SAN ANTONIO — So, here we are, just one more run-of-the-mill Texas execution away from the first All ABA-NBA Finals. Somewhere, Dave DeBusschere, George Mikan and the rest of the red, white and blue revue are beaming.
Even since deboning Detroit and running a Ripley’s-like playoff win streak to 10 games, the chant around the Association has been, “Why Not The Nets?”
Good question. While unconvinced the Nets are capable of upsetting the Spurs — barring Tim Duncan’s unforeseen disappearance or dismantling — they’re playing so well I figure this is one championship round they have got a great chance of not being swept in.
Truth is, the Jersey Jammers have developed a ravenous regard for something wild and wonderful . . . the other guy’s corpuscles. A taste their opponents-in-training haven’t yet acquired.
The Spurs have this nasty habit of letting the other guys linger long after last rites should have been administered; allowing Don Nelson’s Dirk-less dwarfs to hang tough Sunday until the final minute is just the latest example.
One thing I’m looking forward to is Dikembe Mutombo’s visit to the Alamo, where he and Davy Crockett can argue over which of the two was the last to work up a sweat.
I admire Nelson for withholding Nowitzki’s services for Game 4 due to strained knee ligaments. Fortunately, he was smart enough to protect his player from himself and, at the same time, safeguard the franchise’s No. 1 asset.
Naturally, Nowitzki was dying to play and did not hide his displeasure regarding the decision. I’m sure Nelson explained to Dirk the last thing the Mavs want is for him to further injure himself and risk missing the offseason.
You sort of had a feeling Larry Brown was on his way out of Philly when as part of the NBA’s “Read To Achieve” program, students were spotted proofing his resume.
When’s the last time you saw a coach with two years and $14 million left on his contract leave on such congenial terms with his boss?
Not only won’t 76ers chairman Ed Snider require Brown’s next NBA employer to compensate the Sixers for their loss, but, according to an L.A. source, the team chairman called Clippers owner Donald Sterling last week to advise him of his impending availability in case he was close to hiring a coach.
Either Snider truly appreciated Brown for his starring role in helping to fill First Union Center and restore the 76ers’ court credibility, or he was so eager to cut the cord with the mercurial maestro he would have consented to anything.
It’s common knowledge that Sterling has remained friends with Brown — often enlisting his opinion — since Larry left after guiding the Clips to two playoff pops in the early 1990s.
Brown is the one guy Sterling definitely will over pay to supervise his team’s sidelines; which doesn’t bode well for Mike Dunleavy, whom, I’m informed, greatly impressed Clippers VP Elgin Baylor in a recent interview.
The only possible snag might be if Larry insists on full authority regarding personnel decisions; others have tried to dislodge Baylor but Sterling’s loyalty, so far, has been unwavering.
If it’s not L.A., you can go to sleep on Larry teaching and preaching somewhere in the league next season. Could be Cleveland; LeBron James already has heavily endorsed him. Could be Houston; owner Les Alexander wants a disciplinarian whose offensive style is up-tempo. OK, so then why was ex-Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy interviewed after Sunday’s game?
Could be Toronto; Larry and Vince Carter are UNC soul mates. What else is there to know?
Or maybe Denver, which has an easily disposable coach, Jeff Bzdelik (low pay and rarely played the team’s No. 1 pick); Larry has a home, a daughter and former sidekick Doug Moe there. He and VP Kiki Vandeweghe also have that UCLA connection/affection thing going.
Concerning the Sixers, I’ll be shocked if GM Billy King, who now gets exclusive run of the front office, doesn’t try to tempt Tubby Smith to leave the University of Kentucky where he recently signed a contract extension; I’m sure there’s a way out or a buyout.
If that’s not the play, look for King to ask the Blazers permission to talk to former 76ers star/assistant coach Maurice Cheeks who has one year left on his deal as Portland coach.
If that, too, fails, Van Gundy is certainly a top candidate. University of Memphis coach John Calipari will certainly get a call. Sixers assistant coach Mike Woodson also warrants consideration.
In a heartwarming gesture following an unsuccessful last ditch attempt to get Brown to stay, Allen Iverson promised always to make him his one phone call.
Dunleavy was interviewed Sunday by the Rockets, reveal sources and, in all likelihood, he will meet with the Cavaliers within the next few days as well.
As noted, the job was Van Gundy’s and then ex-Hornets coach Paul Silas’ to lose and that seems to be what’s happening; both may be pricing themselves out by letting it be known through their agents (no financial negotiations have taken place) they want mad bread; $7 million and $5 million per year, respectively.
Van Gundy also is intent on gaining at least some control concerning personnel moves.
Unless Herb Kohl unexpectedly changes his mind, Ernie Grunfeld is no longer in contention for the job as Blazers GM. The Bucks owner denied Portland permission to talk to his top executive; the same message was also transmitted to Washington and Charlotte.
Grunfeld has one year left on his deal and is worried about his future should the Bucks be sold; Kohl also declined to give Grunfeld an extension. That leaves Celtics GM Chris Wallace as the favorite although the Lakers may allow GM Mitch Kupchak to interview in Portland.
Ex-Bulls VP Jerry Krause and Spurs GM R.C. Buford are also on the rapidly dwindling list of Blazers owner Paul Allen.
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