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Props Slaps
 09-13-2012, 02:08 PM         #9141
stackmatics 
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 Born_Loser said:
dude reminds me of Jamal Crawford with these crazy a.ss shots

 4 years ago '04        #9142
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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Chris bi*chMADEsard

If all goes as planned, the New York Knicks will have a frontcourt full of "Dream Shakers."

Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the greatest players in NBA history and the architect of the legendary "Dream Shake" post move, will spend several days next week training some of their players at the team's practice facility in Greenburgh, N.Y.



They both have to realize that the most important thing is not how great you are individually. You're remembered for how many games you win. So to get to play with another great offensive player should help you. It should make your job easier. You have to work well together. You can't be competitors with one another.
” -- Hakeem Olajuwon on Amare
Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony

Olajuwon, who will fly from his home in Texas, said he expects to work out with Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby.

Olajuwon worked out with Stoudemire earlier this summer, training the Knicks center for two-and-a-half weeks in the gymnasium on his 400-acre ranch outside of Houston. Olajuwon, who was able to excel alongside superstar teammates Ralph Sampson and Clyde Drexler, said there's no reason Stoudemire and Anthony can't have similar success playing next to one another.

"They both have to realize that the most important thing is not how great you are individually," Olajuwon said. "You're remembered for how many games you win. So to get to play with another great offensive player should help you. It should make your job easier. You have to work well together. You can't be competitors with one another."

While Olajuwon has taught Stoudemire back-to-the-basket post moves, he said the Knicks' game plan should not be simply to post up Stoudemire while Anthony dominates the perimeter.

"It shouldn't be Amare just staying in the post because he can be a scorer in the paint and outside," Olajuwon said. "It's the same thing for Carmelo. He can score in the post and outside. So if Carmelo is in the post, Amare can be at the foul line and he can make that shot. If Amare's in the post, Carmelo can make the shot from the free throw line, too. They shouldn't be competing against each other, they should be complementing each other. They need each other to win."

But Olajuwon doesn't think the Knicks need to be a two-man show offensively. He sees great offensive potential in Chandler, who averaged 11 points a game for the Knicks last season, three above his career average.

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"You can see that he has great timing by the way he rebounds, blocks shots and catches lobs," he said. "He's got great timing and reflexes. I haven't seen him use any moves of his own, though. But there's no way a guy with that kind of talent and timing should not have effective moves. So I want to teach him some moves so he can use all of that talent. If you add some moves to all the talent and energy he's got, it will open up a whole new door for him. That's what he should be looking to add to go to the next level."

Chandler is excited about working with Olajuwon. He was scheduled to work with the two-time NBA champion earlier this summer but had to pull out because of the Olympics.

Olajuwon played with Knicks coach Mike Woodson for three seasons in Houston, and it is Woodson who set up next week's training sessions.

In recent years, the former Rockets star has become renowned for working with today's elite players. In addition to Stoudemire, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard have all flown to Olajuwon's ranch to learn from him
 4 years ago '04        #9143
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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might be true since NO SOURCES CLOSE TO bi*chMADEsard ..... still, fu*k that n*gga
 4 years ago '04        #9144
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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don't trust a goddamn thing bi*chmadesard says so i hit up Hahn....hopefully i get an answer :(
 4 years ago '04        #9145
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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Hahn replied back to me

"“@alanhahn any truth to The Dream flying to NY?” Woodson and he are tight. Hakeem enjoyed working with Amare. "


Last edited by Born_Loser; 09-13-2012 at 08:11 PM..
 4 years ago '04        #9146
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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Marc Stein

"Free-agent rumble: Knicks continue to rate Kenyon Martin as vet free agent they like best but NYK, to date, haven't sold him on vet minimum "
 4 years ago '10        #9147
Blkboipurp 
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 Born_Loser said:
Marc Stein

"Free-agent rumble: Knicks continue to rate Kenyon Martin as vet free agent they like best but NYK, to date, haven't sold him on vet minimum "



I wonder if he'll eventually give in...
 4 years ago '04        #9148
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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Nate Taylor

Mike Woodson made a request early. Even before he knew he would be coaching the Knicks again, Woodson looked into the future. He needed help. He called Hakeem Olajuwon, his longtime friend and a Hall of Famer known for teaching fundamentals.
Related

The Knicks had just been eliminated by the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, and Woodson wondered if Olajuwon could help Amar’e Stoudemire with his footwork and low-post moves. When the Knicks did retain Woodson — removing his interim title — and gave him a contract extension, he called Olajuwon again. This time, Woodson was in Houston, ready to execute his plan with Olajuwon.

“I feel so honored that he asked me to help,” Olajuwon said.

Since retiring in 2002, Olajuwon has developed some of the N.B.A.’s best players. Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and LeBron James have all flourished under Olajuwon’s tutelage. The lessons have always taken place at Olajuwon’s ranch in Katy, Tex.

Now, for the first time since being available to players during the summer, Olajuwon will travel to a team’s facility to show players his moves. This week, Olajuwon will be in Greenburgh, N.Y., with several Knicks players, including Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Stoudemire. He will also be alongside Woodson, the man who persuaded him to make the trip.

Having worked with Stoudemire for more than two weeks this summer, Olajuwon is clearly fully invested in a.ssisting Woodson, and ultimately the Knicks, the team he beat in the N.B.A. finals with the Houston Rockets in 1994.

“It was something I wanted to do for Mike,” Olajuwon said. “It’s always a joy for me to work with current players, especially for guys that you know you can help their careers.”

