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LeBron James Brandon Roy Steve Nash All-Star 2010

AN OFFICIAL NBA PUBLICATION

$4.99 USA

MAR/APR 2010

Also inside

Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Rajon Rondo, Al Horford, Phil Jackson, Andrew Bogut, Eric Gordon, Andrew Bynum, Nate Robinson, Iceman, JJ Redick, McLovin

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WARMUPS

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

A few days before hitting this game-winning shot against the Cavs, Sundiata Gaines was playing for the D-League’s Idaho Stampede. He saved the Jazz and provided a moment he will never forgot by draining this trey as time expired on January 12 at EnergySolutions Arena.

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WARMUPS

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No, Ray Allen hasn’t been traded to Atlanta, but he didn’t mind dropping in for a quick hello to the Hawks’ bench after diving after a loose ball during a Janaury contest at Phillips Arena.

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WARMUPS

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It was twin vs. twin when Brook and Robin Lopez met up on January 20 at US Airways Center. In the middle of his most successful stretch as a pro, Robin, normally thought as the better defender of the two brothers, showed his offensive power, scoring a career-high 20 points on his bro.

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WARMUPS

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Perhaps Pistons’ rookie Austin Daye is Plastic Man in his spare time (and we don’t mean Stacey Augmon)? How else can you explain his uncanny ability to stretch his body to try and block this Danilo Gallinari shot?

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THINK ABOUT IT. Electronic Stability Control will be a government safety mandate on all light vehicles in 2012. But you’ll find it standard on every 2010 Tucson we build today. You’ll also find lots of other nice features included, like Bluetooth®, XM® Satellite Radio, and iPod®/USB and auxiliary input jacks, because we see industry standards as mere suggestions and build our cars to standards all our own. HyundaiTucson.com THE ALL-NEW TUCSON

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MAR/APR 2010

The Gameplan

Features

58 Who’s Next Out West? Believe it or not, the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder are on the precipice of a playoff berth in the wild, rugged west, but they’re both built for the long run and are no one-hit wonders. We dig deep to find out which squad holds they key to success out west for the next decade.

76 76 All-Star 2010 A northeast blizzard may have prevented us from first-hand access of the spectacle that is NBA All-Star, but we still bring you the best sights and sounds of the event in Big D. Take a photographic look back at one of the biggest, if not the most memorable All-Star Game ever.

Poster B-Roy on the front; Iceman on the flipside

49 24 Seconds… with the Milwaukee Bucks’ Andrew Bogut

42 Just What Doc Ordered At the age of 21, Rajon Rondo was given the nearly impossible task of handling the point alongside three future Hall of Famers and bring the Celtics back to glory. Less than three years later he’s passed his test with flying colors, maturing into the kind of point guard head coach Doc Rivers knew was necessary in the recipe for success.

70 70 Body of Work Imagine being able to buy front row seats or turning on the tube to watch Picasso or Rembrandt go to work on a masterpiece of art. That’s what it’s like when Pau Gasol steps on the court—we should be so lucky to have the privilege of watching such an artist do his thing.

HOOP

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The Gameplan

MAR/APR 2010

Departments

39 First Five

16 The Point

Chuck Hayes, Eric Gordon, JJ Hickson, Jason Thompson, Ersan Ilyasova

19 Jumpball

What’s the most exclusive club in the NBA? Even Kobe or LeBron can’t get in here; 3 Pts: A fourpoint shot?; Catching Up: Pinball wizard Todd MacCulloch; Know Your Newb: Darren Collison; Head2Head: Andrew Bynum vs. Al Horford; Celeb Row: Two words: Mc…Lovin; Brack-It: Best NBA Twitter; and more

84 Call Out

24

92

33

30

87 Check-It 110 Stepback Dream Teamers Clyde Drexler and Christian Laettner square off

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39 35

Spin Moves: Young Money Brandon Jennings ponders hopping on the iPad bandwagon; Triple Double: Thad-Yo and C-Landry check out the latest from Alicia Keys and Gucci Mane; Keepin’ It Reel: We open up Danny Granger’s envelope for Best Picture and the winer is...; TechEd: Shane Battier will never lose his dogs again.

112 Final Exam Does O.J. Mayo make the grade?

HOOP

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The Point BONUS POINTS 1. I can’t lie; it is. 2. Once again, I can’t lie; usually it is. 3. And it’s always better to be lucky than good. 4. Check that. Putting Kobe, LeBron or Wade on the cover, these days, is as close as it gets. 5. A printed product in flawed in that respect, but there’s still something more personal about flipping through a magazine than scrolling and clicking web pages. 6. Karl Malone. 7. Stephon Marbury. 8. Dirk Nowitzki. 9. There are actually worse things, but we won’t get into it.

Most of my friends and people I meet think I have a plum gig.1 They also think it’s peaches and cream all the time,2 and usually it is, but there’s always the nerve-wracking part of the job: picking out who’ll be on the cover. Equal parts skill and luck,3 picking the right cover requires a few things: Is the subject relevant to the moment? Has the subject arrived? Will the casual fan recognize the subject? There’s never such a thing as a sure thing when it comes to picking the cover4 and a number of things can happen between the cover selection and when it actually hits newsstands.5 Dude can get hurt,6 traded7 or get a new haircut.8 The worst,9 and any one who has ever worked in a magazine can attest, is when a cover subject loses relevancy. What seemed like a good cover a few months ago turns into an ill-advised, “what-was-I-thinking-about, who-came-upwith-that-idea?” moment.10 Until the issue drops and runs the entirety of its shelf life on the newsstand with the subject unscathed, maintaining its cover status, I’m a nervous wreck11 the entire time. But sometimes things just work out perfectly. Which brings us back to this issue’s cover. Originally the cover was supposed to be graced by another team that at-the-time, looked very much on the path to the Finals. Due to many unforeseen things and complications, it never happened. Since then, they’ve vacillated back and forth between championship contender and mediocrity, and now look very much again like a title squad.12 I can still be wrong,13 but we certainly think the Thunder and Grizz are worthy of some shine. They’re two upstarts poised to take over the West when the usual Western powerhouses begin their eventual decline. Kevin Durant is giving a new generation of Trail Blazers fans a taste of what it felt like in 1987.14 The Grizzlies are generating a lot of buzz in Memphis.15 Whether both16 teams eventually usurp the Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks or Nuggets out of Western dominance for the next decade remains to be seen, but the Thunder and Grizzlies are undoubtedly cover-worthy.17

10. It never fails: this feeling usually creeps right around when the book is just about to print. 11. And with multiple future covers being juggled, it can get pretty gnarly. 12. As it is, it turned out better for both us and the team that the cover did not happen as a big trade shook things up. Figure out the team yet? 13. As these words were penned a few weeks before the issue drops. 14. Sorry, Blazermaniacs, but the parallels are

Volume 38, No. 3 Editor-in-Chief Ming Wong #2 Design Director Kengyong Shao #31 Associate Editor Seth Berkman #91 Senior Designer Matt Candela #52 Editor-at-Large Jeramie McPeek #4 Tech Editor Shane Battier #31 Style Editor Candice Wiggins #11 Straight Shooter Steve Nash #13 Videogame Editor Nate Robinson #2 Music Editors Thaddeus Young #21, Carl Landry #14 Movie Editor Danny Granger #33 Car Editor Devin Harris #34 WNBA Editor Lois Elfman #40 Senior Writer Michael Bradley #53 Contributing Writers Christopher Cason #24, Jon Cooper #10, Anthony Gilbert #1, Darryl Howerton #21, Andy Jasner #27, Trevor Kearney #8, Brett Mauser #25, Dave McMenamin #35, Jeff Min #12, John Nemo #16, Rob Peterson #9, Earl K. Sneed #23 Editorial Intern Josh Gordon #44 Retired Numbers #6, #11, #13, #30, #99

uncanny. In 1987, while ’84 pick Sam Bowie played in only five games due to a season-ending injury, Michael Jordan had a season where he scored 3,041 points (more than half of Bowie’s career points). Now, 23 (pure coincidence, I swear) years later, Durant’s ascension is just painful for any Blazer fan that doesn’t have a Delorean-owning nutty scientist friend. 15. Memphis-based HOOP contributing writer Trevor Kearney has said his friends have been hitting him up for tickets.

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 Ziegler

16. Or either. 17. Either that or the bad karma I built up with Blazer fans have come back to bite me with this cover. 18. Seriously, this cover was conceptualized and executed in an unheard-of 72 hours.

NBA Publishing/NBA Photos

Senior VP, and Executive Producer, Production, Programming, and Broadcasting Danny Meiseles Senior VP, Multimedia Production Paul Hirschheimer Senior VP, Entertainment & Player Marketing Charlie Rosenzweig Senior VP, Marketing Communications Mike Bass Senior Director, NBAE Production John Hareas Executive Vice President, Global Merchandising Group Sal LaRocca Vice President, Licensing Mary Pat Gillin Senior Coordinator, Licensing Tom Cerabino

Ming Wong #2

Manager, Global Media Programs Felecia Groomster Senior Directors & Senior Official NBAE Photographers Andrew D. Bernstein, Nathaniel S. Butler

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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. © 2010 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

joe murphy/nbae/Getty Images

P.S. Big thanks to the following folks for making this cover happen in short order18 (in no particular order): Dustin Krugel, Brian Facchini, Joe Murphy, Michael Bradley, Trevor Kearney, Randy Renner

Senior Director, NBA Photos Joe Amati Director, Photos Imaging David Bonilla Official NBAE Photographer Jesse Garrabrant Senior Photo Editor Brian Choi Photo Coordinator Kevin Wright

HOOP

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TTo o Our Lineup of 2010 NBA All All-Star Star Marketing Ma Partners

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20 10 2010: A Rare Odyssey The current year is a special number for the rare NBA player who can achieve it

20-10

HOOP

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By Jeramie McPeek #4 We realize it has been a couple months since you hung that new calendar on your office wall. And, if you’re anything like us, it’s been nearly that long since you broke your resolutions. But with each New Year comes reflection and examination, so what better year than 2010 to reflect on and examine the ever shrinking membership in the League’s 20/10 Club? Now we’re not talking about a country club that comes complete with a six-figure entry fee, or some fan club that you join and wait 10-12 weeks for your bumper sticker and membership card to arrive in the mail. This is not Fight Club either, not that we could talk about it if it was, per the first rule of Fight Club. No, the members of this elite club did not buy their way in,or punch their ticket for admission. They were not invited to join. They simply earned their way onto the roster by scoring 20-plus points a night, while ripping down 10-plus rebounds or delivering 10-plus dimes (or if so inclined, 10 blocks or steals). Add all those plusses together and you end up with some very small club meetings. “There are just a few guys in the League that do it,” says Raptors forward Chris Bosh,1 one of just two guys averaging a 20/10 as of this writing.2 “It’s not easy over the course of 82 games to maintain solid numbers, especially when you have to deal with things like double-teams or injuries. “Consistency is the key. Anyone can be good every now and then, but to be good night in and night out, that’s a tough thing. You’re not going to feel like playing every day, to be honest with you. So you have to find a way to get yourself into it. Whether you’re feeling sick, whether you feel like playing or not, to have that same output and production is important.” The only other current 20/10’er as we type, Grizzlies big man Zach Randolph agrees with Bosh that consistency is important, but he says that it

takes more than that. Especially when it comes to collecting double-digit boards. “You’ve got a lot of players who can score,” says Randolph, who is enjoying the fourth 20/10 season of his nine-year career. “But rebounding… you’re battling long guys out there, guys blocking out; you’ve got to be in the right position. When the ball goes up, you have to have a read for the basketball and see where it’s going to come off. You have to be real physical and real aggressive. So getting 10 rebounds a game is difficult.” Looking back over the decade that just ended, there were 16 different NBA players who recorded seasons of 20 points and 10 boards. But there was only one player over that same span3 to notch a 20/10 with the 10 coming in the form of assists. “If you’re a big man and you can’t get 10 rebounds, that’s kind of sad,” laughs former Warriors and Heat great Tim Hardaway, the last playmaker4 prior to the Hornets’ Chris Paul to average a 20/10. “That’s easy, but 20 points and 10 assists is hard. Very hard! You’ve got to have a team that makes shots and you’ve basically got to hand-wrap them a present and make it easy for them to score. You’ve got to come down and make the correct pass to the correct person, run the offense, run the show, and make your own shots, too. You’ve got to really be scoring.” Hardaway says he’s proud of Paul, who averaged 20 and 10 each of the last two seasons in New Orleans and was on the verge5 of making it a third this year until his knee surgery earlier this season. Hardaway says he’s even reminded of himself when watching the 24-year-old perform. Paul sees the similarities as well. Like Hardaway and Suns legend Kevin Johnson6 before him, the Hornets’ guard gets playing time, is charged with leading the offense, has teammates around him who can score,

and, of course, some unique skills of his own. “All that goes hand in hand,” says Paul. “If I only play 15 or 20 minutes a game, I’m sure it wouldn’t happen. But it’s also in the style that I play and the style that my team plays that allows me to score the ball, and at the same time have the ball in my hands enough to where I can get 10 assists a game.” Whatever the defining factors are for each player, those who have earned their admission into the club are proud to wear their Members Only jackets. Well, we assume they would be, if that were actually one of the perks. “It means a lot to me,” says Randolph. “I came up watching Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett and it feels good to be mentioned with guys like that, those 20/10 guys. Coming up, you look at those guys differently.”7

BONUS POINTS 1. Bosh boosted his scoring average, putting up a career-high 44 points at Milwaukee just days after talking with us about the 20/10 Club. 2. Tim Duncan (19.8 pts, 10.4 rpg), Carlos Boozers (19.3 ppg, 10.7 rpg), Chris Kaman (20.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and David Lee (19.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg) were all within a point or rebound from joining Bosh and Randolph in the club when we filed this report. 3. The 17 players had a combined 50 total 20/10 seasons in the last decade. 4. Hardaway recorded back-to-back 20/10 seasons with the Warriors in ’91-93. 5. Paul (19.6 ppg, 11.3 apg) and Deron Williams (19.3 ppg, 9.6 apg) were within striking distance of the club from a little man’s perspective. 6. Currently the Mayor of his hometown Sacramento, KJ put together three 20/10 seasons in a row (’88-91) with the Suns and came within a hair of doing it a fourth time in ’91-92, when he averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 assists. 7. While the 20/10 Club is special, the 30/10/10 Club has just one member. Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double with 30-plus points a night in ‘61-62, the same season that Wilt Chamberlain founded the 50/25 club. It’s true. Look it up.

Career 20/10 Club Members (current players in bold) Wilt Chamberlain 30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg

Bob Lanier 20.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg

Bob Pettit 26.4 ppg, 16.2 rpg

Charles Barkley 22.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg

Billy Cunningham 20.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg

Karl Malone 25.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg

David Robinson 21.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg

Elgin Baylor 27.4 ppg, 13.5 rpg

Tim Duncan 21.4 ppg, 11.7 rpg

Moses Malone 20.6 ppg, 12.2 rpg

Walt Bellamy 20.1 ppg, 13.7 rpg

Kevin Garnett 20.2 ppg , 11.1 rpg

Hakeem Olajuwon 21.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg

Larry Bird 24.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg

Elvin Hayes 21.0 ppg, 12.5 rpg

Shaquille O’Neal 24.7 ppg, 11.2 rpg

Illustrations: Matt candela

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg

HOOP

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Dance Life

3 pts we’ll do a really popular song and people don’t really respond as much to those mainstream songs as the country songs.

TOPIC: Should a halfcourt shot be worth four points?

HOOP: What was it like in the arena for that first game as a dancer and for the franchise? Riane: It was amazing. There was so much build up the month before that game happened. The AC/DC song “Thunderstruck” was playing and we had trench coats on and revealed our uniforms on the court, they announced our names… it was awesome. I was so glad I got to be a part of the team in the first season. That’s a part of Oklahoma’s history now.

Riane

Thunder Girls HOOP: What was it like cheering for a first-year team last season? Riane: It was very exciting, but incredibly overwhelming. Not only had I never been on a professional dance team before, but also this team was new. There weren’t really any veterans and in the beginning we had to figure out what we wanted the dance team to [represent]. It was a learning process, and we learned something new every game. I grew a lot from that first season. HOOP: Are you originally from Oklahoma? Riane: Yes, Oklahoma City.

