening to. Maybe it extends into the season, but if it doesn't and a deal gets settled in the next few weeks, we're going to have one heck of a free agency period. Really, no matter when it's settled, we're going to have one wild free agency period.

(Unless we were to miss all of 2011-12 and you combined this class with next year's group. Now that would be something.)

If you thought the summer of 2010 was a frenzy, try cramming it all into a two-week period. Maybe I'm just thinking of how horrible it'll be for me. Regardless, you can be sure that all 30 teams have a pre-written itinerary on what they want to accomplish once the lockout is lifted. They have been planning, plotting and preparing to target the players they want or finish up a few final transactions on the roster.

But what's the first order of business for everybody? What's the priority, the thing that each team wants to get done right away? Here's a stab at each team's top job.

Atlanta Hawks: It really appears that the Hawks are ready and willing to let Jamal Crawford walk, but there's still a decision to made whether or not they want to compete for him in the free agent market. He was a key part of the team that made a somewhat surprising run to the Eastern Semifinals and re-signing him could be a priority. Problem is, they don't really have the funds for it.

Boston Celtics: What happens with Jeff Green? The Celtics have already tendered him a qualifying offer, but someone surely will extend him an offer sheet. The Celtics have issues at center still and Glen Davis is unrestricted, but figuring out Jeff Green's situation is probably weighing heaviest on Danny Ainge's mind.

Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats made a big splash in the draft, but if that's going to matter, they've got to get Bismack Biyombo on the team. His buyout could still be a major issue and though he says he'll be on the team when training camp starts, that's definitely up in the air.

Chicago Bulls: Wing scorer. Say it with me, wing scorer. Derrick Rose needs help (and an extension) in a big time way and it's up to Gar Foreman and company to find that help. Jamal Crawford maybe? Caron Butler? J.R. Smith if he wasn't in China? Someone has to give Rose a little offensive help and that's the top priority for the Bulls.

Cleveland Cavaliers: First thing? Putting Baron Davis on the scales to make sure he doesn't weigh 300 pounds. After that, there isn't a whole lot to be done in Cleveland. The club's rebuilding around their two lottery picks and you don't want to crowd the roster in a way that stunts their development.

Dallas Mavericks: The defending champs have a whole lot on their plate once the lockout ends. Caron Butler's contract is up. So is J.J. Barea's. So is DeShawn Stevenson's. So is Brian Cardinal's (just kidding -- well it is up, but you know what I mean). But the first order of business for Mark Cuban is to get Tyson Chandler re-signed. Not just that though, but to get him re-signed to a number that makes sense for the make-up of the roster.

Denver Nuggets: Despite the lockout, the Nuggets have kind of been gutted. J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler are in China until at least March. Danilo Gallinari signed in Italy but has an NBA out. But all of that doesn't matter near as much as getting Nene re-signed. Without Nene, it doesn't matter. With Nene, there's still something worth building around.

Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are kind of trying to quietly usher out the old and bring in some new. Tayshaun Prince is a free agent, but I don't think they care. What'll be most interesting is how they handle Rodney Stuckey. The Pistons drafted Brandon Knight in June with Stuckey already their point guard. Do they want Knight to take over? Do they want to play them together? Share the role? Sorting out Stuckey's future is definitely what Joe Dumars has to do first.

Golden State Warriors: The Warriors could be players in free agency, but really, it's about deciding once and for all if Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry really are the backcourt tandem of the future for the team. If there's a time to move on, it's now when both of their values are still high. The Warriors flirted with dealing Ellis last season but it didn't happen. They're probably planning on revisiting that.

Houston Rockets: First order of business: Properly sending off Yao with a jersey retirement ceremony. After that, the Rockets are fairly settled, though you know Daryl Morey is just itching to pick up a phone and start transacting once the lockout's over.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have a number of expiring deals and aren't likely looking to re-sign them (maybe Josh McRoberts, maybe Jeff Foster). Larry Bird has been hunting more pieces to add to his mediocre roster for a while and you can be sure the Pacers are going to target some of the bigger free agent names in this class.

