In the fifth season of his NBA career, Tyson Chandler came off the bench for the Chicago Bulls, scored 5.3 points per game, shot 50.3 percent from the free-throw line and was booed regularly at the United Center. Afterward, he was exiled to New Orleans, where in an exhibition game he grabbed an offensive rebound next to the basket and passed it back to the perimeter. Former Hornets coach Byron Scott called timeout to remind the 7-foot-1 center that he could dunk. When Chandler arrived in Dallas last season, it was the second time he had been traded in two years, with two other deals falling through because of various injuries to his left foot.
On Jan. 28, 1948, Providence Steamrollers coach Nat Hickey decided to activate himself for one game. That was two days before his 46th birthday. Statistics from those ancient days are notoriously unreliable, but the NBA Guide says that Hickey missed all three of his shots, and got an entry into the stat book only by committing one personal foul.
"Bang ups and hang ups can happen to you," Attorney General Eric Holder read to a group of preschoolers from Dr. Seuss' book "Oh, The Places You'll Go" at the Department of Education's kickoff to its summer reading program on Wednesday.
One of the worst habits of journalists, including myself, is beginning sentences like this: "There will never be another ..." We do it all the time, caught in the moment, unable to remember the immutable truth that there is an unstoppable tide to history, players and events coming and going, coming and going, coming and going.
To an extent, covering the NBA in the 1980s meant covering the Lakers and the Celtics. For the better part of that decade, I could set a preseason agenda of travel to L.A. and Boston -- with some side trips to Chicago (a guy named Jordan was playing there) and Detroit (the Bad Boys first turned baaa-d in the mid-'80s) -- and be pretty much on the money. And it came, conveniently, full circle in my final year as a full-time NBA beat writer when it was Boston-L.A. in the 2008 Finals.
What I remember most clearly from the John Wooden Basketball Encounter in 1984 -- attaching the word "camp" apparently wasn't special enough for the organizers and Wooden would never have allowed the word "fantasy"-- was the moment when the Wizard of Westwood first walked into the gym. There were about 40 of us, ranging in age from 35 to 65, sitting at attention in the bleachers at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse. We were like a gaggle of high school freshmen waiting for the first glimpse of The Coach, the half-man/half-god who would lead us to glorious victory and impart the secrets of manhood in the process.
If you popped on SI.com, you will see Dan Shaughnessy's interesting counter to my magazine story a few weeks ago about Tim Duncan. My story was more about my endless fascination with Duncan -- the main line was probably this one: "Has American sports ever had a player all at once so great and so unknown?" The man is so counter to today's sports world -- he's the opposite of flashy, the antithesis of SportsCenter, the inverse of hype. He's 1957 transported. He might be the greatest invisible player in American sports history.*
Is Kobe Bryant the greatest of all Lakers? He now ranks No. 1 on their all-time scoring list after dunking softly with both hands on a third-quarter breakaway Monday in Memphis. Bryant finished the 95-93 loss to the Grizzlies with 44 points for the night and 25,208 points in his 14th season, surpassing the franchise record held by the general manager who acquired him in a draft-night deal, Jerry West.
BOSTON -- It was the type of game you didn't want to have a conclusion. All that would mean is Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo would have to stop playing. For four quarters and one blissful overtime period the two smallest players on the floor squared off in a heavyweight battle. First it was Rose, powering to the basket and using his sturdy 6-3 frame to absorb contact and make bucket after bucket on his way to tying Kareem Abdul Jabbar's -- who was then known as Lew Alcindor -- 39-year old record for the most points (36) for a rookie in his first playoff game. Then it was Rondo, slicing through the lane with reckless abandon and using his long arms to flip the ball up over taller defenders. He finished with 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
The chatter in the Lakers' postgame locker room Friday night sounded like the stuff you hear on the other side of the glass, outside the nursery. All the proud papas were oohing and aahing and koochie-kooing, even though none of them, chronologically, was old enough to actually be Andrew Bynum's father (not even Arkansas-Little Rock Class of '96's Derek Fisher). So let's go with father figures or just big-brother figures, in the way one after another L.A. teammate talked about the 21-year-old. If jerseys had buttons, they'd have been popping.
In honor of the extended holiday, here is an extended look at the simplest way I know to gauge NBA championship potential. Search the roster of any team for an MVP-level talent with the leadership and drive of Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, Hakeem Olajuwon or (to cite the newest example) Kevin Garnett. Well more than half of the NBA teams are absent this kind of star, which means you can essentially write them off as championship contenders (unless they are the Detroit Pistons of a few years ago, as you'll see below). Here's a look at who makes the biggest difference in the biggest games -- and who may be next to join them.
Tucked between Lot 6 and Drake Stadium, just a stone's throw from the Bruin Bear, sits the greatest venue in all of sports: Pauley Pavilion. It is where John Wooden used to roll up his game program and where Lew Alcindor honed his sky hook. It is where I slept out for games as a freshman and where I did radio play-by-play as a senior.
Regarded as the NBA's best player for several years but never its most valuable, Bryant earned the honor at last on Tuesday after leading the Los Angeles Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference
Seven current members of the San Antonio Spurs already had been there, done that, feeling that rush of emotions that comes with an NBA player's first championship ring. Three more -- Ime Udoka, Ian Mahinmi and Darius Washington -- hadn't been anywhere or done anything yet in Spurs terms, so they were merely curious bystanders Tuesday night at the AT&T Center during the pregame ceremony for the league's defending champs.
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, 59, who scored an NBA-record 38,387 points, was cover material well before his first pro game. Last Saturday at UCLA he was feted for his starring role on the 30-0 Bruins team of 1966-67. Here, Abdul-Jabbar, a special assistant coach for the Lakers, talks to SI's Arash Markazi about eight of the 22 SI covers he has landed on.