Monthly Archives: February 2009

Johnny “Red” Kerr passes away after battle with prostate cancer

obit_kerrsffembeddedprod_affiliate138Former Chicago Bulls coach and broadcaster Johnny “Red” Kerr passed away Thursday in his home in Riverside, Illinois.  He was 76.

Kerr had been quietly fighting prostate cancer for months and began relinquishing his duties as a color analyst for the Bulls in early 2008.

His death came only weeks after the Bulls unveiled a statue (which portrays him as a black man for some reason) during a halftime ceremony honoring Kerr’s contributions to the organization.

After starring at the University of Illinois, Kerr played 12 seasons in the NBA and was a three-time All-Star.  He was the first head coach of the Chicago Bulls and led the team to the playoffs in the franchise’s inaugural season.  Kerr is arguably the second-biggest basketball icon in the state of Illinois behind only Michael Jordan.

Kerr worked as a color-commentator for WGN Sports and later Comcast Sportsnet Chicago.

I grew up listening to Red and always enjoyed his style.  He was very well-liked by players and coaches throughout the NBA, and very popular with fans.

Although he was clearly not himself last season, he still would occasionally manage to embark on rants criticizing the hapless Bulls.

Kerr’s death was announced just hours after the passing of Norm Van Lier was made public.  The Bulls host the Houston Rockets on Saturday; there is no word on whether Van Lier and/or Kerr will be honored.

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Help or Hindrance: What will Stephon Marbury add to the Celtics?

Marbury hasn't played in an NBA regular-season game in over a year

Marbury hasn't played a NBA regular-season game in over a year

Stephon Marbury is finally a Celtic. Multiple reports are stating that he will suit up tonight when Boston hosts Indiana.

Although it is unlikely that he will play a big role on tonight’s game, Marbury will definitely help the Celtics down the stretch.

It will be interesting to see how effective he will be from a performance standpoint.

At 32, Marbury hasn’t played in a meaningful NBA game in over a year. It is too cold to be ballin’ at Rucker Park, so it is hard to say if Steph is even in shape.

I expect Marbury to start slow in Boston, as the Celtics try to phase him in as Rajon Rondo’s backup. Look for Marbury to run the point in a reserve role while Eddie House moves to the shooting guard.

The Celtics may eventually play Marbury alongside Rajon Rondo, but don’t look for Steph to cut into Rondo’s minutes anytime soon.

The most interesting aspect of Marbury’s new marriage is how he will effect team chemistry.

Steph has never had a strong relationship with his past teammates, including Kevin Garnett. His selfish attitude has led to fractured relationships with coaches, most notably Larry Brown and Mike D’Antoni.

But for once in his career, Marbury might be sincere when he says that he just wants to win.

Even if he only averages 8 points and 4 assists per game, he will be lauded by ESPN “experts” like Steven A Smith for being a key to the Celtics success. If the Celtics win it all or at least make the NBA Finals, I expect at least a few NBA teams to offer Marbury a contract for next season.

Steph is smart enough to know that the success of the Celtics will have a profound impact on his future.

I expect Marbury to be on his best behavior over the next three months. This is his last chance to show that he can play in the NBA and play nice. The odds are strongly in his favor, and I don’t think he can screw this up.

Ben Wallace out 4-6 weeks with broken leg

Cleveland Cavaliers F Ben Wallace suffered a broken right leg during Thursday night’s loss to Houston and is expected to miss at least four weeks.

The injury apparently occurred during the second quarter when Yao kicked Wallace in the leg.

Although some experts (mainly the idiotic Steven A. Smith) are making this out to be a big deal, I think it might actually help the Cavs. Cleveland plays better with a smaller lineup that puts LeBron at power forward. Anderson Varejao is a decent defensive player and rookie J.J. Hickson has improved throughout the season, so the Cavs should be fine.

I don’t understand the fascination with Wallace. He is no longer a great defensive player, and he is huge liability on offense. The 34 year-old is averaging 3 ppg and 6 rpg this season.

No Bull: Norm Van Lier dead at 61

bulls_vanlierFormer Chicago Bulls guard and current television analyst Norm Van Lier was found dead earlier this afternoon in his Chicago home.

