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CB4 VS. AMAR’E | SUMMER GADGET SPECIAL | TOP CUSTOM KICKS

july/aug 2009

IN THIS ISSUE

JOE JOHNSON Quiet Storm

Chauncey Billups Rocky Mountain Revival

Lisa Leslie

Can I Get An Encore?

ALSO INSIDE LeBron James Dwight Howard J.R. Smith Devin Harris Andre Iguodala David Robinson Deron Williams Ernie Johnson Sue Bird

Kobe Bryant

Good Fourtune

Kobe and the lakers craft the perfect hollywood ending

$4.99 USA

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In the absence of Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis came into his own this postseason and also showed he can come through in the clutch, if necessary. In Game 4 of Boston’s Eastern Conference Semi matchup with the Magic, Big Baby hit one of the most memorable shots of the playoffs with a buzzer-beating game winning jumper to send the Celtics back home tied 2-2. fernando medina/NBAE/Getty Images

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Only one man was able to stop D-Wade this season: Dick Bavetta (?) We’re pretty sure he couldn’t beat him in a game of one-on-one or a footrace—if Wade’s Fave 5 buddy Charles Barkley could outrun Dickie B, then there’s no way he could keep up with Flash—but the 32-year NBA vet is able to keep Dwyane at bay during a heated moment of the Heat’s first round series with the Hawks. doug benc/Getty Images Sport

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Ron Artest and the Houston Rockets were just too strong for the Portland Trail Blazers in their first round playoff series, ending the team’s streak of six straight postseasons without advancing. ronald martinez/GETTY IMAGES Sport

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We got a glimpse into the future during this year’s playoffs as T-Mobile Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose nearly carried the Chicago Bulls to a first round upset of the 2008 champion Boston Celtics. nathaniel s. butler/NBAE/Getty Images

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Think About It

DO THE RIGHT THING ENOUGH TIMES AND PEOPLE BEGIN TO NOTICE. It’s nice to win awards, especially when they include the most exclusive automobile award in North America. But that’s not why we build cars the way we do. No, awards aren’t the reason we put so much focus on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value, even though these might be the factors that made us the 2009 North American Car of the Year. Instead, we focus on the all important basics simply because it’s the right thing to do. You see, we don’t just want to make your next car a Hyundai, we also want to make your car after that a Hyundai as well. Find out more at HyundaiGenesis.com

The Hyundai Genesis—2009 North American Car of the Year.

Hyundai is a registered trademark of Hyundai Motor America. All rights reserved. ©2009 Hyundai Motor America.

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july/august 2009

the gameplan Features

74 The Gold Standard

With 30 appearances in the Finals, the Lakers have set the bar for success in the NBA. Though a feisty Orlando team came close to putting L.A. on the ropes, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers’ heavyweights were able to withstand their best punch and hoist the championship trophy for a 15th time. We take a look back at the hotly-contested five-game series and the images that people will remember forever when they think back on Kobe’s drive to ring No. 4

56 Joe Cool 74 ronald martinez/getty images sport

The Hawks continue to soar to new heights on the strength of the play of Joe Johnson. After never getting a chance in Boston and leaving Phoenix before he could display his full potential, the unflappable Johnson has become a perennial All-Star while turning Atlanta into something no one thought they could be when he first arrived in ’06: a winner

62 The Alchemist

People have fruitlessly tried for years to turn almost nothing into gold. But Chauncey Billups seemingly accomplished the impossible, as his arrival back in Denver turned a lifeless Nuggets franchise into a contender. Though they fell short of the Finals this season, Denver is in good hands with their hometown hero at the helm

68 One More for the Road 56

62

She has been the face of the WNBA for over a decade, but Lisa Leslie wants to go out with a bang. With a talented cast around her, Leslie is looking to add one more piece of hardware to her already full trophy case. Friends, foes and fans also take a look back at her storied pro career and what No. 9 has meant to the league

53 24 Seconds...

68

53

with Inside the NBA’s Ernie Johnson

Poster

D-Will on the front; D-Rob on the back

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the gameplan

july/august 2009

DEPARTMENTS 16

The Point

19

Jumpball

43

First Five

80

Call Out

Planting the seeds of success in the summer; Celeb Row: Ludacris; FrameXFrame: A look back at LBJ’s Conference Finals game-winner; Brack-It: Best celebrity fan; TXT MSG: Al Horford; Dance Life: Jen from the Knicks City Dancers; Head2Head: Chris Bosh vs. Amar’e Stoudemire; Debutant Baller: Willis Reed, and more

Troy Murphy, J.R. Smith, Will Bynum, Roger Mason, Andrea Bargnani

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34

110

39

88

92

104

37

40

Check It

 pin Moves: Andre Iguodala stays on S the cutting edge of hip-hop; Game Rec Game: Nate gives us his take on UFC 2009 Undisputed and Hawx; The Goods: We review the latest items to keep you nourished and refreshed during the summer; Tech Ed: Go for a ride with Shane Battier as he tests out an electric bike; Gear: The lowdown on the newest joints for your summer runs

108 Sneaker Game

What’s on the League’s feet

110 Stepback

Reminiscing the League’s past

112 Final Exam

Does Brook Lopez make the grade?

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the point Volume 37, No. 5 Out of the 450 or so NBA players this season, there was no one who needed to win the title more than Kobe Bryant. The pressure came from the media,1 the haters, the supporters and even from people who have no vested interest in the game.2 But the greatest pressure came from Kobe himself. Not so he can separate himself from the enormous shadow of Shaq.3 Not so he can win his first-ever Finals MVP. Not so he can surpass Larry and inch up closer to Magic and Mike.4 Not so he can increase his marketing and endorsement potential. Not so he can end the Kobe or LeBron debate.5 Not so he can exact some payback for last year’s Finals disappointment. Not so he can help Phil Jackson win his 10th coaching title. Not so he can help Nike peddle tees with a four-ringed puppet hand. Not so he can give L.A. a championship parade6 it hasn’t seen since 2002. Not so he can get his own float and parade in Disneyland. Not so he can make his rounds on the late-night talk show circuit7 to bask in the post-championship glow. Not so he and his teammates could meet President Obama8 in the White House. Not so his two daughters could finally see Daddy win a title.9 Not so he can make the cover of NBA 2K10. Not so he can win one with Nikes on his feet.10 Not so he can celebrate again with Derek Fisher.11 Not so he can join Tim Duncan, Shaq and Fisher as the only active players with four titles to their name.12 Not so he can win his first chip as #24.13 Not so he can take it easier with his offseason training regimen.14 Not so he can be the most popular NBA player in China.15 Not so his #24 can be the topselling jersey this season. Not so he can warrant a $13,000 life-size bobblehead16 to be made of himself. Not so he can receive the Global Ambassador Award17 from the Asia Society. Not so he can be nominated for a Teen Choice Award.18 The man simply wants to win and more than anyone else in the game right now. Isn’t that reason enough?

BONUS POINTS

Ming Wong #2

Editor-in-Chief Ming Wong #2 Design Director Kengyong Shao #31 Associate Editor Seth Berkman #91 Associate Designer Matt Candela #52 Editor-at-Large Jeramie McPeek #4 Tech Editor Shane Battier #31 Style Editor Zaza Pachulia #27 Literary Editor Adonal Foyle #31 Straight Shooter Channing Frye #7 Videogame Editor Nate Robinson #4 Music Editors Thaddeus Young #21, Carl Landry #14 Movie Editor Danny Granger #33 WNBA Editor Lois Elfman #40 Senior Writer Michael Bradley #53 Contributing Writers Brett Ballantini #97, Rick Barry #24, Jon Cooper #10, Anthony Gilbert #1, Darryl Howerton #21, Eric Justic #3, Trevor Kearney #8, Holly MacKenzie #32, Brett Mauser #25, Melody #34, John Nemo #16, Earl K. Sneed #23 Editorial Interns Michelisa Lanche #17, Dan Israeli #83 Design Intern Ben Egnal #18 Retired Numbers #6, #11, #13, #30, #99 Professional Sports Publications

519 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018 Tel: (212) 697-1460 Fax: (646) 753-9480

Executive VP Operations Jeff Botwinick Executive VP, Business Development Martin Lewis Executive VP, Sales Steve Farkas Executive VP, Sales Mitch Gibbs Executive VP, Team Relations Dave Gerschwer Executive Administrative Director Julie Wong Manager, Marketing Services Aron Sawyer Production Manager Jaime Collins

1. If you recall, we—among plenty others—predicted a chip for the Lakers. 2. My wife, who watches as much basketball as I do any reality show involving challenges for a shot at love—which is to say not much—commented on how Kobe just looks like he wants it more than anyone else. 3. Trust me, I’ve walked behind him, and he casts a large shadow. On a side note, am I the only one who thinks Shaq would’ve never won three of those titles without Kobe? 4. Kobe one-upped Bird and stands within one of Magic and two behind MJ. Russell? Untouchable. 5. I think that argument has been settled—until it starts back in earnest next season. 6. Sorry Clipper fans, you had six seasons to steal the city. 7. Conan O’Brien presented Kobe with a 25-foot golden statue of a pharaoh from the Universal Studios lot while Kobe and a few of his teammates appeared on Jimmy Kimmel. 8. Like us, President Obama predicted a Lakers victory in six games. 9. Kobe’s two daughters, Natalia and Gianna, were born in 2003 and 2005. 10. Kobe had stripes on his feet during L.A.’s threepeat. 11. They were both 1996 draftmates.

13. It’s been three seasons, but I still picture Kobe as #8. 14. He won’t. 15. He already is. 16. Reserve yours now on lakersstore.com. 17. For his philanthropic efforts. 18. For Top Male Athlete. Kobe is up against David Beckham, Roger Federer, Michael Phelps and Tiger Woods.

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Executive Vice President, Global Merchandising Group Sal LaRocca Vice President, Licensing Mary Pat Gillin Coordinator, Licensing Tom Cerabino Manager, Global Media Programs Felecia Groomster Directors & Senior Official NBAE Photographers Andrew D. Bernstein, Nathaniel S. Butler Senior Director, NBA Photos Joe Amati Senior Manager, Photos Imaging David Bonilla Official NBAE Photographer Jesse Garrabrant Photo Editor Brian Choi Photo Coordinator Kevin Wright All NBA photos appearing in this magazine, unless otherwise indicated, are copyright of NBA Entertainment. All WNBA photos appearing in this magazine, unless otherwise indicated, are copyright of WNBA Enterprises. All NBDL photos appearing in this magazine, unless otherwise indicated, are copyright of NBDL Enterprises. HOOP is published monthly, December through June, by PSP. © 2009 Professional Sports Publications. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission of publisher is prohibited. To subscribe to HOOP, call (800) 829-3347. PRINTED IN THE USA

andrew d. bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

12. As it stands, Kobe has the best chance at No. 5.

NBA Publishing/NBA Photos

VP, Entertainment & Player Marketing Charlie Rosenzweig VP, NBAE Communications Mike Bass Senior VP, Multimedia Production Paul Hirschheimer Senior Director, NBAE Assignment Desk Marc Hirschheimer Senior Director, NBAE Production John Hareas

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6/18/09 5:07:38 PM


By holly mackenzie #32

jumpball

Summer Vocation

Illustration: matt candela

The NBA offseason is about growing the parts of your game that need more attention

Every year, only 15 NBA players enter the offseason as champions. But all 400-plus of them spend their summers doing everything they can to get to—or stay at—that level. After a few short weeks off to celebrate—or just get away depending on how their season ended—the next step is to get ready for that next shot—literally. While every player has his own method, the mission is the same: improve his skill set and expand his game. “Strength and conditioning for basketball doesn’t really vary much by position,” says trainer Alan Stein.1 “All players these days need to be flexible, agile, explosive, strong, and in great basketball shape. It is their skill work—ballhandling, shooting spots, moves to the basket, etc.—that needs to be more position specific.” Ben Gordon was one of the players whose offseason regimen paid off tremendously this April. It was the first round of the 2009 playoffs, and the Bulls guard seemingly HOOP

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which he picked up at UConn, for alleviating him of previously bothersome lower-back stiffness. “I definitely noticed elasticity,” he says. “I used to have lower back tightness and stiffness, and I noticed that once I started doing Pilates, that it really strengthened my core and elongated all of the surrounding muscles and everything. Then, those problems went away pretty quickly and it became a non-issue.” Fred Tedeschi, head trainer of the Chicago Bulls, credits Pilates and Gordon’s use of a hyperbaric chamber as two new-age training methods that illustrate the open mind Gordon brings to his workouts. Still, out of all aspects of his game, Gordon is most proud of his shooting and focus during games. “Everyone can shoot the basketball,” Gordon says. “I take pride in taking big shots with the game on the line, knowing my team can rely on me. I attribute that to how I train during the offseason.” Tedeschi says Gordon is always looking for ways to gain an edge on his opponents. He passes up sweets and soda, gave up red meat and pork2 when he was 15 years old and hires a chef through the summer months to ensure he is eating right. “It’s definitely a big difference,” Gordon says of changing his diet. “I recover a lot faster, I’m not as sore as I used to be. Before I used to eat three square meals a day and I thought that was efficient

BONUS POINTS 1. Trainer Alan Stein uses the example of the Portland Trail Blazers to show the importance of training year-round. Each player is required to get in a minimum of 10 lifts per month in-season. For each missed lift, players are fined $5,000. 2. Stein says: “Rest, recovery, consistent workouts, and proper diet are integral to maintaining a high level. The key to being successful is not just working harder, but also working smarter. This is paramount in the offseason.” 3. Mensah-Bonsu says the hardest part of offseason training is consistency because it can be hard to maintain a routine if you are traveling. 4. Each player spoken to, regardless of contract situation or position, mentioned Kobe Bryant as a player they look up to when it comes to training.

Illustration: Matt candela

couldn’t miss. Every shot that didn’t swish was a surprise. A fifth-year pro out of the University of Connecticut, Gordon understands that every shot he hits under the bright lights in front of millions is made possible by the thousands upon thousands he makes in an empty gym every year. “I think everyday things are based around what I do on the court,” Gordon says about his offseason drills. “So every day [I practice] shooting, ballhandling— whatever I’m working on in my game, you know, at that phase or that period of time.” Depending on the player and the trainer he chooses, offseason training will vary. Sometimes a player’s approach to training changes as he comes into the League and learns from other players. Almost always, the training changes as he gets older and realizes the impact that diet and rest can have on his body. Gordon learned those lessons early. Being ahead of the curve isn’t anything new for him. Ever since winning the Sixth Man of the Year award— usually scooped up by veteran players—in his rookie season, he has always been a step in front of his peers. How he attacks postseason training is no different. After Gordon’s morning workout, the 6-3 guard lifts before beginning the part of his regimen that varies day-to-day—speed and agility training. Sometimes it’s conditioning on the track, treadmill or in the pool and Pilates to keep his body loose. Gordon credits Pilates,

or whatever, but when I started eating this way I was eating every 2.5 hours which was way more than I was used to and it helped me a lot I had a lot of energy, never really felt fatigued or anything.” When it comes to rest, Gordon is in bed before 11 p.m. when his season is over. Getting started early, he’s up by 5:30 a.m. and at the gym by 6:00 a.m. for his first workout of the day. Starting early is a common trend across the League. Rashad McCants of the Sacramento Kings and Pops Mensah-Bonsu of the Toronto Raptors also work while the rest of the world is sleeping. McCants starts his day off by running on sand dunes and shooting 2,500 shots. Mensah-Bonsu hits the weights early in the morning, and before the offseason begins, he3 works out his goals. This year gaining strength and a more consistent jumpshot are at the top of his list. The former D-League call up says lifting weights hard and consistently, while ensuring he is nourishing his body with plenty of protein, is the recipe for success. McCants says he is looking to improve every aspect of his game for next season as he enters a critical summer as a free agent. No matter what year of their contract, it is absolutely crucial for a player to continue to train during the course of the regular season. Tim Grover, a personal trainer who has worked with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant,4 explains, “Too many players break down physically throughout the season, especially after the All-Star break because they fail to maintain their training. I think what sets Ben apart from a lot of players is that he maintains his training through the season. “[And Kobe Bryant] is the standard of offseason trained athletes because he sets it. He’s not someone who tells you he does this and that, he just gets it done.” While many players are figuring out what works for them through trial and error, Bryant, Gordon and other top players almost have it down to a science. Imagine if the 400-plus players eliminated this spring before earning a ring showed the same dedication of a champion. The ’09-10 season would be the most competitive the League has had yet.

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brack-it Eight things. One undisputed champ. Best Celebrity Fan

Jack Nicholson (Los Angeles Lakers) vs. Leonardo DiCaprio (Los Angeles Lakers)

It’s undeniable that these two The Departed co-stars both share a love for the Lakers, sitting courtside at almost all the team’s home games. But with season tickets at both the former Great Western Forum and the Staples Center since 1970, Nicholson clearly has tenure for the “Best Celebrity NBA fan” title over the Basketball Diaries star. Now, DiCaprio deserves some props—he’s supported the Purple-and-Gold since the ’90s. But his love for the Lakers, exhibited with an attentive disposition and a few standing ovations, pales in comparison to that of Nicholson, who’s been known to harass the refs on bogus calls and fervently trash talk opposing players. Also, as rumors about the three-time Academy Award winner say that his movie schedule never conflicts with the Lakers schedule as per contractual agreement and that he banned Celtics merch from the Boston set of The Departed, Nicholson pretty much takes the cake in this face-off.

Will Ferrell (Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks) vs. Kid Rock (Detroit Pistons)

If there’s one thing we learned from the 2004 U.S. presidential election, no one likes a flip-flopper. That being said, singer-songwriter Robert Ritchie, more commonly known as Kid Rock, kicks Frat Pack member Will Ferrell out of the running for Best Celebrity NBA fan. While the latter’s cheers extend to both the L.A. Lakers and the New York Knicks, native Michiganian Kid Rock is a devout Pistons groupie. His commitment to the Pistons is seen not only in the Palace of Auburn Hills but in his charitable collaborations with the team as well. (This past March, Kid Rock performed at the 2009 Pistons Care Telethon, which garnered more than $450,000 for Michigan families in need.) Clearly, the king of the Palace is a better celebrity NBA fan than the Semi-Pro star and his shake-and-bake antics with Knicks guard Nate Robinson and quirky “GO LAKERS” shirts.

Jack Nicholson vs. Kid Rock

Both of these guys are known to be on the scene, but we know they don’t go to games just to be recognized—heck, Kid Rock is so adored by the Pistons that he partied with them after winning the 2004 Finals. Their fandom runs true and that’s rare when it comes to A-listers sitting in the front row. Kid Rock has steadily built up his claim as the top celebrity fan for one of the League’s most historic franchises, and even though the Pistons have recently gotten the best of L.A. in their past few Finals matchups, we can’t give the youngster the title over the originator. Cameras focus solely on Jack whenever he’s in the building, often snapping more photos of the man than Lamar Odom during a game. While we don’t deny either one’s love for hoops, seniority is the key factor in having Nicholson advance to the finals.

Jack Nicholson vs. Spike Lee

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All Photos/nbae/getty images

It’s funny how the final match ended up being between two men representing teams from opposing coasts. We love how Jack often gets in the ears of opposing coaches and players (remember when he heckled Chris “Birdman” Andersen at NBA All-Star 2004 during the Sprite Slam Dunk because of his eccentric hair?), but Spike is the originator of celeb fan hecklers. His verbal wars with a certain Pacer were so well chronicled that they were even made a plot in a Seinfeld episode. But once the players get past the verbal fisticuffs, they recognize respect and a knowledge of the game, as Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller are a few of the opponents who have often given respect to Lee’s fandom. Spike wins because not only does he attend every game, but his career revolves around basketball—from the Nike commercials, to the several movies he’s produced and directed pertaining to basketball. Further, as the Knicks have been in a losing rut for a while, Lee hasn’t lost faith in the team, as he continues to attend every single game. Now that’s what we call diehard.