Woodson and Olajuwon were teammates with the Rockets from 1988 to 1990. Woodson, a veteran at the time, helped the younger Olajuwon mature. Even then, Olajuwon could tell Woodson was interested in coaching once his playing career was over. The two formed a bond, and Olajuwon has watched Woodson become a respected coach in the league.

“Mike showed a flash toward the last part of the season of what he can do,” Olajuwon said, referring to the Knicks’ 18-6 record after Woodson replaced Mike D’Antoni in March. “You can tell he is comfortable making the right move to succeed.”

No one in the league will disagree with Woodson’s efforts to develop team chemistry. Earlier this week, Olajuwon said Anthony and Stoudemire would need to complement each other for the Knicks to win. He also said Chandler could be more dominant in the post with more back-to-the-basket moves.

Olajuwon will have the players focus on repetition in their post moves during the pre-training camp workouts.

“I think the team is expecting a lot of itself,” Olajuwon said. “They know they have to accomplish a lot this season.”

At first, Woodson wanted Olajuwon to come to New York during the early part of the off-season to help his three primary frontcourt players. That wasn’t possible, though, once Anthony and Chandler began training with the United States national team in preparation for the Olympics.

But Woodson, in a move that impressed Olajuwon, traveled to Katy in early August to watch Stoudemire’s first few training sessions.

Over dinner, Woodson told Olajuwon about his plans for the season and how he wanted the Knicks’ offense to focus on getting the ball inside. Woodson also saw Stoudemire’s improvement under Olajuwon.

He then asked Olajuwon if he would be interested in teaching Anthony, Chandler and others.

“The ranch is quiet and it’s very comfortable for the players,” Olajuwon said. “But I can understand with the guys coming back from the Olympics, so this time I made the exception to come to New York.”

Olajuwon said he was willing to give the Knicks feedback during the season. He expects the Knicks to progress under Woodson and contend in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks will be on Olajuwon’s TV a lot.

“When you work with a player for hours, days and weeks, you want to see them play,” he said. “You want to see how quickly they improve and mature.”
 4 years ago '04        #9149
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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“Unrestricted free agent Shawne Williams, who had his best season in New York in 2010-11, wants to return to the Knicks but the team isn’t interested, according to a source close to the versatile forward.

Several sources have told ESPNNewYork.com that the Knicks want to add a seasoned power forward, possibly to back up Stoudemire. The top candidates are Kenyon Martin and Louis Amundson, but both players want at least the mini mid-level exception of $3 million or higher. Other fours include D.J. White, Chris Andersen, who played with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smithin Denver, and Jordan Williams, who played for the Nets last season.”
 4 years ago '07        #9150
Chief|m 51 heat pts51
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the dream shakers
 4 years ago '07        #9151
Funeral James 24 heat pts24
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All of the back up forward options are trash, I thought they already sign Kurt Thomas and cam by how much more backup do they need?!




  1 - 0 STRK: 1 w in a row WIN PCT: 100% 217 (-134) 
  Career: | Aug 16: 47-24, Rank #82 | Aug 15: 53-44, Rank #135 | Aug 14: 155-91, Rank #48 | Aug 13: 64-32, Rank #54 | Aug 12: 212-123, Rank #30 | Aug 11: 333-187, Rank #38 | Aug 10: 1090-567, Rank #11 | Aug 09: 2-1, Rank #328 | Aug 08: 3-1, Rank #625 *
 4 years ago '04        #9152
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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Jonathan Abrams

Earl Smith Jr. found salvation in his jump shot. Smith could always shoot, and in basketball a shooter can live forever. In college, he clashed with his coach at New Jersey's Monmouth University, unable to understand why the second team remained the second team, even when they were routinely drubbing the starters in practice. When he'd finally had enough, he confronted his coach, said everything he wanted to say, and stormed off. That was the end of Earl's college career. But his shot never left him. He frequented Belmar's Jersey Shore League for the next decade, making cameos in other semipro leagues, popping up whenever a team needed someone who could stretch a defense.

In 1985, Earl passed on his genes, his basketball acumen, and his name to his first son: Earl Joseph Smith III. He placed toy hoops in every nook of the house. He taught the boy to bend with his knees and push with his arms as he shot. By the time the boy turned 3, he could sink free throws on a regular basis. Earl instructed the boy to do push-ups — not too many, but enough to build strength — and to use the form as an inverted model for his jump shot. When another son arrived two years later, the brothers practiced plays coordinated to numbers. They gave and went on one. They picked and rolled on two. They jabbed and back-doored on three.

"Defense was the last thing I taught them," Earl explained, "because you can make it without defense."

Earl wasn't wrong. The elder of the two brothers now admits that his father "taught me every fundamental that I know, especially my shooting technique." That jumper sustains his NBA career — but it doesn't define a successful one. You know the boy as J.R. Smith, a perplexing, polarizing player and personality. Smith is one of the last members of the NBA's much-debated prep-to-pro generation. He's made money in bunches, more than $25 million in his career, and he will find a team long after his athleticism erodes — like his father, he will always be able to shoot. But he's also defined by something that isn't tangible: untapped potential. Eight years into his star-crossed career, coaches and fans still don't know what to make of J.R. Smith.

Even today, Earl Smith Jr. remains confident that the NBA would have beckoned if only his path had veered a little differently. He measured himself against NBA players like Vinnie Johnson, Eddie Jordan, and James Bailey while holding his own in the Jersey League. His a.ssociation with those players linked him to a rapidly evolving NBA during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Larry and Magic brought the NBA to the masses. Television ratings swelled, contracts ballooned, players flew first class. Free agency ensured that rosters became less fluid from year to year. Salary discrepancies between stars and bench players had been thrown out of whack. "The new salaries had made it more difficult," David Halberstam once wrote in The Breaks of the Game. "It had heightened natural tensions between teammates as it increased the differences that always existed."

