Thursday, April 14, 2005


...has anyone heard from Ron Artest lately? All the talk of Jermaine O'Neal made me wonder what the Pacers' Sir Crazy is up to. Have you heard the album he was so eager to promote? Didn't think so. Has anyone? Didn't think so.

It also got me thinking about the NBA Coach of the Year Award. I can't remember a year in which so many admirable coaching jobs have been turned in. Voting should be all over the place, sort of like an Andres Nocioni elbow.

Here's my take...

1 - Scott Skiles - A homer pick, but whatever. No coach has done more with less hair...I mean, less expectations. Skiles has led a team expected to win maybe 20-25 games to the upper echelon of the Eastern conference. A team with three rookies in the rotation. A team that started 0-9. A team that has weathered the various losses of Eddy Curry, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, and Othella Harrington. A team that just keeps on winning.

It's almost sad to think of what the Bulls might have accomplished had Deng and Curry remained healthy. They were beginning to legitimately look like a team able to contend with the Heat and Pistons in the East. As it stands now, any playoff experience will serve them well for the future.

And, most impressively, Skiles has not yet spontaneously combusted.

2 - Rick Carlisle - First, it can't be easy coaching a team of characters who charge into opposing crowds and pummel fans. Obviously, they're not always the most agreeable bunch. Yet somehow the Pacers have overcome the extended losses of Artest, O'Neal and Stephen Jackson and improved as the season has progressed. When they played the Bulls two weeks ago they had some point guard who I hadn't even heard of. I was completely perplexed. Anthony Johnson? And he was getting minutes. And he didn't look particularly talented. And he looked a little on the pudgy side! Yet the Pacers look strong down the stretch. The spirit of Reggie Miller is emanating. And Carlisle has somehow kept it all together.

3 - George Karl - Right now, this minute? Karl is the coach of the year. When is the last time an NBA team - um, ever - has ammassed such a gaudy record in the second half of the season? Too bad Karl wasn't around in the first half of the season. If only the voting took place after the playoffs...

4 - Nate McMillan - First, any team with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis has a nice foundation. Second, the Sonics' impressive start to the season wasn't so surprising coming in the Northwest division, which was very average before the Nugget got hot. Props to McMillan for engineering a huge turnaround this year, but the Sonics are fading down the stretch. Somehow you get the feeling it's all going to end badly for Seattle in the playoffs. Just a hunch. Chalk up McMillan's spot here to looking ahead, and to McMillan's ultimate failure to control Danny Fortson's pig tails.

5 - Mike D'Antoni - See McMillan, Nate. Look at the Suns' roster. Amare Stoudemire. Steve Nash. Joe Johnson. Shawn Marion. Quentin Richardson. Paul Shirley. There was too much talent added in the offseason to an already talented foundation to not expect a solid season from the Suns. Yeah, D'Antoni has molded that talent into a legitimate title contender with the current best record in the league, so major props to the guy, but the likes of Skiles and Carlisle have had much less to work with.

6 - Eddie Jordan - In most years, getting the Wizarda into the playoffs would rate much higher. But much like McMillan and D'Antoni, Jordan has a solid trio in Gibert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Larry Hughes. It's hard not to expect the Wizards to be competitive, especially playing in a weak division.

7 - Mike Woodson - Any coach of the Hawks deserves some props for simply showing up.


Mark Prior's return yesterday went about as well as could be expected as he pitched six scoreless innings while his arm appeared to remain attached to his body. At least for now. This is all good news.

Of course, Kerry Wood looked very shaky in the opening game, but I doubt the Wrigleyville crowd was too worried as it got plastered last night and drunkenly fell into beds with a healthy Prior dancing in their heads.


Different takes: Here's one take saying O'Neal was right to bring up race in regards to the NBA's desire for an age limit, here's another take saying he was wrong.

I have a question: Isn't Jay Z a partial owner of the Nets? Can a league with Jay Z as an owner rightfully be accused of "racism?" Isn't Jay Z pretty much the king of the hip hop world?


Paul Shirley is funny. The vagabond NBA benchwarmer and current member of the Phoenix Suns has been writing a blog called "Road Ramblings." It's an interesting and humorous take on life in the NBA seen through the eyes of a man who rarely plays (3.2 MPG!) and isn't afraid to make fun of himself thusly.


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