HOOP: So you must have been pretty down when Sam Bradford got injured. Riane: Yeah. College football is huge here. My boyfriend forces me to watch. The campus is a depressing place to be after we lose games. [laughs] HOOP: A lot of NBA dance teams revolve routines around hip-hop music; in Oklahoma City do you incorporate more Midwestern themes? Riane: Oh yeah. [laughs] It’s kind of funny, sometimes we do country songs with cowboy hats or denim shorts and bandanas, and people go crazy for those dances. Sometimes 022

HOOP: What is a dancer’s diet for a pregame meal? Riane: We have healthy stuff, but we also have a catering company that brings us food. A lot of times it’s just sandwiches, but sometimes there’s some pretty weird stuff. One game we had lasagna, one game we had chili. We try to follow a diet, but sometimes you need a sugar rush before a game. [laughs] HOOP: How do you balance the schedule of a student and a professional dancer? Riane: It was really hard last year since I didn’t know I was going to be on the team and my school schedule was already set. This year it was a lot easier. I have class three days a week, so I have downtime to study the days I don’t have class, and I have an online class. HOOP: Do you think a salary cap is good for the NBA? Riane: I think it’s good, it definitely makes the game fairer. It helps out the small market teams like Oklahoma City. Since we’re starting out, it helps level the playing field compared to teams with richer histories and a wider fan base. —Seth Berkman #91

Darren Collison: I think that would be good. Guys like LeBron can step back from halfcourt, so I don’t think it would be a problem for him. My halfcourt shot is pretty decent. It’s not as good as some of these other players because of their experience, but I think two or three years in the League, when I get my strength up, I will be able to compete. It’d definitely make it more entertaining, but I don’t think they are going to put it in.

Luke Ridnour: I think that is a good idea. It will just bring another element to the game. It seems that every couple weeks somebody hits a halfcourt shot. It’d be kind of fun,

that’d be kind of cool.

Jordan Hill: That’d be fun. That is a hard shot. I’d be shocked if they ever did that, but I think they [the players] could make it though. If they can make it, they deserve all the points they can get. I never thought of anything like that before. My halfcourt shot is definitely horrible. I mean sometimes I am able to shoot it like my regular shot, but man it goes all over the place. I can hit the rim at least.

“The Force was with us.” —Don Nelson after beating the Celtics

riane: photo courtesy of oklahoma city thunder; 3 Pts: From top: scott cunningham; gary dineen; Stephanie Greene/nbae/getty images

HOOP: Did you go to school there? Riane: Yes, I went to elementary school, middle school and high school here, and I currently attend the University of Oklahoma.

HOOP: Do you think professional basketball has found a niche in the area, or are people still warming up to the NBA in such a football-crazed state? Riane: I definitely think college football is still the big one, but being from a state where they’re such avid sports fans in general, it’s really crossed-over to basketball. It united the state. Normally it’s OU [Oklahoma] vs. OSU [Oklahoma State], and the Thunder are a unifying team.

HOOP

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By Michael Bradley #53

catching up with...

Todd MacCulloch For a couple seasons, Todd MacCulloch was rising toward the upper echelon of NBA centers. Then he was hit by neuropathy, a nerve disorder, and his career ended. After trying his hand at broadcasting, MacCulloch has turned to his first love—pinball... and he’s pretty good at it, too. HOOP: How comfortable had you become as an NBA player before you got hurt? MacCulloch: I was getting very comfortable. I was starting to gain confidence, and I was doing well and having coaches who believed in me, like Larry Brown and Byron Scott. They wanted me to be the best I could be. I learned a lot from Coach Brown the first couple years. I wasn’t sure how I would do as a starter,1 but Coach Scott on the Nets gave me a chance. Of course, it helped to be playing with someone like Jason Kidd. HOOP: How much did it mean to get to the Finals [in ’02]? MacCulloch: It was a great validation. We were a great regular-season team and had the best record in the East,2 but there were doubters who said we were just a fastbreak team that couldn’t win in the playoffs. We got to the Finals, but the Lakers were another story. They were quite a dynasty, and when it came down to it, they were accustomed to winning. When they needed a basket, they got it. HOOP: How frustrating was it when you got hurt? MacCulloch: As an athlete, you’re used to a timeline on injuries. You hear someone will be out four-to-six weeks or six-to-eight weeks or with a torn ACL, eight months. I wanted to know when I would be back on the court. Would it be weeks or months? Even if it was two years, that was OK, so long as I knew I would be back. Unfortunately, neuropathy3 is not like that. HOOP: What happened when you realized you wouldn’t be playing again? MacCulloch: I went through some depression. I had no appetite. I had trouble sleeping. I had trouble getting around. Everything was a struggle. Usually, when you’re injured, you can put your feet up and get some relief. With nerve pain, there is no way to escape it. It’s frustrating. I was starting to come into my own, and it ended. It was the hardest thing to go through in my life. It was a very difficult time. HOOP: You did some broadcasting [on the Sixers’ radio network]. How did you enjoy that? MacCulloch: I learned a lot, and I worked with some great people. I realized my broadcasting career lasted longer than my time on the court.4 HOOP: When did you start playing pinball? MacCulloch: We moved to Winnipeg when I was nine years old, and I went to a roller rink in town. Since I never got picked for the “Snow Ball,” a guy-girl skate, I would play Pinbot, a game at the

Chicago won five straight road games with victories against Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans, becoming the first team in NBA history to win five straight games, all on the road, against a team with a winning record.

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HOOP: When did it become more than a little hobby? MacCulloch: I bought a house when I was with the Nets, and I needed to furnish the finished basement some way. I bought a Whitewater machine and a Jackbot [upgraded version of Pinbot]. I thought there might be something wrong with me. I liked it and would play for a couple hours. HOOP: How do people respond when you tell them you’re a professional pinball player? MacCulloch: I get that look from people when I inform them. I have earned about $800 from playing, which hasn’t paid for a single machine or the airfare to tournaments. I hosted a tournament at my house. I had 65 people there, and it was kind of crazy. Pinball is making a comeback. HOOP: How does your wife [Jana] handle it? MacCulloch: She’s been to a couple tournaments with me, and it is an interesting crowd. She’s pretty supportive. Originally, I had five pinball machines, and she thought that was quite a few. Now, I have about 30 machines and 50 other arcade games. HOOP: How good are you? Could you be a top player? MacCulloch: I wouldn’t say that. A friend who plays [Bowen Kerins] says I could be one of the top players.5 Even when I was playing basketball, I didn’t think I was as good as I was. Part of it is whether you have a gift for it. I’m certainly trying. Maybe I’d settle for winning one game out of 10 against the best players. HOOP: Do you get really competitive when you play? MacCulloch: A little bit, I didn’t realize it at first. When I first started going to conventions, I found that I would spend all my time in the tournament area, where something is at stake. It gets into your blood, like golf. I see no reason to get out of it. I think I’ll do it forever.

Bonus Points 1. MacCulloch started nine games total in his first two years in the League, but in ’01-02, he started 61 of the 62 games he played, and in ’02-03, he started 35 of 42. 2. The ’01-02 Nets went 52-30 in the regular season and defeated Indiana, Charlotte and Boston to reach the NBA Finals, where they fell in four games to L.A. 3. Neuropathy is a disease that strikes nerves in extremities. Its effects include pain, weakness, loss of muscle density and numbness. 4. MacCulloch played four seasons in the NBA, averaging 6.1 ppg and 4.0 rpg. He was a broadcaster for the Sixers for five years. Last season, he did some work for Fox Sports Northwest, commenting in studio about college hoops. 5. MacCulloch is ranked 91st in the world and fifth among Canadians. Kerins is ranked third in the world.

“I called his shoes concrete boots for about the last month. Those shoes look like they’re made for the Hudson River.”—Phil Jackson on Ron Artest’s Peak basketball shoes

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Image sports

5

rink. I also played Whirlwind. At the 7-Eleven near my house—I’m a Slurpee junkie—I played Whitewater. When I was on the Canadian National Basketball Team for five summers, we stayed in the same dorm every year, and I played pinball over and over again.

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2/22/10 10:43 AM


fab five

A longtime pop culture aficionado, Jalen Rose pits his personal tastes against some notable personalities. Up this month: Survivor host jeff probst.

Jeff Probst

Jalen Rose

Who do you always get confused for? I know he can sing and dance a lot better than me, and has way more fans—not to mention the height difference— but people have told me I look like Usher. I actually know Usher, and he’s told me people say he looks like me as well.

I often get mistaken for Mark Burnett, executive producer of Survivor, Apprentice, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?... . People recognize me as the “Survivor guy,” but a lot of times they also think I am the guy who created Survivor. It’s at that point that I remind them if I had created Survivor, I’d be the one living in a beach house in Malibu, California.

What is your favorite movie snack?

Popcorn at the movies and at home! Not the microwavable kind… my popcorn has to be popped on the stove or in a kettle with some slow simmered butter, Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and a dash of pepper to top it off.

Junior Mints

Which movie have you watched the most times?

Scarface is just a classic! Beat Street & Krush Groove too—I love the display of hip-hop culture. I love all types of music and movies and these bring the best of both worlds together.

In America, a fantastic story of an Irish family coming to America and trying to survive.

What is your biggest regret? As a free agent during my final season (‘06-07), I had the chance to pick a team for minutes or pick a team that I felt had a better chance at winning a ring. So I chose the Suns over the Heat and Pistons, even though like college recruiting, I was promised 24 minutes a game, which hardly happened. We also got bounced in the playoffs by the Spurs that year.

My worst punishment is always living with the truth of what I have done.

What is your biggest superstition?

fab 5: usher: gregory shamus/getty image sports; probst: Robert Voets/CBS; transition game: all photos/nbae/getty images

Karma… give the energy and respect that you expect.

Transition Game

On Survivor, before every tribal council I have a glass of Staminade.

phil jackson

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2/22/10 11:51 AM


know your newb

Darren Collison

New Orleans Hornets Are you the fastest player in the NBA? Yes, I definitely think I’m the fastest player. I got a chance to watch Ty Lawson’s game and he is probably up there. I’d definitely say I’m the fastest player. Did you think in training camp that you had a chance to start for the Hornets? Nah, I had no clue at all. I mean the possibility that he [Chris Paul] may get hurt, that is why they drafted me. I have to take over the team, but I never thought in a million years that I would be starting for the Hornets that soon into the season. How do you think you did as a starter for your first eight games? I had fun. It was the best eight games I had in my whole life right there. I had the chance to start for an NBA team, come out in an NBA lineup as a starter. I had fun and took full advantage of the opportunity, and now I’m just behind Chris and being open to everything to learn from him. [Ed note: Chris Paul was injured again on January 29 after we conducted this interview with Darren]. What do you like better the two-half system in college or the four-quarter system in the NBA? Four-quarter system. It is much longer. The halves they were cool, but the game went by quick. Quarters is cool cause everybody gets the chance to showcase their talents whether you’re on the bench or not. What is your favorite meal before a big game? I’m going to have to say gumbo. I don’t think anything tops the gumbo. That is probably my favorite dish right there.

Who is the worst veteran for hazing? I’d say all of them. The whole thing is there is not one player in particular; it’s all of them. Everybody gets their opportunity to haze a rookie, but you know, it’s just part of the whole deal, part of the experience. What do you do in your free time? Free time, probably just play videogames with my boys. I like to sleep a lot. I go to the movies—there’s not too much to do around New Orleans [Ed note: C’mon Darren, you gotta check out the French Quarter!]. In Cali, I did a lot, go to Museum Park, you know the bar areas and chill with my boys. I do it all in California, but in New Orleans there is not too much to do. Josh Gordon #44 026

JJ Redick JJ: What’s up seth- its JJ HOOP: JJ…what’s up? U go anywhere for the break? JJ: North carolina and VA- got to spend some time with my family HOOP: Ahhh, that’s right… saw u in the crowd at the md game. Which is a better feeling – beating the terps or heels? JJ: Heels- but it’s always good to smash the terps ha HOOP: Haha, I still watch the miracle minute comeback on youtube when I can…now pat garrity used to write a column for us; u still keep in touch w. him? JJ: Not as much anymore- he’s up in durham at duke business school- he’s my guy though- good dude HOOP: That’s cool…do u still keep up the tradition of white guy wednesdays? JJ: Hahaha- no but we’ve been able to mix in some more non hip-hop music. Gortat likes to play his european techno and slide in a kings of leon cd every now and again HOOP: Nice…u a big fan of the last album, only by the night? JJ: Yeah- but because of the times is a better album“arizona” is my favorite song HOOP: Agreed…now u know I gotta ask about the ‘rap group’ with ryan…if u had to compare u two with any rap duo in history, who would it be? JJ: Honestly- atmosphere- if you are familiar- slug raps and ant makes the beats- I rap and ryan makes the beats HOOP: That’s ill…I gotta ask now, u like any other of the rhymesayers crew? JJ: I like murs a lot- but I tried listening to a rhymesayers album and it was brutal HOOP: Hahaha. some of em can def. be hit or miss. U went to the same hs as the barber bros. U ever see them play as a kid? JJ: Never did- have actually never met either of them but have always been huge fans HOOP: Ur bro played football at marshall…did u ever try the pigskin or strictly hoops? JJ: My parents wouldn’t let me- thought I’d get hurt- but I’ve had dozens of basketball injuries- go figure HOOP: Alright jj, last q: U were a history major and prez’ day just passed. Whos ur fav historical president? JJ: Abe Lincolin- civil war was my major’s focus and he’s the best president in US history (in my opinion) HOOP: Any battles take place near ur home in va? JJ: Not really- closest major battles/event were a couple hours away HOOP: Ahh, ok. Well JJ, thx for the time and best of luck the rest of the season! JJ: No problem- take care!! Seth Berkman #91

collison: Andrew d. bernstein; redick: Fernando medina (2); gary bassing/nbae/getty images

Is their any rookie hazing on the team? Oh yeah, all the time. We get hazed almost every other day. Whether it is bringing donuts or bringing a Barbie doll bag. It never stops.

txt msgs

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2/22/10 11:43 AM


– MATT GOLDBERG, COLLIDER.COM

TOUCHSTONE PICTURES PRESENTS A MANDEVILLE FILMS PRODUCTION A JONATHAN MOSTOW FILM BRUCE WILLIS “SURROGATES” RADHA MITCHELL ROSAMUND PIKE BORIS KODJOE WITH JAMES CROMWELL AND VING RHAMES MUSIC COSTUME EDITED PRODUCTION DIRECTOR OF EXECUTIVE PRODUCED BY RICHARD MARVIN DESIGNER APRIL FERRY BY KEVIN STITT, A.C.E. DESIGNER JEFF MANN PHOTOGRAPHY OLIVER WOOD PRODUCERS DAVID NICKSAY ELIZABETH BANKS BY DAVID HOBERMAN TODD LIEBERMAN MAX HANDELMAN BASED ON THE SCREENPLAY DIRECTED GRAPHIC NOVEL BY ROBERT VENDITTI AND BRETT WELDELE BY JOHN BRANCATO & MICHAEL FERRIS BY JONATHAN MOSTOW SurrogatesMovie.com For Intense Sequences Of Violence, Disturbing Images, Language, Sexuality And A Drug-Related Scene

Bonus Material Not Rated

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Distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc., Burbank, CA 91521. © Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc.

12/7/09 2:52 PM


playlist

Brook and Robin Lopez Brook Michael Jackson Seal Goo Goo Dolls Taylor Swift Britney Spears

“Leave Me Alone” “Kiss by a Rose” “Iris” “The Way I Loved You” “Lucky”

Robin Michael Jackson Mariah Carey James Taylor Kanye West Bruce Springsteen

“Human Nature” “Heartbreaker” “Sweet Baby Dreams” “I Wonder” “Jungleland”

Who is your favorite musical artist of all-time? Brook: My favorite all time is Michael Jackson, and I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan too. Robin: Justin Timberlake is up there. Is there a song you listen to before you go on the court for a big game? Brook: [Michael Jackson’s] “Speed Demon” every game. Robin: After I get on the court, probably some Eminem. Do you get to see any live shows? Brook: The last ones I went to were Taylor [Swift] and Britney Spears [last] summer. I also saw Sara Bareilles. And then Janet [Jackson] during the season last year. Robin: I saw a Bruce Springsteen concert. I was going to go to the Michael Jackson concert till that got cancelled.

5

The Oklahoma City Thunder became the first team in more than a decade to have four consecutive losses by a combined five points or less.

what were we thinking?

“I want to apologize for my actions, mostly to the janitor.”—Robin Lopez, on breaking a glass door out of frustration

WIN HOOP SWAG

Fantasy Files- July/Aug 2007

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Besides Steve Nash viral videos, LeBron and Kobe puppet commercials and Brandon Jennings’ haircuts, there are few things NBA fans like more than freebies. We’re all about giving here at HOOP, so be sure to always check hoopmag.com and twitter.com/hoopmag for contests where we’ll be giving away select stuff featured in HOOP—gadgets, apparel and other choice prizes. Just make sure to keep an active presence on our online communities and come correct with the NBA knowledge.

