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SI FOR KIDS
Who is USA Basketball trying to Kidd?
Posted: Tuesday March 02, 1999 05:13 PM
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I'm glad this question wasn't in the latest batch of mail, because I wouldn't have had a good answer: Why wasn't Jason Kidd chosen for the next Dream Team? Nine of the 12 players who will play for the U.S. in this summer's qualifying tournament (and presumably the 2000 Olympics) were announced recently, and Kidd, the Phoenix Suns' point guard, wasn't among them. He could still fill one of the remaining three spots, but I can't figure out why he wasn't immediately picked, especially since he very much wants to play. It's hard to find fault with the point guards who were chosen, but none of them are pure playmakers. Kidd is, and that's one thing that every team of all-stars needs. The other guards on the team are going to have to adjust to taking fewer shots and looking to set up their teammates more, but there would be no adjustment necessary for Kidd, since that's the way he always plays.
USA Basketball is obviously looking for good people as well as good players, and Kidd, who doesn't showboat on the court or get into trouble off it, passes that test with flying colors as well. He has wondered out loud about why he was passed over, and no one with USA Basketball has given him much of an answer. The committee should come to its senses and put him on the team soon. Like yesterday.
Now, on to other topics.
Is time to question seriously the leadership of
Do you think now that Del Harris has been fired from the Lakers, there is a
chance for Phil Jackson to possibly coach next year in
We'll deal with the Lakers all at once. Shaq's not a real leader for a lot of reasons, some of which are not his fault. First, he's too young and he simply hasn't been through enough wars. Derek Harper is already more of a leader on the Lakers, partly because he gives the sense that there's nothing that could happen in a game that he hasn't seen. That's why guys like Shaq, Grant Hill and Tim Duncan can't be true leaders just yet, while veterans like Harper, Joe Dumars and even Mario Elie can.
Shaq also seems to make the mistake of thinking that being a leader is just demanding his teammates play better -- telling Kobe Bryant and Eddie Jones that they're shooting too many jumpers, for example. A leader has to be able to criticize teammates, sometimes publicly, but he'd better be sure he's doing everything he can to make his own game better as well. When teammates see Shaq making movies and CDs in the summers while his free-throw shooting remains terrible, they're not going to respond too well when he tells them about their flaws.
As for Phil Jackson , I do think he'll be the coach of the Lakers next season, but it's not a done deal. I'm told that he and Jerry West have a few issues to work out. Jackson will want a lot more control over personnel issues than he had in Chicago, and that's an area West has always handled by himself, and very well, too. Also, after almost having to put a gun to owner Jerry Buss 's head to get the kind of salary he deserved last year, West isn't going to be thrilled to have Jackson come in at a salary likely to be in the $6 million range, about triple what West makes. Still, I think it will all get worked out, because the Lakers will be ready to do whatever it takes after they get bounced by the Jazz in the playoffs again this season.
Will there, or should there, be an asterisk next to the championship in this
I wouldn't go so far as to put an asterisk in the record books, but I do think that this year's champion won't be looked at in the same light as other championship teams. Let's face it, this season is an aberration. The schedule is unbalanced, and that's bound to have some effect on who makes the playoffs and what the seedings are. But whoever wins is going to have to earn it in the postseason just like any other year, of course. That's why I don't think that team should have its achievement tainted by an official asterisk, but I do think there will be a mental asterisk in the minds of many fans -- except the ones in the championship city.
What is the problem with the New Jersey Nets? Jayson Williams doesn't seem to
have that rebounding step since he signed that big, fat
I don't think Jayson's the problem. His effort still seems to be there, as far as I can tell. Even though he's really a power forward playing out of position, I've seen him really bust his tail playing low-post defense against centers like Hakeem Olajuwon . I think the Nets really miss Sam Cassell , who's been injured. Even though he's sometimes out of control and a little shot-happy, Cassell seems to energize the team when he's out there. Also, the Nets' team morale is always a fragile thing with John Calipari as coach. He's a hard-driving guy who's not tremendously popular with his players. That's something they can overlook when they're winning, but every time the Nets hit a bad stretch, some of the friction comes to the surface. That's why I don't think Coach Cal is long for that team. I wouldn't be surprised if the Nets had a new coach when they go to training camp next season.
What do you think of the recent spectacular play of Allen Iverson? Has he
finally developed into a mature superstar in the
I wouldn't say he's the finished product yet, but Iverson's definitely made a lot of strides this season. In addition to his scoring, his turnovers are down, partly because the Sixers are letting guys like Eric Snow do a lot of the ballhandling, freeing Iverson to concentrate on the thing he does best -- scoring. I think that shows a little maturity on coach Larry Brown 's part, too. Instead of trying to re-mold Iverson into the kind of point guard he wants to see, Brown adjusted his system to take advantage of Iverson's strengths. It could be a lot of fun to see a little man vs. big man battle for the scoring title -- The Answer vs. Shaq Daddy.
Why is Dirk Nowitzki struggling so much? I saw him in the German league and
several camps and he hadn't been that
One word -- defense. Nowitzki needs some time to learn how to defend against NBA players. He's had a hard time in that area and it seems to have affected his confidence on offense as well. The Mavs need to find a position for him and keep him there. Don Nelson likes to experiment so much that Nowitzki has been matched against everyone from point guards to centers, which has to be confusing to him. The coaches who have seen him still think he can be a very good NBA player -- on the level of Toni Kukoc , if not better -- but they think he has more work to do than most rookies. A couple of coaches have compared him to a U.S. player coming out of high school. He's not going to be Rookie of the Year, but the Mavs still think very highly of him.
Its pretty obvious that the Wizards' lack of a true center is really starting
to hurt them. Is there anyone out there who would be a good fit for them to
trade for? If not this year how about in the
Unfortunately for the Wizards, last year was the year to grab a center. Ike Austin , Vlade Divac , Rony Seikaly and Matt Geiger all changed teams within the past year. The pickings are a lot slimmer right now. Lorenzen Wright , who's shown some flashes with the Clippers, is available, since he's already asked to be traded and he can become a free agent after the season. Beyond that, there's just the usual assortment of journeymen and castoffs -- Benoit Benjamin , Oliver Miller , etc. -- who wouldn't be any better than what the Wizards have now.
If they want to get bold and creative, the Wizards should call San Antonio, where David Robinson is struggling. It's a longshot, but the Spurs need to shake things up and Tim Duncan is their center of the future. The Admiral might eventually be available for the right price.
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