HOOP

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By Michelisa Lanche #17

Spike Lee (New York Knicks) vs. Denzel Washington (Los Angeles Lakers)

Spike and Denzel have worked on several flicks together, including the basketball-centric He Got Game. However, in this dynamic duo, one outshines the other as the ultimate fan, even though the team he roots for normally doesn’t perform as well as the other. When you think of the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, there is one man everyone looks for courtside when the Knickerbockers take the floor. Sometimes he’ll be casually dressed, but normally he’ll have on a John Starks throwback or some other Blue and Orange paraphernalia, getting up out of his seat to oppose whomever the visiting team is that night. Denzel definitely makes it out to more Lakers games than other “supposed” Purple and Gold fans, but he is just another fish in the pond when it comes to celebs in the crowd, while Spike is clearly the ruler of the Garden.

Eva Longoria (San Antonio Spurs) vs. Jay-Z and Beyoncé (New Jersey Nets)

A game of two-on-one usually favors the pair for the win, but San Antonio Spurs aficionada Eva Longoria beats the odds against New Jersey Nets fans Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Married to San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, Eva has been supporting her leading man at Spurs games for years. Sometimes, she even drops the fashionista façade and rocks his #9 jersey. It’s tailored to her petite frame, of course—can’t sacrifice all style points! Beyoncé, as per most game day photographs, tends to pay more attention to Jay than the floor, and Jay only stops by the IZOD Center once in a while, his meager attendance likely indicating that he’s making sure his investment is worthwhile (FYI: he’s co-owner of the Nets). Harsh implications aside (they’re all in good fun, Jay, we swear!), clearly the winner of this match is Eva Longoria.

Spike Lee vs. Eva Longoria

Eva has made a name for herself in NBA arenas ever since falling for the French T-Pain (Tony Parker that is), but her short résumé is no match for that of Mr. Lee. We hardly recall her coming to games prior to wedding the three-time All-Star, and while we do appreciate her love for the game once becoming introduced to the sport, we cannot overlook Spike’s contributions. The man is so recognized in NBA circles that he often appears at League-sponsored events and is the go-to guy to talk to in the city and around the country when it comes to the Knicks. You can also often see him sitting with the crowd at the NBA Draft, showing that his devotion to this squad has been something lifelong and runs 24-7. We do the right thing and add Spike in the finals.

Best Celebrity Fan winner: Spike Lee

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straight shooter Portland’s

Channing shows some love for the

Channing Frye

dreadlock look, but none for spiders or freeloading friends.

Aims for Honest Answers to your NBA Questions

What do you do with shoes after you’re done with them or after the season?

Well, what I do with my shoes after the season is done is I try and keep at least two or three of my favorites for my summer workouts. Other than that, I try to sign my shoes and give them to charities or to kids who really want them. My shoes are huge, though. It’s hard to find people to give my shoes to because I wear a size 18, so for everyone who gets one they turn into huge dust collectors.

What do you do with team apparel from past teams you’ve played for?

My old team stuff are definitely hot items for my friends. As bad as this sounds, they love when I get traded because then they get free reign to grab whatever they want. But regardless, trades or not, the hottest item by far that I get asked for is the NBA socks.

What is one hairstyle you’ve always wanted to change to?

One hairstyle I’d love to have would be dreadlocks. I don’t get them because I don’t have the patience to grow my hair out that long and it’s just too much for me to take care of, but if magically I could get dreads for a day, I would.

First summer romance?

Any Phobias?

My first summer romance, go figure, is my fiancée. I met her the first day I moved to Portland and I’ve been with her ever since. Pretty good summer romance, huh? I have one phobia and that’s spiders. Spiders are the worst. They are disgusting demons and I’ve had that phobia since I was a kid. from top: sam forencich (2); victor baldizon; ned dishman; fernando medina/NBAE/Getty Images

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Got a question for Channing? Email it to hoop@pspsports.com

6/29/09 1:03:47 PM


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JUMPBALL

The Fab Five A longtime pop culture aficionado, Jalen Rose pits his personal tastes against some notable personalities. Up this month: sue bird.

Jalen Rose

Biggest Fashion Regret

At my NBA post-draft party in Detroit (July ’94), I wore a lime-green suit with matching gators.

Sue Bird

The shoes I wore to the ESPYs in 2002 (they were picked by a stylist). They were very difficult to walk in. It wasn’t the “spikiness.” They were so unstable because they were very “strappy.”

Worst Punishment *

In middle school, my mother took me off the basketball team for the school year after she had to come to the school for a parent-teacher conference because my behavior and citizenship were terrible.

I really didn’t get punished that often. Probably any time my TV and phone rights were taken away from me. That was probably my worst punishment. My parents were pretty cool.

Not having good health because it is probably the most important ingredient to life.

I’m kind of scared of sharks. I’ve watched enough of them on TV, and I saw Jaws as a little kid and ever since I’ve been scared of sharks. I’m a big fan of the ocean and the beach, but I when I go in, if I can’t touch the floor I don’t go any further.

Biggest Fear

Favorite Amusement Park Ride Anything at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. It’s the best amusement park anywhere, hands down!

Probably the Pirate Ship back in the day. I haven’t been in a long time, but I remember when I was in high school and even younger than that, all my friends, whenever we’d go, we would go on the Pirate Ship and one side would yell, “Tastes great,” and the other side would yell, “Less filling,” when we were at the top—after that beer commercial from a long time ago.

Favorite Vacation Spot I’ve been working too hard over the years to really vacation… stay tuned!

Last couple of years I went to the Bahamas, and that was a lot of fun. Also Maui. If you’re on the east coast, I say go to the Bahamas. If you’re on the west coast, I say go to Maui.

* Jalen was completely cool with the Photoshopped image of what would happen if his biggest fear came true

From the Archives

Photo Buckets Elliot Miller and Shaquille O’Neal Phoenix

Send us your best fan photo with an NBA player for a chance to win a HOOP T-shirt. Each issue the winning entry* will also be published in an upcoming issue of HOOP. Send all entries to hoop@pspsports. com or by mail to: HOOP Magazine 519 8th Avenue 25th Floor New York, NY 10018

HOOP Mitch Richmond, November 1989

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* - All submitted entries become property of HOOP

jalen: barry gossage; bird: terrence vaccaro/nbae/getty images

Congratulations to two-year-old Elliot Miller, winner of this issue’s Photo Buckets contest. Each issue we ask readers to submit their best off-court photo with an NBA player past or present and we chose Elliot’s entry (submitted by his father, Josh), taken during the Phoenix Suns Twitter event at the US Airways Center.

HOOP

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6/30/09 10:42:46 AM


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JUMPBALL

Catching Up With...

By Seth Berkman #91

upset me leaving Orlando because I love Steve and [Kelvin] Cato and Grant Hill’s a really close friend of mine, and Dwight Howard, being able to see him grow would have been great…but it just didn’t work out for me there because it was my contract year and there was a little miscommunication between myself and the coach at the time. I’ve always been captain of our teams and I’ve always been the coach’s guy, so that was a little strange for me at that point in time, especially when it’s negotiation time you really don’t want to mess with your future. But Steve, he just has to get back to his old self. It’s hard when you’ve been out of the League for so long and you let so many other things contaminate you outside of basketball, let alone the things you do in basketball, because basketball is 90 percent confidence and 10 percent physical after a certain amount of time. After a few years or two, you can’t jump like you used to so you have to figure something else out and it’s definitely a mental thing.

Cuttino Mobley HOOP: What did you think of this year’s playoffs? Mobley: I loved it. J.R. Smith, I knew he was going to come into his own. The more freedom they give him, the smarter he’ll get, especially when you have that much talent. I knew J.R. since he first came in the League. People don’t understand, when you’re young, you have to learn. He has George Karl, he has Chauncey— who’s one of the best leaders of all-time, I think—and the rest of the guys. It’s beautiful for him. You see Chris “Birdman” Andersen, he’s resurrected. I love that kid. He has a big heart and he wants to play hard. I loved the way Denver played the Hornets. We had exciting games. There weren’t many blowouts. It’s not only good for players to watch, but also the fans.

HOOP: Talk a bit about your relationship with Steve Francis. Mobley: I was just with him in Houston, trying to get his head right, get him back to where he’s supposed to be at. Seeing as we played so well together, it kind of 030

HOOP: Can you talk a bit more about Innovida? Mobley: You gotta think about how the world is going as far as the environment. We want to save not only energy, but also trees and you think about housing and there were recently houses lost in Santa Barbara because of the forest fires. But these Innovida homes are [flame retardant], they’re waterproof. It’s amazing, 75 percent of your electricity [use] is cut every single month because of how it’s built. It’s the new thing, it’s what Obama’s talking about. Nothing’s guaranteed in life. It wasn’t guaranteed I was going to play 15 years, it wasn’t guaranteed I was going to play the 10 that I played. Just be ready for it. So I’m ready for it when it comes and this is what I believe in. We’ll see what goes on and the progression of it not only in California, but around the states and the rest of the world, to see what we can do for everybody. HOOP: You mentioned working on a cartoon; were you always into drawing? Mobley: I’ve drawn my whole life. This is something that just popped up and it escalated into something bigger than I originally thought it was. When you start with something small you have a lot of different ideas and things start to branch out and it becomes something enormous. We’re crossing our fingers and praying every day and we’ll see what happens. I’m 33, so The Smurfs, Thundercats, HeMan and the Masters of the Universe, Scooby-Doo, all that kind of stuff was going on and a lot of those shows kind of gave me ideas of what you want to teach kids in certain ways. For more questions with CUTTINO, visit hoopmag.com

andrew d. bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

HOOP: Can you explain your mission with talking about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy? Mobley: What I’m doing is trying to bring awareness to everybody, knowing that you could be a regular person and have this type of heart disease. I’m up and running, I’m exercising every day, I take my aspirin just in case. I never had a symptom, so I’m not a full blown patient. A lot of people have defibrillators stored inside their body, they have to watch what they eat—I always watch what I eat, being an athlete and wanting to keep your body in great shape—but I’ve never had a symptom, knock on wood. The more I educate myself, the more I can help other people and figure ways out. It’s definitely an incurable disease, more so like Michael J. Fox [Parkinson’s], but you gotta be an optimist about it. You gotta go on with life, understand it is what it is, these are the cards you were dealt and sooner or later the more of us that come out that people look up to, the better it will be as far as finding ways to prolong a sicker patient’s life.

HOOP: What does Cuttino Mobley have planned for the future? Mobley: Right now I’m working on this cartoon, I can’t really talk too much about it, but it’s a cartoon bringing in NBA players and we’ll see what we can do with that. It’s called Cool Cats and we’ll see what we do with it. Not only that, but a lot of guys and myself are involved with Innovida. It’s building houses at low-cost and saving the environment in different ways. There’s a lot of different things I’m working on right now. At a young age it’s going to be fun and it’s going to be rocky, but if I prepare myself it will be joyful just like basketball was for me.

HOOP

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the rain transforms streets into slippery slopes, which begs the question: did you choose the right tire to protect your precious cargo?

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5/13/09 2:02:09 PM


JUMPBALL

Old School’n

Know Your Newb

backdraft

Darrell Arthur Memphis Grizzlies HOOP: Did he give you any advice on how to handle the NBA lifestyle? Darrell: Yeah, he just talked to me about my money, mostly. He told me to keep my money invested in something good so that I can have something when my run in the League is over. The average time in the League is about four years, so just save as much money as I possibly can. I haven’t talked to him all that much about life off the court. HOOP: Do you do fantasy basketball at all? Darrell: I don’t. HOOP: Would you draft yourself or tell your friends to draft you? Darrell: Absolutely.

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HOOP: [Former Kansas teammate] Mario Chalmers mentioned that you were the inspiration behind his obsession with Stacy Adams crocodiles. Can you tell us a little more about your wardrobe? Darrell: [laughs] Actually, I probably rock some Prada shoes with some jeans, a collared shirt or a V-neck type of shirt, just something casual, comfortable. HOOP: You have a go-to color for the top? Darrell: I like black, so I’ll probably have on a black shirt, something like that. HOOP: I read that your nickname has evolved from “Slim Shady” to the shortened “Shady.” Where did that come from? Darrell: Everybody was calling me “Slim” when I was younger. I was real skinny. I just kind of got stuck with the “Slim Shady” thing; somebody called me that one day and everybody stuck with it. It’s something that’s been with me for a long time. HOOP: Not an Eminem fan, are you?

Darrell: Nah, no way. HOOP: Fair enough. Quinton Ross is your cousin, correct? Darrell: Correct.

HOOP: Do you think you’re a reliable fantasy option? Darrell: No, but I would just want to draft myself anyway! [laughs] HOOP: What do you watch on TV? Do you get to watch a lot? Darrell: I don’t get to watch a lot. When I go home I’ll just throw on some videogames, usually. I play FIFA a lot. HOOP: You a big soccer fan? Darrell: I’m trying to be. HOOP: Nice. So do you follow any clubs or countries? Darrell: Yeah...I normally go for Italy, Portugal and Spain. HOOP: What about your own country? No love? Darrell: The U.S.? I mean, foreign guys got the soccer thing sewn up, so you really can’t go against them. The U.S. is pretty good, but those are my three teams. HOOP: Getting bounced around to three different teams on draft night is pretty unique. Did you get to keep all three draft caps? Darrell: [laughs] I think my mom’s got them at the house. Yeah, but we’re probably going to ship the Portland hat to LaMarcus [Aldridge]. —Tom Gottlieb #0

arthur: joe murphy; barry: nba photo library/NBAE/Getty Images

In 1965, as a senior at the University of Miami, I averaged over 30 points per game. I vaguely remember a few professional scouts coming to watch me play, but I never talked to any of them. I heard rumors and read newspaper and magazine articles about where I might be drafted, but I was never contacted by any team. I didn’t have an agent, nor did I really think I needed one. On draft day, I received a phone call from Bob Ferrick, the general manager of the then San Francisco Warriors, informing me that they had selected me. My college coach, Bruce Hale, helped me negotiate my contract of $15,000, up from the original offer of $12,500. The contract wasn’t guaranteed, but I received a $3,000 signing bonus. I also helped sell season tickets to make extra income. Today, after being scouted during the season numerous times, prospective players are flown to various NBA cities to visit with interested teams. The players are put through rigorous drills and testing, both physical and psychological. The teams measure height, reach, wingspan, vertical jump, reaction times, quickness, speed, strength, endurance and mental toughness. Players are given tests to determine their mental capabilities in various areas, along with tests devised to discover their true character. After this intense evaluation, the top players are invited by the NBA to attend the nationally televised draft. The attendees are besieged by photographers, print and TV journalists, as well as fans. For the players, draft night serves as a veritable fashion competition, as many dollars are spent on custom-made clothes, all in an effort to look good on stage. Next, the players’ agents negotiate their multimillion dollar contracts and endorsement deals. Then it’s off to summer league, training camp and, finally, the long-awaited season. Times have certainly changed since I was drafted, but the bottom line is that some teams make good choices, and some teams make bad choices. Some players live up to the expectations and some don’t. And unfortunately, there is still no objective test that can accurately predict a player’s heart. —Rick Barry #24 HOOP

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JUMPBALL

head 2 head chris bosh vs. amar’e stoudemire “No doubt about it, I’m better than Chris Bosh.”— Amar’e Stoudemire With those nine words, Stoudemire created quite the stir in the hoops blogosphere, as fans, critics and writers began to debate on who’s the better big man. We look to settle the score once and for all in this heavyweight battle of All-Stars.

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Round

Scoring: CB4 has only played five more games than STAT throughout their careers, so one doesn’t have a decided advantage in terms of experience in the League. That being said, Amar’e has averaged more points during his career (21.1 ppg to 19.6 ppg), and minus his rookie and ’05-06 seasons—the latter where he played only three games due to injury—he has averaged over 20 ppg. When healthy, Stoudemire can actually be counted on for close to 25 a night (with a decent jumper out to 18 feet), while Bosh has been pretty steady at around 22 ppg the past four seasons. Though he has better range from outside, given his size and place on the team’s hierarchy, we’d like to see more aggressiveness on O from Bosh, and that is one area where Stoudemire definitely doesn’t fall short.

Winner: Stoudemire

chris bosh foward 6-10, 230, toronto raptors

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Round

Floor Game: While Amar’e is not terrible at handling the ball, you won’t ever confuse him with Chris Paul (or Lamar Odom, for that matter). And while Bosh will never be called upon to play point-forward, he is much better at creating his own shot, passing the ball, and committing less turnovers. Bosh is also more dependable beating his defender off the dribble and playing more like a European big man, as opposed to Stoudemire’s more brutish, traditional post game.

Winner: bosh

Bosh

Stoudemire

PPG

22.7

21.4

APG

2.5

2.0

RPG

10.0

8.1

SPG

0.9

0.9

AST:TO

1.09:1

0.71:1

FG%

.487

.539

3PT%

.245

.429

FT%

.817

.835

’08-09 stats

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4

Round

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Defense: This was the category that brought up the most debate, even though neither player is recognized as a star defender. Stoudemire averages just less than one steal and swats about one and a half shots per game. Bosh is in the same realm, although slightly less proficient in both categories over his career (Stoudemire 0.9 spg, 1.5 bpg; Bosh 0.8 spg, 1.2 bpg). In the end, we looked at individual performances against some of the best forwards in the League, and Bosh came out on top. Tim Duncan has routinely terrorized STAT, while Bosh has done a slightly better job faring against his fellow All-Star counterparts. Perhaps we’d think differently if they switched conferences, but we give the smoother style of CB4 the nod.

Clutch: Neither of these guys will ever be called upon to hit a big trey, but whereas Stoudemire has a two-time MVP on his side in crunch time, Bosh is Toronto’s top scoring option and often a play will be drawn up specifically for him in the fourth quarter. Though the Raps didn’t win as many games as expected, Bosh always brought it in the fourth quarter, including a memorable game-winner over the Wizards last April. Despite his improving J, the only time we can see STAT taking a game-winning shot is off an alley-oop or on a putback. And while Andrea Bargnani is emerging as a clutch shooter in his own right, as long as Bosh is in Toronto, the ball will be sure to touch his hands with the game on the line.

