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08-09 G R EATEST H ITS

$4.99 USA

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DON’T CRITICIZE, NIKE HYPERIZE.

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Testing out how they’ll look in blue and orange, 2009 New York Knicks draft picks Jordan Hill (who’s on the hill) and Toney Douglas took to the mound at Citi Field in Queens to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the New York Mets and New York Yankees last June. Jim McIsaac/NBAE/Getty Images

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President Barack Obama welcomed the 2008 WNBA Champion Detroit Shock to the White House on July 27 and was presented with an autographed team basketball and personalized jersey. Alex Wong/Getty Images Sport

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Lisa Leslie checks in with Candace Parker as the latter made her return to L.A. Sparks practice late in June after giving birth to her first child, Lailaa, just over a month earlier on May 13. Juan Ocampo/GETTY IMAGES Sport

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The San Antonio Silver Stars have often played in the shadow of the two-time WNBA champion L.A. Sparks, but began to weaken the smothering hold L.A. has had over the Western Conference with last year’s trip to the WNBA Finals. Becky Hammon and Co. are looking to fight through the Sparks and the rest of the West to make a return trip and this time raise the trophy. Evan gole/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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sept/oct 2009

the gameplan Features

57 Greatest Hits

As we drudge through the last few dog days of summer, before you lace up the kicks and try to get in one more good run at the local playground, kick back, grab yourself an ice cold drink, relax in a climate-controlled environment and peep our look back at the best of the ’08-09 season. From the pregame halfcourt shots to the influx of young, skillful point guards, we reminisce on the teams, players, shots, dunks and all the events that made last season one for the ages.

53 24 Seconds...

with Memphis’ Mike Conley

72 design by Matthew Candela

84

71

80

65

53

Poster

Ewing on the front; Greatest Hits on the back

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the gameplan

sept/oct 2009

DEPARTMENTS 16

The Point

19

Jumpball

47

First Five

88

Call Out

We afford you VIP access inside an NBA locker room; Head2Head: Kevin Durant vs. Rudy Gay; Celeb Row: The reigning queen of R&B; 3 Pts.: Which rook will have the biggest impact in ’09-10?; Fab 5: Jalen goes one-on-one with Danielle Fishel, aka “Topanga”; Straight Shooter: Channing checks in from his new/ old home in Phoenix; Brack-It: Best Music Video Cameo by an NBA Player; Dance Life: Alexandria from the Wizards Girls, and more

Charde Houston, Ebony Hoffman, Essence Carson, Joakim Noah, Tangela Smith

91

22

44

Check It

 ame Rec Game: Nate gives us his take on G two new pigskin titles for the fall; Keepin’ It Reel: Danny Granger grabs some popcorn and reviews District 9; The Goods: From Kindles to guitars, our tips to help you spend your summer earnings; Gear: It’s time to get fly as school goes back in session

108 Sneaker Game

50

32

96

What’s on the League’s feet

110 Stepback

Reminiscing the League’s past

112 Final Exam

Does Candace Parker make the grade?

42

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the point Volume 37, No. 6 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, Dan Israeli #83, Andy Jasner #27, Eric Justic #3, Trevor Kearney #8, Holly MacKenzie #32, Brett Mauser #25, Melody #34, John Nemo #16, Earl K. Sneed #23 There was a time when the NBA season concluded with the winning team hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Then I’d be able to take a break from basketball—visit a foreign country,1 spend a few nights camping,2 work on some projects around the house that I no longer have an excuse3 to put off, sit on my backyard4 deck with a cooler-full of frosty beverages. This year I wanted to spend some more time with my almost-1-year-old son.5 The operative word is wanted. You see, these days the NBA is a year-round entity. The NBA Draft has morphed into an event6 in and of itself. International competitions bear more attention due to the many global stars that participate. The various summer leagues demand attention since that’s where freshly drafted kids cut their NBA teeth. Free agency has become so convoluted that it takes a college grad with a triple major in economics,7 international relations8 and sports psychology9 to follow. It seems like every NBA player spends part of their offseason visiting a foreign country,10 be it for Basketball Without Borders or a personal goodwill tour.11 Even the summer TV schedule is not without seeing a certain seven-foot, 300-plus pound NBA center challenging athletes in other arenas of sport12 or a two-time MVP sit in the hot seat across from Regis Philbin answering questions for his beloved foundation.13 Throw into the mix the constant tweets from the NBA Twitteri,14 assorted player videos and blogs and UStream and next thing you know it’s…sorry, I need to go, I’ve just been informed we’re running behind schedule on our season preview issue.15

Editorial Intern Michelisa Lanche #17 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

NBA Publishing/NBA Photos

BONUS POINTS 1. Three places on my list: Australia, Japan, Russia and any part of Africa. 2. I vowed off camping until HOOP’s design director convinced me to give it a try a few years ago. 3. I have the luxury of using “Hun, I need to watch this basketball game tonight for work,” as a valid excuse.

Ming Wong #2

4. I also find working in my wife’s garden to be very therapeutic. 5. Happy Birthday, Tristan. 6. Call me old, but I remember when drafts were not broadcast live with weeks of hype and speculation leading up to it. 7. So you could understand the complexities of the salary cap, base-player compensations and Bird rights. 8. Is Rubio NBA-bound or not? 9. Stephon Marbury could be the final exam for every aspiring sports shrink. 10. This past summer, the NBA hosted 345 events in 158 cities spanning 24 countries that featured over 300 players, legends, coaches, dance teams and mascots.

12. At his size, watching Shaq do even the most mundane of everyday tasks would make for must-see TV. 13. Steve Nash banked a cool-as-him $50,000 for his Steve Nash Foundation on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 14. NBA players have embraced the medium. Peep our All-NBA Twitter Team on page 87. 15. Where does the offseason go?

016

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

all photos/NBAE/Getty Images

11. In addition to China, Baron Davis also did a tour of India.

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

HOOP

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TURNER SPORTS CONGRATULATES

DOUG COLLINS ON HIS PRESTIGIOUS 2009 CURT GOWDY MEDIA AWARD FROM THE NAISMITH MEMORIAL BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME

TM & © 2009 TURNER BROADCASTING SYSTEM, INC. A TIME WARNER COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ®ATAS/NATAS

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jumpball

By Jeramie McPeek #4

Behind Closed Doors

the nba Locker room has changed a great deal over the past 15 years

Illustration: matt candela

LIAMS WI L

JONES

SMITH

You’ve seen glimpses inside, thanks to the occasional camera allowed to capture a motivational halftime speech or the postgame interviews on the local news. You might have even taken a virtual tour1 via your team’s official website. But for the most part, the NBA locker room is tucked away deep within your favorite arena, unseen and unknown by the majority of fans who fill the building 41-plus nights a year. So what are your favorite players’ homes away from home really like? You might be surprised to learn that the typical NBA locker room is…well...typical. With the obvious exception of the large team logo on the carpet in the center of the room, most clubhouses around the League are indistinguishable from each other. That’s not to say, however, that these rooms are boring or run of the mill. These are not like your high school locker room or even the ones in that trendy gym down the HOOP

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JUMPBALL focused, prepared and inspired come tip-off. When the FedEx Forum was being imagined, thenGrizzlies president Jerry West wanted the lockers to be in a circle to create a huddle-like feel. The Raptors also opted for a round locker room with fine-tuned acoustics to project their coach’s voice when he is standing in the middle. The Cavs, meanwhile, have added a “coach’s switch” that lowers panels over the player’s personal TVs whenever it’s time for a team meeting, and a 60-inch SmartBoard video screen for diagramming plays on top of live video. While some teams, such as the Spurs, hang motivational quotes on the walls, others like the Kings and Bucks decorate with pictures of their own players. A number of teams also honor the past in their present surroundings. Boston, for instance, hangs plaques in each player’s locker with a list of all the former Celtics who have worn the same jersey number. The Heat have a giant poster from their 2006 NBA Championship on the wall in the “Zo Zone,” and the Suns recently gave their locker room a facelift featuring a massive mural that runs the length of their inner sanctum,9 documenting the team’s greatest games, plays and performers. “We wanted to highlight parts of our history that we felt our players should know,” says Suns Sr. VP of basketball operations David Griffin. “We wanted them to be proud to be a member of what we had built, and to understand that they are part of something bigger than they are.”

020

manager Al Whitley. “We wanted to put the amenities into it, so the guys could hang out and stay as long as they wanted.” Among the many amenities the Mavs introduced— and other teams have since mimicked—are individual TVs, DVD players, stereos and videogame consoles in each player’s locker, as well as embroidered plush robes, leather chairs and fully catered6 meals after practices and games. Many a team has embraced the Mavs’ mindset and built full-blown players lounges off their locker rooms in recent years. The Hawks’ host some hotly contested ping-pong tournaments in theirs. The Raptors offer players the chance to shoot billiards, while in Miami, the Heat have both a pool table and a poker table at their disposal. Other teams that still hold their workouts and shootarounds off site, such as the Lakers, Spurs and Bucks, have taken the concept and pimped out the locker rooms and lounges at their practice facilities,7 rather than the ones they just use on game nights. Of course, toys and games are good for entertainment, but you better believe that the coaching and management staffs of your hometown teams have put a lot of thought into the design,8 atmosphere and ambience that make up their locker rooms, as well. After all, they want their players to be

BONUS POINTS 1. Visit SunsLockerRoom.com for an interactive and entertaining look into the team’s clubhouse. 2. No, wait, that’s our rarely used membership card, not yours. 3. The Bulls used the visiting hockey locker room at the old Chicago Stadium when Ligmanowski first joined the team. 4. When you’re 6-7 (the average height of an NBA player) this makes perfect sense. 5. Renovations are currently underway in Madison Square Garden, which will include a full makeover of the Knicks’ locker room. 6. The Mavs were also the first team in the NBA to cater postgame meals for the visiting teams. 7. Log on to AmwayCenter.com for live webcams during construction of the Orlando Magic’s new home, scheduled to open in time for the 2010-11 season. 8. The Bucks’ practice facility in St. Francis, WI, is equipped with a dart board, Ms. Pac-Man arcade game and a library for players to check out books on helpful topics such as money management. 9. The Utah Jazz hold an annual sweepstakes in which fans can win the opportunity to “clean out” a player’s locker at the conclusion of the season, taking home jerseys, shoes, CDs and whatever else they might find inside.

Illustration: Matt candela

street that you still have a membership2 to, yet rarely visit. No, today’s NBA locker room is a lot larger and more luxurious than any you’ve ever suited up in. And it smells a whole lot nicer, too. “They’ve changed quite a bit,” says Chicago Bulls equipment manager John Ligmanowski, who began his career3 with the club as a ball boy in 1976. “I remember when guys had to hang their stuff up on nails.” The modern NBA locker room was born in 1992 when the Phoenix Suns moved into the originallynamed America West Arena, the first venue to be built with a full training facility and practice court. The Suns’ locker room was the largest in the League at the time and featured spacious cherry wood lockers, a big screen TV, top-of-the-line stereo equipment and shower heads nine-feet off the tile floor.4 That blueprint5 was then duplicated by the majority of teams who built arenas in the years that followed, until Dallas decided to up the ante in 2001 with the opening of the American Airlines Center. Under the direction of new owner Mark Cuban, the Mavericks’ locker room was designed to appeal to the MTV Cribs generation, not to mention potential free agents. “You spend so much time in the locker room that Mark wanted them to be able to relax, eat and play games with each other,” explains Mavs equipment HOOP

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JUMPBALL

head 2 head rudy gay vs. kevin durant Is there a better hotbed for NBA talent the past few years than Maryland? Each year we hear about the “next” Carmelo coming out of Baltimore or a guy just on the city outskirts like Michael Beasley from Frederick. This issue’s head-to-head battle pits B-more’s Rudy Gay against D.C.’s Kevin Durant.

rudy gay foward 6-8, 223, memphis grizzlies

1

Round

Scoring: While Rudy was doing his thing at UConn, he mentored the younger Durant as he became one of the most sought after recruits in the nation. Now they are two of the top young guns in the pros, both adept at filling the hoop with buckets-o-plenty. Though Gay is better at slashing to the rim, Durant has the more polished all around game on O. He bumped his dazzling rookie averages a full five points as a soph (from 20.3 to 25.3 ppg) while Gay has only broken 20 per night once in his career (20.1 ppg in ’07-08). With an ever improving outside shot and back to the basket repertoire, round one goes to KD.

Winner: DURANT

2

Round

Floor Game: Neither of these two ballers are very savvy with the rock—both are decent enough to be able to play more than one position, but you wouldn’t want either running an offense for extended periods of time. Durant is more turnover prone, but you have to think that is because so much of the offense revolves around him. He did average about one more assist (2.8) than Gay (1.7) last season, and while neither will be confused for J-Kidd, we would think with Gay’s size and speed he could average more than just under two dimes a night. Both of these guys are better at filling the lanes, but given his focus in his team’s offensive scheme and how much he has flourished, Durant wins this close, albeit underwhelming battle of floor game.

