Grant Hill has been named the 2017 recipient of the NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award, which honors an individual who has provided significant leadership as an advocate for college sports.
“Grant Hill’s phenomenal success as a basketball player and graduate of Duke University paved the way for him to provide opportunities for other students to pursue higher education,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “We all enjoyed watching as he achieved success on the basketball court, but I am most impressed with how he has used his professional success as a platform to regularly advocate for college sports while working to improve the lives of others through his work as a supporter of higher education and the well-being of kids all over the country.”
Hill was a two-time national champion men’s basketball player at Duke University and a National Association of Basketball Coaches All-American. He was selected third overall in the 1994 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons and went on to play for 19 years in the league.
In 2013, Hill retired from professional basketball and began broadcasting for Turner Sports. He has called professional and collegiate basketball games, including the NCAA Men’s Final Four.
Hill and his wife, Tamia, have continued to support Duke University and students pursuing higher education, including donating $1 million to the university and establishing the Calvin Hill Scholarship Endowment Fund at the Duke Divinity School in honor of Hill’s father. Hill also has created the Grant Hill Achiever Scholarships in Orlando, Florida, and Detroit, which provide scholarships to local students.
In 2010, Hill was named a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, where he helps develop national initiatives and platforms to motivate Americans to get involved in physical activities and incorporate better eating habits into their lives. He also actively has worked with first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.
“The NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award is a tremendous honor, and I am humbled to be in such great company with past honorees, including Coach (John) Wooden, Coach (Pat) Summitt and Billie Jean King,” Hill said. “I cherish my four years at Duke and truly appreciate how much I grew as a person and player in that time. I am fortunate to have benefited from the experience, guidance and mentorship of such great professors, coaches, administrators, classmates and, of course, my parents. Collegiate athletics teaches us to lead by example, and it is my ambition to continue to lead by example for generations to come.”
Hill will receive the award Jan. 20 at the 2017 NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, and will serve as the Convention’s keynote luncheon speaker.
Named in recognition of Gerald Ford, the 38th U.S. president and a member of two University of Michigan national championship football teams, the award was established in 2004 by the late NCAA President Myles Brand. It was first awarded to the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame. Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state and a professor at Stanford University, was last year’s recipient.
BY Meghan Durham /
PUBLISHED January/10/2017 /
Former Tennessee All-American and WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings will serve as an analyst on SEC Network, calling several women’s basketball games during the remainder of the season.
Catchings recently retired from the WNBA after a 15-year career with the Indiana Fever. Her illustrious professional career includes a national championship (2012), most valuable player (2011), four Olympic gold medals, and five-time defensive player of the year. She was also named Rookie of the Year in 2002 after leading the team in point, rebounds and assists, and ranking in the league’s top 10 in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
“I am thrilled for this opportunity to work with so many talented broadcasters at ESPN and to learn from each one of them,” said Catchings. “As a young girl, I never imagined I would be put in this position. I’m excited to embark on another journey in sports.”
Prior to the WNBA, Catchings played under legendary head coach Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee and was a member of the 1997-98 undefeated team that captured the national championship title. Her accolades as a Lady Vol include four-time All-American, the Naismith National Player of the Year (2000) and Academic All-SEC.
“Tamika is a legend on the court,” said Pat Lowry, ESPN Coordinating Producer II. “Her tenacity, passion and high basketball IQ will make her an invaluable asset to our SEC Network telecasts. Along with being a world-class athlete, Tamika’s humanitarian and volunteer efforts speak for the kind of person and teammate we’re all honored to work alongside.”
Catchings will call her first game of the season on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 2 p.m. ET when Texas A&M faces No. 24 Kentucky on SEC Network.
SEC Network is slated to carry more than 70 women’s basketball games this season, including coverage of No. 4 Mississippi State, No. 5 South Carolina, and No. 24 Kentucky.
BY Anna Negron /
PUBLISHED January/6/2017 /
ESPN Media Zone
In the waning minutes of a blowout victory Monday night, a largely unknown rookie unleashed a specific brand of momentousness. Making his National Basketball Association debut, Chinanu Onuaku of the Houston Rockets drew a shooting foul and stepped to the free throw line, typically the blandest portion of a game. Except Onuaku held the ball at his waist with both hands and hoisted the ball at the hoop in an underhand motion, his arms spreading apart.
Teammates cheered and pointed on the bench, stars made rapt during a walkover. What remained of the Toyota Center crowd erupted. They had witnessed the return of the “Granny-style” free throw, a relic unseen at the sport’s highest level in decades. Onuaku, a 6-foot-9 20-year-old from Upper Marlboro, Md., outside Washington, had broken a stigma, or at least shown he would not be the victim of one.
Despite evidence it can improve free throw shooting, especially for big men, the form has remained foreign from the NBA since Hall of Famer Rick Barry retired in 1980. Players uniformly resisted it, afraid of looking foolish, standing out as childish or unmanly. Or at least they had until Onuaku made his debut Monday night and made both free throws he attempted, shooting them underhand.
Barry himself had studied Onuaku since last year, when Onuaku switched to shooting underhand as a college sophomore. Barry appreciates Onuaku’s commitment to improve in the face of possible derision. The greatest Granny-style shooter of all time was less charitable about Onuaku’s form.
“I admire the fact he was willing to try something different,” Barry said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “Unfortunately, his technique leaves a lot to be desired.”
As a freshman at Louisville, Onuaku made 46.7 percent of his free throws. After the season, Louisville Coach Rick Pitino showed him video of Barry shooting underhanded and suggested he copy Barry’s technique. Onuaku debuted the form in Greece, while playing in an international under-19 tournament for Team USA, to snickering, bewildered teammates. When he returned to Louisville as a sophomore, his percentage rose to 58.9 percent.
