Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons - Game 1

Derek Anderson talks Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, “Stamina”

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There are a lot of guys who have come through the NBA and can tell hard knock life stories about growing up poor.

Derek Anderson blows most of those stories out of the water.

He never had a father around, his mother was out of the picture and he was fending for himself by the time he was 12. He was homeless, and by 14 living at different houses of people that would help out (like the janitor at a high school gym that let Anderson sleep there). He was also a father at 14 and by 15 he had full custody raising his son.

If Anderson had never played at Kentucky or went on to an 11-year NBA career, most of us would understand. The circumstances would have been too much to overcome.

But Anderson says he refused to allow that and went on to be an NCAA champion at Kentucky and an NBA champion. Anderson has a book out now called “Stamina” (available pretty much everywhere) that talks about how he broke out of that cycle with incredible perseverance. The book’s point is something he tries to pass along to others — you can’t quit, you just have to take responsibility for yourself and keep moving forward.

You have to earn people’s respect.

Now Anderson looks back with admiration on the NBA people who treated him like an adult — Miami’s Pat Riley and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich are near the top of that list.

“I think Coach Popovich is one of those coaches that allows his players to be players, he disciplines when they need to be disciplined, and he gives everyone rewards when you need to be rewarded,” Anderson told ProBasketballTalk. “He gives you a fair chance. That is why you see a bunch of guys who are not big names and they become better players because he gives you that.”

The adage other players have used is that Popovich treats grown men like men, not children to be scolded and bribed.

“Exactly, that is the level of respect, you give it and you get it you return,” Anderson continued. “But if you kiss up to these kids and these players eventually you are going to take advantage of it like anyone would. Popovich is one of those great guys that you really respect and you look up to because he treats everyone fair.”

Anderson also was on the 2006 Heat team that won an NBA title and respect was a theme there, too.

“It was different,” Anderson told PBT. “You had a bunch of high level guys with emotions but they all (controlled them), like Gary Payton didn’t get technical, Alonzo Mourning didn’t wild out he just played hard. Dwayne (Wade) was young, Shaq came to play every night and the rest of us were role players. I made two big threes in the Chicago series to help us win and the next series if didn’t get to play but Shandon Anderson did. We all sacrificed fro the betterment of our team and we all won a championship so I think it was different and I think that most of it was because Pat Riley didn’t allow a superstar to dictate the team — he always would dictate the team.”

That Anderson was able to even have those moments speaks to his stamina.

He says he didn’t want to write an autobiography that was just a retelling of his life; he wanted one that showed people how they can understand the consequences of their actions and break out of the cycle of poverty.

“What happens is we are all in a cycle of poverty and that is mental or locations but the only difference what I chose to do is that I chose to be great,” Anderson said. “I didn’t want to be average, I didn’t want to be ordinary where you looked at me and you actually knew everything about me. I wanted everybody to look at me and be like, ‘he is able to do anything.’

“The greatest compliment I ever got was coach told me that someone asked him ‘how do you stop Derek Anderson?” and he said don’t let him get the ball because once he does it he is able to do everything.

“And that is the way I looked at life, I said when I get an opportunity that is all I want and therefore I won’t make excuses. Nowadays you speak and even back then everyone makes excuse for the way you grew up but you have been blessed with a gift so maximize it. I speak to people I’m cordial, I’m nice, and that is how it happens, it always came back, so that is the reason why I always believe that I would be successful.”

Anderson’s message is one a lot of young NBA players could use to hear. Actually, it’s one all of us could use to genuinely listen to.

Joel Embiid wants the center position to return to the NBA All-Star ballot

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The NBA got rid of the center position on the All-Star ballot starting in 2013, thanks in part to some positional confusion around former San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan. But just a handful of years later, Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid says it should make a comeback.

Embiid — who finished third in the Eastern Conference for forwards in All-Star fan voting — told CSN Philly that due to the plethora of talented big men in the NBA, the position should return.

Via CSN Philly:

“There’s a lot of talented big men in the league, especially at the center position,” Embiid said. “That’s something the NBA should think about, putting the center back on the All-Star ballot.”

There has been a resurgence of talented and burgeoning centers that have entered the league and are performing at a high level. Embiid is one of them, and so too is DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic, Hassan Whiteside, Clint Capela, Rudy Gobert, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, Steven Adams, and Jahlil Okafor.

Adding the center position back might be a tough sell as having it doesn’t reduce eliminations from the roster. It’s much more free-flowing now, and there’s nothing keeping great centers off the All-Star team.

It would also be a little strange if center was added back but there wasn’t a point guard spot, too. ESPN’s Zach Lowe has suggested three categories for the roster in point guard, wing, and frontcourt. That idea is as good as adding the center position, perhaps moreso to many folks in the NBA.

I don’t think adding the center position will make a comeback any time soon. Meanwhile, we’re all just waiting to see if Embiid makes the All-Star reserves.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies for reverse alley-oop jam (VIDEO)

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Is Aaron Gordon a three or a four?

That’s a debate for another day. What we all know he can do is leap out of the building, and he showed off how that can be useful during a game Friday night — Jabari Parker actually defends this fairly well, Gordon can just go over the top of him and get it. With that, we get a highlight.

The Magic upset the Bucks 112-96, behind 20 from a resurgent Elfrid Payton. Parker had 25 for the Bucks.

