Kurt Helin

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Allen Iverson enters Hall of Fame wishing he had listened more to Larry Brown

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They were two hard-headed figures who viewed the world and basketball differently — they were destined to clash.

Larry Brown was an old-school, at times hard-headed, “play the right way” kind of guy that turned off a lot of players (the mass defections from the 2004 US Olympic team had a lot to do with guys hating on Brown’s style). Allen Iverson was hip-hop incarnate on the basketball court, free-wheeling and exciting, unpredictable, and a man who liked to play without restrictions.

Iverson and Brown did clash — then went on to spearhead some of the best teams in Sixers history.

On the eve of Iverson entering the Hall of Fame, where he will be presented by Brown, Iverson regrets those clashes and his attitude, he told Jessica Cammerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I wish I would have bought in to what [Brown] was trying to give me all along (instead of) just being defiant. Being a certified ass—- for nothing. When all he wanted was the best for me,” Iverson said in April.

“And I didn’t take constructive criticism the way I should have. You know what I mean? To me, in my eyes, he’s the best coach ever. To me. You know what I mean? And I didn’t take what God was giving me the right way. God sent him to me, and I was defiant at that time.”

Brown looks back at the relationship and sees the greatness.

“It’s always very difficult when you coach a great, great, talented kid because you want to make sure that you allow them to play as well as they’re capable of playing. When I first had the opportunity to coach Allen, his idea of how to play and my idea how he should play was a little different. But I think we evolved into a pretty special relationship.

“I think the six years I was with him, there wasn’t one night he didn’t do something that I’d never seen done before. He was probably the most athletic player I’ve been around and as competitive as anybody I’ve been around.”

This is a Hall of Fame class loaded with the ultra-deserving.

And in that group, I’m happier for nobody more — and looking forward to the speech of nobody else more — than AI.

Check out Yao Ming’s career highlights (VIDEO)

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There has been a little pushback this week from people suggesting Yao Ming doesn’t have the credentials to be in the Hall of Fame.

Those people are wrong.

Putting aside his global impact on the game — maybe only Michael Jordan did more to spread the NBA overseas — Yao Ming the player was incredible. For a guy 7’6″ he had a very soft touch on his shots, he had a midrange game (and knocked down his free throws), he was an incredible passer with a high IQ, and he was a fantastic rim protector. He was one of the best players in the NBA in his era in the NBA, a five-time All-NBA player, and eight-time All-Star. Go read Kelly Dwyer’s great piece on this at Ball Don’t Lie.

I’ll put it this way: Someday there should be an NBA-only Hall of Fame, and Yao Ming should be in that, too.

Check out his career greatest hits tape, via the folks at NBA.com.

Wizards unveil new Stars & Stripes alternate uniform

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A stars and stripes uniform worn by the team playing in our nation’s capital on the nights it honors members of the military? Sounds like a good fit all around.

That’s what the Washington Wizards are doing, unveiling the new uniform on Thursday.

The primary change is the stars down the side of the jersey, while the shorts has the stripes.

It’s a clean look; I like it.

The Wizards will wear the stars and stripes six times:

Fri., Nov. 11 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Wed., Dec. 14 vs. Charlotte Hornets
Wed., Jan. 18 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Fri., Feb. 10 vs. Indiana Pacers
Wed., Mar. 15 vs. Dallas Mavericks
Tues., Apr. 4 vs. Charlotte Hornets

Shaq on Collin Kaepernick: There are “other ways to get your point across”

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Jabari Parker has Collin Kaepernick’s back. Stephen Curry wouldn’t go that far but applauded him for taking a stand.

Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal — whose father served in the military for years — doesn’t see it that way. Here’s what he said in an interview on Fox and Friends on Fox News (hat tip 24/7 Sports).

“I don’t know Colin, but again, to each his own. I don’t really have a say on it, but I would never do that. My father was a military man, and you know, he protected this country. Uncles are in law enforcement, you know, they go out and work hard every day.

“Just, (there are) other ways to get your point across.”

“My question is, how come you didn’t do it last year? Or how come you didn’t do it when you first entered the NFL?”

As Dave Zirin pointed out on Twitter, back in 1996 when Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf wouldn’t stand for the anthem before NBA games because he saw the flag as a sign of oppression, Shaq was only one of a handful of athletes who supported his right to this protest. (Steve Kerr was another, just as an aside.) I’d be curious to hear how he views this as different.

Two other quick thoughts. One is simply that Shaq has his right to his opinion on Kaepernick’s choice, but nobody should oppose his right to protest. Second, Shaq got sucked into doing what Curry more skillfully avoided, making the issue respect for the flag and not the issue of treatment of minorities in this country that Kaepernick wants to discuss.

 

Pat Riley says he has no regrets about Heat summer… well, one regret

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Regrets. He’s had a few. Then again, too few to mention.

Even at age 71, Pat Riley is not a guy who spends a lot of time looking in the rear view mirror. He’s looking forward and he likes is optimistic about the future of his Miami Heat. He has no regrets about the past. Well, save for how the Dwyane Wade thing went down.

That’s what he told the Palm Beach Post‘s Tom D’Anglelo:

“No apologies, no regrets – except for one – no tears,” Riley told me today, obviously referring to losing franchise icon Dwyane Wade to the Chicago Bulls. “Good luck. We move on. Players come and go, but franchises move on.”

Was Riley channeling Jerry Reinsdorf with that last statement?

Franchises do move on — but they don’t win without the right players. The Heat don’t have thier rings without Wade, Shaq, and LeBron James. The Spurs aren’t the Spurs without Tim Duncan, no matter how great their management has been. Red Auerbach isn’t remembered the same way in Boston without Bill Russell and Bob Cousy. The game of basketball is such that the elite players have a massive impact on the outcome of a game, more than a quarterback or a clean-up hitter.

This time, moving on for the Heat may not be quite as smooth.