Winner: bosh

Winner: bosh

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Round

amar’e stoudemire forward/center 6-10, 249, phoenix suns

Leadership: It’s hard for Stoudemire to take on a definitive leadership role with erstwhile All-Stars Steve Nash and Grant Hill on the team, but we do give him props for not being afraid to speak his mind. Though he may not always be as vocal in the media, Bosh is quite the loquacious one on the court as his numerous screams depict. Even though last season was a disappointment, there was no question as to who led Toronto to the playoffs in ’06-07 and ’07-08. He brings the kind of passion similar to his Atlantic Division cohort at the four spot, Kevin Garnett, and is unquestionably the face of the franchise. Perhaps if Amar’e moves on to another team in the next few years he can firmly entrench himself in a leadership role.

bosh: ron turenne; stoudemire: noah graham/NBAE/Getty Images

Winner: bosh

The Verdict

Though Bosh wins the categories 4-1, this matchup is not that far apart. When the Suns were running and gunning a few years ago, Stoudemire played perfectly in the system and was among the best power forwards around. He has shown dominance at times and is one of the more intimidating forces in the League. Still, Bosh has a better all-around game, and while some may say he gets more recognition since he has always been the centerpiece of a team’s future—where Amar’e has always been one of many pieces—he has definitely been the more consistent of the two players. Amar’e may even have more upside, but as of right now, we have to disagree with his claim and put Bosh as the better of these talented, All-Star forwards. HOOP

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6/29/09 1:09:28 PM


JUMPBALL

Dance Life

al horford

Jen knicks city dancers

HOOP: Hey, al! This is michelisa from HOOP. Al: Hey what’s good HOOP: Not much - just chillin. What you up to? Anything exciting this summer? Al: Chillin right now. I’m gonna be working out for most of the summer here in atlanta. I’m also going to go to mexico city for nba basketball without borders, so I’m excited to go spend time there HOOP: Oh cool! That’s the summer camp for kids right? What are you going to be doing for it? Al: Yeah it is. We have a lot of things going on like teaching kids about the game and teaching fundamentals of basketball. I’m sure we have other activities going on HOOP: Ah i see i see. How long are you gonna be there for? Gonna stop by DR on the way back? Al: Ill be there for a week. Also I’m going down to dominican after that and plan to have a camp for kids over there as well HOOP: Oh dang. That’s awesome! So okay. New topic: Root for anyone in particular in the Finals? Al: Not really if anything id support magic because they are in the eastern conference HOOP: Werd. Everyone was hyping up the lakers and cavs playing. How’d you feel when the cavs lost? Al: I was surprised but you have to give the magic credit they have been playing very well and shooting lights out HOOP: Oh yeah, def. So okay new topic again lol: saw you in the never ever video with ciara! Are you guys good friends? Al: not really. She just asked if I wanted to be in her video and I was like yessssss, I always wanted to do a music video, so I was excited about it HOOP: Oh! You can dance right? Like merengue? Al: I can dance a little bit. I do merengue and bachata. HOOP: Werd? Shoulda danced in those styles with ciara – woulda been random in the vid but whatev lol. Al: I know I got some moves of my own. But ciara is on another level with her dancing HOOP: Lol yeah, true story. Okay one more question: if you could only take 2 things with you to an island what would you bring and why? Al: I would bring some goggles so I can go snorkeling in the ocean and I would bring a book because I would have a lot of free time and u can only do so much in a island HOOP: Dang. I woulda cheated and said a cell with the best reception ever or something lol but good job. Okay well thanks for taking the time out to do this, man! :) Al: Lol no problem. Be easy HOOP: Have fun with everything you got going on this summer. Peace! — Michelisa Lanche #17

The bright lights of MSG, not to mention the celebs in the crowd, can be intimidating for any performer, but firstyear dancer Jen relished the role of pumping up the fans in the World’s Most Famous Arena. HOOP: What was the audition process to make the team? Jen: They had an open call audition at the Garden, and I think 500 girls showed up, and there were a couple of cuts, and once you made it to the finals you competed against the returning members of the team. HOOP: How intimidating was that to be up against not only all the other girls, but the current members of the team, as well? Jen: I was so nervous. It was actually my first dance audition I’d ever gone on. I danced in college...last year I went to the University of Pittsburgh [Ed note: Jen currently attends Pace University in Manhattan], but I didn’t really have to audition there, it was actually just a one-on-one audition because I had missed the tryouts. HOOP: When did you begin dancing? Jen: I started dancing when I was two. I feel like every mom puts their daughter in dancing school at two, but I just loved it. When I was younger I started in ballet, tap, jazz and acro, and as I got older I added hip-hop and modern. But jazz, hip-hop and acro were always my favorite and that’s mostly what we do with the Knicks City Dancers. HOOP: Were there any particular moments that stood out from the season? Jen: Probably when we played the Lakers and Kobe scored 61 points. That was a big game. HOOP: Could you feel a different kind of energy in the arena that night? Jen: Yeah, the crowd was crazy. They went wild, but not for us, for Kobe. [laughs] HOOP: The Knicks, along with the Lakers, probably have the most celebrities sitting courtside. Have you ever been star struck? Jen: We actually got to meet Will Ferrell and that was the coolest thing because who doesn’t love Will Ferrell? That was a lot of fun. HOOP: On an average game night, how many performances do you do? Jen: We usually perform three different dance routines, but we’ll actually go onto the court about seven times. We go out for pregame—a lot of times we did this light-suit show that was really cool, the crowd really liked that—and we go out for T-shirt tosses during timeouts and then we do our performances throughout too. HOOP: Do you think Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced, more offensiveorientated system suits the team better? Jen: I definitely think that his high-paced offense has worked out well. I still think that the team is adjusting to it, but Chris Duhon and Nate Robinson, they’re really great at running the ball down the court, and the crowd gets really into it. The game’s so much more fast-paced and exciting, so it’s a lot of fun for all of us to watch. —Seth Berkman #91

jen: courtesy of knicks city dancers; TXT MSG: clockwise from top right: scott cunningham (2); Catherine Steenkeste/nbae/getty images

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Txt Msgs

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6/29/09 1:11:27 PM


Debutant Baller

Good Looks

Where NBA players remember their first game

checking the league’s fashion game

Willis Reed

debut: nba photo library/nbae/getty images; good looks: from left: andrew d. bernstein; noah graham (2); layne murdoch; melissa majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

Date: 10/17/64, New York Knicks vs. Los Angeles Lakers — 12 points.

My first game, I think we played the Lakers and I had 12 points. [Ed note: New York lost 113-109.] I also remember one of my first times playing against Wilt Chamberlain and I had 32 points—we lost by two—and I held him to 56 and I tell people if he made all his free throws he would have scored 70. The League was very small back then, there were only nine teams, so you played against a lot of the same teams often and you got a chance to know everybody. My thing was I always tried to learn from the players I played against. I used to tell everyone that Bill Russell was my idol, and he was. He was a Louisiana boy until he was 12 years old and moved to California. He came into the NBA in 1956, my first year in high school, so I always tried to do things like Bill Russell. I got a chance to play against him and he was very much an inspiration. When I first got here there was a kid on the team that was one of my good friends, and still is, Johnny Green. The Knicks used to start Emmette Bryant and Howie Komives in the backcourt, Jim “Bad News” Barnes at power forward, me at center—four rookies—and Johnny Green at forward. He was a very important person. He was very settled in the League and a very mature guy, and we used to laugh about it when our playing days were over that he should have gotten twice as much money playing on the floor with four rookies. Another guy who was with the team only for one year and was very helpful was Bob Boozer. He took us around and showed us places to eat and things like that. I’m still pretty much in contact with a lot of guys. Clyde [Frazier] still works for the Knicks and Bill [Bradley] is still in the city, but you grow further and further away…one of my good friends was [Dave] DeBusschere—we used to hunt a lot—and I miss him. When I’m hunting in the woods now, I wear a Dave DeBusschere #22 orange cap all the time. He liked to hunt so I always take him hunting with me. — Willis Reed as told to Seth Berkman #91

A fresh face on the style scene, HOOP’s Style Ed Zaza “ZQ” Pachulia of the Atlanta Hawks brings a bit of European perspective to the League’s fashion sense By Zaza Pachulia #27

Derek Fisher

Kobe Bryant

Chris Andersen

We’ve featured Derek Fisher a couple times since I’ve been writing this column, and he usually gets high marks. But I don’t think I can praise his fashion sense for this outfit. Two things that come to mind here—he has a black bag, which doesn’t match his outfit, and if this is a suit, where is the jacket? He should have a jacket or something on top, that’s just my opinion. Go back to what works, I say.

Some company needs to start putting Kobe in commercials for those headphones. He is always wearing them before the games, in the press conferences, everywhere. I am surprised he doesn’t wear them during the games at this point. This outfit has a ton of colors in it. I’m not a big fan—there is too much going on here. I don’t like this outfit at all.

Is he wearing Shaq’s shirt? This is too wide and too big for him—how is that even possible when you are as tall as he? The color combo here is fine, and the jeans go well. But the shirt is just too big to focus on anything else. He could probably make two shirts out of this one and still be OK. He doesn’t need his shirts to be skin tight, but they definitely should fit better than this. If he’s just going out for lunch or something I guess this is OK, but if this is for going to a game, he should look more professional.

Deron Williams Both Utah players this month are dressed well. This outfit is similar to Derek Fisher’s, but Deron has a top to go with his and that’s why it looks better. Perfect color combination. Even though the Louis Vuitton bag he has is brown, it still matches the blues in his outfit. A black bag would look good here as well; maybe he and Derek could swap theirs, so each would look better.

ZQs’s Nattiest: Mehmet Okur This is the best outfit of the month. I really like his jacket—it’s elegant but still looks good with jeans. The colors match very well. The white shoes with the gray jacket, and the tie goes well with the outfit. My only recommendation would be to go with a one- or two-button jacket instead of the three he has here. But overall, he has a very good ensemble. One- and two-button suits are becoming more popular; they are definitely more in style right now.

HOOP

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6/29/09 1:13:21 PM


JUMPBALL

Numerology

7 12 4-11 58 8

Chauncey Billups played in the Conference Finals for the seventh consecutive year. Since 1970, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper and Magic Johnson had longer streaks, each at eight years (1982-1989)

0

The Hawks and Heat played the first seven-game playoff series in NBA history in which there were no lead changes after the end of the first quarter of any game

Twelve players competing in the 2009 Playoffs appear on the NBA’s Most Popular Jersey List. Nate Robinson (8th), Steve Nash (13th) and Shaq (14th) were the only non-playoff players in the top 15

James Jones converted two 4-point plays in 11 seconds during Game 4 of the Miami Heat’s first round series against the Atlanta Hawks

The Nuggets beat the Hornets, 121-63, in Game 4 of their Western Conference first round series, setting an NBA record. Never before had a team won a game on the road by that wide a margin

After losing 119-92 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, the Denver Nuggets dropped their eighth consecutive playoff game in which they faced elimination, the longest such streak in NBA history

Playlist

wilson chandler New York knicks What artist are you listening to the most lately? 50 Cent. Basically all of his stuff, just today I was listening to 50 Cent is the Future, one of his old mixtapes. You like the song with Eminem, “Crack A Bottle”? Definitely, it’s the one with Dr Dre, too…that’s a good one.

Wilson’s favorite tracks:

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Gotta Make it to Heaven Juicy Lose Yourself Can I Live Nas is Like

ray amati/nbae/getty images

50 Cent Notorious BIG Eminem Jay-Z Nas HOOP

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7/1/09 12:42:01 PM


JUMPBALL

frame

frame

By Seth berkman #91

LeBRON JAMES May 22, 2009_Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland

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gregory shamus/Getty Images sport

One second. In that span of time, the average heart beats 1-2 times and Usain Bolt can run about 10 meters. It is also the amount of time where a season can be saved. For 47:59 of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Orlando Magic had done well with the witness protection program, preventing any game-breaking plays from LeBron James. Just one second away from an improbable 2-0 lead on the 66-win Cavaliers, Orlando looked to be sitting pretty. Moments earlier, Hedo Turkoglu nailed a go-ahead jumper to give Orlando a 95-94 lead. But there was still one second left on the clock, apparently enough time for a king to make a miracle. Some may call it luck and some say he pushed off on Turkoglu, but once LBJ released the inbounds pass and heaved the Spalding leather sphere towards the basket, the shot was a thing of beauty. Hanging in the air seemingly frozen in time, it came down and landed in nothing but net, sending the Q into a frenzy and Stan Van Gundy able to do nothing but sigh. One second: The amount of time it takes to make a legend. HOOP

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6/26/09 3:48:34 PM


JUMPBALL

Celeb Row

Faces What do you enjoy about acting that is separate and apart from your career as a musician? It’s therapeutic to act because you get permission to do a lot of things that maybe you shouldn’t do every day. For instance, if you get to curse somebody out or get to do an acting scene where you’re whooping somebody’s [butt], it’s just as therapeutic to do that as if you were doing it for real. You have an excuse and you actually get paid to do it! What more could you want out of life?

The Many Faces of... Jason Terry

What do you find special about the vibe of being on the court and playing pick up with your friends or even with guys you don’t know except for basketball? It’s all about the competitive nature of the sport because life is competitive. It’s all about who wants it the most. How much you’re going to practice in order to get better. Teamwork. There are so many different values that you can learn from basketball.

’Cris Crossover Whether he’s rapping, producing music, acting or overseeing his foundation, Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges does everything with passion. He appears in the recently released basketball film Ball Don’t Lie, where he got a chance to show off his wellhoned acting skills. Next up, the movie Game with Gerard Butler and Kyra Sedgwick, due for release in September. Although he’s busy working on his next CD, he says he is available on a moment’s notice if President Barack Obama needs a guard for a pick-up game at the White House.

Your character is the one who first gets the lead character, Sticky, to play. What do you think he hoped Sticky would find in the game? He’s going through so much emotionally, I just want him to find love. If basketball is the first time he finds love, at least he’ll know what to connect certain emotions to when he needs to love something else. 040

Courtside or box? I like courtside seats, so you can see all the action right in front of you. And you can hear all the players talk trash to each other. Do you ever hear your music played at games? All the time. I’m very blessed and very happy to hear some of my music playing at such a competitive sport because music is just as competitive as basketball. Within music, you’ve sort of created your own team. Do team dynamics you’ve learned from basketball pervade how you run your music label, Disturbing the Peace (an imprint of Def Jam Recordings)? Basketball teaches you values and teamwork is one of the most important ones. If you notice, whenever two teams compete against one another, at the end, all the players usually slap five and make sure they show each other love. That’s a good thing for the kids to see. Once the game begins, everybody has got their game face on and they’re playing to win. It’s important you understand teamwork is extremely important. Getting a triple-double is more important than scoring 50 and 60 points. It’s about passing the ball. It’s about assists. It’s about all these different things people should do in real life. —Lois Elfman #40

Ludacris: Garrett ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images; all photos/nbae/getty images

What intrigued you about Ball Don’t Lie? I’m always looking for roles different than what I did before because I hate to be typecast. I’m choosing roles that are going to help me out with the craft of acting before I take on a lead role. The storyline intrigued me; with the foster care kid and me playing someone who worked inside a foster care facility. Of course, [also] the whole basketball subject matter.

Are the Atlanta Hawks your team? Of course, I’m not a fair weather fan. I’m going to ride with them to the death. It might take a couple of years to try to make sure we regroup.

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3 pts

TOPIC:

What’s the craziest tactic you’ve ever seen or used to get a team motivated? I’ll have to go back to my Dallas days—I

New Jersey Nets guard Devin Harris says:

Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski says: Nothing with [Team USA]. In college you do a bunch

He broke it down. That was during the Finals in my second year. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. We ended up killing them in that game.

something, blowing a whistle—I wish I had more gymnastic ability, I’d probably stand on my head. The main thing that a team

saw a coach dropkick a dry erase board.

of different things, whether it’s throwing something, saying

Hall of Famer Rick Barry says: During training camp in 1974, Warriors coach Al Attles brought in a little known college coach named Bud Presley (Menlo-Atherton College) to talk to our team about defense. None of us were overly impressed as this short, overweight, chain-smoking coach walked toward us, however, his presentation about making a commitment to defense would ultimately change the entire attitude of our team. At one point in the lecture, Presley asked our 6-10 center Clifford Ray to run full speed down the court. Surprisingly, Bud jumped out in front of him and took a charge. We thought Presley was going to be seriously injured as he flew backwards, hit the floor, and tumbled head over heels several times. Unfazed, he got up, turned to us

needs to hear on a daily basis is the truth. If you tell them the truth all the time, and then sometimes you package it with putting your head in water or doing something, they’ll believe you. The attention grabber, sometimes if you don’t have the truth behind it, won’t do the trick; the attention grabber with the truth has a better chance of doing it.

and passionately proclaimed, “To play defense, you’ve got to put your body on the line!” His motivation worked, because we went on to win

3 pts: from left: ronald martinez/Getty Images sport; nba photo library/nbae/getty images; junko kimura/getty images sport; foyle: fernando medina/nbae/getty images

the NBA Championship that season.

According to Foyle Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inside Basketball: 101 Great Hoop Stories from Players, Coaches and Fans Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Pat Williams Publisher: Chicken Soup For The Soul Publishing Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inside Basketball: 101 Great Hoop Stories from Players, Coaches and Fans is a book for all of those who love the game inside and out. If you are familiar with any of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, you will know that this book features dozens of first-person stories from well-known basketball players, legendary coaches and loyal fans. Each story offers an inside look at every player and coach’s life in a way we never saw them before. Some stories include looks inside the lives of former players Ed O’Bannon and Dolph Schayes, Hall of Fame coaches Pat Riley and the late, great Chuck Daly, and current players like Grant Hill, Chris Paul, Caron Butler…and myself. I was a big fan of this book for a number of reasons—none having to do with me being in it. First, this book should be looked at as a symbol of hope. When you read these short stories, you realize that not all players and coaches had an easy road to the NBA. This book should give all fans a sense of hope and optimism that anything can be achieved if they work hard and never give up their dreams. Second, this book shows a human side of these players and coaches. When you’re in the NBA, you’re often looked at as invincible. But players and coaches deal with adversity just like anyone else. This is a great read for all basketball fans. Each story is short, but to the point. Fans will be left feeling amused, hopeful and shocked at some of these stories. — Adonal Foyle #31 Adonal Foyle is a center for the Orlando Magic and just completed his 12th season in the NBA. For more information about what Adonal is reading, log on to www.adonalfoyle.com. You can also check out his MySpace page at www.myspace.com/adonaldavidfoyle HOOP

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Troy Murphy

Forward Indiana Pacers BONUS POINTS 1. Murphy attended Delbarton High School in Morristown, N.J. 2. Murphy was the Big East Player of the Year following his sophomore and junior seasons, becoming just the fourth player in league history to win the award twice, joining Chris Mullin (St. John’s), Patrick Ewing (Georgetown) and Richard Hamilton (Connecticut). 3. Murphy has played for two NBA teams—the Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers. 4. He majored in economics and finance at Notre Dame.

ron hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

When he was a freshman in high school,1 Troy Murphy would be the first one in the gymnasium and the last one to leave. That work ethic continued at the University of Notre Dame2 and has through eight NBA seasons. “Kids were always taller than me in high school,” Murphy says. “I didn’t mind going against stronger players. I figured to be the best, I had to play my best. For me, that meant extra time in the gym working on my game.” Good idea. Murphy was 6-foot-2 in the ninth grade. By the end of his sophomore year, he grew six inches. As his body matured, so did his skills. Following successful careers in high school and college, Murphy has developed into an ultra-consistent player that every NBA team would love to have on their side.3 “Working hard helps to make you consistent,” Murphy says. “If you take care of your body and work on your skills, you’ll be even better. I think it has helped to motivate me through my years in the NBA. These are the best players you’ll ever compete against. You have to be ready.” The rare time Murphy does spend away from the court4 helps him re-energize for the next season. He especially enjoys traveling, watching movies and reading books. “It helps my focus,” he says. “The NBA is as much mental as it is physical. Your body has to be right, but your mind has to be focused just as much. I think off-the-court activities really help me.”

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J.R. Smith

Guard Denver Nuggets Call J.R. Smith1 just an athlete, and he’ll phone the Kings to have them remind you of the 11 treys he dropped on them in April.2 Call him a gunner and he’ll demonstrate a double-bounce alleyoop to himself, first unveiled at the 2009 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, or the even sicker around-the-back slam from 2005. He is a rare combination of player who excels at both to the nth degree—parabolic bombs from deep and two points the easiest way they come.3 He’s out to prove now, especially to his doubters, that between developing his midrange game, hitting the glass and shadowing his man, he’s a lot more than that too. “I’m just trying to be the best I can be, no matter what people do or say,” Smith says. “I just try to prove people wrong and make them feel like they made a mistake. … I take it personally.” His trade history will always follow him around. In a week’s span in July 2006, Smith was dealt twice, first from the Hornets to Chicago and then from ChiTown to Denver.4 Now he’s comfortable, flanking Chauncey and Melo for what he hopes is a long while. For starters, Smith and the Nuggets manhandled5 New Orleans in the first round, ousting the Hornets in five games. Nobody’s smile shone brighter than his. His doubters took note. “I love New Orleans; I still have my house out there, but that felt good personally because of the way I feel I was treated,” Smith says. “It felt good to lay it all on the line and keep playing.”