Los Angeles Clippers: Eric Gordon is ready for an extension, but the Clippers better be ready to match any offer DeAndre Jordan gets. You might not think that's a big deal, but forget Chris Kaman. The future of the Clips frontcourt is Blake Griffin and Jordan. You seven-footer from Texas A&M finally started figuring himself out a little last season and he's not far off from becoming a major defensive impact player.

Los Angeles Lakers: Shannon Brown's unrestricted, but he's really not that much of an impact player to be that concerned with. The Lakers might have to focus on how to re-structure the roster to suit a new CBA that could greatly cut into their total salary. Will they have to move Lamar Odom? Metta World Peace? But first things first: Giving Kobe and Mike Brown a proper introduction and letting them figure out the direction of the offense.

Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol. That's it for Memphis. It'd be nice to get Shane Battier back, but it's all about Gasol.

Miami Heat: It's kind of been overlooked, but Pat Riley and the Heat have a busy couple weeks waiting on them. Mike Bibby, Jamaal Magloire, Juwan Howard, Erick Dampier and James Jones are all unrestricted and Mario Chalmers is restricted. It's decision time for the Heat. Do they start restocking with veteran talent or look to get younger and develop?

Milwaukee Bucks: That first practice in Milwaukee is something Scott Skiles has probably been thinking about for a while. "Brandon, this is Stephen. Stephen, this is Brandon." The Bucks have some new talent as Stephen Jackson joins Brandon Jennings, but how will they get along?

Minnesota Timberwolves: Here's what David Kahn's to-do list looks like: 1) Hug Ricky. 2) Hug Darko. 3) Overpay a questionable free agent at a position you already have three guys. What it should look like: 1) Convince Kevin Love somehow to sign an extension. 2) Get rid of Michael Beasley and let Derrick Williams have the starting small forward spot all to himself. 3) Tell Rick Adelman to do his thing.

New Jersey Nets: Kris Humphies is an important piece of business but his re-signing goes hand in hand with the larger thing: Proving to Deron Williams that this is a place he wants to re-sign. The Nets have to take advantage right away of showing Williams they're serious about winning. And you do that by getting him some immediate help.

New Orleans Hornets: It's all about David West for the Hornets. Yes, he suffered a major knee injury last season. But he chose to become an unrestricted free agent and a team like the Nets is likely to come calling quickly. Can the Hornets hang on to Chris Paul's buddy?

New York Knicks: The Knicks have a little bit coming off the books but really they need to try and resist the urge to do something drastic in this free agency period. Which they will because of the big names coming up in 2012. Still, they want to field a solid team for this season -- and Mike D'Antoni needs them too -- so adding a quality veteran to help on the inside would be good.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The young Thunder roster is pretty much entirely set up. But Sam Presti has something to do right away once the lockout ends -- get Russell Westbrook his extension. Presti brought Kevin Durant his at midnight last July to make sure there was no doubt about locking up his superstar. Presti better be stalking Westbrook's house on the whim he lockout ends so he can extend the same treatment to his other star.

Orlando Magic: First order of business for Otis Smith and the Magic? Resume begging Dwight Howard to stay. One way to show it would be to get him some help, but Smith sort of laid those cards on the table last year in the Gilbert Arenas/Hedo Turkoglu trade. So it's back to convincing Howard there's a plan for the future and that it'll get better.

Philadelphia 76ers: Someone is ready and willing to give Thaddeus Young a serious offer, so the Sixers better be ready to match anything and everything.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash's trade value will be highest at the beginning of the season, so it's up to Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver to figure out if they're ready to move on. Aaron Brooks is a restricted free agent so if the Suns lock him up by matching an offer sheet, that'll be an indication that the Suns are preparing for life without Nash.

Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are in love with Nicolas Batum, so extending him could be the first order of business, but really, the Blazers need to find a new general manager first. And whoever that guy is needs to decide that if for the off chance someone gives Greg Oden an offer, if he's willing to match. Oden already has an $8.8 qualifying offer, which is huge, so once Oden signs that, he'll likely be signing with the Blazers for another year.

Sacramento Kings: The Jimmer-Tyreke backcourt is going to be an interesting experiment, but Marcus Thornton is quietly one of the more intriguing free agents out there. The Bulls are likely looking at him long and hard right now. He's restricted, so the Kings could keep him, but the question is, with Tyreke moving off the ball for good and Jimmer handling the point, is it worth paying Thornton to just have him come off the bench?

San Antonio Spurs: Um, I guess just resume the typical day-to-day of the Spurs. Gregg Popovich is the longest tenured coach with a team and R.C. Buford probably isn't looking to go do anything drastic in this market. The Spurs are definitely aging, but there's not a lot to be done about that right now.

Toronto Raptors: Assuming the Raptors actually have Jonas Valanciunas for next season, Dwane Casey and company have to figure out if he's ready to cover for Andrea Bargnani on the inside. Can those two really play together and handle enough rebounding and defensive duties? The Raptors are in a place where they have to wait and see with some young players and aren't likely targeting any big names in the open market.

Utah Jazz: Most likely, Andrei Kirilenko won't be re-signing with the Jazz. So Kevin O'Connor will have to make a choice when the lockout's over: Does he try and restock a roster that can maybe squeak out the eight-seed, or does he commit to rebuilding around Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and others and just let them play it out? The Jazz would love to get some wing scoring help, so O'Connor will probably at least look that direction, but we'll have to see how serious he is.

Washington Wizards: It's not an earth-shattering decision, but Nick Young is a restricted free agent. And with his scoring ability, someone is ready to pay him. Do the Wizards want to keep him? Do they want to look elsewhere and maybe target say, Marcus Thornton? Or do they just let Young walk and see what Jordan Crawford's got?
Posted on: September 5, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

Posted by Royce Young



Conference realignment has sort of taken over the world the past few weeks. Texas A&M pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the Big 12 by bolting for the SEC and because of it, a whole new chain of events have tipped over. The landscape of college football could look a whole lot different in a few months. Or in a few weeks. Or even tomorrow.

But you know what else could use a little realigning? The NBA's divisions. They're kind of a mess. It's not going to be as a result of some $300 million network, recruiting ties or competitive advantages. Nope. For the NBA, it's more just about common sense. Geographically, the divisions are kind of a mess. In 2011 that's not as huge a deal as it was in 1981 because travel is much easier. You can go from Portland to Oklahoma City in just a few hours.

However, chartered travel is experience. Fuel is very pricey. And with the NBA and teams supposedly losing so much money, why not exhaust every option to cut costs and realign the divisions so they make a lot more sense? Why not group teams together that are hundreds, not thousands, of miles apart?

Plus, it just makes a lot more sense to have structured regions. Grouping teams together based on geography does more to forge rivalries, gives fans a chance to commute between games if the want to and gives the players less travel and more days of rest. All good, right?

So if you're going to spend all this time restructuring a new collective bargaining agreement, why not fix the divisions too? Here's how they should look:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

SOUTHWEST
Dallas
San Antonio
Houston
Phoenix
Oklahoma City

The NBA's new Southwest division is the American League East, the SEC West, of the league. It's a group of five teams that are all pretty good. Things change though and in 15 years, this could be the weakest division in the league. But for now, it'd be pretty good.

And it just makes sense. Dallas and Oklahoma City are about three hours via car away from each other. San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are in the same state. And OKC and the Texas teams and Phoenix just have one state separating them, which is a whole lot better than five.

MIDWEST
Memphis
Minnesota
Denver
Utah
Milwaukee

Clearly the division that needed the biggest overhaul is the Northwest, mainly because of the Sonics transformation into the Oklahoma City Thunder. When the team was in Seattle, the division made a lot more sense. Now it doesn't. That's why a midwestern division with makes a lot more sense.