Winner: DURANT

Gay

Durant

PPG

18.9

25.3

APG

1.7

2.8

RPG

5.5

6.5

SPG

1.2

1.3

AST:TO

0.66:1

0.92:1

FG%

.453

.476

3PT%

.351

.422

FT%

.767

.863

PER

15.38

20.85

’08-09 stats

022

HOOP

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4

Round

3

Round

Defense: If you were lucky enough to catch some of the Team USA minicamp this summer in Las Vegas, you saw Rudy Gay’s play—especially on defense—as a pleasant surprise. We’re not saying Gay fell off last season, but when everyone kind of expected that third-year bump in numbers, he actually fell in a lot of categories. Now a lot of that can be contributed to the arrival of OJ Mayo, but some began wondering after last season if Gay would ever become the kind of franchise player Memphis was seeking. He partially redeemed himself by stifling many youngsters—including Durant—in Vegas, showing that while he may not be known yet as a great defender, he has the athleticism to improve on the other end of the ball. Durant has the wingspan, but we like Rudy’s ability to keep up with 2s and 3s a bit more.

Clutch: Neither of these guys have built up a résumé to compete with Big Shot Rob or MJ, but they both have primarily been their team’s go-to guy with the game on the line. Granted, there has been a dearth of game-winning shot opportunities in both Memphis and OKC lately, but that doesn’t mean these guys don’t make the most of it. In the Grizzlies’ home opener last season, Rudy drained a fadeaway jumper from the corner as time ran out to stun the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic. It’s tough to say right now who we’d rather have with the ball in their hands in the waning seconds, but given the fact we’ve seen Rudy drain a couple of big shots ever since he was a rookie, we’ll give him the slight edge.

Winner: Gay

Winner: Gay

5

Round

kevin durant forward/guard 6-9, 215, oklahoma city thunder

Leadership: Since his first day in the League, Durant has been looked upon as the face of his team. People doubted his lanky frame could ever make him a star, but that’s exactly what he’s become. Gay still has time to become the anchor that everyone in Memphis hoped he’d be when he was traded for as the eighth overall pick in 2006, but as of right now, KD has done a better job at grasping the reigns and taking hold. Though he may not be the in-your-face kind of general, he gets the job done with his play, his determination and swagger. He may only be 20 years old, but he plays with the leadership and maturity of a 10-year vet.

gay: joe murphy; durant: layne murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

Winner: Durant

The Verdict

We love both of these guys, from their rim-rocking dunks to sweet jumpshots. Many teams would kill to have either one to build around for the next decade, but there’s just something about #35 that has us thinking he’s going to be among the upper echelon of players this season. Both have the talent to become perennial all-stars and both are top contenders for one of the few open spots on the 2012 Olympic team. We wouldn’t be surprised if both end up playing in London, but if Coach K consulted us right now as to whom we’d give the final spot to, it’d be Durant by a nose.

HOOP

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JUMPBALL

according to Foyle The exit interview

For two years Adonal Foyle has served as our Literary Editor, reviewing books each issue. This issue we get to know the man behind the pen a bit better, as he talks to us about his Kerosene Lamp Foundation, his plans for the future and, of course, what he currently has on his bookshelf

By Michelisa Lanche #17

024

rocky widner/NBAE/Getty Images

HOOP: What inspired you to create the Kerosene Lamp Foundation? ADONAL: I was born on a really small island called Canouan in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I went back home several years ago. I went to the courts to see if kids were playing. One of them did something and I was showing them how to correct it. Then, all the other kids were like, “Show it to me too!” They all wanted to learn and wanted to know more. I was like, “Wow, I got to do something about this.” So, the next day, I went back, and I brought a group with me. We did the first camp in Canouan and a few hundred kids showed up. It was like, “OK, now what do we do?” I’ve always been one of the people who appreciates the duality between basketball and academics or sports and academics in general. So, I said, “Well, maybe I should create a foundation that will tackle these kinds of social issues in the context of basketball.” That’s the birth of the Kerosene Lamp Foundation and also the birth of the camps in the Caribbean. We also make sure the kids get a hot meal. We try to teach them that they need to stay in school, so we give each of them books that they can take home. We even created libraries. It’s been very amazing. I mean, I get them really, really tired on the basketball courts and then I put them in a tent and cram knowledge into their heads. They can’t run away because they’re so tired! [laughs] HOOP: The name of one of your programs is Athletics and Academics. Can you tell specifically what the Athletics part of the program entails as well as the Academics part? ADONAL: For the basketball part, we teach them anything from one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, shooting, rebounding, passing, dribbling. Whatever the kids need, skill-wise, we will assess and we will set up the agenda according

to that. We are very flexible. If we have a more advanced group, we will teach them more advanced basketball skills. The Academic component—we didn’t really want to teach them math and english because they already learn that in school, but we wanted to find a way to teach them other stuff. So we teach them nutritional stuff like how to make healthy [diet] choices. We bring in experts to talk to them about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and how to make healthy choices in those areas as well. We brought in a sports psychologist to teach them how to not only strengthen their body but also strengthen their mind [through] coping mechanism skills [such as] how to deal with the pressure of the game, how to deal with the pressure of school, how you deal with maintaining your concentration in different tasks. Also, we wanted to find a way to really get them to love reading because that’s part of the problem in the Caribbean: the high degree of illiteracy. We make sure every kid who comes to the camps grabs a book to take home. HOOP: What was the most touching moment of this year’s summer camp? ADONAL: There is nothing more amazing than when you’re in 100-degree weather and you just see kids barefoot, no shoes, running around in the hot sun. The floor is hot. The counselors are dying. And the kids are just there with their eyes wide open just begging for more, telling you, “C’mon! Teach me more! Teach me more!” And you’re dead! You’re about to pass out, and you’re like, “OK, I just have to do it. Look at those faces! Look at those eyes!” I mean, you just keep doing it and you don’t even know that you’re doing it. Then, at the end of the day, you just pass out and the kids are still there, waving at you. HOOP: What are you reading these days? ADONAL: I’m finishing up my master’s in Sports Psychology, so I’ve been reading a lot of books on transition because my thesis is on retirement for professional basketball players. I’ve been reading a lot of scholarly work, which isn’t too fun. But I did finish a book that I thought was really interesting. It’s called We Own This Game by Robert Andrew Powell. It’s about a season in the adult world of youth football. It tracks the whole world of peewee football and what it means to many people. It’s so disturbing in an amazing sociological way. It’s an amazing look inside of that world. It’s like, “Wow, this is insane. They treat these kids like they are already professional football players! They’re only eighth, nine or 10 years old!” HOOP: Do you find it difficult balancing your NBA career with your schooling and your community activities, even your personal life? ADONAL: I don’t have any of that! [laughs] No, it is hard. The academic part is hard for me, as someone who starts a project and wants to finish it. It’s a two-year program and I did it in almost seven years. I had to really discipline myself because I can’t take classes in the fall; I can only take classes in the summer. [At the same time] I have to work out. I have to make sure I don’t take too many classes, which is my natural instinct. I’m always like, “OK, I’m only going to take two classes this summer. I know that’s going to kill you, but it’s OK. It just means you’re going to take longer to finish the program, but it’s OK because you already have a job…” When the season starts, I’m totally focused on the season. But I tell people, “You know sometimes you got six months off. Sometimes, you got three months off. Just take a week to do something of service or have people that you can send out to do good work.” It doesn’t always have to be you.

HOOP

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JUMPBALL

Know Your Newb

Old School’n

Roy hibbert Indiana pacers

Technical violation

HOOP: You’re the latest in a long line of Georgetown centers. How does it feel to make it to the NBA and uphold this tradition? Roy: You know, I have a lot of work to do, a lot to live up to. Alonzo, Dikembe and Patrick have been able to do such great things. I’m gonna have to work at it, but I can’t wait to get going in the season. HOOP: Have you ever spoken with them before? Roy: I talk to them a lot. I talk to Alonzo every now and then, and Dikembe every now and then. They were always around Georgetown, so I saw a lot of them. HOOP: You’re also a lot younger than all of them. Do you think at this point in all of their respective careers or retirements you could take them one-on-one? Roy: [Laughs] They’re still able to do things they worked on their whole lives. There are some things I do well, but I have to work on some things. It’d be a good matchup, but it’d be tough. HOOP: We read that your parents tried you out on a couple of other things before basketball took hold. You don’t still play piano, do you? Roy: No, I don’t.

HOOP: You’re one of the few guys from

HOOP: What’s your favorite non-basketballrelated memory from your time at Georgetown? Roy: I’d have to say playing Xbox Live with my teammates. We used to play Halo 3 online, kicking butt. HOOP: You guys still play together?

Roy: Right now, I haven’t been able to play lately because they’ve been keeping me busy. But I hope I can. 026

HOOP: Do you have a future in political office, being a government major? Roy: I would like to do something in government after my NBA career is done. But I’d also like to do some broadcast, like ESPN or something. I think that’d be fun. HOOP: Can you give us a good Dikembe impersonation? Roy: [Laughs, wags finger at reporter] NOT IN MY HOUSE!. —Tom Gottlieb #0

barry: jesse d. garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images; hibbert: ron hoskins/nbae/getty images

last year’s class who stayed in college all four years. What do you miss most about college? Roy: Just the college atmosphere. Going to class with my classmates or my teammates. I won’t miss study hall or anything like that. But I had fun on the weekends. I had fun in the classroom, and I had fun on the court.

HOOP: Do you have any other hobbies, besides basketball? Roy: I just like to go fishing with my dad. When I was younger, I used to like going on field trips with him, doing that kind of stuff. But now, just being a normal 22-year-old, I do everything.

Recently, my 15-year-old son informed me that I should no longer “call” him on his cell phone. I was only to “text” him. “But sometimes I just like to hear your voice,” I said. “Dad,” he replied, “no one wants to hear anyone’s voice any more.” What a statement, and judging by the number of text messages on our monthly cell phone record, one that is probably true. Since families are significantly affected by today’s technological advances, it stands to reason that teams, often referred to as extended families, would be affected as well. Can today’s teams possibly develop the same closeness and team chemistry that many successful teams of old touted? With the use of cell phones, iPods and computers so prevalent, is communicating with each other at practice and games enough to build the tight emotional bonds necessary to win championships? Do today’s mediocre teams ever have a chance to excel beyond expectations by building exceptional team chemistry? I fear that the current habits of today’s players, as a result of technological advances, may in fact prove detrimental to the development of meaningful and lasting bonds of friendship. Instead of talking to the teammates sitting next to them in the locker room or on the bus, the players of today are communicating with people that are miles away from them. They are conducting business with agents and sponsors. They are responding to media requests and doing interviews. They are listening to iPods or other mp3 players. They are watching movies on portable DVD players or playing videogames on handheld consoles. They are blogging, texting, Facebooking, Twittering, UStreaming. Back in my day, teammates spent much more time together just talking. Early in my career, we stayed two to a room, we rode together to the airport, we ate dinner together. We got to know each other. We learned about each other’s families. We shared problems. We laughed, we joked, we teased. We became extended families. And all in a face-to-face manner. And, to me, that is what makes for great team chemistry, a necessary component of a championship. Can you do it in today’s NBA? Of course, but it is much more difficult to accomplish it in under 140 characters. —Rick Barry #24

HOOP

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8/26/09 12:06:24 PM


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Panasonic.indd 1

7/31/09 2:28:21 PM


JUMPBALL

Celeb Row

Playlist Lindsay Whalen Connecticut Sun Summer shows: I went to the Paramore/No Doubt concert in Connecticut, so I’m listening to [Paramore] a lot now. I bough both of their CDs afterward. Upcoming albums: I’m definitely pumped about the new Weezer CD. My goal is to see them in concert. I want to see them so bad. I really like their old stuff, but I like their new stuff too.

Good at Being Bad You’ve been to a game with Mary J. Blige. OK, not really, but chances are you’ve heard one of her songs played in between the dunks and the three-pointers or while the cheerleaders shake it during a time out. She has also performed concerts in most of the arenas where her favorite teams play, so there’s a nice songhoop vibe going and she’s a true fan of the game. On September 11, Blige’s acting career takes another step forward in Tyler Perry’s latest flick, I Can Do Bad All By Myself. Then on November 24 her new album, Stronger, debuts. And if you’re lucky, you can catch a glimpse of her near the hardwood. Tyler Perry finds a great way of balancing outrageous humor and some really sensitive material. How does your character figure into this? My character is serious and funny, but mostly concerned about her best friend. She’s fun because she has to run a club, but she’s serious when she has to be.

I understand your home has a basketball court. Is it a big thing to have friends over? That’s exactly what it is. Sometimes we’ll play together all of us, just playing, having fun. 028

You’ve got some big fans among the players. Have you had any fan encounters with an NBA player? I’ve had several. They really appreciate what I am and who I am, which makes me feel good. From the teams that I actually love too, it’s like, “Wow, this is good.”