That same period laid the groundwork for the basketball philosophies of several other basketball lifers who would shape the education of Smith Jr.'s oldest son. John "Pott" Richardson began his climb to more than 400 wins while coaching the Piners of Lakewood High School in New Jersey. Dan Hurley started honing his game under the tutelage of his father, Bob. Byron Scott capped a successful collegiate career and became a fixture of the "Showtime" Los Angeles Lakers under Pat Riley. Meanwhile, George Karl coached the CBA's Montana Golden Nuggets, stealing bit by bit from mentors Larry Brown, Doug Moe, and Dean Smith. And Mike Woodson launched his NBA career under the Knicks' Red Holzman after playing for Bobby Knight at Indiana. They would all eventually cross paths with J.R. Smith. Their inability to make a lasting impression remains the most confounding thing about a confounding career.

Richardson first noticed J.R. Smith when he dominated the Lakewood youth leagues as a 12-year-old. He called him "a court rat." Smith eventually landed at Lakewood after pit stops at Steinert High and McCorristin Catholic High — a red flag, in retrospect — as people quickly noticed Smith's body didn't resemble the body of a typical high school kid. Richardson remembers the Camden High kids, from Milt Wagner to his son, Dajuan, always seeming more physically mature. Like men playing against boys. Now he had one for himself.

"He's the only guy I ever coached," Richardson said, "that had that [physical] structure and could play outside, face the basket at six-five, six-six."

The second thing everyone noticed? Smith's jump shot. With a simple flick of the wrist, Smith could drain 3s — or as Richardson called them, "4-pointers" — from laughable distances. The coach started pushing his young star, demanding that he finish first in sprints and stay late to work on that jumper. Smith obliged, never challenging his coach for fear he'd be benched. Richardson still laughs at Smith's athletic prowess — like his ability to throw down putback dunks in one seamless motion, or the bombs he launched that were closer to half-court than to the 3-point line. Smith also prospered on Lakewood's football team, where he played all over the field — wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, safety, even quarterback — saved two games with field goal blocks, scored a deciding touchdown on a blocked kick, and routinely caught touchdown passes on soaring fade routes with one hand.

"He obviously made the right decision to concentrate on basketball," said Nick Eremita, Lakewood's coach at the time. "But I coached high school football for over 20 years and without a doubt, he's an NFL-type player."

Clemson offered Smith a football scholarship based solely on watching his game film, something that didn't surprise his coaches. Dave Oizerowitz, Lakewood's offensive coordinator at the time, likened Smith to "a more athletic and probably a faster Plaxico Burress." Oizerowitz added, "He was really just scratching the surface. But the best thing about him? He was a great kid. He always had this big smile on his face and was always popping into the office, asking, 'Coach, how are you doing?'"

Smith gave up football after transferring to St. Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark, where he repeated his junior year and played against better competition. "I graduated high school when I was 16," Earl Smith Jr. explained. "I said my sons ain't gonna do that. If I can get that extra year out of them, it makes a world of a difference."

Even though it would be Smith's fourth high school in three years, Randy Holmes, an a.ssistant to Richardson and one of Smith's mentors, agreed with the move. He admitted that "in order to get where [J.R.] had to get in life, he had to leave Lakewood. He had to. He could have scored 50 points at Lakewood, but that wouldn't have really done anything for him. He would have been All-State. I don't know if he would have been able to go to North Carolina or the NBA. The critics would have said, 'Who has he played against?'"

Richardson learned of the transfer while reading the local newspaper. The Smiths never discussed the decision with him, though he knew it was inevitable.

"They weren't forthright about it," Richardson says. "But it's OK. All is forgiven. It's in the past."

You might remember a string bean kid named Kevin Garnett declaring for the NBA draft right out of Chicago's Farragut Career Academy High School. The NCAA wanted him to skip his freshman basketball season and prove himself academically. Garnett had other ideas. Two decades earlier, three ballyhooed high schoolers — Darryl Dawkins, Bill Willoughby, and Moses Malone — started playing professional basketball right out of high school. Only one of them reached his potential: Malone, who eventually won three MVP awards in Houston and Philly, but only after unsatisfying stops in Utah, St. Louis, and Buffalo. In 1989, Shawn Kemp entered the NBA without playing college ball, becoming a high-flying sensation for the Seattle SuperSonics. That opened the door for Garnett in 1995, then a superior high school player but someone described by Michael Wilbon in the Washington Post as not "physically ready to play under the basket in the Big Ten, much less against Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson. His skill level isn't high enough; he isn't savvy enough."

Garnett proved his skeptics wrong, quickly playing big minutes for Minnesota and embarrassing every team that hadn't scouted him. When high schoolers Kobe Bryant and Jermaine O'Neal followed his lead, NBA scouts reluctantly began haunting high school gyms. No one wanted to miss the next Garnett or the next Kobe. And yet … everyone agreed this was heading in the wrong direction. "I just always felt it was somewhat uncomfortable going into a high school gym and evaluating high school players," said Pete Babcock, a former general manager of the Atlanta Hawks. "It wasn't where you should be. It was just uncomfortable."

