Tag:Kevin Garnett
Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:04 pm
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Kevin Garnett makes appearance at labor meeting

Posted by Royce Young

 You know what the NBA labor negotiations have been missing? Some unbridled intensity. Dwyane Wade and David Stern had a nice little showdown already but there's one player that's ready to raise his voice.

And he's in New York today. Via Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Kevin Garnett, along with Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Amar'e Stoudemire are among a group of NBA players that will participate in today's bargaining.

It's a crucial day for the NBA and that's why some of the big names have shown up. At last Friday's meeting, Kevin Durant, Wade and a couple other superstars participated, even suggesting that they walk out when the negotiations went south.

So with Garnett and Bryant, two of the more outspoken, vocal players there are, I'm sure there will be fireworks. Oh boy.
Posted on: September 3, 2011 7:49 pm
 

Kevin Garnett: I want to retire as a Celtic

Posted by Ben Golliverkevin-garnett-celtics

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett is 35 years old. He has slowed down a touch but hasn't yet lost a step, easily making the 2011 All-Star team and keeping his statistics -- 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 53 percent shooting -- where they have been for the last three seasons.

Still, he's entering the final year of his current contract and the end is in sight. Garnett isn't sure exactly when he will hang up his sneakers, but he did tell the Boston Globe that his preference is to retire as a member of the Celtics.
"I want to finish my career as a Celtic,” said Garnett, who joined Boston in a trade with Minnesota before the 2007-08 season. “This is it. I don’t plan on bouncing from team-to-team, that’s not really the plan. Hopefully God willing, I can finish my career out in the classy, elegant with a class-full organization as Boston. I don’t want to downgrade. I want to continue to be where I’m at. This is the first option and hopefully the only option.”

When asked if he would play past next season, Garnett said with a giggle: “My body and I gotta actually have a one-on-one to see future-wise, where I’m at and what I want to do. So I will make that decision.”
Well, that's hardly a surprise. Back in Dec. 2010, Garnett hinted that he was embracing the possibility of retirement. Playing more than 48,000 career minutes (regular season plus postseason) will do that to you.

It's not just a matter of mileage. Garnett may have been a maniac on the court, occasionally surpassing society's standarsd of respect of decency, but he's always been a loyal, proud man. He stuck with the Minnesota Timberwolves for 12 seasons, nearly twice as long as LeBron James hung around as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He handled the trade process to Boston with the utmost class and respect for Timberwolves fans, so much so that outside observers almost felt relieved and happy when he was finally moved. In the years since, his former team has bottomed out completely while he went on to win an NBA title with his new teammates, and yet virtually no one holds that against him.

How often does that happen in the modern NBA?

It only happens because Garnett, for all his antics, is a company man through and through. He puts his heart and soul into every game, wears his jersey with pride, leads on and off the court, connects with fans and doesn't hang his coach or management team out to dry. He might have been a maniac, but he is no mercenary, and he has a ring to solidify his career already, so it's virtually impossible to envision Garnett bouncing from contender to contender in his twilight years.

If I was a betting man, I think Garnett calls it quits after the 2011-2012 season, as long as it goes at least 50 games. If there's a lengthy work stoppage or cancellation, I can see him coming back on a one-year, team-friendly deal for a victory lap. Past that, though, and his pride will start screaming in his ear. It's difficult to imagine an ineffective, aging Garnett hanging around the NBA just because.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Kevin Garnett: I was almost a Laker in 2007

Posted by Ben Golliver

kobe-garnett
Welcome to one of the most remarkable "what if" scenarios in recent NBA history.

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett told the Dan Patrick Show --as transcribed by WEEI.com -- that he could have been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2007 if he had approved the move.

Patrick: How close were you to joining the Lakers?

Garnett: I was pretty close, to be honest. What’s disturbing about the whole Lakers situation was just Kobe [Bryant] and Phil [Jackson] at the time. They were at each other pretty bad, and a new situation full of uncertainty wasn’t something that I wanted to get into.

PatrickIt was your choice not to go to the Lakers?

GarnettIt was my choice, yes.

