Tom Izzo

Tom Izzo says he’s never met Pistons owner Tom Gores, blames media


The Pistons owner Tom Gores is reportedly interested in hiring Tom Izzo. Izzo, for his part, didn’t deny his interest.

And that’s the extent of it – at least in reality.

In Izzo’s world…

Izzo on 1130 The Fan:

I’m upset with the media, because somebody’s sitting in the basement making up stuff. And it’s embarrassing to me. It’s embarrassing to me for the Detroit Pistons. When it comes on a across a headline “Tom Izzo says he has no interest” or whatever, that wasn’t even the case. The problem is nobody’s even talked to me. I get all these things. “I know you’ve talked to this person.” “I know you’ve talked to that person.” Because that makes it look embarrassing, like the Pistons have called me, and said something, and I’ve said I had no interest. First of all, nobody has contacted me in any way, shape or form. I don’t have an agent, so they can’t go through my agent. It’s just so ridiculous. Somebody can just make it up. And that’s the Twitter generation. You wonder why I don’t like it.

First of all, to media out there that started that thing, shame on you.

I’ve never met or talked to Tom Gores. I have a great respect has done. I pull for the Pistons every day. I feel for what Joe Dumars is going through. Never once met or talked to him. So, all the all the people who tell me how many times I’ve talked to him or done this, to be very blunt about it, Matt, it gets sickening.

First of all, it’s mother’s basement. If you’re going to say someone is writing from their basement, just go all the way and say mother’s basement.

Second of all, as far as I saw, no credible outlet (using the loosest standard possible) reported the Pistons have contacted Izzo.

Sam Amick of USA Today reported yesterday Gores is expected to pursue Izzo, which set off the latest round of Izzo-to-Pistons analysis. That echoes a report by Stephen A. Smith of ESPN last month, when he said Gores was interested in Izzo.

But neither said the Pistons have contacted Izzo.

The Pistons are surely plotting how they’ll handle their coaching position this offseason. With no permanent head coach in place – John Loyer is serving as interim coach following Maurice Cheeks’ firing – they must take take some type of action. They probably have multiple potential hires in mind, maybe even a favorite. Maybe that favorite is Izzo.

And if it is, that doesn’t mean they’ve contacted him.

The Pistons are the only team to fire their coaching during this season. They have the biggest head start on this process. At the latest, Michigan State’s season will end April 7. There’s no reason the Pistons, even if he’s by far their top choice, can’t wait until then to contact him.

Aside from Izzo tearing down a straw man, the interview yielded some useful information, namely that Izzo hasn’t met Gores.

It will take a special situation for Izzo to leave Michigan State, where he reiterated – truthfully, I’m sure – he’s happy. Maybe the hometown Pistons, whom he says he pulls for, can provide that. But if Izzo hasn’t met the owner, that might reduce the draw for Izzo.

Then again, he can get to know Gores in April, when this will actually pick up steam if it’s going anywhere.

Update: Izzo spoke with Dan Patrick about this issue, saying “I have no interest in coaching the Detroit Pistons right now.” Those last two words make all the difference.

Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor
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The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.

Kobe Bryant announces this is his final season


It has seemed like this was it for a while. Kobe Bryant has been frustrated; he hasn’t been able to produce like he expects — his play has been hard to watch — and the Lakers are a train wreck.

Kobe made it official Sunday via the Players’ Tribune — this is his final season. He did it via a letter called “Dear Basketball.”

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

It’s not coincidental this was announced a couple days before the Lakers travel to Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to face the Sixers. Also remember Kobe is an investor in The Players’ Tribune.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly released this statement:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.  Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Kobe will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Few can come close to his resume: Five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, 15 time All-NBA teams, one MVP, 17 times an All-Star (and the All-Star Game MVP four times). And we could go on and on.

Good on Kobe for doing this now. After 55,000 NBA minutes his body has quit on him, and where his mind is still willing the flesh is clearly weak right now. He has not been able to adapt his game to the changing realities of what he can do.

Kobe has said he doesn’t want a “Derek Jeter Farewell Tour” but that will be the feel from here on out. Expect some special recognition at the All-Star Game in Toronto.

Bulls’ Dunleavy to see specialist after suffering setback with back injury

Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah
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CHICAGO—Over the past few weeks, Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy has seemed to be making progress in his back rehab. Dunleavy underwent back surgery shortly before the start of training camp and was initially given a timeline of 8-10 weeks. Recently, he’s been increasing his workload, and he traveled with the team on their recent west coast road trip.

However, his recovery may have hit a snag.

“Mike is going to see a doctor again tomorrow and then we should have a better update after that,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Sunday. “He had a little bit of soreness. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.”

An update to Dunleavy’s status is coming, but given Dunleavy’s age (35) and the frequency of back injuries to reoccur, this news certainly isn’t encouraging. Between Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, the Bulls have struggled at both ends of the floor on the wing. Getting Dunleavy back, whenever that happens, will be a huge help. But nobody knows when that will be.

Stan Van Gundy calls out Andre Drummond’s effort after loss to Thunder

Andre Drummond
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After a promising start to the season, the Pistons have lost three of their last four games and seven of their last 10. And although he’s been outstanding for most of the season, Andre Drummond has not been above receiving criticism from Stan Van Gundy. The coach called out Drummond’s effort on Friday night after a loss to the Thunder.

Via Sportando:

“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight,” Van Gundy said of the two beatings the Pistons received this week. “Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”

Calling out your best player in the media is bold, but Van Gundy has enough of a track record and a reputation, going back to his days in Orlando with Dwight Howard, that he can get away with it. It also sends a message to the entire team that Van Gundy isn’t going to hold his star to a different standard than the rest of the team.

Despite a couple of poor performances, Drummond is having a career year, leading the league in rebounding at 17.1 per game while also averaging 17.9 points.