“I don’t really care what people think,” Onuaku told Sports Illustrated last year. “I know they’re going to make fun of me. I just brush it off. It’s all about getting better.”
The Rockets selected Onuaku in the second round of June’s draft. He spent the season’s first two months with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s NBA Development League affiliate, where he has shot 67.4 percent from the foul line — more than a 20 percent leap from his freshman season.
Foul shots have vexed many of basketball’s greatest big men, most famously Wilt Chamberlain, who may have been the greatest. His best season came in 1961-62, at age 25, the one year he utilized the underhand technique. Chamberlain made 61.3 percent that season, including the night he sank 28 of 32 in his landmark 100-point game.
The next season, he went back to shooting overhand, with a form somewhere between a drunk throwing a dart and an overgrown child hurling a rock. He converted 51.1 percent of foul shots in his career and tried everything to become better at making them overhand, even visiting a psychiatrist for a month. “After I came out of it,” Chamberlain later joked, “the psychiatrist was a better free throw shooter than I was.”
But Chamberlain never reverted to the Granny-style form on a full-time basis. His reason? “I felt silly,” Chamberlain wrote in his autobiography. “Like a sissy.”
The sentiment persists. Opponents intentionally foul mammoth bricklayers such as DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard, believing they will effectively steal a possession once the targeted player misses two free throws.
Barry once tutored a poor NBA free throw shooter, whom he will not name, to shoot underhand free throws. “I had him shooting 80 to 90 in practice,” Barry said. “He never had the guts to do it when he went back to the team.”
Drummond is the Detroit Pistons’ best player, but his dismal, NBA-worst free throw percentage — 35.5 percent last year — sometimes causes coaches to pull him in late-game situations. This offseason, he vowed to try anything, including virtual reality training. And yet he has refused to attempt an underhand free throw.
“Everything was considered,” Pistons Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He wasn’t as receptive. You don’t really like to do things guys aren’t receptive to.”
Barry resisted, too, when his father instructed him to use the form in high school. “I can’t do that,” he told him. “They’re going to make fun of me.” But he ultimately decided that results mattered more.
“My first time doing it, I was in Scotch Plains, N.J.,” Barry said. “I hear this guy in the stands yell, ‘Hey, Barry, you big sissy, why are you shooting like that?’ The guy next to him, I remember hearing him so clearly as if it was yesterday, says to him, ‘What are you making fun of him for? He doesn’t miss.’ That’s the bottom line. It’s not how you do it. It’s whether it goes in or not.”
In his professional career, Barry drained 89.3 percent of his free throws. He led the NBA in free throw percentage the last three seasons of his career, topping out at 94.7 in 1978-79. The NBA average this season is 76.6 percent.
One argument in favor of shooting underhand, compared with traditional overhand, is that it requires less movement and is therefore easier to repeat. There are physics behind the form as well. Shooting underhand creates a slower, softer shot, because a two-hand shot, gripped from the sides of the ball, allows a player to impart more spin than a shooter launching the ball forward with one hand. John Fontanella, a professor at the Naval Academy who wrote “The Physics of Basketball,” said most shots spin at two revolutions per second, but an underhand free throw will rotate three or four times per second. The additional backspin means more shots that bounce on the rim fall through.
“There’s something to be said for having a different shot for a different situation,” Fontanella said.
Friends of Barry have made an important point to him: Do you think maybe it’s not as easy for people who do not, like him, possess some of the purest shooting touch the sport has known? Van Gundy, the Pistons coach, worked as a counselor at one of Barry’s basketball camps in the late 1970s. One day, Barry challenged anyone present to a contest, and Van Gundy volunteered.
“What the hell, you know?” Van Gundy recalled Tuesday. “I was a good free throw shooter, even though I obviously wasn’t Rick Barry. So I go out there so we’re both 9 for 9. I make my 10th one, I’m shooting first, and he says, ‘Okay. Here’s what I’ll do. I’m going to shoot this next one blindfolded and with double the arc, and it’s got to go through nothing but net.’ If it doesn’t, I win, because he didn’t want to keep it going. So I think, This is great. So they blindfold him, and he shoots the ball, and it seems like it goes up to like where the ceiling was, and straight through. Straight through. And I was like, ‘All right. . . . If you can do that, I ain’t going to win, anyway.’ ”
And so perhaps Onuaku, nearing 70 percent, has used the form to approach his potential. Already, he has brought something back to the NBA.
“I was nervous as hell,” Onuaku told ESPN. “I’m just happy that I made them.”
Onuaku’s story does not have a happy ending, at least for now. The Rockets shipped him back to Rio Grande Valley before their game Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks. Onuaku’s departure from the NBA will likely be temporary, but it will leave the league, again, without a player willing to sacrifice aesthetics for success at the foul line.
But there is another player out there. At Florida, graduate transfer Canyon Barry, Rick’s son, is making 85.7 percent of his foul shots using the underhand form his father taught him. Attending one game, Rick watched Canyon shoot a free throw and overheard a fan behind him say, “That’s embarrassing.”
“And why is it embarrassing?” Barry asked, turning around. “Isn’t the ball going in the basket?”
“Yeah,” the fan replied.
“Well,” Barry said, “what’s embarrassing about making your free throws?”
