Friday, June 28, 2013

Wizards Select Otto Porter, Jr. Third Overall in the Draft

“I think he’s going to fit right in,” coach Randy Wittman said. “We’ve talked about what we wanted to establish here last year from a defensive standpoint; he fits that category. He’s a guy that’s versatile. I think he’s going to be able to guard multiple positions. He gives us really good size. He’s just a guy you can put in there and he’s going to make different players better. That’s a huge asset for us.”
Washington Post:
The Washington Wizards selected Otto Porter with the 3rd pick in the NBA draft on Thursday.

Porter became the first lottery selection from the school since Greg Monroe in 2010. The kid known as “Bubba” in his home town of Morley, Missouri, held back tears as he hugged his parents, Otto and Elnora, and little brother, Jeffrey, then embraced his agent, David Falk, and Georgetown Coach John Thompson III.

Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld is optimistic about the perimeter trio that John Wall, Bradley Beal and Porter could eventually become. They have a chance to potentially be a slightly better version of Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, a group that helped the Detroit Pistons win the 2004 NBA championship. Wall would be in the roles of scorer/playmaker, with Beal serving as sharp-shooter and Porter providing time as a defensive-minded wing who can occasionally run the team as a point forward.

“I think we have three positions filled with very young players in their original rookie contracts,” Grunfeld said. “I mean Otto is 20 years old. Bradley’s going to be 20 tomorrow as a matter of fact, and John is 22, so we have three very solid players we can build with moving forward.”

Porter, a do-it-all forward with long arms and high basketball intelligence, boldly stated that he expects the Wizards – who have won just 72 games in the three years since Ted Leonsis bought the team – to be in the playoffs next season.

Porter went from role player as a freshman at Georgetown to Big East Player of the Year as a sophomore. He averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and generally came up big for the Hoyas when it mattered – as in his career-high 33 points in a huge February win at Syracuse.

Porter also was second on the team in blocked shots and third in assists; his all-around game should make him a versatile piece at the next level. He probably will need to bulk up a bit, but he’s so polished he should get regular playing time quickly.

And he is already quite familiar with the Wizards, having watched the team play over the past two seasons. He also has a relationship with Beal dating from when they were in high school and Beal, a native of St. Louis, unsuccessfully tried to recruit Porter to his AAU team.

“We’re going to do damage next year,” Porter said. “I already know what they bring to the table. All I do is plug myself in there, and it’s going to be fun.”

In the second round, the Wizards shipped picks Nos. 38 (Nate Wolters of South Dakota State) and 54 (Arsalan Kazemi of Oregon) to the Philadelphia 76ers for Glen Rice Jr., the 35th pick and the son of the three-time all-star sharpshooter. Rice, an athletic 6-6 swingman, played last season in the Development League after getting dismissed from Georgia Tech in March 2012 after a string of off-the-court incidents. He led the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the D-League title while averaging 25 points per game in the playoffs.

Washington Times:
The Cleveland Cavaliers took UNLV forward Anthony Bennett first overall and the Orlando Magic selected Indiana guard and former DeMatha standout Victor Oladipo with the No. 2 pick.

Bennett had also been under consideration by the Wizards, but the Cavaliers made the surprising choice after being linked with either Len or Kentucky center Nerlens Noel. The 7-foot-1 Len was unable to workout for teams as he recovers from a stress fracture in his left ankle that will keep him confined to a walking boot for the next three weeks. Noel won’t be available until at least December as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

So Cleveland, once again eschewing conventional wisdom, elected to go with a player recovering from a torn rotator cuff in his left arm. Bennett is the highest drafted player from Canada, beating out his new teammate Tristan Thompson, who previously held the title after the Cavaliers surprisingly chose him fourth in 2011.

Oladipo, a native of Upper Marlboro and DeMatha Catholic High School alumnus, entered his junior season at Indiana projected to go late in the first round, but made an incredible rise that rivals his 42-inch vertical leap. He averaged 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game as a junior in 2012-13. He also recorded 2.2 steals per game.

