Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks

Woodson thinks Knicks have shot at NBA title. This year.


Mike Woodson is nothing if not optimistic.

While his team prepares for a big game Wednesday night that may determine if they can even get out of the first round of the NBA playoffs — by avoiding Chicago and Miami as the opener — he is not shying away from talking about his team going deep in the postseason. Very deep.

Think 1973 deep.

This is what Woodson said about the Knicks in the playoffs at the end of an interesting Q&A with the New York Post.

(The Knicks) have a legitimate shot to win the title. When the playoffs come around, it’s open season. Who’s playing the hardest, the best … who believes that they can really get it done. Homecourt and all that goes out the door. It’s great to have homecourt, but hey, we (2004 Pistons) didn’t have it in the Eastern Conference Final that year, and we ended up beating the Pacers. We didn’t have it in the Finals that year, and we beat the Lakers …and if these guys are honest with themselves, and hold each other accountable, their credibility is rollin’ high, man, anything can happen in a playoff series. Anything.

In theory, yes, anything can happen. Even the Mavericks winning it all last year was a bit of a surprise. But remember that the 2004 Pistons were the aberration — teams don’t normally come from out of the blue to win (and those Pistons were not really that out of the blue). Besides, those Pistons played defense much more like the Bulls than these Knicks (who have been better but not THAT good).
Basically, you want to beat the 76ers and find a way out of the 7 or 8 seed. That is the best route to advancing in the East.
You should read the entire interview with Woodson, where he talks about Bobby Knight, his introduction to Rucker Park and much more. Interesting stuff.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.

As expected, Jimmy Butler says no issue between him, Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler
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Is the Derrick Rose/Jimmy Butler relationship nothing but puppy dogs and rainbows? No. There will be sparks between two intense competitors.

Have those sparks started a fire Bulls fans should be concerned about? A report on Wednesday said the core problem was Butler doesn’t respect Rose’s work ethic, which provided some kindling for that spark to catch.

However, as you would expect, Butler said this was all much ado about nothing, that he and Rose are all good. Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Spin this however you wish: Their relationship is fine and someone in the media is making this up; or their relationship has been rough, and this is all just leaking out now.

This is a Bulls team in a bit of a transition as Rose declines some and Butler has grown into a top-flight player. Clearly that dynamic has some people around the team — likely the people in one of one of the players’ camps doesn’t like the power struggle or where it leaves his buddy — talking out of school to the press.

But as Butler noted, winning cures all ills. If Chicago can get off to a fast start, nobody will be asking chemistry questions.

For now, however, tounges are wagging.