You wouldn't have found many people who believed J.R. Smith could jump straight to the NBA. Dan Hurley remembers his father — a Hall of Fame coach at Saint Anthony High School in Jersey City,1 known for his disciplined, demanding style — dropping in on St. Benedict's games and rolling his eyes at Smith's shot selection. Dan Hurley loved Smith's work ethic, though. In two years, he never had to kick him out of a single practice, saying now that Smith wanted to get coached and that Smith would have run through a wall for him. The St. Benedict's teachers also liked Smith; he quickly became one of the school's most popular kids. He lived on campus and was in bed by the 11 p.m. curfew every night. "He was a guy that never expected anything," said Father Edwin Leahy, St. Benedict's headmaster. "A lot of these guys can be prima donnas. There wasn't any of that in him."

Leahy can only remember one incident in which Smith was suspended for a game — after he and teammate Alex Galindo left campus without permission. The reason? They wanted haircuts before a big game.2 Meanwhile, tales of Smith's exploits began to spread. Once, he outscored an entire team for three quarters before Hurley mercifully removed him from the game. Another time, he pulled off a 360-degree dunk as, teammate Bashir Mason remembers, "people literally, in the middle of the game, started running out of the stands and running onto the court." St. Benedict's claimed the state championship during Smith's (second) junior year. The next season, Smith set school records for points scored (700), 3-pointers (108), and field goal percentage (.541). Says Hurley now, "It was amazing what he was able to do so effortlessly, as a shooter and scorer. God blessed him."
 4 years ago '04        #9153
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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Smith entered the 2004 McDonald's All-American game as something of a national unknown. That changed quickly — he sank five 3s, scored a game-high 25 points, and claimed co-MVP honors with a man-child named Dwight Howard. Eventually, Smith eschewed a commitment to North Carolina and declared for the 2004 NBA draft, a night that could have doubled as a high school graduation. A record eight high schoolers were selected in the first 19 picks, highlighted by Howard going first to Orlando over established college center Emeka Okafor.3 After New Orleans grabbed Smith at no. 18, he told the Asbury Park Press that "sitting on the bench, I would take that as a lesson, whereas other guys might take that as an insult. Everyone's not going to play right away. It's just a reality, especially when you're a rookie. Not everybody can be LeBron or Carmelo."

If only it had been that easy. Smith's first NBA coach was Byron Scott, someone who wasn't accustomed to losing — the 2005 Hornets lost 64 games — and babysitting teenage shooting guards. Scott takes a more diplomatic stance these days, remembering Smith's rookie season as "a little bit tougher than he probably expected," but also that "we knew he was going to be a hell of a player. We also knew it was going to take some time." Smith didn't do himself any favors by practicing his half-court shot when his teammates queued up at the free throw line, or joking around in the locker room after losses — two habits that irked Scott and Hornets veterans.

"It was probably tough on both of them," former Hornets guard Speedy Claxton said. "Byron was old-school. He grew up under Pat Riley. He's probably one of the most hard-nosed, disciplined coaches there is. J.R. was used to being the man and probably got away with a lot in high school. It was a power struggle between them."

Smith's father believes Scott didn't help J.R. nearly enough, calling him a "good friend" before adding, "You've got a kid out of high school, you treat him as an adult, and you can't do that. He's with men and he's done something wrong, you need to guide him with your hand and say, 'No, you don't do that.' Or every time he comes with his shirt out, you fine him. You've got to nurture him. That's with anything."

Holmes, Smith's mentor from his Lakewood days, moved with Smith to New Orleans, where he witnessed the realities of the professional game affecting Smith's confidence. "For the first time in his basketball career, he wasn't the man," Holmes said. "Coaches really got on him. Byron Scott is old-school. It's his way or no way. You can just sit on that bench and rot if you don't do what the coach wants you to do or you don't get it."

Their already tenuous relationship was irrevocably shattered during Smith's second season, which the Hornets split between New Orleans and Oklahoma City in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They went months without speaking to each other. Smith's playing time and scoring dropped, despite the addition of spectacular rookie point guard Chris Paul — someone who should have made Smith better in every way. When Scott benched him while the Hornets were depleted by injuries, Smith vented to the Times-Picayune about his coach's "big" ego, bemoaning their lack of communication, while essentially begging for a trade.4 The Hornets accommodated him in 2006 by flipping P.J. Brown and Smith to Chicago for Tyson Chandler. Six days later, Chicago sent him to Denver for two second-round picks.

Asked what he learned about dealing with coaches, Smith ominously told the Times-Picayune, "Just play your game, because you'll probably be around a lot longer than they will." Now with his third team in as many seasons, Smith ran the risk of becoming another cautionary tale, someone mentioned in the same sentence as Korleone Young and Leon Smith. Meanwhile, NBA commissioner David Stern was becoming increasingly mortified by the collective immaturity of the league's younger players and the effect it was having on NBA scouting. In 2006, the NBA mandated that American-born players must be at least 19 years old and at least one year removed from high school to be draft-eligible for the league. Stern wanted to push even further, lobbying for an age minimum of 20 — he wanted NBA personnel out of high school gyms altogether.

Naturally, Earl Smith Jr. disagrees with that stance: "Come out of high school and [you're] in the top 30 of the NBA draft. You go to college, you get exposed. Now, you're out the draft. You've got to get the money when you can go and make a few million dollars without doing that manual labor. You can get an education later. I know how hard it is. I worked a long time to even try and make a million dollars. It don't come easy."

If Earl really believes his son didn't need those two years in college, that may be all you need to know about J.R. Smith's NBA career.

