“I saw him for the first time and it was like, ‘He is real,’ ” [OKC Coach] Brooks said, smiling. “Like a folk hero.”
Ricky Rubio has arrived. Last night, the 21-year old talent made his long-awaited debut against the OKC Thunder. Rubio came off the bench to record six points, six assists, five rebounds, and most impressive, zero turnovers in a 104-100 loss to the Thunder.
Although I didn’t get a chance to watch the game live, I did take a look at a condensed version of the game this morning and was impressed by the kid’s composure and control on the floor. Watching Rubio with the ball instilled a sense of calm in me. Like a beautiful jazz piece, Rubio’s game has a certain amalgam of individuality and collaboration, combined with a beautiful mixture of improvisation and structure. Most notable was his understanding of speed and tempo in an NBA game, impressively employing a change of pace only the likes of Thelonious Monk could understand.
At the 10:38 mark of the second quarter, Rubio makes a no-look to JJ Barea on a semi-fastbreak while the defense worries about Tolliver down low.
On the next possession, Rubio slows it down even while the defense settles in. An inexperienced player might easily lose focus, try to attempt something he’s not used to doing, and botch the play. Not Rubio.
After using a Love screen, he passes it straight across the lane to Derrick Williams, the one pass no one thought he would make. It results in an easy two points for the rookie.
Rubio’s best pass of the night came early in the fourth quarter when he dished another bounce pass through traffic to Derrick Williams for a reverse dunk.
Rubio, with that rock in his hand on the fast break, reminds me of a Coltrane solo: a player taking his turn as a soloist, and at the same time elevating his quintet. So here’s to the amigo Ricky, he may sound like a little kid, look like a little kid … but he sure doesn’t play like one.
“If you aint Reggie Bush running the rock
You better be good as Kobe slangin’ the jump shot”
WC – ‘Guilty Be Affiliation’
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Last night the rumors were starting to creep in. By this morning the fear had grown to all out panic by most of the Utah Jazz aficionados. If you haven’t heard, Jerry Sloan is set to resign this afternoon just days after re-signing with the Jazz for a 1-year deal.
The Jazz have been struggling this season and are on pace to win just 47 games. While still a likely playoff team, there is very little about their play that would make one believe that they are a title contender. Not this year or perhaps for the future. Al Jefferson hasn’t conformed to Jerry’s system and Millsap’s struggles continue. The front office hasn’t helped much over the past few seasons, either. Trading away young assets like Eric Maynor for nothing more than cap relief and letting other great young studs walk, like Wes Matthews and Kyle Korver.
Jerry Sloan has spent 26 years as an NBA coach, 23 of those have come at the helm of the Utah Jazz. During his 23-year tenure, Sloan has been remarkable. Implementing his offensive system that has helped pick’n'roll John Stockton and Karl Malone to the Hall of Fame. Jerry has notched 1,127 wins with the Jazz and has taken them to the NBA Finals twice. Of all those seasons, Jerry has only had one season where his team didn’t finish above .500. That alone is a remarkable feat, especially in today’s up-and-down NBA. Some more numbers via Kyle Stack: Sloan has helped the Jazz win 50+ games 13 times, 60+ games 3 times and in 1996-97, they won a total of 100 games. But one number has always stood out to me; Zero NBA titles.
In a sport where we rate success not based on stats and wins but on ring count. This is a sport where Russell’s 11 trump Wilt’s 100. Yet we have always given Jerry a pass. Whether it was his longevity or his charisma or perhaps even his consistency, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that Sloan, who has never let his team fall into the gutter, has also never put his team over the top. Many might not agree with my stance. Four years ago, when the jazz made the Western Conference Finals, I wouldn’t have agreed with my own stance, either. But today is a different day. I’ve had a lingering feeling for most of the season that Sloan and his offense just might not be cutting it anymore. Not that his system was flawed or rusting but the game itself has changed.
While many believe that it’s insane that Sloan has finally decided to call it quits, I tend to disagree. To me, this might be the best move for the Jazz. Einstein once defined insanity as doing something over and over again and expecting different results. Jerry Sloan and his offense, in 23 years, have won zero titles.
It is sad to see the longest tenured coach in NBA and all of pro-sports step down, but it’s also probably time to go. After all, nothing lasts forever.
In a total shocker, Jerry Sloan is reportedly stepping down as the coach of the Utah Jazz. The funny thing was that he had just signed a one-year extension earlier this week.
In last night’s game against the Bulls, Sloan was reportedly shaken up after a 35-minute meeting with Jazz General Manager, Kevin O’Connor. Sloan reportedly is never late to post-game interviews so the situation was peculiar. Unfortunately, this was the result.
Jerry Sloan IS the Utah Jazz. He’s been coaching there since 1988. The Jazz made the playoffs 19 times out of 22 seasons under Sloan’s watch. They’ve been a model of consistency but Sloan never did win the Coach of the Year award, which I think is a travesty. The closest the Jazz got to the championship? 1997 and 1998. They made the Finals those years but Steve Kerr and Michael Jordan shot daggers in the final seconds to prevent them from winning it all.
I find it even hard to write this entry as Coach Sloan is a legend. I can’t see the Utah Jazz without him as coach.
In any case, a press conference is going to be held later on today and Tyrone Corbin is expected to take over as the head coach. As it is, who knows where the Utah Jazz will go on from here as Deron Williams is going to be a free agent after next season…
More details as it develops.
