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Archive → August, 2012

Michael Jordan’s Nike-Reebok stunt overshadowed Chuck Daly’s proud moment during 1992 medal ceremony

I’ll have a few posts up this weekend about “Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever,” Jack McCallum’s new book. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book for review.

Nike-man Michael Jordan draping an American flag over his Reebok logo was the defining moment of the Dream Team’s gold-medal ceremony, but lost in the stunt was a nice moment for Chuck Daly. McCallum’s “Dream Team”:

Several of the Dreamers beckoned for Daly and his assistants to join them on the podium. They had grown quite close to the staff over the weeks together and had universal respect for Daly. They loved his staccato speech, his sweat-only-the-big-stuff philosophy, his command of the game, and his habit of occasionally touching up his hair and smoothing his collar ever so subtly, even in the heat of the game. “Every time I went out on the floor,” Malone said years later, “I’d look back and there would be Coach Daly doing all this . . .” Malone mimicked a man grooming. “Everything had to be perfect.”

True to fashion, Daly and his assistants demurred, players-first guys to the end. From the press area, I wanted to scream: Chuck, get up there! You’ll be coaching the New Jersey Nets soon! Enjoy this! But he was enjoying it, as Wilkens later made clear. “Chuck grabbed my arm and just held on, and I looked over and there was a tear coming out of Chuck’s eye. That said it all for me.”

Isiah Thomas’ Dream Team exclusion due to Michael Jordan, timing

I’ll have a few posts up this weekend about “Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever,” Jack McCallum’s new book. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book for review.

Why didn’t Isiah Thomas make the Dream Team? Jack McCallum and Bill Laimbeer, relayed by McCallum, had two different answers.

“It would have been very interesting to see if this happened the way it went if the team was picked back in 1989 or 1990, when the Pistons were the king of the league and Isiah was the king of the backcourt,” McCallum recalled Laimbeer saying. “OK, what we would we have done then? How much would the committee have been able to not select Isiah?”

“To me, it’s the most complicated thing in the world, although it’s the most simple,” McCallum said. “And that was, in my opinion, Michael Jordan did not want to play with Isiah Thomas. He let that be known obliquely, implicitly or just said it.”

I think they’re both right.

Personally, I thought John Stockton deserved to make the team over Isiah, though admittedly, it’s debatable. But that’s the point. If Isiah were a lock based on ability in 1991, maybe Jordan couldn’t have kept him off the team. But because Thomas and Stockton were at least close to a tossup, Jordan could exert his influence and wedge Thomas out.

If the team were selected in 1990 for the FIBA World Championship in Argentina, as Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus imagined, Isiah might have made it. At that point, Isiah was clearly better than Stockton. Jordan broke a near tie in 1992. That doesn’t mean he could have kept a clearly better off the team in 1990.

Of course, many don’t see Stockton and Thomas as near equals at the time of selection.

“I thought Isiah Thomas deserved to be on the team,” McCallum said.

And he sort of wrote that in 1991:

Stockton, who has led the NBA four straight years in assists, is a brilliant quarterback, but he simply does not belong on the Olympic team ahead of Thomas.

But McCallum, when picking his Dream Team before the actual squad was selected, chose neither Thomas nor Stockton. McCallum actually chose Joe Dumars for his team. Where was the outrage on behalf of Dumars?

But the decision was perceived to come down to Stockton and Thomas, and in the absence of consensus about those two’s on-court level in 1991/1992, Michael Jordan got to cast the deciding vote.

“That is politics. There’s no question about it,” McCallum said. “But it’s the kind of pragmatic decision and politics that is made all the time.”

Jack McCallum: Greg Monroe’s agent didn’t keep him off U.S. Select Team

I’ll have a few posts up this weekend about “Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever,” Jack McCallum’s new book. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book for review.

“Dream Team” is a fantastic book that’s more than a compellingly detailed history of the Dream Team, which it also is. What sets the book apart – for better or worse, but mostly better – is Jack McCallum’s first-person accounts of the experience, his experience. McCallum was with the Dream Team at nearly every step, and while it would be impossible to get the truth of the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball, I’ll happily settle for McCallum’s truth. He establishes himself as knowledgeable and fair, and mort importantly, presents his biases for the reader to judge.

Above all, my biggest judgment of McCallum: He gets it. A veteran Sports Illustrated writer, McCallum consistently demonstrates his knowledge of professional basketball’s off-court politics and the on-court tactics.

So, even though McCallum wasn’t specifically reporting on this year’s Olympics, when he spoke to the TrueHoop Network about his book, I wanted his opinion on the idea that Greg Monroe was left off the U.S. Select Team because David Falk is his agent.

“If that committee thought that they needed Greg Monroe, they wouldn’t have cared who his agent was,” McCallum said. “He would be on the team.”

Without specific knowledge of Falk’s importance, I agree with McCallum. The select team is a scout team, and he players chosen ahead of Monroe possess certain skills that he doesn’t. There’s a plausible explanation for Monroe being left off that has nothing to whom his agent is.