BY Adam Kilgore /
PUBLISHED December/27/2016 /
The Washington Post
Before Ray Allen ever touched a basketball, the NBA’s all-time three-point kings was born on Castle Air Force base in Merchard, Cali. Walt Allen, a metals technologist, spent 21 years in the military, repairing planes and raising his five children on bases around the the world. One month after the third Allen child officially retired from basketball, Ray joined General Joseph F. Dunford on the USO’s Holiday Tour, visiting American troops in Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and Germany. Allen recounted his life-changing experience to The Crossover’s Jake Fischer.
As a child, I thought I was cursed. I never had the opportunity to live in one place for longer than three years. I never had an opportunity to keep my friends and I wasn’t good at writing letters either. But as I got older and started traveling and then got to the NBA, I realized it was a blessing because I was tailor-made to do what I do: travel around the world and meet and interact with so many different people. I felt like I was built for it.
Every base that I lived at as a kid, I have been back to visit, except for two: one in Oklahoma and another base in Germany. So when the USO called me up and invited me to go abroad—with a stop in Germany—I assumed we would be visiting the base I grew up at. I had so many memories from that base, but I always felt like I needed some type of conclusion or closure. So I was very much looking forward to going to Ramstein, but we ended up at a different base called Grafenwoehr. As it turned out, I still got that closure; being on that base and seeing a lot of young people, I saw a lot of the military members’ spouses and their kids and it still gave me that same feeling I had as a military dependent myself.
There was one gentleman in particular I remember at the Grafenwoehr base. He was 21 years old and had already gotten to see the world. It was so inspirational to hear that because you realize the military has given this young man wings, literally, to fly and be able to see things all around the globe.
In the NBA, often times we’ll be in the locker room and we’ll talk about “going to war” and “going into battle” and “being in the foxhole,” all these terminologies that we equate with being at war. I have such a greater appreciation for the conflicts going on around the world, now I try to not use those terms out of respect, because I know exactly what these guys are doing when they’re in harm’s way. When we go on the floor, we make mistakes all the time—but it doesn’t cost us our lives. Those guys can’t afford to make mistakes and have to have each other’s backs. We look up to them far more than they realize.
One of the things that General Dunford said that resonated with me was, “We’re over here at war, my job is to make sure that we have all away games.” So when I got back on U.S. soil, I thought about how privileged we are. That as much conflict that is going on in the world, we in this country, we have managed for the most part to be void of any war on our home soil. I don’t think people appreciate that enough.
Being in Afghanistan was a slap in the face for me. It woke you up. When you walk around and you see the young men and women carrying their M4s everywhere they go like we carry our iPhones, you realize the serious nature of the ground that you walk on. Anything can happen at any given moment. You have to be prepared. In this country we don’t live with those pressures and those constraints as we move every single day. It gives you a great appreciation for the freedoms and liberties you have as you move around this country.
BY Ray Allen /
PUBLISHED December/26/2016 /
After 19 seasons, five NBA championships and two MVP awards, Tim Duncan’s No. 21 jersey was raised to the rafters of the AT&T Center Sunday night, officially immortalizing “The Big Fundamental” as one of the greatest players in San Antonio Spurs history.
As if he wasn’t already.
The hour-long ceremony — which took place after San Antonio’s 113-100 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans — was hosted by Spurs legend Sean Elliot, and featured speeches from coach Gregg Popovich, who teared up when he said that Duncan is “exactly the same person now as he was when he walked in the door,” and Duncan’s long-time teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
“To all of you in here, the fans, all of San Antonio — thank you,” Duncan said. ”The love and support is overwhelming, especially over the last couple weeks.
” … I got so much more from you guys. From my teammates, from these guys over here (group of ex-teammates and coaches), than they can explain that they got from me, and I know that.”
The soft-spoken superstar addressed his family, ex-Wake Forest coach Dave Odomand Spurs general manager R.C. Buford before thanking Popovich, who he played under for all 19 of his seasons.
“Thank you coach Pop, for being more than a coach. For being more like a father to me. Thank you.”
In addition to the championships, MVPs and Finals MVPs, Duncan led the Spurs to a 1,072-438 regular season record, the best in NBA history over 19 seasons.
He’s the only player in NBA history to start and win an NBA championship in three separate decades.
He finished his career with 15 All-NBA Team (tied for most all-time) and 15 All-Defensive Team (most all-time) honors.
Not only was he the third player in NBA history to reach 1,000 career wins, he was the first player to reach 1,000 wins with one team.
He’s the Spurs’ all-time leader in total regular season points (26,496), rebounds (15,091), blocks (3,020), minutes (47,368) and games played (1,392).
BY AJ Neuharth-Keusch /
PUBLISHED December/19/2016 /
How Jeremy Lin went from the Garden to the pages of the Hulk
NEW YORK — In Greg Pak’s colorful and fantastical world, the award-winning comic book writer and filmmaker has superheroes from all walks of life accomplishing amazing feats.
But even Pak, like most of New York City in 2012, was captivated by “Linsanity” and in awe of Jeremy Lin‘s superhero-like origin story, going from a D-Leaguer who slept on a teammate’s couch to Sports Illustrated cover boy overnight.
“I was a nerdy kid who didn’t really care about sports,” Pak told ESPN. “But I was living in New York when ‘Linsanity’ happened, and it was a mind-blowing experience. I totally got sucked in. I mean the whole city was happy. It was a really kind of an amazing phenomenon. You would see random people start talking about it [all over the city].
“The more I came to learn about Jeremy Lin, the more I came to admire the guy. He has got a tremendous fortitude and dedication, and he is an incredible underdog story. And I love an underdog story.”
So Pak found a way to add Lin to the color-splashed pages of the Marvel universe of comic book superheroes. On Wednesday, Lin appeared in Pak’s latest issue of Marvel’s “Totally Awesome Hulk.”
