Gibnobili, Hardaway headline 13 new Hall of Fame enshrinees this weekend

2022 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Tip-Off Celebration and Awards Gala
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George Karl lost 19 of his first 21 games as an NBA coach. Tim Hardaway spent hours dribbling alone in an unfinished basement when it was too cold to go outside in his native Chicago. Theresa Grentz’s family lost all its belongings in a 1970 house fire, leaving her with only the yellow pajamas she was wearing at the time.

There were no signs that basketball immortality awaited any of them.

Now, they’re members of the most sought-after club in the game. Karl, Hardaway and Grentz are among 13 people who will be officially enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on Saturday night — a group that largely was tied together by what they overcame on their way to a long list of accomplishments that include NCAA titles, NBA titles and Olympic gold medals.

“You learn from the adversity,” Grentz said Friday. “You don’t have to have everything perfect. You take what you have, make that work, make the most of what you have, not what you think you need. There we were, I had absolutely nothing, but yet tomorrow night – and I’m a nervous wreck about this – I’m going in the Hall of Fame.”

Karl was one of five people selected by the North American Committee, alongside West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, the late referee Hugh Evans and longtime NBA stars Manu Ginobili and Tim Hardaway.

Swin Cash, Marianne Stanley and Lindsay Whalen were selected by the women’s committee. Longtime coaches Del Harris and Larry Costello were picked by the contributor committee, while six-time All-Star Lou Hudson was chosen by the veterans committee. Grentz – who played for the legendary Immaculata program and guided Rutgers to the final AIAW title in 1982 – was chosen by the women’s veteran committee and FIBA Hall of Famer Radivoj Korac by the international committee.

Karl’s career as an NBA coach started in 1984 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, starting 0-9 and 2-19, but rallying that season to face Boston in the opening round of the playoffs. The Celtics won the series 3-1, and Karl remains of the belief that the Celtics got favorable whistles.

“They got all the calls,” Karl lamented.

Maybe so. But half a lifetime later, Karl got the Hall’s call.

Harris’ coaching career included him working with numerous Hall of Fame players – Rick Barry, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Yao Ming and Magic Johnson among them – along with some sure-fire future ones like Dirk Nowitzki.

“To think that still, somehow or another, I contributed to the game and not just played it or coached it, it’s more humbling to me than anything I would have ever thought about,” Harris said.

Hardaway was a finalist four other times for the Hall, never getting in. This year’s call from Hall of Fame President and CEO John Doleva was one he didn’t want to take, for fear that he was about to go 0-for-5.

“Shaking, sweating, lot of emotions going on,” Hardaway said of that moment. “Saw the Hall of Fame number come through my phone. Did not want to answer the phone because I didn’t want to take another rejection.”

He’ll never have to worry about that again.

Whalen, a four-time WNBA champion and now the coach at her alma mater Minnesota, said one of the first great teams she saw in person was the 2002 UConn Huskies – a team that featured Cash. And it wasn’t lost on Whalen that she is entering the Hall alongside Cash, Grentz and Stanley, who also played at Immaculata before embarking on a long coaching career.

“Myself and Theresa, Marianne, Swin, going in together, I think we represent a lot of what’s been great with women’s basketball over the years,” Whalen said. “And I think there’s young girls and women right now that are sitting there that are seeing us and that can become a realistic goal and dream for them if they work hard.”

Among the five presenters that Cash selected to be alongside her for Saturday’s ceremony is her UConn coach, Geno Auriemma.

Cash lauded Auriemma for his constant pursuit of nothing but excellence.

“You were trying to be the best and practices were always harder than a game,” said Cash, a two-time NCAA champion, three-time WNBA champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist and now part of the front office with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. “But that prepared you mentally to understand what you wanted to achieve. And every year, the bar was a national championship. With some people, the bar is a conference championship or `Hey, we made the tournament.’ Whereas, at Connecticut, we hang banners.”

Also now members of the Hall are three selections made by the Early African-American Pioneer Committee: Wyatt “Sonny” Boswell, Inman Jackson and Albert “Runt” Pullins – all of them, among other things, having been members of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Huggins – who, like Whalen, is also coaching at his alma mater – deflected credit for his 916 career wins as a college coach, 844 of those coming at the Division I level.

“Good players,” Huggins said. “I’ve been fortunate.”

Pelican’s Green says Zion ‘dominated the scrimmage pretty much’

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The Zion hype train keeps right on rolling. First were the reports he was in the best shape of his life, then he walked into media day and it looked like he is.