PatrickBecause you were worried about the friction with Kobe and Phil?

GarnettNo, I wasn’t worried about it.

Patrick: But that was going on?

Garnett: There was a lot going on, and I didn’t want to be a part of it.

Garnett's supposed decision to pass on the Lakers made way for his eventual trade to the Celtics for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff and multiple first round picks. It also left the Lakers without a premier forward, a hole they addressed by trading Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, Marc Gasol and two first round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for forward Pau Gasol

Following all of the strings on this one is almost impossible. To put it briefly, Garnett's decision totally changed the course of at least four NBA franchises and impacted at least the next three NBA Finals. 

Let's start with the biggest losers: the Timberwolves, as always. The centerpiece in the Garnett trade was supposed to be Jefferson, but he dealt with knee injuries and was eventually a salary dump to the Utah Jazz to clear minutes and touches in the middle for All-Star forward Kevin Love. Memphis wound up receiving Marc Gasol, one of the most promising and productive young centers in the league and a reasonable player to pair with Love. Marc Gasol, like Jefferson, is no substitute or replacement for Garnett, the best power forward of his generation, but he's a lot better than repackaging Jefferson for nothing. Lamar Odom and other pieces might have been in the final package needed to get Garnett, too.

Had Minnesota moved Garnett to Los Angeles, that would have left Memphis looking for a buyer for Pau Gasol and Boston looking to add a premier talent to put it over the top in exchange for its young prospects. Would there have been a trade match there? If so, could the more passive Gasol joined Ray Allen and Paul Pierce and pushed the Celtics to the same heights -- a 2008 NBA title and a 2010 NBA Finals appearance -- as Garnett? Probably not. If Boston's Big 3 doesn't have as much success and the Eastern Conference playing field is more level, do LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all decide it's necessary to team up with the Miami Heat? Or, are they instead more patient with their individual situations? Tangentially, how much did Garnett's arrival and the 2008 title influence our opinion of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen? If the Celtics never win a title, are those players a peg or two lower on the historical scoreboard?

As for Memphis, it's possible that either they hang on to Pau Gasol and spin their wheels, never taking a chance on Zach Randolph, or they ship him somewhere else for a package that doesn't include the invaluable diamond in the rough that turned out to be Marc Gasol. Do they have their dream run through the playoffs in 2011 if not for the Marc Gasol acquisition? Maybe, maybe not.

The biggest winners in this "what if" scenario clearly would have been the Lakers. Pairing the league's best player at the time, Kobe Bryant, with the league's premier forward and best defensive player, plus a young and developing center in Andrew Bynum, would have been a virtually unstoppable combination. Can you imagine how much mentally tougher Bynum would be with Garnett's mentoring day in and day out? Could Garnett have helped Bryant cut down on the gunning?

Had Garnett approved the deal to Los Angeles, the Lakers very likely would have won the 2008, 2009 and 2010 titles and, depending on how the roster moves were impacted by Garnett's presence, could have made a much better showing in the 2011 playoffs, during which Gasol laid an egg and dealt with off-court distractions. The Lakers have already enjoyed a significant stretch of Western Conference dominance and their main foe -- the Celtics -- would have been critically wounded with the absence of Garnett. Had everything broken right, it's not inconceivable that Bryant would possess seven rings right now instead of five and be right in the middle of the conversation as the greatest basketball player of all time.

Of course, that's not what happened. But, man, imagine if it did.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:35 am
Edited on: August 23, 2011 9:35 am
 

New 'league' forming at Impact in Las Vegas

By Matt Moore

Since the lockout began, there have been discussions of the question, "Why don't the players just form their own league?" After all, the players' belief is that they are  the league, so why not just start your own, make some money off of it, and force the owners off their hardened fortress wall? We've seen organized exhibitions, or at least "organized" exhibitions like "Capital Punishment" featuring Drew League vs. Goodman League last Saturday, but nothing beyond that. However, Impact Basketball in Las Vegas may be taking things to the next level. 