The Brooklyn Nets point guard said he was shocked when he first found out that Pak wanted to add him into the Hulk’s storyline.
“‘Man, how are they going to use me, or what is it going to look like, especially me being Asian,” Lin said in an interview with ESPN. “I was really interested to see what would happen. I loved everything about it. … Growing up, watching the movies or whatever it might be, we have all experienced some sort of fandom toward superheroes.”
Pak, who is Korean American, co-created Amadeus Cho, a 19-year-old Korean American genius, with Takeshi Miyazawa more than a decade ago. Cho now has taken over the mantle and the powers of The Hulk from Bruce Banner and is a rare Asian American superhero.
Lin — the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent — said he is fully aware of the potential impact Pak’s character can have. He knows of the struggle many Asian American males face trying to land significant, strong and impactful lead roles as opposed to token portrayals that play off Asian stereotypes. For instance, none of the top 100 grossing films in 2015 featured an Asian actor as the lead or co-lead, and 49 of them featured no Asian characters at all, according to a report from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC.
“I have friends who are kind of into acting and the entertainment industry,” Lin said. “You kind of see how Asians and Asian-Americans are kind of portrayed in films over time.
“I feel that there have been a lot barriers, but this is a big step in the right direction. In terms of just making Asians more mainstream [and] not just in the stereotypically Asian way where it is almost like sometimes, it is like the token Asian guy — you are being made fun of, in some ways you got to be on there with an accent or something like that. It’s awesome that [Cho] is this really prominent and masculine figure as well.”
Pak has been cognizant of trying to create or cast diverse characters into his stories and films, such as “Robot Stories,” which starred Japanese-American actress Tamlyn Tomita and won 35 awards.
There are Asian characters throughout the Marvel Universe, but not many are of Asian-American descent such as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Jimmy Woo and Cho.
“Over the years, writers have created tons and tons of characters of all different backgrounds, but a lot of the Asians characters in comics are Asians from Asia,” Pak said. “That is not just Marvel, that is all comics, which is great. But I have always been an Asian American and had a special interest in seeing Asian-American characters. Historically there hasn’t been a ton.”
Nets teammate Brook Lopez, a lifelong comic book fanatic, went out to pick up five copies of the issue on Wednesday before posting 20 points and seven rebounds to help Brooklyn beat the Lakers later that night.
The center, who can practically deliver a thesis on any Marvel or DC Comics character, gave Lin’s comic debut his stamp of approval.
“Oh, I can’t state how jealous I was!” Lopez said repeatedly. “I didn’t even find out about it until I read my comic book websites … It was spot on. Great stuff. There were panels that I swear that [Pak] was behind me (with Lin and the Nets) looking at Jeremy while he drew it. And it was pretty true to his voice.
“[Lin and Cho] have a lot of similarities. Both Asian American, same haircut, both geniuses — genius-level intellect. They get along very quick. It’s a two-parter, left me on a cliff-hanger.”
Pak says after the two back-to-back issues with Lin, the “Totally Awesome Hulk” will feature Cho joining forces with other Asian American idols from Marvel.
“The next story in the ‘Totally Awesome Hulk’ is going to be a team-up with Amadeus and a bunch of other Asian American characters, including Jimmy Woo, who is one of the oldest and most classic Asian American characters in Marvel,” Pak said. “More recent characters like Silk, who is a Korean American woman with spider powers in the Spider-Man universe and Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel, who is a tremendous character (and Pakistani American). The books more and more reflect the world in which we live, and it is a fantastic thing. It is great to be a part of it.”
Lin never dreamed of being in a comic book. While Pak kept Lin in the loop over the storyline, Lin largely stayed out of the creative process and let Pak do his thing.
Even though the two only recently met after a Nets game, Pak has followed Lin closely, reading plenty of stories and books on the Nets point guard and watching the documentary about Lin — “Linsanity” — to get a feel for Lin’s character and vocal rhythms.
“It is such a great story,” Pak said of Lin’s rise. “I think there is something about superhero stories, a lot of them start from a place where the hero is an underdog. You look at Bruce Banner, Peter Parker, maybe not so much for Bruce Wayne — although Bruce Wayne is like, poor little rich boy, his parents have been murdered. Very often these superheroes come from a place where life has not treated them well.
“Then they find something inside or whatever the case may be, but they rise to the occasion and have this transformation and are tested as people and heroes. Athletes are the closest thing we got to superpowers.”
Pak says there is a natural bond between Lin’s and Cho’s characters.
“They have something in common of being thrust into a position of leadership and a responsibility,” Pak says. “Jeremy has been very open about this kind of feeling, about having a platform, and he needs to step up and use that platform responsibly when the time comes, and that is exactly some of the stuff that Amadeus struggles with as well.
“Amadeus is a cocky kid who thinks he knows everything, he is a lot of fun, so when he becomes The Hulk, he thinks he will be the best Hulk there ever was. But of course, being The Hulk, being the strongest one there is and running the risk of losing control of your emotions, there are huge responsibilities. Amadeus has a ton to learn.”
Lin jokingly admits you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry, as Banner, the original Hulk, famously says. But if Lin were to possess one super power, he says it would be the ability to fly.
“I have always wondered what it’s like to fly,” Lin said with a chuckle. “I would be a lot better at basketball if I could fly.”