 

Warriors embrace/struggle through yoga

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 05:  Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts in the second quarter of Game 2 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at ORACLE Arena on June 5, 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 Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Anderson Varejao lowered his 6-foot-11 frame into a runner’s lunge and raised one arm high into the air to add a twist, demonstrating after a recent shootaround the new yoga pose he just learned.

Then, he took it up a notch and attempted an airplane balancing pose on one leg with his arms spread wide.

The Golden State Warriors have become yogis.

Coach Steve Kerr is committed to changing things up, and he gave Golden State a day off from the practice floor one day last week so the players could practice yoga instead. In the middle of a prolonged stretch at home with a more regular routine, the schedule allowed for some improvising.

“I really liked it,” Varejao said. “I’m going to do more.”

Doubt you’ll see Draymond Green or Klay Thompson doing downward-facing dog again soon – though Green might be talked into another try eventually.

“I’m bad,” Green said. “Yoga isn’t for everybody. I think it’s a great thing, I just don’t think my body is made for all of those different positions. I did well at a few of them. It’s hard, it’s tough. My body really isn’t cut out for yoga.”

The very next night after the group class, during warmups for a home game with the Pistons, player development coach Bruce Fraser pulled his foot to his opposite inner thigh for an impromptu tree pose. He laughed as an amused Shaun Livingston watched from the baseline.

Andre Iguodala is an experienced yogi who can really cat-cow and is considered top on the team, often taking classes. Center Zaza Pachulia also can forward fold with the best of them. They took prominent positions in the class led by Lisa Goodwin, Golden State’s director of corporate communications and also a yoga teacher, at a Berkeley studio – a first for Kerr taking the team away from team headquarters for a yoga session.

No surprise, two-time reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry can bring it on the mat, too.

“We’ve had some optional yoga sessions at our facility. This is the first time we took everybody and made it mandatory,” Kerr said. “It was good.”

The temperature was about 92 degrees for the hour-long power vinyasa class, so it was steamy.

Everybody was drenched in sweat by the end for final resting pose, or savasana.

“My muscles felt good,” forward James Michael McAdoo said, rubbing his stomach where his core got a workout. “It was fun. It was hot in there, like working in a sauna. I told our strength and conditioning coach, `You got to step up your game. Lisa embarrassed us.'”

“It’s awful, it’s pitiful,” Thompson said of his own yoga ability. “It’s something I worked on and it’s something I actually enjoy. More than just being physically challenging, it’s an incredible mental workout. It tests your pain tolerance and your ability to push yourself mentally. That’s why I like it. It was really good. I think it helped a lot of us – everybody, even the coaches.”

Along with the experienced yoga veterans, there were some first-timers.

A few found it extremely tough.

“I’m not the most flexible,” acknowledged player development coach Chris DeMarco.

Assistant coach Mike Brown described his debut as “terrible.”

“For me, it was really hard, but it was fun,” he said, later adding, “I nearly passed out.”

Ron Adams, another assistant who focuses on preparing Golden State’s defense, happened to work out in the hottest corner of the room for his first time practicing in that high temperature.

“It’s such a cleansing exercise,” he said.

The Warriors aren’t the only ones doing it.

Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy has scheduled yoga time for the Pistons, saying: “It’s got its value, no question about it. Would I consider doing it with them? Probably not.”

Kerr goes whenever he can fit it in, typically taking an hour-long class during the lunch hour on game days when the schedule – and his body – allows.

It’s a time he can focus on taking some deep breaths, literally, away from the pressure-packed NBA workload and just be just another yoga student for 60 minutes out of his day.

This weekend marks one year since Kerr formally returned to the bench last Jan. 22 against Indiana after a lengthy leave of absence to deal with complications from a pair of back surgeries. Current Lakers coach Luke Walton led the way during a record 24-0 start and went 39-4 before Kerr’s comeback on the way to winning Coach of the Year after an NBA record 73-9 finish.

While the 51-year-old Kerr still has some discouraging, physically challenging moments dealing with pain and headaches, he considers himself fortunate to be on the sideline doing what he loves.

“I guess normal is a good way to say it. He seems like his old self,” Curry said. “You know he’s been through a lot just physically trying to recover from the surgeries he’s had. I can’t imagine the frustration, how long it took and things he had to do and all the doctors he’s met with. His whole story is crazy. We’re obviously happy to have him back but not only that, you see him with energy and his presence like he wants. It’s been good to see.”

Whether Kerr will take his team back to yoga any time soon, time will tell. The Warriors are at the season’s midway point and the “dog days” of January as Kerr has put it. Golden State was home for all but a night from Dec. 26 until leaving for Houston on Thursday for Friday’s game against the Rockets, with just a quick bus ride to Sacramento as the lone road trip in a 10-game stretch during that span.

Because there was so much time to practice, the yoga day was a nice change of scenery.

“Just to get away and go do something else,” Green said. “We’re still together doing something productive. But, it’s not for me.”

Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell slips, mildly sprains knee ligament. MRI Saturday.

Indiana Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, right, takes the ball away as Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell, center, falls to the floor with an injury during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell mildly sprained a ligament in his right knee in the opening minutes of Los Angeles’ game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.

Russell was re-evaluated at halftime and did not return to the game.

Russell was hurt while going around a screen set by teammate Julius Randle on Los Angeles’ second possession. The point guard’s left leg alarmingly stretched backward when he lost his footing, and he stayed down on the court for several moments.

He eventually walked on his own to the locker room, where the sprain was diagnosed.

Russell is averaging 14.8 points, 4.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds during the second NBA season for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft.