The recent announcement that Jeff Hornacek had been named head coach of the Phoenix Suns was met with much excitement among the Arizona crowd. That’s not surprising given that he played for that team for six years (1984-1992) during which time he became a beloved member of that Arizona squad. He had been currently serving as assistant coach for the Utah Jazz under the direction of head coach, Tyrone Corbin and was also much loved and respected by Utah fans who will no doubt be sad to see him go. This, however, is a great move for Hornacek and a smart play by the Suns management who realized that other teams (including Charlotte and Philadelphia) had interest in acquiring the 50 year old 3-point shooting whiz. He will be missed by players and fans alike in the Utah market but is wished well in his new endeavor.
June 13, 2013
June 4, 2013
Coaching isn’t a job that just anybody can do. It takes certain skill sets that not everyone seems to have. It also requires a thick skin and rugged determination to successfully guide a team of basketball jersey clad boys and men to victory. In the little league ranks many of the teams have coaches who are fathers to one or more of the team players. Some of these turn out to be pretty terrific coaches while others are notably ill-experienced and ill-equipped to lead a team of young athletes. When it gets to the level of coaching professional teams the competition is stiff and it takes a thoroughbred to make it in this environment. Recently in the NBA there have been a number of coaching changes that have taken place. Ten of the coaches who served during the 2012-2013 season will not be occupying space on the bench this coming year. Larry Drew (Atlanta Hawks), P.J. Calexico (Brooklyn Nets), Mike Dunlap (Charlotte Bobcats), Byron Scott (Cleveland Cavaliers), Lawrence Frank (Detroit Pistons), Vinny Del Negro (Los Angeles Clippers), Jim Boylan (Milwaukee Bucks), Doug Collins (Philadelphia 76ers), Lindsey Hunter (Phoenix Suns), and Keith Smart (Sacramento Kings) have been released from their teams, some by non renewal of contracts, some by out and out firing and in the case of Doug Collins a resignation.
Most people would agree that coaching is a stressful and emotional job. Some handle it with relative calm such as Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, others with a lot of physicality and a barrage of trash talk. Perhaps more important than the level of emotion displayed is the ability a coach has to inspire and motivate his team to perform at their best. It doesn’t hurt to have the ability to “read” the players and gain understanding into what propels them. Coaches who demonstrate that they personally care about their players and that they “have their players back” tend to earn the respect of their teams and are able to assemble a cohesive unit that works well together.
While coaching may not be the easiest career it is certainly one with a lot of benefits and compensations. There tends to be a high degree of turn over from one year to the next so it’s imperative that coaches prove their worth by having winning records if they hope to retain their positions.
May 30, 2013
This week has brought about some interesting changes for the Utah Jazz. First, assistant coach Jeff Hornacek is stolen away by the Phoenix Suns to reign as their head coach. Jeff has been a much beloved figure for the Utah team both as a player and again as an assistant coach under both Jerry Sloan and more recently, Tyrone Corbin. He will be missed by the Jazz organization. It was announced yesterday that another beloved former player for the Jazz’s past will now be slipping on a Jazz basketball jersey to assist the team. Stepping into the spot of an assistant coach (to work with the bigs) will be the one time all-star power forward Karl Malone. Malone has long expressed a great interest in the Jazz and has recently confirmed his delight in being asked to assist the team. Jazz players seem to be totally on board with their new assistant coach, especially Derrick Favors who had specifically requested that he be tutored by Malone. Hopefully this new arrangement will result in some improved play by the current roster and also be a source of enjoyment for Malone. No one can dispute the fact that Karl understands the game of basketball. Whether or not he can transfer his know-how to the current players will be the big question. Should be interesting.
May 28, 2013
Evidently there were a lot of people who enjoyed seeing big Al Jefferson running up and down the court in his basketball uniform this past season because he definitely became a crowd favorite. Even the sportswriter and broadcasters were aware of his contributions. One individual even gave him a vote to be selected on the first team of the three all-NBA teams. He was the only Jazz man to be voted to receive this honor and finished with the 24th most points from a panel which included 119 broadcasters and sportswriters who covered the national basketball association this past year.
Jefferson, along with his teammates will participate in this summers Orlando Summer League which will be conducted in a tournament-type format. These games will take place July 7th through July 12th. That will be a welcome return to basketball for fans who have missed watching their favorite teams since the post season began.
May 14, 2013
Recently George Karl of the Denver Nuggets was named as 2012-2013 NBA Coach of the Year. That is an honor to be sure and the first time this 25 year veteran of professional basketball has received this award. He lead his team to a 57 win season and did so in a manner of humility unlike many of the other current coaches. He was emotional in accepting his “long-time-coming” award and thanked everyone he could possibly think of from as far back as he could probably remember. So different it was than some of the fairly recent acceptance speeches from honorees who failed to thank almost anybody and seemed convinced that their success was due solely to themselves. Karl spoke of the “oneness” that permeated the team and organization as a whole this past season and said it was a shared honor for each of them. What a refreshing change in a sport that is increasing ripe in egotism. It seems there is no shortage of superstars with loads of talent and even larger amounts of self absorption who are full of demands and ultimatums. How pleasant to see a much deserved award go to an individual who actually accepts it with humility and restraint. Well done, George Karl.