BY Ohm Youngmisuk /
PUBLISHED December/15/2016 /
The Canton Charge (4-6), powered by the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, snapped the Texas Legends’ four-game win streak in a 134-128 victory at the Canton Memorial Civic Center on Wednesday night,
Canton’s Quinn Cook set a franchise record for points in a game by netting 49 points on 15-of-21 from the field, 4-of-5 from three-point range and 15-of-16 from the foul line. Cook, the reigning NBA D-League Rookie of the Year, got hotter as the night went on, scoring nine, 11, 12 and 17 points in each quarter respectively. The record was previously 46 points scored by former Charge guard and current Texas Legend Manny Harris on 2/16/12.
The Charge led wire-to-wire the entire game and by as many as 22 points. Texas cut it close late by having a monster fourth quarter, scoring 52 points and cutting the deficit to four points. Canton hit 17-of-21 foul shots as a team and hit 10-of-18 shots (56%) to stave off any comeback attempt. With the win, the Charge improved to 7-3 all-time versus the Legends and have won six in a row versus Texas.
Cook finished with 11 assists, five rebounds, and three steals in 42 minutes for his seventh career double-double and first this season to go along with the individual accolades. Chris Evans scored 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting with 10 boards and two steals in 37 minutes. Eric Moreland had an all-around effort of 14 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 25 minutes. Grant Jerrett added 13 points, eight boards and two blocks in 39 minutes for Canton.
Manny Harris paced Texas with 31 points, 13 rebounds and two steals in 40 minutes. Quincy Acy added 21 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes. Tony Wroten came off the bench to score 25 points in 29 minutes of relief for the Legends.
The Canton Charge are part of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization and also owned by a group led by Cavaliers Majority Owner and Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert. The group also owns and operates the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League and the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League, both of which play their games at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland.
BY Canton Charge /
PUBLISHED December/7/2016 /
The Indiana Fever announced Tuesday that they will retire the No. 24 jersey of Tamika Catchings.
The formal ceremony will take place June 24, when the WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks meet the Fever at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Catchings retired at the end of last season after a 15-year career in the league.
The Catchings announcement was made in conjunction with release of the WNBA’s 2017 schedule. One sign of the post-Catchings era is that the Fever were excluded from any of the nine regular season games to be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.
The Fever will open under new coach Pokey Chatman with two road games: at Seattle on May 14 and at Phoenix on May 17. The home opener is May 20 against the Connecticut Sun. The Fever also play the Sparks at home on May 24.
Under the second year of a 34-game balanced schedule, the Fever will play the Washington Mystics four times and the 10 other teams three times each. The finale is Sept. 2 at home against San Antonio.
Chatman and point guard Briann January will participate in a select-a-seat event Dec. 15 at the fieldhouse.
BY David Woods /
PUBLISHED November/29/2016 /
When you get off the school bus tomorrow, you’re going to be in a whole new world. This is nothing new. Every time your father gets stationed at a new Air Force base, you have to say goodbye to your friends and start a new life. It’s the same routine once every three years or so. New school, new culture, new faces.
Northern California. Then Germany. Then Oklahoma. Then England. Then Southern California.
And now, Dalzell, South Carolina.
You’re used to being the kid that nobody knows. The majority of your existence has been about trying to find new friends, trying to show people that you’re a good person and that you mean no harm. You’re used to being an outsider.
You’ve gotten pretty good at it.
This time is different though. It’s the middle of the school year. Everybody already knows one another. You’re at a critical age, and kids are just.…
Kids are just mean.
You’ve grown up in a military household your whole life. Until now, your friends were all from military families. You walked around the neighborhood with your I.D. card hanging around your neck like a dog tag in case some unfamiliar MPs rolled by. You spent your formative elementary school years in Britain. So you don’t even realize it, but to some people, you speak very proper.
When you step off that school bus in South Carolina tomorrow and open your mouth, those kids are going to look at you like you’re an alien.
“You talk like a white boy,” they’ll say.
You’ll look around the school and see groups of kids all paired off, and you’ll feel like you don’t have a place.
You’ll think to yourself, I don’t understand. Who am I supposed to be?
I’m going to be 100% honest with you. I wish I could tell you that it will get easier, and that you’re going to blend in, and that it’s going to be alright. But you’re not going to fit in with the white kids, or the black kids … or the nerds … or even the jocks.
You’ll be the enemy to a lot of people simply because you’re not from around there.
This will be both the toughest and the best thing that will ever happen to you.
What I want you to do is this: Go to the basketball court. Stay at the basketball court. You can build your entire existence there.
The world is much bigger than Dalzell, South Carolina. If you stick to the plan, you’ll see. Remember that when when you’re lying in bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings and you hear the engine of your father’s old Trans-Van start up outside.
You know that sound. It’s not pretty.
All you’ll want to do is sleep, but grab your sneakers and run down the stairs because he will leave you. You have exactly two minutes before the heat kicks on in the van and he’s backing out of the driveway. He’s on military time, and if you don’t get to the Air Force base court by 0900 on the dot to put your name at the top of the sign-up sheet, you’re going to have to wait around all day to get a run in.
You’ll learn a lot on that court. As a 13-year-old kid playing against grown men, you’ll learn to play in transition out of necessity. You’ll play so fast that all the airmen will start calling you “Showtime” when you walk into the gym.
In between games, when you’re on the sidelines, I want you to listen very carefully to all the stories these guys tell.
You’re going to hear a lot of, “Man, I coulda …” on these courts.
Man, I wish I could go back in time.
I’d have gone D-I.
Booze got the best of me.
Man, I coulda.…
Man, I shoulda.…
I wish I could go back, young fella.…
Don’t ever put yourself in the position to wish you could hop in a time machine, Ray. You need to stay focused, because things will only become more complicated as you have more success on the court.