"Every October, I wrote the same feature story: 'Is this the year J.R. turns it around and grows up?'" said Benjamin Hochman, the Nuggets beat writer for the Denver Post who also covered Smith in New Orleans. "You get J.R. talking about how he's matured and George Karl saying how he hopes J.R. will play more defense and be part of a system. Every year, J.R. would not mature and not grow as a player or as a person."

No relationship has ever captured the NBA's conflicting generations better than Karl and Smith — even years later, it's impossible to forget the incredulous expressions on Karl's face whenever Smith launched one of his patented 25-footers at the worst possible time. They were doomed from the start. Earl Smith Jr. remembers riding a stationary bike in the Nuggets' training facility and seeing Karl enter with his a.ssistants, unaware that Earl was J.R.'s father. "I'm going to bust that Smith kid's a.ss," Smith overheard Karl say to his staff before realizing that his father was present. Smith Jr. encouraged Karl to coach his son; Smith promised to remain just a father. But Karl and J.R. Smith clashed early and often, mostly over playing time.

For someone like Karl, a basketball lifer who learned at the feet of Dean Smith at North Carolina and has watched the NBA dramatically evolve over three decades, J.R. Smith presented a special kind of challenge. After particularly poor play from Smith in Game 4 of a playoff series against the Spurs in 2007, Karl memorably hissed, "I just love the dignity of the game being insulted right in front of me."
 4 years ago '04        #9154
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When Karl reflects on his time with Smith, he sees a systemic problem: Too many young players, he said, are more concerned with claiming new contracts than championships. Karl witnessed the power struggle firsthand, watching Carmelo Anthony's contract desire fracture a potential playoff contender. "When you're f!ghting for a contract, it gets confused," Karl said. "Then when you have AAU basketball and NCAA basketball and the power of entitlement, the power of the posse, you don't know who's in a guy's ear all the time.

"I've got two and a half hours with 15 guys," Karl continued. "There's no leader in the world or coach in the world that can motivate or energize all 15 of them. There are probably going to be three or four that are going to feel left out. There are going to be two or three that are going to feel picked on."

Nuggets fans couldn't understand why Karl refused to unleash a player with such obvious talent. "There's always the potential of a volatile relationship when you have a young kid trying to find his way paired with an established, veteran, successful coach who likes things the way they like them done," said Rex Chapman, the team's vice-president of player personnel at the time. "[Smith] came in and he didn't know who he was. He tried to be Carmelo. We traded for Allen [Iverson]. He tried to be like Allen. It wasn't until a year or so later that J.R. really started to become more comfortable with himself and tried to be J.R. Once he did that, we saw a real growth in his game as well as a more mature guy off the court."

Karl typically voiced his displeasure with Smith through the media, a tactic that didn't endear him to Smith or his family. "You start talking about a young kid and you're the head coach and you're going to the media and saying, 'He'll shoot you in the game, he'll shoot you out,'" Smith Jr. said. "Now the media picks up on it. You know what I told [J.R.]? I told him, 'Every time you get in, shoot it. He's going to take you out anyway. So you might as well shoot it.' And that's what he did."

J.R. Smith turned his body into a bright canvas during his Denver stint.5 Flames shot up his shooting arm with the words "Through the Fire" streaking underneath. His nickname, "Swish," appeared under his chin. A rendering of his mom is on his chest and cartoon characters and the words "Just Klownin" are on his back. He has the words "In Love With My Money" inked on him as well the letters "D-E-M-I," in honor of one of his two daughters, on the knuckles of his right hand.

For a while, Smith's transgressions seemed harmless — just an immature kid acting out. But his troubles eventually turned tragic.6 In 2007, Smith illegally sped past another car, hurtled through a stop sign, and broadsided another vehicle. Andre Bell, Smith's high school friend and passenger, died from injuries he sustained in the crash. Neither Bell nor Smith was wearing a seat belt. Smith spent only 24 days in jail in the summer of 2009 for reckless driving. The a.ssociated Press reported that Smith racked up two more speeding tickets and three license suspensions in New Jersey between the crash and sentencing. The NBA suspended him for seven games, but the repercussions of that accident will never fade.

"It affected us in a million different ways," Father Leahy said. "They were great friends. He's got to live with that day for the rest of his life. Could he have made another decision? Should he have made another decision?"

Smith vowed to grow up after the accident, dropping "J.R." and briefly changing his name to "Earl." It didn't last long. Neither did his renewed commitment to defense or his ability to accept his role as a game-changing scorer off the bench, which Karl insisted was Smith's ultimate professional destiny.

"I never understood this," Smith Jr. said. "I'm looking at all the other NBA teams and who they've got coming off the bench. There's no spark. You're supposed to play your best five. I still don't understand that to this day. 'We needed a spark off the bench.' Well, you've got seven other players who are supposed to be NBA players, they all should be sparks. Think about it. You're paying all these guys this money and you don't got no spark on the bench? Well, you shouldn't have nobody on the bench."

"That's commentary of people that really have never coached," Karl responded after hearing Smith's take.7 "Not starting doesn't mean a thing. The guys who finish the game are the guys who are most important. They are the ones who coaches are going to cater the game to and structure the game around. Sometimes it's easier for a talented player to come off the bench. Just the thought process of being a starter is overrated, and I think it affects players. I don't deny that it affects players. But as a coach, I think the power of the bench is as important to me as the five guys who start the game."

J.R. Smith is clear about the best and worst parts of his time in Denver. The highs? The fans. The lows? "The coaching. I think if our coaching would have brought us together more, we would have had more success."