Besides, does Falk really ruffle anyone’s feathers any more, to the point the selectors would take decades-old grievances out on Monroe?

“My sense is he probably would not have that currency right now,” McCallum said of Falk.

The Pistons can finally afford to give Tayshaun Prince some rest

Many Pistons fans, myself included, have been hard on Tayshaun Prince the last couple seasons for his penchant to bog down the offense in isolations (or Isolayshauns). That’s not totally fair, though. Bad teams often force players to try and do too much, and that is the position Prince found himself caught in with the Pistons of the last three seasons. He’s more productive as a third or fourth option, but out of necessity, he became a first or second option. He did the best he could in those circumstances.

In today’s Detroit Free Press column, though, I wrote about how the Pistons might finally have enough talent heading into next season that they can comfortably reduce Prince’s role, get more opportunities for their developing All-Star Greg Monroe and also keep Prince more rested:

Prince, despite his slight frame, has been one of the most durable players in the NBA during the era in which he’s played. But he’s also getting older. The Pistons also have multiple capable backups, including Corey Maggette, an effective player if healthy, who can give him more rest than he’s accustomed to this season. Prince was more efficient offensively when he was asked to do less and better able to take advantage of his versatility. The Pistons have young players capable and hungry for larger roles. They’ve also invested in Prince for three more seasons. All of those factors should cause the team too consider a slightly reduced role for him this season. That’s not an insult to anything he’s accomplished in his career. Asking players to do too much is a trademark of most bad teams. The Pistons are finally in a position where they no longer have to do that with Prince, and that’s a great sign that the team is finally starting to make some positive progress.

Harold Ellis leaves Pistons for Magic

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Sources: #Pistons director of pro personnel Harold Ellis takes similar position with Orlando Magic

I’d guess Scott Perry, who left Detroit for Orlando earlier in the summer, wanted Ellis.

Good news for Greg Monroe: Age limit for 2016 Olympic basketball unlikely

Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated:

The NBA’s interest in pursuing an age ceiling for Olympic basketball is "unlikely” to be instituted in time for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, according to the source, who has direct knowledge of the talks involving the International Olympic Committee and FIBA, the international ruling body for basketball.

NBA commissioner David Stern has publicly floated the idea of establishing a maximum age for men’s basketball players of all countries at future Olympics that would mirror the rules of soccer, which requires that players in the Olympic tournament be no older than 23, with three exceptions (for players of any age) allowed per roster.

But the source stressed that quick action on an age limitation is highly unrealistic for FIBA. Passage of the new rule will require the ratification of 213 national basketball federations around the world — the sporting equivalent of the United Nations. The involvement of the IOC will further complicate the talks.

Greg Monroe is 22, so he’d be 26 by the next Olympics. It would be nearly impossible for him to deserve one of the three over-23 spots in 2016, but if there’s no age limit, he would likely be a decent contender for the roster.

Kim English keeping promise to Joe Dumars about Andre Drummond

In June, Kim English took some responsibility for Andre Drummond. David Mayo of MLive:

The Missouri guard asked Dumars on Friday how old Drummond is.

Upon reply, English said, “I got him,” and promised to make sure his fellow rookie gets to the right places at the right times.

Apparently, English is keeping that promise. English now:

I found a place to live last week, a condo, and I went furniture shopping with Dre – Andre Drummond – and we got all of our furniture, too.

Me and Dre drive to the gym together every morning.

Pistons assistant coach Bill Pope a candidate for D-League’s Idaho Stampede head-coaching vacancy

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Pistons assistant coach and advance scout Bill Pope is a candidate for the head coaching position with the D-League’s Idaho Stampede, the affiliate of the Portland Trail Blazers, who will make the final decision. Pope has been with the Pistons since the 2003-04 season.

Pistons will “most probably” put ads on their jerseys

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Palace Sports & Entertainment president Dennis Mannion said Detroit Pistons jerseys “most probably” will have small sponsorship patches in the future.

The NBA signaled last month that — pending formal league approval — it will allow small patches on the upper left part of jerseys.

“The ilk of sponsor that you could attract is typically very big consumer marketers, and they help you with your brand,” Mannion said. “So I think we are doing an OK job here in the Detroit metro area with the Pistons brand, (but) there are sponsors out there that can take you to a whole new level and other markets, and that’s exciting.”

I don’t like the idea of ads on jerseys, but it’s not that big a deal to me. More importantly, who am I to object how one private business deals legally with another private business? If the Pistons believe they can make more money by selling jersey space – and that’s not totally guaranteed, because jersey sales might drop – go for it.

Pistons fan Nick Willis to run in Olympic 1,500-meter final at 4:15 Eastern

Nick Willis, a diehard Pistons fan, will run in the Olympic 1,500-meter final at 4:15 Eastern.

The feed is available here.

UPDATE: Willis finished ninth.