Hall of Fame Celtics player, Lakers coach Bill Sharman dies at age 87


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.

Sharman has passed away at the age of 87, something first reported by the Los Angeles Times and since confirmed by PBT. He had suffered a stroke last year and died at his home in Redondo Beach, his wife told the paper.

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.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.