From HoopsWorld:  
Impact Basketball, one of the premier basketball training sites in the world, will launch their own league in the coming weeks. Unlike this summer's popular pro-am leagues that featured a few NBA players on each roster, the teams competing in Impact's league will be made up solely of professionals. Nearly 70 NBA players will compete in the league and plenty of stars will participate.
via NBA AM: New League in Las Vegas - Basketball News & NBA Rumors -.

And this is more than just a claim, HoopsWorld sources Suns forward Jared Dudley as talking about it on the record. There are discussions of streaming the games online and the goal is to make it an NBA atmosphere in terms of game quality with shot clock and official NBA rules. Impact is one of the most popular training sites for NBA players, with stars like Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, John Wall, Rudy Gay, and Monta Ellis having worked there.

It's a provocative idea, considering Impact has the ability to not only bring in the top talent organically, but to put it in the best possible atmosphere. The Vegas location is obviously attractive to players, and the facilities are top notch. It won't be a real "league" per say, just teams playing regularly, but it's the shell of one anyway.

If they really want to take it to the next level, Impact should find sponsors to try and profit even more off of it and to improve the quality of the technology for the feed. Either way, this is going to be a rare look at how NBA players have stayed in shape or improved over the summer, and in a competitive environment, should they pull it off.
Posted on: August 17, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 10:57 pm
 

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

Posted by Ben Golliver

Rankings by EOB Staff.

rondo-pierce-garnett

This is the seventh segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA. 

Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31

Asking Boston Celtics fans and observers to rank the team's players top-to-bottom is a bit like asking a mother to rank her children. With Rajon Rondo ascending and the Big 3 maintaining, simply ranking the team's four All-Stars is a task in and of itself. That job takes on an added degree of difficulty when they face off against their competition around the league.

Three Celtics All-Stars -- Rondo and forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce -- made our top-30, but none made our top-20, a decision that speaks to the team's balance at the top but also the role that age has played in recent years. Once a perennial top-10 selection, Garnett has slipped a notch, although he still leads the way for the Celtics on this list. 

Without further ado, let's dig in.

30. Andre Iguodala, F, age 27, Philadelphia 76ers

2011 Stats: 14.1 points, 6.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 44.5 FG%, 17.30 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 27, 36, 36

After playing all but six games in his first six NBA seasons, injuries marred Iguodala’s 2010-2011 campaign, keeping him out of 15 games and limiting his minutes per game to the fewest he’s played since his rookie year. As a result, his numbers took a predictable hit pretty much across the board.  Iguodala’s reputation as a two-way player is well-earned; his size, strength, quickness and instincts are an exceedingly rare combination.

Persistent trade rumors swirled throughout the season, too, owing to Iguodala’s long-term, eight figure per year contract and his tweener franchise guy status: he’s paid to be “the man” but not quite transformative enough to pull it off. Until he is moved to a contender with an established top dog, Iguodala will continue to impress outsiders and let down those who expect him to deliver a team to playoff success.

29. Joakim Noah, C, age 26, Chicago Bulls

2011 Stats: 11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 steals, 52.5 FG%, 18.83 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 33, 32, 30

Perhaps Noah gets a friendly bump up in these rankings by virtue of playing in the vicinity of the Derrick Rose superstar glow, but he has done plenty to carve out a strong reputation for himself. It starts with doing the things most NBA players don’t like to do: crash the boards relentlessly on both ends, cover ground (while talking) on defense, hit the floor for loose balls, make the extra big-to-big pass and exercise restraint when it comes to shot selection.

Given his age, Noah should be a perennial double-double guy for the next 3-5 seasons. That, plus more than a block and a steal per game and 50+ percent shooting is excellent production from the center position.  

28. Tony Parker, G, age 29, San Antonio Spurs

2011 Stats: 17.5 points, 6.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 51.9 FG%, 20.44 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 26, 31, 30

San Antonio’s early playoff exit might have caused you to forget that the Spurs were the league’s second most efficient offense during the regular season. Parker’s well-rounded game – basketball intelligence, shooting, decision-making, pick-and-roll skills, drive-and-kick skills, open court skills – served as the engine in that machine. The elite newer-age point guards boast size/strength combinations that Parker can’t match, but he currently inhabits a pleasant nexus between “savvy veteran” and “not yet tailing off physically”, so he gives as good as he gets against just about anyone at his position.

