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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.”

Seth Curry, Mavs hand Heat third loss in 19 games with 96-89 win

Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry (30) shoots against Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. The Mavericks won 96-89. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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DALLAS (AP) — Seth Curry scored 29 points, Harrison Barnes added 24 and the Dallas Mavericks beat Miami 96-89 on Monday night, handing the Heat just their third loss in 19 games.

Curry looked a little like famous older brother Stephen Curry of Golden State by hitting two long 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the latter giving Dallas a 90-89 lead. The Mavericks rallied from 14 points down in the first quarter and let an 11-point third-quarter lead get away.

Two games after scoring a career-high 31 points in a loss at Minnesota, Curry was 5 of 7 from long range to help the Mavericks improve to 2-0 with forward-center Nerlens Noel, who came from Philadelphia before the trade deadline.

Goran Dragic scored 24 points for the Heat, who went scoreless over the final 4:37 as a three-game winning streak ended.

Hassan Whiteside, a free agent target for Dallas last summer, had 19 points and 19 rebounds. Now the Mavericks are preparing for a future with the 22-year-old Noel, who had a crowd-energizing block from behind on Whiteside and finished with six points and six rebounds.

Dragic finished a 9-0 Heat run with a 3-pointer that bounced high off the front of the rim and went in for an 89-84 lead. But Miami missed its last seven shots, and the Mavericks scored the final six points on free throws after Curry’s go-ahead shot.

Curry scored 11 points in the second quarter, including a three-point play that gave Dallas its first lead at 48-46 after the Mavericks trailed by 14 in the first quarter. He had another flurry late in the third, hitting a long 3 and a pull-up jumper for the final five points as Dallas took a 78-69 lead into the final quarter.

TIP-INS

Heat: C Willie Reed won’t need a boot or crutches to treat bursitis in his right ankle. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Reed was day to day. … The visit to Dallas was the Miami’s last road game against the West this season.

Mavericks: Coach Rick Carlisle said G J.J. Barea is at least a week away from returning from a left calf strain that has sidelined him the past 16 games and for 33 of the 41 games he has missed this season. … G Quinn Cook, undrafted in 2015 out of Duke, made his NBA debut a day after signing a 10-day contract, getting two points and two assists in 17 minutes. … Seth Curry had a big night while his brother had a most miserable one. Stephen Curry was a career-worst 0 for 11 from deep in the Warriors’ win over Philadelphia on Monday.

 

LeBron James shakes off strep throat, leads Cavs past Bucks 102-95

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 27: Rashad Vaughn #20 of the Milwaukee Bucks guards LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on February 27, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Bucks 102-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James returned from a bout with strep throat and scored 24 points, Kyrie Irving added 25 and the Cleveland Cavaliers held off the Milwaukee Bucks 102-95 on Monday night.

James missed Saturday’s loss to Chicago – the Cavs fell to 0-4 this season without their superstar – and was listed as questionable before arriving at Quicken Loans Arena. He looked fit from the start, delivering an early dunk and adding one in the fourth that he capped by screaming, “That’s and one!” at MiIwaukee’s John Henson, who fouled him.

James’ dunk triggered an 11-0 run that helped put away the Bucks, who were within 86-85 midway through the fourth.

Malcolm Brogdon scored 20 to lead Milwaukee, and Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored just nine on 4-of-13 shooting.

The Bucks may have sustained a costly injury as forward Michael Beasley sprained his left knee in the first half. Beasley’s knee buckled grotesquely as he tried to defend James on the baseline. He scored 11 points before going down and had to be helped to Milwaukee’s locker room.

Looking to stay on top in the East, the Cavs signed free agent point guard Deron Williams before the game.

The three-time All-Star gives Cleveland depth, someone to lead its second unit and a reliable backup for Irving. Williams negotiated a buyout of his contract last week with Dallas before being waived and informing the Cavs he wanted to join them and try to win a title.

Cleveland is more than happy to add him to a bench that has improved in the last month with the additions of Kyle Korver and Derrick Williams, who combined for 27 points in the win.

There’s also a chance the Cavs could sign free agent center Andrew Bogut, who was waived by Philadelphia on Monday and is being courted by several teams.

Derrick Williams beat the horn ending the third quarter by dropping a 3-pointer from 35 feet to give Cleveland a 77-73 lead entering the fourth.

The Cavs were down by seven earlier in the quarter before going on a 13-0 run.

TIP-INS

Bucks: Beasley started for G Khris Middleton, who didn’t make the trip as part of the team’s plan to rest him in back-to-back games. He missed three months with a torn hamstring. … G Matthew Dellavedova spent part of the pregame meeting with former Cavs teammates and coaches. He received his diamond championship ring on Milwaukee’s previous visit. … Coach Jason Kidd said it’s a treat getting to watch Antetokounmpo develop. He’s the only NBA player leading his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. “It’s a great seat to have,” Kidd said. “When you’re able to see for the last three years, his growth and understanding, how fast he picked up things and how much he wants to be good in this league.”

Cavaliers: Irving became the eighth player in team history with 2,000 career assists. … While James was better, coach Tyronn Lue was under the weather and awaiting results on a strep test. … Deron Williams received a loud ovation when he was introduced during the fourth quarter. He has worn No. 8 throughout his career, but will don 31 for Cleveland. “My first high school number was 31,” he said. “I wanted a single number, but all of them were pretty much taken, so I went with 31.”

 

Dwight Howard pushes Al Horford, gets technical, later ejected for hanging on rim

Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) drives past Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Associated Press
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It ended up working out for Atlanta — the Hawks went on a 22-11 run after Dwight Howard was ejected, then hung on for a comfortable win 114-98.

Still, Howard found a way to get tossed. He did it two separate technical fouls in the third quarter. The first came when he shoved Al Horford after the Celtic big fouled Howard under the basket (always a smart move rather than give up a dunk).

The next came a few minutes later when Howard slammed then pulled himself up like a pull-up on the rim, an automatic tech every time.

That’s technicals 10 and 11 on the season for Howard. He’s got some work to do to catch up with DeMarcus Cousins, but still he’s racked up a few.

It just didn’t matter on Monday, with Dennis Schroder leading the way with 21 points for the Hawks.

 

DeMar DeRozan drains game winner to cap 37-point night, Raptors beat Knicks 92-91

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With Kyle Lowry out until around the start of the playoffs, a lot is going to be asked of DeMar DeRozan. Monday night at Madison Square Garden, he delivered.

The Raptors needed a bucket as time ran down, not only got the ball to DeRozan but got the switch so Derrick Rose was guarding him, and that allowed the Raptors star to get to his spot, rise up and bury the midrange jumper for the win.

It capped off an impressive 37-point night for DeRozan — he’s going to need to do more of this in the coming weeks.