Firefighters responded to a call for a “well-being check” at around 1 PM Chicago time, and found Van Lier unresponsive.

The Cook County medical examiner confirmed that Van Lier had passed away.

There is no immediate word on cause of death.

Van Lier was employed by Comcast Sportsnet Chicago and handled the studio work during Bulls games.

He spent six seasons as a player in Chicago and was a three-time All-Star.

I always enjoyed listening to the jive-talkin’ Norm. He was opinionated and seemed to think very highly of himself, but he loved to talk basketball and always kept things simple.

Stay tuned for more information regarding Norm Van Lier’s passing as it becomes available.

This is A.J. Price clowning Jerel McNeal

Price dropped a career-high 35 on Marquette last night, including this ankle-breaker…I believe that Jerel McNeal is the reigning Big East defensive player of the year, which makes it even more impressive…

Feb. 25 Fantasy Trends: Hot pickups

It’s been a long time since I posted any fantasy trends, largely because I spent the past five days moving and trying to get settled. I will do a more comprehensive fantasy roundup on Friday, but today I will focus on some free agents that will help your fantasy teams…Hopefully.

Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets PG/SG-It is unlikely that Brooks is still available in your leagues, but if he is make sure to add him now. He will be the starting point guard for the Rockets for the remainder of the season and will average between 12-18 ppg. His assist numbers won’t be spectacular, but he will certainly provide your teams with a big boost late in the season.

Antoine Wright, Dallas Mavericks SG/SF-Wright has gotten big minutes following the injury to Jason Terry, and he is producing. Although he has never been a great outside shooter, he is an opportunistic scorer an an excellent finisher in the lane. He won’t put up great rebound or assist numbers, but he can help out in the steals category. Wright has scored in double-figures in five of six.

Leon Powe, Boston Celtics PF/C-Powe and Glen Davis will continue to split time until KG returns. Powe is a solid offensive player. He gets to the free throw line a lot and should average about 12 and six in about 30 minutes per game in KG’s absence.

De’Quan Cook, Miami Heat PG/SG-Cook is still available in many leagues largely because of his low FG percentage and lack of all-around game. He does almost nothing besides shoot 3-pointers, but his minutes have been increasing lately and so have his 3-point makes. Definitely worth a roster spot if he continues to knock down three 3-pointers a game.

J.J. Redick, Orlando Magic SG-I can’t believe my fantasy tips are telling owners to add J.J. Redick. Wow. He’s gotten minutes lately and is producing, having scored in double-figures in four of his last six games. Redick will hit a couple of threes and shoot a good percentage. A great add in deep leagues.

Kelenna Azubuike, Golden State Warriors SG/SF-Although he was a valuable fantasy player early this season, the return of Monta Ellis made him the odd man out in Oakland. Many fantasy owners have since parted ways with Azubuike, but now that Monta is out for a couple weeks, he has value once again. He will give you between 10-15 ppg while shooting a high percentage and can also grab a few rebounds.

Von Wafer, Houston Rockets SG-Much like Azubuike, Wafer had some good stretches earlier this season. He figures to get at least 25 minutes per game, and expect between 8-12 ppg out of the former FSU star. He has potential to erupt on any given night, making him a valuable add.

Glen Davis, Boston Celtics PF/C-Not as skilled as Powe, but a solid option in deep leagues. He won’t wow you with his numbers, but expect 10 and five if he gets minutes.

J.J. Hickson, Cleveland Cavaliers PF/C-Hickson is clearly better than Ben Wallace, and is seeing more minutes recently. He scores mainly on dunks and open jumpers, and he will also block a few shots. A good option in deep leagues.

Rashad McCants, Sacramento Kings SG-Now that he is hiding in ‘Mento, the former UNC star will be able to shoot at will when he is on the floor. Although he is not very good at shooting, McCants could be a valuable last-season addition. He has only played 9 minutes with the Kings this season, so it is unclear what his role will be. But keep a close eye on him, he can score.