Now Zion has his own hype man in Pelicans coach Willie Green, who said he dominated the first day of team scrimmages. Via Andre Lopez of ESPN.

“Z looked amazing,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said on Wednesday afternoon. “His strength, his speed. He dominated the scrimmage pretty much.”

“What stood out was his force more than anything,” Green said. “He got down the floor quickly. When he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was scoring, finding a teammate. It was really impressive to see.”

Reach for the salt shaker to take all this with — it’s training camp scrimmages. Maybe Zion is playing that well right now — he’s fully capable, he was almost an All-NBA player in 2020-21 (eighth in forward voting) before his foot injury — but we need to see it against other teams. In games that matter. Then we’ll need to see it over a stretch of time.

If Zion can stay healthy this season, if his conditioning is where everyone says it is, he could be in for a monster season. Combine that with CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and a strong supporting cast in New Orleans, and the Pelicans could surprise a lot of people — and be fun to watch.

 

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Celtics, Suns? Should NBA end one-and-done?

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NBA training camps just opened and teams have yet to play a preseason game, but already two contenders are dealing with problems.

The Celtics have the suspension of coach Ime Udoka as a distraction, plus defensive anchor center Robert Williams will miss at least the start of the season following another knee surgery.

The Suns have the distraction of a suspended owner who is selling the team, plus Jae Crowder is out and demanding a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not seem happy.

Corey Robinson of NBC Sports and myself go through all the training camp news, including the wilder ones with the Lakers and Nets, breaking down what to take away from all that — plus how good Zion Williamson and James Harden look physically.

Then the pair discusses the potential of the NBA doing away with the one-and-done role and letting 18-year-olds back in the game — is that good for the NBA?

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Report: Price tag on Phoenix Suns could be more than $3 billion

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six
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In 2004, Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.

When Sarver sells the team now — pushed to do so following the backlash prompted by an NBA report that found an 18-year pattern of bigotry, misogyny, and a toxic workplace — he is going to make a massive profit.

The value of the Suns now is at $3 billion or higher, reports Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

There will be no shortage of bidders for the team, with league sources predicting a franchise valuation of more than $3 billion now that revenue has rebounded following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a new television rights deal and CBA on the horizon. Sarver purchased the team for just over $400 million in 2004.

Saver currently owns 35% of the Suns (the largest share), but reports say his role as managing partner allows him to sell the entire team (the minority owners have to comply, although they would make a healthy profit, too). Sarver also decides who to sell the team to, not the NBA or other owners.

Early rumors of buyers have included Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Bob Iger (former Disney CEO), Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, she has a 20% share of the Washington Wizards), and others. There have been no reports of talks yet, and Sarver does not need to be on a rushed timeline.

Meanwhile, a contending Suns team tries to focus on the season despite the owner selling the team, Jae Crowder not being in training camp and pushing for a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not sound happy to be back with the Suns.

Steve Nash on his relationship with Kevin Durant: ‘We’re good’

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In an effort to gain leverage for a trade this offseason, Kevin Durant threw down a “either the coach and GM are gone or I am” ultimatum.

Now coach Steve Nash (and GM Sean Marks) are back in Brooklyn, on the same team and trying to build a contender together. Awkward? Not if you ask Nash, which is what Nick Friedell of ESPN did.

“We’re fine,” Nash said after the Nets’ first official practice of the season on Tuesday. “We’re good. Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.

“We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year. And also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”

First off, what else was Nash going to say? He knows the power dynamic in the NBA, and Durant has far more leverage than he does — not enough to get Nash fired this summer, but still more than the coach.

Second, Nash could be telling the truth from his perspective. NBA players and coaches understand better than anyone this is a business and things are rarely personal. Grudges are not held like fans think they are (most of the time). Nash saw Durant’s move for what it was — an effort to create pressure — and can intellectually shrug it off, reach out to KD and talk about the future.

What this brings into question was one of the Nets’ biggest issues last season — mental toughness and togetherness. Do the Nets have the will to fight through adversity and win as a team? Individually Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nash and others have shown that toughness in the past, but as a team it was not that hard to break the will of the Nets last season. Are their relationships strong enough, is their will strong enough this season?

It feels like we will find out early. If the wheels come off the Nets’ season, it feels like it will happen early and by Christmas things could be a full-on dumpster fire. Or maybe Nash is right and they are stronger than we think.