Tag:New York Knicks
Posted on: March 1, 2012 7:57 pm
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On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

The 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game is not only an occasion to remember the accomplishment, but also the man.

What better way to reflect on Chamberlain’s signature moment than through the eyes of his friend and most bitter rival?

So I called Bill Russell, the 11-time champion of the Celtics, and asked if he’d be so kind as to share his thoughts about the occasion 50 years ago Friday. I’ll provide his response, followed by the context.
 
The response from Russell: “Not really.”

“Is it a bad time, or is it a topic you don’t really want to talk about?”

“A little of both,” he said.

And that was that. I apologized for the intrusion and wished Russell the best.

“No intrusion,” Russell said. “And thank you.”

I shared the conversation with Sy Goldberg, Chamberlain’s longtime friend and attorney. On the phone from Los Angeles, Goldberg was neither surprised nor particularly offended by Russell’s reaction.

“There was a love-hate relationship between these two guys,” Goldberg said.

Let it be noted that Russell, who turned 78 last month, harbors no grudges or animosity toward Chamberlain – nothing different than they ever did, anyway. Goldberg said in the old days, the NBA used to schedule the Sixers and Celtics on Thanksgiving Day, and when the game was in Philadelphia, Russell was a guest at casa de Chamberlain for Thanksgiving dinner.

“Russell was there all the time,” Goldberg said. “They were close friends.”

But Chamberlain never forgave Russell for questioning his toughness after Lakers coach Jan van Breda Kolff refused to put an injured Chamberlain back into Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals against the Celtics. Chamberlain had asked out with six minutes left and asked back in with three minutes left, but van Breda Kolff declined. The Celtics won, 108-106, for their second straight championship and last of the Russell era.

“That day, Russell said something like, ‘I don’t care how bad he was, I would never have come out of the game,’” Goldberg said. “Wilt never forgave him for that.”

But with Russell and Chamberlain, the hard feelings weren’t permanent. On the day Chamberlain died of heart failure, Oct. 12, 1999, Goldberg got a call from a frantic Russell, who didn’t want to believe the news.

“I had been called by the gardener, and the police were there, and it was real pandemonium,” Goldberg said. “And I got a call from Bill Russell. His quote was: ‘I wouldn’t believe any news at all unless you tell me it’s true.’ And he sounded like he was devastated.”

In the old days, Chamberlain got all the attention and Russell got most of the championships. So on the eve of Wilt’s 100-point anniversary, the old Celtic stays quiet.

Maybe that’s for the best. Maybe that’s how Wilt would’ve wanted it.
Posted on: March 1, 2012 6:30 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 12:11 pm
 

The story behind the audio of Wilt's 100

Of all the improbable circumstances that collided on the night 50 years ago when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points, perhaps none was more devastating than the realization that hit play-by-play man Bill Campbell after the game.

As Campbell was driving home from Hershey, Pa., to his home in Broomall, Pa., after using his velvety voice to document the feat for humanity, he realized what a terrible mistake he’d made.

“It suddenly hit me halfway home, maybe one in the morning,” Campbell said on the phone this week. “One hundred points and I didn’t even tape the game.”

Fortunately for Campbell, he later got a phone message from a man whose name he didn’t recognize, and it saved him a lifetime of embarrassment – and provided the public with a lasting memory of Chamberlain’s unprecedented feat.

“I called this guy back, and he told me, ‘I’m sure as a representative of a fine professional organization, you obviously have a very skillfully produced recording of this event,’” Campbell said. “I didn’t say we didn’t. He said he had recorded the fourth quarter, had done it at home on his little ham-and-egg set. And he said, ‘Would you mind if I sent it to you as a memento of the occasion.’ And I thought, ‘Would I mind? This may get me off the hook!’”