That creates somewhat of a problem in the Northwest though. There's not a great fit. So for the sake of the argument, the Northwest has to make the Big 12 and peace out. No more Northwest, but instead the new Midwest.

The new Midwest is still a bit spread out, but all the teams are at least located somewhat centrally in the country. A trip from Utah to Milwaukee won't be quick, but the Jazz, Nuggets and Timerwolves have been oddballs in the Northwest. It's not an ideal division with teams right next door to each other, but it makes a lot more sense than the current setup.

PACIFIC
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento
Golden State
Portland

Moving Phoenix away from the Lakers is a bummer, because those two teams are historical rivals that have always competed in the same division. But if A&M and Texas can separate, I think we can live with the Suns and Lakers moving apart.

The Pacific now features five teams that are actually next to the Pacific Ocean, which seems like it should count for something. Plus having the Blazers and Lakers together makes up for separating the Suns and Lakers.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

CENTRAL
Chicago
Detroit
Indiana
Cleveland
Toronto

Really, the new Central was the inspiration for this. Why aren't the Raptors in this division? Look at how close those teams are to each other. I think you could almost ride your bike between arenas. The old Central was really good too -- maybe better -- but the Bucks have to move. So it's the Raptors who replace them and the solid geographic setup remains.

ATLANTIC
Boston
New York
Philadelphia
Washington
New Jersey

Nothing too radical here. Five cities that you can transport between using a train. Old rivalries are preserved and the Wizards are added, which frankly, makes a lot of sense.

SOUTHEAST
Miami
Orlando
Atlanta
Charlotte
New Orleans

Two teams would swap conferences with the Bucks moving back to the West and the Hornets heading to the East. Not that this would upset the competitive balance of the league or anything, but it just makes a lot more sense for the Hornets to be placed in a division with Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami.

And let me add this: If college football has no issue tossing tradition and historical rivalries out the window, why not just eliminate conferences all together? It would be a radical move, but what's the point of the East and West, other than just that's the structure of the playoffs? If it were one unified "super" conference, that would finally solve the issues of a 50-win Western team missing the postseason while a 37-win Eastern team slips into the eight-seed.

You could even just build the league into three 10-team divisions. Combine the Southwest and the Pacific, the Midwest and the Central, and the Atlantic and the Southeast. There are your super-divisions. Now you can keep teams playing more in their division than anything else and cut down on long road trips. It would make a West coast road trip for the Mavericks a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

Basically, we'd be looking at a league with three sub-conferences and once the playoffs started, seeding would just be based from that. Almost like the NCAA tournament, you could set two regions and seed from there. Head-to-head tiebreakers, division records and all that stuff would separate any identical records. Just an idea while we're brainstorming, you know?

(Note: I don't really love that idea, quite honestly. But I was just throwing it out there. One of those things that probably makes sense, but wouldn't ever happen. Much like Bill Simmons' terrific "Entertaining As Hell Tournament." Really, a unified conference makes it easier to implicate the tournament too.)

Let's face it: The West has kind of sort of dominated the past decade. Sports operate in cycles, but if there's a way to prevent that, should we? The West compiled a record of 2,257-1,643 against the East from 1999-2008 and over the last 13 seasons has represented 10 champions. That's pretty dominant. That'll change eventually, but what really is the point of the conferences, other than the standard, "that's just the way it's always been done" answer? 

All that is after the fact though: Divisional realignment is the start. Fixing the structure of the postseason would be the ideal next step. It's kind of like a plus-one for college football. Maybe a pipe dream, but something that's really in the best interest of the game. But if anything's to be done, it's to realign the divisions so they at least make a little more sense. Preserve rivalires, start new ones, save money, cut down on travel and hopefully, help the league grow a little bit more.