Playlist: jesse d. garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

It’s not fair to kick a man when he’s down, so let’s just start off by saying we hope Greg Oden can fully recover from injury. But better than Dwight Howard? Average a dub-dub and three blocks right out of the gate? I think at this point we’d rather just see him suit up for 50 games in a season. The hype was definitely all around GO in the summer of ’07, but I think we hit the Oden Kool-Aid just a bit too hard. While we’re at it, we also name-dropped Mike Conley in the same sentence as Chris Paul and Deron Williams. It would be unfair for us to label Conley a bust in his tender 22 years of age, but it’s hard to imagine any comparisons of Conley to an elite point guard at this stage.

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2/22/10 11:45 AM


good looks

checking the league’s fashion game HOOP’s Style Ed Candice Wiggins brings a baller’s perspective to the world of fashion.

Brook Lopez

Luke Walton

Kevin Garnett

Candice: I love this outfit! It’s simple, it’s grown up, and it’s effortless. Although it is a controversial accessory for men to rock, I personally don’t mind the whole “man bag.” This is proof that a simple black shirt with slacks can always look nice.

Candice: Remember in the 1995 movie Clueless when Cher called Amber a “Monet?” (“From far away it looks good, but up close it’s a mess.”) Well, I wouldn’t exactly call this outfit a total “Monet,” but it gives me that vibe. At first glance I love it; the colors seem to work. However, up close there seems to be this problem with the monotone color palate. Not my favorite, BUT it is sharp and sophisticated. So at the end of the day, it still works.

Candice: I love his choice of such a daring color like red. It shows that he isn’t afraid to express his style, and honestly the outfit looks completely effortless and very chic. OK, I’ll admit I had a two-second “hmmm” moment with the bag, but after careful consideration, I’ve decided that I really like it. And obviously he does too, so who cares what I think? That’s what his outfit says, and I respect that. Looks great.

534

Phil Jackson’s 534th career victory as Lakers head coach helped him pass Pat Riley for the most coaching victories in franchise history. Jackson also holds record for coaching victories for the Chicago Bulls (545). Don Nelson (Bucks and Mavericks) and Lenny Wilkens (Cavaliers and Sonics/Thunder) are the only other coaches to lead two different franchises in career wins.

Shaquille O’Neal

Al Harrington

Candice: The surprised/overly excited smile he’s wearing is a little distraction from the actual clothes. I guess the old adage from Annie is true: “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” Anyway, the outfit is pretty nice, there’s nothing I see too wrong about it. But one thing is for sure: I don’t think he was ready to be photographed.

Candice: Well, considering the memories I have of Shaq wearing that infamous genie outfit in the movie Kazaam, I have to say this is a pleasant surprise. I like the look. It’s like “Hip & Casual Shaq,” and I think the argyle-patterned sweater actually works on him! He gets a thumb up for simply not looking ridiculous.

Candice: This last one is quite possibly my all-time favorite outfit that I’ve reviewed. So crisp, so simple, yet it exudes absolute sophistication in style. To all the Project Runway Season Three watchers: It kind of brought me back to the [contestant] designer Mychael Knight when he designed his “Hamptons meets St. Tropez” look for himself. Mr. Harrington could go from the basketball game to a Diddy party and not miss a beat. Bravo. The only thing, I wish his sleeves were rolled down, but I can live with one imperfection. I have to say, this group of guys had great style, and not a single thumbs down. Which is great! Life is too short to have on a bad outfit. Candice’s Nattiest

all PHOTos/NBAE/Getty Images

Jonny Flynn

“Oh, he’s Argentinean. He’s going to rub some dirt on it, run back out, like Willis Reed.” —Shane Battier on Luis Scola’s durability

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2/22/10 11:32 AM


head 2 head

andrew bynum vs. al horford

There’s no touching Dwight Howard in the “Who’s the best center in the League right now” debate, but Bynum and Horford are compelling up-andcomers to a future argument. But between the two burgeoning pivots, who’s better?

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Round

Scoring: Score the first blow delivered to the Lakers center. Maybe it’s their tradition of first-name basis centers (Wilt, Kareem, Shaq) or the fact that he learned under Kareem’s tutelage, but Bynum could very well be a 20-point scorer if given the opportunity. Even with his inconsistent number of touches, Bynum has put up a careerhigh scoring average of 15.6 ppg this season. With his improving footwork, soft hands and a dependable array of drop-step hooks, short jumpers and a power game (the ol’ one dribble back down followed by a turnaround dunk), Bynum has a better offensive postgame than even Dwight Howard. Horford’s scoring average might be about a field goal shy of Bynum’s, but his points are more a byproduct of being active around the basket. Most of the Hawks’ offense gets funneled through their perimeter guys, leaving Horford with the clean-up duties on penetration and putbacks. Unlike many big men who are shaky at the line, both Horford and Bynum are excellent (75 percent) free-throw shooters.

Bynum

Horford

15.4

13.4

APG

1.3

2.1

RPG

8.4

9.4

BPG

1.6

1.2

PPG

SPG

0.5

0.7

FG%

.567

.564

3PT%

.000

1.000

FT%

.747

.759

PER

20.21

18.84

’09-10 stats

Winner: bynum

al horford CENTER 6-10, 245 Atlanta hawks

Floor Game: Both Bynum and Horford pack a punch, but in different ways. Bynum is more the classic throwback center—rebound, defend, back-to-the-basket game—whereas Horford is more the modern pivot, able to do some of the little things that old-school centers weren’t expected to handle: run the floor in the fastbreak, grab a board, lead the break and find a cutting teammate. This is not typically a category that centers are measured by, but nevertheless, it’s one that Horford is superior at.

Winner: HORFORD

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bynum: juan ocampo; noah graham; horford: scott cunningham; fernando medina/NBAE/Getty Images

2

Round

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3

Round

Defense: Championship-contending teams usually share one common denominator: good interior defense. It’s no surprise that the Hawks and Lakers are on a short list of potential Finals contenders with the excellent protection afforded by their centers. It’s tough to pick a winner in this category as both Bynum and Horford protect the basket, rebound the ball and challenge shots. Bynum’s size advantage (two inches and 40 pounds) gives him a leg up in interior duties, but Horford makes up the difference with a long wingspan (7-4), outstanding strength and active game. Bynum certainly has the potential to eclipse Horford, but his inconsistency on defense (even Phil Jackson has groused about it) gives Horford the edge for now.

Winner: horford

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Round

Clutch: In his still nascent career, Horford has been in many big moments already, most notably the seven-game ’08 first round playoff series against the eventual-champion Boston Celtics during his rookie year. While most rooks would squint and shy away from the spotlight, Horford picked up his game with a 12.6 ppg and 10.4 rpg series while tangling with Kevin Garnett. Horford made some key buckets down the stretches that helped the happy-to-be-invitedto-the-party Hawks put the scare into the C’s. As unfair as it may be, playing with Kobe Bryant means Bynum’s number is rarely called when the stakes are high. Such is life. Couple that with veterans Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and the clutch Derek Fisher and we may not know for a while.

Winner: horford

5

Round

Leadership: Had Bynum went the college route and stayed four years, this season he’d be carrying bags and fetching donuts for vets. Instead, he’s the starting center for the defending champs. Even with the valuable four years of apprenticeship, Bynum is still learning to be a pro. With the aforementioned vets on the team and a sage like Jackson for a coach, he’d be wise to absorb as much as possible. On the other hand, Horford is more a natural leader who had some on-the-job training as a part of a back-to-back NCAA title team in Florida. He might be one of the younger members of the Hawks, but he’s already one of their more vocal and inspiring ones as evidenced by his refusal to back down to KG during the memorable Boston playoff series during Horford’s rookie run. Add in the injection of confidence with his first All-Star selection, and we see Horford asserting himself even more.

andrew bynum center 7-0, 285 los angeles lakers

Winner: horford

The Verdict

Unless you’re jumping the tip for Orlando, every center in the League gets in line behind Howard. That said, there are only a handful of young centers that possess as much upside as Bynum and Horford. We picked Horford based on a several intangibles, but Bynum, if motivated (the recurring caveat in sports discussions), can make this the wrong choice. It will certainly be an intriguing matchup to follow as the decade unfolds. HOOP

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2/22/10 11:41 AM


straight shooter

Phoenix’s Steve Nash Aims for Honest Answers to Your NBA Questions The two-time MVP has been on a roll recently–on the court and with his viral videos—so we ask the man behind the cam how he comes up with his ideas, and other goodies about the NBA life

Did Ryan Scheckler really jump over you in that YouTube video?

Yes he did. It was probably stupid on my part because he only cleared me by about a quarter of an inch. We’re both partners in a company called Mission Product, and my cousin and I were making a commercial for them. We asked them to meet us at a skate park and next thing you knew he was jumping over me. I was a little nervous, but I had faith in his ability. I probably had too much faith because it was a close call. Those guys are amazing, though. I can’t even fathom the amount of hours they put in, and the athleticism that they acquire through those hours of training. It’s just a phenomenally beautiful sport, in my opinion.

How many countries have you visited? Which is your favorite and why?

I’ve visited a lot of countries. I couldn’t begin to count. And I love them all for different reasons, so it’s hard for me to say which is my favorite. But some of the countries that are on the list would be Cuba… it was fantastic. I had an amazing time there, and would love to go back. I love South America, so name your country down there. Rome, I think, is one of the most fantastic cities in the world. My family is from London, and it’s one of the premiere cities in the world, any day of the week. There are a lot of great cities in North America, too. I love New York.

How spontaneous are your hilarious web videos?

Some are more spontaneous than others. Generally I try to come up with a concept or write something that is funny, but is easy enough to accomplish, especially when we’re on the plane. There are so many moving parts… whether guys want to do it, whether they understand it, whether they get it or we have the time and ability. So some of the videos with my teammates are loosely planned, but then hopefully the magic in the moment makes them better. The more formal ones are scripted. But I always leave room for improvisation or change in the moment. I think that’s really one of the beautiful chances that you take as a filmmaker, to just see what happens. The ones we’ve done lately, I’ve been scripting them. My cousin just helps me with them after I’ve come up with an idea. But in the past, he came up with the “$60 Million Man” commercial and then I collaborated with him. So sometimes he comes up with the idea, sometimes I come up with the idea. That’s what we really like, pushing each other to new places and to make an idea better through that collaboration.

If you could be any super hero for a day, which would you choose and why? How are the seat assignments determined on the bus or the plane?

That’s just kind of tradition more than a superstition. Guys get a seat and then they just stick with it. We’re creatures of habit and we fall in line. But if someone sits in the wrong seat, they get called out and order is restored. [laughs] I don’t know. I mean, body parts are always kind of strange. If it’s a kid, I always say ‘Your mom won’t want that.’ But if it’s an adult, I’m just perplexed. I always think those [Flat Stanley] doll things that they have you take pictures with all around the world, are strange. Those are quite weird, even though it’s not a signature. I thought autographs were cool growing up. I just never really met anyone worth asking for an autograph. But I think autographs for grown-ups kind of seem strange.

Got a question for Steve? Email it to hoop@pspsports.com 032

barry gossage; brian babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

What are the weirdest things you’ve been asked to autograph over the years?

Superman. Why? Hmm… because he’s super.

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2/22/10 11:49 AM


celeb row

McLovin His C’s Even though Christopher Mintz-Plasse (probably best known as McLovin in Superbad), was born and raised in Southern California, his basketball passion is directed at the Boston Celtics (his father grew up just outside of Boston). Mintz-Plasse, 20, has got two films coming out this spring. First up is the animated How to Train Your Dragon. Then he portrays a teenager who creates a comic book inspired persona in Kick-Ass. Even though acting keeps him pretty busy, he would love to join the Entertainment League and show other show biz ballers his court skills. What has been the most exciting NBA game you’ve ever attended? I was in Boston last year for three playoff games. I was at the game when the Celtics played the Orlando Magic (’09 Conference Semifinals) and won by four points. Sadly, they lost to the Magic in that round (4-3), but it was still the most exciting game I’ve ever been to. Did you feel your acting career was a success the first time you scored courtside seats? When I gave a high five to JJ Redick of the Magic, I thought, “That was pretty cool.” Do the players ever recognize you and say something? One of the players on the Bulls recognized me and pointed and laughed. I don’t know if I should take that as a good or a bad thing. Who are some of your favorite players and what do you enjoy about their games? I’m obviously a Celtics fan, so I have to say Paul Pierce has been my favorite player and Kevin Garnett. I just enjoy watching them play some good defense. So even though you grew up in Los Angeles you love the Celtics more than the Lakers? I kind of despise the Lakers to be honest. If you’re a Celtics fan, you can’t like the Lakers in my opinion. Did you play basketball in school and do you play now recreationally? I played basketball when I was younger in leagues. I play now with friends, shoot around and have some fun. Tell me about lending your voice to How to Train Your Dragon. What is it like to act without being seen? You’ve got a lot of freedom to read lines four or five different ways, different energy. You have to act like you’re jumping off a cliff. It’s very exciting. Kick-Ass looks silly but on the other hand it’s the desire of an average guy to do something extraordinary. Please tell me about your character and the overall message of the film. He creates this alter ego, Red Mist, to go out and help his dad get Kick-Ass. He respects Kick-Ass, but he wants to help his father. His father is more the foe of the movie, and he’s kind of stuck in the middle. Do you think the Lakers will repeat as NBA Champions in 2010? They’re looking the best right now. But the Celtics, I have no worries. Lois Elfman #40

“You know you can’t put the brakes on when you want to because you didn’t know if you’re going to slip. You saw a couple guys slipping out there like Peggy Fleming tonight.” -Rasheed Wallace after playing on a wet floor at home against the Clippers last January

Photo Buckets

Mandy Barron Newcastle, England Congratulations to Mandy Barron, winner of this issue’s Photo Buckets contest. Each issue we ask readers to submit their best offcourt photo with an NBA player, past or present. This issue we chose her photo with Kevin Love, taken during Mandy and Steve Barron’s trip from Newcastle, England to Boston to catch the T-Wolves play on Mandy’s 40th birthday.

44

After scoring 44 points to break Jerry West’s Lakers record for career points in a 95-93 loss to Memphis on February 1, Kobe Bryant joined Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks), LeBron James (Cavaliers), Dwyane Wade (Heat), Chris Bosh (Raptors) and Gerald Wallace (Bobcats) as the only active players who hold their current team’s all-time record for career points.

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

*All submitted entries become property of HOOP HOOP

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2/22/10 10:45 AM


10,000,000

“How about Glen? That would be nice instead of Shanaynay or Mookie or Spooky. Just call him Glen.” —Doc Rivers (also a Glenn) on Glen Davis looking for a new nickname after shedding Big Baby

Detroit’s Ben Gordon scored the 10 millionth point in NBA history on January 9. New York’s Ossie Schectman scored the first points in the NBA on November 1, 1946, at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.

2,000

Ben Wallace blocked his 2,000th career shot on February 2 against New Jersey. Wallace is the first undrafted player to reach that milestone.

Bread and Butter When you spread soft, creamy butter over a warm piece of rye fresh out of the toaster, it is best to cover it from crust to crust; in basketball, when you cover Kevin Garnett, you must do so from baseline to baseline, or else he’ll leave you burnt to a crisp. KG’s baseline J is one of those shots that is so simple, yet effective... kinda like toast for breakfast. Watch this one play versus Cleveland in the ’08 playoffs. The Celtics clear out for KG so he can iso Anderson Varejao on the near baseline, just inside the three-point line. Garnett makes a quick ball fake to the right, getting Varejao to shift over ever so slightly. This gives KG the room he needs to separate. Cutting to his left with a dribble towards the basket, he now has Varejao on his heels. Sensing the impending doom, Delonte West runs over for the double team. That’s when KG plants his right foot, steps back towards the baseline and shoots with a few feet of separation between himself and the defender. He then elevates as Varejao is trying to recover and West is still coming over for the help. With a slight fade away and a high arching shot, Cleveland’s defenders don’t have a chance to block the shot. There’s no denying that if you give KG any kind of space on the baseline, chances are you’ll be toast. Josh Gordon #44

KG’s Baseline J

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brian babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

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2/22/10 10:38 AM


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brack-it

Eight things. One undisputed champ. Best NBA Player twitter r

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By Steve Hunt #29

first five

44 - Center- Houston Rockets

Chuck Hayes One of the NBA’s most unsung players resides in Houston. Sound familiar? Despite being 6-6,1 Chuck Hayes has spent much of the season jumping ball for the Rockets and being their workhorse in the paint, taking over for the injured Yao Ming. “I’m a basketball player,” says Hayes. “I don’t think you can pin a position on me. Guys are always going to be taller. They’ve been taller than me since high school,2 but I’ve found a way to make it3 this far.” This is Hayes’ fifth season after a four-year4 career at the University of Kentucky.5 His strong work ethic has earned him a fitting nickname. “Bill Worrell does our games and my second6 year he called me the Chuck Wagon. It kind of stuck,” says Hayes. “I learned to accept it because when the whole team is calling you that, you have to answer to it sooner or later.” One person who definitely appreciates his efforts in the paint is Rockets head coach Rick Adelman. “I’m just glad to play for a coach who appreciates the things I do. He gets it,” says Hayes. “He understands there’s more to basketball than just scoring points.” Now that he logs more minutes, he also finds fans recognizing him more in public. “People actually say I’m taller in person than I am on TV,” says Hayes.