The Spurs will never be able to replace Tim Duncan, but they were wise to ride with Parker into the foreseeable future.

27. Paul Pierce, F, age 33, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 49.7 FG%, 19.76 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 38, 23, 22

The passing of the Eastern Conference torch from Boston to Miami went down in particularly cruel fashion, with Heat forward LeBron James unleashing a whirlwind to usher the Celtics into the past. Not being athletic enough to keep up with Miami is no real sin, though, as that label applies to 99 percent of the league. Pierce is slower, more ground-bound, less decisive and less explosive than James, but he’s still an elite producer at his position, upping his numbers in most categories last season. He can score in a variety of ways, shoots with range, gets to the line and cashes in his free throw opportunities, and is a hard-working defender.

With three years left on his contract, it’s certainly possible the Captain becomes a burden on the books. For now, he’s steady and solid as always, the same All-Star with the track record for winning, even if his team has finally been overtaken.

26. Nene Hilario, C, age 28, Denver Nuggets

2011 Stats: 14.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.1 steals, 61.5%, 20.49 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 27, 29, 23

Arguably the biggest prize in this year’s free agent crop, Nene has gotten overlooked to a degree in a crowded Denver frontcourt that always took a backseat to whatever Carmelo Anthony was doing. Now that Anthony is in the Big Apple, Nene’s uber-efficient scoring around the rim, high-energy play and overall athleticism look even better, especially if one considers what will be left of the Nuggets should he decide to find a new home.

25. Andrew Bynum, C, age 23, Los Angeles Lakers

2011 Stats: 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.4 assists, 57.4 FG%, 21.14 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 28, 22, 28

Nobody in the NBA causes more people to slap their foreheads than Bynum: he’s yet to approach his potential on the court, has a lengthy injury history and has repeatedly resorted to some of the dirtiest play seen anywhere in the modern NBA. For all his faults and immaturity, he has shown the ability to be the best center in the NBA not named Dwight Howard by simply overpowering defenders and playing over the top of them, finishing at the rim with an emphatic dunk or a soft touch. He doesn’t have ideal mobility but he is still a legit paint presence defensively, even able to control games at times. The progress he’s made in expanding his offensive repertoire gives hope for the future, as does his expressed desire to carry more of the load.

Bynum will likely see his ceiling stunted a bit by the final chapter of Kobe Bryant’s career, but that shouldn’t prevent him from being a perennial All-Star and top-10 player eventually. Only the injuries offer a legitimate roadblock to greatness.

24. Al Horford, C, age 25, Atlanta Hawks

2011 Stats: 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, .8 steals, 55.7%, 20.79 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 24, 24, 29

Horford is an interesting contrast with Bynum, in that he seems to have figured life out and come to terms with what he will be as an NBA player. An excellent defender whose offensive production doesn’t get enough run, Horford should be the centerpiece for the Hawks for years to come. He’s managed to improve his scoring numbers during all four seasons in the NBA while keeping his rebounding numbers near the magical double-digit mark. Horford is smart, consistent, has a winning mindset and provides zero distractions off the court. He can pass too.

At 25, he’s probably getting pretty close to his peak productivity and isn’t – and may never be -- a game-changing No. 1 option on offense.  Still, he provides stability and plenty to work around even if he is never able to carry the team out of the massive shadow cast by Joe Johnson’s contract.

23. Chris Bosh, F, age 27, Miami Heat

2011 Stats: 18.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 49.6 FG%, 19.44 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 19, 25, 28

The planet Earth sure learned a lot about Bosh this season. Indeed, he probably faced a greater increase in scrutiny than any other NBA player, when he bounced out of Toronto to team up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in South Beach. Bosh’s game is predicated on outside/inside offensive versatility. He is equally able to knock down a jumper, get to the free throw line, finish a play above the rim and create a bit off the bounce. He’s more sinewy than beefy and that’s earned him plenty of criticism because he doesn’t hold the paint on defense and lacks a true nose for rebounding and dirty work.