Cody Zeller went fourth to the Charlotte Bobcats before Alex Len became Maryland’s highest draft pick since Steve Francis went second overall in 1999. “Two years ago, I had no idea I was going to be here at this point,” Len said. “But I work hard. I’m really excited to go to Phoenix. It’s a great city, great team.”

Len, who turned 20 last week, might not make an immediate impact in the NBA, but at 7-feet-1 and 255 pounds, pro teams like his potential. And make no mistake, the Ukraine native likely isn’t as close to a finished product as many of his lottery-pick peers.

In 60 games the last two seasons for the Terrapins, he scored in double figures 32 times and collected at least 10 rebounds in a game just nine times. Though he made the ACC’s All-Defensive team, he was not among the group of 16 players named first-, second- or third-team all-conference by the coaches.

Later in the second round, Virginia Tech guard Erick Green went 46th overall to the Utah Jazz, and was subsequently traded to the Denver Nuggets. The 6'3" shooting guard led the NCAA in scoring at 25.0 points per game and racked up a fireplace mantle full of awards: third-team All-America (Associated Press), ACC Player of the Year, first-team All-ACC, Virginia Player of the Year. Green had his sights set on being the first Virginia Tech player selected in the first round of the NBA draft since Dell Curry in 1986.

Unlike former Hokies standout Malcolm Delaney, Green’s spectacular senior season also earned him an invite to the NBA pre-draft scouting combine in Chicago last month. In 2011, after going undrafted, Delaney signed with the French team √Član Chalon in an agreement worth $130,000. The team plays in France’s top professional league, Ligue Nationale de Basketball. In 2012, Delaney agreed to a deal to play for BC Budivelnyk in Kiev, Ukraine. The club plays in the Ukrainian Basketball SuperLeague. He was named to the All-Eurocup First Team in 2013.

More information:
» Erick Green's Pre-Draft Workout in Denver
» Martell Webster Signed to 4-Year, $22 Million Deal
» Gilbert Arenas, 31, arrested by LAPD for possession of illegal fireworks, posted $100 bail

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Robin Thicke - "Blurred Lines" (2013)

"Blurred Lines" was produced by Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke with an intention of creating a sound similar to Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up". The song was completed in almost an hour.

The unrated version of the music video was taken down from YouTube on March 30, 2013, citing violations of the site's terms of service that restricts the uploading of videos containing nudity (Emily Ratajkowski, Jessi M'Bengue, and Elle Evans), particularly if used in a sexual context.

"Blurred Lines" peaked at #1 in fourteen countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, Republic of Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, becoming Thicke's highest charting song in all of these countries. "Blurred Lines" peaked within the top five of fourteen countries including France and Switzerland.

After his performance on The Voice, the song shot to number one on iTunes and flew up to number twelve on the Hot 100. The song has peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming Thicke's highest peaking song on the chart in his recording history. It also became Thicke's first chart entry since "Sex Therapy" and his second top twenty ever, after "Lost Without U". The track is also Pharell's third Billboard Hot 100 number one single and T.I.'s fourth. As of June 12, 2013, "Blurred Lines" has sold 1 million copies in the United States since its release, becoming Thicke's first single to do so.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kanye West - "Black Skinhead" (2013)

"I think that’s a responsibility that I have, to push possibilities, to show people: “This is the level that things could be at.” So when you get something that has the name Kanye West on it, it’s supposed to be pushing the furthest possibilities. I will be the leader of a company that ends up being worth billions of dollars, because I got the answers. I understand culture. I am the nucleus."

Yeezus is the sixth solo studio album by American hip hop recording artist and producer Kanye West. It was released June 18, 2013, by Def Jam Recordings. The album was primarily recorded in Paris, with West enlisting various artists and close collaborators for work and production on the album. West enlisted the help of producer Rick Rubin a mere fifteen days shy of its due date to strip down the record's sound in favor of a more minimalist approach.