Guitar Hero or Rock Band? I got into Guitar Hero overseas, I have a lot more time then. I’m not so good, but it’s still fun to play.

Lindsay’s favorite tracks: Weezer Weezer Pearl Jam Green Day Paramore

“Say It Ain’t So” “In the Garage” “Live” “Jesus of Suburbia” “Crushcrushcrush”

From the Archives

What teams do you love? I love the Lakers. I love Boston. I love Orlando because it seems like everybody plays really hard. I love Phoenix. And Cleveland. 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. You grew up in New York, but you live in New Jersey. Knicks or Nets? [Laughs] I cannot answer that. Do you have a favorite player? There are so many great ones. You have Kobe, LeBron, Paul Pierce. There are a lot of people that play hard. I can’t pick one favorite. —Lois Elfman #40

HOOP Maurice Lucas, November 1983

WHALEN: jennifer pottheiser/nbae/getty images; blige: jed jacobsohn/Getty Image sport

How do you like that balance of really broad physical humor with sensitive things? I love the balance because it’s very real to life. Every day, all day is not just jokes and jokes. You have serious times. Taraji [P. Henson, the lead] plays an alcoholic, but there’s humor in that because of the way she’s really cutting up. Sometimes it’s funny to watch and some of it is hard to watch because she’s just out of control.

Your music is played at NBA and WNBA games. Have you ever been at a game and heard something of yours? Yes, I have. A basketball game, just being there at that particular moment when they do play your song, the cameraman jumps on you and then you end up on the screen and everybody starts screaming when they see you. You get to feel how the basketball crowd loves you. It’s fun and it makes you feel good.

HOOP

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8/26/09 12:25:06 PM


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TEAM_WAH NBA TIPOFF.indd 1

7/30/09 6:07:12 PM


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3/10/09

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JUMPBALL

— Mike James

“Hey, I’m telling you, my toes is nice, and I get a pedicure at least once every two weeks. I will walk around with my shoes off....I’ve got some of the sexiest toes in the game.”

overheard “I remember there was this little kid maybe 12, 13 years old who kept running up and sitting with me, bringing me stat sheets, bringing me cokes and popcorn. He was telling me which guys could play and which guys couldn’t play. I basically adopted him for two days and at the end he says to me, ‘One day I want to play in the NBA.’ And I am like, ‘Sure, OK.’ He said to me in my office, ‘Remember the kid from the Euro championships?’ And I said, ‘Do you know that kid?’ And he said, ‘I am that kid.’ I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me.” —Pistons GM Joe Dumars on learning Detroit’s second round pick, Jonas Jerebko, was the same Swedish kid he met over a decade ago during the Euroleague championships — Shaq tweeting after he tried to get into the White House unannounced

“The white house wouldn’t let me in, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?”

“My mom and my mom’s sister were on a kick with J names...my cousins names are Jessica, Jenna, Jade, Jaelyn and James. My oldest brother is Justin and my name is Jrue—my mom liked the name Dru, but wanted to figure out how to keep with the J theme. After me though, that kinda ended, because my sister is Lauren and brother is Aaron.”

— Jrue Holiday on his unique name

TOPIC:

Which rookie will have the biggest impact on their team’s success? Chris Duhon: I think Blake Griffin has a good opportunity to do well. I think a kid like Jordan Hill, with his athleticism, can do well. It all depends on if they get into the right system that fits their talent. I saw Gerald [Henderson]—I was just down at Coach K’s fantasy camp—and he was working out at Duke. He’s a guy that I think is going to do well because he’s so athletic, so gifted and skilled that he can compete with a lot of the guys at the NBA level. Rick Barry: Trying to predict what any rookie will do is like trying to guess where Charles Barkley’s next golf shot will go. I have always been a believer that a bigger-sized player has the best chance to be an impact player over a smaller guard, so I’m going with Blake Griffin, the No. 1 pick of the Clippers, as the rookie who will have the biggest impact on his team’s success. Because of his superior strength, athleticism and conditioning, he will not have to make a big adjustment to the more physical NBA game. Further, if he develops a consistent, face-up midrange jumper to go along with his nice post moves, he can become a reliable double-double player. His shoulder injury should be healed in plenty of time for him to integrate into the Clippers system by the time the season gets underway. Bobby Simmons: I watched [Terrence Williams] in college. As far as the young guys, you gotta let them understand the game and what’s expected of them, that’s key. I want Terrence to get out here and be experienced in certain situations and get an opportunity to play and be productive. I had some of the greatest—Michael Jordan himself when I played with the Wizards—and also Richard Hamilton and Jerry Stackhouse, guys like Larry Hughes, Christian Laettner, key guys that paved the way for younger guys in this League. I learned a lot from them.

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overheard: clockwise from top left: ned dishman; allen einstein; andrew d. bernstein; jesse d. garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images; 3 pts: from top: fernando medina; jack arent; garrett ellwood

3 pts

HOOP

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8/25/09 4:30:47 PM


frame

By Seth berkman #91

frame

Sue B ir d and Diana Taur asi July 25, 2009_Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT

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jesse d. garrabrant/Getty Images sport

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Call them the WNBA’s “Dynamic Duo.” Though they have never played on the same WNBA team, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are often recognized as the league’s most popular tag team, friends on- and off-the-court that have developed a special bond ever since Dee was a freshman at UConn. Playing for the West All-Stars back on their old stomping grounds in the state of Connecticut, the two decided to go into the bag of tricks for a highlight-worthy play during the 2009 WNBA All-Star Game. With the West cruising towards a victory, Bird hit Taurasi with a no-look dime as Dee laid it in for the easy two, reminiscent of their time under Geno Auriemma. Though they will fight for playoff position and possibly a spot in the WNBA Finals later this season, for one special night this summer, the UConnection had the mojo flowing as if they were back in Storrs wearing the navy, red and white.

HOOP

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9/2/09 10:29:31 AM


JUMPBALL

Good Looks

Debutant Baller

checking the league’s fashion game

Where NBA players remember their first game

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

Blake Griffin

Austin Daye, James Harden and Hasheem Thabeet

Even though purple is one of my favorite colors and it is very in style this summer, I think this color combination is too dark. I would have gone with a little bit lighter shade of purple shirt with this color of suit. Also, I see here that the tie clip is too small.

What were they thinking? These three outfits need some serious work. I do not like the colors, fit or style for any of these choices. But the good thing is that they are rookies and can get better going forward.

Clyde Drexler

Portland Trail blazers Date 10/28/83 — 11 minutes, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal

When I look at this suit the one thing that catches my eye is the double pocket on the right side. It is perfect. I think this is the detail of this summer. Also, the colors all work great together. The only thing that I don’t like about Stephen’s combination is that the suit, shirt and tie all have stripes. At least one of them should be plain.

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ZQ’s Nattiest: Brandon Jennings

Great one. That’s what you call a fitted suit. But I am not surprised because this kid was playing in Italy, so he has the style. I love the color combination and think that this color tie can go on different color suits, like dark blue and light gray.

good looks: jennifer pottheiser (6), debut: Mike Powell/NBAE/Getty Images

Stephen Curry

My first year was a learning experience. I held out of camp, [and then] got to camp late over a contract dispute. Jack Ramsey was the head coach of the Blazers. Jack was an old school coach, and if you held out there were like 2,000 plays you had to learn before you got a chance to play. So for the first month or so I had no chance to play, because I didn’t know all the plays. But after a couple of weeks, couple of months, I became more familiar, and [Coach Ramsey] slowly started to integrate me into the offense and as a defensive player. Eventually, after the All-Star break I think I averaged 25-26 minutes a game, and that’s not too bad for a rookie. Back then you had great players at your position. They didn’t draft you and say “the team is yours, here’s your position.” No, they drafted you and you had to wait your time, and beat out two or three people at your position. That’s the way it was back in the day–I think there was a little more competition for those spots. Jim Paxson was the starting two guard and he was All-NBA second team. Calvin Natt was the starting small forward and he was an All-Star. Darnelle Valentine was the point guard and an Olympian, one of the best in the League. So I’m thinking, where am I going to play out of those three spots? I can play all three, but it’s hard to break in. You just had to play hard and wait for something to happen. — Clyde Drexler as told to Dan Israeli #83

HOOP

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8/26/09 4:51:42 PM


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7/15/09 2:18:56 PM


JUMPBALL

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

Jalen Rose

Danielle Fishel

Who would you have play you in a movie?

Denzel Washington. An Oscar winner, avid sports fan, he’s very seasoned and versatile—plus he is a mentor of mine!

That’s a tough one. It would have to be someone kind of nerdy and at the same time kind of cool…I’d love to have Jessica Biel. I think she has the most beautiful body.

What would be one meal you could eat for the rest of your life? Lobster. I’m a fanatic indeed and I get it from my mom. Whether it be broiled, grilled, fried, chilled or baked, it’s my absolute favorite food.

My mom’s chicken soft tacos. That’s what I ask for my birthday every year.

What’s your favorite drink? Kool-Aid. I’m boasting many years of experience with this sugar-filled classic family beverage (cherry, grape or lemonade).

My favorite non-alcoholic drink is water. I’m water obsessed. I drink close to a gallon of water a day.

What kind of pajamas did you wear as a kid? Incredible Hulk, especially at five or six years old. As Dr. David Bruce Banner would say: “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

I believe I had footy pajamas with the little butt flap. My mom was very into those when I was an infant. After that I had Rainbow Brite pajamas. I was a little fascinated with Rainbow Brite.

What’s your biggest pet peeve? My biggest pet peeve is that I can grow a goatee with no problem but for some reason I cannot grow a full beard.

Passive aggressiveness. I just think everything is better when you’re straightforward. I don’t like snide comments that are meant to get at you. That and being late. I’m a lot easier on other people when they’re late, but my biggest pet peeve is when I’m late to something and I feel it was in my control.

Faces The Many Faces of... dwyane wade

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jalen: barry gossage/nbae/getty images; fishel: Courtesy of e!; noel vazquez; jed jacoboshn/getty image sport; wade: All photos/nbae/getty images

*Yes, that’s Topanga

HOOP

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8/25/09 4:27:12 PM


Š 2009 NBA Entertainment. Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser NBAE/Getty Images.

Where caring happens.

Become Involved In Your Community NBA.com/community

TEAM_NBA CARES.indd 1

7/30/09 6:04:42 PM


JUMPBALL

brack-it Eight things. One undisputed champ. Best Music Video Cameo by an NBA Player

Bow Wow feat. Fabolous “Basketball” (Baron Davis, various NBA players) vs. Michael Jackson “Jam” and “Remember The Time” (Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson)

The lead single off the Like Mike soundtrack, Bow Wow (who also stars in the film) gets some help from a few NBA All-Stars in his video for “Basketball.” The intro features Baron Davis and Bow Wow reenacting the famous “Jordan vs. Bird” McDonald’s H-O-R-S-E commercial before splicing in various clips from the film of Alonzo Mourning, Chris Webber and others. Though Fab’s Alex English Nuggets’ and Allen Iverson Sixers’ throwbacks are a nice touch, this duo can’t compete with the tag teams of MJ and MJ (x2). When Michael Jackson truly was the “King of Pop,” he enlisted two of the greatest basketball players ever for his songs “Jam” and “Remember the Time,” creating two of his more memorable vids during his illustrious career. It’s Jackson, Jordan and Johnson moving on to the second round.

Destiny’s Child “Bugaboo” (Kobe Bryant) vs. Common (feat. Lily Allen) “Drivin’ Me Wild” (Corey Maggette, Baron Davis)

Back in the days of TRL, Kobe Bryant’s fingers were less decorated and groups like Destiny’s Child ruled the airwaves with pop-friendly R&B tunes. Still, despite both’s star power, it was a surprising coup to see KB8 show up in the video for “Bugaboo,” as he makes a quick cameo in a locker room as the girls of DC are on the run. Golden State Warriors forward Corey Maggette and L.A. Clippers guard Baron Davis, on the other hand, play important roles in Common’s “Drivin’ Me Wild” featuring Lily Allen. Maggette helps set up the image of “a man and a baby” in the first verse, and Davis’ aghast reactions in a bar serve as the moral compass in the second verse. Despite the overall fineness of Beyonce and Co., Common, Maggette and Davis easily cruise to the semifinals.

Michael Jackson vs. Common

Both MJ and Common like to give the NBA players in their music videos more than just that “famous face in the crowd” role. However, the significance of those roles differ, well, significantly. In MJ’s video for “Jam,” Jordan battles the King of Pop in a friendly game of one-on-one for some practice space in an abandoned building. Johnson provides a bit of comic relief at the beginning of “Remember The Time,” using pop-culture slang like “Damn, that’s cold!” to comment on the Queen of Egypt’s (played by supermodel Iman) tough humor. Oh, and let’s not forget that Johnson hits a huge gong, which is discontinuous with Egyptian culture but nevertheless still pretty awesome. Considering Maggette and Davis’ roles in Common’s “Drivin’ Me Wild” (see Destiny’s Child vs. Common matchup) and that they only appear in the video for a grand total of about eight seconds, the Jackson-Jordan-Johnson trio easily run the competition off the road.