When you start getting attention from colleges, some of your own teammates will say things like, “UConn? You’ll sit on the bench for four years.”
Just because you don’t drink, they’ll say, “Man, you’re gonna be an alcoholic once you get to college. You won’t be ready. All they do is drink there.”
A lot of people don’t want to see you succeed. Don’t get into fistfights with these kids. Trust me, it will accomplish nothing.
Instead, remember exactly who said those things.
Remember how they said it.
Remember their faces.
Keep these voices inside your head and use them as fuel every single day when you wake up.
And the voices telling you you’re the man? Those are the voices to keep out. When you start getting some national attention in high school, you’ll hear things like, “Ray’s jumpshot is God-given.”
Listen: God doesn’t care whether or not you make your next jump shot.
God will give you a lot of things in life, but he’s not going to give you your jump shot. Only hard work will do that.
Don’t be so naive as to think you’re ready for college ball.
Young fella, you’re not ready.
In high school, you might think you understand what it takes to be a great basketball player, but you will truly have no idea. When you get to UConn, your coach will show you what hard work really is.
His name is Jim Calhoun. Don’t get on this man’s shit list.
When you walk into the gym for that first practice, get ready for hell on wheels. You’re going to be all excited to put on your Huskies gear and start shooting around. But then Coach Calhoun is going to flip the script.
“Freshmen!” he’ll say. “You think you deserve to wear this uniform? You don’t deserve the privilege. Not yet.”
Then the assistant coaches will start handing out these plain grey shorts and T-shirts to all the freshmen.
“I want to see some sweat,” Coach will say.
Up until that very moment, you’ll think basketball is all about going out and putting up some jump shots and showing your skill.
When you get put through Coach Calhoun’s first practice you’ll realize, Oh, this game is a sonofabitch.
You will be put through the hardest workout of your life. You’ll be gasping for air, hunched over. But the thing is, the gym in Storrs is air conditioned. Your body is used to playing in the sweatbox gyms in South Carolina, where there’s no air conditioning.
At the end of the practice, coach Calhoun is going to line everybody up and walk down the line, looking at every player.
When he gets to you, he’ll look down at your shirt. There will be a single bead of sweat trickling down your Adam’s apple.
He’ll look at you. Then he’ll look at the little bead of sweat. Then he’ll look back at you.
“That’s it? I guess we didn’t work you hard enough, Allen.”
The next practice is going to be even tougher.
This man is going to damn near break you, but he’s going to make you a much better player and person. This will be your introduction to what it really takes to be great.
A few days later, you’re going to have one of the most memorable moments of your life. You’re going to wake up at 5:30 a.m. and go to the weight room to get your workout in, and then you’ll come back to the dorm and shower before class.
You’ll put on a shirt and tie, throw your backpack over your shoulder and walk across campus to your first class of the day.
It’s early, so it’s still quiet. The leaves are crunching under your feet. You’re sore, but your clothes are on point. You got your work in. You’re prepared. You have a purpose.
I don’t know what it is about this moment in particular, but as you’re walking, you’ll think, Wow. I’m a college student. No matter what happens at the end of this tunnel, I’m going to make my family proud.
When you get to your public-speaking class and sit down, this girl will turn to you and say, “Hey, why are you so dressed up?”
You’ll say, “Because I can.”
In that moment, it will feel like you have conquered the world.
I could end this letter right here, and you would still probably be excited about what you are going to accomplish in life. But you still have an 18-year NBA career ahead of you.
How do I sum up nearly two decades in the NBA? What do you really need to know? What’s truly important?
You’ll get to play against your heroes: Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler.
You’ll play alongside Hall of Famers: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade.
Sometimes you’ll be afraid.
Sometimes you’ll think you’re out of your league.
But you’ll keep showing up every day, putting in the work.
You’ll put up more than 26,000 shots in your career. Almost six out of 10 won’t even go in. I told you this game was a sonofabitch.
Don’t worry, though. A successful man is built of 1,000 failures. Or in your case, 14,000 misses.
You’ll win a championship in Boston.
You’ll win another in Miami.
The personalities on those two teams will be different, but both teams will have the same thing in common: habits.
Boring old habits.
I know you want me to let you in on some big secret to success in the NBA.
The secret is there is no secret.
It’s just boring old habits.
In every locker room you’ll ever be in, everybody will say all the right things. Everybody says they’re willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to win a title. But this game isn’t a movie. It’s not about being the man in the fourth quarter. It’s not about talk. It’s getting in your work every single day, when nobody is watching.
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade. The men who you are going to win championships with are all going to be very different people. What makes them champions is the boring old habits that nobody sees. They compete to see who can be the first to get to the gym and the last to leave.
Your peers who think this is a cliché, or who think this doesn’t apply to them because they have God-given talent, will play their whole careers without winning an NBA title.
But I want you to understand something deeper. The championships are not the point.
Yes, there will be a sense of validation and vindication when you raise the trophy above your head, remembering everyone who ever said you wouldn’t amount to anything.
But if I’m being real with you, what you’ll realize after you win the first title is that the thrill is fleeting. The vindication is fleeting. If you only chase that high, you’re going to end up very depressed.
The championships are almost secondary to the feeling you’ll get from waking up every morning and putting in the work. The championships are like when you were sitting in class at UConn with your shirt and tie on. They’re just the culmination.
Your winding path to those moments, just like your walk across campus on that quiet fall morning in Connecticut, is where you will find happiness.
I really mean it from the bottom of my heart: Life is about the journey, not the destination. And that journey will change you as a person.
Let me tell you one final story that may help you understand what I mean.