The recording of the fourth quarter of Chamberlain’s 100-point performance for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962 was made by a college student named Jim Trelease, who bootlegged the recording in his University of Massachusetts dorm room. If not for that – Campbell calmly calling, “He made it! He made it! A dipper dunk! He made it!” after the basket that got Wilt to 100 -- the accomplishment would be even more mythical than it already is. There were no TV cameras in Hershey that night, and thus no video of the historic event

Campbell, who is planning to attend the Philadelphia 76ers’ game against the Golden State Warriors Friday night in Philly to commemorate the 50th anniversary, said he later heard from Chamberlain himself about that recording.

“When Wilt was named to the Hall of Fame, he called in from Los Angeles and he said, ‘Do you have any of the 100-point game?’” Campbell said. “He said, ‘Send it to the Hall of Fame.’ And we sent it to the Hall of Fame, and they were delighted to have it.”

And so are we.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:20 pm
 

GMs served with papers in players' suit

A procedural but interesting wrinkle in the players' antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota emergered Thursday. In addition to filing the complaint in district court, the plaintiffs' attorneys served papers via first-class mail on all 30 NBA general managers, according to court documents in the case.

The certificate of service was amended in the court records Thursday to add the Miami Heat. When the lawsuit was filed Tuesday, the Heat were left off the list of team general managers served with the complaint. For unknown reasons, the attorneys served the papers on Heat executive and salary cap expert Andy Ellisburg, rather than team president and Hall of Famer Pat Riley.

Also, the Knicks' copy of the lawsuit may get lost in the mail. It was sent to Donnie Walsh, who is no longer the Knicks' team president.

Sending the complaint to team general managers does not mean they're liable in the lawsuit. It's simply a procedural step, and also one of many ways that attorneys can and do annoy defendants in civil lawsuits. It is not known if the same procedure was followed in the separate antitrust lawsuit filed in California Tuesday because the government's online database had not finished loading for that case.

In other developments Thursday, commissioner David Stern updated the full Board of Governors via conference call on the state of the collapsed collective bargaining talks and the litigation. In addition to the antitrust lawsuits filed against the NBA in California and Minnesota, the league has a pending case in the Southern District of New York in which it is asking a federal judge to rule that the lockout cannot come under antitrust attack by virtue of the players dissolving the National Basketball Players Association.

Stern explained the meaning of the two antitrust lawsuits, but it is likely that a strategy session discussing how to proceed won't happen until owners on the labor relations committee meet or have a call themselves, according to two people familiar with the league's procedures.



Posted on: April 13, 2009 7:28 pm
 

Perfect job for Isiah

Coaching Florida International's men's basketball team. I couldn't think of a more perfect job for Isiah Thomas.

Golden Panthers, congratulations on providing one of basketball's most pre-eminent survivors with a golden parachute that suits him.

What could be better for a Hall of Famer who's way too young to retire, but who has nothing else to do? What could be better than a job with no state income tax? A job located in one of the prime weather locations in the universe? A job in which you can shape young skulls full of mush with tales of your glorious past? A job in which you can flash your NCAA and NBA championship rings, speak on a daily basis about playing for Bob Knight and Chuck Daly, and romanticize the good ol' days with the Bad Boy Pistons?

If it happens -- and some key people who still employ Thomas with the Knicks honestly don't know -- this makes perfect sense. A completely inconsequential job for one of the greatest ever to dribble a basketball. Bravo!

It's amazing how many times athletic directors and NBA general managers recycle coaches without realizing or admitting they're doing it. How many times have we seen it? A fresh start for a coach/former player who wore out his welcome elsewhere. I'd point to Rollie Massimino at Cleveland State years ago, but for all I know, Rollie will trump that with another job this spring.

I am not a member of the Isiah is Evil club. Not in the least. I barely know the guy, even though I attended the same college he did and covered him on almost a daily basis for an entire NBA season. He was one of my favorite players when he played. But I can call B.S. when I see it, and this is a B.S. job if I've ever seen one.

Good for him. I love when absurd things happen and everyone knows it's absurd and the people who make the absurd hire and/or accept the absurd job pat each other on the back in the very sincere/emotional/heartfelt/absurd press conference.