BONUS POINTS 1. Or Earl Smith III. 2. Smith had the fifth-most made threepointers during the regular season with 180. He ranked behind only Rashard Lewis (220), Ray Allen (199), Mo Williams (183) and Danny Granger (182). 3. He probably has to go on the short list of players capable of winning both the dunk contest and three-point shootout. We’ll put Vince Carter, Rudy Fernandez and Jason Richardson in the mock doubleheader showdown. Of taking on the dual challenge, Smith says “I would if they would let me.” 4. With P.J Brown in exchange for Tyson Chandler in the first deal and then for Howard Eisley and two second-rounders to land in Denver. 5. All four of the Nuggets’ wins in the series were by double digits, including three by 20-plus. The crown jewel was a 121-63 blowout in New Orleans, the 58-point margin accounting for the largest in playoff history.

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©2009 Maxell Corporation of America

IT’S WHAT WE’RE ABOUT. Digitally capture and store music, videos and more on Maxell media. Turn on and tune in with Maxell’s headphones, ear buds and speakers. Whatever your passion, take it to the next level with Maxell. Where maximum performance lives.

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Will Bynum

Guard Detroit Pistons Pistons guard Will Bynum has emerged as a key role player and steady presence for Detroit. Signed last July after he played for Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Basketball Super League,1 the 6-0 Bynum appeared in 57 games for the Pistons,2 scoring a career-high 32 points against Charlotte in April, including a franchise-record 26 points in the fourth quarter.3 Bynum says he’s become a scoring threat all because of the relationships he has with his coaches. “Communication is a big part of you being successful coming off the bench,” the former Georgia Tech star says. “I was always working on different situations like I was playing in the game. So when my time came, it was so much easier for me to just jump right in.” With confidence of steel, Bynum stepped up for his team during the first round of the playoffs against Cleveland and averaged 11.8 points in 19.5 minutes. Bynum says because he goes against some of the best guys in the NBA in his hometown Chicago4 during the offseason, he just played like he was back at home. “[There]’s a lot of athletes here, Luther Head, Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion, Antoine Walker. It’s definitely helped me out,” Bynum says of playing at Chicago’s training facilities. “Plus, I think it’s good for the younger kids that grew up in the same neighborhoods I grew up in to see me here. They see the dedication and hard work I put into basketball and the things they can do to help get themselves out of these neighborhoods and situations.”

BONUS POINTS 1. The 26-year-old Bynum played 15 games for the Golden State Warriors during ’05-06, and spent most of the season in the NBA Development League where he was named the 2006 NBA Development League Rookie of the Year. He also was a member of the 2006-07 Maccabi Tel Aviv team that won the Israeli National Championship. 2. He averaged 7.2 ppg, 1.2 rpg and 2.8 apg last season with the Pistons. 3. The previous franchise record for points in a quarter was 24, set by Jerry Stackhouse and Isiah Thomas. 4. Bynum was named the Chicago Public Schools Player of the Year as a senior at Crane High School where he averaged 27.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists.

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Roger Mason

Guard San Antonio Spurs BONUS POINTS 1. Full name is Roger Phillip Mason,, Jr. 2. Has a tattoo on his left arm in his father’s honor, Roger Mason, Sr., who died of a kidney disease when Roger was 11 years old. 3. Roger’s stepfather, Otis Wonsley, played running back for the Washington Redskins from 1981–85. 4. Roger owns a construction company—Mason Construction—in the Washington D.C. area, doing residential and commercial construction.

d. clarke evans/NBAE/Getty Images

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Roger Mason1 has made a home for himself with the San Antonio Spurs. Building things from the floor up is nothing new for Mason, who majored in architecture at the University of Virginia. Like Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Gehry, Mason2 has constructed a nice career by building a strong foundation. After living like a nomad with brief stints with the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors, Mason broke out in the 2007-08 season with the Washington Wizards,3 where he averaged just over nine points per game. Last summer, Mason bolted from the Wizards and signed with the Spurs. The result was a career season for the five-year pro. While playing a career-best 30.4 minutes a night this season, Mason also set career-highs in scoring (11.8 ppg), rebounding (3.1 rpg), assists (2.1 apg) and 3-point percentage (42.1 percent). “This is my second year of significant minutes,” Mason said during the team’s exit interviews after falling to Dallas in the first round of the playoffs. “It was great because I have the opportunity to see what I need to work on, and I’m going to do that. I’m looking forward to being a better player next year.” With Manu Ginobili plagued with injuries, the Spurs needed someone to play third fiddle next to Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Mason stepped in and started 71 games, playing in all 82 games for the first time in his career. It was in that starting role that Mason was able to thrive, knocking down game-winning jumpers to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers on November 18, 2008, and then downing the Phoenix Suns on Christmas Day and once again on January 14 to steal a victory from the L.A. Lakers. Still, Mason knows that in San Antonio it’s all about championships. “We all thought that we had a good opportunity without Manu, but it just didn’t work out. I’m just going to work on my game, do what I can to help to become a better player for the Spurs next year,” Mason says. The construction4 has just begun, but there is no limit to how high Mason’s career will soar when the work comes to an end.

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By Holly MacKenzie #32

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Andrea Bargnani Forward

Toronto Raptors Midway through a season steeped in disappointment, the Toronto Raptors noticed a light that revealed a glimpse into a promising future.1 That bright spot shone upon third-year forward Andrea Bargnani. Having survived the intense scrutiny and pressures that come with being the No. 1 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft,2 this season Raptor fans began to see a different “Il Mago.”3 Gone was the timid and tentative player of years one and two—in his place was an aggressively skilled, physically stronger and more determined Andrea. It’s no coincidence that this change took place as the Raptors changed their head coach. No one benefited more from the early coaching switch to Jay Triano. Finally comfortable with his coach and confident in his role on the team, he was not only able to stay on the court, but also thrive. With little interest in discussing his own play after a win, and especially not after a loss, Bargnani doesn’t often reveal his lighter side to fans.4 Triano says that the 23-year-old has a great sense of humor once he opens up: “I think that with media, sometimes after games he doesn’t like to put any type of spotlight on himself because he likes deflecting it to the team.” As Bargnani’s career continues to skyrocket, the spotlight can only get brighter. When the wins start to come, Bargnani will learn to adjust to the shine just as he has adjusted to the NBA game—with ease.

BONUS POINTS 1. He finished second in ROY voting in ’06-07, losing out to Brandon Roy of the Portland Trailblazers. 2. Bargnani originally wanted to wear #11, but gave it up to T.J. Ford in his rookie year. 3. His nickname, “Il Mago” means “The Magician” in Italian. 4. Unlike most NBA players, Bargnani is not a fan of the NCAA tournament and doesn’t follow March Madness.

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24 seconds with ernie johnson HOOP: We enjoyed your poem to tip-off the NBA’s Legends Brunch during AllStar this year. When did you start writing poetry? Johnson: When [Turner] still had the NFL, we had a wrap party for the crew after our final game, so I wrote one about things that had gone on that year. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that only the crew knew and they were just rolling. HOOP: Now that you’re on Twitter,1 do you have to write poems in 140 characters? Johnson: I had no idea what Twitter was when we started, but it’s become a fun thing, because we’ve got a lot of NBA fans out there interacting with us. HOOP: We hear Charles refuses to join Twitter? Johnson: Yeah, he just admitted the other day that he might have to get a computer.2 HOOP: When are we going to see EJ’s Tweet-O Stat of the Night? Johnson: Wow, I hadn’t even thought about that. That’s a distinct possibility HOOP: Where did the “Neat-O Stat of the Night” idea originally come from? Johnson: I like to look at numbers, so I would find an interesting stat and throw it out, usually just to get Charles’ reaction. Now it’s hardly a stat at all. It’s more of an avenue to show old video or [Photoshop] Charles or Kenny into different situations. HOOP: We’ve heard Charles call you a “stat nerd” in the past. Johnson: He’s called me a lot of things. That’s probably one of the nicer ones. HOOP: Is it true that you get to the studio eight hours before tip-off to prep? Johnson: During the regular season, it’s usually eight. On a playoff night, I try to make it six hours before tip. Driving home at 3 in the morning night after night, sometimes you can’t get in any earlier. HOOP: Did your love of stats come from growing up around baseball? Johnson: Maybe in part, but I think also it’s just something that comes with my job. I need to be up on those just to keep the guys in check, too. HOOP: Do you have memories of your father’s baseball career3 at all? Johnson: When they won the World Series in 1957, I was 1, so I don’t remember that. But I used to look at all the old scrapbooks from the Milwaukee Braves days, and I’ve seen some old home movies. HOOP: You played college baseball, right? Johnson: I walked on at the University of Georgia4 as a freshman and was told to walk off as a sophomore.

courtesy of turner

HOOP: What was it like working side-by-side with your dad in the Braves’ booth? Johnson: I’ve been broadcasting since 1977, and I’ve gotten to do some very cool stuff, but that’s been the highlight. Sitting shoulder to shoulder with him, it doesn’t get any better than that. HOOP: It was your father who introduced you to the game of basketball, right? Johnson: Yes, my indoctrination came when we moved to Atlanta and the Hawks were playing at Georgia Tech. My dad would take me down there all the time to see Bill Russell and Elgin Baylor, Wilt and Jerry West. That’s where my love for the game started. HOOP

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24 seconds with ernie johnson

HOOP: You’ve called or covered a wealth of sports.5 What’s been the most enjoyable for you to work on? Johnson: Having Charles and Kenny together for the NBA season the last eight years, that’s really been the most enjoyable, because those guys come in and want to have fun every night. HOOP: It appears that you genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Johnson: We really do. That kind of a working relationship, where you look forward to seeing each other in the studio, that’s really cool. HOOP: It seems like you have the ability to make fun of each other, too, which has to help. Johnson: This is no place to be if you’ve got thin skin. HOOP: At what point did it start to click for you three? Johnson: The first show that we did, we came out and Charles asked Kenny “What are you going to say?” and Kenny said, “You’ll find out.” That really set the tone for the next eight years. HOOP: You were a news reporter early on in your career. How different is this show for you? Johnson: It’s like being in the toy department. It’s nothing like the life-and-death stories that you get on a daily basis when you’re doing news. It’s good to be able to laugh every day. HOOP: Would you consider yourself more of a coach on the set or a referee? Johnson: People have called me a point guard, referee, ring master, traffic cop... I think that’s kind of an insult to traffic cops, because the good ones want to prevent fender benders. But for me, it’s good to get the guys going at each other. HOOP: Despite your prep time, it seems like you enjoy setting them up to give their opinions rather than share yours. Johnson: It’s all about knowing your role. These guys have played the game and been in every situation from Olympic games to championship games. I come at it from the standpoint of “What’s going to be a good conversation point that I can bring up?” HOOP: How often are you asking yourself, “What did he just say?” Johnson: All the time.

BONUS POINTS 1. Follow Ernie’s Tweets at Twitter.com/ TurnersportsEJ 2. Apparently Chuck doesn’t realize he doesn’t need a computer to be on Twitter. In fact, he could Tweet from his T-Mobile phone. 3. Ernie Johnson, Sr. pitched nine seasons in the major leagues. 4. EJ began his broadcast career while in

HOOP: What’s your favorite or craziest Barkley moment? Johnson: There’ve been so many. There was the time he was in the green room watching David Blaine try to set the underwater record. “Oh, I could do that,” [he said.] So we set up a big fish tank6 for him to stick his head in after the game. HOOP: Have you, Kenny and Charles ever gone fishing together? Johnson: I am the world’s worst fisherman...I’m just not into it. I don’t know if Kenny is either, judging by his casts on the set. HOOP: That could be a good segment though. Johnson: The three of us on a boat not being able to bait our hooks.

college, taking a job as a news and sports director for a local radio station in Athens, GA.

work for the NFL, MLB, PGA, Wimbledon and both the Winter and Summer Olympics. 6. Barkley’s attempt to hold his head under

HOOP: We started on poetry, let’s end talking bench press. You covered weight lifting during the Olympics. What’s EJ’s max? Johnson: 406 pounds. [laughs] I don’t even know. When I’m working out, I don’t usually try and impress anybody. I know looking at my physique it’s surprising to think I’m not a big weight lifter.

water for nine minutes can be found on YouTube.

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For more questions with EJ, visit hoopmag.com

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5. Johnson has done play-by-play or studio

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JOE CO 056

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E COOL JOE COOL

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With a laidback attitude and a deadly offensive game, Joe Johnson has been just what the doctor ordered for Atlanta

“Now You Know.”

That was the rallying cry of the ’08-09 Atlanta Hawks. It was plastered on billboards throughout Atlanta and served as some kind of a warning shot for visitors to Philips Arena. The slogan referred to the previous season’s team, which snuck into the Playoffs despite a record that was eight games under .500 then pushed the eventual champion Boston Celtics to seven games in their first round series. It also perfectly fit the image—or lack thereof—of the team’s star, Joe Johnson, who earned his second consecutive Eastern Conference All-Star Team berth in 2008-09 and was 13th in the NBA in scoring, ahead of notable bucket-fillers Tracy McGrady, Antawn Jamison and Carlos Boozer, all of whom received at least one vote in NBA Most Valuable Player balloting. That’s at least one more vote than Johnson received.1 No one knows what the Hawks’ slogan will be for 2009-10, but one thing is certain: People know who Joe Johnson is now. “He’s our franchise player now,” says Hall of Famer and Hawks VP of basketball Dominique Wilkins.2 “To have a guy like Joe Johnson is a wonderful thing. We really appreciate what he’s brought to this team.”

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Coming out of Little Rock Central High School, he was recruited by such powers as Duke and UConn, but he chose to stay close to home at the University of Arkansas. In two seasons, he averaged 16.0 points and 5.7 rebounds and became the first Razorback to lead the team in both categories as a freshman. He declared for the NBA Draft after his sophomore season and was selected 10th overall by Boston. After just 48 games, he was on his way to Phoenix, with guards Randy Brown, Milt Palacio and a first-round pick, for veteran forward Rodney Rogers5 and guard Tony Delk. He blossomed in Phoenix and, during the ’04-05 season, helped the Suns win a Leaguebest 62 games. Johnson was third on the team in scoring (17.1 ppg), came in second in assists (3.5 apg), and shot 47.8 percent from three-point range. Phoenix reached the Conference Finals before losing to San Antonio, but the Suns might have rolled through the playoffs were it not for a displaced fracture of Johnson’s orbital bone around his left eye, the result of a flagrant foul by Dallas’ Jerry Stackhouse during a dunk. Despite offers to stay in Phoenix, Johnson sought a trade to move closer to home the next season. He ended up in Atlanta.6 The move from a team that was a perennial title contender to a perennial lottery participant led to some initial culture shock. The hardest thing to adapt to was going from packed houses and the fervor of crowds at the US Airways Arena to the sparsely crowded, much more reserved Philips Arena. “Honestly, I don’t want to say, ‘What did I do?’ but I was just like, ‘What have I come to?’” he recalls with a smile. “It was almost like this wasn’t even the NBA because there were

clockwise from top right: victor baldizon; scott cunningham (2)/NBAE/Getty Images

In four seasons, Johnson has basically put the team on his back, never averaging fewer than 20 points per game nor—except in this season—playing less than 40 minutes per game (39.5 mpg). He brought hope to a franchise devoid of it and rekindled passion for professional basketball in Atlanta. Remember, this was a team that won 13 games and never even enjoyed a winning streak the year before his arrival. Four years later, the Hawks won 47 games, finished fourth in the Eastern Conference and became one of the most feared teams to play on the road.3 They built on their ’07-08 playoff success, as Johnson outdueled Miami’s Dwyane Wade in Game 7 to fuel the Hawks’ advancement out of the first round.4 “Joe is the foundation of our team,” says Hawks head coach Mike Woodson, whose teams have improved their win totals in each of the four seasons since that initial 13-win season in ’04-05. “If you don’t believe it, then you’re crazy because he’s been great for us ever since he set foot in Atlanta. “You just look at his play. Look at his teammates and how they’ve gotten better around him. That’s the sign of Joe Johnson. He’s still able to do what he does in terms of scoring, rebounding [and assists]. He leads us in a lot of different categories. He’s huge.” “He’s our everything,” adds center Zaza Pachulia, who signed with Atlanta eight days prior to the Johnson trade and who has been Joe’s locker-room neighbor the last four seasons. “He’s our best player and our leader on and off the court.” Johnson’s choice to come to Atlanta baffled many, but it wasn’t the first time Johnson defied expectations.

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never any fans out there. It just seemed like it wasn’t real. But I felt like, we can only get better. We’ve improved every year. Now we’re a playoff-caliber team.” A playoff-caliber team with a definite homecourt advantage. “It’s a tough place to play; this team performs well to homecourt,” says Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. “These fans here have become very vociferous over the last two or three years. They’ve become very loud and very aggressive, and their team plays more aggressively.” The crowds in Atlanta may have gotten louder,7 but Johnson has not. He remains the cool, quiet leader on the floor. He scores his 20-plus points, plays almost 40 minutes per game, and when the going gets tough, he coolly puts games on ice (he was sixth in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring). While reticence often is perceived as lacking passion or emotion, no one in the Hawks’ locker room dares think that about Joe. “He probably knows that he needs to be more vocal because he’s an All-Star in this League and every leader of a team needs to be vocal,” says power forward Josh Smith, who knows all about being vocal. “So that’s probably the only fault he has. He was one of the players that turned this franchise around. There’s nothing negative to be said about him. Hopefully, everybody’s talking positive not only in this locker room, but around the League.” The rest of the League certainly recognizes how Johnson can impact a game. Case in point: Game 7 of the first round against Miami. Despite being held to 16 points or fewer in the first four games, Johnson blew up in a pivotal Game 5 and a deciding Game 7.

In the finale, he missed his first five shots but never lost confidence. “The offense I knew would come,” says Johnson, who finished with 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting (including 6-of-8 from three), as the Hawks routed Miami, 91-78. “Probably my defense got me up. Guarding Dwyane, you’ve got to be up on your toes at all times. It kind of got me going a little bit. Then, when I made my first shot, it was like a little bit of a relief.” His teammates never lost confidence in him that day. They’ve learned not to. “You can’t ever count Joe out,” says point guard Mike Bibby. “Joe is a scorer, and he does a lot in this League. It doesn’t matter what the perception is. I know he’s an All-Star player. I know he gets the job done. That’s all that matters.” “It’s almost expected,” says second-year center Al Horford. “He’s a very hard worker. He’s very committed to his body and working on the court. There’s a reason he’s an All-Star. That’s because he’s so very consistent, going out and showing up every night.” The rest of the League talks about him too, especially in strategy meetings. “Joe is a great player,” Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown said during the playoffs. “He can shoot from range, he can shoot off the dribble, he can post up, he can pass, he can rebound, he can take you off the dribble. So, he warrants a lot of attention, and we’ve given it to him. “It’s no secret we’ve been doubling him throughout the series, and we feel like we need to do that because he’s capable of winning a game on his own. So we’re going to keep paying attention to Joe because of how great a player he is.” The Hawks know what they have in Johnson. The question now is whether they have what it will take to keep him in Atlanta. Johnson is an unrestricted free agent after the ’09-

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“There’s a reason he’s an AllStar. That’s because he’s so very consistent, going out and showing up every night.” - Al Horford

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10 season, when he would join the much ballyhooed free agent class that might include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Amar’e Stoudemire, Manu Ginobili, Tracy McGrady, Richard Hamilton, Chris Bosh, and Carlos Boozer. It’s an issue Johnson refuses to address, and one the Hawks really can’t afford to ignore. “We wouldn’t be in the playoffs,” says Wilkins when asked about the franchise sans Johnson. “You always try to keep your best player around, but you decide when that time comes.” Of course, with Johnson’s history, it may all come down to his wanting to finish what he’s started in Atlanta. “I know that he thinks about it,” adds Smith. “I think that in order for a team to be successful, you have to have a group of guys be around each other for several years. Having him back would be a big plus for this team. I think it would be a weight off his shoulders if they could extend him this summer, but that’s for him and his agent to work on and for the GM to throw an offer out there.” For right now, it’s all good for Johnson in Atlanta. “It’s a lot of fun,” he says. “When you’re walking through the arena, people seek you out. They start talking about playoff basketball, and that excites a player. Especially me. It gets my adrenaline rushing. I think it really gives you something to play for, knowing that the fans are really coming out to support us. It helps us all out a lot.”

