billy-hunter

NBA union head Billy Hunter’s time with Patty Hearst (and more)

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Billy Hunter today is an interesting story. He is the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, the man across the table (or will be next week) staring down David Stern in a dispute over how to split up the fans’ money that could set the entire NBA back a decade or more. No pressure guys.

But Billy Hunter’s story before he got to this moment is fascinating.

Over at Grantland, Jonathan Abrams weaves a masterful bit of storytelling about Hunter’s life, and what led him to this moment. We’ll give you some highlights, but you really should click the link and read the entire thing for yourself.

As a youth, Hunter played baseball and in 1955 was on one of the first integrated teams to play in the Little League World Series. As a team, they had to vote if they would play because of death threats against the squad.

In high school, Hunter starred in four sports, but ultimately chose to play football at Syracuse. As a running back, Hunter followed Ernie Davis, the 1961 Heisman Trophy winner, and preceded Floyd Little, a future Hall of Famer. But Hunter was also making moves that would chart his path. With the memories of his Little League days as an impetus, Hunter led a petition signed by every black athlete at Syracuse stating that they would boycott playing colleges in the South that engaged in segregated seating in stadiums or arenas.

Hunter had a brief NFL career but eventually went on to law school at Howard University then got a Masters of Laws degree at UC Berkley out in California. Out there he became a prosecutor and eventually the chief assistant in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, then President Jimmy Carter made him he U.S. Attorney for Northern California.

He brought the first major federal cases against the Hells Angels and Black Panther Party. Hunter also prosecuted the surviving members who aided Jim Jones’ cult after the mass suicide of more than 900 people in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978…. Hunter also recommended Patty Hearst’s sentence be commuted and visited Hearst while she was imprisoned.

Hunter eventually opened his own firm and eventually that led him to the chair he occupies now. Hunter has been with the NBPA for 15 years and he says he had a feeling this lockout was coming since 2007. In the end it may be the defining period of his time as head of the NBA’s players union.

But it will not be the defining time of his life.

Top 10 NBA plays of last season by position (video)

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Which position – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward or center – produced the best highlights last season?

Watch this video to find out and be glad the positional revolution didn’t reduce it fewer highlights.

Ohio farm commemorates Cavaliers championship with corn mazes (photo)

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  LeBron James #23, Kevin Love #0, and J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Could you find your way out of LeBron James‘ head?

Now, you can find out.

An Ohio farm has created three corn mazes – one featuring LeBron’s head, one that says Believeland and one with a Larry O’Brien Trophy – to commemorate the Cavaliers 2016 NBA title:

This is a championship-level corn maze. 🏆🌽 Thanks for the love, @maplesidefarms! #OneForTheLand #Believeland

A photo posted by Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) on

College coaches vote UConn’s Kevin Ollie best-suited/most likely to make NBA jump

DES MOINES, IA - MARCH 17:  head coach Kevin Ollie of the Connecticut Huskies reacts on the sideline in the first half against the Colorado Buffaloes during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 17, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Kevin Ollie made himself one of the NBA’s hottest coaching prospects by leading UConn to the 2014 NCAA title.

He has since resisted NBA overtures, including from the Lakers in 2014 and Thunder last year.

But his peers don’t expect Ollie’s hesitance to last.

Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander of CBSSPorts.com asked more than 110 college coaches, “Which active college coach is best suited and most likely to next jump to the NBA?” The results:

Coach, college Percentage

Kevin Ollie, UConn 20 percent

Bill Self, Kansas 17 percent

John Calipari, Kentucky 16 percent

Jay Wright, Villanova 16 percent

Shaka Smart, Texas 9 percent

Tony Bennett, Virginia 8 percent

Note: Other coaches who received at least three or more votes: Sean Miller (Arizona), Larry Krystkowiak (Utah) and Avery Johnson (Alabama).

Keep in mind 80% of responds didn’t answer Ollie. But he’s still makes sense atop the leaderboard.

Ollie isn’t the typical college-to-NBA coach, and Brad Stevens and Billy Donovan – and maybe eventually Fred Hoiberg – are changing that perception, anyway. Not is Ollie showing his basketball acumen at Connecticut, his 13-year NBA career suggests he can translate his style to the next level.

Of course, Calipari always comes up on these lists. He coaches more future NBA stars than anyone, and he loves the attention that comes with the perception NBA teams are chasing him. But he has the best job in college basketball at Kentucky, so luring him will be difficult.

Self and Wright, the other coaches who got at least 10% of the vote, come up from time to time in NBA rumors. But it never seems to be anything that goes anywhere.

Hornets’ Frank Kaminsky: I was ‘overwhelmed’ at times defensively last year

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 31: Brandon Bass #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers blocks a layup by Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Charlotte Hornets during the second half of the basketball game at Staples Center January 31, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Frank Kaminsky ranked 119th of 165 big men in ESPN’s real plus-minus last season.

The eye test matched.

Kaminsky isn’t strong enough to defend inside, and he’s not mobile enough to defend the perimeter.

The assessment might sound harsh, but coming off his rookie season, Kaminsky put it just as bluntly.

Kaminsky, via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

“I’ve got to be a better overall defender. I was overwhelmed at times,” Kaminsky said. “My preparation, obviously, needs to get better. I so want to be a more consistent player. I’d have a good game and then disappear in the next.”

Kaminsky competes defensively, and Hornets coach Steve Clifford can work with that. Despite his shortcomings, Charlotte still allowed fewer points per possession with Kaminsky on the floor than off. That had plenty to do with whom Kaminsky shared the floor, but it’s evidence his defense is already at least tolerable.

As Kaminsky acclimates to the NBA, his defense could improve. He’ll never be a great leaper, and his length is pedestrian for his position. But he moves alright and plays hard. Add better defensive recognition, and he could be fine.