Musically, Yeezus is darker and sonically experimental, combining elements of Chicago drill, dancehall, acid house, and industrial music. Initial promotion of Yeezus included worldwide video projections of the album's music and live television performances. The album received rave reviews from music critics upon its release, and debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 selling 327,000 copies in its first week of release.

"I Am a God" was inspired by a diss from a major fashion designer, who informed West of his invitation to a widely anticipated runway show on the condition he agree to not attend other shows. "I'm in It" began with a different sample and melody, but West removed the sample and Rubin edited the track down from a six-minute arrangement. "Blood on the Leaves," which samples Nina Simone's 1965 rendition of "Strange Fruit" and was the first track in the first incarnation of the track list, is an example of West's signature dichotomy in which he melds the sacred and profane. "Strange Fruit", first recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939, brought the lynchings of black Americans to a "startling poignancy," creating "one of the most towering, important songs of the 20th century." West's anthemic re-telling instead details an MDMA-fueled hookup and the perils of fame.

Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk are credited as co-writers and co-producers of "Black Skinhead".

Bryce Harper Rehabs with Potomac Nationals

"Bryce Harper, in his first action in over a month, played three innings in the first game of his rehab assignment at Class A Potomac on a steamy Tuesday night in Woodbridge. Harper, hitting second, went 1 for 1 with a double, walk and run scored. He started in left field and saw little action defensively, other than running back to watch a drive go over his head, hit the warning track and bounce over the fence for a ground-rule double."
It was a packed house Tuesday to see Bryce Harper take the field at the Potomac Nationals game as part of an injury rehabilitation assignment. Harper is fighting to get back with the Major League club after suffering from a nagging knee injury, but the All Star's arrival in Prince William County was the talk of the town.

It’s not every night you get to see last year’s Major League Rookie of the Year in the cozy setting of a Minor League game.

Harper was quiet for a while after colliding with the outfield wall in May. He hadn’t played in nearly a month until Tuesday night.

Harper didn’t always look sharp, getting picked off second base and getting a bad jump on a fly ball he missed, but he did look fast running the bases, something the Nationals have missed.

Harper, should his knee respond well to playing, is expected to log about six innings Wednesday and then play a full game on Thursday. He is expected to rest on Friday and then play another full game on Saturday, likely when Class AA Harrisburg is at Bowie, a chance for him to face better pitching ahead of returning to the majors. He is then scheduled to rest on Sunday before rejoining the Nationals at home against Milwaukee.

The All-Star -- still the youngest player on the P-Nats roster -- hit .289 with 18 homers and 61 RBIs in 130 Minor League games across two levels in 2011 and 2012. He skipped Potomac on his climb through the Nationals system, going straight from Hagerstown to Double-A Harrisburg.

The 2012 National League Rookie of the Year, Harper is a career .274 in the Majors. He batted .270 with 22 homers and 59 RBIs in 139 games last year and was hitting .287 with a dozen homers and 23 RBIs in games this season.

Harper injured his knee on May 13 when he collided with the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium, then aggravated it on May 26 against Philadelphia. The Nationals placed him on the 15-day disabled list on June 2 with knee bursitis, roughly characterized as swelling and inflammation around the kneecap.

Although Harper has missed 25 games, he's still tied for the team lead with 12 homers and ranks first in batting (.287) and on-base percentage (.386).

More information:
» 2012: Uncle Slam Placed on 60-Day DL

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Despair" (2013)

Pretty Much Amazing:
In Guinness World Record news, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are now the first band to have filmed a music video on top of the Empire State Building. In the Patrick Daughters (of “Maps” fame)-directed clip for “Despair,” Mosquito‘s torch-bearing friendship ode, Karen O twists her drunken dreams with reality – try not to get chills while you watch her, beaming, sing some of her most charming lyrics backdropped by New York at dawn.

2013 Stanley Cup Finals

"Reunited with old pal Toews on a line with Bickell midway through Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane scored seven goals and two assists over his final eight games of the playoffs, saving his best for last en route to a second Stanley Cup in four years."
Dave Bolland's goal with 58.3 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final allowed the Blackhawks to complete a historic comeback and take a 3-2 decision against the stunned Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Chicago's Bryan Bickell had tied the game 17 seconds earlier with an extra-attacker goal.