BONUS POINTS 1. Johnson was 13th in the NBA in scoring (21.4 ppg) and third in minutes (39.6 mpg) in ’08-09, and still didn’t receive a single MVP vote. 2. Last January 20 in Chicago, Joe passed Dominique and currently ranks third in Hawks history with 565 three-pointers made. He trails Jason Terry (648) and Mookie Blaylock (1,050). 3. Atlanta was 31-10 at home during the ’08-09 regular season, the fourth-best home mark in the East. 4. Atlanta was 0-3 in Game Sevens and had never hosted one prior to the Miami series. The last time the Hawks franchise won a home seventh game was in the 1961 Western Division Finals, when the St. Louis Hawks beat Los Angeles, 105-103. 5. All the best to Rodney as he tries to recover from a December ATV accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. 6. Johnson was traded from Phoenix to Atlanta on Aug. 19, 2005 for Boris Diaw, who is now with Charlotte, and two conditional first round draft picks. 7. The Hawks have also gotten bigger, as the ’08-09 Hawks set a Philips Arena record, averaging 16,748 per game, including 12 sellouts and the highest single-game turnout, 20,148 on March 29 vs. the Lakers.

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The Alchemist With his re-arrival back to his hometown, Chauncey Billups has brought out the shine in the Nuggets By Michael Bradley #53

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Instead, he is a rare combination of talent and experience, of fortitude and leadership. Often, the lessons, if learned, come too late, and a player becomes the man at the end of the bench trying to impart his knowledge to whichever teammates might be willing to listen. “The things I’ve been through, you would think I have played 15-17 years,” Billups says.1 A dozen seasons of NBA action don’t exactly pass by in a flash, especially when a player has endured as much as Billups has.

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It’s funny what you can learn during 12 years in the NBA—if you pay attention. Some might think it’s odd to say anybody learns anything in the League. But there is knowledge available. Wisdom, even. You have to want it though. You have to ask the old heads what to do. You must absorb the body blows. If you do the work and listen to the advice, you become a champion. You become an inspiration. You become Chauncey Billups. By all rights, he could be a bitter, selfish man by now.

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Road to Salvation Boston Celtics, 1997-98 Coach Rick Pitino held his ’97 first round pick up to high expectations. But confused as to if he was a true point or a shooting guard, Pitino failed to give Billups any guidance concerning NBA gameplay, which is vital for a rookie who just finished his sophomore season at the University of Colorado. Toronto Raptors, 1997-98 51 games into his rookie campaign Billups was sent to Toronto. He was able to play more minutes, but was thrown to the wolves on a team that finished 16-66. Brought in to replace the recently traded Damon Stoudamire, Billups was still lost in his role, trying to lead and also score for a last place team. Denver Nuggets, 1998-2000 Billups finished out the decade in his hometown, but injuries and off the court distractions led to an unfulfilling stay in the rockies. Billups would only play 13 games his second season in Denver, then he was traded to Orlando where he never played due to injury. Minnesota Timberwolves, 2000-2002 Under Flip Saunders, Billups finally started to grow as a leader. Alongside Kevin Garnett, Billups helped bring Minnesota to the playoffs two seasons in a row. For the first time in his career he shot over 42 percent from the field and Billups finished ’01-02 with a career-high 5.5 assists.

At this point, he’s a one-man rookie symposium, ready to teach all the young know-it-alls about the realities of professional basketball life. Consider him the human warning label. Want to know about the dangers of nightlife? Call Chauncey. Concerned about getting traded? He knows how to cope. Confused about your role on the team? He’s been there. “I remember when I was the young guy on the team, and there was always a guy who filled the older teammate role. He didn’t play much, but he would pass down knowledge,” he says. “We have the luxury with me in Denver where I can be the leader of the team, on and off the court.” Perhaps the most amazing part of Billups homecoming2 064

in Denver has been the mutual benefit he and the Nuggets have realized. The point guard gets a chance to play in his hometown in front of family and friends, and the franchise gains a rudder at a time when its need for such a device is the greatest. Billups wasn’t exactly drowning in Detroit—since he played in six straight Conference Finals and won a title there—but to come home and play for the team he followed since his boyhood days was truly worthy of inclusion in a Grimm’s anthology. Billups found a place in Detroit after wandering through the NBA wasteland, playing for—or being the property of—five teams in four years. After being the first firstround pick since 1979 to be traded during his rookie

Denver Nuggets, 2009-present Shipped to another talented offensive team, it was Billups’ defense that brought success to Denver. Back home with the maturity of a 12-year vet, Billups took a team of runners and gunners and brought them to within two games of the NBA Finals.—Michelisa Lanche #17

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Detroit Pistons, 2002-09 With a team full of ballers and an experienced coach in Larry Brown, Chauncey Billups blossomed into an All-Star in the Motor City. Not counted on as a primary scorer—only in the final seconds—Billups was the perfect facilitator for Rip, Tayshaun and ’Sheed. The results? An NBA title and six straight conference finals.

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fun team in the cool and flashy uniforms who would lay down quickly at the first sign of ferocious opposition and, more to the point, any need to play committed defense. As much as coach George Karl enjoyed turning his horses loose, even he understood after last year’s fifth-consecutive first-round playoff exit that it was time to tighten things up. Not long into training camp, Denver found that was impossible to do with the ball in Iverson’s hands. After learning that Detroit GM Joe Dumars was still enamored of A.I.’s past accomplishments, the Nuggets jumped at the opportunity to obtain Billups from the Pistons, the ingredient necessary to convert the team from a basketball funhouse to a real contender. “He’s been excellent as a leader for us,” Karl says. “He puts a professional excellence on important parts of games. He likes being a leader. If he were a lawyer, he’d be the head of the Law Review. If he were a doctor, he’d be the leader of the state medical association. He’s that type of person. There’s an integrity and dignity to him that rubs off on other players.” Billups approaches his role as a leader with a confidence that comes from his knowing that efforts to stay in front have nothing to do with self-aggrandizement. His is not a look-at-me style, a sort of “this is my team” faux leadership that has more to do with preserving one’s place in the League’s starocracy than it does pushing for victory. Instead, Billups is comfortable with his role out front and brings a calm to the team that allows everyone to follow his lead without resentment. His performance in the playoffs afforded us perfect nightly examples of that. Billups was completely content to let Carmelo Anthony blossom into a major postseason producer. In fact, he facilitated it by setting up his

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season. After hurting his ankle. And his shoulder. After being told he was a scorer. Then a point guard. Then a scorer and a point guard. After wondering whether it would ever come together. “I never thought I wouldn’t be in the League,” he says. “But I had some dark days when I thought I would just stick around and be an OK player, never reaching my potential and not getting the opportunity. There were some dark days with the trades and the injuries. But I kept believing and kept working.” Even with the faith and sweat, Billups couldn’t have dreamed it would turn out like this. This isn’t his first time playing in Denver. That came during his second season, when he was a hybrid guard for then-rookie coach Mike D’Antoni and hardly a valued member of the Nuggets’ franchise. His family loved him though. Loved to ask him for money. For tickets. For a night out on the town. Back then, Billups was too young to understand that success on the court relies on maturity off it. “When I was here 10 years ago, there were a lot of distractions,” he says. “Not now. I’m stable in my life.” That stability began in Detroit, when Pistons coach Larry Brown taught Billups how to play the point. It wasn’t always pretty, especially at first because while Brown can be tough on every player, he is particularly unyielding in his expectations about the man who will run his team. By the time Billups’ first year with Brown was over, the Pistons were NBA champions3 and Billups was Mr. Big Shot.4 Now, he’s Mr. Nugget, and his impact on the team has been incredible. During the past several years and particularly the two most recent seasons when Allen Iverson was on the team, Denver was known as the HOOP

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teammate, drawing defenders away from him, and fostering a style of play that encouraged ball movement—all geared toward finding open shooters But when Billups needed to take charge, as he did down the stretch in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, he had no problem doing so. In the final two minutes of the Denver win, Billups hit 5-of-6 free throws and executed a daring drive down the lane that led to a Kenyon Martin layup. None of it was spectacular, but he was clearly in control. “One thing about me, I do what I do with no ego,” Billups says. “I’m not trying to take over the team. I do it without ego and for all the right reasons. I never worry about stepping on toes with my demeanor.” It would be hard for anyone to be insulted by Billups’ style. He plays with a near-constant smile on his face, as if to say, “Can you believe this is happening?” And even so, he admits that this season has been “storybook.” Long removed from the man who shot basically every time he got the ball—as per coach’s directive—during his first tour in Denver, he has become the perfect point guard for the Nuggets, balancing the team’s high-speed personality with a more cautious approach learned during his time in Detroit. In fact, when he came to Denver,5 Billups had to be encouraged to run more. “We’ve had to speed Chauncey up,” Karl says. Billups agrees that it wasn’t easy to break his old Pistons habits. “It took me a little while to run,” he says. But he also didn’t want to succumb completely to fun and games. He knew the Nuggets had struggled with better teams for several years and that adapting completely to that culture would hurt the team and his game. As important as it was to learn how to get out and go, he also had to learn “when to run.” As the season

went on, the Nuggets all learned more. Billups opened up. Anthony and his teammates tightened up. The results were impressive. With two more years on his contract and a raging love affair between him and his new team, Billups envisions a great future. “I think it’s meant to be like this,” he says. “My family life and professional life are so stable. Everything is beautiful. There is a reason for this success.” Billups isn’t looking too hard for an explanation. He just wants to enjoy everything. If the young Nuggets are smart enough, they’ll listen to him when he talks about his long road and learn something. When you have as many ups and downs as Chauncey Billups, you have plenty to teach. BONUS POINTS 1. After Tim Duncan and Keith Van Horn, the Celtics picked Billups third overall in the 1997 Draft. Though Boston traded him to the Toronto Raptors after just three months into the ’97-98 season, Billups ended his 51-game run in Boston admirably with 11.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.3 apg and 1.5 spg. 2. In 2004, the University of Colorado, Billups’ alma mater, retired his #4 jersey. In 1997, Billups led the Buffaloes to their first win in over three decades in an NCAA tournament game. 3. In the 2004 Finals against the Lakers, Billups averaged 21.0 ppg and 5.2 apg, leading the Pistons to a 4-1 series victory. He also shot 51 percent from the field and 93 percent from the line. 4. After he was deemed the 2004 Finals MVP, Billups signed on with mortgage lender Rock Financial to benefit communities in both Detroit and Denver, combining to make local school appearances, providing tickets for kids and donations towards Billups’ summer basketball camps. 5. Ironically, Billups was traded to the Nuggets in 2008 and chose the number seven, in honor of Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway. HOOP

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one moree for thee roadd

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rom eno ht rof aor Lisa Leslie aims for a grand finale to a remarkable career that will leave her as the reigning queen of women’s basketball By Lois Elfman #40

Los Angeles Sparks All-Star center Lisa Leslie prepared for the 2009 WNBA season pretty much the same way she prepared for every other season in her 15-year professional career—with consistent hard work. But this year is a little different, as she has announced it will mark the end of her playing career. With two WNBA titles, three MVP trophies, four Olympic gold medals, two World Championships and countless honors to her credit, this is no average wrestler leaving her boots in the middle of the mat (forgive the metaphor). When one of the players who has defined women’s pro hoops gets ready to leave the building, a simple goodbye just doesn’t cut it. Although a gamer like her might actually enjoy hearing another rendition of “Hit the Road Jack,” a song that’s often played after a player fouls out.

“Emotionally, I’m happy about this being my last season. I think it’s time. I feel ready,” says Leslie, 37. “I feel confident about my abilities to still go on the floor and score and rebound shots and be able to contribute for my teammates.” To make sure she makes the most of every game this season, Leslie can look to Sparks Coach Michael Cooper, who was so influential in elevating her game over the past decade. “He has very much challenged me year after year,” she says. “I’m kind of a pleaser, in the sense of I always liked to please my mom and do what was right. I’m the same way when it comes to coaches that I truly respect, and he’s obviously one of them. I’ve really pushed myself every year to get better. “I constantly study the game,” she adds. “I watch NBA. I watch college. Sometimes

I go to my niece’s high school games. I even go and watch little kids and you can learn something about basketball from everybody. I love being a student of the game. It’s never ending if you’re open to learning.” In his early days as coach of the Los Angeles Sparks, Cooper vastly expanded Leslie’s repertoire, often modeling new moves after his former Lakers teammates like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or James Worthy. Whether it was a hook shot or a true post game, Leslie and Cooper put in the effort. “I’ve always told her championships are won in the paint, you’ve got to get it done down there for us,” Cooper says. “[In 2001], boy did she get it done! She took on Yolanda Griffith. She took on Tammy Sutton Brown. They were banging her, beating her. She didn’t once step out and she led us to

our first championship. “That was her total emergence as a superstar athlete,” he adds. “To get it done with your back to the basket. Get it done when they’re clawing on you. Get it done when they’re double teaming you. Then, you get it done by making your teammates better.” In 2002, she did it again, keeping opponents guessing with more new moves. Winning has never gotten old, something which Leslie has been unapologetic about. If asked what her best wins have been, she points to the Olympics. As part of the first women’s “Dream Team” in 1996 (which included such stalwarts like Teresa Edwards, Dawn Staley and Sheryl Swoopes) and then the inaugural WNBA season the following year—even jumping the first ball in the very first game—she’s often been HOOP

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A Peer into her Peers Lisa Leslie shares some memories about teammates who’ve made indelible impressions on her life and career. Dawn Staley, three-time Olympic teammate “She was always considered the underdog. I liked that in her. She was all about the fight. Dawn would fight hard. She worked hard. She’s an extremely loyal person. I learned a lot from her, especially what it meant to be a person of integrity. She made people around her better and I was able to get some of that from her.”

DeLisha Milton-Jones, Sparks teammate and two-time Olympic teammate “As a teammate, she has tenacity. She’s going to work hard and give you her all every single time she steps out on the floor. That’s a person you can always respect when it comes down to what you’re going to get on a day-to-day basis.”

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pilot] is always amazed. I’m going to pull everything out and start over. Refelt my drawers. Make sure that all my shirts are color-coordinated, left to right. I have all the yellow blouses, then the pink. All my jeans are together. Even when I was a kid, I was super neat.” She organizes her goals the same way and says if she doesn’t understand something she will keep seeking clarification until it makes sense. Leslie is equally willing to help those around her be the best, whether it’s teaching her daughter to put away her toys or helping a teammate learn a play. She will proudly tell you two-year-old Lauren can already spell some words and recognize colors. “I love to be a leader, and I love to be a

giver,” she says. “When I play basketball, the one thing I feel I can give when I’m on the court is a great effort. I love for people to cheer or boo, whichever one they choose. I like the emotion of the people and the excitement. That moment is not about race or differences, colors, creeds. All of that stuff kind of goes out the window. We’re talking about sports.” “You have to boo the great ones,” Cooper says. “I look at it as a sign of respect.” Although Cooper dreams of having Leslie join the Sparks as an assistant coach, she says she has no immediate desire to coach. She says “never say never” about professional coaching, but she doesn’t see high school or college as viable options. In the high school game,

Candace Parker, Sparks and Olympic teammate “Talent comes to her as easily as I’ve ever seen it come to anyone. If Candace wants something, she can go get it, simple as that. If she wants to take a shot, she’ll take a shot. She’s just effortless.”

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labeled a pioneer. “I don’t consider myself a pioneer of the sport, but I do feel the torch was passed onto me, and I tried to carry it as far and hold it up as high as I could,” Leslie notes. She will never forget the intense and passionate support of fans at the Olympics in Atlanta and she dreams that every girl who hits the hardwood feels a trickle down effect, “to see true support for women’s basketball at every level.” An admittedly competitive person throughout her life, Leslie says she lives by the motto, “why not me.” “Someone has to be the best,” she says. “If I’m going to do something, I give it 100 percent, even if I’m just cleaning my closet. My husband [Michael Lockwood, a

Nikki Teasley, former Sparks teammate “Nikki T. is super talented and just a natural with the ball. I imagine she’s probably had it in her hands all her life.... She’s definitely a game day type of player. I would love to play with her again.”