It’s the early morning hours of June 21, 2013. You’re 38 years old, and just a few hours ago you won Game 7 of the NBA Finals with the Miami Heat.
You are an NBA champion for the second time.
You lay down in bed at about five in the morning, but you just can’t sleep. Finally, around seven o’clock, you give up on sleep and creep downstairs. All your friends and family have come over to your house to celebrate — they’re all passed out on couches, sound asleep. You tiptoe around them on the way to the kitchen to make some breakfast. The sun is coming up, the house is quiet. You have achieved exactly what you set out to do. But you’re still restless.
So why do you feel this way? Isn’t this what you worked so hard for?
Around 7:30, you get into your car and go for a drive.
You park your car in front of a white office building. They’re just opening up.
When you walk in the door, the receptionist looks at you and says, “Ray? What … what are you doing here?”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“But … you just won the title.”
“Yeah, I just wanted to get out of the house.”
“But … it’s eight in the morning. And you just won the title.”
“Well, I still got some work to be done on this tooth. Is he in?”
Your dentist walks out of his office.
“Ray? What are you … what?”
This is what success looks like for you. You’re the kind of guy who goes to the dentist the morning after winning an NBA title.
I know, man.
But in order to achieve your dreams, you will become a different kind of person. You’ll become a bit obsessive about your routine. This will come at a heavy cost to some of your friends and family.
Most nights, you won’t go out. Your friends will ask why. You won’t drink alcohol, ever. People will look at you funny. When you get to the NBA, you won’t always play cards with the boys. Some people will assume you’re not being a good teammate. You’ll even have to put your family on the back-burner for your job.
Most of the time, you will be alone.
That won’t make you the most popular person. Some people simply won’t understand. Is the cost worth it?
Only you can answer that.
Who am I supposed to be?
Tomorrow when you get off that school bus in South Carolina, you’ll have to choose.
Every day for the rest of your life, you’ll have to choose.
Do you want to fit in, or do you want to embark on the lonely pursuit of greatness?
I write this to you today as a 41-year-old man who is retiring from the game. I write to you as a man who is completely at peace with himself.
The hell you experience when you get off that bus will be temporary. Basketball will take you far away from that school yard. You will become far more than just a basketball player. You’ll get to act in movies. You’ll travel the world. You will become a husband, and the father of five amazing children.
Now, the most important question in your life isn’t, “Who am I supposed to be?” or even, “What do I have to do to win another championship?”
It’s, “Daddy, guess what happened in math class today?”
That’s the reward that awaits you at the end of your journey.
Go to the court. Stay at the court.
Get your work in, young fella.
Most people will never really get to know the real you. But they’ll know your work.
BY Ray Allen /
PUBLISHED November/1/2016 /
The Players' Tribune
Jeremy Lin is standing on the corner of Kent and West Streets in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, waiting for his longtime friend and trainer Josh Fan to arrive. The two were supposed to roll together, he explains, but plans changed once the Nets kept Lin and his teammates for a mandatory orthotic insole fitting after this morning’s workout. It’s a drizzly Monday afternoon in September, and Lin is wearing adidas sweats from head to toe, with a matching snapback that’s keeping his man bun, or braids, or whatever’s under there hidden from view.
In a few minutes, we’ll descend into a dimly lit, dungeon-esque basement to do one of those trendy new “escape the room” adventure games. You know, where you have an hour to collect clues and solve riddles as a team in order to, well, escape the room. (In our case, pulling off a Mission Impossible-themed bank robbery before the fictional cops catch us committing the heist.) While we wait, we bullshit about the Nets’ fancy new practice facility in Sunset Park, about how Lin scored his new apartment near the Barclays Center after refreshing Zillow for days on end, and about the upgrades he still needs to make to the shiny black-on-black Maserati he pulled up in, including tinting the windows and replacing the rims. As a jackhammer pounds away at a construction site across the street, Fan finally appears, panting. Turns out, he took an Uber to Kent Avenue, not Kent Street, and had to run the last three-quarters of a mile here, which draws a laugh from Lin.
The last time he played professional basketball for a team in New York, Lin was crashing on his brother’s couch in a cramped Lower East Side apartment. He was, before what ultimately became one of the most memorable individual stretches of basketball in the history of the NBA, another anonymous New Yorker. The night before his “Linsanity” phenomenon began, Lin famously slept on Knicks teammate Landry Fields’ sofa. What unfolded thereafter, for the last two months of the 2011-12 season, established him not only as a full-time pro, but as one of the most popular basketball players on the planet.
“I’m definitely glad to be back,” says the 28-year-old, who after stops with the Rockets, Lakers and Hornets from 2012 to 2016, signed a three-year, $36 million contract with the Nets this summer. “I obviously have a special connection with New York fans because of everything we’ve been through, so to be back here playing in front of them again is…to me, I wish it happened earlier.”
During our faux bank heist in Brooklyn, Lin immediately takes charge. He’s responsible for solving most of the puzzles to unlock each new clue and he instinctively directs everyone else to pick up items we’ll need along the way. It’s corny as hell to say, but he really is point guard-ing the shit out of this. When we emerge victorious with 26 minutes to spare, Lin admits that he’s done this before. In fact, it’s his eighth or ninth time “escaping the room,” and he shrugs once we get back outside to daylight—this wasn’t as challenging as the versions he played in Charlotte and Los Angeles. Then again, dude went to Harvard.