Picture via Jockpost
Posted on: August 31, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 5:16 pm
 

Yao Ming: Hall of Fame nomination should wait

Posted by Ben Golliver

yao-ming-hall-of-fame

Only one person is standing between Yao Ming and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2012. That person is Yao Ming himself.

Shortly after Yao retired from the NBA due to ongoing injury issues earlier this summer, word surfaced that representatives of the Chinese Basketball Association wanted to fast-track his nomination to the Hall of Fame, nominating him as a contributor to the game rather than as a player and thereby allowing him to bypass the standard five-year waiting period. If successful, Yao would have been inducted next summer.

MyFoxHouston.com reports that Yao believes that plan is "inappropriate" and would rather let some time pass. 
A representative of former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming informed the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Wednesday that Yao feels it is premature for him to be on the ballot for the Hall of Fame in 2012.

"Yao believes it is inappropriate for him to be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame at this time," said John Huizinga, Yao's agent, in an interview with FOX 26 Sports.

The Associated Press adds a few additional details from the Hall of Fame's CEO John Doleva.

"[Yao's agent] indicated that Yao has great respect for the institution and equal respect for those elected before his consideration," Doleva said in a phone interview. "He just feels that it's too soon to be considered as a contributor."

"I got the feeling that he and his people have thought long and hard about this," Doleva said. "I appreciated the fact that he referenced his respect for the institution, especially for those who've been elected."

Well, that's typical Yao, pure class through and through. 

There's no question that he will eventually enter the Hall, but there's also no rush either. If Yao is uncomfortable with the attention or questions that would accompany a fast-track nomination or if he simply wants to be treated on the same level as the other players that came before him or played alongside him, that is totally understandable. The last thing you want entering an immortal place like the Hall is someone trying to float an asterick next to your name.

Further, an induction to the Hall of Fame is meant to be a reflective exercise, and it's difficult to look back with perspective without a significant amount of time passing. An extra two, three or four years would only make the occasion that much more memorable.

Over eight NBA seasons, Yao averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. His credentials for induction as a player are questionable, but his key role in the globalization of basketball makes him a lock for induction as a contributor. The only question now is when.

Hat tip: SlamOnline.com

Posted on: August 25, 2011 3:55 pm
 

Ralph Sampson arrested in Georgia

By Matt Moore

Turns out it's not just current NBA players locked out getting into trouble. Former NBA All-Star Ralph Sampson was arrested in Georgia Wednesday and is out on bond from multiple traffic violations and failure to meet child support obligations. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Sampson, 51, was pulled over Tuesday evening in the Peachtree Corners area of Gwinnett County when a police officer was doing a license tag check.

The former Houston Rockets center’s license plate was expired.

The officer discovered that Sampson’s license was suspended for failure to meet child support obligations, according to police reports, and that the seven-footer had an open arrest warrant from Duluth for failing to appear in court on a 2008 auto insurance violation.

He was bonded out shortly after midnight Wednesday.
via Former NBA star Sampson arrested in Gwinnett | ajc.com
 
Sampson is most known being one half of the Rockets' twin towers in the mid-80's along with Hakeem Olajuwon. He was a four-time All-Star, the 1983 Rookie of the Year, and a three-time Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year award winner. Sampson's career was derailed due to multiple knee injuries that many felt kept the Rockets from being champions earlier. 
Category: NBA
Posted on: August 23, 2011 11:34 am
Edited on: August 23, 2011 10:54 pm
 

Derek Anderson denies funding cocaine ring

Posted by Ben Golliverderek-anderson

Former NBA player Derek Anderson is having his name spoken to police by just about the last person in the world with whom you would want to be associated.

Wave3.com reports that Francois Cunningham, a Kentucky man who admitted to police that he was involved in purchases of kilograms of cocaine and that he caused the deaths of two people by allegedly throwing a molotov cocktail into their vehicle, is providing additional information into murders committed by his associates and the workings of the drug organization he was involved in as part of a "deal for early release."

In a taped interview with a police detective, Cunningham stated that former NBA player Derek Anderson bankrolled the drug operation. 