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The Utah Jazz mascot, BEAR, was just having some fun. The Cavs have been atrocious with a decomposing record of 8-32 and losers of their last 13 games — they have lost 23 of their last 24 games, starting with the embarrassing loss to LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Keeping that in mind, BEAR’s ‘Im A Loser’ sign seems completely justified.
Fun times at the EnergySolutionsArenaofSaltLakeCityUtahWhereTheJazzPlayBasketball. (Their spacebar must have been broken)
Ah, January 6. Quite the active day in 1947. Six teams were in action: the Cleveland Rebels, Boston Celtics, Washington Capitols, Pittsburgh Ironmen (named after the Steelers?), Detroit Falcons, and Toronto Huskies. (Who votes the Raptors change names to the Huskies?) Out of these six teams, only one remains in action today. If you picked the Boston Celtics (who didn’t? No, really, who didn’t?), you win!
Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Toronto all lasted a single season in the Basketball Association of America. Some may assume that I must be wrong, that surely the Washington Capitols became the Wizards, yeah? Nope. They made it five seasons, through 1951. How about those Celts, eh? Been tickin’ since ’47.
Speaking of 1951: the longest game in NBA history, ladies and gentlemen! The Indianapolis Olympians squeaked by the Rochester Royals, 75-73, in six overtimes. Six. SIX. And they could only score a combined 148? Really?
In 1989, it was stats galore in a matchup between the Sacramento Kings (7-20) and Blazers (17-12) in Portland. It went two overtimes. They combined for 289 points. The Kings turned the ball over 36 times. THIRTY-SIX. LaSalle Thompson led the Kings with 31 and 16 rebounds. Oh, and seven turnovers. Jim Petersen had seven TOs, too. Rodney McCray, Ricky Berry, and Vinny Del Negro (YES CLIPPER FANS, VDN) picked up the slack with five turnovers each. Kenny Smith had 19 and eight assists, though. Think positively, Sac! Joe Kleine quickly finished with eight points, seven rebounds, and five fouls in 15 minutes, clearly setting the early standard for DeMarcus Cousins. For the Blazers, they only turned it over 13 times, and got to the line for 54 free throws. They made 34. Horrible. Clyde Drexler was at the top of things with an even 50. Kevin Duckworth worked for 30 and 11 boards, and frontcourt mate Jerome Kersey put up 18 and 11. Terry Porter rounded things out with 22 points, 17 assists, and seven steals, in a 147-142 Blazers victory.
One year later, business as usual for the Utah Jazz (20-11). They played in Denver, taking on the Nuggets (20-11). Karl Malone finished with 48 (on 34 shots, and Kobe is a ballhog?) and 14 rebounds, while John Stockton did Stockton things: 16 points, 15 assists, and eight turnovers. Oops. For the Nuggets, nothing special from the starters. Blair Rasmussen had a double-double (12 and 11 boards) and Fat Lever was close to a triple-double with 19, seven, and seven. Jerome Lane only played nine minutes, opening the door for Walter Davis to come off the bench to score 36. Those points weren’t enough, as the Jazz held on in overtime for the 123-120 win.
The year was 1995, a boring night hosted by the Atlanta Hawks. The Washington Bullets fell, 112-90. The Hawks came into the night 12-19, and the Bullets were even worse: 7-21! Horrible, except for one little statistic. With this win, Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens passed Red Auerbach with 939 victories. This made him the all-time winningest coach in NBA history, an accomplishment that stood until last season, when Don Nelson won his 1333rd game (Wilkens finished with 1332 wins).
2001 brought more big numbers for the Philadelphia 76ers (23-8) and Cleveland Cavaliers (16-14). Andre Miller and former Sixer Clarence Weatherspoon were at the forefront for the Cavs. Miller scored 22 to go along with 14 assists, and Spoon put up 19 and 16. But if you’ve forgotten already, this was 2001. With the 76ers. Yes, an Allen Iverson sighting. He was sighted for 54 points. Theo Ratliff nearly had a tri-dub with 12, nine, and eight blocks. Aaron McKie nearly had a dub-dub: 20 points, nine assists. It was enough to hold on, 107-103.
In 2006, Iverson was at it again for the Sixers (16-16). In a matchup against the Lakers (15-16) in La La Land, Iverson scored 31 and handed out seven assists. On this night, though, it wasn’t enough. The Lakers prevailed 119-93 in a game that was never close (37-22 after one). Kobe Bryant had missed two straight games after being suspended for elbowing Mike Miller in the throat, and had his seventh-highest scoring game of the season, finishing with 48. Yes, this was only seventh. He grabbed 10 boards just for fun. Smush Parker (!!) teamed up in the backcourt to provide 24 points. Lamar Odom went for eight, seven, and 12 assists.
In an even more recent game (try last season), the Boston Celtics (24-8) took their talents to South Beach and upended the Heat (17-15) by six, 112-106. Three Celtics went for 20 or more, but Dwyane Wade lit things up with 44. Udonis Haslem added 19 and nine boards off the bench. Michael Beasley was the starter way back then, and if he’d done better than 2-8 in 25 minutes, maybe they win?
Erroll is a contributor to Stacheketball. Follow him on Twitter: @EAbra.
Urlesque has invited us to release our own Kraken:
So here are our NBA Krakens:
Have you got an NBA “Release the Kraken” to add? Hit us up with it in the comments.
Deron Williams Is A Chicken. Deron is caught, by the ever watching TV camera, doin some funky little chicken dance. It is a lot better than picking your nose on national TV and flickin at your bud. ( That video is the 2nd on this post. Steve Francis would like to have that one back. )