BONUS POINTS 1. Giving about five inches to the average center in the NBA, Hayes is the shortest starting center in bill baptist/NBAE/Getty Images

the League. 2. In 2001, Chuck was named California’s Mr. Basketball. 3. Hayes went undrafted in 2005 and started his career in the D-League before the call-up. 4. As a senior, Hayes was named the 2004 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. 5. Chuck’s Wildcat teammates included fellow current NBA players Kelenna Azubuike and Keith Bogans. 6. In his second game with the Rockets, Chuck logged a double-double. HOOP

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first five

By Dave McMenamin #35

10 - Guard - Los Angeles Clippers

ERIC GORDON Maybe Eric Gordon needs some tattoos, or commercials, or a Twitter account he constantly updates with crazy musings. Something, anything to get himself some much-needed exposure.1 The Clippers second-year guard is the team’s second leading scorer at 17.4 ppg, scoring more than two-time All-Star teammate,2 Baron Davis. He is also playing in Los Angeles, one of the largest media markets in the country. Yet when people talk about the excellent guard class to enter the League in the ’08 NBA Draft, his name is always pushed to the back of the line. Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo and Russell Westbrook have the name recognition. They get the publicity. And with that publicity, they get the respect of the referees who are usually hesitant to grant benefit-of-the-doubt calls to NBA neophytes. “I don’t know what it is,” Gordon says. “Stat-wise you can compare us. I’m right there next to theirs.” As a rookie, the 6-2, 222-pound Gordon shot a respectable 45.6 percent from the field, but that number would have been higher if he got more calls to go his way. He averaged only 4.5 foul shots per game as a rookie. “I like taking it to the hole,” Gordon says about his penchant for pinballing3 with opposing big men in the paint. “I’m not just a three-point shooter at all. I just like to be physical.” His shooting percentage his risen to 46.9 as a sophomore, as have his free throw attempts to 5.1, but he still wishes4 he heard the whistle more often. “If they’re not going to give you calls then you might never get them… I might need to start complaining,” Gordon says, before breaking into a smile, letting everybody know that him complaining is about as absurd a possibility as him getting ink all over his arms. He doesn’t need to talk. His game5 will bring him fame.

BONUS POINTS 1. Gordon came up short against Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan in the first-ever NBA All-Star DunkIn at halftime of the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam to determine the fourth participant

2. Gordon was teammates with fellow future NBA players Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Daequan Cook and Josh McRoberts on the AAU team, Spiece Indy Heat. 3. He was given the nickname “the Hobbit” by teammate Marcus Camby. 4. Gordon’s birthday is Christmas Day. 5. Growing up, Gordon modeled his game after Gilbert Arenas and Chauncey Billups.

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in the Slam Dunk Contest.

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first five

By Christopher Cason #24

21 - Forward - Cleveland Cavaliers

JJ HICKSON BONUS POINTS

From their pregame ritual to the laughs shared on the bench,1 the Cleveland Cavaliers are a family and second year forward JJ Hickson is the youngest sibling. “It’s like you are out there playing with your brothers,” says Hickson of the bond shared between him and his teammates. After his rookie season was cut short by injury, Hickson set out to improve on the aspects that all players must work2 towards. “Just being consistent,” Hickson says. “And doing everything right all the time.” After spending his rookie season backing up his veteran teammates, Hickson is now starting and playing power forward3 between arguably two of the biggest personalities in LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, while absorbing all the knowledge he can from them. “Just playing with [those two] great players and they’re expecting a lot out of you,” says Hickson, “it’s helped my development tremendously.” With a championship on the mind of everyone wearing wine and gold,4 Hickson’s development will be key if the Cavs are to make a return to the Finals. Hickson knows the family atmosphere is vital if that is to happen.5 “All teams that are close; I think those are the teams that win championships.”

1. If he wasn’t playing basketball, Hickson says: “I would probably be a high school basketball coach. It would have to be something involving basketball.” 2. Hickson spent a lot of last summer with LeBron working out, going to James’ house for dinner and traveling to various appearances and camps with James. 3. Some of Hickson’s favorite players include forwards Kevin Garnett and Amar’e Stoudemire. 4. After leaving NC State after his freshmen season, the first team Hickson worked out for was the Cavaliers. 5. Hickson states that he had a blueprint of hard work and never settling on any achievements, no matter how big they were, as the reason he is in the NBA today.

joe murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

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by Anthony gilbert #1

34 - Forward/Center - Sacramento Kings

Jason Thompson Growing up in a small New Jersey town1 between the bright lights of Philadelphia and the brighter lights of New York, it’s no wonder Jason Thompson has adjusted fine in making a name for himself in Sacramento. Never a flashy player, the big man from the little school2 has always played with a big heart, which is a quality that stems from his inner strength. “I was always an under-the-radar guy,” says Thompson, “from middle school, high school, college, and even in the League, so I’ve always had that chip on my shoulder to prove people wrong pretty much all my life.” Though he doesn’t get back home as much these days, Thompson always relishes visits back to the east coast. During a recent midseason east coast swing, Thompson had the opportunity to play in front of family and friends against the 76ers.3 “It’s [always] a big night, but you feel comfortable as well because you’re home.” Seeing how far he has come from when he used to ball in the area, the 12th overall pick of the ’08 NBA Draft4 realizes how lucky of a position he is in. “Nothing is ever definite until it happens,” says Thompson, “and you hear a lot of stories of people not getting drafted, but my wish came true. I went 12th and I’m in a nice place right now.”

BONUS POINTS 1. Thompson is from Mount Laurel, NJ, a suburb of Philly, but only 90 minutes away from New York. 2. Thompson earned a degree in TV and Radio from Rider University. 3. 19 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks in a 98-86 loss. 4. Thompson didn’t attend the draft, choosing to stay home and watch with his family and a camera crew.

sam forencich/NBAE/Getty Images

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7 - Forward - Milwaukee Bucks

Ersan Ilyasova

first five

by Jeff Min #12

It’s a frigid afternoon in Milwaukee and Ersan Ilyasova1 is taking time after practice to work on his jumpshot. Before setting up behind the arc he exchanges a friendly jab with teammate Luke Ridnour, which momentarily affects his concentration. Ilyasova smiles sheepishly as he misses two straight, but as soon as the first one drops the smile disappears. He runs off five in a row easy, misses one and then splashes in another five. The quick metamorphosis from affable big man to deadpan sniper is indicative of Ily’s growth as a young, but well-seasoned professional ballplayer.2 Drafted in ’053 by the Milwaukee Bucks, Ilyasova was selected for his raw potential and seemingly endless upside. But due in large part to a nagging ankle injury, Ersan struggled throughout the preseason, and was sent to the D-League where he played for the Tulsa 66ers. He wouldn’t play in the NBA until 2006,4 and although he made significant strides he still needed more game time experience to make that next jump. “In order to improve myself I have to play more minutes,” says Ilyasova.“That’s why I chose to go back overseas.5 We won a championship last year, and I learned a lot about basketball, so when I came back it helped me a lot.” Reuniting with the Bucks so far has been a difficult but steady climb for the 6-9 combo player. He’s had brilliant moments on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and he’ll be counted on when the Bucks look to make their big playoff push come April. “We lost too many games by one point, a buzzer beater shot [by Dallas], but we played really well defensively,” says Ilyasova. “If we play at the same level every game we can definitely be a playoff team.” And with the postseason in mind and Michael Redd out for the season, Ersan is eager to step up and contribute just as he’s done time and time again.

BONUS POINTS 1. Ilyasova was born in Eskisehir, Turkey. He is one of three Turkish-born players currently in the NBA. The other two are Mehmet Okur and Hedo Turkoglu. 2. Ilyasova started playing professionally at 15. 3. Second round, 36th overall.

for the Bucks. He played in 66 games his rookie season—starting in 14—and put up 6.1 ppg and 2.9 rpg in just 14 minutes. 5. After 66 games with Milwaukee, Ilyasova went overseas to Spain and played for two teams: in ’07-08 for AXA FC Barcelona, where he saw limited playing time, and ’08-09 with Regal FC Barcelona where he averaged 10.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg, while shooting 52.3 percent from the field and 45.6 from behind the arc.

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4. At 19 years, five months and 17 days, Ilyasova was the youngest player ever to suit up

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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

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24 seconds

with Andrew Bogut

By Jeramie McPeek #4 HOOP: Tell us about your interest in muscle cars. BOGUT: My dad owned a shop, so I grew up around cars. I never really took much interest as a kid, but now that I can afford to turn it into a passion, my father and I started a collection and are starting a business in Australia. HOOP: What sort of business? BOGUT: Restoration stuff. So if someone buys a piece of junk car for $10,000, then they can give it to us and we can customize it or put it into original [condition]. We’re trying to help them get their dream car from America. HOOP: Did your dad teach you how to work on the cars yourself? BOGUT: I have a long ways to go to get to my dad’s level. Obviously, I’m biased, but he’s one of the best in the world mechanically. Just by the smell, the sound, he can tell you what’s wrong with a car.

HOOP: How many cars do you have in your collection? BOGUT: It’s growing weekly. I’m actually sending home eight at the end of this week. We’ve got everything from Mustangs to Camaros, Chevy Nomad… my favorite is a ’69 Camaro, factory original, V28. HOOP: We heard about the controversy with a reporter falsely writing that you drive a new Ferrari. BOGUT: [laughs] Yeah, I definitely don’t have a Ferrari. I mean, a Ferrari is $300,000 or $400,000. My entire collection of cars1 is worth that. HOOP: We’ve been reading your tweets.2 We enjoyed the one in which you thanked fans for their hate tweets. BOGUT: Yeah, everyone gets hate tweets. I’d rather be hated by some than loved by everybody. I think if you’re loved by everybody then you’re hiding something.

HOOP: You don’t mind giving it back to them, either. You had an entertaining exchange with a Pistons fan earlier this season. BOGUT: I don’t just take it. If they’re going to voice their opinion and hide behind a screen, I’m going to go back at ‘em. HOOP: It seems that you save most of your trash talk tweets for @Flintstone14. BOGUT: [laughs] Me and Charlie Bell are real close, so we get on each other a little bit. HOOP: We see you’ve given him quite a few nicknames,3 too. Which is your favorite? BOGUT: Probably Cookie Monster or Snacks, because he’s always snacking on something. HOOP: You complain about the snow quite a bit in your tweets. BOGUT: What is it now, probably minus -3 degrees Celsius? I’m not used to this growing up in Australia. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I mean, I play in the NBA! But I could use more sunshine.

gary dineen/nbae/getty images

HOOP: How hard was that to adjust to when you first arrived in Milwaukee? BOGUT: Well, I was in Utah for two years. I thought I wouldn’t have a problem because I’d lived in snow,4 but I forgot that Provo, [UT] is in a valley, so we really had no wind. Here you get that effect from Lake Michigan and the wind chill is minus -40. It’s crazy. HOOP: So you probably don’t want to hear that its 62 degrees here5 today? BOGUT: Thanks for that, man. HOOP: Do you need Starbucks on your way to practice every day to warm up? BOGUT: I’m not really a fan of Starbucks. It’s almost the only coffee you can get in America, but I’m more of just an espresso or cappuccino drinker. I don’t like these one-liter coffees.

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HOOP: So you don’t like a Venti Espresso? BOGUT: No, I say “Give me a medium latte,” and they say “You mean a Venti?” and I say “No, I mean a medium. I’m not converting to your language.” HOOP: Speaking of language differences, tell us the difference between “Throwball” and Australian Rules Football.6 BOGUT: [laughs] We actually kick our ball. Australian Rules is crazy. People think its rugby, but it’s not. Players generally run nine to 10 miles a game. There are only four substitutes for 18 players, no pads or helmets. It’s an all-out game. HOOP: How would Alex Smith7 do at Australian Rules Football? BOGUT: Well, it’s an intense game. There’s no line of scrimmage and no big linebackers, so you can get hit from behind, from the sides, the front. All of the guys can run and jump, and they’re all strong as hell. HOOP: You’re not afraid of sharing your opinions, are you? BOGUT: I can’t play political correctness. It’s a problem sometimes. Media trainers don’t like it. But I think it’s selling your soul, if you’re just telling people what they want to hear. HOOP: You have a couple dogs, right? BOGUT: Yes, Siberian Huskies. They’re perfect for the weather here. They’re a lot of work, but they’re awesome dogs. They’re very free spirited and are probably the smartest dogs I’ve been around in my life. HOOP: What’s your favorite TV show? BOGUT: Seinfeld is my favorite all-time. It’s one of those shows that I could watch five re-runs back to back and it’s still enjoyable. HOOP: Do you have a favorite episode? BOGUT: The “Soup Nazi” has to be up there. Probably “The Contest”... Kramer looking at the girl across the street with the binoculars, that’s an awesome episode. HOOP: You have a dry sense of humor yourself, don’t you? BOGUT: Yeah, definitely dry and sarcastic. A lot of people who don’t know me think I’m an @$%#*!%, so that just comes with the territory. HOOP: Tell us about your territory or section, “Squad 6.” BOGUT: Milwaukee is a small market, less than a million people, so we sometimes struggle to get a crowd. A Tuesday night, for instance, kids have school the next day, it’s 30 degrees outside, so it can be tough. I thought if I bought tickets, I’m sure people would come. The only catch is you have to cheer and act like it’s your last basketball game ever. HOOP: What does someone’s “last basketball game ever” look like? BOGUT: They chant all game. “New York Knicks” when LeBron is shooting free throws. They were singing “Dude Looks Like a Lady” when Joakim Noah was at the line. They come up with some creative stuff and get the rest of the crowd involved.

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2. You can follow the Bucks’ big man, 140 characters at a time, at twitter.com/AndrewMBogut. Or log on to AndrewBogut.com for blogs, photos, video and more. 3. A couple of Bogut’s names for the Bucks’ point guard include “Little Charlie” and “Fat Boy.” 4. Bogut owns two Siberian Huskies, Kico and Ivo, which he says are perfect for the cold weather. 5. Editor-at-large Jeramie McPeek was enjoying a chilly Phoenix day while interviewing Bogut by phone. 6. After trying and passing on gymnastics, Bogut played Australian Rules Football in Melbourne, but his mother didn’t like the wet, muddy games. 7. Alex Smith was drafted 1st overall by the San Francisco 49ers out of the University of Utah, just months before Bogut went No. 1 to Milwaukee in the 2005 NBA Draft.

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HOOP: How do the opponents react to them? BOGUT: I’ve heard a lot of good feedback. Mark Cuban posted on Twitter that it was the best atmosphere he had seen at an NBA game. They’ve given us a great homecourt advantage.

Bonus Points 1. Bogut says he doesn’t even own a car in Milwaukee. He leases vehicles because of the snow and salt.

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As the Celtics search for redemption, Rajon Rondo has the prescription for success

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It was a simple question and when it was asked of Rajon Rondo, his expression didn’t change. That’s no surprise; Rondo’s expression never... Wait a minute. Did a small smirk creep across his face? Or was it a flicker of a slight smile? Was he bothered by the question, or was he preparing to be amused by his answer? With Rondo, the fourth-year guard out of the University of Kentucky with the unique1 name, you can never tell. And that’s just the way he wants it. He wants to keep everyone but his teammates off balance. So the player who seems almost implacable in even the most stressful of situations surprises you with his slight change of expression when he’s asked: “Would you say Doc Rivers has been tough on you?” It’s a question that he’s been asked before. Hence, Rondo’s sly smile/slight smirk. Like a good point guard, through a combination of preparation and experience, he quickly handles the situation. He’s learned well from his coach, who played the position in the NBA for 12 years. “He’s been extremely hard on me,” says Rondo. “Just being a point guard, he expects more out of me.” Considering that Rondo has met those expectations is another reason why he has become the key cog to the Celtics’ quest for the franchise’s 18th title. After four seasons of a sometimes contentious relationship between the coach and player, Rondo has become an extension of Rivers on the floor according to nine-time All-Star Ray Allen. “As a point guard around here, you have to be ahead of the curve,” says Allen. “When you see trends develop in the game, you have to see them and make the adjustment on the spur of the moment and you have to know what play to call. “You have to know everything and you have to be an extension of the coach.” For a while, though, that had been Rondo’s problem. He thought he knew everything. Rivers may have played point guard, but Rondo thought his coach was something of a relic. “Never seen him play, he’s way back in the black-and-white days on TV,” Rondo formerly claimed. “I wasn’t even born2 when Doc played. I heard about him.”

