Bill Sharman’s introduction of the morning shootaround revolutionized basketball. After the Lakers on (1972) every team in the league followed suit. The result was come game time players were sharper and teams were better prepared. Bill brought a new sense of discipline and organization to the NBA that significantly upgraded the quality of play.
—Phil Jackson talking about Bill Sharman, via Laker Glory.
Bill Sharman is in the basketball Hall of Fame because of a legendary playing career with the Celtic where he won four titles and was seven-time All NBA; but also a coaching career that revolutionized the game.
He was born in Abilene, Texas but spent his formative years in the Los Angeles area, where he eventually went to college at USC (after a couple of years in the Navy). After college he was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers and played five years of professional baseball (almost all of it in the minors) but he excelled at basketball. (He played both for a few seasons.)
As one of the Celtics on their legendary 1950s teams, he was an eight-time All-Star who was known as one of the best shooters of his era and a feisty player. He averaged more than 21 points a game his final five seasons with the Celtics.
As a coach he lifted the Los Angeles Lakers to their first ever title in 1972, getting a team with Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain over the hump. He was revolutionary as a coach, inventing both the morning shootaround and breaking down games on film (only football coaches did that at the time). He also pushed players on conditioning and diet unlike others in that era.
Our thoughts go out to his wife and family.
League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant
Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.
However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.
“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”
“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”
One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.
“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”
Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.
But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.