Butler: "Was Derek Anderson ever present when you all bought narcotics?" 

Cunningham: "Nah, he stays away from you know, he's just the money and he's not going to get around any of it but, that's who funnels the money."

The site notes that Anderson has not been charged with a crime in the case and that the police currently do not have any corroborating evidence.

Without question, Cunningham's claims should be treated with a certain degree of skepticism, as Courier-Journal.com reports that he had his charges reduced from murder to second-degree manslaughter in exchange for his cooperation.

Anderson denied "being involved in any illegal activity" through an attorney in a statement to Courier-Journal.com on Tuesday evening. The attorney further stated that Anderson would not make any additional comment himself.

NBA LEGAL TROUBLE

A Kentucky native, Anderson won an NCAA title while at the University of Kentucky in 1996 and was selected in the 1997 NBA Draft Lottery by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Anderson played 11 seasons in the NBA, playing for the Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat and Charlotte Bobcats. He won an NBA title with the Heat in 2006.

Anderson, now 37, averaged 12.0 points, 3.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 steal in 29.2 minutes per game during his NBA career. He retired after the 2007-2008 season and Basketball-Reference.com reports that Anderson's career earnings topped $58 million. 

Anderson's former teammate with the Portland Trail Blazers, Zach Randolph, has been at the center of a legal investigation this week as well, as a drug dealer in Portland, Or., told police that he was assaulted at Randolph's home while he was trying to sell marijuana.

Hat tip: Kentucky Sports Radio
Posted on: August 13, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 3:32 pm
 

Legend vs. Star: Moses Malone vs. Dwight Howard



By Matt Moore

We live in an immediate society. The internet, social media, the ever-accelerating news cycle, everything means that the next 30 seconds is 10 times more important than the last 30 seconds regardless of what actually happened in the past 30 seconds. As a result, we lose perspective on what stands truly relevant from the past. The NBA is no exception. So in an attempt to merge the two worlds (since, as a blog, we love/hate/want to be BFFs within the next 30 seconds), we'll be bringing you a look at players past and present, in relation to one another. 

Previously: Isiah Thomas vs. Chris Paul | Larry Bird vs. Dirk Nowitzki | Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant

Next up: Moses Malone vs. Dwight Howard

****************************

In the history of MVPs in the NBA, Moses Malone gets lost most often. He entered the ABA at 19, and it took him some time to find his place after the merger. Then he detonated in his second year in Houston, and became an MVP force year in and year out. But just as he should have been really making his name for himself, Magic and Bird emerged. So now you've got Moses, notoriously not eloquent and  whose game was neither pretty nor flashy, trying to compete with two of the greatest college players of all time, entering the league. The result? The 80s are defined by Bird, Magic, and their rivalry, and Moses is overlooked. This despite Moses being a three-time MVP. Three times, the man won the MVP and there were a few more seasons when he would have been the appropriate choice.

Numbers don't tell the whole story, but in Moses' case, they're worth talking about. How about his first MVP season, 1978-1979, when he averaged 24.8 points and 17.6 rebounds in 41.3 minutes. Talk about carrying the load. Yet he only had a 23 percent usage rate that season. For comparison's sake, Derrick Rose had a 32.2 percent usage rate this past season. Malone shot 54 percent from the field that season (while taking only 16 shots a game) and 74 percent from the foul line. That's a crazy season. And it was only his fourth-highest scoring season. In 1981-1982, which was arguably his best statistical season, he scored 31.1 points per game, an unbelievable amount, and grabbed 14.7 boards per game, while shooting 52 percent. He made up nearly the entirety of that Rockets team. And yet, the lost in the first round.

But Moses is not one of the sad stories of players who were excellent then forgotten without rings. He was traded in 1982 to Philadelphia, joining Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks, and Andrew Toney in a championship run to help validate Doc's career. On a team with that much firepower, Moses averaged 24.5 points and 15.3 rebounds along with a steal and two blocks per game. In short, it was a magnificent season that netted him NBA Finals MVP honors as the Sixers swept the Los Angeles Lakers. Yeah, league rarely trumpets the feat in its eternal quest to promote the Lakers, but Magic and Kareem were swept in the Finals.