MIchael Jackson vs. Naughty By Nature

Having Naughty By Nature go up against MJ3 is like having the Orlando Magic play against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2009 Finals. “Hip Hoop Hooray” puts up a great effort as clips of jaw-dropping dunks flash intermittently between various players from the League getting down to the “Hey! Ho!” chorus. However, all of that pales in comparison to a legendary pop icon, who’s transcended all musical genres, performing alongside two of the greatest pro-ball players of all time. Jackson’s video, unlike Naughty By Nature’s, isn’t simply a video collage of his love for the sport. Instead, he uses cinematic elements to highlight Jordan and Johnson’s talents—other than, but including, those related to their athleticism—and multifaceted personalities. The King of Pop effortlessly rules this competition.

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HOOP

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8/26/09 12:07:15 PM


By Michelisa Lanche #17

Ciara “Never Ever” (Al Horford) vs. Naughty By Nature “Hip Hoop Hooray (NBA Remix)” (Christian Laettner, Larry Johnson, Tom Gugliotta and more)

Hailing from Atlanta, it’s no surprise Ciara personally asked the Hawks’ Al Horford to appear in her “Never Ever” video. At any rate, Horford is more of an afterthought in Ciara’s video. He appears for a few seconds at the end as her “new beginning” after a slightly unfaithful relationship (she caught her first beau scoping out another chick). Naughty by Nature, on the other hand, doesn’t hinge on a cheesy plot. Instead, their video boasts a compilation of both sick game highlights and multiple player cameos by Christian Laettner, Larry Johnson, Tom Gugliotta and others. On top of that, the group changed the title from “Hip Hop Hooray” to “Hip Hoop Hooray.” As writers, we’ve got to applaud Naughty by Nature’s pun usage and give them this win.

Nelly “Dilemma” (Larry Hughes) vs. Hootie and the Blowfish “Only Wanna Be With You” (Various NBA players)

At first glance you may think it is strange to see Larry Hughes pop up in a Nelly video, but these two are close friends thanks to their St. Louis roots. In “Dilemma,” Hughes plays the role of jealous boyfriend, staring down Nelly and his boys whenever he comes by the house of his girlfriend, played by Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland. In one of the only non hip-hop videos of the tourney, Darius Rucker and the boys—during the height of their popularity—called upon the big guns in their athlete-loaded video for “Only Wanna Be With You.” Walt Williams, Alonzo Mourning, Alex English, Muggsy Bogues and Charles Smith all show up to take on Hootie and the crew in a little pickup ball, with the NBA stars dominating, of course. Even though Hughes flashes some nice style thanks to a few crispy throwbacks and whips, this round goes to Hootie, in what may be remembered as the most sports-centric music video of all-time.

Naughty By Nature vs. Hootie and the Blowfish

In a battle of NBA-heavy music videos, this one is a close battle. If you pitted the stars of each, it’d be a pretty entertaining 5-on-5 matchup, but we think we should focus on the quality of acting for all intents and purposes. With its multiple cameos and game highlights, “Hip Hoop Hooray” is certainly a tribute to the sport of professional basketball. It even shows up the humor in Hootie’s video, showcasing Laettner, Johnson and Gugliotta lip-synching and goofily dancing to those ’90s East Coast beats. Sorry, Blowfish. Naughty By Nature advances to the Finals by the slimmest of margins.

Best Music Video Cameo by an NBA Player winner: Michael Jackson (View all the videos on hoopmag.com)

HOOP

HOOP0910-Brack-It.indd 39

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8/26/09 12:07:17 PM


JUMPBALL

Catching Up With...

James Donaldson English-born James Donaldson was a pioneering international hoopster whose professional career took him all over the globe.1 Long settled in Seattle, his first NBA outpost,2 Donaldson is now trying to make the former home of the SuperSonics a better place—as its next mayor.3 The 7-2 center was an unheralded pro prospect, drafted in the since-eradicated fourth round of the 1979 NBA draft.4 Eventually Donaldson made quite an imprint, seeing action in 51 playoff games over nine postseasons, playing in the 1988 All-Star Game,5 and recording a stunning field goal shooting clip of 63.7 percent in ’84-85.6 Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Donaldson’s career is that this onceoverweight teen with zero interest in sports grew into a genuine NBA iron man,7 one who proved resourceful enough to parlay a major knee injury into a successful fitness business.

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keys to the weight room and the gym and told me to go make something of myself. And I did.8 HOOP: How did it feel to be drafted by the local NBA team in Seattle—a defending NBA champion—but then be told that you weren’t really wanted, at least yet? Donaldson: That was a time when not a lot of players were steered by teams overseas for seasoning. I went to Montanini Siena in Italy. It was an adjustment, but I did learn a lot. I found out very quickly that the pros were a business, not a game. HOOP: You’ve been a vegetarian for more than two decades now. Are people surprised at the choice or that a man with your size and strength can eschew meat? Donaldson: People are surprised, sure, but I use that surprise as an instructive moment. The question is always, “Why?” and my answer is many-fold. I respect all life. I am concerned for an environment that is damaged by the typical American diet. And not insignificantly, it’s a healthier way to live. I believe that my longevity and durability as an athlete can be directly ascribed to a vegetarian diet. HOOP: Interesting you mention your durability, because most people are unaware of how much of an iron man you were. That said, was rupturing your patella knee tendon a long-term blessing? Donaldson: I’m not sure I looked at it that way at the time. [laughs] But it forced me to confront the reality of the next stage of my life. Whether or not I could come back from injury, one day I would no longer be an NBA player. Physical therapy was fascinating to me, so much so that I began taking summer classes to become a physical therapist. By 1990, while I was still in the NBA, I had opened my first Donaldson Fitness and Physical Therapy Clinic in Seattle. HOOP: For all the success you’ve had as a player and business owner, you’ve never held political office. How did you decide you were the best candidate to become the next mayor of Seattle? Donaldson: I love Seattle. I still live in the home I bought when I played for the Sonics. When I was traded,9 I was heartbroken. I thought I’d play in Seattle for my whole career. You know, I joke about this being my midlife crisis, that instead of a new girlfriend or sports car, I’m running for mayor. But as a small business owner and a longtime resident, I want to see some pride restored to Seattle. I want all our voices to be heard. We’ve grown government at the expense of our citizens and children and that just can’t continue. HOOP: Save Our Sonics10 was one of your first major endorsements, correct? Donaldson: [laughs] Naturally. But there will be dozens more to come. Bonus Points 1. In addition to his NBA career, Donaldson played six combined seasons in Greece, Spain, and Italy, retiring for good at 41. 2. After his college career at Washington State, Donaldson was drafted by the nearby Sonics and later played for the San Diego and Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, and Utah Jazz. 3. Get hip to the issues at www.TeamDonaldson.com. 4. Donaldson was drafted 73rd overall—later than such afterthoughts as Tico Brown, Danny Salisbury, Cheese Johnson, and Ernesto Malcolm (nine combined NBA games) but before future NBA stalwarts Jerry Sichting, Allen Leavell, Mark Eaton, and Charles Jones (2,899 games). 5. The center saw only eight minutes of action but managed two points, six rebounds, and two blocks. 6. That mark remains sixth-best in pro basketball history. Put another way, only Wilt Chamberlain and Artis Gilmore have ever had a better-shooting season. 7. Donaldson did not miss a single game for six straight seasons (1981-82 to 1986-87), and had one other full season and one 81-game campaign during his NBA career. 8. Donaldson averaged 12.6 points and 11.3 rebounds as a junior and put up 11.3 ppg and 10.8 rpg in his senior year to blossom into a legitimate, if long shot, NBA prospect. 9. On August 18, 1983, Donaldson and a future first round pick (which would become rebounding animal Michael Cage) were part of a blockbuster deal for the Clippers’ Tom Chambers. 10. The online movement to bring back an NBA team to Seattle.

stephen dunn/Getty Image sports

HOOP: Is it possible that a veteran of 20 pro seasons didn’t really see much playing time until his junior year of college? Donaldson: [laughs] That’s hard to believe today, but it’s pretty much true. I didn’t play at all until my senior year of high school [at Luther Burbank High in Sacramento]. I wasn’t into sports. I’d never developed any skill or coordination. HOOP: Dikembe Mutombo and Hakeem Olajuwon got late starts in basketball because they were soccer players, but you had to be guilted into the game? Donaldson: Pretty much. I weighed more than 300 pounds. It seemed like I would never grow into my body. My coach [Charles Calhoun] papered every window in the gym so I could learn the game somewhat privately, believe it or not. HOOP: And you didn’t play much in college, either? Donaldson: Well, I was still so raw, I didn’t play much my first two years. [Washington State Coach] George Raveling was really supportive. He gave me

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Dance Life

Alexandria

Wizards girls HOOP: How did you get your start dancing? Alexandria: I knew that one way to start dancing professionally was to dance for a professional sport. The NBA always interested me because they did technical dancing on the court. It always looked like a lot of fun; it seemed like a great opportunity. HOOP: What was the audition process like? Alexandria: I believe there were about 200 girls that tried out. Looking on websites at the previous team doesn’t really prepare you for what to expect at the audition. It was definitely a lot of work—a long audition. You just had to stick through it. HOOP: What do you do when you’re not dancing? Alexandria: I just graduated from Howard University. I was a fashion merchandising major. Eventually, I would like to one day be a buyer for a department store and even own my own boutique one day.

HOOP: What’s the game night experience like? Alexandria: Average game night we’ll perform one dance, but we also do many combinations on the side of the court. It differs from game-to-game. We probably learn about 50 different dances throughout the season. In general, I’m into hip-hop and R&B, but [performing] I love to hear The Pussycat Dolls or Britney Spears. Those get the crowd hyped up. HOOP: Do you think the NBA should expand overseas? Alexandria: It’s hard to say. For instance in professional sports, everyone wants to be in the Untied States because it’s bigger and better here, and economically, we give the people more money. I feel like if the NBA did go overseas, it definitely would create more of an interest in professional basketball. —Seth Berkman #91

Txt Msgs

Candice wiggins

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CW: Never took poetry…I think just life in the dorms my fr year… stanford is such an unpredictable place. I loved every sec of it Lol HOOP: R u big into twitter and fbook to keep in touch w/ fam? CW: Im in to twitter and kinda fb…but not to keep in toch with family. I just recently got back on fb…its a circus now! Lol HOOP: Yeah, tell me about it, lol…we hear ur a big sex & the city fan…u think they should make a sequel? CW: Well, I’m always down for more satc drama, cuz I love it… and I feel like they would only do a sequel if the plot was on pt. HOOP: I just peeped ur twitter pg and saw a ‘my brother and me’ tweet…quik, can u name the nba player who had a cameo on da show? CW: Noooo. And I know this! Is it the Cool Dr. Money episode?? HOOP: I think it was a diff. one…kendall gill!!! CW: Oops! Forgive me Mr. Gill…I loved that show, so many basketball references! Alphie: “Deedee, u look like Charles Barkley, without the muscles!!” Lol HOOP: My bro and me is def underrated…Last q: which is tougher, dunking in a game, solving a rubiks cube in under 2 mins or final exams at Stanford? CW: Final exams at Stanford, hands down. My heart just palpitated when I read tht question, and I’m out of school!! U trying to give me a heart attack?? Lol — Seth Berkman #91

alexandria: ned dishman/nbae/getty images; TXT MSG: clockwise from top right: david sherman; noel vazquez; vince bucci; rocky widner; jamie squire/nbae/getty images

HOOP: Hey Candice…what do u do to chill back home? We hear u like to shop a lot… CW: Lol. Yeah I shop, but right now I’m into vintage stores… easy on the wallet & u can find special/unique pieces. I’ve been watching a lot of entourage lately too. HOOP: Whos your fav on the show? CW: Thats a hard choice…it used to b E, but I don’t love how his character is developing…I’d say Johnny Drama! Tht man is just so delusional its incredible Lol HOOP: Lol, I feel you…any plans to come out with a clothing line? CW: No Way! I don’t possess any talent whatsoever when it comes to designing clothes! I love interior design tho, I’d love to decorate spaces, but no. Not clothes HOOP: We could use some redesign of our HOOP office, if ur not busy in the offseason, j/k…speaking of which, how was spain? CW: Spain was great. It was my first time overseas and it was just beautiful. And our team was ridiculously good HOOP: Fav spanish meal? CW: Arroz a banda, I think thts how u say it. I could eat it every day HOOP: I read ur a big nas fan…best mc ever? CW: Lyrically, yes. Nas and 2pac are my favorites bc I feel like they’re not only rappers, but poets as well. That’s a very hard feat to accomplish HOOP: I def agree w/ u on that. Did u ever take any poetry at stanford? What were ur best memories of palo alto?

