Now a month into the season, teams can no longer use that old, 'working our way into basketball shape' argument for not playing well. Conditioning is always an issue, lockout or no lockout. But it's clear that many players either didn't work as hard as they could during the lockout, or shut it down when the union de-certified. That has been a factor for a number of teams, including the Boston Celtics, to struggle early on this season. But the teams that were unexpectedly sluggish like the C's, have since found their stride and clearly are playing better. At the opposite end of that spectrum is Orlando, a team that came in great shape physically.
That's another story.
Dwight Howard telling the Magic that he's open to being traded didn't seem to phase Orlando at all. But it's clearly an issue now. League sources say that Howard's demand combined with his regression offensively - he has gone away from the moves he added to his game last year, and is now reverted back to just being a power player - has had a domino effect on the team's psyche.
How else do you explain a team that won 11 of its first 15 games, all of a sudden dropping four straight and five of its last six, primarily to teams at or below-.500?
But as bad as Orlando has played, no worries Magic fans.
There are teams, lots of 'em actually, that are far worst off.
And with that, we have this week's rankings.
Now THIS is old-time hockey!
There's bad blood between the Bruins' David Backes and the Stars' Jamie Benn that goes back a long way, most recently in last spring's Dallas-St. Louis playoff series when Backes was still with the Blues. They met again today -- and the ungodly (hockey) hour of 11:30 a.m. Dallas time -- for a nationally televised game between Backes' new team, the Bruins, and the Stars.
And it didn't take long for the two to renew acquaintances . . .
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons will retire the jersey number of former UConn star Rip Hamilton tonight, an instrumental figure in the Pistons’ success in the early 2000s that included an NBA title in 2004.
Although Hamilton never played for Boston, his impact can be felt within the Celtics locker room.
Boston’s Amir Johnson spent his first four NBA seasons as a teammate of Hamilton's in Detroit.
In that time, Johnson acknowledges how many of the positive things folks associate with him come from lessons he learned from Hamilton.
“He was so relentless when he ran,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “I remember working out with him one summer. For him to even get his shot off, he sprints full court, goes back down shooting shots, and he just kept doing this over and over and over again, full court sprinting . . . To see that as a young kid, and at his age, just working hard like that, it was great to see.”
James Young grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., so he watched Hamilton’s scoring prowess up close and personal.
And as he continued to evolve as a player, Young would see Hamilton during the summer months while attending Hamilton’s basketball camps.
“I was there every year, won MVP a few times,” Young told CSNNE.com. “He’s a great guy, a great player.”
And, like Hamilton, Young has a lanky frame for an NBA player, which was among the many reasons Young acknowledged Hamilton as being one of his first significant basketball influences as a youth.
“For sure,” Young said. “His mid-range game was crazy, great shooter. He was always consistent.”
And that consistency has paid off in the highest honor an NBA franchise can bestow upon a player.
“That’s big time,” Johnson said. “He’s a champion, great father, great baller. To have his jersey retired is an honor. To see the success he had in the league, and to see his jersey retired with the greats, it's definitely an honor. I’m glad I’ll be there to see that. Kudos to him. He’s a hard worker. Had a great career. I had my high school jersey retired, but to get your NBA jersey retired, that’s great.”
Hamilton played 14 seasons in the NBA, nine of which were with the Pistons. A career 17.1 points per game score, he averaged 18.4 with Detroit and was named an Eastern Conference All-Star three times (2006-2008).
Although he is known as one of the greatest mid-range shooters of his era, Hamilton began to expand his range over time. During the 2005-06 season, Hamilton shot 45.8 percent from 3-point range (most of them being corner 3’s), which led the NBA that season.