Smith remembers his relationship with Karl changing dramatically after the Knicks and Nuggets' brawl in 2006, which resulted in a 15-game suspension for Carmelo Anthony; Smith believes Karl never fully forgave him for Smith's part in instigating the melee. In Smith's five seasons with Denver, the talented Nuggets routinely flamed out early in the playoffs, with one notable exception. In 2009, after respected veteran Chauncey Billups arrived, Denver stretched the Lakers to six games in the Western Conference finals. "We couldn't do nothing with Kobe at that time," Smith says now, skipping over the fact that they played the same position.

After Anthony pushed for (and received) a blockbuster Knicks trade in 2011, Smith left Denver the following summer and eventually joined him there. Karl admits that "it ended in a way that I'm not totally satisfied," before adding, "I'm disappointed that I couldn't connect a little better and be the guy that led him to the next step, the next stage of specialness. In the same sense, I think both of us tried. I don't think it was a relationship that was ugly. I wish I would have been able to give him more time and answer his questions rather than be the dictator of his future. J.R. kind of came to us as a player that no one wanted, and we already had Melo. We already had, I think, A.I. on the team. We already had Marcus Camby and Nene. We had a lot of guys that needed my attention. I think we could have had more success if he was one of our top two or three guys early in our stint together, where maybe I would have spent more time explaining what I wanted, explaining where I wanted him to go and what I wanted him to do rather than being the dictator of what was going on."

After last season's lockout ended, Karl's Nuggets became one of the league's surprise success stories, surging into the playoffs and dragging an experienced Lakers team to seven games. Ironically, they were given a major boost by midseason acquisition JaVale McGee — like Smith, a talented enigma who never reached his potential on his previous team. (You could say Karl is batting one for two.) Over the summer, the Nuggets traded for Andre Iguodala, another low-maintenance, high-reward player who weaves right into Denver's fabric. "This is the most excited I've been in the summer for a long time," Karl admitted. For the first time in years, the Nuggets might actually have great chemistry.

Jim Cleamons helped the 1972 Lakers to a championship as their lockdown defender. He sat on Phil Jackson's benches in Chicago and Los Angeles, and he watched how Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant approached practice and games for the better part of two decades. Cleamons also struggled to harness a famously spoiled team of young millionaires — the 1996 Mavericks, who imploded when Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson, and Jamal Mashburn couldn't get along — and a.ssisted Scott during Smith's rookie season. He believes Smith couldn't handle himself as a professional or an adult because he wasn't prepared for the NBA lifestyle.

"There's so much about the game that [high schoolers] do not understand," Cleamons says, "that you cannot tell them that they don't understand because it's basketball and they've been playing basketball since they were in elementary school. But they haven't played it at this level against grown men who they haven't heard about and don't have any respect for, but are actually pretty good even though they are not All-Star, marquee players. It's not J.R., it's the system."
 4 years ago '04        #9155
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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Cleamons saw Smith up close recently, when he coached China's Zhejiang Guangsha last season. His squad beat Smith's Zhejiang Golden Bulls twice after Smith signed there during the lockout. To nobody's surprise, that relationship ended badly — Smith and the Golden Bulls both claimed the other did not live up to their contractual obligations. The organization claimed Smith missed nearly every practice, even though he led the team in scoring with 36.4 points per game.

"He definitely played more liberated," Cleamons laughed. "The fact is, they want Americans to score. He knew he was the guy. I don't think there was a game he didn't try to get 50 or 60 points, just because he could."

Smith filed a lawsuit to recoup the nearly $1 million the organization docked him. His father said the team reneged on other services stipulated in his contract — even basic amenities, like a driver and a stipend for food. "I didn't visit," he said, laughing. "They told me some horror stories. I know myself. I'd probably be in [a Chinese] jail right now."8

Smith landed in New York in time for the team's brief 2012 playoff run. Sophisticated Knicks fans appreciate what George Karl appreciated: In the right situation, Smith can be a game-changing scorer off the bench, a streaky and dangerous player, someone who feeds off the intensity of the home crowd. Maybe it's not the identity Smith wanted for himself, but it's better than nothing. He never became Kobe Bryant, but he avoided becoming Korleone Young, too. If you listed the careers of all the high schoolers who jumped to the NBA from 1995 through 2004, Smith would probably finish above the mean. Of the 35 players drafted out of high school since 1998, only five have made an All-Star team. And Smith enjoyed the fourth most productive career — behind Howard, Al Jefferson, and Josh Smith — of the eight high schoolers drafted in his class. At the same time, everyone agrees he could have been better.

"We're talking out of both sides of our mouths," Cleamons says, "and [young players] are caught in the middle because they are impressionable, because they want to play and they want approval. We want to talk about them doing things and then when it doesn't happen, we want to throw them under the bus and say, 'They haven't done this. They haven't done that.' Well, is it their fault? Or is it the way we teach them? Is it our expectation of what we want from them? It's the whole kit and kaboodle. It's pure unadulterated American capitalism vs. coaches who are trying to win ballgames and championships — and the kids are caught in the middle."

In August, J.R. Smith seems relaxed at the J.R. Smith Youth Foundation annual golf event. He shakes hands and shares hugs with family, attendees, and Knicks officials before finally ducking into the clubhouse of Lakewood's Eagle Ridge Golf Club. His daughter Demi sits at his side, playing games on his iPhone. Smith keeps a careful eye on her as he navigates an interview with a reporter.

"The perception is I'm a s3x, drugs, and rock and roll type of person," he says. "The reality is I'm kind of like an ocean. Everything is calm, calm, calm. I'm good. When the ball goes up in the air, the waves start rocking."

