Posted on: July 28, 2010 4:50 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2010 11:03 pm

Body found in Memphis is Wright

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A body found Wednesday in a wooded area in southeast Memphis is former NBA player Lorenzen Wright, learned early Wednesday.

The Wright family released a statment late Wednesday night confirming the death.

Wright was 34 years-old.

"Lorenzen’s family has come together to mourn his loss and honor his legacy," the statement said. "We appreciate your thoughts, prayers and condolences as they are comforting at this very difficult time. Additionally, we ask that you please respect our privacy as we try to cope with his sudden loss.”

Wright was last seen July 19 and reported missing last Friday. Memphis Police have not confirmed anything. But multiple media outlets are reporting that Wright was shot multiple times, meaning this will likely be considered a homicide investigation into the death of the former lottery pick.

Wright's death has special meaning in Memphis. The 6-foot-11 center is the rare athlete who played high school basketball (Booker T. Washington High), college basketball (University of Memphis) and professional basketball (Grizzlies) in his hometown. He leaves behind six children.
Category: NBA
Posted on: October 30, 2009 10:02 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2009 10:24 pm

Tell me again why Brandon Jennings messed up?

I've forever rejected the premise that college is the best place for prospects to develop.

Sure, they can develop in college.

No argument there.

Brandon Roy is a great example of how it sometimes work.

But those who suggest any path to the NBA that doesn't involve college is a wrong path frustrate the hell out of me because they're so obviously incorrect. And that's why I'm thrilled to report that Brandon Jennings -- the 'knucklehead' who went to Europe and 'struggled' rather than play at Arizona last season -- finished with 17 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in his NBA debut.

Somewhere, Sonny Vacarro is smiling.
Category: NBA
Posted on: October 27, 2009 6:56 am
Edited on: October 27, 2009 7:03 am

Griffin, like Bradford, now sidelined

The reigning National Player of the Year has a broken kneecap .

He'll miss Tuesday's NBA opener.

And has this been a bad year for Oklahoma stars or what?

First, Sam Bradford's post-Heisman campaign began with an injured shoulder that will be surgically repaired Wednesday . Now Blake Griffin will be sidelined 4-to-6 weeks (around 20 games) after breaking his kneecap in the Clippers' final exhibition. So the odds are clearly stacked against Willie Warren, OU's next great one. He better hope the all-bad-things-happen-in-threes rule doesn't apply to Sooners (and look both ways before crossing any road).

Seriously, it's a rough deal.

Griffin had been tremendous this preseason while averaging 13.7 points and 8.1 rebounds.

No question, he was going to be the NBA Rookie of the Year.

And he still might.

But his pro career is now officially off to a bad start.

And another Sooner is now unfortunately on the mend.
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 13, 2009 1:15 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2009 1:17 pm

James withdraws from draft; Holiday staying in

Two of the bigger names in college basketball have finalized their decisions about the NBA Draft.

Texas junior Damion James has decided to withdraw from the NBA Draft, a source close to the Big 12 program told on Saturday. Meantime, UCLA freshman Jrue Holiday told Brian Dohn of the Los Angeles Daily News that he will sign with an agent and effectively end his college career after one season.

James' return should make Texas a preseason top 10 team.

The 6-foot-7 forward was not expected to go in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Holiday, on the other hand, is a sure-bet lottery pick despite an underwhelming season.

The deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the 2009 NBA Draft is Monday at 5 p.m. ET.
Posted on: June 11, 2009 8:20 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2009 2:37 am

Rose responds to gang photo, still mum on SAT

Derrick Rose issued a written statement in response to a picture circulating that shows him flashing a gang sign, but he still hasn't said anything about the NCAA's allegation that he didn't take his own SAT. In other words, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year doesn't seem to care if you think he committed academic fraud, but he will not have the world under the impression that he associates with gangs.

"Recently, a photo has been circulating on the Internet which appears to depict me flashing a gang sign," Rose said in the statement. "This photo of me was taken at a party I attended in Memphis while I was in school there, and was meant as a joke ... a bad one, I now admit."

A bad one, I now admit?


Trust me, there is NO WAY Derrick Rose wrote that sentence.

So we now know he neither takes his own standardized tests nor authors his own statements.

"I want to emphatically state, now and forever, that Derrick Rose is anti-gang, anti-drug, and anti-violence," the statement continued. "I am not, nor have I ever been, affiliated with any gang and I can't speak loudly enough against gang violence, and the things that gangs represent. In posing for this picture, I am guilty of being young, naive and of using extremely poor judgment. I sincerely apologize to all my fans for my mistake. I pride myself on being a good citizen, and role model, that young people can look up to and I want to urge all my young fans to stay away from gangs and gang-related activities."

That's the statement in its entirety.

It is 161 words.