"When don't you dream about it?" Bolland asked rhetorically. "We all dream about scoring that Stanley Cup winner."

Bolland had run through this exact moment in his mind as a kid playing hockey back home in Etobicoke, Ontario. He played on the street, on ponds, at Mimico Arena and other buildings across the Southern Ontario region -- and every once in a while he would dream about scoring the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in front of thousands of people.

"Check that one off the bucket list," Bolland said.

Boston left wing Milan Lucic had scored the go-ahead goal with 7:49 remaining in the third, but Bickell scored the tying goal off a one-timer from the slot with 1:16 to play. Less than 18 seconds later, Bolland cashed in from the left post before tossing his gloves in a wild celebration although there was still almost a minute to play.

After becoming the first team in NHL history to earn at least one point in its first 24 regular-season games, Chicago is now the first team in the salary-cap era to win the Stanley Cup twice. The Blackhawks are also the first team since the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins to win the Cup in six games when they trailed 2-1 after Game 3.

Prior to 2010, when the Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 to win the Stanley Cup, the last time Chicago celebrated as hockey's championship city was in 1961, when legends Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull were A-list celebrities around town. Now they're ambassadors for a team that could be developing into a modern-day dynasty.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "Once you win one, you can't wait to do it again, but it's a hard road. We had some great hurdles, some great ups and downs here, but what a finish. I'm so happy for the guys."

Another 76 seconds of scoreless hockey would have sent these teams to overtime for the fourth time in this best-of-7 series. The Blackhawks had other ideas.

The Bruins couldn't believe it. They thought they had Game 6 won -- much in the same way the Toronto Maple Leafs thought they had won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on May 13. Boston made the impossible become possible that night inside TD Garden, coming back from three goals down in the final 10 minutes to win in overtime.

They experienced the other side of that Monday night.

Friday, June 21, 2013

2013 NBA Finals

"Listen, I can't worry about what everybody says about me. I'm LeBron James, from Akron, Ohio, from the inner city. I'm not even supposed to be here. That's enough. Every night I walk into the locker room, I see a No. 6 with James on the back. I'm blessed. So what everybody says about me off the court, don't matter. I ain't got no worries."
Game 7: MIA 95, SAS 88
Miami became the sixth franchise in NBA history to win consecutive championships. LeBron James became two-time NBA Finals MVP in a season when he was the league's MVP for a fourth time. He joined Michael Jordan and Bill Russell as the only players in league history to win back-to-back Finals MVPs and regular-season MVP awards. James had 37 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Miami Heat to a 95-88 victory against the San Antonio Spurs Thursday in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, capturing their second straight championship. James shot 12-for-23 from the field and also had 12 rebounds and four assists. Dwyane Wade added 23 points and 10 rebounds. They combined to shoot 23-for-44 from the field. They took turns hurting the Spurs from the perimeter, which was the key to their success. They scored 10 of the Heat's final 13 points. Their production was sprinkled in with Shane Battier, too, who scored 18 points on six 3-pointers. Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Danny Green shot 1-for-12 from the field after being seemingly unstoppable through five games. The Spurs' best threat came when they pulled to within 90-88 on a 3-pointer by Kawhi Leonard with two minutes left. They got no closer because of missed opportunities and turnovers.

Game 6: MIA 103, SAS 100 (OT)
The Spurs led by five with 28 seconds left in regulation before the Heat went on a 6-1 run, capped by Ray Allen's 3-pointer from the corner to force overtime. LeBron James scored 18 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to pace the Heat. James also had 11 assists and 10 rebounds for a triple-double. He now has tallied nine playoff triple-doubles and the last four triple-doubles in The Finals. Mario Chalmers added 20 points while Dwyane Wade had 14. The Spurs were led by Tim Duncan's 30 points and 17 rebounds, but the Heat held Duncan to just five points after halftime. Kawhi Leonard had 22 points and 11 rebounds but missed a free throw in the final 30 seconds of regulation, leaving the door open for Allen's 3-pointer.

