With his treatment by Isiah Thomas deemed “humiliating” by one of Frank Isola’s sources, the cold war between Knicks coach Larry Brown and Thomas and the NBA predraft camp in Orlando remains an embarrassment, with details provided by Newsday’s Greg Logan.
No one is more weary of the sideshow than Brown and Thomas, both of whom took pains to limit their comments to reporters yesterday. But Brown is expected to leave after attending the morning workout session today, so that should ease the awkward situation. Brown hasn’t informed the organization of his plans, but since he showed up as asked, he’s not required to do anything more. After the morning session yesterday, reporters attempted to get Brown’s reaction to Thomas’ refusal to answer on Tuesday when asked if he still thought Brown would return as coach. “I’ve got nothing to say, guys,” Brown said. “I apologize. I’ll see you guys. I’ve just got to go home.”
Asked if he was bothered by Thomas’ silence, indicating he has no future with the team, Brown said, “I’ve got nothing to say. I’m just doing my job. I apologize.”
Crediting Pat Riley with having done “more to slow down the NBA and bring on its arctic Dark Ages period than any single individual,”, the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan pays homage to the Miami coach with the NBA Finals starting this evening.
It ended ugly in New York, with Riley faxing his resignation, a move that is used as an annual New York journalistic reference point with Bucknerian frequency. He moved down to Miami, where he was invested with enormous gobs of power and money and where, with Alonzo Mourning as a marquee attraction, he delivered more of the hard-hat style of basketball, with ever-diminishing results. Things deteriorated so much that he quit a second time, retreating to the front office while allowing the rumpled Stan Van Gundy to coach the team.
He made news in the summer of 2005 when he let slip something to the effect that he wished to be more “hands-on,” at which point the general assumption was made that his return to the sideline was in the “when,” not “if” category. Said assumptions were proven correct when Riley took over from Van Gundy 21 games into the 2005-06 season.
And here he is, and, yes, he is different. He appears to be relaxed and happy. He acknowledges it took a while to get his coaching chops back, but everything seems to be coming together at just the right time of the season. The Heat will be led into battle against the Dallas Mavericks for the NBA championship by a coach who is neither the young LA firebrand nor the driven New York autocrat, but, rather, by a 61-year-old man who may very well have it all figured out.
The Miami Herald’s Greg Cote hops in the time machine and credits a gaffe by another player’s agent for Miami’s eventual acquisition of Shaq.
Anthony Carter, then Miami’s sometimes-starting point guard, unexpectedly would see his Heat contract severed when his agent, California-based Bill Duffy & Associates, failed to routinely notify Miami by a July 1 deadline to activate the player’s option year in his contract.
Team Duffy was so consumed at the time with wooing the just-drafted Carmelo Anthony as a client that it allowed Carter’s option to expire. Count it as the biggest and most beneficial ”oops” in Heat history.
Jettisoning Carter meant the Heat suddenly — and thoroughly unexpectedly — had an extra $4.1 million in the salary cap-space number it could spend on free agents, bringing its total to just over $11 million. That put Miami in a different league. And Riley moved quickly.
With that added windfall, Miami elevated itself into the free agent bidding for Elton Brand (who would sign an offer sheet with Miami but then re-sign with the Clippers) and then Lamar Odom, who, after Brand stayed with the Clippers, signed with the Heat on Aug. 27, 2003.
Less than one year later, Odom would be the key figure in the trade that brought Shaquille O’Neal from L.A. After Riley was adamant about not parting with Wade, Odom was the one player the Lakers insisted be part of the deal. Without that, Shaq almost certainly would not be in a Heat uniform in Dallas tonight.
It is fairly safe to say that Basketbawful would prefer not to see Miami emerge victorious.
Has any team ever had a group of veterans who were less deserving of a title than these guys? I mean, it was hard enough to watch Glenn Robinson win a trophy with the Spurs for basically filling an open roster spot. But a championship would only justify a lifetime of trash talking by Payton, two careers’ worth of bad shots and wild passes by Walker and Williams, and a decade of screaming and flexing by Mourning. I’m telling you, if Miami wins it all, Mourning may become the first person to ever flex so hard his goddamn head explodes. You’ve been warned.