Saturday, February 28, 2009

New York Knicks waiving Stephon Marbury

It was the soap opera that dominated the sports pages of the Tri-State area papers. It was the headline of all Tri-State area sportscast. Finally though the New York Knickerbockers earlier this week said good-bye to their disgruntled point guard that was supposed to bring them glory, but instead brought a lot of pain and suffering both on and off the court.

On Tuesday, the Knicks finally reached a deal with disgruntled point guard Stephon Marbury to waive him from the team recoup some of the money that he had left on his $20.8 million salary from this season. According to Newsday, Marbury walk away with $4.5 million of the $6.4 million that was left on his salary. The agreement also included $400,000 in fines that the team put against him for allegedly refusing to play on Nov. 26, 2008 at the Detroit Pistons.

Marbury had returned to Manhattan to attend arbitration in regards to the fine. Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni gave his testimony in the morning and when both sides broke for lunch, they returned and came to an agreement to table the arbitration towards the process of buying out Marbury’s contract.

When he left the law offices of Skadden Arps at about 2:25 in the afternoon, Marbury left with his fist held above his head saying, “I’m happy!”

With that, the man who grew up in Coney Island idolizing growing up was now yesterday’s news.

It was just about five years ago when the Knicks traded for Coney Island native Stephon Marbury from the Phoenix Suns that they felt they were on their way back to their glory days of making the playoffs and competing for an NBA title. Fast those five, years only one playoff appearance in 2004, where they were swept by their cross town rivals the New Jersey Nets 4-0. In the following years go come, the team has gone through five head coaches, had players that did not produce on the court despite having contracts that said otherwise. That resulted in the team winning only 113 out of 287 games that Marbury played in. That equals a .394 winning percentage.

Of the four players that Marbury is included in when it comes to those that average over 18 points, seven assists and three rebounds per game, he is the only one to not to turn his team that he plays for into a champion. The other three that have while putting up those same numbers or better over their career and have won championships are Oscar Robertson, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his former head coach with the Knicks Isiah Thomas. On top of that, each of three former players was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

While he may not make the Hall of Fame, he can be a part of a championship puzzle as he signed with the defending NBA champion Boston Celtics two days ago. He will be Boston’s back up point guard to starter Rajon Rondo. His signing with Boston also reunites him with former teammate with the Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Garnett, who is currently missing in action because of an injury.

With a new opportunity, Marbury hopes to get back on track and help the Celtics in their quest to repeat as champions.

Unfortunately, the sigma of that every team that he leaves gets better may continue. When he was traded from Minnesota in the middle of the 1998-99 campaign to the New Jersey Nets, the Wolves won a franchise record at the time 50 games the next season and would make the playoffs for those next five years. Their most successful season in team history came in 2003-04 when the team won a franchise best 58 contests and were the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. They won their first two playoff rounds in team history beating the Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings in four and seven games respectably, but lost in the Western Conference Finals to the Los Angles Lakers in six games.

When the Nets traded Marbury to the Phoenix Suns in 2001 for Jason Kidd, all they did was win back-to-back Atlantic Division titles and made back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals as the Eastern Conference representatives. They would lose in both seasons respectably to the Lakers in 2002 and the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.

While the first season in Phoenix was rough for Marbury as the team did not make the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, they would bounce back the next season winning 44 games making the playoffs, but lost to the eventual NBA champion Spurs in six games. In 2003-04, the Suns took a step backwards as they won only 29 games and missed the postseason. On Jan. 6, 2004, Marbury was traded by the Suns to the Knicks.

All the Phoenix Suns did in that period of time was win 62, 54, 61 and 55 games over the next four years. Win three consecutive Pacific Division titles from 2005 to 2007. They also had their new lead guard Steve Nash leading them and all he did in 2005 and 2006 was become the second point guard since “Magic” Johnson to win the Most Valuable Player Award on more than one occasion.

As for the New York Knicks of today, they have under new the guidance new head coach D’Antoni have been more exciting and competitive. They are currently 24-34 now and are on the outside of the playoffs looking only trailing the Milwaukee Bucks by a game and a half for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

If there is one that has been proven is that Marbury has great talent. He has yet to use that talent to make his team better in the long term. Now with the Celtics, he now has a chance to use his talent, although be it in a supporting role and give the Celtics something that can propel them to their goal of back-to-back titles. If he goes back to his me first ways, he will be gone.

His career is in his hands, it is up to him to make himself and the way former teammates and fans see him. He has to go back to being Stephon Marbury the basketball player, the team player and not the name of his sneaker ‘Starbury.’

