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News » Nets, Iverson, Artest earn NBA's attention

Nets, Iverson, Artest earn NBA's attention

Nets, Iverson, Artest earn NBA's attention It's been an interesting week of stories in the NBA . For instance: News item:The New Jersey Nets set the all-time NBA record for futility to start a season. Commentary: The lowly Nets actually lost more games in a row than last year's Detroit Lions, which set the NFL record with an 0-16 start (and finish). Unfortunately, New Jersey didn't have the consistency, sense of surrender and/or misfortune of the Lions, blowing their unique opportunity for an 0-82 record on Friday night with a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. It was their first game coached by the team's general manager and new interim coach for the rest of the season, Kiki Vandeweghe. Still, the Nets should hold off printing playoff tickets just yet.

Even with the victory, the Nets are on the exact same pace ? 1-18 ? after 19 games as the all-time worst team in the Association's history, the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers went 9-73 that year. Meanwhile, if the Nets could have held off victory for just one more week, they would have set the record among all the major U.S. sports. Instead, the members of the 1988 Baltimore Orioles are breathing a sigh of relief and celebrating that their record 0-21 mark remains the record of futility to beat. News item:Allen Iverson's one-week "retirement" ends when he returns to where he had his greatest NBA success, Philadelphia. Commentary: It was a brilliant move for the 76ers ? if the bottom line is more important than the wins and losses. Philly, a playoff team last season, had lost eight games in a row and was just 5-14 overall entering Saturday night's game at Charlotte. Iverson will make his debut against another of his former teams, the Denver Nuggets, on Monday. Philadelphia, which won just 26 percent of its first 19 games, will improve. Philly fans will suggest that Iverson is the reason. That won't, necessarily, be the case. Iverson ? as was shown in his brief stints in Memphis and Detroit ? isn't the player he once was, and he has little interest in helping young teammates get better. But from a box-office standpoint, Philly getting Iverson back is brilliant "What I didn't expect (after signing Iverson) was the overwhelming response from the fans," Peter Luukko, the president and chief operating officer of Comcast-Spectacor, owners of the Sixers, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "The fans were so positive and there were relatively few negative calls ? and they are buying tickets." He didn't expect that reaction from Philly fans? C'mon, of course he did. Iverson is a hero in Philadelphia and he was brought in simply to sell tickets. Inquirer columnist Bob Ford put it this way: "You wonder if Allen Iverson realizes he's little more than a circus freak now. ... His name will be atop the sideshow, luring in the curious and the bored and the kind of people who slow down to gawk at the wrecks along the highway. He is the bearded lady, the fish boy, the bear who chugs beer from the bottle. ... He can no longer lead a team to a championship. He can no longer be trusted to accept a complementary role on a contender. Now, he is merely to sell tickets for a bad team. Look at that man down there, son. He used to be Allen Iverson." News item:Ron Artest claims he would drink alcohol at halftime of games while playing for the Bulls. Commentary: Artest, the talented but often troubled swingman now with the Lakers, told the Sporting News that he sometimes drank cognac during halftime of games early in his career. Of course, it's an admission that NBA commissioner David Stern didn't want to hear? and one that even Artest's teammates with the Bulls don't necessarily believe. Artest has been a fine player, but he may be best known for his instigation of the Pacers/Pistons brawl that drew him a 73-game suspension in 2004. Now 30, Artest says he's grown up and wants to be a better person. He says that's why he has admitted drinking during games ? to tell young people what not to do. "I understand I'm in a situation where I have to be a role model," Artest is quoted as saying in an Associated Press story this week. "I'm just in that situation, so that's something I'm working towards. It's not something I'm running from, but I have to tell people what I've been through, because when it comes up later, I'm not going to want it to be a shock. I tell people what I've been through, and I think it'll help me be more of a role model in the future." Artest's new team in Los Angeles likes him. Kobe Bryant, for instance, said he gets "an A-plus" as a teammate. Now, I'm not sure any parent wants Ron Artest as their child's role model. But in a weird way, his openness and willingness to admit that youths look up to him as a pro athlete is refreshing, as is his newfound sense of team. Your kid could have worse role models, I guess. Take Tiger Woods, for instance. News item:Jerry Sloan agrees to yet another one-year contract extension with the Jazz. Commentary: Sloan has earned the right to decide when he will retire, and for now he still wants to work as a Basketball coach. He's a Hall of Famer. The Jazz have been good to him ? and vice versa ? for nearly a quarter of a century. Consider, since Sloan took over for the Jazz, there have been 236 coaching changes and five teams added to the league. He's the only coach to have 1,000 NBA victories with a single team. Yet even more amazing than Sloan's run as the Jazz's head coach is Phil Johnson's stint as Sloan's top assistant. If there was such a thing as a hall of fame for assistant coaches, Johnson would be a surefire first-ballot selection. Johnson, a former NBA Coach of the Year for the Kings, has been with Sloan for 20-plus years with the Jazz. He could have looked for a head coaching job elsewhere, but the Idaho native, Utah State graduate and former Weber State coach has instead found a home as Sloan's right-hand man Johnson still gets to be the big boss a couple times per year ? on average ? when Sloan misses a game after being ejected or suspended. But for the most part, he's been a loyal soldier in the background while Sloan gets most of the credit for Utah's consistent success the past couple of decades. Jazz owner Larry Miller, before his death last season, always said Johnson would get the first offer to be the next Jazz head coach should Sloan retire. But with Johnson already 68 and Sloan signed up to coach the Jazz through the 2010-11 season, Johnson may never get that chance ?? or even want it by the time it's offered. Even if he never is an NBA head coach again, Phil Johnson should be remembered as one of the all-time Jazz greats and a loyal assistant like no other in league history. News item:Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy to appear on "60 Minutes" tonight to discuss his betting on games, his being threatened by the mafia and his new book. Commentary: Donaghy is a felon, a crook and a disgrace to his profession and the NBA . That said, much of what Donaghy writes in his book "Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal That Rocked the NBA " seems believable. NBA conspiracy theorists who feel the league has a soft spot for stars, big-market teams and playoff series going as long as possible will have a field day. "Almost every referee on the staff had an occasional agenda that could affect the outcome of a particular game," Donaghy wrote. He has also stated that the NBA's ultimate goal was always "milking television revenues for every last dollar." Donaghy said he never fixed games but that he didn't have to. He knew the officials so well that he knew their tendencies and could predict the winners 70 percent of the time or better based on that knowledge. "I didn't need to fix (games)," Donaghy wrote. "I usually knew which team was going to win based on which referees had been assigned to the game, their personalities and the relationships they had with the players and coaches of the teams involved." That's a scary concept, but it actually seems believable, sorry to say. News item:The Jazz go retro by wearing green, music note jerseys from the 30 years ago. Commentary: Sloan had the best comment on this (non) story. "I'm not really fond of green except on a tractor," the veteran Jazz coach said. But green is the color of money ? and money is the real reason the new/old jerseys were worn Friday night and will be several more times throughout the season. The Jazz and the NBA have said that the retro jerseys are to honor the league's history. Utah, they point out, wore jerseys like that back in their first season in Utah, 1979-80. But ? let's face facts ? the real reason for the duds is for a spike in sales of replicas sold in Jazz-owned Fanzz stores. And ? what a coincidence ? they are available just in time for the Christmas season! e-mail: lojo@desnews.com

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 6, 2009


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