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“His whole game has gotten better, each year he’s getting better. His maturity has a lot to do with it.” - Doc rivers

If he had seen his coach in his heyday, Rondo may have noticed a player strikingly similar to himself. Rivers, though three inches taller than the 6-1 Rondo, had a similarly lean build and similarly lean and efficient game. Rivers led the Hawks in assists and steals for three straight seasons in the late ’80s. This season, Rondo is on pace to lead the Celtics in those categories, also for the third consecutive season.3 Rivers, for one, believes he’s working from a position of strength based on his experience. “I know what I know from that position, and I try to share that part,” says Rivers. “I would think it’s easier in some ways, but tougher for the point guard. “But we have a good relationship, so I don’t know if that’s because I was a point or whatever, but we do and that’s good.” Yet, despite their connection as NBA point guards, Rondo didn’t always take well to the Doc’s orders. Rondo’s confidence always seemed to be oversized for a player who was seen as nothing more than a game manager to facilitate Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Kendrick Perkins, who has played with Rondo for four seasons, could see that Rondo didn’t always take well to Rivers’ or his more accomplished teammate’s suggestions. “In his first couple of years, he was kind of...” says Perkins, followed by a pause, “I wouldn’t call him stubborn, but he just had a certain way of doing things. “Now, he’s taken everything and kind of putting it together. He’s taking things from different angles and figuring things out.” Rivers noted that Rondo’s improvement comes from experience. “His whole game has gotten better, each year he’s getting better,” says Rivers. “His maturity has a lot to do with it.” The Celtics will need Rondo to show that maturity if they want to go deep in the postseason again. During their championship run, the Celtics relied on their three future Hall of Famers to carry the load. Dutifully, Rondo played the role of the point guard who dished the rock and then got out of the way.

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But there were whispers as to whether he was even proficient at that job. During the ’08 postseason, some wondered how much more dominant the Celtics could have been if only they had a point guard who could hit an open jumper.4 And then there was the ’09 postseason. Rondo may have thought that his breakout performance in the first round of the Celtics’ epic seven-game series with the Bulls—he had triple-doubles5 in Games 2, 3 and 4 and dished 86 assists in the series overall—would have given Rondo some breathing room with the Boston brass. Not so, as the whispers of ’08 became shouts. After the Celtics lost to Orlando in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in ’09, Celtics president of basketball operations (and former Boston point guard) Danny Ainge publicly aired the franchise’s grievances with Rondo. “We expect him to play by the rules and be a leader as a point guard. We need him to be more of a leader,” Ainge told a Boston radio station last June. “There were just a couple situations where he was late this year, I don’t know if he was sitting in his car, but he showed up late and the rest of the team was there. We have team rules and you have to be on time. He was fined for being late, he said he was stuck in traffic, and it’s just unacceptable.” Despite his averages of 14.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists in seven games against the Magic,6 Ainge was still able to find fault with Rondo’s performance. “As we saw in the Orlando series, they left him wide open,” Ainge said. “His presence hurt us in winning right now because his man went and doubled onto Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce] and made it difficult for us.” And that may have been the most frustrating thing for the Celtics. Rondo may be one of the most versatile guards in the NBA today,7 but his reluctance to make teams pay for leaving him open is surprising, because it belies the supreme confidence he has in his abilities. According to Perkins, that’s changed this season as Rondo has become more vocal. “Oh he talks,” says Perkins. “But I’ve always said about Rondo is that he has a quiet arrogance about him. “It’s quiet, but he’s arrogant in a good way.” When asked how much confidence he was playing with,

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Rondo turned the question on the questioner: “What’s the limit?” There’s no limit. “Then that’s what I’m playing with right now.” And his teammates can see that confidence has become competence on the court. “It’s a very cerebral game from the point guard position,” says Allen. “If you understand from the first quarter to the fourth quarter how things happen and how they evolve, you have to use your weapons out there.” Rondo has weapons at his disposal. There’s Pierce, who is third on the Celtics’ all-time scoring list. There’s Allen, who has hit more three-pointers than any player in NBA history besides Reggie Miller. And then there’s Kevin Garnett, one of the premier post players of his or any generation. Add to that amazing mix Kendrick Perkins, who leads the NBA in field goal percentage and Rondo has an embarrassment of riches from which to choose on the offensive end. “That’s his job, getting everybody involved,” says Perkins. “The whole starting five averages double-digits in points, and that’s all on him.” Rivers has also seen Rondo’s self-assurance translate to results on the court. “I think he’s more comfortable when people help off of him,” says Rivers. “Every night they do, every night teams do it a different way. Some teams have been better than others at it and he’s better equipped to handle it now. “In Orlando in the playoffs, it had a huge effect mentally on him, it affected his game. I don’t think it has that effect on him any more. He just keeps playing now and that’s been huge for our team. We see it now, and we’re going to see it once the playoffs start.” And the Celtics will need him to not only be sharp in the playoffs, but also indefatigable. Take one look at the Celtics roster and you’ll see Rondo has no legitimate backup at the position.

Short on the jumper In a league of giants the Napoleon complex is seeing a rise to greatness. After a decade of domination by big super athletic big men like Shaq, Tim Duncan, Dirk, and Garnett, the League is seeing a resurgence of young point guards that are facilitating the offense with skill and style. No player in the League has a tougher assignment than Rajon Rondo, who needs to keep his three All-Stars welloiled with shots to keep the big green machine running, and we can’t envision anyone doing it much better. His speed and passes that wrap around defenders are a mix of finesse and power, and his defensive ability to find the ball makes him a fan favorite at TD Garden. What makes Rondo unique though is that his star ability lacks an outside jumper. Ray Allen, who has been on the receiving end of many Rondo kick outs, says that Rondo is playing with more confidence and command of the position, but still has some work to be among the elite guards. “Having an outside shot as a point guard [is important],” says Allen. “It’s one thing to score in the paint, one thing to pass, but to be able to shoot the ball at an amazing rate, I think, [is necessary] to be an elite point guard in the NBA right now. You talk about Steve Nash, probably the one point guard that can do everything from passing, the three ball and getting to the hole, but it took him awhile to get there.” Rondo was recently named to his first All-Star team in his fourth year in the League, proving that the point guard doesn’t have to have a dagger long ball to be effective, but it is the one knock on Rondo’s game that is keeping him from being considered an elite, complete guard like Nash, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. “You have to take that mentality that you always can get better,” says Allen. “There’s a moment where, regardless of how many All-Star games you’ve made or how many championships you won, you have to have that motivation and urge to go out there and improve your game and your numbers. “I believe that he has it in him.”—Josh Gordon #44

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During the title run, Rondo had veteran Sam Cassell playing 12 minutes per game. Last season, it was Stephon Marbury. These days when Rondo looks over his shoulder, he sees... no one. Nate Robinson is more of a scoring guard and Pierce8 and Allen can handle the rock while Rondo gets a breather. But when it comes to someone who can mindmeld with Rivers from play to play, the Celtics’ world rests on Rondo’s broad shoulders. But Rivers thinks Rondo’s now mature enough to handle the responsibility. “I’m tough on any guy who I think he’s not [at] the point he’s going to be some day,” says Rivers. “Like I’ve said many times, I don’t think you should coach a guy to a point where he’s at right now, unless that’s where he should be for the rest of his life. “Rondo has a huge upside. As good as he is now, he’s going to get better. My job as a coach is to make sure he gets there.” And if Rondo helps the Celtics win title No. 18 along the way, all the better.

BONUS POINTS 1. There have been no other players named either Rajon or Rondo in NBA history. 2. Rondo was born on Feb. 22, 1986, and shares a birth date with Julius “Dr. J” Erving. Rivers was wearing a Dr. J t-shirt at a basketball camp when he was given the nickname, Doc. 3. Since the NBA officially began keeping the stat in ’73-74, no Celtic has ever lead the league in steals. 4. Rondo shot 40.7 percent from the field in the ’08 playoffs.

“It’s a very cerebral game from the point guard position. If you understand from the first quarter to the fourth quarter how things happen and how they evolve, you have to use your weapons out there.” - ray allen

5. Rondo’s three triple-doubles matched Larry Bird’s Celtics record for most in one postseason. 6. He has amassed 309 assists in the past two postseasons, far ahead of the No. 2 on that list, Kobe Bryant with 243. 7. Rondo has always been a good rebounder as he led Kentucky in rebounding his sophomore season with 6.1 per game. 8. Pierce has proven himself as decent distributor of the rock as

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he dished 119 assists in the ’08 postseason.

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road swing.1 That’s not kid stuff. Memphis and Oklahoma City are experiencing their formative years in one of the least forgiving environments imaginable. As they struggle with new experiences and try to get a handle on unexpected changes within themselves, they must fight for status in a league that has rarely been kind to youngsters. For every Atlanta team that has grown organically and come together around a young nucleus,2 there are plenty of others (see: Clippers, Los Angeles) who have been left behind in various stages of arrested development, never to escape competitive adolescence. Each new draft, they welcome

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Every generation has its stories about growing up. Walking five miles to school. Uphill. Both ways. In the snow. Making due with only seven TV channels–and no remote. Turning a dial through AM radio in a car without air conditioning. And just imagine the travails today’s 20-somethings can describe: iPods that could hold a mere 1,000 songs and dial-up Internet. Oh, the hardships. Growing up in the NBA is a little different. If you think it was tough to heat up leftovers without a microwave, try dealing with the Lakers on the second night of a back-to-back. Or facing Tim Duncan one night and Dirk Nowitzki the next on a Texas

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more youth, only to repeat the same mistakes as before, thereby becoming textbook examples of poor parenting. So far this season, the Grizzlies and Thunder are experiencing the kinds of “childhoods” only found in fairy tales. Through the end of January, each team was comfortably—and to many, surprisingly—above .500 and fighting for playoff berths in the hyper-competitive Western Conference. Even better, they have built foundations for future success, assembling cores of young talent and begun the process of surrounding them with productive complementary pieces. Nothing can be guaranteed in a league

that changes so dramatically from year to year, but the two franchises appear to have taken smart steps toward a sturdy future and are likely to be linked for seasons to come. “We’re neck-and-neck,” says Grizzlies second-year guard O.J. Mayo. It’s unlikely both will emerge as contenders. But which one survives? To figure that out, one must examine each team’s story. Two weeks into the season, the Grizzlies were already 1-8, had just absorbed a 25-point drubbing at Houston and seemed destined for another futile journey.3 Three

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emotional outbursts. The team would emerge shaken but committed and ready to reverse fortunes. It didn’t quite go down quite like that, but the Grizzlies had the requisite self-analysis and did indeed save their season. They won four of their next five and went 19-9 during the months of December and January, a stretch of prosperity Memphis hadn’t experienced in four long, ugly seasons. The Grizzlies watched tape of the mistakes they had been making, and each player admitted to his shortcomings during the dreadful

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days of misery loomed before the next game and—all signs pointed to—the next loss. Sick of seeing his team stagger around so aimlessly, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins issued a challenge. “He said, ‘This is your team, and you are a better team than what you are playing like, and if you guys want to save this season, you guys need to go in there and talk,’” says Mayo. If this were a movie, a montage of concerned speakers would ensue with some dramatic music in the background. There would be moments of conflict and some

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start. As time passed, a sense of accountability emerged. Rather than playing for themselves, the Grizzlies began to understand that their individual errors impacted the whole. It was a huge moment for a young team, and it spawned a culture different than the one that each had been familiar. In order to win, the team had to be together. And in order to be together, the players had to understand the difference between selfish play and team ball. “We knew that if we came together; we could have a good team,” says forward and second-leading scorer Rudy Gay. “The meeting changed things around.”

Gay and Mayo have been leaders of that about-face, as many have expected them to be. They are also part of the three-man hub which Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace hopes to keep intact heading forward. That neither Mayo or Gay has been in the League more than four seasons speaks to the incredible youth of the Memphis roster. Only four of the Grizzlies were born before 1985, and only two of those old-timers—28-year-old power forward Zach Randolph and 32-year-old backup point Jamaal Tinsley—play sizeable roles on the team. That’s OK with Wallace, who would prefer to grow with young talent than try

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As a product of the San Antonio Spurs where he worked under RC Buford, Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti has followed a similar formula to building the Thunder: shrewd draft selections to build the core and then supplementing the rest of the roster with character veterans and young role players. With the exception of franchise mainstay Nick Collison, Presti has remade the entire OKC roster. Nick Collison Kevin Durant Jeff Green James Harden Serge Ibaka Nenad Krstic Eric Maynor Byron Mullens Kevin Ollie Thabo Sefolosha Etan Thomas Kyle Weaver Russell Westbrook DJ White

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been close to the case this year. “The last two or three years, Z-Bo has been with teams that haven’t been so good,” Mayo says. “He’s had tremendous numbers, and I don’t think he’s gotten the right respect that he’s deserved. So he comes in with a chip on his shoulder.” Mayo doesn’t have any feelings of inferiority. No, sir. Last year’s Rookie of the Year runner-up has proven he can be a top-flight off guard and is a tremendous fit for the team. He’s confident, produces consistently and has enough potential to fill a whole team. Some say two guards grow on trees in the NBA, but seldom are apples as shiny as Mayo. “He shoots the ball well, has really big hands, so he can catch anything, and he gets to the cup,” Randolph says. “He loves to play. [So do] the other guys on the team.”

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to create a culture with a never-ending parade of veterans. “You definitely need a strong veteran presence to win championships, but I think you can get better and make improvement more rapidly today than you could in the past with young players,” Wallace says. “As you make progress, then you have to take steps to get over the top.” Trading for Randolph was certainly not a finishing touch, not for a team that lost 58 games last year. But the eight-year vet was needed for his interior scoring and steady work on the boards. Some ridiculed the deal, since Randolph is playing for his fourth team in five years4 and was considered by some to be a salary cap albatross (he’s making $16 million this year and is on the books for $17.3 mil in ’10-11). That hasn’t

drafted in the first round (12th pick) in ’03 draft drafted in first round (2nd pick) in ’07 draft drafted in first round (5th pick) in ’07 draft drafted in first round (3rd pick) in ’09 draft drafted in first round (24th pick) in’08 draft signed as free agent on 12/30/08 trade with Utah on 12/22/09 trade with Dallas on 6/25/09 signed as free agent on 8/1/09 trade with Chicago on 2/19/09 trade with Minnesota on 7/27/09 trade with Charlotte on 8/11/08 drafted in first round (4th pick) in ’08 draft trade with Detroit on 6/26/08

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Gay is one of those “other guys,” although he is not the slightest bit ordinary. Now in his fourth year in the League, Gay has become a reliable scorer who can burn people off the dribble and can do practically whatever he wants in the open court. Though he has struggled at times from three-point range, he nailed a dagger long ball in Memphis’ big win over the Lakers February 1.5 The only trouble with Gay is that his contract is up after this season, and Wallace must re-sign him in order to keep the team’s nucleus together and moving forward. Keeping Gay together with Mayo and Randolph is vital. Making sure the other important cogs in the plan stick around is pretty big, too. For instance, center Marc Gasol has one year after this on his deal, and keeping him happy is a priority. Though not as

heralded as his brother, Pau, Marc is a 15-10 guy who’s deadly around the hoop, blocks shots and is a fine passer for a big man. And point man Mike Conley continues to develop into a reliable point, upping his assist total and improving his long-range shooting. “He has come on as a starter,” Wallace says. “He’s a real threat.” The individual pieces are growing, but the key ingredient in the Grizzlies’ success is an improved sense of self. It began with that early-season meeting and continued through an 11-game home winning streak. The team may be young, but its outlook is definitely maturing. “We know we’re a really talented team,” Mayo says. “In the years past, [Memphis] had a lot of talent but [the Grizzlies] haven’t won, and as individual players I don’t think we

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It’s tempting to think of the Thunder in terms of one person. Kevin Durant has become so difficult to stop, so overwhelmingly compelling to watch tear through every other defense in the League that the other 11 members have almost become a lounge act:

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Kevin Durant and the Thunder. It’s not fair, since NBA history has shown just how little success one-man bands have had. You may get 30, Mr. Superstar, but we won by 15. Take a closer look at the Thunder—away from Durant’s growing pile of 40-point games and around that mound of abused defenders—and you’ll note a strong foundation built in the style of one of the League’s perennial contenders: San Antonio. That makes sense, since Thunder GM Sam Presti spent his NBA formative years with the Spurs. It was with them he learned the value of growth and cultivation and all the things you find in successful franchises. It just happens that the four players expected to lead the Thunder to a prosperous future—and who have enjoyed a rather successful present—happen

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have gotten the respect that we feel we deserve. We understand that if we win, and we play together and we do it together, individually we will all get the respect we deserve. We are all just playing well together—depending on one another, trusting one another and just playing well together. “Really, really well together.”