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straight shooter Phoenix’s

Channing Frye

Heading back to Arizona, expect Channing to spend lots of hours on the lakes with a fishing rod and maybe a laptop

Aims for Honest Answers to your NBA Questions

Can you talk about your first free agent experience this past summer?

How did you spend your summers as a kid?

I spent my summers as a kid either fishing or playing basketball even though it was ridiculously hot outside. I love fishing and I couldn’t get enough of it. There are manmade lakes all around the East Valley [of Phoenix] where I grew up, so I would catch little crape and bluegill and cook ’em up. My folks must’ve been like “What is wrong with this kid, eating fish out a dirty lake? Don’t we feed him?” A must-have on any road trip is my computer. No matter what happens I can always keep myself busy either listening to music, watching movies and with hulu.com I don’t have to miss any of my favorite TV shows.

Have you ever been star struck meeting someone?

The only time I’ve ever been star struck is when I met Muhammad Ali and I just wanted to look at him, not to bother him, but to just soak in everything he stood for, everything he worked for, and the fact that every day he’s still fighting just to stand on his feet. He truly made me star stuck.

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Man, the weirdest conversation I’ve had during a game is a tough question. I don’t really talk to people during games. I may talk some smack here and there and I do that only if I feel tired. Talking smack gets my juices running and it feels like I’m back in the gym with my boys and makes the game even more competitive. But an actual conversation? Nah, never done that.

from top: press conference: courtesy of phoenix suns; barry gossage; joe murphy; sam forencich/NBAE/Getty Images

What do you bring on road trips? Any must-haves?

What’s the weirdest conversation you’ve had during a game?

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My free agent experience was fantastic. I really feel like I’m at a place not only in my life but also in my game where I can help a team that wants me, and that it was all my decision. I really liked the other teams that were pursuing me but I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to play with Steve Nash, Amar’e and to be able to play back home.

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

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Numerology

The number of remaining Bobcats from their inaugural season (Gerald Wallace)

5,6

The Minnesota Timberwolves had the fifth and sixth picks in this year’s NBA draft and they took Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn. It was only the second time in the last 20 years that one team made two of the top six selections in an NBA draft. The Celtics did that in 1997, choosing Chauncey Billups with the third pick and Ron Mercer sixth overall.

5,000 Lauren Jackson became the fourth player in WNBA history to score 5,000 career points on August 15. The 29-year-old Jackson is the youngest person to reach the 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 point milestones.

3

2

Tully Bevilaqua was named to both the Seattle Storm and Indiana Fever All-Decade teams this season.

1988

The Clippers began the 2009 NBA draft by taking Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin. The Clippers have drafted only one future All-Star in the last 20 years—Antonio McDyess who they immediately traded on draft night of 1995. The last player drafted by the Clippers who represented the team in an All-Star Game was Danny Manning (chosen first overall in 1988).

James Harden, selected by Oklahoma City with the third overall pick in the NBA draft, is the highest selection by any Arizona State player since the common draft began in 1966. Harden just beat the Sun Devils’ old record; Byron Scott was chosen fourth overall by the San Diego Clippers in 1983 (then traded to the Lakers for Norm Nixon).

Photo Buckets Eli Wolkenfeld, Benjamin Lester, and Jacob Wolkenfeld Beverly Hills, CA Congratulations to Eli Wolkenfeld, Benjamin Lester, and Jacob Wolkenfeld, winners 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 this entry (submitted by Sherri Lester), taken with Dwyane Wade on New Year’s Day at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. Send us your best fan photo with an NBA player for a chance to win a HOOP T-shirt. The winning entry* will 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

* - All submitted entries become property of HOOP

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Charde Houston

Forward Minnesota Lynx BONUS POINTS 1. Houston says one of her favorite stores is H&M and the stores she visits in each city feature decidedly different things. 2. She made one Final Four appearance with the Huskies, in 2008. Three other Lynx players also appeared in that Final Four: Nicky Anosike of Tennessee, Candice Wiggins of Stanford and fellow former Husky Renee Montgomery, who returned for a National Championship in 2009. 3. Auriemma has been named head coach of the U.S. senior national team. Houston says she’s ready to try out if asked. 4. Houston played her last WNBA offseason in Israel. She’s aiming for a European team this year and ultimately hopes to play her

Charde Houston is looking good in more ways than one. In her sophomore WNBA season, the Lynx forward has made her way into the starting lineup of the power packed young team and raised her scoring consistently into double figures. The fashion lover is also sporting some fabulous looks off the court.1 “Mall of America is a great mall, but once you’re around something so much you get used to it and it gets old after a while. I do a lot of my shopping on the road,” says the 23-year-old UConn alum.2 “You get to have a creative mind for dressing, especially now because many things are in style.” For a team that lost its head coach and its All-Star, Olympic gold medalist leader within the first weeks of the season, the Lynx have proven to be resilient, thanks in large part to the maturation of Houston. “We understand that we don’t have Seimone [Augustus] to bail us out and to make great shots or take somebody off the dribble,” says Houston. “We know in order to continue to win games and try to make the playoffs, we have to play as one.” That mentality stems from Minnesota’s leader on the sidelines. Houston says Lynx head coach Jennifer Gillom is just as ferocious a competitor as a coach as she was as a player. “She’s so involved and so full of energy,” Houston notes. Houston is used to playing for fiery coaches, as she learned from one of the best in college under Geno Auriemma. Although Houston’s playing days at UConn ended on a somewhat disappointing note, she says the basketball and life skills with which she left Storrs will fuel her for decades and the results are beginning to show this season.3 “They introduced me to the ability to talk to people and network and not be afraid to go out and get what you want,” she explains. “If things don’t go right, you continue to pursue what you want until you get exactly what you want. Never settle for less. “When you leave there, you leave being so tough, so brave and able to fight for whatever you want,” she adds.4 “You expect nothing but the best in anything that you do.” That’s the kind of fashionable statement Lynx fans should love to hear.

ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

way across the continent.

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Ebony Hoffman Forward Indiana Fever

BONUS POINTS 1. One of the top high schoolers in the country in the late ’90s, Hoffman was one of the few southern California players who decided to play college ball close to home at USC. 2. The women’s team at USC will be getting some new moves in the coming school year, when Los Angeles Sparks coach Michael Cooper becomes head coach. 3. She considers Fever forward Tamika Catchings and guard Katie Douglas two of her best friends. Catchings was maid of honor at Hoffman’s 2007 wedding to Ronald Cass.

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hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images layneron murdochl/NBAE/Getty

Midway through the 2009 WNBA season, the Indiana Fever were simply refusing to lose. They were outhustling, outscoring, outrebounding and outbanging every team that crossed their paths. Some might say nothing spurs a team to an 11-game winning streak like its owners threatening to close the franchise, but forward Ebony Hoffman says it’s just a chemistry experiment gone spectacularly right. “We’re playing well as a team, with a lot of togetherness,” says Hoffman. “We’ve got that chemistry that we’ve been lookin for.” For people who closely follow women’s hoops, it’s pretty amazing to see how far the 27-year-old Hoffman1 has come. Always respected as a strong inside presence, she appeared to be a new person before the 2008 season—trimmer, quicker and able to make things happen anywhere on the court. Her hard work paid off when she was named the 2008 WNBA Most Improved Player of the Year. “You can’t stay the same,” she says. “You can’t do the same college moves.2 I really had to retool my game, beef it up a little bit, change it and become more of a complete player. “I don’t want to be one-dimensional. I want it to be hard for other people to guard me. When they look at their scouting report they have a hard time figuring out who they want to guard me and how they’re going to do it. If you leave me open, then I’m going to shoot in your face. You try to take that away, then I’ll drive the ball on you. If you [stop] that, then I’ll take you in the post.” Hoffman has been playing the 2009 season in pain, suffering from tendonitis in both feet. But she says she wants her teammates3 to know she’s a bulldog, willing to stand with them regardless of how she’s feeling. Just another example of the perfect chemistry that has the Fever scorching on their way to the playoffs.

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By Michelisa Lanche #17

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Essence Carson

Guard-Forward New York Liberty BONUS POINTS 1. On 7/31/09, Coyle was replaced by Donovan, a Liberty assistant and former Indiana Fever, Charlotte Sting, Seattle Storm and Team USA head coach. 2. As of press time, Carson was averaging career highs in points, steals, assists, three-point shooting and free throw shooting percentage .3. Carson played for TTT/Riga in Latvia and Umana Reyer Venezia in Italy. 4. Before being selected seventh overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Carson helped lead the Scarlet Knights to the 2007 Final Four. 5. Carson was a McDonald’s All-American and Parade All-American Player of the Year

We’ve all heard the expression “Third time’s the charm,” but when it’s not and when even the fourth time isn’t successful, something’s gotta be done. Example: the New York Liberty, one of the WNBA’s original franchises, made it to the Finals four times sans anything to show for it. But perhaps Essence Carson can help free the Liberty from such a track record. Drafted into the league just last year, Essence Carson showcased a lot of potential as a rookie. So much that she started all but four games in ’08 and became a full-time starter under head coach Pat Coyle and later for interim coach Anne Donovan1 for the Liberty this summer.2 Though this season started off a bit slow for the Liberty, Carson wants to show that Coyle and Donovan made the right choice. The Rutgers alum plans to apply what she learned during her overseas experience in Latvia and Italy3 on domestic courts. “[In Latvia], I became a lot more aggressive on offense,” she says. “Italy had a better league [compared to Latvia]—more competitive. I was playing against great competition day-in-and-day-out and I want to continue to bring that energy over here.” Carson makes no bones about it that one constant that keeps her focused home and abroad is music. On the road, it keeps her grounded and calm. And in the offseason she uses it as an outlet to relax from the grind of playing ball almost year round. Though she graduated with a degree in psychology from Rutgers University,4 she studied music during her freshman and sophomore years. She eventually turned the latter into a minor, the knowledge from which helps her create songs at home as a hobby. “If I didn’t have the opportunity to play basketball anymore, I would definitely be into music,” Carson says. “[On] the production side.” Thankfully, the 6-0 New Jersey5 native still has the opportunity to ball. And she’s showing that she’s doing everything she can to make sure the music she brings to the floor doesn’t fall flat.

nathaniel s. butler/NBAE/Getty Images

at Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ.

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By Andy Jasner #27

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Joakim Noah

Center-Forward Chicago Bulls BONUS POINTS 1. Noah helped guide the University of Florida to back-to-back NCAA national championships in ’06 and ’07. 2. In his postseason debut, Noah had 11 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls in their 105-103 overtime win over the Celtics. 3. Noah’s father, Yannick, was the 1983 French Open champion and is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. 4. He ended his college career with 1,124 points, which ranks 34th in school history. Noah finished second all-time at Florida in career field goal percentage (61.2) and blocked shots (186). 5. Last summer, Noah hosted a Bulls Day at the Taste of Chicago, where he signed autographs and led a basketball clinic for fans.

Joakim Noah kept hearing about the difficult transition from college1 to the NBA. He didn’t realize how tough it would actually be until experiencing it first-hand. “I figured it wouldn’t be that bad,” says Noah, who is entering his third season with the Chicago Bulls. “The travel, added games and mental aspects were tougher than I envisioned. I feel much more prepared after a couple of years in the League.” The 6-9 floppy-haired forward really shined during the playoffs2 when the Bulls pushed the Boston Celtics to the edge in a memorable seven-game series. Noah averaged 10.1 points and 13.1 rebounds against the Celtics and played arguably the best basketball of his life. “In this league, you never stop learning,” Noah says.3 “You have to bring it every day. I felt like I really improved during the postseason. I felt like I did during my years at Florida4 when we were winning championships. The playoffs gave me a great launching point for next season.” The Bulls possess a young group of ultratalented players including Noah, so the future looks extremely bright for a franchise trying to get back to its championship-winning ways of the ’90s with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. “This is a great city5 with the greatest basketball fans,” Noah says. “I’m looking forward to what lies ahead here. We can accomplish some great things.”

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Tangela Smith

Forward-Center Phoenix Mercury BONUS POINTS 1. Smith has also won championships overseas in Turkey, China and Korea. 2. Her high school, George Washington, defeated the school Pondexter attended, John Marshall (Pondexter was not a student there yet), breaking Marshall’s then 13-year winning streak. 3. Entering the 2009 season, Smith ranked in the top 10 in WNBA history in six categories: points, rebounds, blocks, field goals attempted, field goals made and minutes.

barry gossage/NBAE/Getty Images

Timing is everything and in 2005 it didn’t work in Tangela Smith’s favor. After seven seasons with the Sacramento Monarchs, she had joined the now-defunct Charlotte Sting…only for the Monarchs to win the WNBA Championship that summer. But in 2007, the motto “all good things come to those who wait” came true for Smith, when, in her first year with the Phoenix Mercury the team became WNBA Champions.1 In a league at times obsessed with each year’s rookie class, the 32-year-old Smith is a durable veteran who has played in the WNBA since its second season. “It’s definitely odd being older because I was always the youngest on the team growing up,” says the 6-4 Smith, who skipped a grade in elementary school, but made up for it by being one of the tallest girls. Just like Mercury teammate Cappie Pondexter, she grew up in Chicago, a breeding ground for such WNBA talent as Tamika Catchings, Dominique Canty, Yolanda Griffith and Candace Parker (we’ll count the suburb of Naperville). “It was always very competitive. I played against all of those schools that they went to,”2 she says. “Even AAU was really competitive. It made you a better ball player. It was good preparation for a pro career that has gone pretty much year-round since Smith graduated from the University of Iowa in 1998.3 One way to adapt has been by opting for countries like Korea and China that have relatively short four-month seasons and allow for her timing to be just right for the WNBA haul. “I do get some rest,” says Smith, who always heads overseas with a list of skills she wants to work on. “When I first started playing, I never shot the three. I started working on it every year. Now that’s all I do, basically. I improved my game inside and outside trying to be more versatile because the more positions you can play, the longer you can stay in the league.”

