The NBA and the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness

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Perhaps you’re familiar with NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” (9:30 p.m. EST Thursdays on NBC- MEGA-PLUG). Perhaps you’re familiar with the season premier last week in which the Parks Department was forced to operate a youth basketball league on a shoestring budget. And perhaps you’re familiar with head coach Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness. But if not, check it out:

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And that my friends, is awesomeness.

Which got me thinking. What could NBA teams take from the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness? And who best fits the model of Swanson greatness? Let’s go to the tape, Bill! (You can be called Bill for this exercise. Or if you’d prefer, Duke Silver.)

“Body Grooming: Only women shave beneath the neck.” Carlos Boozer approves.

“Handshakes: Firm. Dry. Solid. 3 Seconds.”  Gary Neal needs to work on this.

“Poise. Sting like a bee. Do not float like a butterfly. That’s ridiculous.” Dwight Howard should pretty much have this tattooed on his forehead. Between the technicals and his penchant for floating like a butterfly in the post, maybe big block letters. Nice strong font.

“Rage. One rage every three months is permitted. Try not to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it.” By this value, Kevin Garnett has violated the pyramid… approximately 7,458,082 times.

“Facial Hair. Full, thick, and square. Nothing sculpted. If you have to sculpt it, that probably means you can’t grow it.”  Good on this measure: Baron Davis, James Harden, DeShawn Stevenson. Bad on this measure: Pau Gasol, Reggie Evans, Brian Skinner.

“Capitalism. God’s way of determining who is smart, and who is poor.” In the NBA, this translates as “Stern’s way of determining who are the Lakers and who is the Grizzlies.”

“You. You are your biggest ally.” Kobe.

“Perspiration. Only sweat during physical activity or love making. No emotional sweating.”  Also Kobe. Dude is cool as a cucumber. Probably smells like fresh laundry after the Finals. Conversely, Shaq seems to sweat more in conjunction with how upset he gets at calls. You’d think he’d sweat the weight off. You’d be wrong.

“Masonry. Building walls makes you stronger. Defending them makes you even stronger.” Danny Granger. Nothing stronger than the Bat Cave, right? On the other hand, the Warriors should pay more attention to this. Maybe hire some masons. Can’t defend any worse.

“Friends. One to three is sufficient.” C’mon. Do I have to spell out L-E-B-R-O-N for you?

“Stillness. Don’t wast energy moving unless necessary.” Have you ever seen Sasha Vujacic try and defend? It’s like watching an epileptic watch “Tron.”

“Old Wooden Sailing Ships. They’re beautiful.” Admit it. You can imagine Ron Artest saying this.

“Torso. Should be thick and impenetrable. ” Perhaps if Bosh adhered to this principle he’d be able to guard actual frontcourt players. On the other hand, Kevin Garnett once described defending Tim Duncan as “trying to guard a tree.”

“Intensity. Give 100%. 110% is impossible. Only idiots recommend that.” That’s a very Phil Jackson thing to say. And his Lakers give 100% nearly 80% of the time. Conversely, maybe if the aforementioned Kevin Garnett adhered to this principle, not as many people would think he’s a jerk.

“Deer Protein.” Brad Miller. Obviously.

“Suspicion. Do not trust anyone else.” Stan Van Gundy has a giant poster of this on his office wall.

“Self-Reliance. Trust yourself.” Ironically, this is Vince Carter’s favorite element.

“Attire. Shorts over 6” are capri pants. Shorts under 6” are European.” John Stockton is offended, sir. Meanwhile, Allen Iverson asks what a capri is.

“Discipline. The ability to repeat a boring thing over and over.” UBUNTU.

“Greatness Itself. The best revenge.” Derek Fisher invites all you point guard aficionados to check his bling.

“Selfishness. Take what’s yours.” This will be J.R. Smith’s 900th tattoo.

“Teamwork. Work together as if your life depended on it… IT DOES!” This is actually from the Utah Jazz handbook under Jerry Sloan.

“Wood Working.” Kevin Love believes strongly in this. You know, since all he does is get boards. Wocka-wocka-wocka!

“Weapons.” I bet you’re thinking I’m going to make a Gilbert Arenas joke here. … Okay, yeah, I was.

“Buffets. Whenever available. Choose quantity over quality.”  Glen Davis liked this so much he tried to suck on it like a hard candy. Then he spilled drool all over the rest of the pyramid. It was awkward.

“Honor. If you need it defined, then you don’t have it.”  This should replace the logo at center court.

“Parks and Recreation” stars on NBC every Thursday at 9:30 p.m EST right after “The Office.”

Stan Van Gundy goes off on officials: “We got absolutely screwed all night”

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The Pistons were likely to lose to the red-hot Trail Blazers on the road, and that came to be Saturday night 100-87, Portland 12th straight win. The Pistons shot 38.8 percent for the game and had a dreadful offensive rating of 93.8 (points per 100 possessions).

Portland is one the top five defensive teams in the NBA this season, but that’s not what Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy thought was the problem — he laid the blame on the officiating.

That’s going to be a fine.

Van Gundy is frustrated — with this game and with this season. So are Pistons fans, and seemingly so is Detroit owner Tom Gores after his lukewarm vote of confidence in Van Gundy recently. They should be, this team is a disappointment and the Blake Griffin trade was a big swing that has yet to work out. The Pistons are going to miss the playoffs. Around the league, the sense is that Van Gundy will lose his GM job to former super agent Arn Tellem, who was brought in to guide the Pistons into their new building but now whose talents would better serve the basketball side of the operation. The only question is will Van Gundy still be coaching in Detroit next season — just coaching, like Doc Rivers with the Clippers — or of the change will be more sweeping than that.

Hornets’ coach gives savage, frank assessment of Willy Hernangomez

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When Willy Hernangomez was not getting much run with the Knicks this season, especially as injuries opened up space in the front line rotation, there were questions as to why. Then the #freeWillyHernangomez movement popped up.

Eventually, Hernangomez was traded to the Hornets where… he barely plays. He’s gotten more than 10 minutes just once since coming to Charlotte.

What gives? Hornet’s coach Steve Clifford didn’t hold back when answering that question to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“If you were in one place and didn’t play much, if you want to play more in the next place, I’d say work harder and kill myself,” Clifford said at the Hornets shootaround at the Players Association’s midtown headquarters. “The reality is he wasn’t playing here for a reason. He’s got to change things…

“He’s not up to speed on what we’re doing to play a lot,” Clifford said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle for him. He’s smart, but he’s not this high-flier, phenomenal, natural athlete able to make up ground. He’s got to be on top of things, especially on the defensive end. If he’s not detailed defensively, he’s not that [athletic] guy…

“To be an every-night player, and I’ve told him this, he’s got to improve his shooting,” Clifford said. “He is right now, in my opinion, a back-to-the-basket player who can pass. But the reality is his passing doesn’t come into play until they have to get close to him and know he’s not going to knock down a shot. And he’s not a knockdown shooter.”

Well then.

Just to be clear he’s got to put in a lot more effort, become smarter on the defensive end, and improve his shooting. That’s a healthy off-season checklist.

Hernangomez has another year on his contract at a very reasonable $1.5 million before the Hornets have to make any kind of decision on him, which means whoever is the new GM in Charlotte he will choose to keep Hernangomez around. For now. He flashed potential his rookie season with the Knicks, when asked to play strictly to his strengths, but Clifford and the Hornets — and basically every other team in the NBA — is going to ask more of him.

Clifford was clear, as no doubt he has been clear to Hernangomez (Clifford is as straight a shooter as the league has). The ball is in Hernangomez’s court.

Glen “Big Baby” Davis denies drug charges while eating Popeyes on a charter plane

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Best. Denial. Ever.

Last month, former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis was arrested last month at a hotel in a suburb of Baltimore by Jimmy McNulty and Lt. Daniels with 126 grams of marijuana and more than $96,000 in cash, according to a police report. He has been charged with possession and intent to distribute.

Davis has declared his innocence in the best denial video ever — eating Popeyes chicken and flashing cash and a championship ring.

I have no idea whether Davis is guilty or not, I was not at a Hampton’s Inn outside Baltimore last month. The court system will sort that out, that is what it’s there for.

But I know a brilliant video when I see one. This is it.

Report: Michele Roberts to seek second contract as players’ union head

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Michele Roberts entered the NBA’s player union in a tumultuous time — long-time union president Billy Hunter had been ousted in a rancorous fight, the union felt adrift, and negotiations with the NBA on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement were looming (and players felt they had been screwed in the last CBA, following the lockout).

Roberts, the first female head of a professional sports labor union, settled things down. She cleaned up the union finances and made them more transparent to players, she worked hard to establish relationships with the players, and while she rattled some sabers with the NBA in negotiations, she also worked in a non-combative way with Adam Silver and team (unlike the Billy Hunter/David Stern relationship) and got a deal done the players liked without a lockout or labor mess.

Roberts’ contract with the union is up, but she is going to ask for a new deal — one she likely gets — reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

With an original four-year agreement set to expire in September, Michele Roberts plans to seek a new contract as the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, sources tell ESPN…

Roberts had strongly considered staying in the NBPA’s executive director role for only the length of her original contract — and expressed that to the union’s senior membership — but has recently decided to pursue a longer tenure, sources said.

NBPA president Chris Paul played a significant part in Roberts’ hiring in July 2014 and he has built a strong working relationship with Roberts.

Roberts also has a good relationship with the star-heavy executive committee of the union — CP3, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and others — making it likely she gets a new deal.

As for what’s next, at the front of that list Roberts is working with Silver and others on reforming the NBA’s one-and-done rule (it was supposed to be part of the CBA negotiations but was too big and complex an issue to fold into that timeline).

Neither the owners or players can opt out of the CBA for four more years (and if neither side does it runs a couple more beyond that) so labor peace will continue in the NBA for a while.