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After 10 years as the GM of the Boston Celtics, Chris Wallace replaced Jerry West as GM and vice president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies on June 18th ’07. Despite receiving criticism in ’08 for the Gasol brothers trade, Wallace now has a young team that has proven that it can beat any team in the League – the Grizz have wins this season against the Cavs, Lakers, Magic and Nuggets. Wallace isn’t afraid to make the blockbuster trade and has brought some real talent to Memphis.

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Darrell Arthur Ronnie Brewer DeMarre Carroll Mike Conley Marc Gasol Rudy Gay Hamed Haddadi Lester Hudson Steven Hunter O.J. Mayo Zach Randolph Hasheem Thabeet Jamaal Tinsley Marcus Williams Sam Young

trade with Houston on 6/26/08 trade with Utah on 2/17/10 drafted in first round (27th pick) in ’09 draft drafted in first round (4th pick) in ’07 draft trade with Los Angeles Lakers on 2/1/08 trade with Houston on 7/12/06 signed as free agent on 8/28/08 claimed off waivers on 1/8/10 trade with Denver on 8/7/09 trade with Minnesota on 6/26/08 trade with Los Angeles Clippers on 7/17/09 drafted in first round (2nd pick) in ’09 draft signed as free agent on 11/14/09 signed as free agent on 8/7/09 drafted in second round (36th pick) in ’09 draft

to average 21.3 years of age. Even in an increasingly young NBA, that’s ridiculous. No wonder Presti is so patient, and why the team stresses the need for its nucleus to age. “You’ve got to build chemistry,” Durant says. “It’s important for us to stay together, because we like playing basketball together, for one, and we’re growing together, knowing each other’s tendencies more. I think chemistry is the main ingredient to winning.” A certain basketball alchemy is important, but let’s not kid ourselves. It sure helps to have a 30-point-a-night player mixing up the ingredients. Durant’s growth from a spindly rookie, whom the Thunder (then in Seattle) took second overall (they’re weeping in Portland),6 to the cusp of megastardom has been dramatic and steady.

His points per game have increased steadily during his two-plus seasons in the League. But this year, he’s shooting better from the field, getting to the line more often and proving to be virtually unguardable. He shoots over the little guys and whips past the bigger defenders. Teams concoct crazy defenses to stop him and by game’s end appear as if they haven’t spent a minute on the game plan. His rebounds are up. So are his assists and steals. To his credit, Durant has avoided the urge to be a one-man show, a condition evidenced by the fact that he scores 30.1 percent of the team’s points on only 25.2 percent of its shots. He will dominate, but he does it within the framework of the team.

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and distribute. Westbrook has been just that. As he matures, his offense will also grow. Together, the three players form the kind of foundation needed to win. It’s not yet Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili,7 but it’s a good start. “I think if you look at the teams that have had success in the League, they’ve always had a group of guys that really banded together and went through a lot of good times and tough times,” OKC coach Scott Brooks says. “There are a lot of great teams that have had success because they stayed together and have done a good job of picking the right core guys and then just adding some pieces.” Sound familiar? If it reminds you of the Grizzlies, you’re right. Both teams understand that formula’s value. Last June, Presti added off guard James Harden (all of 20 years

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“My mindset hasn’t changed,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to win. I think now we have a team that’s more capable of winning, and I think we show that on the court every night.” Credit Presti with surrounding Durant with players whose talents blend well with the prodigy. Forward Jeff Green—the wizened vet of the four at age 23—defies categorization, thanks to his Swiss Army knife game. He can score when needed, but his ability to rebound, defend and even hit the long ball allows the Thunder great flexibility, something most great teams have. Some were surprised in ’08 when Presti selected point man Russell Westbrook, all of 21 years old, because Westbrook had spent just one year at UCLA playing off the ball beside Darren Collison. But the GM saw an explosive 6-3 lead guard who could defend

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BONUS POINTS 1. When Yao Ming returns to the Rockets next year, the trip through Houston won’t be a picnic, either. 2. The Hawks have added some parts (Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby) via trade, but they acquired stalwarts Josh Smith, Al Horford and Marvin Williams through the Draft. 3. The Grizzlies had won the season’s second game and lost seven in a row after that. 4. Randolph had played for the Trail Blazers, the Knicks, the Clippers and Grizzlies during the past five seasons, but he remains one of the few 20-10 men in the league. 5. The Grizzlies won the game, 95-93, in which the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant became the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, passing Hall of Famer Jerry West. 6. Portland won the 2007 Draft Lottery and selected Ohio State center Greg Oden first overall, while the Sonics “settled” for Durant, who had been the NCAA Player of the Year during his only season at Texas. 7. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili have been together since ’02-03 and have won three NBA titles with the Spurs. 8. Romulus and Remus were sons of the god of war, Mars. They were born in the 8th century, B.C., and, according

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to legend, while he was King of Rome, Romulus formed the Roman Legions and Roman Senate.

old) to the equation, with the expectation he will become a wing scorer who can take pressure—and defenders—away from Durant. Big man Nenad Krstic adds needed interior scoring pop, defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha brings tremendous energy, and rookie point man Eric Maynor can run the team off the bench. It’s hardly perfection, but it’s a big step forward from the previous few seasons and the makings of a bright future. “If we play well and do what we’re supposed to, we feel like we can play with anyone,” Green says. “We have great players on this team who can do great things on the floor. So if we continue to improve each day, we can play with anybody.” When Romulus and Remus founded Rome,8 one of them had to rule. Since neither

of the twins was interested in being vice president, a fight ensured, and Romulus slew his brother with a shovel. That’s why the Italian capital isn’t called “Reme,” and why it’s difficult to believe both teams will ascend to great things in the NBA future. But which thrives? Both are following a tested formula, but the edge here goes to Oklahoma City, which has one of the League’s future bulwarks (Durant) and a somewhat sturdier core, given its members’ homegrown pedigrees. That is not to say Memphis is headed for the same fate as Remus. It’s just that if you try to envision one of the teams winning a championship down the road, it’s Durant and the Thunder. Whatever happens, both teams will certainly remember their formative years fondly— even if they try to make things sound a little tougher than they are.

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To fully appreciate Pau Gasol, you must step back and observe this Los Angeles Laker like you would a Picasso. The game. The man. The mind. The heart. Take Pau apart and put him back together like analytical cubism, and you start to see how exceptionally prolific he truly is. Gasol may lack the color that our industry craves in this MTV/TMZ/E!/US Weekly-driven society, where we stalk the personal lives of NBA champs Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and new Laker Ron Artest via streams of nonstop news that is Twittered or YouTubed about in tabloid television/magazine/Internet form. But the true artists of this beautiful game watch the craft in a different way. And they don’t need a mixtape to know that Pau Gasol—to use Bryant’s words—“is one bad boy.” Gasol may not be your summer popcorn movie that breaks Spider-Man’s opening weekend records, but he is the indie art-house classic that consistently outworks the competition at theaters night in and night out... until all of a sudden, one day, you notice he’s No. 1, has claimed most of the awards and left all his fans smiling when the credits roll.1 For illustration, let’s mix past with present like a Pedro Almodóvar film, shall we? Gasol’s team in Spain, his beloved Golden Boys, won their first FIBA European championship in September ’09. He also won an NBA championship with the Lakers last June. He led Spain to a silver-medal finish in the ’08 Summer Olympics. He helped lead the Lakers to the ’08 NBA Finals nearly two years ago. He and Spain won the silver at the ’07 Euro Championship. He won tourney MVP honors in leading Spain to the gold medal at the ’06 FIBA World Championship. Heck, he even led the Memphis Grizzlies to the NBA Playoffs from ’04-06. The list goes on and on, with the 29-year-old winning loads of medals for his country, dating back to ’98 during his days playing for the under-18 national team. Yessir, Pau’s got soul. It’s like he’s embedded in some monochromatic schematic that makes him stand out from his peers, tirelessly running up and down the court like no other player last season, logging major minutes as L.A.’s workhorse center—whose Lakers’ uniform, by the way, carries a strikingly similar palette to Picasso’s famous grey, blue and ochre motifs from a hundred years ago.

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I digress ... But, seriously, what other 7-0, 250-pound power forward-center does what Gasol does? Running 3,930 minutes in 104 games? On nothing but Gasol gasoline. Getting minutes from Phil Jackson like only Michael, Scottie, Shaq and Kobe did before him. Prolific Picasso, Prolific Pau. Like his fellow Spaniard who produced more than 50,000 works of art, Pau has a body of work so voluminous that even he had no idea that his ’08-09 marathon minute run ranked amongst the all-time greats.2 “I didn’t know that,” says Gasol, laughing, when told only six power forwards or centers in the last 25 years played more minutes in a season than he. “Obviously, I was aware that I played a lot of minutes, and Phil really relies on me to be out there and make things happen. And I appreciate that a lot. Obviously that helps you as a player with your confidence level to be able to perform at your highest potential.”3 But even Pau didn’t know that he logged 206 more minutes than the next closest big man, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, whose renowned physical fitness is celebrated on magazine covers on the regular. Step aside, Superman, for the NBA’s new marathon man is here. Gasol’s best friend on the Lakers and former Redondo Beach neighbor, Sasha Vujacic, recalls how difficult it was sometimes for his All-Star teammate to get through the season. But he also remembers how Pau never wavered in his work ethic because he knew Los Angeles—the city and the team—needed him out on the floor for every possible second, especially with Andrew Bynum missing most of the second half of the season. “Pau’s low-key anyway, but when he was so tired, he was exhausted,” Vujacic says of his teammate who averaged 40 minutes a game once Bynum got hurt January 31, 2009. “He would do all the little things it took to make sure his body was right for the games. “Sleep. Rest. If we did go out, we would hang at low-key places. Go to the beach. He’ll read a book. See a movie. Go to restaurants that serve good food so we can get nutrition. It was all about keeping the body strong so we could win a championship.”4 HOOP

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It obviously was a 24/7/365 job. “And it was worth every second of it,” says Gasol. “I think the way we lost to Boston in 2008, it really pushed me to come in with a different mentality into training camp last season. Since Day One, I came in with a discipline and commitment to put in the extra work—in the weight room, taking care of myself, doing different rehab exercises for my joints, my body. Make sure I was fresh and ready for every game. Always keeping, in my mind, the big picture.” The consistent work in the weight room. It allowed him to be stronger and be able to match the physicality of some players at the highest level. He made sure he always got consistent rest and took care of his body. Hydrated himself really well on his downtime and during the games. Ate well. Took care of his diet. He just was a little more disciplined than in years past. He had always been responsible before, “but I turned it up a notch last year,” says Gasol. “I was extra cautious about every little thing. Every little aspect that I could do that was in my hands to make myself feel better for next game.” Sounds like a true artist, no? “The critical moment came during the playoffs was when we got done playing with Houston in that seven-game series,” says Gasol. “When we had to start off from scratch with Denver with their team coming in with a lot of confidence. There was a point after the first two games that it was very hard physically. “But it was also the point that I told myself I had to get over the hump and push myself through it and I did. And then, strangely, I felt even stronger.” The rest was history. In the final nine games of the 2009 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers kicked into high gear, going 7-2 against the Nuggets and Orlando Magic, with Gasol averaging 19 points on 67.0 true shooting percentage while adding 10 rebounds per game, en route to winning the NBA Championship. He also helped lead a Laker defense that held the Magic to 52.2 true shooting percentage, while keeping Dwight Howard five points below his scoring average (15.4) in the Finals. “I think, to become a champion,” says Gasol, “defensively, you have to be full-focus on it and make sure that every single guy on the team knows the importance of it. When you play the games against the best teams and best players in the League, offense is going to help you, but it’s not going to really be the final factor. HOOP

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BONUS POINTS 1. Two All-Star Games, one All-NBA third team honor, one All-Rookie first team and Rookie of the Year award. One NBA championship and one FIBA world Championship. 2. Gasol should pass the 25,000-minute mark—combining regular season and playoff time—sometime in March. 3. Since the ’83-84 season—when the NBA added an extra round to the playoffs—only six power forwards or centers logged more regular season and playoff minutes combined than Gasol’s 3930 last season: Hakeem Olajuwon, 4,266 minutes (’93-94); Tim Duncan, 4,202 (’02-03); Shaquille O’Neal, 4,163 (’99-00); Dirk Nowitzki, 4,072 (’05-06); Patrick Ewing, 4,004 (’93-94); Ben Wallace, 3,974 (’03-04). 4. He’s reading a book right now, called The Hand of Fatima. Gasol says, “It’s a pretty interesting book about when the Christians of Spain were seeking out all the Muslims that were left in Spain at the time in the 16th-17th Century.” 5. In ’08-09, Gasol averaged 37 minutes, 19 points and 10 rebounds, maintaining a 22.2 PER; in ’09-10, through December 14, Gasol was averaging 36 minutes, 17 points and 11 rebounds, maintaining a 22.15 PER.

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“Defense, rebounding and hustle—those things are the things that you can control, and those are the things that put you over the top, in a final game of a series.” When the NBA Championship trophy was hoisted, it was pure happiness. Yes, he was exhausted, “but the joy and satisfaction of just winning the whole thing, it really took over everything else.” Days later, Gasol’s body started recovering, and he was able to soak in the love and admiration of his fans, both in Los Angeles and later in Spain, where he returned to a hero’s welcome in July. He had his battle scars and wounds, having finger surgery before the Euro championship last summer. And just this past October, when a hamstring injury acted up in preseason, Gasol got the proper rest, while missing the first 11 games of the ’09-10 season. “But it’s all about getting healthy because when I play, I’ve got to be able to go.” And he’s been on the go at an even higher level this season. With Gasol on the floor—splitting time at his power forward and center positions with Odom and Bynum—the NBA champs are blowing out foes by double-digit averages. The Spaniard may be playing less minutes this season, now that Bynum is healthy, but he’s putting up similar statistical averages than he did in the stellar ’08-09 season. 5 Yes, now is the time to celebrate Pau, a true superstar who now navigates the L.A. limelight like an A-lister while staying true to his down-home roots. “I love everything about L.A., but I am always pretty low-key, and try to stay away from the craziness.” In October, he took in some of that crazy, watching U2 perform at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl with 100,000 of his closest friends. But soon after he took in the L.A. Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to watch his amigo Placido Domingo. It’s fitting. Because I imagine that’s who Picasso would hang out with, if he was a 21st Century Spaniard living in Hollywood. He’d chill with Domingo. Almodóvar. Penelope Cruz. Rafael Nadal. Fernando Alonso. Just like Pau. And when Spain’s famous friends are on their downtime, they too pay homage to their fellow countryman at the Gasol Museum a.k.a. Staples Center. For there, they will see a man who knows how to draw, bringing the defense out with mid-range jumpers. They’ll observe an artist who works tirelessly, so that he stays prolific throughout time. They’ll witness a master deftly work the backboard, using either hand, as if the glass and ball were his own canvas and brush. Yes, there, at the Gasol Museum, you can see a 21st Century artist who works the paint like no other.

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An unexpected snow storm added to the picturesque sights of NBA All-Star 2010. TOM PENNINGTON/GETTY IMAGES NEWS

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DeMar DeRozan might be a staple at All-Star events in the future if he continues to fly like he did during the Sprite Slam Dunk. ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Dwight Howard pumps up some fans for action at the NBA All-Star Jam Session. JASON MERRITT/GETTY IMAGES ENTERTAINMENT

Kevin Durant greets Kiyan Anthony, son of fellow All-Star Carmelo Anthony, prior to the big game on Sunday.

Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan battle for the opening tip at the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. NOAH GRAHAM/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

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Steve Nash flexes his muscles to the younger competition before the 2010 Taco Bell Skills Challenge. The intimidation seemed to have worked, as Nash won the event.

Pau Gasol may be deft with the ball in his hands, but he still has some work to do with the lasso. JOE MURPHY/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

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Tim Duncan and George Karl work together during the 2010 NBA All-Star Day of Service. JESSE D. GARRABRANT/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

You can always see the best of the best at the NBA All-Star Game, and there are very few stars bigger than Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard. NATHANIEL S. BUTLER/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES HOOP

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Dallas native Deron Williams gave the hometown fans a surprise by displaying his underrated hops with a few big time slams.

The big stars were on the floor during the 2010 NBA AllStar Game, but the biggest attraction (size-wise) was the massive scoreboard at Cowboys Stadium.

