Curry leads group of players in NCAAs with NBA link
Posted: Thursday March 27, 2008 4:55PM; Updated: Thursday March 27, 2008 5:56PM
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Like most basketball junkies, NBA players love the NCAA tournament. Next to girls and cars, it might be the hottest topic in the locker room these days. The players all seem to follow March Madness, with a lot of teasing and arguing among each other.
Of course, one reason many NBA players love the tournament is because they have fond memories of their own experiences in the NCAAs. I recall once being in the Nets' locker room when Kevin Edwards asked teammate Xavier McDaniel if he had ever been to the Big Dance.
"Oh yeah, I danced," McDaniel said with a serious expression before breaking into a big grin and striking a shooter's pose. "I danced my way to ... EIGHTEEN first-half points!"
Some 10 years later, that scene still makes me chuckle. I love that McDaniel didn't say that his Wichita State Shockers lost that game to Georgia (yes, I looked it up). Or that he scored only four points in the second half.
For some players, coaches and front-office executives, the NCAA tournament takes on even more importance when they have a loved one involved. This year, for example, features no shortage of family ties.
Davidson guard Stephen Curry, son of former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, has become one of the big stars of this year's tournament. The younger Curry had a 40-point game against Gonzaga in the first round. He followed with a 30-point effort in an upset of Georgetown, which featured Patrick Ewing Jr. (son of the former Knicks great) and Jeremiah Rivers (son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers).
Other players with NBA ties still alive in the Big Dance include West Virginia's Jonnie West (son of the legendary Jerry West), Kansas' Brandon Rush (brother of Pacers guard Kareem), Wisconsin's Marcus Landry (brother of Rockets forward Carl) and Memphis' Chance McGrady (half-brother of Rockets guard Tracy).
Several other players have already been knocked out, including Drake's Klayton Korver (brother of Jazz forward Kyle), Gonzaga's Jeremy Pargo (brother of Hornets guard Jannero), UNLV's Curtis Terry (half-brother of Mavs guard Jason) and Duke's Gerald Henderson Jr. (son of the former NBA guard).
More changes brewing in Milwaukee
Larry Harris' departure as general manager won't be the only change for the Bucks. Coach Larry Krystkowiak could be sent packing as well, even though he has a year left on his contract. Bucks owner Sen. Herb Kohl wouldn't say what he planned to do about the coach, but the consensus around the league is that whomever he hires as GM will probably want to bring in his own guy.
It's too early to say who will end up running the show. Kohl said he will seek a candidate with extensive experience and a winning résumé. Doug Collins has been mentioned in the past, but he probably would demand a big price tag. Donnie Walsh, who just stepped down as Pacers CEO, appears headed to the Knicks. Pistons assistant GM John Hammond helped build Detroit as Joe Dumars' right-hand man, and he's a northern Illinois native so he might welcome a chance to work close to his roots.
As for Harris, the contracts to Bobby Simmons and Dan Gadzuric turned out badly, but most of his moves were defensible at the time and he can hardly be blamed for the injuries that derailed the Bucks much of the past two years. He kept Michael Redd and also drafted Andrew Bogut with the No. 1 pick in 2005. Harris also had to deal with front-office meddling, including a deal for Zach Randolph at this year's trade deadline that was nixed by Kohl at the last minute.
Harris, the son of longtime NBA coach Del Harris, was a true Buck. He spent 20 years with the organization, working his way up from video coordinator and then serving as GM Ernie Grunfeld's assistant during the George Karl years. Redd, Bogut and Charlie Villanueva were among the Bucks players who said they were sorry to see Harris go.
Gracious to the end, Harris joked at a farewell news conference that divine intervention in the form of this season's weak Eastern Conference nearly saved his job. "My focus, my passion, is to find another Milwaukee," he added.