SEATTLE -- The week before the All-Star break and nothing could have been more infuriating than to see the horrible way in which a veteran NBA official mistreated an entire team Monday night ...
1. Item: Chicago Bulls coach Scott Skiles was fined $7,500 for saying the following: "Jess Kersey turned his back on me right from the beginning of the game. I'm not sure why. We weren't even getting on him at all at that time. He spent most of the game not even acknowledging any of the questions we had or anything else. And really, he was a big baby out there, and it's really a shame for a guy of his experience to be that way.
The NBA has its reasons for keeping LeBron James from the real All-Star Game. (AP)
What it really means: The NBA still doesn't understand how much certain officials undermine the integrity of games. Kersey refused to discuss anything with Skiles throughout the game and ejected young 7-foot center Tyson Chandler with a second technical foul that was nearly as dubious as the first one.
Then, in the waning moments of the game, Skiles was wrongly informed of his timeout situation and was tagged with a technical foul as well. Even then, Kersey didn't explain it to him. Kersey and the Bulls locked horns early in the year when he essentially cussed out rookie Kirk Hinrich for complaining about the lack of respect. Hinrich then told Bulls general manager John Paxson, who put in the requisite call to executive vice president Stu Jackson.
Jackson chastised Kersey for it, and the next time Kersey did a Bulls game, he approached Hinrich with, "So, you had to go tell your general manager on me?"
Let's face it, Kersey is well past his prime anyway. For him to carry grudges into games with the Bulls not only puts into question the subject of suspension, but the fairness of any game he officiates. And the NBA can ill afford any such status.
2. Item: The NBA All-Star starters and reserves have been named, with neither rookie star -- LeBron James nor Carmelo Anthony -- being named to the team.
What it really means: The coaches let it be known they won't be bullied into voting for teenagers. Without question, both deserved to be included considering what they have done for their teams and the league overall. James has already said he won't go if someone is hurt and they go back to him as a sub, but expect that to change. The problem is the league decided to put the rookie-sophomore game on Friday instead of in the middle of the Saturday mess just to showcase the duo. Will they play in both if they are added? Doubtful, and then that would put a huge damper on the Friday event. Hmmm, think there's any correlation between the snubs and the time and date of the rookie-soph game?
3. Item: Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen was named to the West All-Star team despite missing 25 games due to ankle surgery. Ironically, Gary Payton, the man who Allen replaced as the cornerstone of the Sonics, was left off the squad after nine straight appearances.
What it really means: Payton, who left Milwaukee as a free agent this summer to join the Los Angeles Lakers, really got overlooked. As the Lakers were reeling thanks to injuries to Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant, it Payton was there every game preventing them from falling into an open and waiting abyss. Keep in mind the Lakers still have the fifth-best record in the West. Can you name the other four starters with whom Payton has been playing? Yeah, sure.
4. Item: After being hobbled most of the season with ankle, back and shoulder problems, young San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker is finally healthy again. Keep in mind, he went through training camp last season, 106 games (regular season and playoffs), then went home to France, went through two-a-day training camp, and then played in the Olympic qualifier.
What it really means: By the time training camp started this season, he was already tired and battered. And for all the love of their countries, this is coming to a head for a lot of players and teams. "I don't think I'll ever do that again," Parker told SportsLine.com on Thursday. "My job is to play for the Spurs. I love playing for my country, but I have a contract to think about and my future. I'm just now starting to feel good again."
5. Item: After Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson unloaded 36 points on the Toronto Raptors in an unsettling 93-80 loss Tuesday night, he unloaded on his teammates, saying they lacked "heart and a sense of urgency." Then Thursday night, he poured in 39 points as they blew out the Los Angeles Lakers 96-73.
What it really means: The Sixers really miss the tight rein coach Larry Brown had on them, and that's not a slap at replacement Randy Ayers. They have always been a band of overachievers around their brilliant superstar, and Iverson's two partners from the 2001 Eastern Conference championship -- Eric Snow and Aaron McKie -- are just about finished.
6. Item: Kobe Bryant was supposed to travel with the Lakers to Philly -- his hometown -- despite not being able to play while his severely cut finger is healing. But instead, he never called, blew off the team plane and didn't show up. On one hand, it is evident Bryant didn't want to deal with the taunts from the Philly fans over his pending sexual assault case.
What it really means: The Lakers still don't know when they can count on Bryant. Will he leave for good this summer as a free agent, or will he stay? More than the injuries on this team, it is the lack of trust in Bryant that stands to undermine this team's chance to win its fourth NBA title in five seasons.
7. Item: Memphis Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown won his 500th game as a pro coach (398 in the NBA and 104 in the ABA) in the Grizzlies' 103-101 win over Washington on Wednesday night.
What it really means: Brown, 70, had really been overlooked as an exceptional coach until Jerry West called on him to save the team a year ago in the throes of an 0-13 start. Taking a 27-21 record into the weekend, one more win ties the franchise record for victories they set a year ago. Think about that ... in the first seven seasons they never won more than 23 games and it required Brown's prodding to finish 28-41 after the wretched start. Now they are in position to make the playoffs. Hail to Hubie.
8. Item: The judge presiding over the Jayson Williams trial ruled a sworn statement from teammate Dwayne Schintzius is inadmissible because it would "inflame the jury."
What it really means: He's right. Williams has given new meaning to the term, loose cannon. Incredibly enough, after a night of drinking, Williams bet Schintzius $100 he couldn't drag Williams' Rottweiler Zeus out of the house. When Schintzius pulled the dog out by his hind legs, Williams pulled out his shotgun and shot the dog in the side and the head, then threatened Schintzius, saying, "Shinbone, get this (expletive) dog off my porch or you're next."
9. Item: We are now less than two weeks away from the Feb. 19 trade deadline and the Portland Trail Blazers still haven't traded Rasheed Wallace, in the final year of a contract that pays him $17 million this season. In fact, the Blazers, who had the worst road record in the NBA a few weeks ago at 2-16, have won five of six on the road and five of six overall to move back to within striking distance of a playoff spot.
What it really means: They can't get value for Wallace because there is no promise he'll re-sign with whichever team he's traded to, and the Blazers won't take on any bad contracts. Chances are increasing he'll be there for the rest of the season and might sign an extension, with the only realistic team now the Atlanta Hawks with Shareef Abdur-Rahim dangling. Seattle has also talked to the Hawks about Abdur-Rahim, with Brent Barry, Jerome James and Vladimir Radmanovic possible bait.
10. Item: In the midseason NBA awards, as always, there were the exceptional achievement and dubious achievements. Well, among my dubious recipients was Los Angeles Clippers guard Marko Jaric as the "Worst Defensive Player."
What it really means: I goofed. Following a phone call of complaint, I spent the next week watching several Clippers games, focusing on the 6-8 Jaric. And while I wouldn't call him a first team All-Defense candidate -- particularly one-on-one -- the lanky point guard is an excellent team defensive player, with long arms and has great instincts for deflections and the passing lanes. In other words, to use 21st century lingo, my bad.