Game 5: SAS 114, MIA 104
Manu Ginobili scored 24 points and had 10 assists to lead the Spurs and the Heat could not overcome their 60-percent shooting. Tony Parker led San Antonio with 26 points and Danny Green scored 24, shooting 6-for-10 from the 3-point line. Green set an NBA Finals record for most three-pointers in a series (25) by surpassing Ray Allen (22), and he's shooting 66 percent beyond the 3-point line (25-for-38).

Game 4: MIA 109, SAS 93
LeBron James reasserted his MVP credentials, and his Big Three cohorts showed up mightily, totaling 85 points tonight and each shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. James scored 33 points, and Dwyane Wade (32 points) and Chris Bosh (20 points) came in with their best games of this series by far to even it at 2-2 with two days off before Game 5. The Spurs got 20 points from Tim Duncan and 15 more from Tony Parker, who was scoreless in the second half while playing through a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring that surfaced during Game 3 on Tuesday. James passed the Houston Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon for 10th in all-time playoff scoring tonight.

Game 3: SAS 113, MIA 77
San Antonio Spurs Danny Green and Gary Neal each delivered career-playoff highs -- Green 27 points in 30 minutes and Neal 24 in 25 minutes -- and the Spurs set a Finals record with 16 three-pointers. The Spurs "Big Three" combo of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker now have won 100 postseason games, second all-time to Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper.

Game 2: MIA 103, SAS 84
The Heat forced 16 turnovers after allowing the Spurs to play virtually mistake-free in Game 1 when they had just four turnovers. Mario Chalmers had 19 points, making 6 of his 12 shots from the field, including a pair of three-point plays during the Heat's decisive run late in the third quarter. His production helped make up for a bit of an off game from LeBron James, who finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. The Heat also got double-figure scoring games from Ray Allen (13) and Chris Bosh (12) to offset James' struggles.

Game 1: SAS 92, MIA 88
Tony Parker made a bank shot with 5.2 seconds left to help the San Antonio Spurs hold off the Miami Heat on Thursday. Parker finished with 21 points and six assists.  LeBron James led the Heat with a triple-double of 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists. Center Tim Duncan joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to have 20 points and 14 rebounds in a Finals game at 35 or older. Abdul-Jabbar had two such games.

More information:
» Miami Club Owner Comps the Heat's $100,000 Champagne Bill
» Top 10 Plays of Game 6 OT Thriller
» Danny Green Sets Record for Most 3-Pointers in NBA Finals
» Tracy McGrady, 34, is Finally in the Finals

"The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagements. You ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or in defeat. Let nature take its course and your tools will strike at the right moment." The mantra in LeBron James' locker is borrowed from Bruce Lee.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bonnaroo 2013!

» Bonnaroo 2013 Setlists
» Archive: Superjam Live at This Tent

Thursday: Futurebirds, Ariel Pink, HAIM, Django Django, Japandroids, Alt-J
Friday: (yoga), 'Folk' (cinema), Foals, Paul McCartney, ZZ Top, The xx, Animal Collective, Pretty Lights (sunrise)
Saturday: Portugal. The Man, Nas, Beach House, Michael Winslow (comedy), William Tyler (fireworks), Superjam! (chinese lanterns + r. kelly's balloons)
Sunday: Wild Nothing, Holy Ghost!, Tame Impala, A$ap Rocky, Royal Thunder, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Missed: JD McPherson, Araabmuzik, Purity Ring, Paper Diamond, Allen Stone, The Vaccines, Johnny Fritz, Maps & Atlases, Capital Cities, Bernhoft, Sea Wolf, Reptar, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave, Glen Hansard, Of Monsters and Men, Wilco, Grizzly Bear, Passion Pit, Fatoumata Diawara, DIIV, Two Gallants, Clockwork, Lord Huron, Gov't Mule, Dirty Projectors, A-Trak, Bustle in Your Hedgerow, Mac DeMarco, Delta Rae, Baroness, Divine Fits