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24 seconds with MIKE CONLEY HOOP: What are your personal goals for this season? Conley: I’d like to try and get the Most Improved Player Award, and try to be a leader for this team. HOOP: What areas of your game do you need to improve in to have a shot at the MIP? Conley: Just being consistent across the board, playing at a high level and not just doing it for half the season, but for 82 games. HOOP: You were named the starter shortly after Lionel Hollins1 took over the head coaching duties. What did that mean to you? Conley: A lot. For coach to take a chance on me, I just wanted to go out there and prove that I could play in this league and take advantage of the opportunity. HOOP: How do you describe your game? Conley: Subtle. A lot of people won’t notice me, because I’m not as flashy as other players, but I get the job done. Whether it’s making plays or scoring the ball, I do what it takes to win games. HOOP: How would you describe your bowling game? Conley: Oh, my bowling game is wild right now. I’m all over the place. I bowl right-handed or left-handed, so I’ve been all confused when it comes to picking up spares. HOOP: Are you ambidextrous with everything? Conley: I’m ambidextrous in bowling, golf and basketball. That’s it. I can’t write left-handed to save my life. HOOP: How’d you learn to hook2 a bowling ball? Conley: I went bowling almost every week in high school. I learned how to bowl from a couple of guys and they taught me how to spin the ball. HOOP: What kind of ball do you use? Conley: My ball is a Black Widow.3 It’s one of those that allows it to curve more, to really cut back to the pins and come in with more speed. So it makes your game look better than it really is. HOOP: That’s not like corking a bat in baseball, is it? Conley: [Laughs] No, I wouldn’t know any way to cheat in bowling. HOOP: What is it you like about bowling? Conley: You’re almost competing against yourself, trying to beat your high scores. I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to be consistent with the same focus every time. It’s tough to knock down all 10 pins and then keep it going.

joe murphy/nbae/getty images

HOOP: What is your high score? Conley: My highest is 256. I’m normally up around 190 or 200. HOOP: You’ve played in celebrity bowling tournaments. How do you stack up against the other athletes and stars? Conley: I went to Peyton Manning’s [tournament] the last three years and last year I got second place to Reggie Wayne. I should’ve won, but I guttered the ball in the 10th frame. I hadn’t guttered a ball in like a year. I don’t know how it happened. HOOP

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24 seconds with MIKE CONLEY

HOOP: You hoop, you bowl, you golf... did you ever consider following in your father’s spikes?4 Conley: I did think about following him when I was younger just because he was so successful at track. I always thought I was fast, but I just hate to run in straight lines. HOOP: Did you ever try the long jump or triple jump? Conley: I did long jump my freshman year of high school and ended up going to the regionals. I did pretty well, but it wasn’t for me. HOOP: Do you have any memories of your dad winning gold during the ’92 Olympics? Conley: I don’t remember much from that year, but I do remember the ’96 Olympics. You don’t realize when you’re young how special it is for someone in your family to compete for his country. HOOP: Your dad played basketball, too, right? Conley: Yeah, he played in high school and I think he might have walked on one year at college. HOOP: Did you guys play hoops together out in the driveway when you were a kid? Conley: When I was 10 or 11, we’d play every day and he would always win. But I remember one day just killing him and it was never the same. I had turned a corner. HOOP: Who’s the better dunker?5 Conley: I’d say right now he’s probably got me. He likes to jump off one leg or jump from behind the free-throw line. I can’t do that. HOOP: Your father is also your agent. What’s that like? Conley: It’s different. It’s good in a lot of ways because you’ve got somebody that you can honestly trust to do the right thing for you. But it’s awkward sometimes not knowing when to treat him like dad or treat him like my agent. HOOP: And he’s Greg Oden’s agent, as well, right? Conley: Yeah, he’s Greg’s agent, Daequan Cook and a couple football players, as well.

BONUS POINTS 1. Conley averaged 14.3 points, 5.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 39 games after Hollins took over as head coach. 2. In bowling, a hook is when you “curve” the

HOOP: Tell us about your relationship with Greg. You obviously played together6 for several years, but you were also roommates. Conley: We were roommates in college and we lived together last summer in Columbus during the offseason. He actually stayed with us a lot in high school when he first moved. He slept on our couch. So we’ve been close for a long time.

ball into the pins. 3. According to the Hammer Bowling brand, the Black Widow “Goes long and attacks violently on the backend.” 4. Mike Conley, Sr. won a silver medal during the 1984 Olympics and a gold in 1992. 5. Conley won the Foot Locker Celebrity Dunk Contest in 1992 and was interviewed after the

6. Conley and Oden teamed up to lead Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis to three state championships. 7. Conley writes a blog for YardBarker.com and

HOOP: Who’s better at videogames? Conley: I’m the best videogame player in the NBA. I like playing Halo 3, Gears of War, Call of Duty. I also play NBA 2K9 and a couple football games. I play Guitar Hero. So I’ve got a mixture there. HOOP: We saw you playing Guitar Hero on your blog.7 Conley: Yeah, I’m real good playing the guitar. I can’t play the drums or sing or anything like that, but I can play the guitar. I like “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi.

also has a Facebook page and Twitter account (@Mconley11).

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For more questions with Mike, visit hoopmag.com

andrew d. bernstein/nbae/Getty Images

event by HOOP’s editor-at-large Jeramie McPeek.

HOOP: Was he a good roommate? Conley: Oh yeah, he was real clean. He’s not wild or anything. He just likes to relax and watch movies or sleep. So you don’t have to worry about him messing anything up. I was the slob between us.

HOOP

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Members of the Seattle Storm help cut the ribbon at the dedication for a new Reading and Learning Center at the Seattle Vocational Institute Center. Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images

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New York Liberty guard Sidney Spencer reads the book Angel Child, Dragon Child with a young girl at the New York Liberty Fast Break to Reading event at Madison Square Garden. Steve Freeman/NBAE/Getty Images

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Sylvia Fowles shows teammate Chen Nan the rules of air hockey during a pre-event for the Basketball Battle of the Sexes between the Chicago Sky and Entertainment League stars at the ESPN Zone in Chicago, Illinois. Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images

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Orlando Magic guard Vince Carter drives the pace car before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ 51st Annual Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL. Rusty Jarrett/NBAE/Getty Images

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Triple Double Three albums. Two players. One dynamic pair of music critics Jordin Sparks Battlefield

The Dead Weather Horehound

Thaddeus Young

Loso’s Way is a great return album for Fabolous with a lot of soul to it. Many of the songs had lighter tones of love like “Stay” and “Last Time,” but the real heart of the album came from the songs that returned to his heavy-hitting rap style from his 2004 release Real Talk. The first single from the album, “My Time,” is a pounding club song that should really take off because of its catchy hook and Fabolous’ delivery. Also, Fabolous has some great collabos with artists like Keri Hilson, Ne-Yo and Lil Wayne. Those two have great chemistry and will hopefully continue working together. Many of the songs I can see myself listening to before games to get ready. Overall, Loso’s Way is a great album that has something for every type of rap fan.

Battlefield is Jordin Sparks’ second album since she began her career on American Idol. The title track is a powerful song that shows Jordin’s beautiful voice and explores her vocal range. “Battlefield” is a song with a lot of heart and you can hear the emotion through her words. Also, the hook will get stuck in your head for days. The album is a little too childish for my tastes but it has a lot of great hooks and pop songs. Although I really enjoyed “Faith” because it has a great message and is closer to R&B music. I think that this is a good buy for someone who enjoys lighter music.

I had never heard of The Dead Weather before receiving this CD. This is Jack White’s (previously of the The White Stripes and The Raconteurs) latest project and Horehound, their first album, is simply loud and gritty rock n’ roll. “Hang You From the Heavens” is the album’s first single and it features the vocals of Alison Mosshart (previously of The Kills). The Dead Weather has a very interesting sound but the music never worked for me personally. “Treat Me Like Your Mother” was their best effort because it had a really cool guitar riff and Mosshart’s voice mixed well with it. This is really not my style of music, but I think it is worth the buy for alternative rock fans.

Carl Landry

I am really feeling this album! F-A-B-O put some work into this one. I haven’t really heard him in a minute and I was really impressed with his wordplay and the beats on this one. The extra bonus was the short movie that was included with the CD. I like movies and was surprised at how good the production and story was. There are a lot of really strong singles (FAB has always been a king of making hot videos), including: “Throw it in the Bag,” “Salute,” and “Last Time”—these are all hot! I just saw the video for “Money Goes” yesterday…looks like Loso will have some big success with this one. I suggest grabbing a copy of this album for yourself!

This album may be a little too young for me. It is definitely a pop album. I did not hear the last album but I know Jordan was from American Idol. She had some good radio success last time and this album seems to be a really up-tempo, party CD. Nothing really stood out to me as a hit like the “No Air” track she had before. “Was I the Only One” and “Faith” may have been the best two tracks. The remake of “S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)” didn’t seem to fit her style to me, at least from the couple songs I did hear off the last album. Probably a good CD for the kids.

I have never heard of this group before. Their style and music is very different (just like the album cover). Some songs seemed to be way too heavy metal for me and others were very smooth and had a heavy blues influence. I really felt the last track, “Will There Be Enough Water?” I don’t know what they were talking about, but I really liked the feel, it definitely had the “Blues Sound” on it... somewhat similar to the first track “60 Feet Tall.” They are definitely a good band. I listened to this at home and the sound was pretty cool. Like I said, lyrically, I was not able to follow what they were saying, but the music sounds pretty good on a few of the tracks.

THADDEUS: JESSE D. GARRABRANT; carl: bill baptist/NBAE/Getty Images

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Game Rec Game

By Nate Robinson #4

Madden NFL 10 PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, Xbox 360

NCAA Football 10 PS3, PS2, PSP, Xbox 360

For More of Nate’s Reviews, Visit HOOPMAG.COM 094

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

As a former gridiron star I know a thing or two about strapping on the pads, lacing up the cleats and applying the eye-black on the weekend. I hung up my helmet a few years ago, but I still get my pigskin fix through gaming, so it was like a holiday this summer when I finally got to play EA Sports’ NCAA Football 10 and Madden NFL 10. Starting with the college game, NCAA Football has always been the best nonprofessional sports game. You can play as any D-1 school, as well as many other smaller D-2 schools like an Ivy League or HBCU team. One of the hotter features is the “Road to Glory” mode, where you create yourself as a freshman and follow your progress up until the Heisman Trophy presentation as a senior. If you’re more into team accolades than individual accomplishments, the “Create-A-School” mode will fulfill your needs. The gameplay has stepped up and there are cool little perks like field goal nets, pregame marching bands and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews roaming from the sideline. The visuals are pretty much the same compared with years past, but this is one of the best sports titles of the year so far. I just wish they made it a bit easier to stop my man Tim Tebow. Now onto the pros. Is there a game with a more storied history than the Madden franchise? This year they released the 21st version of the game and featured two athletes on the cover for the first time—Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu and Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald. Some of the cool updates include “gang tackles,” fumble fights and injury animations. If you’re lucky enough to get to the Super Bowl, it even comes with pregame festivities and patches on the jersey. I have to say, with a better gameplay, improved ratings and even more nooks and crannies, this may be the best Madden yet. They even have a blazing soundtrack filled with mostly old school cuts by dudes like Nas, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys. I never made it past college ball, but now I know what it feels like to play on a Sunday. For any sports fan, both of these games are must haves. I can’t wait to see what this fall’s basketball titles bring.

