Tag:Ben Golliver
Posted on: October 15, 2010 9:14 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:51 pm

LeBron James right at home on '40 under 40' list

Miami Heat star LeBron James has been named to Fortune magazine's "40 under 40" list. Posted by Ben Golliver

Magazine's annual "40 under 40" list is the go to source for making all of us feel horrible about how little we've accomplished during our lifetimes. So you're telling me a 27 year old has made billions as a hedge fund manager? That's fascinating. Please, tell me more.

"40 under 40" is even more insufferable thanks to the rise of dot-com dorks bent on world domination. Look at this gallery : it's so pale, they might as well call it "40 under SPF 40".

Amidst all of the internet start-up founders, venture capitalists and marketing executives, there is only one athlete: LeBron James, who checks in at No. 20 . Here's Fortune's explanation for why he made the list.   
How many people can stop the pulse of a country? James's primetime signing with Miami this summer was slammed as a publicity stunt, but his brand emerged unscathed. It was the latest marketing bonanza seeded by his own company, LRMR, which James and high school friends have built over four years. LRMR has brokered James's deals with McDonald's and State Farm; a Sports Illustrated tally ranks him No. 4 on its list of top-grossing athletes, with an estimated $42.4 million this year.
It's difficult to argue with James's inclusion because he singlehandedly changed the NBA's course by virtue of "The Decision" to take his talents to South Beach and team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Amazingly, though, James, perhaps the biggest self-promoter in the history of basketball, barely raises an eyebrow compared to the egos in this group. When you consider that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (No. 2 on the list ) has a feature-length, big-budget Hollywood movie that helps settle his scores, James's "Decision" looks puny by comparison. What truly defines influence and power: partying at all hours of the night with the founder of Napster on the silver screen or handing out a courtesy check to the Boys and Girls Club on cable television?

Knowing James, he won't be content to settle for No. 20, and he has an astounding 15 more years of eligibility to climb up these rankings. Sooner or later, I expect to have a portfolio managed by King James Investments and to be staying connected with my friends on FaceBron. It's James's destiny.

Hopefully, by then, James has a championship ring, the only measure of influence that truly matters in the NBA.
Posted on: October 15, 2010 12:16 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:50 pm

Stan Van Gundy apologizes to Magic fans

Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy personally apologized to Magic fans for benching his starters. Posted by Ben Golliver
There's a good reason most NBA head coaches are stubborn: indecision can be easily misread as weakness in a competitive field like professional sports. Once you start waffling as a coach, whether it's about strategy, rotations or lineups, players, media and fans alike take it upon themselves to start questioning every last decision or non-decision you make during the course of a game. This fishbowl atmosphere is what makes Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy's comments after tonight's preseason game between the Magic and the Charlotte Bobcats so unexpected, and refreshing. Van Gundy decided to start five bench players in front of the home crowd in Orlando's Amway Arena. The Orlando Sentinel's Brian Schmitz writes that Marcin Gortat, J.J. Redick, Chris Duhon, Ryan Anderson and Mickael Pietrus started over first-stringers like Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis and Quentin Richardson.  It's fairly common to rest starters during the preseason, but not all at the same time, of course. Given the risk of injury and the meaningless nature of the exhibition, surely most Magic fans would understand the decision, even if they left disappointed. But that didn't stop Van Gundy from calling Schmitz after the game to pass on his personal apology to Orlando fans for his decision.
"It's been bugging me," he said. "I want to say I'm sorry and I was wrong. I thought I reasoned it through, but I can't justify it. If it was the first game that somebody came out to see, you bring your kids … I'd be upset, too. "I won't do it again." Van Gundy pledged to never bench his entire starting group at home again in the preseason.

Kudos to you, Stan Van Gundy, for seeing the error of your ways and for reaching out to the fans in such a direct and personal manner. But be forewarned. You just set a dangerous precedent.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 10:20 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:50 pm

Could Michael Jordan score 100 points?

Michael Jordan said recently that he could score 100 points in today's NBA. Is that claim as ridiculous as it sounds? Posted by Ben Golliver If you've spent more than 27 seconds on Basketball-Reference.com  (or were alive and able to watch television during the 1980s or 1990s), you already know that Michael Jordan put up crazy numbers. How does a 47-point, 11-rebound, 13-assist, 4-steals, 2-blocks effortsuit you? Just ridiculous.
Jordan made some waves today claiming that he could score 100 points in a game if he played in the modern era, as part of a marketing effort for the NBA 2K11 video game
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports offers the definitive takedown of Jordan's claim, noting the absurdity of Wilt Chamberlain's push for 100 points.
Wilt was a 7-2 dominant force going up against a 6-10 backup center on the New York Knicks back in 1962. He was able to put up 63 shots and attempt 32 free throws mainly because the pace was so, so much faster back in that era, and because his Philadelphia Warriors team was intentionally fouling the Knicks down the stretch in order to get Wilt the ball every time down court in a contest that was a 16-point game at the end of the first quarter. It was an absolute joke of a "contest," and though Wilt is to be commended for his brilliance, there's a reason why nobody has come very close in the 48 years since Wilt's 100-point game.