And if I'm the Knicks, I'm wondering the following: Does this mean we don't have to pay him anymore?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: April 6, 2009 2:14 pm
 

No Springfield for Mullin; next stop, New York?

NEW YORK -- The Basketball Hall of Fame did not extend an invitation to Chris Mullin on Monday, passing on the basketball great and Golden State Warriors executive in a stellar class that included none other than Michael Jordan. Although Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats have begun to resemble a team with a plan, the criteria obviously weren't based on front-office accomplishments. If they were, Mullin -- and not Jordan -- would've gotten in.

These are strange days for Mullin, who has been shamefully marginalized in the Golden State front office as his contract winds down to its termination date at the end of June. Once that happens, he'll be a free agent, and any number of wayward teams figure to come calling. But one option for Mullin remains as intriguing as any -- to me, and also to Mullin, I'm told. You see, Knicks president Donnie Walsh has yet to follow through on his plan to hire a No. 2 in command in New York, and Mullin would be the perfect fit.

He's done it before, with success. He's a native New Yorker who'd partly satisfy one of Walsh's overarching plans for the team to reconnect not only with its alumni but also with the very fabric of New York City basketball tradition. He's as honest and trustworthy as they come, qualities that Walsh values greatly. They know each other inside and out from their time together with the Indiana Pacers. It all seems like such a natural fit.

A couple of problems. First, Mullin has established strong ties in the Bay Area, and with children in school there, significant forces would be pulling against returning to the other coast. If the opportunity were right, I'm told, this wouldn't necessarily be a deal-breaker for Mullin, who at 46 has an entire career ahead of him as a basketball executive.

Next, there is the issue of where Mullin would fit into the hierarchy with the Knicks. The team has been happy with current No. 2 man Glen Grunwald, a company guy who doesn't need the spotlight or the credit and has more than one year left on his contract. If Walsh hires someone this summer, it wouldn't be to replace Grunwald, necessarily, but to join him.

Finally, some believe there is a far more significant impediment for Mullin's possible homecoming: the Knicks' coach, Mike D'Antoni, who enjoys as much power as any NBA coach. But D'Antoni has never worked with Mullin and doesn't know him well. One well-placed source has told me that if and when the Knicks hire a second-in-command in the front office, D'Antoni has a list of candidates he'd feel comfortable working with. Not that he has anything against Mullin, but Mullin isn't on the list.

D'Antoni has flexed his muscles in ways big and small since getting the Knicks job, and for good reason. His resume speaks for itself, and he's at the top of every potential free agent's coaching wish list. His comments over the weekend in Toronto about how nobody on the Knicks' roster is safe provided only the latest example of how much influence D'Antoni wields with personnel decisions. (As if there should be any doubt after the way he singlehandedly banished Stephon Marbury from the team even though Walsh preferred to keep him around and shop him.)

While several potential candidates have contacted Walsh to express interest, Mullin has not. Despite how he's been treated in Golden State, Mullin would never let that change who he is -- a loyal company man who is under contract until June 30. But it's clear that Mullin would listen, and should be even clearer that Walsh would want to discuss it with him once his contract is up.

Walsh has done virtually no work this season on hiring a No. 2 man and eventual successor, and won't even begin the process until July. While he'd never hire someone D'Antoni was absolutely opposed to, there are strong indications that Walsh also wouldn't limit his list of candidates to those who would meet D'Antoni's approval. (Walsh and D'Antoni haven't discussed this potential hire in detail, I'm told, and won't until after the season.)

As he approaches the end of his first full season in New York, Walsh gets A's all around for hiring a championship-caliber coach, creating flexibility to improve the team by moving debilitating contracts, and reconnecting this once proud franchise to its roots (as evidenced by the long overdue Legends Night ceremony last month, which met everyone's approval but Stan Van Gundy's). He's restored respect, decency, and strong management to a franchise that had been lacking all three for too long. Walsh's next task -- even before the 2010 free agent bonanza begins -- will be to give the Knicks something else they've sorely lacked: stability. He can do that by hiring a capable, respected executive to work by his side and eventually take over when Walsh, 68, retires in two or three years.