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The Gold Standard As much as Lisa Leslie’s success is tied to her two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks and three MVP honors, perhaps the most defining moments of her career came at the Olympics. A fourtime gold medalist, each of her Olympic coaches reflects on what she meant to the team’s success. “Lisa’s experience, passion for the game and her work ethic made her such a great player to coach. Lisa was our leading scorer in the Olympics, as well as in the gold-medal game, which showed why she was such a special player. She is one of the best to ever play the game.” – Tara VanDerveer, 1996 Olympic coach “Lisa Leslie was by far the greatest player in the game at the time and to know that I coached her, I feel so blessed for that opportunity. She is a very good person, very coachable, team-oriented and she took so much pride in playing for USA Basketball. Lisa is extremely driven and goal-oriented with a tremendous work ethic. She is a true champion.” – Nell Fortner, 2000 Olympic coach “When you have Lisa, you have two things. You can turn to her to be a great influence on the other players on your team. Then, at the crucial moment, you can run a play and you know Lisa Leslie’s going to produce for you.” – Van Chancellor, 2004 Olympic coach

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“Lisa’s leadership on our Olympic team was imperative for our success in Beijing. She found a great balance between mentoring our younger players, pushing them to be their best and then leading the team with her work ethic and winner’s mentality. Lisa truly understood that this team would be golden only with selfless play and a team mentality, and she brought those to the gym every day.” – Anne Donovan, 2008 Olympic coach

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Remembering LL’s Cool Days Individuals whose careers and lives are intertwined with Lisa Leslie’s share special memories. “Lisa and I had both been involved with the national team since 1995, when the NBA backed the ’96 women’s Olympic effort.... I had a very emotional moment with Lisa in the locker room area after the [Olympic] win in Beijing [in 2008]. It had been a long and very successful run. Beijing was for her the culmination of an incredibly successful experience being part of the national team program.” – Val Ackerman, president of the WNBA 1996-2005 “We played the New York Liberty for the championship in 2002. At the end of the game, her lip got busted and was swollen. At the end of the game we’ve got to take pictures. If you know Smooth, she has to be at her picture perfect best... . But here we are, standing there holding the trophy together and she had this huge lip and this big smile on her face.” – Michael Cooper, coach of the Los Angeles Sparks “Lisa received her third league MVP trophy (in 2006), but we weren’t able to do the trophy presentation in Los Angeles. We did it at a game in Sacramento. The competition on the West Coast is fierce and there is this ongoing hate or beat L.A. thing. So bringing Lisa into Sacramento, there were some concerns how the fans would react. One of my favorite moments, she was sitting in the stands with me watching the game and fans would come up to her and have her sign a card or a shirt. They flocked around her to let her know that even though they still wanted to beat L.A., they appreciated her and all she has done for the league.” – Donna Orender, president of the WNBA 2005-Present ray amati/NBAE/Getty Images

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players’ levels of commitment vary greatly, and Leslie is honest enough to say while she respects girls who may be participating just to be with friends, she couldn’t downscale her passion to coach them. The college game simply requires a level of travel incompatible with her family life. Even though this is her last pro season, Leslie says she’ll be learning until the final buzzer and encouraging her teammates to be students of the game. She’ll do all this while balancing the demands of motherhood. She’s found a great life partner in Lockwood, who shares her intense work ethic and playful side as well as a fierce commitment to family. They want Lauren, who is already taking gymnastics, to play a variety of sports, but

the biological gift of height may well lead her to basketball. Last summer in Beijing, her Olympic career ended the way she dreamed it would—with a fourth gold medal. In hindsight, given some negative reaction, she wishes she hadn’t brought the other three medals with her, but her intention was not to flaunt them, but rather to celebrate the teams of which she’d been a part. “It was an awesome experience,” she says. “We were so unselfish, and it didn’t matter who did what. We just got it done.” She felt the mantle of leadership passing to Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, which gave her a sense of satisfaction. Not long ago, Leslie heard from some kids who said they’d written about her

for Black History Month. It made her step outside herself and feel how the WNBA has changed American culture. “I’m completely satisfied,” she says. “I’ve already won. Won in life in regards to choosing this career and being the best player and representative of a women’s basketball player that I could be. Promoting for young girls to embrace being feminine. Constantly telling them they don’t have to look like the boys to play basketball. That’s why I will wear my ribbons in this last season again. I think young girls should have role models to look up to, and I’ve been grateful to be chosen as one of those role models.” The WNBA’s first president, Val Ackerman, sees Leslie as an inevitable Hall of Famer. “She’s been the face of the

WNBA in many ways since the beginning,” Ackerman says. “I know she will be greatly missed. There are great players for sure, but she’s special.” Although most of their time together on the basketball court was spent on opposite sides, perhaps her 2004 Olympic coach, Van Chancellor, whose Houston Comets broke Leslie’s heart on many occasions, sums it up best. “You can’t replace Lisa Leslie,” he says. “You’re going to replace some of her rebounds. You’re going to replace some of her points. But you’re not going to replace the intangibles that she brings to the game.” For her final season, WNBA president Donna Orender is hoping that Leslie breaks every record within her reach. “to set standards for people to shoot for.” HOOP

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THE GOLD STANDARD A Photo Essay of the 2009 Finals If it wasn’t for Kobe, Phil would probably be four titles short of 10. Vice versa, Kobe might still be ringless. Luckily for L.A., the two have remained tight throughout the decade and brought four more banners to Staples Center.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

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Pau-erful Center Stage At ages 23 and 21 respectively, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum fulfilled a lifelong dream and tipped off the 2009 NBA Finals underneath the bright lights of Hollywood. Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

Some questioned if the Lakers’ frontcourt was tough enough to contend with Dwight Howard in the paint, but Pau Gasol and Co. proved they had the moxie to bang with the 6-11, 265 pound man-child. Jeff Gross/Getty Images Sport

Veteran’s Day Derek Fisher returned to L.A. in 2007 for moments like this, starring on the grand stage of the NBA Finals. Starting at point guard and bringing a veteran savvy few players can match, D-Fish was vital in L.A.’s 15th title run—and in capturing his fourth ring. Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

Redemption Song Jordan Farmar was one of the many Lakers who stepped his game up after last year’s disappointing loss to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 Finals. Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

Rim Wrecker After being on the wrong end of a few memorable posterizing dunks by Kobe earlier in his career, Dwight Howard gets revenge with a monstrous throwdown in Game 2. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images Sport

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Almost Famous The play was perfect. Stan Van Gundy crafted a beautiful sneak attack against L.A.’s frontline, with marksmen Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis as decoys and Courtney Lee as the camouflaged warrior lurking in the background. The lob was perfect and the Lakers were caught by surprise, but Lee’s game-winning attempt was a few inches off, robbing Orlando of a Game 2 victory. Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

Gasol-ina Pau was on fire early on in the Finals and often went overlooked compared to Kobe Bryant’s performances. Still, the 7-foot crafty Spaniard continued to be a thorn in the side of the Magic, proving to be a tough task to guard. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport

Good Luck Charm Seven-year-old Gina Marie Incandela was Orlando’s rabbit foot, as the team was 6-0 when she sang the national anthem entering the NBA Finals. They called her back to do the honors for Game 3 and kept the streak alive with a 108-104 victory in Game 3. Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images

Skip Rights the Ship Rafer Alston had a breakout performance in Game 3, bringing stability to Orlando’s starting point guard slot with 20 points as the Magic won their first game in the Finals in franchise history. Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Stopping the Mamba The Magic often implemented a double-team on the game’s most lethal scorer, and while Mickael Pietrus gave a valiant effort guarding Kobe one-on-one, it sure makes things easier when you have Superman backing you up. Chris Graythen/Getty Images Sport

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Fisher Price is Right Everyone thought the ball was going to Kobe, but that just led Derek Fisher wide open to put the Magic on the precipice of defeat. With Jameer Nelson late to get a hand in D-Fish’s face, the veteran with over 30 games experience in the Finals taught the young guard a lesson—that is to never doubt your elders—as he drained a game-tying trey to send Game 4 into overtime. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Pietrus Dish The Flying Frenchman started out strong but languished on the bench in the second half of the season after coming back from injury. But he found his niche during the Boston series as O-Town’s sixth man and became one of their most reliable offensive threats in the backcourt. Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Trevor Forever Once a role-player languishing on the Magic bench, Trevor Ariza transformed into a key player in the Lakers past two Finals runs. Averaging double-digit points in over 30 minutes a game in the ’08-09 playoffs, Ariza’s defense, slashing ability and outside touch proved to be the best revenge. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport

Jameer Reappears After sitting out four months with a shoulder injury, Jameer Nelson surprisingly returned just in time for the NBA Finals. Though he looked rusty at times, we still saw glimpses of the play that made him an All-Star in ’08-09. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

The Long Arm of Gasol He may not look as strong as the muscular Dwight Howard, but Pau Gasol was still able to be a force thanks to his athleticism, speed and wingspan, proven by his average of over 10 rebounds a game in the postseason. Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

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Sweet Tooth We learned before the Finals about Lamar Odom’s penchant for throwing down candied sweets, but it was his ability to throw down monster jams that really put a smile on Lakers fans faces. Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

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Air Apparent MJ had his “spectacular move” in ’91 against the Lakers, but Kobe pulled off his own in Game 5 against the Magic. Kobe drove the lane, ducked under Dwight Howard, switched hands and made the layup to put L.A. up 11 in the 3rd quarter as they began to pull away. Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

Learning From the Best Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s main duty as an assistant coach with the Lakers has been to groom young Andrew Bynum into a top center, and his work has paid off greatly for the 22-year-old Jersey native. Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

In the Hands of Greatness One legend bestowed a new honor upon another when Bill Russell presented Kobe Bryant with the Bill Russell Finals MVP Award, the first time the award was presented bearing the name of the 11time champ.

Jump For Joy When the final buzzer sounded on the Lakers 99-86 victory in Game 5, Kobe was walking on air celebrating his fourth title in the League—and his first without Shaquille O’Neal.

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport

Out of Magic There were no more miracles left for Orlando after June 14, as Superman, Jameer and the rest of the crew could not keep up with the Lakers in a best of seven. With free agency looming and other teams in the East waiting to reload, this could be a long summer for the Magic and their fans. David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images

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Los Angeles Sparks All-Star Candace Parker (second from right) and head coach Michael Cooper (far right) were on hand to kickoff the March of Dimes march for babies at Exposition Park in L.A.

Juan Ocampo/NBAE/Getty Images

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We’re not sure if this is part of their normal workout routine, but Rudy Gay and Marco Jaric had a swingin’ good time at a playground dedication at Bruce Elementary School in Memphis, part of NBA Cares Project Rebound presented by Toyota.

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

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Los Angeles Clippers president Andy Roeser had something up his sleeve at the NBA Draft Lottery last May in Seacaucus, NJ—a good luck charm that helped the Clips snag the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

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Three Dream Teamers and two of the best coaches to ever pick up a clipboard—now that’s what we call a Hall of Fame class. Michael Jordan, David Robinson, John Stockton, C. Vivian Stringer and Jerry Sloan (not pictured) were all announced as 2009 inductees into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame at a press conference in Detroit this past April.

Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images

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Subscribe to HOOP The Official Basketball Lifestyle Magazine of the NBA

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CHECK IT one of a kind Peep the shoes here. You can’t find them at your neighborhood shoe-tailor. They’re all original one of ones that we designed ourselves. We suppose you can cop them if you bite our creations that we conjured up during our review of all the customization services that shoe companies are offering these days. Whether you dig Swooshes, Stars or Stripes, today’s leading brands are putting more choices out there—colors, embroidery, fabrics and textures—to make sure their consumer’s kicks can be as unique as themselves. Turn to page 96 for the roundup.

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PLAYER

spin moves

Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala Andre Iguodala

by anthony gilbert #1

Andre Iguodala Philadelphia 76ers Like many athletes worldwide, Andre Iguodala’s music, movies and videogames are a big part of his everyday lifestyle (from his workouts, and pregame preparation to his downtime at home and on the road). His various tastes are as ubiquitous as the Sixers uniform and Nike sneakers. When asked about what’s hot in his rotation, he broke it down from current to classic.

Dre’s movies “I still watch He Got Game a lot. I watched that a lot in high school and in college. My agent has me watching Gladiator and 300 sometimes to get me in that game mode, but He Got Game, I watched that a lot at the beginning of the year.”

Chris’s video games “I play [NBA] 2K9, but I usually will only play it if someone is around for the competition. I play NCAA Football a lot! I play in dynasty mode with the fastest QB in the league—last year I played with Juice Williams [Illinois] and West Virginia’s Pat White. I played with Pat White the last two years actually.”

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Illustration: matt candela; Photo: sam forencich/nbae/getty images

Dre’s music “Drake is nice! Drake has a series of mixtape CD’s out [like] So Far Gone. And he was on a Nickelodeon [Ed note: Drake was actually on a Canadian teen show called DeGrassi] show back in the day, that’s funny to me, but that’s cool too because he was on that and still can rap! Asher Roth is nice too! That joint is crazy, he has nice wordplay, he’s just like Drake, he doesn’t get out of his element. And Rick Ross’ album is crazy! Like Rick Ross, he’s not the greatest rapper, but I think he does a great job of picking his beats to match his voice. He has that rider music, Maybach music that you can just ride to. [Teammate] Reggie Evans, he’s from Florida, and he’s always talking about Miami rappers, but he has a point. If I had to compare my game to a rapper, I’d be Joe Budden. His fans respect him, he doesn’t sell a lot of records, but he’s nice and I think that I’m kind of the same way. When he came out with ‘Pump It Up’ everybody thought he was a one-hit wonder, and when I was in the dunk contest everybody thought I was just a dunker, but my real fans know my game and how much I bring to the table, and his real fans know how dope he is as a rapper. He’s top 5, dead or alive, like people don’t know how nice he is.”

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Triple Double Three albums. Two players. One dynamic pair of music critics Ciara Fantasy Ride

Green Day 21st Century Breakdown

Thaddeus Young

This is Eminem’s fifth album. Slim Shady really “spazzed” on the tracks—some of the lyrics are pretty weird and disturbing, even for him. It seems like a throwback to his first album with some tight raps and the best part, the catchy beats by Dr. Dre. “Old Time’s Sake” seems like something that you would want to listen to while driving, while “Beautiful” was the track I liked the best. It really seems like he is keeping it real here, talking about his life and his career, and it has a good bass line. “Crack A Bottle” is also a good club song. Eminem is a talented lyricist and that comes through on all the songs, but I’m more of a fan of chill rap than the really angry and twisted stuff Eminem raps about.

This is Ciara’s long-awaited third album, and in all honesty, I am disappointed. While she put together a respectable album with decent vocals and catchy tunes, the best part about the album is that it features a number of collaborations with music royalty including: Justin Timberlake (“Love Sex & Magic”), Chris Brown (“Turntables”), Ludacris (“High Price”), Missy Elliott (“Work”), Young Jeezy (“Never Ever”), and The-Dream (“Lover’s Thing”). These “guest” appearances alone make the album worth a listen, particularly “High Price” and “Never Ever.” In all, this album is consistent with her past releases—it has the “Ciara” sound, combining R&B and pop—which is not really my favorite style.

Even though I don’t personally listen to their music, some of my friends who listen to rock music love Green Day and 21st Century Breakdown, their eighth studio album. It has an interesting mixture of fast, high-energy rock songs and slow, moving ballads. Since this isn’t my taste in music, I had to listen to it a couple of times to figure out which songs I liked, and I have to admit, it was better than I expected. “Horseshoes and Handgrenades” is a true rock song through and through. It has a lot of energy. And “Last Night on Earth” is a very slow, beautiful song that the lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, wrote for his wife. Overall this album is good, but not something I would listen to on a regular basis.

Carl Landry

I’m back!!! First, I would like to thank the staff at HOOP for all of their well wishes and also a big thanks to my fans who sent their positive words of inspiration while I was gone. Now, it has been a long time since I heard anything from Eminem. I heard the “Crack a Bottle” single earlier during the season and really liked the beat and the chorus. Plus, anything with Dre and 50 turns out to be a hit! Now, with all that being said, we all know Eminem has been labeled as one of rap’s greatest lyricists and his albums sell major units, but I can’t say that this album lived up to his “legend.” The first thing that comes to mind when listening to this is “Wow, this dude really is crazy!” (and not in a good way). I have to admit that many of the topics he discussed did not sit well with me. I mean, seriously, I am a grown man, and I’d be embarrassed to let my mother or family hear me listening to someone talking about some of the things he mentions here. Very disturbing. The “Déjà Vu” track was nice and “Crack A Bottle” is pretty good. But I don’t see myself listening to it ever again.

Now, Ciara is fine, but I will not let that influence my professional journalistic view of her work…unless she calls me (just kidding!). Anyway, we all know that Ciara has had some big radio success with her uptempo style and down south appeal, but this was my first time listening to a whole Ciara album. The hits really stand out compared to the other songs on this album. I like the “Never Ever” track with Jeezy a lot and the track with TheDream was nice too. The first half of the CD stands out probably due to the many guest appearances by some pretty big name stars (Luda, Justin Timberlake, The-Dream, Jeezy and Missy). This wasn’t a bad selection, not necessarily my type of music, but if you are young and like to dance, I’d say get a copy.

The first thing I noticed about this album is that it has A LOT of tracks (18 in all), so if you are a Green Day fan, it looks like you will get your money’s worth on this one. I have never listed to Green Day, but I was told that they are pretty big and have some good stuff. They seem like a very high energy group. Their music is crisp, and being a former drummer, I can appreciate their talents as a band. I liked the way the “Viva La Gloria!” song began, and the “Last Night on Earth” track wasn’t too bad either, but then it got kinda wild. That seemed to be their style as I listened a little further. I thought that “Before the Lobotomy” sounded a lot like the “Lonely” song Carlton Banks used to sing on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Green Day is definitely not my type of music, it was actually a tough listen for me, but I do appreciate the band’s sound.

THADDEUS: JESSE D. GARRABRANT/NBAE/Getty Images

Eminem Relapse

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6/29/09 1:23:47 PM


the goods Game Rec Game

By Nate Robinson #4

UFC 2009 Undisputed PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Hawx

Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 UFC 2009 Undisputed, I mean, it’s so realistic. It’s just like [fighting as] the real UFC fighters, which is kind of awesome. You know, like me, I’m an online type of guy. You can create [your own character] and then, you can play online against other people. A lot of my friends out there, they play it online. All of them are playing UFC, so I think that’s the most popular game, and it’s going to take flight. My favorite character was Rampage Jackson. He’s a beast!

At first, some people, they just hop in the game, and they don’t really focus on learning the ins and outs. But once you read and learn, you know, you buy the little books, you learn how to really control how to fight. My one friend, he doesn’t even punch. He just waits to put me in submissions and stuff, so you got to practice how to get out of submissions. But it’s an awesome game. All the UFC fighters, I’ll be surprised if they don’t own a game like that because you feel like you’re really in a battle. I also played Hawx. It’s pretty cool. I mean, you should be able to control the game, like how you can do different angles like when you play Daytona USA in

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nate: nathaniel s. butler/nbae/getty images PHOTO CREDIT/NBAE/Getty Images

the arcade. They need another camera view. But the game is awesome, I mean, who wouldn’t want to fly an airplane like that or a jet? I use the missiles. Shooting the missiles off in the little box on the airplane is awesome. It’s pretty easy. It kind of reminds of Iron Man. I wish you could do four-on-four or you could play like a team deathmatch type of deal on an airplane. You could like chase around guys on an airplane and try to kill them. It’s only like one-player mode; I don’t like that. I think it should also be co-op so you can play online with a friend. It’d be easier; it’ be more fun. Comparing Hawx to UFC is like watching HD on a TV with no cable.

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by danny granger #33

Keepin’ It Reel Danny Granger goes to the movies

granger: ron hoskins/nbae/getty images; movies screens: courtesy of respective studios

Summer Movies Special

Terminator Salvation The Halcyon Company Since I love the Terminator franchise, I was excited to see the latest installment. Man, was I disappointed. It was just OK; there was nothing really good about it. Christian Bale did a good job—he’s great as Batman—but Terminator Salvation was a letdown. Watch it if you’re a big fan of the series like me, otherwise I’d say rent it or buy it when it comes on DVD.

The Hangover Warner Bros. Pictures The summer is always filled with movies that are filled with pyrotechnics, explosions, robots and superheroes, but the one flick to watch is a comedy, The Hangover. It’s about the reality of a big party where you’ve had too much to drink and the next morning, while messed up, you’re like, “Wait, this isn’t there.” The only thing I would say is that this movie is for adults only because of the type of humor, but it’s by far the best comedy this summer.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Dreamworks Transformers was diesel. I’ve seen it three times already, so I can vouch that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is worth your time. As a summer blockbuster, its sole purpose is to entertain you, and it accomplishes just that. The special effects were really amazing, and it had a little for everyone: action, excitement and some humor. It also has that “special character”—I don’t want to give anything away, so you have to either go watch it or wait for it on DVD (I’m certainly going to buy it).

Star Trek Paramount Pictures Of the big summer action flicks, I’d say Transformers and Star Trek are the best bets. I thought Transformers was just slightly better than Star Trek but not by much. Like Transformers, it’s got a bit of everything, including that “special character.” That is always cool. By the time you read this, it might not be in theaters anymore, so make sure to catch it on DVD.

Year One Sony Pictures Jack Black’s comedy is played out. He’s playing basically the same character in every movie. I did like the Superbad kid (Michael Cera); my boys and I thought he was very funny as Black’s counterpart. Year One’s storyline was all over the place; the parts of the movie with just Black in it made the movie stall. Even though Cera made it watchable, I did not like Year One.

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the goods Fuego Element City living or a lack of outdoor space doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to the lure of charred meat cooked outdoors. The Element is a compact propane grill that delivers 24,000 BTU with dual cooking zones under castiron grates to satisfy any urban or tight-on-space grill aficionado. The LP tank stored inside the cylindrical body and an optional pizza stone and griddle top means pizza and breakfast al fresco.

