13) Connie Hawkins was the first basketball player I can remember palming the ball, just holding it in his hand like it was a softball. He had huge hands and was a great player— the Phoenix Suns jumped from 16-66 in their expansion season to 39-43 in his first NBA season, then 48-34 and 49-33 the next two years.
12) Suns lost a coinflip with the Milwaukee Bucks for the first pick in the 1969 NBA Draft- the Bucks took Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of 3 or 4 best players of all-time. Suns took a center from Florida named Neal Walk with the #2 pick, but the NBA also awarded them to rights to Hawkins, who played a couple years in the ABA after being wrongly banned from the NBA after a point-shaving investigation that never implicated him— he sued the NBA and collected $1.3M from the league, which was a boatload of money in the late 60’s.
11) Hawkins passed away over the weekend at age 75; he was Dr J before Dr J and ESPN— if he played today, he’d have a huge sneaker deal and would be on highlight shows every night. I’m trying to think of a modern comparison to him— Giannis Antetokounmpo comes to mind. Big wingspan, rangy, fun to watch.
As a little kid just learning basketball, Hawkins was great fun to watch. RIP, sir.
Elsewhere in the world……..
10) Alex, I’d like “Career Suicide for $200″, please: Miami Dolphins’ offensive line coach quit Monday after a video was released on social media showing him snorting a white powdery substance. Dolphins have scored three TD’s on 42 drives in their 2-2 start; this genius was making between $2.5M-$3M a year as a freakin’ assistant coach.
25 years as an NFL assistant coach; hope he saved some of that money.
9) Watched the Celtics-76ers preseason game Friday night; Sixers’ TV guys said the goal for Ben Simmons this year was “70% from the foul line.” Say what?
Simmons shot 67% from the line at LSU two years ago; the goal should be 75% or 80%, not 70%; what did he do all last year when he wasn’t playing? Should’ve been working on his shot, yes?
He can really pass the ball, he is a high-level passer, but he has to develop a pull-up jumper to make defenses respect him, which takes a defender out of passing lanes. He picked up at least two charging fouls against the Celtics.
Simmons is still a young guy (21) but if he wants to be a great player, his shooting has to improve.
8) UCLA held a outdoor practice at Venice Beach over the weekend; it is good to live in southern California. UNLV held an outdoor practice in downtown Vegas last year; its a cool gimmick to get the fanbase interested.
I’m curious to see UCLA without Lonzo Ball this year; he made all his teammates a lot better. They’re not going to get as many open looks this year without Ball running the offense.
7) Houston Rockets were sold this summer for $2.2B, thats how profitable NBA teams are now, with the worldwide appeal of the league.
6) Why the Sacramento Kings are almost always bad:
They had the 20th pick in the NBA Draft in June, and took Duke’s Harry Giles, who when he was a 9th grader, was the #1 player in the high school Class of 2016, but then he tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee in 2013, then his ACL in his right knee in 2015..
In his one year at Duke, he averaged 3.9 ppg in 11.5 mpg, hardly numbers for a first round draft pick, but the Kings being the Kings, used the 20th pick on him.
Now Sacramento says Giles is out until at least January, to “improve his overall health.” Oy.
5) Sacramento’s record the last 10 years:
33-49, 38-44, 17-65, 25-57, 24-58, 22-44, 28-54 (twice), 29-53, 33-49, 32-50.
4) 76ers gave Joel Embiid a 5-year, $148M contract extension; he played 25.4 mpg in 31 games LY, scoring 20.2 ppg, grabbing 7.8 rpg. Missing 51 games is a red flag, especially after sitting out the previous two years; wonder what kind of games-played incentives are in the contract.
Embiid scored 11.2 ppg in 23.1 mpg in his one season at Kansas, then sat out his first two years in the NBA with injuries- he is 23 years old.
3) Big 14’s conference basketball tournament is leaving the midwest and is headed to Manhattan in March; thats New York City, not Manhattan, Kansas.
Because the Big East has Madison Square Garden in Championship week, the Big 14 agreed to have its tournament a week earlier than normal, which means their teams will all play a couple of conference games the first week in December, to make up for the week the league loses in March due to moving the tournament up.
This is a 5-game stretch of Indiana’s schedule in late November/early December:
Nov 29- Duke, Dec 2- @ Minnesota, Dec 4- Iowa, Dec 9- @ Louisville, Dec 16- Notre Dame. Tough stretch of games for the Hoosiers.
2) Washington State football coach Mike Leach played rugby, not football, in his college days at BYU. He is one of only four I-A head coaches who didn’t play college football.
BYU had great passing teams in those days; Leach credits LaVell Edwards for having a big influence on the Air Raid offense Leach runs now.
1) Baseball playoffs:
Astros 5, Red Sox 4— Houston moves on to ALDS, using Justin Verlander in relief.
Cubs 2, Nationals 1— Chicago takes 2-1 lead in this series.
New York 7, Indians 3– Game 5 is in Cleveland Wednesday.
Los Angeles 3, Arizona 1– Dodgers advance to the NLCS.