But those are only numbers. The truth is that Moses was lord of the blue-collar rebounding machines. Most of his work was done on the offensive glass. If Dennis Rodman is the best offensive rebounder of all time, Moses is not far behind. Of the top 10 seasons in offensive rebounding percentage, Rodman holds the first and third best, along with three of the top ten. Moses owns four. A good comparison for his work to modern day might actually be Zach Randolph. Moses had that same level of touch, the ability to lift the ball up through contact and ease it off the glass. The ball seemed trapped in a vortex swirling it down into the bucket when Moses layed it up. As important as Moses' size, strength, and work ethic were to his success, that level of touch that he mastered was equally important, and what sets him apart from so many big men offensively, including Dwight Howard.



That Moses has never had a book written about him is not unexpected, but no less a disappointment. In this age of raw big men wondering what it is people expect from them, Malone stands as the emblem everyone wants. He wasn't the tallest, or the most versatile. He simply dominated in every way imaginable and wasn't worried about his global brand, either.

And then, there's Dwight Howard.

The difference between the two can be seen in any number of ways, but maybe their approach on and off the court is the place to start. Howard is amazingly gifted public figure. He's drawn to the camera like a moth to flame. His commercial appeal is as wide as his shoulders. He takes to the media constantly to talk about what he feels are his team's strengths and weaknesses, does impressions of his coach, and is generally seen as a big kid. He's friendly, loveable, has a good clean Christian image, and mostly fun-loving. He's the anti-Moses in most ways.

And on the floor, Howard's a different beast as well. Howard is likely the better defensive player, his defensive ratings cast a glimpse at that. Furthermore, Howard's superior athleticism gave him a different impact in terms of physically dominating his opponents. And in terms of overall impact, no player in the league at this moment impacts the defensive end of the floor the way Howard does. That was his biggest stake to the MVP thise season, even if it was ultimately futile. Howard made the most impact when you factor both sides of the floor.

Howard made his first Finals when he was 24, Moses when he was 25. Howard has been a part of a contending team that hasn't been able to get over the top, just like Moses' Houston teams. We'll try and spare Magic fans from expanding on this comparison to avoid the implication that he has to move on to win a championship. Howard has been a prominent face of the league for the past three seasons. Whether that's due to his dunk contest participation, the increase of media exposure, or his superior play is hard to determine. But examining the impact both in terms of wins and statistically, it's difficult to put Howard on the same level.

This past season was Howard's best season, from most accounts. From my perspective, the only real difference in Howard's game was an increase in usage. Howard's field goal percentage actually dropped this past season, which can be a career-high in usage. But if his game had improved that much, wouldn't his field goal percentage at least have been equal to the previous year, which actually was his best season? Howard's impact at both ends of the floor was largely the same, outside of adding a mid-range jumper, which is like putting a surfer decal on a mack truck.

Howard's best season saw him put up 21.9 points and 13.5 rebounds while shooting 59 percent from the floor (better than Moses' best overall season, we should note), with 27 percent usage. The numbers don't match up well with Moses, but there's still time. The biggest difference is touch. Assuming Howard is slightly better overall defensively, there is a gaping chasm when compared Malone on offense. That touch we discussed earlier? That's the biggest missing component. Howard shot 59 percent from the field last season, and yet you're still left wondering how much higher that would be if he had the ability to lay the ball in like Malone did. Or if he had Malone's footwork. Or versatility. But perhaps those are unfair comparisons. After all, the facts are that at 25, Howard shot better than Malone from the field. And Howard and Malone both had usage rates of 27 percent at this point in their career. So if that's the case, where's the big gap between them offensively?

You know where: The stripe.

