It’s official: Ginobili, Hardaway, Cash highlight 2022 Hall of Fame class

0 Comments

NEW ORLEANS — When Manu Ginobili reflects on the odds of a kid from Argentina growing up to win four NBA titles and Olympic gold, he sounds in awe that that is in fact the story of his athletic life.

“It’s one in tens of millions,” Ginobili said on Saturday after an official announcement on Saturday that he has now also been inducted into the Hall of Fame. “The odds are very, very slim and it just happened to me. I don’t know what happened, but I was the one.

“I happen to be an important part of two very iconic teams of those couple decades of both FIBA and with the NBA. Incredibly lucky and fortunate to be a part of those two.”

Ginobili, five-time All-Star Tim Hardaway and decorated former coach George Karl were the household NBA names in the 2022 class of Basketball Hall of Fame inductees announced in New Orleans at the site of the NCAA Final Four.

Also selected this year were former WNBA champion and two-time college national champion Swin Cash; long-time college coach Bob Huggins, WNBA champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsay Whalen; NCAA national championship coach and former WNBA Coach of the Year Marianne Stanley, and former NBA official Hugh Evans.

The class will be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Sept. 10.

Ginobili, a two-time All-Star spent his enitre 16-year NBA career with San Antonio, which as a big reason he’s now going into the Hall of Fame. He similarly credited his long stint with an Argentina national team that regularly among the best in the world.

“I was a part of two incredible teams; if it wasn’t for being part of those two teams, I wouldn’t be here,” Ginobili said. “It’s not just about individual accomplishments. I never won a scoring championship, an MVP or even (All-NBA) First Team. I’m here because of my surroundings, of the players I played with, of the coaches I was coached (by) and the organizations. I know I’ve been very lucky.”

But Ginobili did leave his mark on the game in the way he employed lateral movement after picking up his dribble to get up shots in the paint. It became known as the “Eurostep,” because Ginobili had played for a EuroLeague championship-winning team in Bologna, Italy, before coming to the NBA.

“I never saw that I created anything or brought anything new. I just played the only way I thought possible,” Ginobili explained, bringing up the challenge of trying to score against 7-footer Shaquille O’Neal early in his career.

“I was not going to go over Shaq and dunk, I had to go around people,” Ginobili said. “That’s the way my skill set and physical abilities found to get to the rim. I’ve done it since I can remember.”

Ginobili recalled Steve Kerr bringing more attention to the move when he spoke about “how weird it looked.”

“I looked like a squirrel crossing the street getting to the rim,” Ginobili said, referring to his recollection of Kerr’s description. “That’s when I started to realize I was doing something a bit different and people started mentioning the Eurostep. For me, it was completely natural.”

Hardaway played 15 NBA seasons from 1989 to 2003 with Golden State, Miami, Dallas, Denver and Indiana.

Karl played in the NBA for five seasons in San Antonio before coaching for 27 years, during which he won 1,175 games — placing him sixth all-time. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2013.

Huggins has more than 900 NCAA wins in a college coaching career that began in 1977 and is currently at West Virginia.

Cash, who already has been elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, is currently an executive with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. She won two NCAA national titles with Connecticut and a WNBA title with Detroit. She also worked as an executive with the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

Whalen is a five-time WNBA All-Star and four-time champion. She is now the head coach at Minnesota, where she also played in college.

Stanley, who is currently a WNBA head coach with Indiana, has spent 45 years in coaching, including 22 years at the college level with Old Dominion, Pennsylvania, Southern California, Stanford and California. She was WNBA coach of the year in 2022, when she also was elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Evans officiated more than 1,900 regular season games, along with 170 playoff games, 35 NBA Finals games and four NBA All-Star games from 1973 to 2001. He also was the NBA’s Assistant Supervisor of Officials for three years after stepping away from on-court officiating.

Watch Donovan Mitchell drop 43, upstage LeBron return as Cavs top Lakers

0 Comments

CLEVELAND (AP) — As a kid growing up in New York, Donovan Mitchell idolized LeBron James. On Tuesday night, he upstaged him.

Mitchell scored a season-high 43 points and Jarrett Allen returned from injury to add 24, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 116-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in James’ only visit home this season.

With Anthony Davis missing the final three quarters because of illness, the Cavs improved to an NBA-leading 11-1 on their floor, their best start at home since 2015-16, when James led them to a championship.

Mitchell, who has Cleveland fans dreaming of another title run, took over in the second half and scored 29 points with the kind of performance James had routinely during his 11 seasons for the Cavs.

“You always want to spoil the homecoming,” Mitchell said with a smile.

With Cleveland leading by 12 in the fourth, Mitchell buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to finish the Lakers. After dropping the shot, the All-Star guard strutted around the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse floor nodding his head as James helplessly watched.

“He’s Mitchell,” James said. “He’s a special kid.”

Darius Garland added 21 points and 11 assists for Cleveland.

James finished with 21 points and 17 rebounds, losing for just the third time in 20 games against the Cavs.

Dennis Schroder and Russell Westbrook added 16 points apiece as Los Angeles had its four-game winning streak stopped.

Davis went out after eight minutes with flu-like symptoms. The eight-time All-Star had scored 99 points in his previous two games and had been playing as well as he has in several seasons after being plagued by injuries.

Davis didn’t attempt a field goal and scored just one point before leaving.