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Gerald Wallace made his first appearance at an All-Star Game, and also became the first Charlotte Bobcat to be named an All-Star. JESSE D. GARRABRANT/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Even though he didn’t compete in this year’s Sprite Slam Dunk, Dwight Howard still made sure to display his superhuman abilities during the All-Star Game. JED JACOBSOHN/GETTY IMAGES SPORT 080

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Playing in front of his hometown crowd in his first All-Star Game, Deron Williams made sure to put his imprint on the festivities. JED JACOBSOHN/GETTY IMAGES SPORT

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Of course, no visit to Big D would be complete without seeing the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. GARRETT ELLWOOD/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

The 2010 All-Star Game broke several attendance records with a crowd of 108,713. JOE MURPHY/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

D-Wade now can add the All-Star Game MVP trophy next to his Finals MVP trophy, which he also won in Dallas. DAVID SHERMAN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Fans were able to get up close and personal all week with the best of the NBA. NATHANIEL S. BUTLER/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES 082

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Paul Pierce became the first Celtic since Larry Bird to win the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest. ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

All-Star is also a time for fun, as Brook Lopez and DeJuan Blair share a laugh after falling after chasing a loose ball during the Rookie Challenge. JED JACOBSOHN/GETTY IMAGES SPORT

Nate Robinson once again defied the odds and gravity, becoming the first three-time Sprite Slam Dunk champion.

The Texas Team used the hometown advantage to win the Haier Shooting Stars competition.

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7-3 Hasheem Thabeet receives a big hug from a young fan at a Memphis Grizzlies charity event that provided shoes for local youth.

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The Los Angeles Lakers present a personalized jersey and autographed basketball to President Barack Obama during their visit to the White House to celebrate their 2009 NBA Championship. andrew d. bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

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Members of the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert (born in Haiti), present a check to the American Red Cross relief efforts to help the people of Haiti after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Port Au Prince on January 12.

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British Columbia native Steve Nash carries the Olympic torch during the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/Sport

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Members of the Washington Wizards pay their respects at the funeral of longtime Wizardsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; owner Abe Pollin. ned dishman/NBAE/Getty Images

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Watch the games you’ve been missing.

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check it

Spring In Your Step

Your first step, that is. With the winter thaw beginning and new blooms emerging, Spring is right around the corner. What better way to welcome the warmer weather than with a fresh pair of basketball joints? Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plenty of new releases available to satisfy every ballplayer and sneaker connoisseur. As always we keep you informed of the latest basketball releases in our Gear section on page 96.

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CHECK IT

by Josh Gordon #44

spin moves

Brandon Jennings

Milwaukee Bucks

His game may be hyperactive, but Brandon Jennings is actually a pretty low-key cat. You’d be surprised that with a nickname like “Young Money,” BJ prefers to spend his time playing videogame ball or catching up on what’s going on around the League on NBA TV. He’s even thinking about copping one of Steve Jobs’ latest incarnations.

Brandon’s TV I would have to say SportsCenter or anything on NBA TV. NBA TV is the only channel I always stay on.

Brandon’s Games NBA 2K10 and NBA LIVE10.

Brandon’s Gadgets I just bought a new phone, but I’m thinking about buying the new iPad cause that just came out. I’m looking into that right now.

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Illustration: matt candela; clockwise from left: gary dineen; scott cunningham; jed jacobsohn/nbae/getty images

Brandon’s Movies Any movie with Denzel Washington. He Got Game, just everything and anything he does.

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triple double

Three albums.* Two players. One dynamic pair of music critics Alicia Keys The Element of Freedom

Thaddeus Young

I’m not sure who isn’t blasting Gucci Mane in their headphones in this league. His raw, energetic sound is perfect for game day or celebrating a big win because each track has the ability to get every head nodding. The State vs. Radric Davis is Gucci’s second studio album and simply by the list of featured artists, it is easy to see that he has made it to the big time. Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, Nicki Minaj, Usher and Plies all make appearances on this 20-song album that has been buzzed about on the Internet long before its release last December. The track “Wasted” came out mid last year and immediately blew up the charts, followed by the remix with Lil Wayne killing his verse. I have to say that my favorites are “Stupid Wild” and “Bingo” because the beats are unbelievable. Overall, a great album from start to finish with the best MC’s in the game filling out the roster. This would definitely be a smart buy for any hip-hop fanatic.

After being featured on “Empire State of Mind” with Jay-Z, there aren’t many artists better than Alicia Keys and she proved that with The Element of Freedom. The album was solid from start-to-finish and is a great way to unwind when you put this on your iPod. Some R&B can put me to sleep, but this record had good rhythm and feel to it. “Wait Til You See My Smile” was a great jam that tested her pipes but sounded amazing. However, my favorite song was “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” It may be a bit cheesy, but it had soul to it, and I can see myself listening to this while relaxing after a game or on the flight home. I wish she had put a few more hip-hop tracks on here like some of her other records, but I still enjoyed it. This is a good album and another Grammy for her I’m sure.

Carl Landry

Gucci Mane is on fire right now, especially down here in the South. There are not many places you can go without hearing a Gucci verse. It seems like every time you turn the TV or radio on… there’s Gucci! Gucci is known for saying some wild stuff and can be pretty comical at times. The skits he has here with Mike Epps are too funny. This album had a lot of hype coming out because of all the collaborations, and it has some great beats and very catchy hooks. “Spotlight” with Usher is huge right now. “Heavy” has that ‘get hype’ feel to it, and I like “All about the Money” with Rick Ross. All in all, I think it’s a pretty good album.

Alicia Keys always has some smooth, chill music. I like a lot of the music she has done in the past. I’ve heard “Doesn’t Mean Anything” and “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart” on the radio recently. She always seems to put together some really popular music. The Element Of Freedom was a very good listen. Her music always has a really strong, uplifting and positive message. If you are an R&B fan you should definitely grab a copy of this one. I think “That’s How Strong My Love Is” and the “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” tracks will be big hits! I really liked the beat on “Un-thinkable.” With “Like The Sea” you just keep bobbing your head. Very good album.

thaddeus: Jesse d. garrabrant; carl: bill baptist/NBAE/Getty Images

Gucci Mane The State Vs. Radric Davis

*Due to an album’s release being pushed back, we only have two albums this issue.

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Keepin’ it reel

Danny Granger goes to the movies danny granger #33

CHECK IT

Avatar

20th Century Fox What’s up everyone? It’s been a while but I’m back. Thanks for all the support as I rehabbed from my injuries. Now, Oscar season is soon and there have been a lot of good movies lately. I loved Avatar. That movie blew my mind. I saw it in 3D twice and I saw it on the regular theatre screen twice. It was pretty cool either way. I really think they might do more movies in 3D following the success of Avatar. Sometimes I get bored with long movies, but that wasn’t an issue. The storyline was great, and the detail in everything they did was pretty amazing. I have never seen another movie come close to Avatar visually. So if I had to pick a nominee, I’d say that Avatar is the best picture I’ve seen this year. It was even better than District 9. It blows that film away. That doesn’t even compare to Avatar. And even though some of the visuals might not be the same, I still will get it on DVD.

The Blind Side Based on the Michael Lewis book, Sandra Bullock plays a well-to-do Southern wife who befriends and welcomes a hard-lucked kid and helps him realize his potential in the classroom and on the gridiron. The touching sports drama netted Bullock (Granger: “She was really good.”) her first Oscar nomination.

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Inglourious Basterds “I’m normally not a big Tarantino fan, but it had comedy, action, everything. Brad Pitt was really good, too,” says Granger. We agree.

Book of Eli In this post-apocalyptic tale, Denzel Washington plays a mysterious man who travels and fights his way across the country to protect a sacred book that can save the human race. “It wasn’t what I expected, but there is a nice little twist at the end.” says Granger.

Granger: Ron hoskins/nbae/getty images; screen shots courtesy of: 20th century fox, warner bros. pictures, universal pictures,

Other Choice DVD Picks

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the goods

Dyson Air Multiplier

We’ll admit, we were skeptical: a pricey fan from a company that specializes in sucking and not blowing. After turning it on, we were amazed, a steady stream of constant air, unlike waves of it from a conventional fan. And speaking of convention, the AM does away with the blades entirely, magically blowing air through its ring. OK, maybe not magically, but it’s certainly a showpiece that puts a unique spin on the humdrum activity of moving air.

$299.99

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Spawn HD-720 You know how the Slingbox allows you to watch your home TV broadcast via any broadband-connected computer in the world? The HD-720 will do the same for your Xbox 360 and PS3 (Wii users are out of luck). The device allows you to access your console in 720p via the Internet and a gamepad. The one caveat is that you still need someone to physically change out games on the optical drive, but why bother when you can do marathon sessions of NBA 2K10 or Modern Warfare 2?

$199

JVC Kaboom! Like any classic, the original Kaboom by JVC makes a return. Retaining its original form factor, the redux adds support for the ever-present iPod/iPhone, a USB port for music files on a thumb drive and an auxiliary port for other music devices. Old-school cats will dig the AM/FM radio and the playback of “retro” compact discs (remember those?). The Kaboom packs 40 watts of power and some deep bass in its two-speaker setup. And yes, there is a handle and shoulder strap.

$299.95

MOTOROKR S9-HD Bluetooth Headphones Bluetooth headphones are nothing new, but reliable Bluetooth headphones that don’t sputter in and out, especially in dense urban environments, are hard to come by. The S9-HD survives the interference of a midtown Manhattan stroll in rush hour without a hiccup. Sound quality for phone calls and music is excellent and the wrap-around band ensures a snug fit even if you decide to go for a run or workout with them. Included with the S9-HD is an iPod/iPhone adapter.

$99.99

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Pioneer A/V Receiver With the ever expanding array of digital components entering our home entertainment setups (cable boxes, DVRs, surround sound systems, Blu-ray players, videogame systems, PCs, media players, Slingboxes, to name a few), it’s paramount to have a capable audio/video receiver to control the traffic flow. The catchily-named VSX-1019AH-K is a capable candidate. Armed with four HDMI inputs (among a plethora of analog component and composite connections) and able to upconvert all sources to 1080p, the receiver can also output 7.1 channels of surround sound goodness. The front USB port also allows connectivity with your iPhone and iPod or other portable digital device.

$499

Logitech G9x Laser Mouse Yes, it’s a “frickin La-Zer” mouse. Not to be mixed with the standard optical mouse that relies on a run-of-the-mill LED-based optical sensor, the G9x uses a 5700 dpi (which is adjustable on the fly) laser sensor for super accuracy whether it be for hyperlink clicks, Minesweeper or the latest FPS game. Other doodads include two scroll modes (one for precision, the other for making quick work of long web pages), a customizable weight-tuning system and LED lights, onboard memory for keeping track of up to five profiles and two interchangeable mouse grips.

$99.99

Epson PictureMate Show Like a good pick n’ roll, Epson packs a two-headed punch in one package. Boasting both a compact photo printer and a crisp 7-inch widescreen display, the PictureMate Show can easily go from flossing your digital pictures on its 480x800 resolution screen to spitting out vibrant 4x6-inch prints in a little over 30 seconds. The unit reads today’s popular memory card formats, (CF, SD, MMC, xD and Memory Stick), sports a USB port for thumb drives and has built-in photo-editing capabilities.

$299.99

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tech ed Tech Editor and gadget junkie Shane Battier test-drives the latest in tech goods. in This issue, he takes on the Zoombak GPS Dog Locator.

Zoombak GPS Dog Locator

$99

I love my dogs. I really do. I’d put my yellow lab, Bruin, and my bird dog mutt, Gertie, up against any dogs in the world. They are loyal and loving. The $100 combined I paid for them from the Humane Society has been, by far, the best investment I have ever made. I wouldn’t trade them for any other dogs in the world. When the season is over, my wife and I live in what some would call “The sticks.” Just last summer, we completed our dream summer house on a spread of land on a pristine Michigan Lake. Bru and Gert enjoy this new setup as much as anyone in our family. They can swim all day, chase geese, and explore the woods (until they get skunked, which happens more than a few times a summer.) Dogs will be dogs, however, and the only issues we have with the dogs and the lake is that every now and then, they will get a whiff of some new animal or some new smell and decide they would like to take an adventure in the backwoods of Michigan. As you can imagine, I am not a happy camper when these adventures happen after the sun has gone down and I am ready to crawl into bed. It has become a pain in the rear to hop in the car and troll for my dogs on the lam. I usually find them, but I wish there was an easier way to keep track of them when they decide to play Lewis & Clark. Enter the Zoombak Advanced GPS Dog Locator. Amen, my prayers have been answered. I hope. The Zoombak is a GPS enabled device that uses both satellite and cellular technologies to precisely locate the position of the 2x3-inch unit. Setup was fairly simple and direct. After charging the unit overnight (it contains a rechargeable internal lithium battery), I then registered the device on Zoombak.com. Within five minutes of logging on to my account, a Google maps-like map indeed showed me exactly where my location was (I know, I know, “Duh, Battier, isn’t that the point?”) The Zoombak web site was straightforward to use. One of the best features of th e Zoombak GPS is the ability to set up parameters for your dog’s boundaries. As soon as your dog leaves his boundaries, you will receive either a text to your cell phone or an email telling you that your dog has gone AWOL. Pretty cool. Your text doesn’t tell you exactly where your dog has gone, you have to log on the website to get the position, but this feature could save you a lot of time in the long run. My complaints of this product are few. The GPS device is somewhat bulky. You must place it in the supplied nylon case and run your dog collar through the strap. On 90-pound Bruin this is not a problem, on 50-pound Gertie it looks bulky. The locator is water resistant, but not waterproof. My dogs love to swim, and I’d really love a waterproof case. You must also pay for this service with a monthly subscription fee. While the Zoombak retails for $99, you will pay $15 a month for the right to know where your pooch is at all times. Not a bad price, but still a little frivolous to me. All things considered, I like this product. It will save me valuable time when I am at my cottage in the summer. I like the fact that a simple text message will alert me that it is time to hop in my car and round up my doggies. The Google maps-like interface on Zoombak.com is precise and easy to follow. I wish I didn’t have to pay $15 a month for this service, but it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind and knowing my pooches are safe and sound. Pros: + Straightforward and quick setup + Zoombak web site is intuitive and precise + Ability to set boundaries and receive text alerts when boundaries are crossed Cons: –B  ulky GPS unit not ideal for small and mid-size dogs – Subscription fee – Not waterproof

For video reivews of Shane’s TECHed page, check out hoopmag.com

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This year marks the silver anniversary of the Air Jordan. For it’s 25th shoe in the illustrious line, Michael Jordan gives us a glimpse into himself, literally and figuratively. The dominating element in the shoe is a clear circular “window” on both the medial and lateral side that allows you to peer right through the shoe. The inspiration behind the window (besides forcing dudes to wear clean socks) was that MJ used to give opponents a glimpse of his game before flipping the script and unleashing something never-before-seen come crunch time. Do we like the look? Meh. Like with most AJs, it requires some time to let them marinate. The window is a hit or miss thing. Once the foot is in, it’s barely noticeable with white or black socks. More adventurous sock wearers will mean their candy stripes or love for flying pigs will be broadcast to the world. The rest of the design is pretty staid. Full pebble-leather overlay on the vamp (helps flexibility) and perforated leather upper. Our one minor grouse is the clean window on the medial side is obscured slightly by the underside of the shoe’s insole, leaving a bit of blue popping up from the bottom. Minor, but a slight oversight. If you ask us, this is more a Dwyane Wade shoe (the main Jordan endorser for the AJ 2010) than a push-the-design-envelope Air Jordan we’ve come to expect. The 2010 fits like a familiar glove. There were no loose spots as Jordan even made sure to account for the contours of the ankle with some molded points inside. The shoe’s cushioning came from full-length Zoom Air (double-stacked in the heel). There were no complaints from the 2010’s performance other than it didn’t “feel” like a $170 shoe. Unfair as it may be, some people attach bloated expectations based on the shoe’s price. We know that the high sticker price comes with some consumerist status, and we couldn’t find much fault with the 2010’s craftsmanship. Our biggest gripe was that it didn’t have the prized look of the premier basketball shoe in the world.

Jordan

Air Jordan 2010 $170

Weight (size 9): 16.5 oz.

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

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Gear Check Gettin ziggy with it

movements. The forefoot’s outsole bends easily according to a foot, as does the front toe, allowing for a natural push on every stride. In addition, the zig-zag pattern acts like a shock absorber (think adidas Bounce). The shoe is fairly lightweight at 12.5 ounces (in a size 9). The upper is comprised of a breathable mesh (like the Air Max 2009). Call us impressed. The ZigTech is very responsive and extremely comfortable in our road test that comprised of some running, walking and weight training. As for the Zig technology making its way to a basketball shoe? You’ll have to wait until the end of the year for the ZigSlash. It’s been a while since we were excited about a Reebok basketball offering. Look for a review of the ZigSlash in a later issue.

