NBA > Indiana Pacers To Offically Name Frank Vogel Head Coach & Brian Shaw as Head Assistant

 ~Interim Head Coach of the Indiana Pacers Frank Vogel will reportedly be named offically as the head coach by the team. Vogel would also receive a three-year extension on his contract. 

This move should’ve been done right after the Pacers bowed out of the playoffs this year to the Bulls in 5 games. The team played top seeded Chicago better than anyone could have expected. I can understand a team  needing to do it’s proper due dillegence before making a permanent move such as this. However,Vogel looked as if he had the pulse of the team and the uncertainty brought on by the NBA Lockout made it all the more important for a young team like Indiana to get as stable as they can right away.

 The Pacers are also going to add to Vogel’s staff by adding on Brian Shaw according to multiple sources. Shaw was the long-term head assistant to Phil Jackson with the Lakers. He was expected by many (myself included) to be their next head coach. The Lakers went in another direction entirely by bringing in former Cav’s coach Mike Brown. How that works out remains to be seen, for Shaw though Indiana would be a pretty good landing spot for him.

 If the Pacers struggle to the point where they have to make a coaching move, it could open the door to Shaw that he had closed on him in Los Angeles.

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NBA > Shaquille O’Neal Announces Retirement

~ Shaquille O’Neal is reportedly calling it a career. The 7’1 325 pounder with an endless amount of nicknames that all suited him well, has recently announced he is about to retire. O’Neal wraps up a 19 year NBA career that will eventually lead him to the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball.

I’ve watched the NBA since 1985 and in that time I’ve seen a handful of great big men who had dominant seasons. Not 3 or 4 years in a row of dominant seasons, however they had seasons where they clearly were the dominant big man for that season. O’Neal was the dominant big man in the league for  consecutive seasons. For at least 15 of those 19 seasons, he was the most intimidating force in the league.

Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Patrick Ewing were all great big men in the league. No big man the size of Shaquille O’Neal could run the floor like he could in his prime. If the ball went to O’Neal down low into the paint, it was most likely going to end up with a “Shaq Attack” slam dunk. Occasionally these Shaq Attacks led to broken rims and shattered backboards. The fans loved it, the league needed it.

He injected a much need shot in the arm for the NBA in 1992 when he was drafted number 1 by the Orlando Magic. The league was in a transition mode with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird on the way out. 15 All Star appearances and 3 Finals MVP award’s later, Shaq goes out on his terms.

The backend of O’Neal’s career was not as strong or anywhere near as dominant as the Shaq we all came to know from watching him with Orlando and the Lakers. He went to Miami and helped Dwyane Wade win a championship. It wasn’t quite the same O’Neal, however his presence on the court could change the opposing team’s gameplan. That is what put him into that elite group of superstars … he had presence.

His presence on the court opened the door to his presence off the court taking him to celebrity status. The league will not be the same without Shaq.

I’ve read online how some are saying he leaves the game on a sad note. I don’t think that is anywhere near being the case. He’s leaving on his own terms. He’s not being forced to leave the game. As a basketball fan, I’m proud to be able to say I saw one of the greatest players in the leagues history play the game, dominate the game, and transcend the game.

Congratulations Shaquille O’Neal on 19 years in the NBA. The Hall of Fame Awaits You.

Hiring Mike Brown Is The Right Move For The Lakers

 

~ The Lakers are reportedly ready to bring in their 22nd head coach in team history. For Mike Brown, what a difference a year makes. For fans of The Los Angeles Lakers, when Phil Jackson stepped away as head coach, how many of them could have possibly seen this coming? Coming out of nowhere to emerge as the leading canidate for the job, Brown is expected to be offically named the new head coach of the Lakers. This is indeed a stunning move, however it is also the right move.

 Mike Brown isn’t going to be another Phil Jackson. He is not flashy or smooth like a Pat Riley. He does not teach the game like a Larry Brown or even a Hubie Brown for that matter. What Brown does bring to the Lakers is intangibles that none of the other canidates the Lakers targeted could bring at this time.

The 41 year old Brown led the Cleveland Cavaliers to two 60-win seasons and the NBA finals one time. Those teams were led by a superstar and elite player, LeBron James. He inherits a Lakers team that is led by a superstar and elite player, Kobe Bryant.

The Lakers are a team that’s defense was badly exposed in this year’s playoffs. They couldn’t rotate at all and at times looked completely lost while being swept out of the playoffs by Dallas. Brown is a defense-first coach.

The isssue being argued by many fans of the Lakers is that it’s Mike Brown replacing the great Phil Jackson. The saying goes that you’re only as good as your last performance. For Brown, it was a year ago that his Cav’s were bounced from the playoffs and set off 12 months of change with LeBron James leaving for Miami and Brown losing his job almost as soon as he got off the team plane back from Boston.

First of all, no one is going to replace what Phil Jackson has done. It didn’t work with the Bulls in the 90’s and Tim Floyd. It didn’t work for the Lakers either with Rudy Tomjanovich. At some point, the time comes when you have to reinvent yourself. It’s no different for a professional basketball team.

 For all the criticism that Mike Brown will get during his transition into taking this job, Brown is a good basketball coach. He went to the playoffs in every year he coached the Cav’s. (5 seasons)

Did he have an elite basketball player? Yes. He also didn’t have very much else to work with either.

In Brown’s 5 seasons as Cav’s coach, the organization didn’t exactly surround LeBron James with many 2nd or 3rd options like Kobe Bryant has had with Paul Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum. An aging Shaquille O’Neal and an inconsistent Mo Williams don’t count.

 Brown made mistakes as Cav’s coach and his rotation moves were questionable. However, he did what he could with what he had and wisely ran everything through his one star player.  He now gets a clean start, just like the Lakers get a chance at a clean start.

Brown reportedly will sign a contract for four years and $18.2 million dollars. As good a track record as Brown has a defensive minded coach, he’ll need to establish quickly what his offensive gameplan will be for the Lakers.

 This is a team that definitely wants to get back to running up and down the court and entertaining the fans. A lot will depend on what the Lakers do this summer to rebuild around Bryant. Does Gasol, Odom, and Bynum stay with the team? Do they begin to make plans to go after Dwight Howard?

 This Laker team needed to turn the page after bowing out to Dallas this year. The team needed a facelift and Mike Brown will help provide them a new idenity on defense as well. For both sides, it’s the right move at the right time.

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