Biggest: Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gary Clark Jr., Rodrigo y Gabriela, ?uestlove and D'Angelo at Superjam, Black Star, Danzig, Battles, Aziz Ansari (comedy theatre)
Best Suprises: Moon Taxi, SBTRKT, Yelawolf, Punch Brothers, DJ Equal
Fun: Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Das Racist, Stooges Brass Band
Must See: Umphree's Mcgee, Big Gigantic, Major Lazer, Mogwai, Here We Go Magic, Flying Lotus, tUnE-yArDs, Pujol, Puscifer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., St. Vincent, White Denim, Michael Kiwanuka, Art vs. Science

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Alex Ovechkin Wins Third Hart Trophy!

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin won the 2012-13 Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded "to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team," the National Hockey League announced today. This marks the third time Ovechkin has been named the League’s Most Valuable Player.

The 27-year-old Moscow native is the only active player to have won the Hart Trophy multiple times (2007-08, 2008-09, 2012-13) and becomes just the eighth player in NHL history to win the award three or more times, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Clarke, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Eddie Shore and Howie Morenz. Ovechkin was a finalist for the award in 2009-10. He earned 1,090 points for a margin of victory of 32 from a record-setting 179 ballots cast.

In 2009 Ovechkin became the first player in more than a decade to win consecutive Hart Trophies (Dominik Hasek, 1997-98) and the first non-goaltender to do so since Gretzky won eight in a row (1980-87). He became the third youngest player to win consecutive Hart Trophies, trailing only Gretzky and Orr.

Ovechkin scored 32 goals in 48 games this season to earn his third Richard Trophy in his career and became the first player in the trophy’s 13-year history to win the award three times. Ovechkin is the second Capital to lead the league in goals, joining Peter Bondra (1994-95 and shared the lead in 1997-98) and became the oldest player (27) to lead the league in goal scoring since Pavel Bure (29) in 2000-01.

Ovechkin also led the NHL in power-play goals (16), shots on goal (220) and tied for the league lead in power-play scoring (27 points). Ovechkin finished the 2012-13 regular season with 56 points (32 goals, 24 assists), tied for third in the league in scoring.

The Caps captain finished the regular season with 23 goals and 13 assists in his final 23 games. In that span of 23 contests, Washington went 17-4-2. The Capitals finished the season with a record of 27-18-3, first in the Southeast Division and the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Washington went 23-7-2 in games that Ovechkin tallied at least one point and 19-3-2 in games in which he scored a goal. He led all Caps players in third-period scoring (15g-8a) and tallied seven goals and three assists in the game’s final 10 minutes or overtime.

In his 579th career game Ovechkin became the third-fastest active player to reach the 700-point plateau, behind only Teemu Selanne (541) and Jaromir Jagr (557) and the fastest player to reach 700 points since Peter Forsberg did so in his 549th game in October 2003. Ovechkin became just the third Capital (Bondra and Mike Gartner) to record 700 or more points as a member of Washington and just the 22nd player to record 700 or more points in his first eight seasons.

This was the eighth consecutive season that Ovechkin has tallied 30 or more goals. The Caps captain is the only player to have recorded 30 or more goals each season since 2005-06 and is one of just nine players in NHL history to score 30 goals in each of his first eight seasons in the League, joining Glenn Anderson, Mike Bossy, Gartner, Gretzky, Dale Hawerchuk, Jari Kurri, Luc Robitaille and Bryan Trottier in that accomplishment.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Spotlight: Jason Kidd

"My time in professional basketball has been an incredible journey, but one that must come to an end after 19 years. As I reflect on my time with the four teams I represented in the N.B.A., I look back fondly at every season and thank each and every one of my teammates and coaches that joined me on the court."
After 19 seasons in the NBA, Jason Kidd is retiring from the game of basketball. Kidd announced his retirement in a statement released by the New York Knicks on June 3.