Bosh wore goofy outfits, was rightfully cast as a third wheel, got tattooed, got married, and broke down crying in his first year with the Heat. Who knows what the sequel holds?

22. Rajon Rondo, G, age 25, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 10.6 points, 11.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 47.5 FG%, 17.11 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 19, 21, 25

Rondo may very well be the most magical point guard since Magic Johnson, his knack for fitting passes into tight spaces is uncanny and his vision is peerless. At his best, he conducts games rather than simply playing in them, weaving together his teammates in such a way that open shots result. His eye-popping wingspan is matched only by his gambler’s instinct, making Rondo an excellent on-ball and off-ball defender. Of course there’s the whole business about his shooting, which remains troublesome and limiting, but he compensates with a warrior’s spirit and a full understanding of his own limitations. He is the future.

21. Kevin Garnett, F, age 35, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, 52.8 FG%, 20.67

Composite rankings (random order): 23, 21, 21

Over the past two years, a crop of younger power forwards have surpassed Garnett, whose prep-to-pros jump and heavy minutes as a franchise guy earlier in his career have taken their toll. His body doesn’t allow 82 nights of top-shelf performance a season -- it would be next to impossible to manage that at 35 -- but he’s still the most feared and hated player in the NBA. His length and understanding of positioning create endless problems for his opponents and his basketball intelligence and leadership making the game easier for his teammates. His trusty jumper has kept him an offensive force and he can be paired with all sorts of lineups – big and small – thanks to his face-up game, passing skills and mobility. While Garnett is no longer a player capable of carrying a team to a title, he’s still the last guy you want to play against.

Posted on: August 1, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 4:22 pm
 

Report: David Stern earns salary of $20+ million?

Posted by Ben Golliver. 

david-stern

Those cufflinks could be made of solid gold, the cuffs constructed from the finest ivory. 

Yahoo! Sports reports that NBA commissioner David Stern could make more in salary than all but a handful of the league's players.
Many owners don’t even know what Stern makes. “I’d say three or less know,” one NBA owner told Yahoo! Sports. Several believe it’s somewhere in the range of $20 million to $23 million a year, but no one knows for sure. Maybe it’s more than that, but the fact that some owners don’t know the answer is beyond belief.
That salary ballpark squares with a New York Daily News report from February -- noted by CBSSports.com's Matt Moore in a piece on the league's opulent culture -- which pegged Stern's salary at $23 million.

Only one NBA player is set to make more than $25 million during the 2011-2012 season: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who is on the books for $25.2 million.  

Only three other players are set to make more than $20 million: Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett ($21.2 million), San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan ($21.2 million) and Washington Wizards forward Rashard Lewis ($21.1 million). 

Stern is reportedly set to bring home more bacon than the league's worst contracts: Orlando Magic guard Gilbert Arenas ($19.3 million) and Phoenix Suns guard Vince Carter ($18.9 million, although only a fraction of that is guaranteed). He will also reportedly make more than most of the league's biggest stars, including Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki ($19.1 million), Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol ($18.7 million), New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony ($18.5 million) and Amar'e Stoudemire ($18.2 million), Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard ($18.1 million) and all three of the Miami Heat's Big 3 of LeBron James ($16.0 million), Dwyane Wade ($15.7 million) and Chris Bosh ($16.0 million).

Two pieces of information worth pointing out. First, Stern has held the commissioner title since 1984, so he's had more than two and a half decades to rack up pay raises. There's a very good chance he is the league's highest-paid employee by leaps and bounds. Second, Stern pledged not to accept any salary in the event of a work stoppage at the 2011 All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
Stern was asked whether he would reduce his salary to $1 if the two sides could not reach a labor agreement, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has pledged recently. Stern said: "Last time, I ddin't take any salary. I think a dollar would be too high in the event of a work stoppage." 
Still, that seems like an awful lot of money for the league's chief executive. Windfall salaries for chief executives in many industries are often tied to periods of peak company performance. The NBA, though, claims never to have had a positive operating income during the duration of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement. 
Posted on: July 21, 2011 6:16 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:29 pm
 

2011 NBA All-Star likeability rankings

Posted by Ben Golliver.

wade-durant-bryant

It's one thing to be great on the court. It's one thing to be famous. It's one thing to be marketable. It's one thing to be respected. 