Howard is either incapable or unwilling to raise his free throw percentage to an even decent level. The result is that Howard shot 112 more free throws in his seventh season than Moses did, and made 63 fewer. It will continue to be a thorn in Howard's offensive side until he can convince opponents that fouling him is not a viable strategy. Maybe Howard is just waiting for the fans to cheer loud enough for the ball to go in. (HT: Twitter.)

The surprise there is that Howard was a better rebounder at this point in his career than Moses was. Howard collected 21.8 percent of all rebounds last season compared to Moses' 20.3. So while Moses had a higher rebounding total, the advanced stats will tell you that Howard actually collected them at a better rate.

Still, Moses is, as expected, better overall. But maybe that was because of where Moses grew to be after this point in his career Howard is at. And that has to excite Magic fans and NBA fans alike. If Howard can improve in a few areas, work on some footwork, and keep rebounding at his current pace, he's got a shot at equaling Malone statistically in a few areas. That of course will not make up for the ring, but it might help get him there. One interesting difference, while Howard was a better overall rebounder than Malone was at this point in their careers, Malone was better at offensive rebounding by a considerable margin, 16 percent offensive rebound rate for Malone vs. 12 percent for Howard. Imagine if Howard improved in two key areas, offensive rebounding, where he's already a beast, and free throw percentage? 

Howard would be a tall, athletic freak able to create multiple opportunities for himself and create more points when sent to the line. That might be enough to make up the gap in offensive production, even if he never learns a great set of post moves from Olajuwon, improves his footwork, or gets a killer fadeaway. In short, there are ways Howard can surpass Malone without ever improving his touch.

The future's wide open for Dwight Howard. He's on the cusp. Whether he gets there is up to him. One thing's for sure. If he does, there will be more said about it than there was about Moses, and that's a crime.  

All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
Posted on: August 8, 2011 9:00 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 9:03 pm
 

Yao Ming to enter Naismith Hall of Fame in 2012?

Posted by Ben Golliver

yao-ming-china

When Houston Rockets center Yao Ming announced his retirement from the NBA in July at a ceremony in Beijing, the league's commissioner David Stern promised that the league hadn't seen the last of him. Indeed, it now sounds like we'll be seeing more of Yao on a grand stage even sooner than we might have imagined.

ProBasketballTalk.com reported on Monday that there is a loophole in the Hall of Fame's rules that could see Yao fast-tracked for induction.
According to enshrinement guidelines for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, “A player must be fully retired for five years before being eligible for Enshrinement. He/she may then be considered for Enshrinement in the sixth year of retirement.”

Because the Rockets center appeared in five games this past season, that would have him eligible in 2017.

However, there is no such waiting period when it comes to enshrining a “contributor.” And that could create the need for a Beijing-Springfield non-stop as soon as next summer.
Later Monday, NBA.com reported that representatives from the Chinese Basketball Association and media will likely proceed with nominating Yao under the "contributor" umbrella for possible enshrinement with the Class of 2012.
While there is no such thing as certainty in a balloting so secretive that even the voters are never revealed, let alone the results, Yao as a contributor removes the debate that might have accompanied his nomination as a player after a career decimated by injury. Plus, after announcing his retirement from the Rockets in July, he would not have been eligible for enshrinement until 2017. 

This unique approach would put Yao on the ballot that is submitted in late-2011 and faces two rounds of voting before inductees for the Class of 2012 are announced at the Final Four in New Orleans. The actual enshrinement would be later in the summer, likely August, in Springfield.

Yao has not yet been nominated, but John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Hall, reported he has talked with Chinese basketball officials and media who called to get clarification on the process. They replied, Doleva said, that paperwork would come in time for the 2012 ballot.

When word first broke that Yao was planning to hang it up, the Eye on Basketball staff agreed unanimously that Yao would enter the Hall of Fame for his impact on the globalization of the game even if he wasn't inducted based on the merits of his injury-plagued career. We just had no idea it would happen this quickly.  

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com