J-Lin’s “regular guy” vibe is disarming, and yet there are brief moments when his status as an international superstar smack you dead in the face. As we casually talk hoops on the walk back to his (ridiculously nice) car after wrapping the interview portion of our shoot, for example, Lin points out that it’s kinda hard for big men to look cool in highlights, because nine times out of 10, Stephen Curry breaking a defender’s ankles and raining a three is more entertaining to watch than LeBron James muscling in 2 points in the post. It’s not an earth-shattering observation for a person to make until you consider the two players being compared are among just a small handful whose global following eclipses that of the person who made it.
But this story isn’t about Linsanity. Because that story’s already been written many times over. And, if you’re reading this, you already know what happened. The night it all started with Lin, then a little-known Knick, dropping 25 on Deron Williams and the Nets at MSG. The 38 and 7 he put up against Kobe and the Lakers less than a week later. The game-winning three on Valentine’s Day in Toronto.
The memories won’t soon fade. Walk the streets of New York City and you’ll still occasionally see his No. 17 Knicks jersey every so often. But the next chapter for Jeremy Lin will play out across town, where Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson is handing him the keys. (Lin says Atkinson, who mentored him as a Knicks assistant during the Linsanity season, is “the only reason why I really considered the Nets in the first place.”) This year, on this team, Lin comes in as the starting point guard, not just some flash in the pan. With all due respect to former All-Star center Brook Lopez—whom Lin first met a decade ago on a serendipitous midnight visit to an IHOP during a high school tournament in California—it’s Lin who will be looked at as the face of the franchise, from the inside and out. And he’s definitely ready for the challenge.
“To have this role, I’m so excited I can’t even really explain just how happy I am,” says Lin. “There’s days where after we work out or play pickup or whatever, I’m just like, Man, it feels natural. I’m a leader. I’m a starting point guard. I run the show—and that’s something I’ve done my whole life on the court. So the last few years playing in a backup position, to me, that’s not who I was created to be as a player, that’s not natural. I feel like I wanna be the guy in the front. I wanna be the guy leading the charge, and I feel that here.
“Walking around Brooklyn, the vibe that I get is that they haven’t had a product that the people have been proud of,” he continues, noting the team’s 21-61 record last season. “I can tell there’s that disappointment from the past. No disrespect or no offense to anybody else who was here before, but that’s just the vibe that I get. So for me it’s just another challenge: How can we turn this thing around?”
Perhaps due to all the same lazy stereotypes that have followed Lin at every other stop throughout his career, it’s still hard for some to picture him in the role of the veteran leader. Time to get over it. The reality is, almost all of his new Nets teammates really do look up to him, and almost all for different reasons.
Like 21-year-old Nets rookie Isaiah Whitehead, who remembers watching every game of Linsanity as a sophomore at Lincoln HS in Brooklyn: “I was right in front of my TV watching every one.” Or Sean Kilpatrick, another New York-bred guard, who looks at Lin as a model of D-League-to-NBA-starter success. “He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” Kilpatrick says. “He’s always talking to me about staying hungry.”
Even Greivis Vasquez, who will be pushing Lin for that starting PG spot every day in practice, respects Lin for being “a fighter” who fears nothing on the court. “We want him to lead,” says GV, “and we want to win games with him.”
Meanwhile, Lopez is…actually, Lopez is just envious that Lin is being featured in a special edition of Marvel’s Totally Awesome Hulk comic book. “I was so jealous when I saw that,” Lopez laments. “He didn’t even tell me about it. Apparently it’s no big deal to him. I had to read about it on my comic book sites.”
Despite never having been an All-Star, Lin can sell comic books as a superhero thanks to his universal appeal. A week after our photo shoot in Brooklyn, at Nets Media Day, Lin is predictably swarmed by reporters despite playing on a team that beyond his presence is of lukewarm (at best) interest to the rest of the world. And, not unlike his teammates, Lin says his fans are as diverse as they are loyal.
“My story is so unique, and so there are people that always support different parts of my story. It might be that I’m Asian, or it might be that I went to Harvard, or it might be that I grew up in an immigrant family or the underdog story or the Ivy League,” he says. “For me it’s just something I want to be grateful for every day. I used to take my fans more for granted, and now I’m really thankful for them and I think I do a better job of showing that.”
On the court, Lin insists he’s shored up a lot of the parts of his game that were suspect during his first go-round under the bright lights of New York, including his jumper, his ability to go left and his defense. Last season in Charlotte he averaged 11.7 points, 3 assists and a career-high 3.2 rebounds per game in a Sixth Man role for a Hornets team that won 48 games and made the postseason. With increased minutes, expect to see his numbers jump across the board—a lot.
Friday night, Lin flirted with a triple-double as he led the Nets to their first win of the season in the team’s home opener, finishing with 21 points, 9 assists and 9 rebounds. Through the first three games of the 2016-17 season, he’s averaging 17 points, 7.3 assists and 5 rebounds per game.
Lin, though, says he’s matured as a person as much as he has as a player.
“Probably spiritually and mentally more than anything. I think when everything first happened I was a little scared and jaded, just because a lot of friendships and relationships and the way things worked out, I felt like maybe people betrayed me. I felt that sense of like, I don’t know if I can trust people,” Lin says. “Having gone through the last four years, I’m really in a different place. I’m not so concerned with what everyone else has to say about me anymore, whether it’s reporters or opponents or anybody, really.”
The Nets surely don’t have championship expectations in 2016-17. Competing for a playoff spot in a suddenly crowded Eastern Conference is probably a stretch, too. But Jeremy Lin is at long last comfortably stable, both in spirit and in his situation.
“I have a lot more fun through each day,” he says. “I smile a lot more.”
BY Abe Schwadron /
PUBLISHED October/31/2016 /