Jason leaves the league as one of the greatest point guards ever to play the game. Drafted No. 2 overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994, J-Kidd went on to become the co-Rookie of the Year in 1994-95, a 10-time NBA All-Star, a five-time First Team All-NBA selection, a four-time First Team All-Defense selection.

His name is all over the NBA record books at the top of some elite lists. Only five players in NBA history have played in more games than Kidd, who finishes his career sixth on that list with 1,391. Only two men, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone played more NBA minutes than Jason’s 50,111.

He ranks second all-time in assists and steals at 12,091 and 2.684 respectively, behind only NBA legend John Stockton in both categories. He also finishes third all-time in three-pointers made at 1,988 and despite scoring being secondary among his tasks he’s well into the Top 100 in all-time NBA scorers at 71st with 17,529 points.

Kidd's ability to pass and rebound made him a regular triple-double threat, and he retired ranked third all-time in the NBA for regular season triple-doubles with a career total of 107 and second in playoff triple-doubles with a career total of 11. He also won two Olympic gold medals with the US national team in 2000 and 2008.

Though his numbers say plenty about Jason’s career, it’s that leadership that will define it. Since entering the league, Kidd has made each team he played for better just by being on the floor.

A star at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda, Calif., Kidd was swimming in offers from some of the best Division I schools. Kidd led the Pilots to back-to-back state titles and was awarded the Naismith Award as the nation's top high school player his senior year. He ranks fifth all-time among high school players in career assists (1,165), and is the national leader in career steals (719) and single-season steals (245 in 1991-92).

During his first year at California, Kidd averaged 13.0 points, 7.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 3.8 steals per game and was named the NCAA's Freshman of the Year. Kidd also led the Golden Bears back to the NCAA tournament in 1993, where they upset two-time defending champion Duke in the second round.

Though he failed to win a title at Cal, Kidd was named a finalist for both the Naismith and Wooden Awards following his sophomore season. He entered the draft in 1994 was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the second overall pick.

Despite a dismal 1995-96 season for the Mavs -- they finished 26-56 with many player feuds and legal troubles -- Kidd recorded 783 assists and 553 rebounding, becoming just the sixth player in history to have more at least 700 assists and 500 boards in a season.

J-Kidd was traded to Phoenix in the middle of the 1996-97 season and led the Suns on an incredible late season run as they won 20 of their final 26 games to finish 40-42 and make the playoffs. The following year, Phoenix made another huge leap and won 56 games. They went on to make the postseason in each of Jason’s five seasons with the team.

Following the 2000-2001 season, Jason was traded from Phoenix to the New Jersey Nets where he made his biggest impact yet. The season prior to the trade, the Nets finished 26-56. Upon Jason’s arrival, they became an immediate playoff contender as he led a 26-game turn around, guiding the Nets to 52 regular season wins and all the way through the NBA playoffs to the NBA Finals for the very first time.

Though they could never break through and win the title, J-Kidd led the Nets to back-to-back Eastern Conference championships and playoff appearances in each of his six full seasons with the team.

In the midst of his seventh season in New Jersey, the Nets traded Jason back to the team that originally drafted him the Mavericks. Dallas made the postseason that year and in the two years that followed but it wasn’t until the 2010-11 season that everything broke the Mavericks’ way.

With Jason running the point, the Mavericks won 57 regular season games. They went on to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers in a six-game first round and swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the semifinals to reach the conference finals for just the fourth time in franchise history and first with J-Kidd.

Dallas went on to beat the favored Oklahoma City Thunder four games to one in the West Finals and the Miami Heat 4-2 in the Finals to capture the first championship in franchise history and Jason’s first title in his 17-year career.

Kidd averaged around 80 games per season during his first three full seasons in Dallas, but injuries caught up to him during the 2011-12 season, limiting to him just 48 games in the lockout-shortened season.

