Amid all the bluster — oh, and there was blizzard of bluster, with Steve Ballmer acting like a hype man — there were some actual bits of news out of the Ballmer scream fest Monday. Or to be more accurate, some reaffirmation of things we already knew.
Ballmer got up in front of the fans, and later in a press conference with the media and said a few things of note, as reported by Arash Markazi of ESPN and Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.
First things first — for the millionth time he is not moving the Clippers out of Los Angeles to Seattle.
Also, there are no plans to change the Clipper name (which fits in Los Angeles, where there are tall ships and great sailing communities).
As for management style, Ballmer said several times his goal was to let the basketball people — meaning Doc Rivers to start — will make the basketball decisions. His goal is to have good staff and support them in doing their jobs, not to tell them how to do it.
That last part is huge. If you look at the consistently strong organizations in the NBA and pro sports in general that’s how they are run. How often do you see Peter Holt telling Gregg Popovich what to do? Hire good people and let them do what they do.
Along those lines, Ballmer said he would talk extension with Rivers but that was not going to be rushed.
As I have said before, Ballmer may have come off at this rally like a hype man, but the fact is that after the energy drain of Donald Sterling the whirlwind and optimism of Ballmer is going to be a huge boost for the franchise. It’s a good day to be a Clippers fan.
Sleeved NBA jerseys sell poorly. Players dislike them.
So, the NBA switching from adidas to Nike is apparently an excuse to ditch the sleeves.
Sara Germano of The Wall Street Journal, via Paul Lukas of Uni Watch:
Nike, meanwhile, is expected to present its initial NBA jersey designs to retailers beginning this week. The company said it doesn’t plan to produce sleeved jerseys, a style debuted by Adidas in 2013 that received mixed reviews from players and fans.
Whether or not sleeves were introduced for ad space, uniform advertisements are still coming. The ads can fit on standard jerseys, no problem.
At this point, there’s just little to no upside for sleeved jerseys.
Nostalgia will treat sleeves better than present-day evaluations, but until we look back wistfully on this mostly failed experiment, good riddance.
Despite sounding like he wanted a conversation with Phil Jackson, Carmelo Anthony said he hadn’t spoken with the Knicks president since Phil Jackson mouthpiece Charley Rosen wrote Anthony no longer fit in New York.
It hasn’t been for a lack of effort.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
If you’re trying to keep up with the Jackson-Anthony feuds, their previous meeting came after Jackson publicly critiqued Anthony’s ball-hogging.
That affair should’ve provided a sense of Jackson’s communication skills. This latest episode only reinforces it.
The Knicks were in New York on Thursday, when Rosen’s article was published. They played in Toronto on Sunday and returned home for a game yesterday. That’s plenty of time for Jackson and Anthony to talk.
Why hasn’t it happened yet?
With seven and a half minutes left, Isaiah Thomas drained a 3-pointer, held up his left wrist and stared at it.
It was time.
Thomas scored 17 fourth-quarter points in the Celtics’ win over the Hornets yesterday.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Thomas said. “It just surprises everybody else.”
It shouldn’t any longer.
Boston has won seven of eight, and in that span, Thomas has scored most of the Celtics’ fourth-quarter points. He has pushed his fourth-quarter scoring average to 10.1 for the season – putting him on track to break the modern-era record.
Kobe Bryant scored 9.5 fourth-quarter points per game in 2006, the most in the previous 20 years (as far back as NBA.com has data). The leaderboard:
Russell Westbrook is also on track to surpass Kobe and join this rarified air. LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade are the only other players to average even eight fourth-quarter points per game in a season over the previous 20 years. Not even Michael Jordan (7.1 in 1997, 7.3 in 1998) did it.
Boston’s offense has blasted into the stratosphere with Thomas on the court in the fourth quarter, scoring 122.1 points per 100 possessions. However, the Celtics allow even more with him on the floor in the final period (122.8 points per 100 possessions). The 5-foot-9 point guard has limits.
But where those limits exist when it comes to his clutch scoring – we haven’t found them yet.
Writer Charley Rosen describes himself as a “long-time friend and confidant” of Knicks president Phil Jackson. They coached and roomed together in the Continental Basketball Association decades ago. Since, they’ve collaborated on books and articles.
So, when Rosen wrote, “The only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York,” Anthony took it as a shot from Jackson.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:
Rosen insists that unfair to him and Jackson.
Rosen at FanRag:
So, although I have often been called Phil’s mouthpiece by fans and some in the media, I have never consulted him about the content or general themes of any of the thousands of columns I’ve written for various sports web sites.
The only obvious exceptions being the interviews I conducted with him.
Although some of my opinions may be congruent with Phil’s, they are strictly my own. For better or for worse.
So, then, my views on Carmelo Anthony, for example, come from carefully watching and analyzing his play throughout his career.
I’m not in the business of parroting a party line, or of stroking players with whom I’ve had friendly contact.
As part of his Anthony critique, Rosen wrote, “It’s understood that he’d only accept being dealt to the Cavaliers or the Clippers.” Where did Rosen get that if not Jackson? Rosen invites questions by making statements like that without attribution.
Rosen’s history with Jackson also attracts scrutiny. So much of Rosen’s writing career has leaned on Jackson for exclusive access. He can’t have both that and the benefit of the doubt about his separation from Jackson. Even if Rosen wants to be objective, we all have biases. Rosen seems far too close to Jackson to evaluate him – and, by extension, the Knicks – properly. After all, when evaluating the team beyond Anthony, Rosen wrote:
PHIL JACKSON has pushed the right buttons