The ZigTech is Reebok’s latest shoe technology that looks like, as its name alludes to, a zig-zag outsole. According to Reebok, the cross training shoe is the first shoe to employ an outsole that promises better endurance since each step will require 21 percent less energy. The unique outsole works like a slinky (For the kids who grew up in the Internet age, you might need to Google it) and transfers energy forward, making every step easier, helping the wearer go longer with less wear and tear. In addition, the “zigs” also serve as a cushioning system. From our point of view, it’s a bit like Nike’s Free, where its flexible bottom mimics a foot’s natural

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Kickin’ it

with Kevin Durant

The NBA has played host to hundreds of great players… however every now and then a special talent arises unlike any that we’ve ever seen before. In 2006, Seattle “settled” with the No. 2 pick and plucked Kevin Durant. The team has certainly gone through some change—moving from the Northwest to the Panhandle State, going from the booming SuperSonics to well, the booming Thunder. Through it all, the team continued to grow and the League is now taking notice of the Oklahoma City Thunder and their young nucleus featuring KD. Durant is no stranger to accolades—his days at Montrose Christian School led to a McDonald’s All American selection, and his legendary freshman year at the University of Texas enabled him to showcase his skills on a national stage/ Nevertheless, he is destined for all that success has to offer, and now as a pro, the limitations on what he can and cannot do are far, and few. Earlier this season KD had a seven-game streak of 30-points or more and the Thunder earned a 5-2 record during that tear. After one such win, he took

With 25 shoes in the Air Jordan line, there’s plenty to draw inspiration from. The folks at Jordan Brand undoubtedly know this as their endless releases of mash-ups (point-5s, Spizikes) and retros can attest. In one of their newer basketball offerings, Icons, the goal was to pay homage to the many standouts in the line. It’s a pleasure flipping through the shoe and discovering the many “icons” of the AJ line. We don’t want to ruin the fun, but even if you don’t buy the shoe, it’s worth a trip to your local shoe mart to peep the details. The primary detail to the Icons is the stitch work on the upper (pop quiz: which which Air Jordan is that a hat tip to?) The rest of the shoe needs no further elaboration. We will add that the tongue is thin (just the way we prefer it) and the placement of the somewhat large Jumpman logo in the rear was a good choice. The Icons scored above average on the court. Most users liked the comfort the shoe provided. We wished it sat lower to the ground, but it still possessed a nice court feel. Maybe it was the outsole’s array of circular pods (another “icon” from a previous model) that juts out ever so slightly (millimeters, we couldn’t be sure). These strategically placed pods gave the shoe some noticeable advantages: increased traction, better lateral mobility and some cushioning. From a looks standpoint, the Icons is a win. We could see some wears away from the court, especially the pictured OG colorway. Without its storied past, it might just be another run-of-the-mill release, but because of its roots, the Icons rises a notch.

By Anthony Gilbert #1

a time out to talk about Nike, and his signature shoe the KD2.

because it’s a privilege to have your own shoe.”

How did you form a relationship with Nike? “First off, I’m a loyal person. The shoes always look good as a kid. They’ve been with me since I was in the fifth grade. I played on a Nike team in AAU, so being with them now is something that I wanted to do.” What are some of your favorite shoes of all-time? “I grew up on foamposites… I’m a big foamposite guy. Any chance I get I try to get some of those. I can’t fit Nike Boots, but it’s always good to look at them. Coming from [D.C.] you have a unique style of shoes that you like.

Do you have any superstitions, or if you have a bad game would you discard the shoes? “We wanted to do something different. It was our last TV game and I wanted everyone to see a different side, and my teammates supported me. It was good. We lost in them, so I don’t know if I’ll bring them back out, but it was good while it lasted.”

What is it like having your own shoe? “That’s the reason why I picked Nike. They guaranteed that I was going to get my own shoe, and that’s exciting! You know growing up, you never think of that, so it’s a blessing man. I just let them sit back and do their work. I don’t complain or anything

What was it like doing those Hyperize commercials this past summer? “I was the youngest guy there, and Andre Iguodala, Rashard Lewis, and Mo Williams kind of took me under their wing, and that’s what I needed. It was three days long, but it was fun!”

Jordan

Icons $125

Weight (size 9): 16 oz.

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

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gear

As they do now, adidas has dropped a second-half version of the Cut Creator, their guard-oriented shoe. This one prefaced with Supernatural in its name. While the earlier CC didn’t wow us, the Supernatural turns heads. The most eye-catching thing is the shoe’s cinching zipper, that when zipped, gives the appearance of a sleek and deadly snake. Zippers aren’t groundbreaking, but adidas uses it as a design element. With the flap being a soft satin material, it lends a reptilian look to it. Functionally, the zipper doesn’t do much (we wouldn’t recommend relying on it to tighten the shoe as it isn’t meant to fully tighten it—there are laces underneath for that). The rest of the shoe is comprised of nubuck on the toebox and medial side and the ubiquitous tri-stripes on the lateral side. There’s also an ankle strap that wraps around the shoe’s collar for a more secure fit. The outsole of the CC features a series of Formotion pods for responsiveness. We did actually feel a difference; they felt like subtle pressure points on the balls and heel of your feet that helps especially with lateral movement. The only drawback to the shoe is that the zipper would unzip during play. As noted, this doesn’t affect the shoe if the laces are properly secured, but maybe adidas should’ve considered making the zipper just go up halfway instead of all the way to the top. The Supernatural CC was a favorite among testers this issue. It does an admirable job on the court and we dug the fresh approach from adidas after a lackluster first half Cut Creator. Especially for fast moving players looking to get an edge, the Supernatural CC is the way to go.

adidas

TS Supernatural Cut Creator $100 Weight (size 10): 14.5 oz.

Last June, Kobe Bryant captured his fourth title in the Zoom Kobe IV… this season Nike built upon that success, with the fly wire technology, and forward thinking from Bryant…for the Zoom Kobe V. According to Nike and Kobe, this is the most advanced shoe on the market with the performance aspect at the crux of the intricate design. It weighs 10.6 ounces, making it the lightest basketball sneaker ever. And with the low-cut dynamic, it provides a less-is-more effect, making the shoe an extension of your foot. The lunar foam within the forefoot of the IV has been replaced with a Zoom Air bag, for cushion, lower center of gravity, and higher responsiveness. Do we subscribe to the hyperbole? The V plays very well, as a lot of materials found in our everyday footwear have been trimmed down in the V, to allow the shoe to hug and fit snuggly on and around your feet. The Zoom Air gives it a nice bouncy feel, while allowing you to actually feel the court. The fundamental purpose of the V is to give the athlete the best opportunity to succeed on a higher level, as the shoe was created after Kobe mentioned how soccer players, in low-cut cleats, make sprints, and turns, with more torque on their ankles than their basketball counterparts, thus allowing a guard like Bryant, and others to shave seconds off their actions on the court. We’ve agreed with the low-cut philosophy for quite some time and we’re glad a popular player like Kobe is continuing the trend with true low-cut basketball offerings. Paired with a pair of jeans, the V is a winner as well. We’ll even go as far as to say it’s the best looking basketball shoe this season to rock after the buzzer sounds. With a plethora of V releases (Bruce Lees shown) and the availability of the shoe on NikeID, we can envision these being an option for the casual sneaker-wearing set.

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

Nike

Zoom Kobe V $130

Weight (size 9): 10.6 oz.

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

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Like the Cut Creator, adidas’ big man shoe, the Commander gets the Supernatural treatment for the NBA stretch run. Unless blind, the first thing that smacks your eyes is the Commander’s bold stripes in the form of three thin midstraps on the top of the shoe. As with most midstraps across the top, they serve more form than function. And while low cut basketball shoes are all the rage now (finally!), adidas bucks the trend with the Supernatural Commander by putting a fairly high (almost seven inches from the bottom of the shoe) spread ankle collar on the top. After a deluge of mid and low cut models, the SC felt like a throwback to ’80s basketball joints. Curiously enough, the SC also moves away from heavier duty impact resistance systems like Bounce and goes with the same Formation-based chassis as the Cut Creator. Perhaps with the dearth of the pound-it-inside bigs in the NBA, adidas decided to give bigger ballers a more nimble ride. We didn’t find any issues with the change in our tests; some guys even preferring the lower profile. The only negative feedback came when there were complaints of the high ankled shoe restricting mobility. It seems odd that adidas would make a shoe that sits on a responsive outsole and saddle it with a movement-restricting upper. The problem was remedied somewhat by not lacing the top part, but this only caused the collar to splay out like Dumbo’s ears, making the Supernatural Commander a flawed shoe in our opinion.

adidas

Supernatural Commander $100 Weight (size 9): 15.5 oz.

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

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WIN Or Go Home If you’ve moved out of your mom’s basement by now and are living it up on your own, you know the pains of having to do your own laundry. For those of us who can’t splurge for drop-off service, finding the correct detergent can be troublesome, especially if you’re active. The seemingly endless pile of gym clothes—the shorts, tees, socks, towels, sweats—can amass pretty quickly. The result is a funk unlike any other, especially over time when even a generous helping of Tide cannot get rid of that lingering musty odor. WIN bills itself as a well-rounded all-in-one detergent formulated to treat the aformentioned funk and stains that afflict sports garb. We can

go into how it works (an oxygenation formula, if you must know), but instead we took it for a spin, tackling a load of basketball gear after a spirited run on the court. We noticed an improvement in getting rid of sweat stains, even on white tees, especially the problem areas of the pits and collar. And the funk? Gone. Everything was left minty fresh again. You can buy WIN online (windetergent. com) or at specialty retailers. It’s a little pricier than the supermarket blue stuff, but it’s worth it, lest you be the guy no one ever wants to guard on the court— for all the wrong reasons, that is.

For 360° views, visit HOOPMAG.COM

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wear (Clockwise from top left) New Balance 455, $100; Nike LeBron Chalk, $25; Moods of Norway Hilmar Hoody, $120; LRG Core Classic 46 Jean, $59; adidas Originals Artillery Mid-Slick, $100; Reebok Pump Running Dual, $115; Jordan Flycon Hoody, $120

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(Clockwise from top left) Junk Food Atlanta Hawks, $32; PF Flyers Box Cut Center Hi, $75; New Era NBA Championship Rings Cap, $42; PUMA Pieced Trackie 2, $90; Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66, $80; Kidrobot Trikky Toys Not War T-Shirt, $40

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wear (Clockwise from top right) IZOD Pima Cool Shirt, $50; IZOD Cotton Stripe Polo, $44; PUMA Archive Lifestyle Graphic Tee, $28; Kidrobot Ramirez T-Shirt, $40; Moods of Norway Traditional Cocktail Farming Tee, $45; adidas Originals Fortitude Mid, $80; Timberland Mountain Athletics All Mountain Run Off, $90

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(Clockwise from top left) Moods of Norway Tractor Flower Hoody, $120; Nike Air Max 90, $115; Moods of Norway I Tractor Hoody, $120; adidas Adi Trefoil Tee, $20; PUMA G. Vilas, $70; LRG One Eyed Willy Tee, $28

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wear (Clockwise from top left) The North Face Titan Jacket, $249; LRG Nightrain Cardigan, $69; Kidrobot Gingham Dunny T-Shirt, $40; Junk Food Los Angeles Lakers, $32; Nike Air Maxim 1, $120; Nike Air Max 90, $115

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(Clockwise from top left) IZOD Cotton Stripe Polo, $44; Junk Food Denver Nuggets, $32; adidas Originals Argentina Track Top, $75; Reebok Re-Up Select, $90; PF Flyers Cousy Hi, $70; Kidrobot Kidpunk Heathered Polo, $65; Jordan 23 Downtown Cargo Short, $60

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wear (Clockwise from top right) LRG Enjoy The Silence Tee, $26; IZOD Striped Pique, $44; Junk Food New York Knicks, $32; Timberland City Adventure Split Cupsole Cuffed Chukka, $100; PUMA Suede, $65; New Balance 1400, $120; PUMA Roma 68, $75

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(Clockwise from top left) LRG Roots People Leterman Jacket, $160; Jordan Skyline Tee, $34; Timberland Mountain Athletics Rip Current Tech, $75; Onitsuka Tiger California 78, $70; New Balance 574, $110; Junk Food Cleveland Cavaliers, $32

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CHECK IT

wear (Clockwise from top left) Jordan CP Graphic Tee, $32; PUMA Archive Heroes Track Jacket, $75; Nike Kobe Havoc, $30; adidas Originals Reliance Track Top, $65; Nike LeBron Crest, $30; Onitsuka Tiger Colorado Eighty-Five, $75

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(Clockwise from top left) The North Face Venture Jacket, $99; adidas OT Raglan Tee, $50; Reebok Kamikaze 2K10, $85; Moods of Norway Cocktail Farming Tee, $45; IZOD Pima Cool Shirt, $50; Nike Kobe Inferno, $25; PUMA Clyde, $65

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STEP BACK Memorial Coliseum was built in 1960 for eight million dollars. It was the first home of the Portland Trail Blazers when the team joined the League 10 years later. It has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

On 11/1/74, Gerald Ford became the first President of the United States to attend an NBA game when he saw the Trail Blazers defeat the Buffalo Braves, 113-106, at Memorial Coliseum.

Allen Ginsberg wrote a poem entitled “Portland Coliseum” about a Beatles concert he attended at Memorial Coliseum on 8/22/65 during the Beatles ’65 American Tour.

The Portland Trail Blazers selected Drexler 14th overall in the ’83 draft. He helped lead the Blazers to two NBA Finals, losing to the Detroit Pistons in ’90 and the Chicago Bulls in ’92. He would win his first and only NBA Championship as a member of the Houston Rockets in ’95 with Olajuwon. He also won an Olympic Gold medal as part of the ‘Dream Team’ in the ’92 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Laettner won the Naismith Award for college player of the year twice in ’91 and ’92.

January 28, 1994 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Portland Trail Blazers Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR Clyde “The Glide” Drexler was a member of the University of Houston basketball team, nicknamed Phi Slamma Jamma, from ’81-83 with Akeem [Now Hakeem] Olajuwon. Drexler helped lead the Cougars to two Final Fours before declaring for the draft as a junior. After his NBA career, Drexler went back to the University of Houston to be head coach from ’98-00.

Drexler is one of four players in League history to have over 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 3,000 assists in his career, joining Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and John Havlicek.

Drexler had his jersey retired by the University of Houston, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets. He is currently a color commentator for the Rockets.

Christian Laettner was a member of the Duke basketball team from ’88-92, appearing in four consecutive Final Fours and winning NCAA Championships in ’91 and ’92. He hit one of the most famous buzzer-beaters in NCAA tournament history against Kentucky in the ’92 East regional finals, thanks to a pinpoint pass from Grant Hill.

Laettner was teammates with Clyde Drexler and the only college player on the ’92 Dream Team.

Laettner was named after Christian Diets, a character played by Marlon Brando in the 1958 film The Young Lions.

Clifford Robinson received the NBA’s Sixth Man Award after the ’92-93 season, and made the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in the ’99-00 and ’01-02 seasons.

Buck Williams’ real name is Charles Linwood Williams.

After three years at the University of Maryland, the New Jersey Nets drafted Williams third overall in the ’81 draft. During his rookie year, he led the Nets in rebounds with 12.3 rpg and was awarded the Rookie of the Year award.

Williams was also an All-Star in ’82, ’83 and ’86. He was also scheduled to be a member of the ’80 US Olympic Basketball Team but did not compete due to the boycott of the Moscow games.

Micheal Williams was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1988 and won a championship as a reserve during the Pistons four game series sweep over the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

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Robinson played for 18 seasons and started in 844 games. He appeared in the playoffs in every year of his career except for the ’03-04 season as a part of the Golden State Warriors.

Robinson celebrated a Game 4 victory over the Utah Jazz in the ’92 Western Conference Finals with a dance he called the ‘Uncle Cliffy.’

In the ’91-92 season, while playing for the Indiana Pacers, Micheal Williams ended the season with the second most steals in the League and was named to the All-NBA Defensive Second Team.

rocky widner/NBAE/Getty Images

During the ’93 season, Williams broke the League record for most consecutive free throws made with 97 from 3/24/93 to 9/9/93, spanning 19 regular season games.

Robinson was a reserve on the ’94 Western Conference All-Star Team. He averaged 20.1 ppg and 6.7 rpg that season.

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Where

happen.

For great ticket deals, go to nba.com/tickets

Š2010 NBA Entertainment. Photo by Sam Forencich/Staff NBAE/Getty Images.

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Does O.j. mayo make the grade?

final exam

jesse d. garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

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KitchenAid- Celebrating 90 Years of Mixing Excellence.

The year 1919 was truly a time of change. The gray days of war were giving way to the gaiety of the Roaring ’20s, and an era of prosperity and progress was upon us. Like other war munitions plants across the country, the Troy Metal Products Company (a subsidiary of Hobart), revived its peacetime efforts, and set to work on the Model H-5 stand mixer— the first electric “food preparer” for the home. Wives of Troy executives were commissioned to test the initial prototypes. After a successful trial run, one famously reported, “I don’t care what you call it, but I know it’s the best kitchen aid I have ever had!” A brand name was born, and the first KitchenAid stand mixer was unveiled to the American consumer in 1919. Now, in the year 2009 we celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Visit Amazon.com to see the full line up of exciting models, colors and attachments.

Available at

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HOOP March/April 2010