Jason remained a Maverick for one more season before signing a free agent contract with the Knicks in the 2012 offseason. In his only season in New York, Jason helped the Knicks reach marks the franchise hadn’t attained in years including the first Atlantic Division title since 1993-1994 as well as the first-50-win season and first playoff series win since 1999-2000. His veteran savvy and improved three-point shot helped the team jump out to a 23-10 start.

Unfortunately after defeating the Celtics in the first round, the Knicks fell short of the championship aspirations and lost to the Indiana Pacers in the East semifinals. Two weeks after that loss, Jason has decided to call it a career, but he will forever be remembered by his peers as one of the greatest they ever played with.

More information:
» Jason Kidd Hired as Brooklyn Nets Head Coach!
» Kidd Retires Third All-Time with 1,988 Career 3-Pointers (34.9%)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"Alfred Morris Plays Paintball with Fans"

Washington Post:
There aren’t many Redskins players who are more fan friendly than Alfred Morris. And I don’t mean, “sure, I’ll sign an autograph for you” fan friendly. I mean, “Sure, I’ll play paintball with you” fan friendly.

According to CaptainCrookedFoot on Reddit, Morris did just that when he ran into a group of fans playing paintball.

“We went to Pevs for one of my buddies bachelor party and saw Alfred,” the fan wrote on Reddit. “He played with us for 3 hours and even met up with some of the other guys later to go kart.”

Just your friendly neighborhood running back.

More information:
» Original Reddit Post: "Paintball with Alf"
» "Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins fans play paintball"
» USA Today: "NFL running back plays paintball with average joes"

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Spotlight: Grant Hill

"For all the memories of a gifted player who could score and defend and initiate an offense from small forward, for all the leadership while carrying himself with an uncommon dignity through parts of three decades in the NBA, Hill should be remembered for his toughness."
Grant Hill announced his retirement while appearing on TNT's pregame show before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Nineteen official seasons in the league, though 18 of actually playing and one of those barely playing, five at 20 points a game and two other times coming very close, seven All-Star appearances, another 44 games in the playoffs over eight years with four teams... and that does not begin to define what should be the lasting impression of Grant Hill.

"I've been hinting at it for the last few years and you get to a point where you just don't want to do it anymore. But I've enjoyed it, I've loved it," Hill said.

Over the course of 18 seasons, the 40-year-old forward averaged 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Along with his seven All-Star appearances, he was named to an All-NBA team five times.

After helping the Duke Blue Devils to consecutive national championships in 1991 and '92, Hill was drafted third overall by Detroit in 1994. He and Jason Kidd of Dallas shared Rookie of the Year honors. Hill was named to the all-rookie first team that year and became the first rookie to lead the league in All-Star fan balloting.

He won a gold medal on the U.S. basketball team at the 1996 Atlanta Games, then was named to the All-NBA first team in 1997. He was a three-time winner of the league's sportsmanship award. He was named to the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, but didn't play because of injury.

After leaving Detroit prior to the 2000-01 season, he spent seven seasons with the Orlando Magic in which he was limited to just 200 games due to injuries to the ankle.

“I think the thing I’m most proud of is that back in 2003, I had multiple doctors tell me that I was done,” Hill said in making the retirement announcement Saturday during the TNT pre-game show before Heat-Pacers. “And I was able to play another 10 years. I played with the big fella (Shaquille O’Neal) for a couple years. I wasn’t the same player. But I still had a lot of fun in the game and got the most out of it.”

Before joining the Clippers, Hill spent five seasons with Phoenix. In 2010-11, he became the seventh player in NBA history to average 13 or more points at the age of 38 or older.

Hill was still getting first-place votes for the All-Defense team from coaches in 2011-12 at age 39. A couple months later, he was still an in-demand free agent, before choosing the Clippers in what depreciated into a disappointing personal and individual season. Even as age was taking over, teams around the league appreciated his mindset.

Hill appeared in just 29 games last season, his first with the Clippers, but he lent a valuable veteran presence. Gary Sacks, the team's vice president of basketball operations, called Hill "the embodiment of class, a true professional."

More information:
» NBA: The Real Grant Hill Legacy