Grudge matches fill post-Thanksgiving NBA calendar
Posted: Monday November 28, 2005 12:38PM; Updated: Monday November 28, 2005 7:58PM
With Allen Iverson at his side, 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks might have all he needs to show up his former Trail Blazers Tuesday.
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The Thanksgiving holiday is over. The turkey and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce have been eaten. Christmas is still a month away.
In other words, it's a perfect time for a little bit of nastiness in between the holiday seasons.
That's right, it's Grudge Match week in the NBA.
Take your pick. There's Baron Davis playing host to his former Hornets team. There's Mo Cheeks welcoming his former Blazers group to Philadelphia. How about Eddy Curry getting his first crack at the Bulls? If it's crowd reaction you seek, check out Larry Brown's return to Motown. Joe Johnson also could hear some boos when he returns to Phoenix for the first time since forcing his way out in a sign-and-trade last summer.
Thanks to a fluke of schedule (or a sense of humor in the league office), these spicy matchups are all on the docket this week. It won't get David Stern's official imprimatur -- like Premiere Week or Rivalry Week -- but NBA fans should find Grudge Match Week fun nonetheless. Maybe even more fun than those family feuds around the Thanksgiving table.
Here's a quick breakdown of the week's action:
Monday, Nov. 28: New Orleans at Golden State
Davis gets his first chance to play against the Hornets since forcing his way out in a trade last February. Davis and coach Byron Scott traded jabs in the media shortly after the deal, with Scott accusing his former star of milking an injury and Davis saying Scott was two-faced. Davis also clashed with the Hornets over his desire to use a personal trainer instead of one supplied by the team. Once, when the Hornets refused to let the trainer in the practice facility, Davis stretched outside the building with his personal trainer's assistance while photographers snapped pictures. Last month Hornets owner George Shinn referred to Davis as a "poison" in the locker room.
Tuesday, Nov. 29: Portland at Philadelphia
Cheeks was fired last year midway through his fourth season in Portland after compiling a 162-139 record. His tenure was marked by several instances of player insubordination, including a well-publicized incident in which Darius Miles cursed him out during a team film session. Miles and Cheeks have since cleared the air. Miles, in fact, recently said that he and Cheeks get along great and that they never really had any problems. Maybe so. But Cheeks no doubt wants to show his former employers that they made a mistake to blame him for the team's dismal slide last season.