The Knicks could do a lot worse than Mullin. Who knows? Depending on how he did here, maybe he'd eventually get into the Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: March 2, 2009 2:51 pm
 

Happy anniversary, Wilt

We need to start a tradition on this blog, so listen up. Every year on this day, we will pause and remember the most dominant force who ever played the game and recognize the most dominant performance in the history of basketball.

Happy anniversary, Wilt Chamberlain -- 47 years to the day after you scored 100 points in a single game. To this day, nobody has come close. (Sorry, Kobe, 81 isn't close enough.)

Here's a page with a bunch of links to stories and opinions about Wilt's 100-point game. For those of you too young to remember (and yes, I count myself among you), imagine an NBA player scoring 100 points in a game that was not televised. The Philadelphia Warriors played the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pa., where Wilt's team sometimes ventured to expand its fan base. Nowadays, teams expand their fan base by streaming their games online. What a world.

So there is no video (that I'm aware of) showing Wilt scoring 100 points. There is an audio clip on the National Public Radio site where you can listen to broadcaster Bill Campbell call the last few baskets. And of course, there is the iconic photo of Wilt holding a piece of paper with "100" written on it. Harvey Pollack, then the team's PR director and to this day the Sixers' statistician, came up with the idea and wrote Wilt's point total on the paper -- as if nobody would believe it otherwise.

So here's to you, Big Dipper. See you back here next year -- or when somebody else scores 100 points in a game. So again, see you here next year.

 

 

 

 

Posted on: February 23, 2009 5:53 pm
 

Marbury meeting? What meeting?

Knicks officials and Stephon Marbury will collide in an arbitration hearing Tuesday in Manhattan in an attempt to resolve the $400,000 in fines -- two game checks -- the team imposed when Marbury declined to play in games twice in late November.

There are far bigger problems in the world than whether Marbury gets paid for two more games, given that he's collecting a cool $20.8 million not to play at all this season. A (slightly) more pressing matter would seem to be whether Marbury and the Knicks can finally agree on a buyout so the disgruntled point guard can be waived by Sunday and thus be eligible for a playoff roster if he signed with a new team.

Despite a report in the New York Post that Marbury and Knicks president Donnie Walsh planned to meet face-to-face before the arbitration hearing in hopes of hammering out a buyout, this was news to Walsh when I spoke with him Monday. Walsh, of course, will attend the arbitration hearing, but said, "I don't have any meetings scheduled with anybody."

Oh.

If Marbury is interested in returning this season and joining a playoff team, the sensible thing for him to do would be to push for the $400,000 in fines to be included in any buyout amount he's willing to negotiate. Thus far, neither side has budged and the Knicks have no urgency whatsoever to meet Marbury's demands. He's not playing for them either way, and his salary comes off the books after the season, making no further impact on their future plans.

(Actually, there is one last bit of impact, but no arbitrator can do anything about it. The Knicks still owe the Utah Jazz -- via Phoenix -- a first-round pick in 2010 from the ill-fated Marbury trade. As noted in my column on the Knicks' 2010 plan, this might actually be a good thing. That's one less big-ticket item on the payroll.)

Frankly, I can't imagine a team desperate enough to sign Marbury even for the prorated $1.3 million veteran's minimum, given heightened concerns about finances and the luxury tax -- not to mention the fact that Marbury hasn't appeared in an NBA game in more than 13 months. Marbury has said he has a side deal with the Celtics to join them once he's a free agent, but Boston officials have steadfastly denied interest.

 

 

 

Posted on: February 19, 2009 2:15 pm
 

Wilcox to Knicks for Rose, cash

On the heels of acquiring Larry Hughes from Chicago, the Knicks have completed a deal sending Malik Rose to Oklahoma City, an exchange of expiring contracts pending league approval, CBSSports.com has learned. Oklahoma City also gets cash out of the Wilcox deal, according to a source.

 

 
 
 
 
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