We all know Jordan's career-high was 69 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a far cry from his imagined target of 100. But a little Basketball-Reference digging and a stretch of the imagination reveals that perhaps 100 wasn't as untouchable for Jordan as it might appear at first glance.
  • In 1993, Jordan made a career-high 27 field goals in a loss to the Orlando Magic. He finished with 64 points; 26 of the 27 field goals were two-pointers, which was also a career high. 
  • In 1990 , Jordan made a career-high seven of 12 three-point attempts in a win over the Golden State Warriors, going for 44 points on the evening.  
  • And, in a 1987 win over the New Jersey Nets, Jordan converted a career-high 26 (out of 27) free throws on his way to 58 points.
So what if we combined all of these career-highs into one ultimate Jordan performance for the ages?   The 26 two-point field goals would be good for 52 points. The seven treys would add on an additional 21 points, totaling 73 points. Add in the 26 freebies and you've got ... wait for it ... 99 points.  Our mythical Jordan night still wouldn't quite match Wilt Chamberlain's perfect 100. But it would come pretty dang close.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 8:53 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:50 pm

John Wall: highlight factory and purist's dream

Washington Wizards rookie point guard John Wall is a highlight factory and a basketball purist's dream.

Posted by Ben Golliver Yes, it's only the preseason so all the standard preseason disclaimers apply. But this John Wall kid is something else. Wall has impressed NBA scouts since he was a high schooler because he is both freakishly athletic and fundamentally sound, a rare combination for a point guard his age. So what, exactly, does that combination look like? Look no further than this 40-second clip from the first quarter of Monday night's preseason game between Wall's Washington Wizards and the Milwaukee Bucks. It's a basketball purist's dream, and it's enough to get you up off the sofa, too. The clip starts with Wall running a high screen-and-roll, collapsing Milwaukee's defense into the paint before he effortlessly finds Kirk Hinrich spotting up in the corner, who buries the wide open three-pointer.  On defense, Wall fights gamely through a high screen himself, chasing Bucks point guard to the basket, where Jennings misses. Wall recovers the loose ball and instinctively hits teammate Cartier Martin on a runout for an easy reverse layup. Then, with barely enough time to catch his breath, Wall intercepts a Keyon Dooling pass and takes it to the house, flushing with two hands and doing a chin up on the rim for good measure.
Add it all up and it's two points, two assists and a steal for Wall in 40 seconds of play. This sequence stands as one more reason to believe the hype, as if you needed another.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 8:01 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:50 pm

Gilbert Arenas gets injured after faking injury

One game after faking an injury, Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas suffers a right groin strain.
Posted by Ben Golliver
Be careful what you wish for, Gilbert Arenas.
Yesterday, Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas set the internet ablaze when he was fined for admitting that he faked an injury so that teammate Nick Young could get some more burn during Tuesday's win over the Atlanta Hawks. Shortly after checking into tonight's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Arenas suffered what the NBA TV announcing crew called a "mild right groin strain." Arenas could be seen holding his right leg on the sideline and receiving medical attention from the Wizards staff. According to the NBA TV crew, Arenas is not expected to return to game action tonight. Arenas did not start for the Wizards, and first checked into the game at the 7:06 mark of the first quarter, replacing Young. On the bright side, no one really cares because Wizards rookie John Wall is quite good at basketball.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 5:36 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:49 pm

Brandon Roy versus the world won't work

Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy has called for the ball, but is that a winning strategy?
Posted by Ben Golliver

Four games into the preseason, after a summer that didn’t see much roster turnover, the Portland Trail Blazers look and sound like a team still trying to find an identity, a team struggling to get on the same page.

Coach Nate McMillan has preached defense throughout training camp, and the troops, minus new addition Wesley Matthews, by and large haven’t responded. After holding a short-handed Los Angeles Clippers team (no Eric Gordon, no Baron Davis) to 86 points in their preseason opener, the Blazers have gotten clocked by division rivals Utah and Denver in three consecutive games. Add it up, and the slow-down, injury-depleted Blazers, are giving up 101 points per game during the preseason.

Throughout his young career, whenever Portland has hit a tough patch, all star guard Brandon Roy has responded by placing more responsibility on his own shoulders and, by extension, calling for more touches. After a flat performance on Monday night and a day off to think about things, Roy told reporters Wednesday that the motion offense the Blazers have been running during the preseason was going to give way to Portland’s usual isolation-heavy sets in the near future.  Along with that change was Roy’s desire to initiate more offense himself and he made that fact clear, declaring, “I want the basketball a lot more.”  Roy already sees a lot of touches, and Portland gives him the keys to the car down the stretch, so this comment earned Roy a fair bit of criticism in Portland over the last 24 hours.