And though I personally like Derrick Rose and have always found him to be pleasant, if he could really construct sentences like that there would've been no reason for him to have somebody else take his SAT. Far as I'm concerned, that statement about the gang sign is an admission of guilt on the SAT allegation ... an obvious one, I must admit.
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 4, 2009 10:49 am

I'm OK with HS graduates making bad choices

My story about U.S. Rep Steve Cohen's attempt to eliminate the NBA's 19-year-old age minimum for U.S. players to enter the draft has received a lot of feedback, as expected. The complaints are mostly typical, and not really worth debating here. But there is one point I'd like to stress, a point that always comes up, but one I never understand.

Obviously, people no longer try to pretend that high school players can't succeed.

That would be silly given LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and many others.

So now the argument I hear most regularly is that though LeBron and Kobe are great, what about Korleone Young, Lenny Cooke and all the other prep stars who tried to turn pro out of high school but failed miserably? My point is always that those guys made mistakes because they weren't projected first-round picks, meaning they should've never been in the draft in the first place. They simply made bad decisions. And then the guy I'm arguing with usually claims an age limit is needed to prevent more high school graduates from making mistakes, and that's where I get lost and fail to recognize the rationale.

My question: Why do we care if high school graduates make bad decisions about their careers?

God knows how many high school graduates skip college to try to pursue careers in acting or singing or poker (or you name it), and many of them (if not most of them) are making bad decisions when they do it. For every Conor Oberst , there are thousands of young songwriters living out of their cars, totally broke. But who cares? They are adults free to make decisions about their paths in life. And if we don't care about those high school graduates who might make mistakes, why do we care about these high school graduates who might make mistakes?

Beyond that, is it right to keep a Conor Oberst or Jeff Tweedy from doing what they should be doing (i.e., making music for money, ASAP) because somebody trying to follow their paths might not be good enough to do it? Of course not. So why keep a John Wall or Renardo Sidney from doing what they should be doing (i.e., playing basketball for money, ASAP) because somebody trying to follow their paths might not be good enough to do it?

And beyond that, why do we care about the 18 year-olds who might make bad decisions but not the 19 year-olds?

Seriously, what's the difference?

Do you have any idea how many college freshmen, college sophomores and college juniors make bad decisions about the NBA Draft each year? Why don't we think it's important to keep them from making bad decisions? Why is it that we feel obligated to keep a Korleone Young or a Lenny Cooke from a bad choice, but not a Darius Washington (left Memphis after his sophomore year and went undrafted) or a Harvey Thomas (left Baylor after his junior year and went undrafted)?

Again, I don't get it.

And the reason I don't get it is simple: Because it makes no sense.
Category: NBA
Posted on: May 24, 2009 10:27 am
Edited on: May 24, 2009 10:29 am

Calathes flirted with Greece last year, too

There were strong rumors last offseason that Nick Calathes was on the verge of leaving Florida to play professionally in Greece, so much so that I asked the point guard about them last October. Calathes acknowledged he had offers and described them as "good money." But in the end, he claimed to "not think about it too much."

Obviously, he has now put more thought into it.

Because Calathes has opted to play professionally for Panathinaikos -- the reigning Euroleague champion -- rather than remain in the NBA Draft, the Orlando Sentinel reported this weekend. According to the newspaper, the contract will pay Calathes "around $1.1 million per year, in addition to providing him with a home, car and tax credits, making for a total package commensurate to what the NBA rookie salary scale provides a late-lottery selection."

Is it a smart move?

Perhaps, if Calathes wasn't going to be in the NBA next season anyway (he was a borderline first-round pick).

Otherwise, it might be a mistake.

But either way, the bottom line is the same -- that Nick Calathes will be a professional next season, which was never truly in doubt. Officially, Calathes spent the past month as an underclassman who could still return to Florida if he wanted. But nobody connected to the Florida program believed he'd ever play a junior season, proof being how the Gators tried late in the process to get involved with John Wall.

In other words, Florida was always in Calathes' past.

Now Greece is in his future.

And the NBA is anybody's guess.
Category: NBA
Posted on: May 21, 2009 9:20 am

Tavernari is out, but why was he ever in?

Jonathan Tavernari announced late Wednesday that he's returning to BYU.

That's good news for the Cougars.

But it also hammers home a point I made last month -- that declaring for the NBA Draft for many of these guys (and I mentioned Tavernari specifically) is as pointless as it is harmless, something that accomplishes absolutely nothing. Turns out, Tavernari went through the process without ever working out for an NBA team, meaning he never had the opportunity to "catch somebody's eye" or do any of the things people who try to make sense of these decisions insist is possible.

Essentially, Tavernari's experience consisted of filling out an application.

Then he withdrew from the draft.

And though it was all indeed harmless, I ask again: What was the point?
Category: NBA
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