NCAA Hoops Roundup: Thornton’s 32 lead LSU over Florida, BC knocks off FSU, Carter beats Nebraska at the buzzer, UConn-Marquette tonight

Thornton might be the most underrated player in the country. (Pic via tigerrag.com)

Thornton might be the most underrated player in the country. (Pic via tigerrag.com)

No. 18 LSU made it 12 straight wins in SEC play by downing Florida 81-75 on Fat Tuesday behind another strong performance by G Marcus Thornton.

The former JUCO transfer hit five 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 32 points. He is averaging 20.5 ppg this season and should challenge Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks for POY honors in the SEC.

Garrett Temple scored a career-high 21 for the Tigers and helped harass Florida star Nick Calathes, who finished with 12 points on 4-11 shooting.

LSU is now 24-4 overall and 12-1 in the SEC. Florida is 21-7 and 8-5. Without a great conference record and a signature win, the Gators need to finish strong in order to make the NCAA tournament.

Meanwhile, LSU looks to be a lock for a three seed in the Big Dance. Trent Johnson has done a wonderful job in his first season in Baton Rouge and deserves consideration for National Coach of the Year.

Thornton will likely be relegated to second team All-SEC behind Calathes and Meeks.

Although Meeks has better numbers and ESPN’s Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes gushing all over him during any SEC broadcast, Thornton’s Tigers are much better than Meeks’ Wildcats. While the Tigers have other options offensively, the Wildcats have little beyond Patrick Patterson and need Meeks to shoot 20-25 times each game to be successful.

Boston College 72, No. 23 FSU 67

Tyrese Rice had a quiet game by his standards, but hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to help the Eagles hold off the ‘Noles to defeat another ranked team.

Rice finished with 11 points and helped frustrate FSU star Toney Douglas, who shot just 5-18 from the field and finished with 19 points. Joe Trapani scored 17 and Rakim Sanders added 16 for BC.

Amazingly, a team that lost to Harvard and St. Louis earlier this season has a great chance to make the NCAA tournament. Wins over UNC, Duke, and now FSU make the Eagles an attractive team. An 8-6 record in the ACC should be good enough, but the Eagles still have some work to do.

Texas A&M 57, Nebraska 55

As arch-enemy ESPN commentator Doug Gottlieb sat courtside, Nebraska’s Cookie Miller missed two free throws with 19 seconds remaining leaving the door open for A&M’s Josh Carter to do this:

Both of these teams will likely earn NIT births.

Earlier this season, Gottlieb said that Miller was “acting like a punk” during an altercation that took place in the Kansas-Nebraska game. That prompted an angry “Big Cookie” Miller, father of “Little Cookie” Miller, to demand an apology from Gottlieb.

I know, who cares.

No. 2 UConn visits No. 8 Marquette in lovely Milwaukee tonight

I plan on snuggling up in my Snuggie at about 6 PM CST tonight to watch this game. These teams are polar opposites; Marquette has a great backcourt and a small, below-average frontline, while UConn lacks backcourt depth but is big and talented up front.

So who wins?

Without Jerome Dyson, UConn will struggle against Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, and Wesley Matthews. All three players can get to the rim and also have strong mid-range games. Although Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet have a huge advantage inside, UConn has struggled to get the ball inside consistently this season. Thabeet gets most of his points off dunks and layups, but rarely dominates offensively.

A.J. Price will be the key to tonight’s game. The UConn senior guard has really matured this season, but he will need to have a huge game for the Huskies to win tonight.

I like Marquette, largely because this is a home game for the Golden Eagles. Tonight should be fun.

Other games of interest tonight

Kentucky visits South Carolina – Kentucky is a relatively average team that gets a lot of attention thanks to Jodie Meeks. Devan Downey and South Carolina are solid, and I like the Cocks tonight in a pivotal SEC East matchup.

No. 7 Duke visits Maryland – Sweaty Gary Williams might need IVs after this one. The Terps absolutely need to win to keep the dream of making the Big Dance alive, but it probably won’t happen tonight. Duke’s guards are slow, small, and bad, so look for Greivis Vasquez to drop 30 tonight. Also look for Duke to win by at least 10.

Virginia Tech visits No. 12 Clemson – It doesn’t seem like Clemson ever plays a road game, and they host a tough Hokie team tonight. Virginia Tech is talented but inconsistent, so who knows what will happen. Since Clemson is also talented and inconsistent, I like the Hokies tonight.