Last year, Roy was 16th in the NBA in usage rate, trailing fellow guards Dwyane Wade, Gilbert Arenas, Kobe Bryant, Richard Hamilton, Monta Ellis, Russell Westbrook, Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings. Surveying the names on that list, you get a better idea of where Roy is coming from. If you go back two seasons, Roy was 11th in the NBA in usage rate, and the only guards ahead of him were Wade, Bryant, Tony Parker, Chris Paul, Will Bynum and Devin Harris.

So while going from 11th to 16th in the league seems like a modest drop, it’s one that Roy himself has felt mostly because of the quality of those touches. Indeed, he made specific reference yesterday to returning to the team’s offensive style from 2008-2009, when the Blazers were near the top of the league’s offensive efficiency charts . So what needs to happen for that return to take place?

The most obvious variable here is point guard Andre Miller, who was signed as a free agent during the summer of 2009. While a lot has been made about Miller’s own need for the ball in his hands to be effective, a more critical factor is his inability to space the floor effectively when he plays alongside Roy. Miller has never been a three-point threat, and last year he attempted just 80 threes, hitting at a paltry 20% clip . This allowed opposing defenses to cheat off of him with Tiger Woods regularity, clogging the top of the key, Roy’s favorite spot on the floor, and closing down driving lanes. This, coupled with hamstring and knee issues, led to declines in clean looks, shooting percentage and overall offensive efficiency. It should come as no surprise that Roy might desire a return to the pre-Miller days, when a standstill shooter in Steve Blake made defenses pay.

How will this situation resolve? Last season, McMillan showed a willingness to experiment with fourth-quarter lineups that didn’t include Miller. Matthews’ defensive versatility – he can legitimately guard three positions – and his spot-up shooting make him an ideal late-game backcourt partner for Roy. Throw in Nicolas Batum, who is also a versatile perimeter defender and solid outside shooter, and the Blazers would have a big, long, athletic perimeter trio to help compensate for having an emergency room full of centers on their inactive list.

The spotlight is now shining on Miller to prove his worth to the Blazers once again. Trade rumors continue to surround him, as they seemingly have since he signed in Portland. Now in the final guaranteed year of his contract, Miller is one of the few Blazers that would seem to have a greater external value than internal value. How much more would he mean to a young team needing leadership from a steady, reliable veteran point guard than to the Blazers, where he is, at best, a square peg fighting for room in a round hole that’s nearly entirely filled by Brandon Roy?

As for Roy's call for the ball, it is both admirable and short-sighted. In times of distress, and these Blazers know distress intimately, responsibility and accountability are gold qualities. But leaning heavily on Roy and isolating him on a regular basis hasn’t proven to be a winning strategy, in the playoffs or with regard to Roy’s health. The first-round exits and injuries have mounted up.

If we’ve learned anything in the NBA over the past six months, it’s the power of economies of roster scale. The more good players that play together well, the more likely it is that great play will result and the easier it is to succeed despite injuries. Ultimately, Roy is correct to look to himself for improvement first, but he must remember that he cannot dethrone the Lakers or Heat singlehandedly. No one can. To accomplish his goals for the team, which include playoff success and potentially more, Roy still needs to learn to trust someone. That someone doesn’t have to be Miller. But it needs to be someone.
Posted on: October 13, 2010 2:07 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:48 pm

Young Money goes bank from half court

Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings makes a halfcourt shot off the backboard.

Posted by Ben Golliver

The Milwaukee Bucks held an open practice for their fans on Tuesday and, wouldn't you know it, fan favorite Brandon Jennings stole the show by banking in a shot from halfcourt. Here's the video, courtesy of Bucks.com on Youtube . This wasn't a fluke: Last year, Jennings actually shot better from three-point range (37.4%) than he did overall from the field (37.1%) during the regular season.

In other words, you should probably expect Young Money to start shooting the ball instead of inbounding it by roughly the middle of December while Bucks coach Scott Skiles should have an innovative "full court chuck" offensive set implemented by March. Coach to your personnel's strengths, that's what I always say.
Posted on: October 13, 2010 1:43 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 7:48 pm

Gilbert Arenas fined by Wizards for faking injury

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas has reportedly been fined by the team for comments he made about faking an injury on Tuesday night.

Posted by Ben Golliver Last night we noted more sophomoric insanity from Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, who let reporters know after the team's preseason winover the Atlanta Hawks that he had told Wizards teammate Nick Young that he would fake an injury so that Young could see more playing time. Arenas reportedly told Wizards head coach Flip Saunders that he had knee soreness and wouldn't play. Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner reports on Twitter that, at Wizards practice Wednesday, Arenas "admitted to lying to Saunders about his knee." Cindy Boren of the Washington Post also notes that Arenas "has apologized for faking a knee injury." SB Nation's Mike Prada reports on Twitter that Saunders took to Washington, DC's ESPN radio affiliate on Wednesday to call Arenas's injury excuse "unjustified" and to say that Arenas had been fined by the team for his remarks. Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post confirms the fine on Twitter as well. Now, if only Saunders could fine some sense into him. I'll show myself out.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com