“It got progressively worse as the day went on,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “His temperature was 101 and some change. A-D wanted to try to play, but he felt too weak. He’s drained and dehydrated.

“That’s a huge loss, obviously, with the way he’s been playing lately.”

Without Davis clogging the middle, Allen, who missed the last five games with a bruised back, made his first 10 shots and helped the Cavs take a 57-49 halftime lead.

“Next man up,” James said when asked how he reacted to losing Davis. “That’s a tall task – literally and figuratively.”

The Cavs welcomed James back with a video tribute during an early timeout. After a montage of clips, including some from 2016, James waved to the crowd and then blew kisses to show his appreciation.

The warm scene was in contrast to what happened almost exactly 12 years ago, when he came back with the Miami Heat and was met with boos and worse on a night James has said he’ll never forget.

James said he was caught off guard by the tribute.

“It’s always love coming back here,” he said. “The memories I have here will never be forgotten.”

 

Ben Simmons targeting Friday vs. Hawks to return from calf strain

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets
Adam Hunger/Getty Images
0 Comments

Ben Simmons has missed the Nets’ last three games with knee pain tied to a left calf strain, and he will be out Wednesday, too, when Brooklyn takes on Charlotte.

However, he plans to return on Friday (Dec. 9) against the Hawks.

Simmons was adjusting to a new role in Brooklyn. In Philadelphia he was a point-forward with the ball in his hands playing off Joel Embiid (at least at first), but in Brooklyn the ball needed to be in the hands of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the halfcourt. Simmons is playing more small-ball five, and is asked to be aggressive and attack when he gets the ball — not shoot jumpers — and to push the rock in transition. It took a while for Simmons to settle into that space, but he seemed to in games against Philadelphia (11 points, 11 assists), Toronto (14 points, six assists) and Indiana (20 points). Then the injuries hit.

Brooklyn sits at 13-12, with a middle-of-the-pack offense and defense for the season. While there are doubts about the ceiling for this team, it has a talent level that should be better than this record, it’s just been beset by injuries, controversy causing Kyrie Irving to miss time, and a coaching change. The Nets have yet to hit their stride.

But they could have a clean injury report on Friday night, and maybe that can be the start of this team getting on a run.

Suns, Hawks reportedly show interest in Kuzma trade, Wizards see him as cornerstone

Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets
Al Bello/Getty Images
0 Comments

Kyle Kuzma was the kind of quality, two-way role player the Lakers needed around LeBron James and Anthony Davis to win the 2020 NBA title (the type of player the Lakers wish they had now).

In Washington, his role has been elevated — he’s a 20-point-a-game scorer (20.6 points per game this season, to be precise) who is a key part of generating offense, not just playing off the stars of Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. As he told Shams Charania of The Athletic:

“As soon as I got traded, I was ready to be more,” Kuzma told The Athletic.

It’s been enough to draw the interest of a couple of teams looking for a trade, Charania adds. The Wizards are not necessarily interested in moving on, however.

Several teams, such as the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns, have expressed trade interest in Kuzma, according to league sources. By the same token, the Wizards have shown interest in Hawks forward John Collins, and the sides seriously discussed a potential deal last offseason, league sources added…

However, the Wizards’ front office, led by general manager Tommy Sheppard, has made clear that it views Kuzma as a cornerstone moving forward as the franchise has seen him thrive since the mega-trade in the 2021 offseason. The Westbrook trade provided future flexibility and assets for the Wizards, who have been known to be aggressive and active in research across the league.

Kuzma has a $13 million player option for next season that he will unquestionably opt out of, making him a free agent in search of a healthy raise (north of $20 million a year, although expect something more in the ballpark of the four-year, $104 million Jalen Brunson contract). If the Wizards are willing to pay they likely can keep him (they have his Bird rights). But if Washington isn’t sure it wants to pay market value, or if management sees a shifting path for future seasons, it should consider trading Kuzma at the deadline.

If he becomes available, far more teams than the Hawks and Suns would be interested, quality two-way forwards are in demand around the league. Kuzma would have some leverage over where he gets sent because he can leave as a free agent (teams would offer up less if they believed Kuzma would only be a rental for this season).

Magic send Jonathan Isaac to G-League for practice, rehabilitation

2022-2023 Orlando Magic Media Day
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
0 Comments

There was a time when it was thought Jonathan Isaac might be the Magic’s next big star.

However, he has not stepped on an NBA court since he was in the bubble (Feb. 8, 2020), then he tore his ACL in August of that year (which came on the heels of missing much of that season with an injury to the same knee). Last March he had a setback and another procedure, and at this point he has missed two full seasons plus the start of this one.

Isaac is still working toward recovery and the Magic have assigned him to the Lakeland Magic of the G-League to get in some practice.

Because NBA teams barely practice during the season — the schedule of games nearly every other day plus travel and recovery doesn’t permit more than film sessions and walk-throughs — these kinds of baseball-style minor league rehab assignments are more and more common.

The story from the Magic’s official website notes this will be the first time Isaac will play 5-on-5 with other players during his rehab, which is a significant step forward.

There is no timeline for his return, but the Magic have him under contract this season for $17.4 million and two more fully guaranteed years at the same price. There is no reason for the franchise to walk away, even if some around the league question if his knees will ever let him back on an NBA court again.

The Magic have found their next star in Paolo Banchero and have built a promising young core, something Isaac — an elite defender before his injuries — should fit in well with. If he can get healthy and back on the court.