May 7, 2013
Eighty two games makes for a long season in the NBA. It is long for those who are suffering through losing streaks and it is long for those premier athletes who leave it all out on the floor night after night to the point of exhaustion. That kind of energy expenditure takes a toll on the body that is undeniable. For that reason it seems sensible for coaches to pace the play of
their superstars so they’ll be able to successfully compete when it comes time for play-offs in late spring. Greg Popovich illustrated how this could be done recently by resting his most valuable players during the winding down of regular season. That’s great for the players but no so great for the fans who spend good money hoping to watch these premier players perform their magic and instead have to settle for the more mediocre athletes. Regular season runs for sixth months from October through March at which time post season play-offs begin for the 16 teams who came out on top. The play-offs take another two months to conclude which means that professional basketball is being played 75 percent of each calendar year. That’s a lot of basketball. Perhaps it’s time to whittle that amount of playing time down or at least restructure it in a way that would make more sense. Some have suggested splitting the league up into two groups, one a premier, highly-competitive group and the other a lesser talented team. Only the premier team would be eligible for the end of season play-offs and the “B” team players would have to prove their worth and earn a spot on the elite roster. Seems a drastic change for this much loved sport. Another possibility would be to dissolve the east-west division that currently exists and end up having the teams with the best records play one another at the end of the season regardless of where in the country they reside. That could eliminate a lot of unnecessary games along with extra wear and tear on the premier athletes. It remains to be seen which changes, if any, will occur in the NBA but it seems a good time to start the process of an over-haul.
April 29, 2013
After a rather disappointing season the Jazz will soon be in the process of a shake-up to determine what the team will look like for next year. The guys who wore the Jazz basketball jerseys this year had moments of greatness but sadly they were punctuated by long stretches of lack luster effort and dismal results. True, they did come ever so close to making the play-offs but in the end they just couldn’t quite pull it off. Management finds themselves in the interesting situation of having eight of their players in the category of free agents this summer which could potentially free up in the neighborhood of forty million dollars. That isn’t chump change even with the astronomical salaries that some NBA players pull in. The four who likely will be staying for the next season are the core of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter. It seems apparent that Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson will be leaving the team and possibly even both of them. If they both leave that will free up $25,000,000 to assist in the hunt for a solid, productive big man. Hopefully the powers that be will be successful in their search for the right players to make up a team that fans want to see in the play-offs at the end of the 2013-2014 season.
April 23, 2013
It’s hard to come up with many jobs that are more tenuous than that of an NBA coach. True, it sounds exciting to be at the helm of a national team but holding on to one of those coaching jobs is a hard act to pull off these days with a few notable exceptions. Greg Popovich is the longest tenured coach in the league with an amazing 17 years at the helm of the San Antonio Spurs but he’s a rare case indeed with many coaches lasting only a couple of years at best. At the conclusion of regular season play this year both Byron Scott of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lawrence Frank of the Detroit Pistons were sent packing. NBA coaches are always on the hot seat as they have a season of 82 games to prove their worth and if they fail to manage a winning record at the end of that time they are typically sent packing. This year the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers also left his team but this was of his own doing. Doug Collins had been at the helm of the 76ers for the past 3 years and still had a year and 4.5 million dollars left on his contract but said he knew it was time for him to step down. Whoever they choose to replace him must know that it’s a pretty tenuous job to step into.
April 18, 2013
Athletes can be some pretty incredible people. Those energetic souls who use boxing gloves to stay in shape and those who pull on their cycling jerseys to attack the pavement often have hearts as big as their commitment to their sports. Recently we were reminded of this fact once again as we witnessed the unspeakable horror of the Boston Marathon bombing and the valiant acts of service given by those in attendance. It’s hard to imagine after finishing the grueling 26.2 miles of a marathon that one could have enough energy to do anything but collapse in a heap on the ground yet many of those super athletes finished their race only to continue running to help in whatever way they could. Several ran to the nearest hospital to donate blood to those who were in such great need. Film captured the efforts of many that continued to press on and assist those who were so savagely injured. We hear remarks from time to time about the “heart of an athlete”. The horrific incident in Boston brought to light just what that phrase really means. Those runners showed amazing termination in the midst of pervasive fear. They provide to all of us such a great example of never giving up. They show us that when we think we’re too tired to finish a race or complete a task we just have to put one foot in front of the other and then do it again and again and again. Surely that’s what victory is.
April 8, 2013
Some of us do not find ourselves slipping into a cycling jersey and heading out for a long, demanding ride or hauling the gym bag to the gym for a strenuous workout and yet we still want to stay in shape and try to involve ourselves in physical activity. Many find walking to be right up their ally when it comes to exercise but do not feel that they are getting the kind of results they would like. Luckily, there are some changes that can be made that can substantially increase the benefits of walking. Effective walking as exercise can reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease which most of us realize is a major threat. Walking is also a highly effective tool against depression and anxiety which affect a large number of people. Many experts agree that walking can have a huge, positive affect on the overall health of an individual along with being a great way to shed unwanted pounds and tone up the body.
There is a reason that many people are not seeing the kind of improvements they’d like even though they are dedicated walkers and that is their speed. Walking can still be enjoyable even though the pace is fairly rigorous. Experts have found a significant difference in the amount of body fat (particularly the hard to lose belly fat) of those who do shorter but faster and more energetic walks than those who take long but more leisurely walks. The fast walking group actually lost up to four times the amount of body fat asd the slower group. This is especially interesting when the findings also conclude that both groups are burning the same amount of calories. Obviously the body responds well to the higher intensity workouts which burns more fat.
Another plus for “power walking” is that it is easier on the joints than running but still results in similar benefits for the body. It is also a physical activity that can (and should) be done throughout one’s life, right into old age. If you have never thought walking to be an adequate form of exercise you may want to reconsider. There are a lot of benefits to be gained.