Smith has always been considered a selfish player, a gunner looking out for his own numbers. But there's another side to Smith that the public rarely sees. He paid for his brother Chris's9 tuition when Louisville reverted his scholarship status to walk-on in order to land a bigger recruiting class. His foundation helps pay school and camp tuition fees for underprivileged children. Smith also contributed money to relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

Eight years into his NBA career, many are losing hope in Smith realizing his All-Star potential. He's not completely sure where the blame lies. "It's a teenager trying to grow up in a man's world," Smith said of his trying relationships with Scott and Karl. "Coming from Jersey and the McDonald's All-American Game, I'm expecting to be treated a certain way because all my peers that I came out with, everyone was being treated a certain way, so I kind of felt entitled to that. It was more than just earning it. It's definitely a fault of mine as well as theirs. It goes hand in hand. I just can't point the finger at them. A few actions I made probably didn't help, too. I'm not going to sit here and tell you I'm the white angel. But I'm not the dark demon, either."

How did a once-coachable kid with a supportive family become such a hassle for NBA coaches? Was this simply teenage rebellion writ large? Richardson wonders if these last few years, right down to the tattoos, represent Smith "making up for lost time," emerging as "expressions of certain freedoms." Holmes agrees, pointing out that Smith wasn't permitted much of a social life by his parents. "He never went to a prom or anything, rightfully so," he said. "That was part of his liberation, expressing himself, getting out of that mode."

There might be something to that. Or it could be simpler. Had J.R. Smith gone to North Carolina for two years, he might be a five-time All-Star right now. We'll never know. When Mike Woodson took over New York's head coaching job after Mike D'Antoni's dismissal last March, he mentioned Smith's maturation as being crucial to his success. "He has to be more professional about how he handles things," Woodson told reporters. "My job as a coach is to make sure he gets there."

For the next two months, Smith played more minutes, took more shots, and played capable (sometimes even inspired) defense for Woodson. "It's the best relationship I had with a coach ever, other than playing with my dad," Smith said. "He definitely treats you like a man, from what I understand, until you've proven otherwise. He's such a level-headed person and he wants to see his players do well. He puts his personal agenda and goals aside to see his players do well. A lot of people wouldn't do that. A lot of coaches, players, or GMs, owners, wouldn't do that."

Now 27, Smith reupped with the Knicks10 this summer for two years and $5.6 million (he holds an option for the second year). Woodson will continue to mentor him. Or try to mentor him. Growing up with 11 siblings, Woodson learned how to juggle all kinds of personalities. He's considered a "player's coach," someone who allowed Smith and Anthony significantly greater freedom in his offense. You won't see many appalled head shakes from Woodson after one of Smith's patented 25-footers with 18 seconds left on the shot clock. He wants his guys to play freely, maybe even a little recklessly — a blessing and a curse for someone like J.R. Smith.

"Coach Woodson reminds me of my head coach and how he dealt with J.R.," Holmes said, comparing Woodson to Richardson. "He gets on J.R.'s case, but at the end of the day, J.R. knows it's business and he doesn't mean any harm by it. J.R. responds well to that type of coach."

That doesn't mean things are stable for Smith. In March, he sparked a brief media firestorm when he tweeted a photo of a woman's posterior, drawing a $25,000 fine from the NBA to go with his 24 hours of sports blog ignominy.11 Then he was arrested in Miami two months later for his failure to appear in court — this time, for operating a motor scooter without a proper driver's license. For the last four months, he's been drama-free. Whether anyone believes that can last … that's another story.

"Like a lot of guys in this sound bite culture, he can come off as unsympathetic at times," Chapman said. "But the one thing is when you're around J.R. day in and day out, it's really hard not to like him."

It's something you'll hear about J.R. Smith over and over. Says Mason, now the head coach at Wagner College: "If I called J.R. right now and said I needed him to come to campus and talk to the guys, there's no doubt in my mind that he would be here in the drop of a dime to help me out. He would do that for anybody that he was close to or in our circle. He's just a loyal guy. I've got no issues being in the foxhole with him. He would have my back no matter the situation."12

How could such a loyal guy give so many coaches so many headaches? We know he's the product of a now-defunct system that favored expectations over achievement, a system that allowed young players to feel entitled when they hadn't actually earned anything yet. But how does that explain descendants of Dean Smith, Pat Riley, and Bob Knight coaching Smith without ever getting through? Was he just destined to become a memorable player who never truly reached his potential — no different from his father, just playing on a larger stage? When will people like Rex Chapman stop saying things like, "He's got all the tools to be an All-Star; consistency is probably the one thing that will keep him from getting there"?

Leave it to the only man who followed him from New Orleans to Denver, the one who's written his story time and again, to put J.R. Smith's career in perspective. "Talent-wise," said Benjamin Hochman, "J.R. Smith should be better than J.R. Smith."
 09-22-2012, 11:36 AM         #9156
stackmatics 
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didn't think i would've read the whole J.R. Smith story but it described his career perfectly.
 4 years ago '04        #9157
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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By MARC BERMAN

Basketball scouts mystify Mychal Thompson, the NBA’s first overall pick in 1978 with the Blazers who won two titles with the Lakers.

One of his sons, shooting guard Klay Thompson, became a lottery pick by the Warriors in the 2011 NBA Draft. Klay, and his drop-dead 3-pointer, became one of the NBA’s top rookies last season.

Another son, Mychel, out of Pepperdine, didn’t get selected in the same draft. He started last season on the Knicks’ D-League team, the Erie Bayhawks, before getting a shot with the Cavaliers. He appeared in five games, making three starts.