$399-$599

Danby Ice Maker The built-in freezer in the refrigerator is fine for storing your Hot Pockets and frozen pizzas, but if you need ice fast for a summer BBQ, you’ll need a dedicated machine that can keep up with the ice consumption. This compact tabletop unit can churn out a tray of ice in less than 10 minutes and as much as 33 pounds of ice cubes (in three sizes, natch) in 24 hours. In fact, we’ve stopped getting fleeced by the deli that charges us extra for iced coffee by making our own batch every morning.

Samsung N120 Mini Notebook The perfect companion for a business trip or even a lengthy daily commute, the N120’s miniscule dimensions (10.7 x 7.4 inches), thin profile (1.2 inches) and light weight (2.8 pounds) won’t take up too much real estate. We were impressed with its feature set—a bright and sharp glossy widescreen 10.2-inch display (1024 x 600 resolution), its passable-for-a-laptop 2.1 speakers, its large (compared to other netbooks) keyboard and a built-in webcam—as the 1.6 Atom-powered N120 has many of the features of a higher-end machine. And in our tests, the life of the six-cell lithium-ion battery was a robust six hours.

$439.99

$199

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Coleman Stainless Steel Belted Cooler Sure, you can buy one of those red or blue numbers in the supermarket to lug and keep your ice, food and drinks cold; or you could invest in a sturdy stainless steel one that will outlast the plastic models and gussy up your next BBQ, picnic or camping trip. This 54-quart steelbelted cooler features stainless steel hardware and rubber-lined steel handles that won’t rust and only requires a simple wipe to bring back its original luster.

$219.99

Karcher 5.93 Pressure Washer Effortlessly wash the deck, patio furniture, car rims, siding and a litany of other things with the 5.93 Pressure Washer. With 1850 PSI (pressure per square inch), it will turn your weaksauce garden hose into a jet-powered water pistol that can power away grime. It even has compartments for mixing in detergents. And unlike gas-powered models, the 5.93 emits no toxic fumes and runs on clean electricity.

$269.99

Pick of the Litter

Sodastream Pure

We loved the Pure. Not because it’s good for the environment since you can carbonate your own water and avoid buying bottled seltzer. Not because it saves you from lugging that heavy seltzer water home. Not because it’s simple, more cost-effective and requires no electricity or batteries (it does need refill CO2 bottles) to operate. Not because it’s so easy to use—just fill bottle, pull lever and enjoy. Not because it makes great carbonated water, stuff that is fizzier and tastier than the readymade stuff. Not because of its handsome stainless steel wrapped exterior. We loved it because…well, it’s just pretty fun to use. Sodastream also carries a variety of syrups of the most popular sodas so you can be your own soda jerk at home.

$149.99

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the goods TECHed Tech Editor and gadget junkie Shane Battier test-drives the latest in tech goods. in This issue, he takes on the Optibike 850Xli. I can still remember growing up and watching re-runs of Back to the Future week after week. Watching Marty McFly on his hovering skateboard made us dream of the cool things technology would bring us in the future. While we still don’t have the hoverboard, this month’s review, the Optibike 850XLi, is exactly the type of technology we dreamt of as kids. For the Optibike is an electric bike. I know what you are saying; I said the same thing, “Isn’t an electric bike defeating the purpose of cycling?” Well, yes and no. While there are other electric bike models on the road, Optibike is the first bike to allow The Patented Motorized Bottom Bracket (MBB) drive system, which is the most efficient drive system for an electric bicycle because the MBB allows the rider to pedal in tandem with the motor. With most other electric bikes, you may pedal, but you constantly feel like you are fighting against the motor, not working with it. Your pedal Power + Electric Motor = Human Electric Hybrid The Optibike is designed so your pedaling is added to the motor power at any speed. You can feel the immediate results of your pedaling efforts with increased speed and hill climbing power. This encourages you to pedal as much as you can (or feel like), giving you a tough workout—on your terms. The first time I climbed on, I was skeptical, at best, of the smoothness of the ride. But after putting it together (if you can pay for professional assembly, do it—piecing it together is a pain), not only was I shocked at how smooth the ride was, but I also found the Optibike fairly powerful. To engage the motor, there is a throttle located on the handle bar that you rev just like on a motorcycle. The pickup speed is pretty impressive. I was able to get my speed up to 20 mph in a few seconds. Considering this is a bike, I think that is impressive. Electric motor notwithstanding, this bike has all the features of a normal mountain bike. There is a gear shifter on the handlebar as well as a sophisticated shock system that makes the ride ultra smooth. I am not going to lie to you, this thing is pretty sweet. I would recommend a helmet if you were going to ride this bike. With speeds that get up to 25 mph, this is not a toy. If you are going to ride this in a city setting, a helmet is a must. The Optibike is a great vehicle for short-term travel. Perfect for the commuter who wants a quick way to get around but doesn’t want to sweat through his attire on his journey. I rode this bike around for nearly a half hour and barely broke a sweat thanks to the help of the electric motor. Driving ranges vary from model to model; for example, the USV commuter has a 20-mile range on the battery alone and costs only $.07 to ‘fill up.’ Try that in a Prius. Even if you run out of battery, guess what, you still have your legs to get you home. In the years that I have been writing this column, this bike ranks up near the top as the coolest pieces of technology we have reviewed. This machine is not cheap, stock models start at $9,000, and with component upgrades, the price can rise quickly. It is conceivable that you could make your money back on the gas and insurance savings vs. a car. The Optibike is a fantastic piece of technology. As the price of lithium batteries drops and machines like this become more cost-effective, there is no doubt that this will be the wave of the future. Doc Brown would be proud.

Pros:

Cons:

+ Fast, will get you where you need to be in a hurry

– Pricey

+ Smooth ride, thanks to a great suspension system + Fun to ride

– Bulky, this bike does not come with a kickstand and takes up more room than a standard bike

Optibike 850XLi $9995

– It will make your friends jealous. Jealousy is never good For video reivews of Shane’s TECHed page, check out hoopmag.com

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Rough n’ Tough Cameras Pocket point-and-shoot digital cameras are the perfect accessory to capture summer memories—unless the good times involve the beach, a sudden rainstorm or impromptu snorkeling (hey, it happens). You now can click and shoot away even during the most waterlogged moments as every camera featured here will sustain at least nine feet of water and most can even withstand some drops (a few can tolerate extreme temperatures or even an accidental backpocket sitdown).

a

Casio Exilim S12

SPECS: 130 feet waterproof, 12.1 megapixels, 3x optical zoom, 2.7-inch LCD Technically, the S12 isn’t waterproof; it’s really just one of Casio’s popular series of Exilim thin digicams that is housed in the custom waterproof case. Ironically, the smallest camera becomes the bulkiest and heaviest (15 ounces) of the bunch with the addition of the waterproof housing. What it lacks in compactness, the Casio duo makes up for in water depth. At 130 feet, this camera can be toted along on deepwater excursions. As far as the camera’s features, it’s par for the course. The one standout feature is that the S12 is the only camera in the roundup that had the ability to shoot HD quality (1280x720) movies. Picture quality was fair, albeit a bit clumsy since a the raised buttons on the housing required more dexterity.

b

Panasonic DMC-TS1G SPECS: 9.84 feet waterproof, 4.92 shockproof, 12.1 megapixels, 4.6x optical zoom, 2.7-inch LCD Despite the lowest rated specs against water and drops, the DMC-TS1G is built like a tank. It feels like a standard digicam, albeit on steroids. We forgive its brick-like stature since its 28-mm wide-angle LUMIX lens (its 4.6x zoom was the largest of the roundup) captured bright and vivid colors, even during a downpour. Underwater photography suffered a little, but as an everyday shooter that can take on some inclement weather, we like the DMC-TS1G. $399.95 b

Exilim S12: $249 Exilim EWC-120 case: $159.99

Olympus Stylus Tough-8000 d

SPECS: 33 feet waterproof, 6.6 feet shockproof, freezeproof to 14˚F, 220 pounds crushproof 12 megapixels, 3.6x optical zoom, 2.7-inch LCD With the word “tough” in large type on the camera, the Stylus Tough-8000 better be able to stand the rigors. As far as our roundup goes, this camera packs the most protection (trust us, we d abused it). It took the brawny title, but the photos that it took looked softer compared to the other models, and there’s about a second lag between shots. It does feature a cool tap control, which allows the user to touch various parts of the camera to control it (for when you’re wearing gloves) and a built-in underwater sensor that reports the camera’s depth. $399.99

c

Canon PowerShot D10 c

SPECS: 33 feet waterproof, 4 feet shockproof, temperature resistent from 14105˚F, 12.1 megapixels, 3x optical zoom, 2.5-inch LCD With its rounded, submarine-like body and bright turquoise color, the D10 looks the part of a waterproof camera (save for the Casio’s obvious waterproof case). True to its looks, the D10 was hands-down the best camera in terms of photo quality, both in and out of the water—pictures were bright, crisp and true to color. For underwater shots, the Underwater Scene Mode produced satisfying photos with a simple click. The form factor is a bit plump, but for the discerning eye, the D10 is the best that also happens to be of the best value.

$329.99 HOOP

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hoop gear Nike

Hyperlite $125

Weight (size 9): 12.5 oz

Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation:

Like last year’s Sharkleys and the recent Sharkalaid, Nike is mashing some of their classic silhouettes into new hybrids. One of the latest is the Alpholution, a remix of the Air Revolution and the Alpha Force Low. To break it down, the chassis is from the Revolution, the only thing is that the air bubble is swapped out for a thick Air Zoom unit. The upper is a mix of the two but the midfoot strap is a compromise between both shoes (the AR had a strap on the ankle collar while the AF had a forefoot strap). Oldschool shoe connoisseurs will appreciate the nod to the past. Even those unfamiliar will recognize the old-school look. Can it handle today’s basketball kicks standards? We think so. We couldn’t get the weights of either the AR or AF, but we’re pretty sure both (especially the bulky AR) tipped past the Alpholution’s 13.5 ounces. The ample Air Zoom midsole takes care of shock absorption, and the strap does offer cinching abilities since it’s a cross-strap design that allows for customizable tighter fits. Despite a stable ride, the Alpholution was plagued with poor movement. We didn’t experience the good cutting and change of directions during play. Despite its foibles, we liked the Alpholution. With its Billy Hoyle looks we have a feeling—check that, we know—Nike is going to move this shoe because of its retro appeal and nostalgia. It’s kind of like listening to a classic hit that’s been tinkered just ever so slightly that it will still be a winner with yesterday’s audience while winning over a new generation.

Nike

Alpholution $100

Weight (size 9): 13.5 oz

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all photos/NBAE/Getty Images

Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation: 092

Remember a year ago when we said that the Hyperdunk, at 13 ounces, was the lightest basketball shoe? Well, now it’s the Hyperlite [Ed note: technically, at 11.5 ounces, the title belongs to the Zoom Kobe IV, but it’s also a lower cut shoe]. Nike shaved off another half-ounce in their latest basketball offering based off the Hyper line. We’re no shoe engineers, but we reckon that Nike could have lopped off more weight by substituting the leather on the vamp and the collar with a lighter material (let’s say mesh or that plastic material that shrouds the Flywire), but that might compromise the shoe’s stability. We are glad to see they’ve now incorporated some breathable vents in the aforementioned Flywire plastic. The Hyperdunk and Hypermax left us with swamp feet. For all intents and purposes, the Hyperlite is just Hyperdunk 2.0 as it’s basically the same upper. The one big difference lies in the shoe’s chassis. Gone is the chunk of Lunarfoam in the midfoot (perhaps the weight savings lied there?) and it’s been replaced by a more conventional midsole (which still looks like the Lunarfoam, albeit with a much lower profile) and outsole. The Hyperlite was hands down the comfiest shoe of this issue’s batch. In addition, the shoe got universal praise from our testers—much of it stemming from its light weight—as there were claims of running faster and jumping higher. This was also the last shoe tested, making for what seemed like swapping a pair of concrete shoes for one festooned with feathers and down. Unfortunately, one tester did twist his ankle pretty badly with the Hyperlites and complained of the shoe’s instability, but we think it was an aberration. The Hyperlite is simply everything a fleet baller would want in a shoe: light, responsive and nimble. That said, we wouldn’t recommend the Hyperlites to bigs or dudes that prefer pick-up trucks or tractor trailers for their feet.

For 360° views, visit HOOPMAG.COM

7/1/09 12:35:54 PM


Gear Check The summer is no time for a baller to take a break. Besides pick-up games at the park, the serious player has to keep in tip-top shape in the offseason. And for any athlete that incorporates running as a main

By SETH BERKMAN #91 feature in their workout, the Nike Lunar Glide is the shoe of the future. Ever since Bill Bowerman made the first pairs with a waffle iron, Nikes have been the top choice for serious runners. This past spring during the weekend of the Boston Marathon, in an inconspicuous warehouse located on South Boston’s Dry Dock, Nike released their latest running innovation. Coming in at just over 10 ounces, the Lunar Glide is perfect for the novice or experienced runner. Utilizing “Dynamic Support,” a breakthrough mid-sole design architecture, which adapts to a runner’s gait with each step, the Lunar Glide provides superior cushioning and as-needed stability. We tested them out recently in the park and you could feel the difference immediately. They fit snugly around the foot, leaving very little room for your foot to slide around in the shoe, which is key. Blisters can often be a side effect when running, but Nike’s new technology prevented any such problems. For the casual runner or the athlete getting ready for the season, the Nike Lunar Glide is a must have.

all photos/NBAE/Getty Images

The funny thing about summer basketball kicks is that they rarely ever last more than a season, what with all the abuse it takes during outdoor runs on concrete. With that in mind, it doesn’t normally make sense to drop $100 on a pair, especially with bailouts and populism being all the rage in the economy these days. Converse’s performance line’s mission has always been good shoes at everyman prices. The Special Ops is another winner. Starting with the aesthetics, if you’re a fan of their Chevron and Star logo, then the Special Ops is for you. Plastered on both sides is the ubiquitous logo in supersized proportions. Other than that, the Special Ops is pedestrian in terms of design, neither wowing nor offending. Low-profile shoe fans, rejoice; this is the lowest of our test shoes this issue. Our feet clung to the ground, making for a responsive shoe. The upper was stiff at the onset, but after an hour or so, it went away. One drawback; maybe it was due to the concrete court it was tested on, but we experienced aching feet afterwards. Indoor wood courts might be more forgiving, but a bit more cushioning while forsaking a few millimeters of profile on the bottom would be an improvement. Also, make sure to slip on some ankle-length or higher socks with this shoe. Our no-shows caused some chafing on the ankle collar. Overall we like the Special Ops, especially its price tag. Compared with some of the other shoes we reviewed this month, it’ll leave you enough change after dropping your Ben Franklin for a pair of shorts and a tee. Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation:

Converse

Special Ops $65

Weight (size 11): 14.5 oz

For 360° views, visit HOOPMAG.COM

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hoop gear Jordan

Elements $115

Weight (size 9): 14.5 oz

Kickin’ it

Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation:

with Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard is the charismatic titan of the frontcourt, and no stranger to hard work. Having taken his cues from a strong mother and father, he has grown from man-child to adult, and it’s his team that benefits from his maturation the most. The Olympic Gold medal-winning Howard is all about loyalty, and when it comes to footwear, it’s adidas that he puts his trust in. Ever the athlete to put up big numbers year in and year out, his consistency mirrors that of the brand with Three Stripes. Dwight took some time to talk about his allegiance with the prestigious brand, while cracking a few jokes in between, of course.

HOOP

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By Anthony Gilbert #1

for the adidas players, but all the players get an opportunity to be seen. By us being sponsored with the NBA, everybody has to wear the clothing. It gives us a chance to get our name out there.”

them was a great opportunity. The commercial that we shot, it wasn’t like it was staged, it was just like you saw it, and the kids enjoyed it, and I had a whole bunch of fun.”

What do you look for in a shoe? “Something light, and something that kids would like. I look for something that looks good, that you can wear on and off the court.”

What was it like being the only guy on the Olympic team wearing adidas? “It was crazy! Most times I felt that they were trying to hide my shoes when we would take pictures, but you know what, it was all fun. I’m just glad to have been a part of the Olympic team, and being the only adidas player, sometimes I felt left out because I would always see their shoes, and you never saw my shoe, but it was cool though. There has always been a battle between Nike and adidas on who is better, but it depends on what the people like. People like to see good shoes that feel good, and I’m glad that a lot of people wear adidas as they get to see what kind of shoes they are.”

What were the Creator and the Commander shoes all about? “For me the Commanders are the guys that are the last line of defense, the person that carries the team down the stretch, and the Creators are the ones that get everything going. Both of them combined make a team. Without a Creator you won’t be able to win; without a Commander you wouldn’t be able to lead the team to victory, so you need both of them.”

Talk about adidas as an official league sponsor. “It’s good that the League is sponsored by adidas, not just

How was it filming the Brotherhood commercials? “It was a lot of fun. I love working with kids and I love being a positive influence in their lives, so just having the opportunity to talk to them and be around

Are you playing that leadership role? “Yeah, I’ve been here the longest. I’m the youngest, but I’ve been here the longest and in order for us to be successful, I have to be able to lead our team, on and off the court, and just being more vocal and just talking to my teammates a lot about what can we do as a team to get better, and everyday in practice pushing those guys. It takes a team to win. There is no ‘I’ in team.”

elsa/Getty Images sport

094

Some liken the Elements to the legendary XI. We see how the patent running along the side would lead to the flashback, but every other shoemaker has also sampled that design trick after the XI’s initial success. What we do see is a superbly designed shoe that might merit its own imitators. Patent aside, the nylon upper (OK, that is also another XI element) and clean lines make for a beautiful shoe. Add in the stealthed speed lacers and the leather pull tab, and you can see why it’s a premium shoe that is priced accordingly. The Elements translates well off the court, too—the pictured colorway we tested lent itself well to a pair of dark jeans and certainly some cargo shorts. Form-wise, the Elements is undoubtedly a winner; on the function end, it holds its own. It scored evenly across the board, getting neither high nor low marks in lateral movement, cushioning or support. There was a minor complaint of stiffness in the upper, but being that the Elements is billed as an outdoor shoe, we’ll overlook it since it was likely built to withstand more rigorous conditions. The shoe did leave most wearers with soupy feet after a few runs. The upper lacks much ventilation save for a few holes on the toebox. We doubt the nylon breathes much. We know performance is a big part of how we rate shoes in our Gear section, but sometimes even a shoe’s looks enamor us. The Elements is one such case. Simply put, you’re dropping $115 on a beautiful shoe that can be a part of your everyday summer wardrobe and, if the need arises, you can work them onto the court as well. We’d just recommend you stashing a pair of old standby kicks so you wouldn’t tarnish such a fine pair of shoes.