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by danny granger #33

Keepin’ It Reel Danny Granger goes to the movies District 9 TriStar Pictures

Danny’s Rating:

District 9 was actually really good. I liked how they showed it from a different perspective. It was very real. Before watching it, I liked the whole ad campaign behind the film, it was different and mysterious and got me excited for the movie. The way they told the story, kind of a split between documentary-style with interviews and the live-action, it set it apart from other action films. It was different from Cloverfield, which was strictly from behind-the-camera, you had a lot of shaking, a lot of running—I actually got motion-sickness from Cloverfield because the camera was moving so much. This was way better than that way of storytelling. The movie is about an alien ship that comes to earth and hovers in the air over part of South Africa. Humans begin to explore the spaceship and find beings inside which they quarantine on earth in District 9. Over time the humans become conflicted on what to do with them and it causes much disturbance between local gangs, scientists and the government. Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) was my favorite character. I thought he did a good job from not having that much prior acting experience. As far as my list of summer movies to see, this is near the top. I loved Transformers and I loved Star Trek, but this is right up there, it’s really good. I’m going to grab it once it comes out on DVD. It was a really good idea. As far as future flicks, I can’t wait to see Legion with Dennis Quaid and The Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro. Those are two I’m really excited for.

granger: ron hoskins/nbae/getty images

More Than A James If you’re considering watching More Than a Game just because of LeBron James, you’ll be disappointed. James might get top billing on the posters and other marketing—and for good reason—but the documentary is much more than James’ ascent from prodigy to pro. More Than a Game follows two years of James’ Akron, OH high school, St. Vincent-St. Mary, from unknown program to national powerhouse. While More Than a Game is about basketball, the game serves as a background and the glue to the true crux of the movie, the growth and relationships of James’ high-school teammates, James Dru Joyce III, Willie McGee, Sian Cotton and Romeo Travis. The central character in the documentary is Dru Joyce II, who coached four of the boys during their AAU days and eventually at St. Vincent-St. Mary. As you watch the boys morph into young men, you’re also treated to Coach Joyce’s growth from a former football player to coach of a high-school basketball team to coaching one of the all-time high school basketball sensations during the most media-saturated era in sports. Unlike 1994’s Hoop Dreams, More Than a Game doesn’t try to be a cautionary tale, but like the standard bearer for sports documentaries, it does inspire. More Than a Game focuses on the lifetime bonds that the game fosters in an entertaining, 105-minute format that delivers happiness, grief, redemption and glory in a movie-like arc. Although he’s the focal point as the team’s best player, LeBron does not overshadow his teammates. There’s plenty of pre-NBA LeBron footage to be had, but you need not be a fan—or even know of LeBron, impossible as that may be—to enjoy the film. —Ming Wong #2

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the goods Pick of the Litter

Amazon Kindle As folks who still love feeling the pages in your hand (we are in the print magazine business, after all) we hated ourselves for liking the Kindle, Amazon’s reading device that can store over 1,500 of your desired tomes, a variety of periodicals and blogs, all downloaded on a peppy 3G connection. At 10.2 ounces, it’s about as heavy as this copy of HOOP in your hands and at a third of an inch, it’s about the same thickness, too. What really sold us is the Kindle’s screen. The grayish screen doesn’t wow with colors (it’s monochromatic) or high resolution (although photos are sharper than you would think), but the electronic-paper display mimics print on actual paper. After an hour or so with the Kindle, we almost forget we were holding an electronic device and not a book.

$299

Netgear Home Theater Internet Connection Kit We’ve been on the home theater PC kick for years now—music and movie streams, basketball highlights, all in high-def, natch—but getting the content into your living room has always been the challenge. Most homes aren’t hardwired for Ethernet and wireless isn’t the most reliable for HD streams. We found Netgear’s Home Theater Internet Connection Kit to be a simple solution. We plugged one end to our router and from there it is connected to an electrical outlet. We plug the other adapter to an outlet near our living room TV and connect it our Xbox 360, PC, DVR or TV (the adapter switch supports up to four Ethernet devices). The connection uses your home’s existing powerlines for up to 200 Mbps, more than fast enough to handle any high bandwidth transfers. Additional adapters can be bought separately to expand your home network.

$179.99

Casio Exilim Phone Casio’s Exilim Phone is sleek and stylish for a camera phone, with the emphasis on “camera.” Unlike most phones with a throwaway camera, the Exilim boasts 5.1-megapixels, 3X optical zoom, auto focus, flash and best-shot modes—all features of a modern digital camera. The bonus is the GPS and HTML Web browser. Oh, and it also does the basics like make and receive phone calls. The Exilim is also a tough hombre; meeting military-certified 810F standards (water/shock/sand/dust/ gunfire vibration resistant), which means it was perfect for the busy streets of Manhattan. On the Verizon network in New York, calls were sharp and crisp and the 2560x1920 photos and video capture were first rate.

$280

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Ultimate Ears UE 11 Pro If you’re looking for unsurpassed sound reproduction in a package that is crafted just for your ears only, look no further than the UE 11 Pro. Like a Maybach, the UE 11 requires a visit to a local audiologist to get an impression of your ears so Ultimate Ears can manufacture a customized-for-you ear monitor. The monitors themselves can be tricked out to your desire through your own submitted artwork or through UE’s staff of designers. The final product is world-class sound quality (musical pros use it on stage) with an engraved carrying case and cleaning tool. For the audiophile with less ambitious wallets, Ultimate Ears offers lower-tiered alternatives starting at $399.

$1150

Dyson DC22 Motorhead Usually when we say something sucks, we’re not singing its praises. In the case of the DC22 Motorhead, it’s the ultimate compliment. Dyson’s top-of-the-line canister vac impressed, making short work of the cleaning up of the HOOP photo studio. You name it—dust, staples, tape, plastic tags, forgotten bits of lunch, that mysterious pile of grime—it was extracted with a few quick passes of the 88,000-rpm DC22. Stubborn corners required the corner tool and cleanup was achieved by simply opening the canister and pouring out the filth. There’s also no filters or bags to futz with. We still don’t fully understand the “Level 3 Cyclone” technology, but we can attest that it kept sucking, even when the can was full. And let’s not forget: the thing just looks cool; the canister looks like a concept car and the nozzle is a straight-up replica of the proton guns from Ghostbusters.

$799

Logitech Wireless Guitar Controller If you’re going to play Guitar Hero, at least have the decency to play fake guitar on an axe that isn’t made of plastic and feels as real as one a two-year-old would strum. Logitech does it right with their wireless guitar that is made of authentic materials found on real guitars. The body is solid, the neck is real wood, the fingerboard is rosewood and even the tune peg handles are metal. Gone also is the “click-clack” sound that plagues the stock guitar and it is replaced by virtual silence, making sure your Guitar Hero sessions are less schlock and more rock. Available for both Xbox 360 and PS3 (pictured).

$199.99

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hoop gear Jordan

16.5 Team $125

Weight (size 9): 16.5 oz

Typically, we find Jordan shoes to look better than they feel. The 16.5 Team is the exact opposite. That’s not to say they don’t look good. The black number we review is certainly handsome (even Jordan Brand’s latest NBA addition, Dwyane Wade is wearing the 16.5 in NBA Live 2010) but it also doesn’t have anything too memorable going for it. Like all of Jordan’s point-fives (.5), it’s a hybrid (Nike is all about the mash-ups) of the Air Jordan XVI and XVII (two decent, but middling AJs, in our opinion). The patent toecap is XVII, the side and mid/outsole is XVI, to name a few elements. A Jordan aficionado would enjoy piecing the design elements of the shoe. What impressed us is the shoe’s comfort. Upon slipping our feet in, we felt a vise-like, albeit welcome, grip on our feet. Cinching the laces only furthered the experience. While it appears chunky, our feet didn’t feel too bound by the shoe. It earned high marks on the court, scoring high on lateral movement and foot support. Rear cushioning was ample, but the front could have used some more. The patent toe definitely gives it more leeway to dress up the 16.5. That and the frosted white bottoms give the otherwise static shoe a bit of flair. The construction is, as typical of most Jordan shoes, top-notch. For a shoe at this price, you can’t expect anything less. Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation:

The original Weapon was a staple on NBA feet during the ’80s. YouTube highlights from the ’80s and you’ll be sure to see the ubiquitous Weapon strapped on dudes’ feet. Like the Air Force 25 that Nike re-did of their classic AF1, Converse has updated their 1986 classic with the Weapon Evo, a modern take on the legendary basketball shoe. Design-wise, they’ve brought along many features of the original: the toebox and its perforations, the Y-bar on the ankle and of course the placement of the chevron star logo. The lines on the redux are modernized, the speed lacers are hidden and Converse introduces a new cushioning technology in Balls (see sidebar, right). Converse is good at keeping things simple with their shoes and not overdesigning or over-dressing with unnecessary bells and whistles. The Weapon Evo keeps to the company’s philosophy. The Evo is a bit heavier than some of Converse’s recent offerings and we suspect the addition of Balls in the heel was a factor. On the flipside, Balls did offer up a soft landing. The shoe is relatively high, so those who like the additional coverage and support will appreciate it. The ankle area is soft, giving the shoe some movement on cuts. It’s hard to remake a classic for today’s consumers, but Converse gets it right by bringing back enough of the original flavor while adding in enough from modern shoe-making, placing this Weapon as one that should be reckoned with.

Converse

Weapon Evo $90

Weight (size 11.5): 17.6 oz

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all photos/NBAE/Getty Images

Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation: For 360° views, visit HOOPMAG.COM

8/25/09 4:22:35 PM


Gear Check

By ming wong #2

Going Balls Out To commemorate its relaunch of the venerable Weapon, Converse is also rolling out (pun alert) Balls, their new cushioning system. Comprised of an encapsulated collection of polyurethane balls that are visible from the heel, the system of balls act like a springboard to first absorb the shock from a landing and in turn, reacts to push back on the foot. “The geometry itself provides a variable rate of cushioning. The more force applied to the sphere, the more urethane engages, the more the foot is cushioned. The sphere naturally compresses and then wants to return to its natural state,” says Michael DiTullo, Converse Design Director and architect of the Balls system.. While part of Nike, Converse did not want to simply throw in some Air, Shox or Zoom into their shoes. Instead, they chose to develop a new system from the ground up. One of their goals was to

create a lower profile suspension system. According to Converse, other cushioning systems put hard moderator plates above and below the cushioning, resulting in a stiffer ride and reducing court feel. With Balls technology, the shape of the sphere does more of the work. Your feet get a much softer feel that is also much lower to the court and more responsive. You can feel what your foot is doing, while still gaining all of the necessary impact protection. The Balls system is comprised of a matrix of 16 individual balls (based on a size 9 shoe) in the heel

all photos/NBAE/Getty Images

Anything with “posite” never fails to get our juices flowing. The Zoom Skyposite’s arrival delivered the Pavlovian response yet again. Maybe it’s just us, but anything in that iridescent molded material is a winner from a looks standpoint. As with almost every pair of ’posites, the design is pretty muted as the material is allowed to shine (literally). A simple Swoosh rounds out the look. The ice bottom sets off the blue upper nicely, giving it a frosty appearance. The drawback to every pair of ‘posite shoe is the tight fit and required break-in time. The Skyposite starts out tight and maybe even a little painful, especially for those with wide feet. We recommend wearing them casually offcourt to stretch them out a bit before putting them into play. With some patience, it’ll improve after a few wears. We’ve had some wearers who’ve sworn that they fit better sans socks since the Foamposite material essentially acts like a giant compression sock. We think basketball shoes with no socks is asking for blisters and trench foot. Which brings us to foot ventilation; Foamposite does not breathe. Knowing this, Nike puts in a mesh tongue and two vents on the medial side. The Skyposite is very responsive, an ideal shoe for a smaller player. Big dudes should steer clear of this shoe—it’s liable to explode upon a forceful landing. We kid on the last point, but anyone who needs extra support and suspension (the Skyposite sports Zoom Air and Lunarfoam) should look elsewhere. We dug the Skyposite’s styling. It reminded us a lot of Kobe’s first signature model when he was with adidas (now redubbed the adidas Crazy 1). Compared to other ’posites, this one falls short of previous models, but we’ve still yet to resist the charm of the ’posite. Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation:

Nike

Zoom Skyposite $160

Weight (size 11): 14.5 oz

For 360° views, visit HOOPMAG.COM

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and one quad ball placed at the rear to help control compression during extreme impact, let’s say when coming down from a rebound. During testing we found Balls to hold its own in the cushioning department. We just wished there were more in the forefoot. According to Converse, there is a full-length Balls unit in the works. In the meantime, look for Balls to appear on Converse’s line of basketball shoes.