“Today’s NBA scouts mostly look at athletes rather than basketball players,’’ Mychal Thompson told The Post. “They don’t look at guys who understand how to play the game of basketball. It always puzzles me, the guys who really understand how to play and have high basketball IQs. The Spurs take those guys, but far too many scouts don’t value that anymore.’’

The Knicks apparently do. That’s why Mychel Thompson — at a.ssistant general manager Allan Houston’s insistence — is headed to Knicks training camp that opens in one week. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard has a legitimate shot to make the team. One scout said he can now shoot it all the way to the 3-point line. The 24-year-old will compete against guard Chris Smith, forward Chris Copeland and John Shurna for the 14th and 15th spots.

Thompson played on the Knicks’ summer team in Las Vegas, averaging 5.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in 20 minutes. Houston also is the Erie GM and saw a lot of Thompson.

“[The Knicks] are a good opportunity,’’ said Mychal Thompson, the Lakers radio analyst for 10 years. “He’s a 6-7 big guard — one position they are in search of with the [knee] injuries to Iman Shumpert. Mychel is capable of stepping in and providing what they need at the 2 guard, defensively. Allan wanted him at camp because he also knew how to play the game.’’

As far as comparisons to Klay, the senior Thompson said: “Klay is more scoring-minded. That’s the difference. Klay wants to be a scorer, like Kobe [Bryant] and [Dwyane] Wade. Mychel is more apt to let his teammates take over the scoring load. But Mychel is better getting to the rim. He’s bigger and stronger than Klay.’’

All three of Thompson’s sons are pro athletes. The youngest, Trayce, 21, is a baseball player who was a second-round pick by the White Sox two years ago and advanced from Single-A to Triple-A in his first full season. Trayce also doesn’t see much difference between Klay and Mychel, other than Klay’s 3-point shooting.

“Mikey is just as physically talented, not as gifted a shooter, but more athletic, stronger and more vertical ability than Klay,’’ Trayce said. “Mikey always beat Klay 1-on-1 in high school. ... Mikey cared too much about his teammates in college scoring and it damaged his personal stats. I always felt you put him on the court with the NBA’s best guys, he can look like he belongs.... He has just as much as talent as Klay, and Dad and Klay tell him that.’’

Santa Margarita Catholic coach Jerry DeBusk, who just retired after 20 years, coached the three Thompson brothers. He raved about the boys’ parents, including 5-foot-10 Julie, a former volleyballer at San Francisco.

“I wish they were all like Mychal and Julie Thompson,’’ DeBusk said. “I never talked basketball with Mychal. He wasn’t one of those parents who came in and asked why my kid wasn’t playing more.’’

“All three boys are very competitive with each other, driven to success and put in the work,’’ added DeBusk, who won a state title with Klay and Trayce. “I saw Mychel improve so much at Pepperdine. They’re the crème de la crème. All three looked up to dad and his accomplishments. That was kind of who they aspired to be.’’
 4 years ago '04        #9158
Born_Loser|M 82 heat pts82
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Bermanator

Did piece today on SG Mychel Thompson. If final roster spot comes down to Thompson and Chris Smith, I can't see

how #Knicks would want Smith - unless there's a side agreement with his brother J.R. Chris is essentially an undersized 2-guard and Mychel is a better defender and much longer at 6-7. Mychel's already played in NBA, started three games with Cavaliers and had stint in Erie. He's a smart player with high basketball IQ and comes from great stock. I know Allan Houston really likes him. Will be interesting, but my vote has been cast
 4 years ago '10        #9159
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If Mychel Thompson can't take a spot over Copeland or Smith then he needs to quit Basketball.
 4 years ago '10        #9160
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By Seth


Frank Isola just twat that the Knicks are close to hiring Dave Hopla as a shooting coach. And indeed, if you check out Hopla's Twitter profile, he lists himself as an a.ssistant coach for the Knicks (and a motivational speaker to boot!) and has a bunch of recent tweets accepting congratulations and remarking on the prospect of settling in New York. So, perhaps they're closer than close.

Who is Hopla? Well, you've probably encountered his legend before even if you don't remember his name. Hopla may or may not be the best shooter of basketballs on the planet. He holds the world record for most NBA three-pointers (one ball, one passer) sunk in a minute and once casually sunk 550 consecutive free throws. That Dan Steinberg post also reports that Hopla's system is called "BEEF", which stands for "Balance Elbows Eyes Follow", not "Bite Ellen Every Friday" as I originally suspected. Hopla has worked before with the Raptors and Wizards and a number of individual players, so he wasn't plucked straight out of the Guinness Book.

So, it would seem that Hopla's the new shooting guru, replacing Phil Weber (and interim shot whisperer Allan Houston) in that role. I can't think of a Knick whose shot needs total reworking (Ronnie Brewer doesn't count because his quirky form is out of necessity, though perhaps it could still be tweaked), but there are several guys-- Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Chris Copeland, even Carmelo Anthony-- who have solid form but could be more consistent. Oh, and I really look forward to some shooting contests between Hopla and Steve Novak.

This might be a stupid question, but does this mean the last spot on Mike Woodson's bench is now occupied? Is LaSalle Thompson-- whose name has been attached to the Knicks for weeks-- no longer in the running? I guess we'll see.

Update: Ian Begley:

Can confirm #Knicks hired shooting coach Dave Hopla. Hopla will serve as a player development guy & will conduct individual workouts.

Begley's not sure yet whether Hopla's hiring fills that vacancy on Woodson's staff.
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