Hall of Fame coach Dr. Jack Ramsay dies

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Hall of Fame coach Dr. Jack Ramsay died today at 89, ESPN reported.

Ramsay – whose title was well-earned with a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania – coached the Portland Trail Blazers to their 1977 NBA championship. He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

In 21 seasons as an NBA head coach, Ramsay guided the the Philadelphia 76ers, Buffalo Braves, Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers to a combined 864-763 record. In 1988, he retired with the second-most wins all-time (trailing only Red Auerbach) and now ranks 13th on that list. Prior to reaching the NBA, he coached St. Joseph’s to the 1965 Final Four.

Whether watched his coaching career unfold live or know it only through videos and photos, you’ve surely him on the sideline in his signature plaid jackets. Current Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts even wore a plaid jacket to honor Ramsay’s birthday earlier this year.

Younger generations better-know Ramsay for his work as an ESPN broadcaster, a job he held from 1996 all the way into last year’s playoffs before his health took a turn for the worse. Miami and Philadelphia fans might also remember his work as a color commentator on local telecasts before that.

His former ESPN co-worker, Mike Breen, once shared what made Ramsay so successful. Via Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated.

“He doesn’t think he knows everything — and he frankly does know everything,” said ESPN/ABC NBA play-by-play announcer Mike Breen. “He’s always asking questions and was always curious. He’d ask me what I thought of a certain team or player, and I was almost embarrassed to give him an answer. I should not be telling Dr. Jack Ramsay what I think, but he wants to know other people’s information because he still thinks he can learn from others. Even though he is from a different generation, his appreciation of today’s players is as strong as ever. Sometimes you’ll talk to a player or a coach who coached years ago and they’ll say that today’s players are not the same. Jack doesn’t think that way. He changed as the game changed. He grew with the game.”

Thoughts and prayers go out to Ramsay’s family, including his son Chris, an ESPN.com editor, and son-in-law, former Celtics, 76ers and Pacers coach Jim O’Brien.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

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I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.

Report: Knicks to discuss coaching vacancy with Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer

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Mike Budenholzer is restless in Atlanta, seeing a rebuild coming and looking at other jobs (something Hawks management is fine with). He went down the road a ways with the Suns before pulling out of that process, but he’s still looking around.

The Knicks are casting a wide net in their search, talking to virtually everyone looking for coaching jobs.

So, this seemed inevitable, right? Budenholzer and the Knicks are going to talk, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This will be very preliminary. The Knicks have already had some level of conversation with Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, David Blatt, Mike Woodson, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith (Jackson and Fizdale are the rumored early leaders). Budenholzer has established a style and culture in Atlanta, giving the franchise a path forward. New York could certainly use that.

However, the Knicks job comes with real challenges, too. That starts with James Dolan as owner and the erratic, at times paranoid culture he has created there. Also, expectations in New York are always high, but the team will be without Kristaps Porzigis for at least half (maybe all) of the upcoming season as he recovers from an ACL injury, and that puts a ceiling on the team in the short term. Is all that worth leaving Atlanta for?

 

Stephen Curry to begin “modified” practices with Warriors

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Golden State has flipped the switch in the first round, going up 3-0 on overmatched San Antonio. The Warriors have been outscoring the Spurs by 20.2 points per 100 possessions in the series, allowing less than a point per possession on defense and scoring when and where they want. Kevin Durant is averaging 27.3 points per game, Klay Thompson is shooting 63.3 percent from three and scoring 25.7 points per game, and the Warriors are clicking.

But they are not yet whole — they need Stephen Curry back. Not for this round, but before the Western Conference Finals for sure.

Curry was re-evaluated Friday and will begin practicing with the team in a limited — or “modified” to use the team’s term — way.

The target has always been a return somewhere during the second round, and that still seems to be on track. That is also a little faster than traditional for a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which can take up to two months to heal (not the 4-6 weeks of the Warriors timeline), but the Warriors are being cautious here for now.

Eventually, the Warriors will need him back — their offense is built around Curry and his ball movement and movement off the ball. Curry’s gravity to draw defenders, even when he doesn’t have the ball, opens up the floor for others. Put simply, if he’s 28 feet from the bucket on the weak side defenders still have to watch and be near him, and help defenders need to be aware, which pulls the defense to wherever he is. Without Curry and the Warriors take more midrange jumpers, it’s just in the first round series against the Spurs they are hitting them.

 

Kenyon Martin: I once played high

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Former NBA commissioner David Stern said the league began testing for marijuana because players complained of other players playing high. Chauncey Billups said he knew teammates who played better high.

But Stephen Jackson is the rare former NBA player who admitted to playing high.

Now, he has company.

Kenyon Martin – who played for the Nets, Nuggets, Clippers, Knicks and Bucks in a 15-year career – via Bleacher Report:

We were playing in Indiana one day. I wasn’t feeling well. I had a hamstring, a hip or something. So, I smoked. I wasn’t going to play originally. So, we got to the arena, and I’m like, “I feel good.” I went and told the trainer, “I’m going to go today.” I went out there and had a great game.

If you want to guess which game this was, here are the possibilities.

This was part of a great feature on marijuana in the NBA and NFL. Matt Barnes, Al Harrington and Gary Paton also participate. I highly recommend (pun intended) watching it in full.