It’s not exactly the same as Gregg Williams and what is going on with the New Orleans Saints, but a couple of veteran players interviewed this week say the idea of bounties offered for hitting and hurting an NBA player are not unheard of.
Cedric Maxwell, who played 11 seasons in the NBA (most famously with the Celtics) told CSNNE.com of one case — and he named names.
“We did it in the NBA. We had a guy, Len Elmore, used to love to take charges,” Maxwell said. “He’s an analyst right now for CBS. You might want to hear this Len. We had a bounty on you. If you stepped on his chest, you got paid.
“Every time he tried to take a charge and you stepped on him, you got paid,” Maxwell said. “What are they going to do, come back and fine me now?”
Well, I’d never put it past David Stern to try. Maxwell added there was no financial incentive to do this, it was just something the team set out to do.
Charles Barkley was on the Dan Patrick Show radio broadcast Monday and told his own story.
“One time…” Barkley said, although he would not incriminate the player targeted or the team he plays for. “We were getting beat by 30 points, back, this was in my Philadelphia days. I’m a firm believer if a guy shoots a three that you knock his ass as far in the stands as you possibly can. We were getting beat by 30 or 40, I can’t remember, and this guy was shooting threes and running up and down the court, and I said ‘Hey, we got to hurt that guy right there.’”
Clearly these cases do not rise to the level of what is being discussed around the NBA (or has long been rumored about and taken place quietly in the NHL). Those are sports where hitting is part of the sport and it is the intent and motives (and motivations) that are in question. But on some level it has happened in the NBA.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.