But how do we throw all those attributes together? How do we determine which of the NBA's brightest stars are the most well-rounded? How do we put our finger on which stars capture the imagination, drop jaws and tug on the heart strings? 

It's an impossible task, but that didn't stop the Eye On Basketball staff from trying. Over the last week, we pinpointed five characteristics that combine to make NBA players likeable: "Ballin' Ability" (how good a guy is as a player), "Winning Attitude" (how dedicated he is to the game), "Talking Softly" (how he comes across in public comments), "Commerical Appeal" (how visible he is in advertisements) and "Public Works" (charitable contributions and other character-defining achievements).

Our panel of four experts ranked every member of the 2011 All-Star teams on a 1-5 scale in each of these five categories. We then added up all the scores to get a ranking on a 1 to 100 scale. The higher the number, the more likeable the player. Pretty simple stuff. 

Without further ado, here are the CBSSports.com 2011 NBA All-Star likeability rankings, from worst (least likeable) to first (most likeable). 

24. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks: Johnson’s unassuming personality and solid perimeter game don’t stand much of a chance here due to his relatively invisible national profile and his team’s lack of playoff success. Score: 44

23. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks: Horford suffers from the same low-profile problem as Johnson but is perceived as more of a winner because he took home NCAA hardware at the University of Florida, and his game is predicated on doing whatever it takes to get the job done rather than jacking jumpers. Score: 48

22. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat: Bosh is intelligent, articulate and gentle off the court and a versatile talent on the court, so he should be prettychris-bosh-tears likeable, at least in theory. His goofiness -- the photo shoots, the secret wedding, the screaming at the preseason parade -- has become off-putting now that he’s teamed up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. His status as the league’s most obvious punch line hurts him here. A lot. Score: 54

T-20. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: Still just a half-touch too far up the “might be crazy” scale to be totally likeable at this point in his career. Westbrook is still stuck in Kevin Durant’s shadow, although he showed with his fearless play in the 2011 postseason that he might one day eclipse KD in terms of sheer star power. Could be a fast riser in future renditions of these rankings, especially if he can cut down his turnovers and shake a developing reputation as a bit of a late-game ball hog. Saying something interesting after a game once in a while wouldn't hurt either. Score: 55

T-20. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers: Much like the Lakers, Gasol took a step back in prominence this season when he didn’t show up as expected -- and as needed -- in the postseason. His gangly frame isn’t particularly marketable, at least not here in the United States, and while he is a true professional when it comes to the media, he’s known first and foremost as Kobe Bryant’s on-again, off-again punching bag. Score: 55

19. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: More than anyone else on this list, Rondo genuinely doesn’t care what you think about him. He can come across as curt and moody, and doesn’t expend much energy playing the media game. His authenticity can’t be questioned, but it does keep casual fans at arm’s length. Score: 58

18. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs: An egoless star on an egoless team in an egoless organization in a relatively small market, Ginobili has never sought the bright lights. Even after all these years, the average fan doesn’t have much of a connection with him. There’s nothing not to like, but nothing that reaches out and grabs you either. Score: 59

17. Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets: Williams gets bonus points for his amazing annual dodgeball tournament and rose to a new level of renown this year thanks to a blockbuster trade and a trailblazing deal with Besiktas in Turkey. The rumored spats with Jerry Sloan that surfaced when the legendary Utah Jazz coach abruptly retired briefly painted a very unlikable picture, although that didn’t seem to bother him too much. Score: 61

16. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics: Beloved in Boston, Pierce’s personal likeability suffers a bit nationally because he’s almost always talked about as one of Boston’s Big Three, with Kevin Garnett usually getting top billing. He's a bit past his prime, which surely costs him some spots on this list. Score: 62

15. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics: Allen is pretty much in the same boat as Pierce, although he’s got an energetic mother (the ever-present Flo), a picture-perfect jump shot and an unforgettable silver screen performance (Jesus Shuttlesworth) to give him a bit of a boost. Score: 64

14. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: Love is the anti-Rondo, fully embracing the media attention, putting his self-kevin-love-smiledeprecating humor to full display whenever possible. He’s blogged, starred in viral videos and, let’s not forget, put up mammoth statistics through sheer hard work amidst a dysfunctional mess of a team. All while remaining sane. No easy task. Score: 65

T-12. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics: Thanks to his on-court bullying antics and incessant trash talk, Garnett is as polarizing as anyone in the league, save LeBron James. But his reputation as a winner was sealed by Boston’s title, he’s been a fixture on the national endorsement circuit for years and his overwhelming competitive desire helps cover up some of the ugliness. Score: 66

 T-12. Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks: Near the top of his game and playing in a major media market, Stoudemire keeps the dunks and quotes coming, so everyone stays happy. The fact that he abandoned Steve Nash immediately following a Western Conference Finals playoff run to take more money without catching any flak for it is a testament to how he’s carved out a major place in the nation’s heart in his own, quirky way. Score: 66

11. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: Anthony’s steady focus during a half-season-long free agency and trade whirlwind last year won him a lot of goodwill, as does the fact that he’s put millions of dollars into both Syracuse University and Baltimore. Based on talent alone, Anthony should probably be higher on this list, but wife LaLa and his lack of playoff success hold him back. Score: 68

10. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: Griffin is still enjoying the “new-car smell” phase of his NBA fame. His audacious take-offs, explosive leaping and vicious finishing are so unique for a player his size that nobody much cares that he didn’t make the playoffs and still has a ways to go to fill out an all-around game. The centerpiece of All-Star Weekend in his very first visit, he’s got endorsements by the boatload and is arguably on the verge of over-exposure. He’s still a little stiff, but that seems to be fading. Once he gets a few playoff series wins under his belt, look for Griffin to be a perennial top-5 member on this list. Score: 71

9. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs: Duncan has been so good for so long -- and won so much -- that the respect factor afforded him is significant enough to make up for a bland, sometimes robotic, personality. Duncan can be subtly hilarious and occasionally sharp-tongued with the media. He is also unfailingly classy. Score: 72

8. LeBron James, Miami Heat: He should be No. 1 on every NBA list ever made given his otherworldly talent and global-marketinglebron-james-face-machine status, but James drops hard in terms of likeability due to his late-game failures in the 2011 NBA Finals, his out-of-touch comments towards fans following the Heat's eventual loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the self-unaware “Decision” and his overall child-star cockiness/obliviousness. Even given all of that, no one would be surprised if winning a title vaulted him to the top of this list next year. His talent is that absurd. Score: 74

7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls: You might have heard: Rose is humble. The 2011 MVP has so much going for him: He’s won at an early age, he’s winning for his hometown team, he’s lived up to expectations, he’s taken responsibility for losses and shared credit for victories, he’s managed to be a scoring point guard without getting written off as “selfish,” and he kept a safe distance from all the free agency politicking that soured a lot of fans on many top-name players last summer. He continues to battle his “shy” public nature, which is the only thing holding him back from much, much greater fame. Score: 79

6. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets: Paul checks off virtually every box on the likeability list. He’s cutthroat on the court and cuddly off of it. He’s raised loads of money for Hurricane Katrina relief. He’s a devout man without being preachy. He comes across as a caring father and thoughtful citizen. He’s -- so far -- steered clear of hijacking his franchise by demanding a trade or threatening to walk in free agency. The touching story of his love for his deceased grandfather has become an indelible part of his identity. And he is team-first, always. There’s so much to like that you actually hope he finds a better situation, where he will be able to fill out his playoff reputation. Score: 81

5. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: This is the top of the mountain for Nowitzki, both on and off the court. It simply doesn’t get any better than captaining a balanced team through a marathon playoff run that ended with the demolition of the league’s most hated team. The cherry on top is the fact that Nowitzki came through in the clutch time and again. He’s put an ugly past relationship totally behind him, moving forward with a new fiancé. His personality with the media is easy-going and honest. He plays with a childish love of the game and hits shots that make you marvel. It’s hard to imagine another seven-foot German man gaining this level of acceptance and respect in the United States. Ever. Also, he’s squashed the “soft” label that haunted him for years. Score: 84

4. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic: Howard has deftly positioned himself as the heir apparent to Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most likeable NBA stars in recent memory. His dominant two-way play serves as the basis for a superhero persona, and his active online presence and numerous endorsement deals make his zany personality inescapable. The fact that he hasn’t committed to the Magic and could be headed for a free agency bonanza could cost him points down the road, but right now he’s still the giant, lovable teddy bear who can swat shots back to half court. Score: 85

T-2. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat: It was a shocking scene when Wade joined James in mocking Nowitzki during the Finals for being sick: A very flat note for someone who has historically been pitch perfect. Throughout his career, Wade has been a Teflon Don, particularly charmed as a player and as an endorser. With a title under his belt and a megawatt smile, Wade has displayed a good sense of humor for years as a pitchman and also been a staple on NBA Cares commercials. Both James and Bosh lost points last summer for their decision to team up in Miami, but Wade came off as a big winner, the cool older-brother figure who pulled off the recruiting haul of a lifetime. Score: 87

kevin-durant-smile

T-2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: Colorado sure feels like a long, long time ago, doesn’t it? Bryant has made the most of the second half of his NBA career, winning rings by the fistful and growing his international popularity immensely. He’s played through pain, done things his way, taken a direct, often profane, tone with the media and become the closest thing to Jordan since Jordan. Age is slowly advancing, which has a way of humanizing people, and yet his ego and force of will push back equally hard, making it seem, at least for now, that his reign on top will last as long as he chooses. Right now, he’s the NBA’s most mythical figure. Score: 87

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s virtually impossible to find fault with the NBA’s scoring champ. Durant combines Rose’s humble nature, Nowitzki’s impossible scoring touch, Griffin’s “new-car smell,” Howard’s technological accessibility and a Bryant-esque work ethic. He’s polite, he’s shown he has what it takes to win in the playoffs at a young age, he’s popular on an international stage already and the best is yet to come. He’s confident, but not cocky. He’s a gunner, but he comes off as unselfish. He’s team-first and loyal, much like Paul, and he’s locked in long-term so there’s no doubt or question about his future motives (at least not yet). Put it all together, and Durant is enjoying the ultimate honeymoon period with the NBA fans. We love potential, and Durant still has plenty of that. Also, he wears a backpack. Score: 88







Posted on: May 12, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 7:43 pm
 

Report: Celtics to lock up Doc Rivers long-term?

The Boston Celtics are reportedly negotiating a multi-year contract offer with coach Doc Rivers. Posted by Ben Golliver. doc-rivers

One day after the Boston Celtics were eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Miami Heat, the Associated Press is reporting that the team is looking to secure coach Doc Rivers to a long-term contract.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations says the Boston Celtics and coach Doc Rivers are working on a deal that would keep him on their bench for multiple years. The deal is for “more than two or three years,” the person told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the details were still being worked out.
With an aging core and the rise of younger, more athletic competitors, it's no surprise that the Celtics are looking for a measure of stability. Indeed, we noted earlier that Celtics president Danny Ainge is considering major rotation changes -- such as sending Paul Pierce to the bench -- and admitted that he would trade one of Boston's Big Three if a favorable trade came along.

In other words, it could be a choppy few years for the team as it works to reload, and possibly rebuild. The good news: It's clear from comments made to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger that Rivers wants to stick around. For the Celtics, keeping Rivers in place would not only provide a steady, trusted hand but could also serve as a potential lure for free agents. 

But, really, it's the continuity factor driving this decision. Locking up Rivers gives the Celtics a solid slice of an identity during what could be a major roster overhaul. Whichever players stick around will need someone they trust. Whichever players are brought in will need someone that carries a massive respect factor.  Rivers fulfills both categories, so if a reasonable financial agreement can be worked out, why not?
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com