HOOP

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hoop gear Reebok

Still Talkin’ $85

Weight (size 11): 17.5 oz

Last year Reebok dropped the Talkin’ Krazy, their novel basketball shoe made with dry-eraseboard material on the upper. Still Talkin’, as the obvious name suggests, is the follow up. Last year’s edition came in a white or black colorway, while this year’s version sports more a similar two-tone scheme but with the addition of honeycomb vents on the side. The entire upper is writeable, but we found the accompanied red marker to not easily show on the black parts. The concept of writing and then erasing and writing again is fun, but after a while it wears off. The patent-like upper also creases like nobody’s business. After a few wears, there was a visible crease on the toebox and only time will tell if cracking will follow. As a court shoe, it’s got some good things going for it. The ST sports Reebok’s Hexride system throughout the footbed, making for a pillowy landing in a relative low-profile bottom. While cushioning scored high, the traction left much to be desired. The outsole is just comprised of a shallow pattern of lines. Several users experienced the bottom giving out on cuts. The Talkin’ Krazy had serious ventilation issues; the eraseboard material suffocated the foot, leaving only a few perforations on the vamp and the mesh tongue to ease the heat. The Still Talkin’ addresses that issue with the aforementioned honeycomb vents for a cool breeze to go right through the shoe. Overall, the shoe was good with one flaw—the lack of good traction. If you like the novelty of drawing on your shoes over and over—note to Reebok: for next year’s edition just keep it all plain so the wearer can truly have a blank canvas)—the Still Talkin’ is the only game in town. Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation:

The Zoom Hustle might lack the bells and whistles of other Nike offerings reviewed this issue. It’s got neither the 360 Air of the LeBron VII or the Foamposite of the Skyposite. You can, however, buy almost two pairs for the price of a LeBron or Skyposite. For $85, you get a pair of basketball kicks that fit better than the Skyposite, is a full three ounces lighter than the VII, and is a pretty fresh (really, as it’s got “FRESH” embossed on the tongue) pair. The entire shoe is sheathed in patent with a muted design (it kind of resembles the KD1). The Zoom Hustle is like its name implies: it might not be blessed with a lot of ooh and ahhs, but it certainly tries hard on the court. Due to its lightness, the Zoom Hustle is a good speed shoe. At 13.5 ounces, it’s in the Hyperize category of swift shoe. It’s also a very responsive shoe; cuts and stops give it no problem. The only drawback is the stiff outsole that had little give. On the other hand, the outsole is thin, giving the ZH a very low to the ground feel. Impregnated with Zoom Air in the midsole for cushioning, the ZH keeps with the theme of low profile. And encased in patent, the ZH is a bit suffocating. The mesh tongue helps a bit, but “Fresh” won’t exactly describe your feet after a few hours up and down the court with these on. After a few wears, the ZH suffered from some serious upper creasing, making for a transition off the court more hard to pull off (unless creasy shoes are your thing). For its price, style and performance, the ZH is a winner. Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation: 100

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NIke

Zoom Hustle $85

Weight (size 9): 13.5 oz

For 360° views, visit HOOPMAG.COM

8/25/09 4:23:06 PM


Nike

Air Max LeBron VII $160

Weight (size 9.5): 16.5 oz

all photos/NBAE/Getty Images

After getting off to a stunning debut, Allen Iverson’s shoe game has dropped a few notches in the past few years. The Answer, now in its 13th run, is a greybeard as signature models go. Outside of the Air Jordan, Iverson’s run of sig kicks has been the longest. From a looks standpoint, the XIII looks like a retread of the Nike Air Bakin. With its slits, similar shape and round laces, even a blindfolded shoehead would require some effort to discern between the two. The XIII had some early skeptics stemming from the hard plastic in the ankle. We suspected it might add extraneous weight and potentially cause some chafing, but no one reported such a problem (perhaps due to Reebok’s Smooth Fit lining inside the shoe?). It was a heavy shoe; surprising, given the fact that the still fleet-of-foot man that endorses it. Shock absorption is handled by Hexride. The XIII did provide a springy step, but since the Hexride sits so low against the outsole, this could mean a short lifespan for the outdoor players. The dreaded unlucky No. 13 is just that for Iverson. The XIII was a pretty unimaginative shoe by Reebok. It’s a shame since it’s been such a long run for the Answer. It does play fairly well on the court, but with its tepid design, we don’t see many people willing to give it a chance. Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation:

It’s about time. Ever since his earlier shoes (beginning with the III), it became painfully apparent that LeBron needed a shoe that could give him the shock absorption that a man his size (6-8, a modest 250 pounds) requires. Don’t let his fleet guard game fool you, LeBron is one big dude; Zoom Air—double-stacked or not—does not cut the mustard. Having gotten the opportunity to see him up close in his hometown of Akron, OH for the shoe’s launch, we’re glad to see Nike came to their senses for a full Max Air 360 unit for Bron’s latest signature model. The VII is, in our opinion, the best looking LBJ shoe since the IV (those foamposite joints are still a fave around the HOOP offices). The Jason Petrie-designed shoe features patent on the toe; that look has been done to death, but the masses keep eating it up so we can’t blame shoemakers for going back to it. The Flywire makes its debut on a LBJ shoe, cutting down on the shoe’s weight and makes the VII a lot less chunky and rugged compared to its predecessors. During our testing, we found the VII reminded us of the Air Force Max that Charles Barkley rocked in ’93, a shoe designed for the big man who still wasn’t without some pep in his game. Despite the full 360 airbag that delivers exceptional cushioning, the VII doesn’t suffer from a rickety ride. It’s not quite low to ground, but it does an admirable job of maintaining good foot-to-floor feel. Internal heel pads sometimes irritate, but this one, along with the internal mesh bootie, gave the foot a nice snug fit. The only drawback, and the case with every Flywire basketball shoe, is the lack of ventilation. The plastic outer that houses the Flywire suffocates the foot, leaving the mesh tongue as the only point of heat exhaustion. After two consecutive LBJ releases, Nike has finally come up with a shoe worthy of the guy that it’s named after. If the shoe is any indicator, we foresee another MVP season for LBJ. Construction: Comfort: Playability: Value: Style: Innovation:

Reebok

Answer XIII $100

Weight (size 11): 17.5 oz

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hoop gear Kickin’ it

By Anthony Gilbert #1

with Marissa Coleman

Four years ago, a highly touted freshman arrived on the college basketball scene and walked away with more accolades than she had ever dreamed. From being named to the ACC All-Freshman team (2006) to winning the school’s first NCAA title in women’s basketball, Marissa Coleman has been there and done that. On April 9, the saga continued as the Washington Mystics drafted Coleman with the second overall pick. She is signed with Under Armour, which until recently, has not been synonymous with footwear. But for Marissa Coleman being a rookie is nothing out of the ordinary, as she continues to impress and excel on and off the court. You are now aligned with Under Armour; can you talk about your relationship with the brand? Under Armour has been great to me. They are a young brand that is on their way to the top, quickly. Everywhere I look I see UA products and logos.

I have the opportunity to be a pioneer athlete with this company and I am very excited about it. What does it mean to you to be a trailblazer with a new shoe as a rookie? It means a lot to be a pioneer, especially only being a rookie. It is every athlete’s dream to represent a company at the professional level. I am very excited for what I can do for UA and what they can do for me. I’m proud to be a part of such a great company and wear it proudly. Can you describe your game and how it coincides with your footwear? I think my game is versatile and I can fit into a lot of situations. I love the game and play with a lot

of passion. I’m a big sneaker fan, so I wear a lot of different shoes. I like to keep my game shoes fresh. I have the opportunity to design my own shoe that will be fun. Do you have any shoe superstitions or have you kept or gotten rid of certain pairs over the years from different game/tournaments? I do not have any superstitions but I do keep all of my shoes in their original shoeboxes. So at my parent’s house I probably have about 100 pair of shoes all in their boxes. Is there anything in the works for you having your own signature shoe and becoming the face of the brand? I will be able to design a shoe for my use, nothing for the market as of yet…we will see what happens. Hopefully when the UA basketball line is launched you’ll see me in a commercial reppin’ “we must protect this house!”

New Balance

BB889 $95

Weight (size 9.5): 14 oz

New Balance makes a killer running shoe. They offer a superb combination of durability, comfort and impact absorption. NB’s basketball offering, the BB889, however, only delivers just one of the three elements. Initially, we were impressed with the BB889. Having not been a big presence in the basketball realm since their heyday of the ’80s (NBA Top 50er James Worthy used to strap on some hot NBs back in the day), we were curious to see what NB brings to the hardwood. Early feedback was good: solid midfoot fit and support, excellent heel cushioning (courtesy of NB’s Abzorb) and light weight (its 14 ounces closely rival the much ballyhooed 13-ounce Hyperdunk from Nike). But then the wheels came off, literally. The upper on the lateral side had come off the midsole on one shoe. To be fair, the tester had wide feet and noticed some tightness, but we’ve never experienced a shoe breaking apart. A spokesperson for NB assured us it was an isolated defect, and from testing their other products in the past, we take their word on it. As for aesthetics, the BB889 won’t win many beauty pageants. It’s a pretty generic-looking shoe that needs little description. However, it will elicit some curious questions from people asking if those are indeed some NB basketball shoes. We loved the way they performed, but at $95, we could think of a dozen shoes that could deliver the same at a lower price point.

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sneaker game

By Anthony Gilbert #1

WHAT’S ON THE LEAGUE’S FEET 01

LamAR Odom Nike Zoom Kobe IV

Would you agree that with half the team wearing Kobe’s shoe, that it promotes team unity? “Yeah, it [promotes] a lot of things. Kobe is my teammate and friend, and if I could wear any sneaker it would be his sneaker, just to show that support and to show him that we rock with him.” What else can you say about this shoe? “I like the style of it. They feel really comfortable and the shoe is so versatile. You can wear it off the court with a pair of jeans, so this is a really good sneaker. I mean if he ever does like a Brand Jordan or Team Kobe, then I’m right there, right in the forefront reppin’ for him.”

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s as ha v uj acic Nike Zoom Kobe IV

Can you talk about the Zoom Kobe IV? “I like this shoe because its really comfortable and we’re all on the same team, wearing the same shoe, playing for an NBA championship.” How different was this team from last year’s? “I think the whole team from the start of the season had the same focus from losing the Finals [last year]. It makes you realize that nothing is going to be given to you and I think we have matured and if you want to say that we have unity because of our shoes, then yeah, we do. From a personal point of view, we were all on the same page to win the championship.”

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s han n on b row n Nike Zoom Kobe IV

What’s it like wearing your teammate Kobe Bryant’s shoe? “You have some guys out there that have shoes and they don’t want other people to wear them, but Kobe, as he has gotten older, he has matured and he realizes how important [the concept of] team is. He has a lot of confidence and he’s very comfortable with the team he has now and it’s a good thing when we go out there and you see everybody rockin’ his shoe. Almost everybody that is with Nike has them on. It’s about everybody coming together, with one purpose and one goal: to win a championship.”

03 from left: ronald martinez/getty image sports; garrett ellwood; noah graham/nbae/getty images

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step back February 4, 1988 Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, IN Throughout his 18-year playing career, Reggie Miller was one of the most celebrated offensive players in the history of the League. With over 25,000 career points and over 2,560 treys—an NBA record—Miller retired as the greatest Pacer in franchise history.

Built in 1974, Market Square Arena was the home of the Indiana Pacers for 25 seasons. It now serves as a parking lot.

Home of the 1980 Men’s Final Four, the arena also hosted Elvis Presley’s final concert on June 26, 1977. A statue was built outside the arena’s location to commemorate this occasion.

Miller was a star at UCLA, where he currently ranks second all-time in points scored behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Miller’s sister, Cheryl, starred at crosstown rival USC, where she was a three-time Naismith Player of the Year. Their older brother, Darrell, played professional baseball for the California Angels. Today, Cheryl and Reggie are broadcasters for TNT’s NBA coverage.

Miller was infamously known for being a thorn in the side of the New York Knicks and developed a heated, but friendly rivalry with Knicks’ fan Spike Lee. After his final game at Madison Square Garden, the crowd stood and applauded his career and Lee hugged Miller after the game.

Maurice Cheeks played 14 seasons in the NBA, averaging 11.1 ppg and 6.7 apg. He won an NBA title in 1983 with the Philadelphia 76ers.

After Portland, Cheeks coached the Sixers for parts of four seasons. His career coaching record currently stands at 284-286 with three playoff appearances.

Miller has appeared on TV shows such as Arli$$, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, movies like He Got Game, Forget Paris, and was mentioned in a popular episode of Seinfeld, where Kramer and Spike Lee get into verbal fisticuffs during a Knicks-Pacers game, causing all three to get ejected.

Miller was a fivetime all-star and won a gold medal with the 1996 Men’s Olympic Basketball Team. His jersey is one of five to be retired by the Pacers.

Vern Fleming was born in New York City on February 4, 1962. He crafted his game on the playgrounds of the city and was raised in the Queensbridge projects, home of Ron Artest and known for cultivating hip-hop acts like Nas, Mobb Deep and the Juice Crew.

Fleming played over 10 seasons with Indiana and finished his career in ’95-96 with the New Jersey Nets, scoring over 10,000 points during his career. Cheeks began his head coaching career in 2001 with the Portland Trail Blazers. Twice he led the Blazers to the postseason, but is perhaps most noted for assisting 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert with the National Anthem after she forgot the words before a game during the ’02-03 season.

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Fleming won a gold medal as part of the 1984 Men’s Olympic Basketball Team.

frank mcgrath/NBAE/Getty Images

A stifling defender, Cheeks was named an AllStar and to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times. His #10 jersey is retired by the Sixers.

Fleming holds the distinction of playing in almost 800 games without picking up a technical foul.

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final exam Does candace parker make the grade?

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HOOP September/October 2009  

08-09 Greatest Hits

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