For 360° views, visit HOOPMAG.COM

7/1/09 12:36:20 PM


adidas

Drop Top $90

Weight (size 11): 14.15 oz

The Drop Top by adidas, we found out, isn’t a shoe that inspires much excitement from people. Around the office, people just ho-hummed when seeing it; even those who dug it weren’t gushing about it. Its silhouette reminded us of the Kobe I when he was still with adidas (it’s since been redubbed the Crazy 1). It’s a clean-looking shoe, especially the pictured white colorway. But even the two large perforated foot straps don’t stand out too much as foot straps go. The toe box is adorned with an adidas logo, and its trademark three strips run along the rear of the shoe. The style is more in line with a European dress sneaker. The DT fits snugly over the foot. The forefoot strap really doesn’t allow for any additional tightening and serves to be more decorative than functional. The midfoot strap does add to a tighter fit, if you’re so inclined. One unique thing to point out is the ability to fold the ankle-collar down (making it fit more like a low-top). The Drop Top features a low ride, and at a scant over 14 ounces, it won’t weigh you down. We did have some issue with the DT’s lateral game—we had reports of “plod foot” on the court. We’re not sure if it was the outsole (a minimalist and stiff one-piece wave pattern) or the lack of midfoot support. The leather on the toe box also suffered from deep creases after a short period (the black colorway we also tested was not affected because the toebox was a suede-like material; the black model also sports a croc pattern on the straps). While they were not a hit with us, we did encounter some folks outside the HOOP offices that liked the Drop Top. With its European flair, we could see them paired with your summer whites on some yacht or at Diddy’s White Party in the Hamptons. Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation:

all photos/NBAE/Getty Images

Training Day

By MING WONG #2

Nike is relaunching one of their most iconic shoes, the Air Trainer, with a reboot dubbed the Trainer 1. Made famous by Bo Jackson and John McEnroe in 1986 when they made their debut, the Air Trainer became a groundbreaking shoe that introduced the cross-training category. Years later, it’s still fond in the hearts of many shoe enthusiasts for its classic looks, comfort and of course, that cool strap. The redux maintains enough of the original to satisfy those that fell in love with the AT’s aesthetics, but at the Trainer 1’s heart is a performance shoe kitted with Nike’s latest technologies like Flywire. At Nike’s launch of the shoe in May, we got to test it out with Amar’e Stoudemire, Brandon Roy and NFL players Larry Fitzgerald, Troy Polamalu and gold-medal winning Olympic decathlete Bryan Clay. We were put through a grueling training session that a typical pro athlete goes through with the T1s strapped on our feet. We walked away—gingerly, I might add—thoroughly impressed with the shoe. It was super light, yet tough enough to withstand the rigors of pretty much anything thrown its way (yes, even tiddlywinks). Pictured is the Legacy Pack. For shoeheads, this limited edition pack is a showpiece. The two-drawed, laser-etched (Bo on one side, John Mac on the flip) plexiglass case houses both the OG Air Trainer 1 and the updated Trainer 1 in a precious silver-lettered (86 and 09) dustbag that will retail for $180. For the performance-minded, the Trainer 1 is available for $90.

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hoop gear Passing Customs Grading each shoe company’s online personalization services

K-Swiss

Nike

Reebok

adidas

My K-Swiss

NikeiD

Your Reebok

mi adidas

Of all the shoes in the roundup, K-Swiss had the least amount of choices, but in their defense, most of K-Swiss’ silhouettes are pretty basic. We had the option to choose between solid, metallic or suede with a palette of 16 colors for the stripes. The shield and laces allowed for 18 color choices and the outsole can be changed out among three colors. K-Swiss offers the ability to add a personal I.D. of eight characters on the side. The order got to us quickly as we saw the product in just under three weeks, but it came in a drab cardboard box.

We’ve been singing its praises for a while, so when we got a chance to design a Nike basketball shoe, we never hesitated in choosing the Hyperdunk. There are 10 points of customization, but the two key and unique to the Hyperdunk are the Flywire color and the clear outsole ($10 additional). The former is a nice way to give the shoe a hit of contrast or accent in a subtle way. The latter is pretty cool, as you can also throw in one of two available graphics (note to Nike: let’s work on allowing an iD tag on the bottom for your own signature message for dudes to see as you fly over them). The site is easy to navigate with options on the right and a big preview image (with multiple views of the shoe that updates as you go). The shoes delivered in a nice pull-out NikeiD box in 16 days, a relative quick turnaround time.

Reebok’s classic silhouette is rife with customizable options. The various overlays on the shoe are all laid out to change fabrics—suede, patent, croc ($5 additional cost) and leather—and colors (up to 25). The tongue is fully interchangeable; the color of the logo to the tongue material itself can be manipulated. Even the sole has five hotspots for you to swap colors out. In the rear heel, you can have up to eight letters of your choice to embroider. The areas of customization are all mapped out on the shoe, and like all the sites, you can view the updates as they happen. It took just over three weeks from concept to doorstep.

The Pro Model has been a staff fave to ball in so we decided to trick one out to our specifications. Bonus: even before any adornment, adidas gives you the option to customize the size and width of your left and right foot since most aren’t even. The choices are deep; you can choose from 12 spots throughout the shoe. You can personalize your name alongside the stripe; drop a number below the ankle; choose an NBA team logo, adidas-sponsored university or Chinese characters in the back; and select a country flag to cover the lace jewel. The design process isn’t laid out in steps leaving the potential for skipping out on design options. Like Reebok, turnaround time was about three weeks and came in a regular adidas shoebox.

www.my.kswiss.com Classic Lux $65

Available models: Ghent, Rinzler Depth of Customization: Ease of Use: Quality: Shipping/Packaging:

www.nikeid.com Hyperdunk iD $150

Available models (basketball): Zoom Kobe IV, Zoom Sharkley, Shox Slam, Zoom Blur, Air Zoom Flight Five [Ed Note: NikeiD also has customizable apparel and accessories] Depth of Customization: Ease of Use:

www.yourreebok.com Ventilator $110

www.miadidas.com Pro Model Team $100

Available models (lifestyle): Classic Leather Low, Hex Ride Rally, Ex-o-Fit, League, Pump Fury Depth of Customization: Ease of Use: Quality: Shipping/Packaging:

Available models (basketball): TS Bounce Commander, TS Lightning Creator Depth of Customization: Ease of Use: Quality: Shipping/Packaging:

Quality: Shipping/Packaging:

096

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*All prices do not include shipping and were priced for the exact model pictured

6/30/09 3:09:22 PM


Nike

Jordan

adidas Originals

Reebok

NikeiD

NikeiD

mi originals

Your Reebok

If there were a shoe born for customizing, it’d be the Dunk. Despite this iconic silhouette having seen countless variants, there’s still plenty on the shoe to change up to make it uniquely yours. As touched on with the Hyperdunk, the NikeiD interface guides you through with little confusion. The 12-step process on the Dunk takes you from a blank shoe to one outfitted with carious materials on the base, underlay and swoosh. Surprisingly, the colors were limited to about nine to 11 colors. There’s only one spot for an iD tag on the lateral heel area, but at 12 characters, it’s also the longest available in this roundup. And with delivery in just 10 days, it also takes the shortest time.

At the time of this writing, the Jumpman Team Pro was the only Jordan offering in NikeiD. While we wished there were more Js being offered, we were satisfied with the JTP. There were eight elements of the shoe to configure, and each had 11 colors to choose from. The personalized iD tags resided in the heel and on the pull tab. The interface was simple to use and laid out in a step-by-step process with plenty of views to track the progress. We were also provided email updates once the order was put through, and when it showed up to our office doorstep in 15 days, we were treated with the standard NikeiD pull-out shoebox.

Even more so than the Dunk, the Superstar is one of the most influential shoes to shape sneaker culture. It’s only right that when choosing among adidas’ offerings in the lifestyle category, that we went with the shelltoes. The Superstar allowed for 13 areas to be manipulated. Besides the stripes, shelltoe and, of course, the laces, the medial and lateral sides were divided into two halves for you to choose between a variety of colors and prints. On the lateral side, you’re allowed up to 10 characters to adorn along the stripe. The interface is well laid out, with the options on the left and a three-view zoomable preview pane on the right. Like the previous complaint about adidas, the process isn’t linear, making for possible confusion. The wait time for delivery was a satisfying three weeks, and the shoes came in adidas’ signature blue-striped mi adidas box.

We picked one of Reebok’s more popular basketball shoes as the canvas for our performance shoe test and we were pleasantly greeted with 15 points to finagle with. The Voyage is compartmentalized to allow for a choice in 23 colors in most spots. We liked how Reebok gave a choice on the outsole colors, letting users throw three colors with an accent logo on the soles. Our only gripe about the interface is that submenus sat on top of each other, adding difficulty to the navigation. We also weren’t happy with Reebok charging $5 extra each for the ice sole option and the eight-character personalization on the tongue (the only company to charge for that). We did appreciate the 360 click and drag views of the shoe during the design process. When the shoes arrived in 25 days, we were greeted with a nondescript cardboard box, which carried our custom Voyages.

www.nikeid.com Dunk Low Premium $120

Available models (lifestyle): Air Max 90, Air Morgan Mid, Air Morgan, Vandal Low, Air Stab, Dunk High, Dunk Low, Shox NZ, Blazer Mid, Cortez, Air Max 97, Dunk Low Be True, Dunk High Be True, Air Max 95, Air Classic BW, Air Tiempo Rival, Air Tiempo Rival Premium

www.nikeid.com Jumpman Team Pro iD $135

Depth of Customization: Quality: Ease of Use:

www.mioriginals.com mi Superstar II $110

www.yourreebok.com Voyage $105

Available models: Stan Smith CF, Gazelle, Stan Smith, ZX700, Forum Lo

Available models (basketball): Question III

Depth of Customization:

Depth of Customization:

Depth of Customization:

Ease of Use:

Ease of Use:

Ease of Use:

Quality:

Quality:

Quality:

Shipping/Packaging:

Shipping/Packaging:

Shipping/Packaging:

Shipping/Packaging:

For reviews of the custom Puma Mongolian Shoe BBQ and Converse MAKE, visit HOOPmag.com

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wear a

adidas Originals

Forum Mid (Five-Two-3 Lux Pack) $135 b

adidas Originals

Samba (Five-Two-3 Lux Pack) $90 c

a

adidas Originals

e

Superstar (Five-Two-3 Lux Pack) $110 d

adidas Originals

Stan Smith Vin (Five-Two-3 Lux Pack) $90 e

adidas Originals

Nizza Hi (Five-Two-3 Lux Pack) $100 f

adidas Originals

Fundamental Track Top $65 g

adidas Originals

L.A. Tee

b

$32 h

New Balance

996

$110 i

PF Flyers

c

Astor $110 j

d

Sneaktip

Official Sneaktip Tee $24 k

New Era

NBA Basic $34.99 l

Jordan

Flight 45 $120 m

Sneaktip

Crest B-ball Short $39.99

g h

f j

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a

a

Nike Fuse

$109

c b

Oakley Inmate

b

$150

d

c

Nike

Siege RWZ $179

d

adidas Originals Delhi

$200

e

e

adidas Originals Bruno

f

$100

f

Nike

Zonda

h

$149

g

NIX

l g

$139 h

j

i

Nike

Oakley Inmate $150

k

i

n

adidas Originals Flyboy

$250

j

Nike

Athena $129

k

Oakley Felon

$150

l

Oakley Felon

$150

m

New Era

NBA Basic $34.99

o

Asics

n

m

Gel-Lyte Speed $90

o

New Era

G Blaster $28

p

p

UNDRCRWN

Miss Me Short $50

q

adidas

TS Lightning Creator

q

$110

r

r

u

Nike

Air Force 1 ’07 LE $88

s

Nike

Hurricane Short $30

t

Nike

Rise Up $26

u

New Era

NBA Basic $34.99

s

t

v

w

Reebok

BB4600 Hi $75

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7/1/09 12:34:39 PM


wear a

a

Jordan

Best Kente Backpack $80 b

Jordan

Campslide $28 c

Jordan

Canvas Cargo Short $65 d

Jordan

f

Shoes in Flight $32 e

Jordan

True Yarn Dye Polo $65 f

d

Reebok

Omni Pump Lite (Sins Collection)

e

$120 g

PUMA

Cell Kingston $145 h

Asics

b

Gel-Lyte Speed $90 i

Nike

Post Up $26 j

adidas

TS Bounce Commander $110 k

Nike

c

Diamond Short $30 l

adidas Originals

Pigskin Wind Jacket $70 m

adidas Originals

Chest Band Tee $32 n

adidas Originals

Forum Lo RS $85

h g

l

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STARRING

JADA PINKETT SMITH

NEW SERIES

TUESDAYS 9|8c

EVERY PATIENT NEEDS A HERO.

TM & © 2009 Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.

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wear a

Nike Sportswear

Hands Tee $40 b

Nike Sportswear

Dunk Low $78 c

c

Nike

NSW Tee

b

$40 d

adidas Originals

a

NY Tee $32 e

adidas

Superstar II $70 f

Reebok

Allston $120 g

UNDRCRWN

Always On Tee $28 h

New Balance

455

$100 i

UNDRCRWN

Bedstuy Bandit Short $50 j

New Era

Taped Up $28 k

Asics

d

Gel-Lyte Speed $90

e

f

h j g

k

i 102

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Competition on the courts can be fierce. But nobody comes into your house and dictates the tempo of the game − not when you have Extreme Energy 6-Hour Shot energizing you. That’s because this delicious and convenient energy shot works blazing fast and can provide up to 6 hours of energy without the negative effects of a sugar crash.* Energize your game with Extreme Energy 6-Hour Shot!

EXPERIENCE EXTREME ENERGY WORKS BL AZING FAST TA S T E S A M A Z I N G ! N O S U GA R C R A S H*

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adidas Los Angeles Lakers 2009 NBA Finals Champions Locker Room T-Shirt Honor the hard work and dedication of your team by wearing this adidas® Los Angeles Lakers 2009 NBA Champions Locker Room T-shirt. The short-sleeve cotton/poly T-shirt is decorated in the team colors and designed with the official team logo, 2009 NBA Champions graphic, and 15X Champions emblem screen-printed on the front. $19.99

Majestic Athletic Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant 2009 NBA Finals Champions Jersey Gear up with this Majestic Athletic® Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant 2009 NBA Finals Champions jersey. The sleeveless, wide-shoulder jersey is made of lightweight polyester fabric to keep you cool and comfortable on the court. The front of the shirt is decorated with NBA trophy graphics and the team name, while the back of the shirt is adorned with the player’s name and number. $59.99

adidas Los Angeles Lakers 2009 NBA Finals Champions Locker Room Hat Pay tribute to the championship team with this adidas® Los Angeles Lakers 2009 NBA Finals Champions Locker Room hat. The durable cap has six contrastcolor eyelets that allow your head to breathe and an interior spandex band that offers a fitted look while stretching to fit your head comfortably. It’s designed with the official team logo and 2009 Champions graphic embroidered on the crown. $25.99

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sneaker game

By Anthony Gilbert #1

WHAT’S ON THE LEAGUE’S FEET 01

jameer nelson Converse Assist

Talk about being a Converse athlete. “It’s unique. Everybody that is with Converse at one point or another has developed a big enough name for people to [recognize] that we wear Converse.” Even though you didn’t play did they make you a special All-Star shoe? “Yeah, I have some shoes, but when I got them, I got everybody to sign them, so I just have to take them and put them up. I’ll be back next year to play during All-Star Weekend.” 02

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tony battie adidas Thrillrahna

Talk about your relationship with adidas. “It is important for most of the guys to truthfully go with a shoe that they like, that they are comfortable with, that complements them and helps them perform to the best of their abilities.” Do you get into the different styles and team colors or anything like that? “It doesn’t matter to me. At this point in my career I just want a comfortable shoe that’s stable. I had a lot of ankle sprains and things like that, so I like a nice, stiff tape job and a shoe like adidas to support me.”

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rashard lewis Nike Hyperdunk

Can you explain how your shoe works with your game? “With my game, I’m light on my feet. I can do a lot of moving around and use my quickness toward my advantage, so I feel like those shoes fit like a glove. It feels like I’m wearing a sock, but with protection, and it helps, it kind of feels like you’re floating out there.”

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kyle lowry adidas TS Lightning Creator

How is everything with adidas? “Good. I love them and they’re very comfortable. They don’t bother me, and I love to wear them.” You were one of the first people in the League to start wearing a lower-cut shoe. “Yeah, I just tried it over the summer, and I was thinking to myself about how much I liked it. People were always saying that I was going to twist my ankle more, but if that happened, I knew that it was not because of the shoe. If it happens, it’s going to happen anyway.” 108

clockwise from top left: fernando medina; nathaniel s. butler; glenn james/NBAE/Getty images; marc serota/getty images sport

Talk about the Nike Hyperdunk, your shoe for most of the season. “It’s a comfortable shoe, it’s very light but they fit tight around my ankle and they fit tight around my foot, so it makes me feel light on my feet when I’m out there. So, I really do like them!”

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step back January 28, 1995 denver nuggets vs. san antonio spurs Alamodome, San Antonio, TX Born Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo on July 25, 1966, Dikembe Mutombo (for short) ranks second on the NBA’s all-time shots blocked list, and is often regarded as one of the best defensive players of all time. He won four Defensive Player of the Year awards, tied with Ben Wallace for the most in League history.

A native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mutombo played his college ball at Georgetown, where he was coached by John Thompson and played alongside Alonzo Mourning to form an intimidating frontline. He originally intended to become a doctor, but was recruited by Thompson to play basketball, and instantly emerged as one of the best players in the nation.

Costing $186 million, the Alamodome opened on May 5, 1993. The 65,000 seat arena was the home of the San Antonio Spurs until 2002, when they moved into the SBC Center, currently known as the AT&T Center.

The Alamodome has been the site of the Alamo Bowl since ’93 and was the temporary home of the New Orleans Saints after the team was displaced after Hurricane Katrina damaged the Superdome.

On April 21, 2009, during Game 2 of a first round playoff series against Portland, Mutombo sustained a knee injury that would officially end his career (he intended to retire after the postseason). Mutombo finished his 19-year career with eight All-Star appearances, three All-NBA selections and six All-Defensive selections. Mutombo was drafted fourth overall by the Denver Nuggets in 1991, and had an impressive rookie season that included his first All-Star appearance. His five years in Denver were highlighted by a stunning first round playoff upset of the Seattle SuperSonics in 1994, when the Nuggets became the first eighth seed to knock off a one seed in League history.

He also launched the Dikembe Mutombo foundation to improve living conditions in Congo. In 2007, the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital was officially opened, a ten-year development that Mutombo helped fund, named after his mother.

Formally known as Brian Carson Williams, Bison Dele was born in Fresno, California, the son of Platters singer Eugene Williams. He was taken 10th overall by the Orlando Magic in the 1991 NBA Draft and was a member of the ’97 Bulls championship team. He changed his name to Bison Dele in 1998 to honor his Native American and African ancestry.

Shockingly, Dele retired from the NBA after the ’98-99 season at the age of 30. In July of 2002, Dele’s life took a mysterious turn when he and a few others went missing during a boating trip.

Reggie Williams, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, played his high school ball at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. The McDonald’s All-American played on a star-studded team that included future NBA players Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Lewis and David Wingate. The team went undefeated during his junior and senior seasons, and is often considered one of the best high school dynasties of all-time.

Williams went on to play college ball at Georgetown, where he enjoyed a prolific career. He was a freshman on the 1984 national championship team that beat the University of Houston. Robert Terrell Cummings, better known as Terry, played his college ball at DePaul, and was known as one of the best big men in the nation. He was taken by the then San Diego Clippers with the second overall pick in the ’82 draft, and went on to win Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 23.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

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In his post-NBA career, Cummings has become an ordained Pentecostal Minister, and even performed the wedding service for longtime Spurs teammate Sean Elliott. Cummings has also dabbled in music, releasing the soulful T.C. Finally in 2007.

andy Hayt/NBAE/Getty Images

In its 16 year history, the dome has already hosted three NCAA Men’s Final Fours (’98, ’04, ’08). It will host it’s second NCAA Women’s Final Four next season. During Spurs regular season games, the upper level was normally curtained off, but during the Final Fours and Spurs playoff games, they were often opened to the public, increasing the basketball seating capacity to over 35,000.

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Jacuzzi

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final exam Does brook lopez make the grade?

all photos: nathaniel s. butler/NBAE/Getty Images

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[Ed note: For video, visit hoopmag.com]

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HOOP July/August 2009  

HOOP magazine: Kobe Bryant

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