Information and statistics are courtesy of, and Newsday (Editon of Feb. 25, 2009)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Iconic Type II Diabetes Claims Life of Iconic NBA Owner

Last Friday, the National Basketball Association lost a proud member of its family when Utah Jazz Owner Larry Miller H. passed away due to type 2 diabetes. He was 64 years old.

Miller passed away with his family around him at their home in Salt Lake City at 3:54 p.m.

Back in June of 2008, according to, Miller suffered a heart attack and he was in the hospital for two months because of complications from diabetes. He was in a wheelchair when he was released from the hospital, but his medical problems did continue which lead his legs being amputated six inches below the knee this past January.

“He did everything he could to stay here, but it wasn’t meant to be, but he went peacefully,” Gail Miller, Larry’s widow told the media on Friday. “We had a wonderful week together. He came home from the hospital to pass and was with him all week. We reminisced and I don’t think there are many widows that can go to an archive and be comforted by what they see like I will be able to do.”

The last memory that Gail gave to her husband was last Thursday night when she told him that his team defeated the defending NBA champion Boston Celtics 90-85.

“It is with great sadness that I offer condolences to Gail and the Miller family on behalf of the entire NBA family,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern in a statement on Friday. “Larry’s legacy extends beyond the NBA as he touched many lives in the Salt Lake City region through his business ventures and charitable endeavors. The NBA lost a great leader, colleague and friend today. We will miss him.”

As self-made business man and entrepreneur, Miller amassed more than 80 businesses and properties in Salt Lake City. Those businesses include Larry H. Miller Toyota, KJZZ-TV, Larry H. Miller Megaplex, Prestige Financial, Miller Motorsports Park and Jordan Commons cinema/restaurant complexes.

When Miller bought the Utah Jazz for $66 million in 1985 as a co-owner and becoming soul owner a year later, he helped mold the small town team that first began in New Orleans, LA with the very odd named and turned it into one of the most model franchises in professional sports.

Under his guidance, the Utah Jazz made 19 consecutive playoff appearances, won seven division titles (1989, 992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2007, 2008) and made the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998 where they lost both times to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games.

What allowed Miller to consistently put together a team that was successful for so long is that he had three building blocks that would represent the foundation of the Jazz from that day to the present. In point guard John Stockton, he had a floor general that played all 19 of his seasons with the Jazz and finished as the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals. His running mate power forward Karl Malone, that he found quite a number of times,  finished his 19-year NBA career, 18 of those in Utah as the second leading scorer in NBA history, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He won two NBA Most Valuable Player Awards in 1997 and 1999.

Besides the incredible number Malone and Stockton put up, in 2,968 games played in that time span, they missed a combine total of 30 games in that span due to injury or in Malone’s case a few times because of suspension.

In Jerry Sloan, who was the only head coach of Utah under Miller’s watch, All he did was become one of five head coaches in NBA history to reach 1,000 career wins, which he achieved on Dec. 11, 2006 when the Jazz defeated the Dallas Mavericks 101-79. He also became the first head coach in NBA history to record 1,000 wins with one team when Utah won versus the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-97. It all adds up including the playoffs, 1,114 victories.

This past Saturday in tribute to their owner, each of the players wore a patch with the initials LHM on their jerseys in honor of Miller. The courtside seat that he always sat in at Energy Solutions Arena was empty with a rose upon it.

There was a sign in the arena that a fan held up during the game in reference to Miller that said, “We knew this guy. We loved this guy. We’ll miss this guy.”

After the Jazz defeated the New Orleans Hornets 102-88, point guard Deron Williams presented the game ball to Gail.

Miller leaves behind his wife of 43 years Gail. Their five children: Gregory Scott, Roger Lawrence, Stephen Frank, Bryan Joseph and Karen Rebecca as well as 20 grandchildren.

“I hope my death goes as smoothly and beautifully as his did,” Greg, CEO of the Jazz. “He died at home in his bed, overlooking the city that he loved, surrounded by the people that he loved and he gave it his all before he gave up the ghost.”

Information and quotations are courtesy of NBA TV, GMC NBA Countdown on ABC, and  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Two of the NBA’s Finest Deliver Performances For The Ages At MSG

In the just a 48 hour span, two of the National Basketball Association’s finest delivered out of this world performances at Madison Square Garden. These two great stars showed why the debate of who is the best in recent years is always a hot topic in newspapers and sports shows across the country. What they also showed what the value of the NBA means to them and why fans despite the Knicks are not of any relevance in NBA playoff circle, still come and see them when they are in action.

On Monday night, Los Angles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant had the 4th highest scoring game of his career with 61 points on 19-of-31 shooting from the field, connecting on  3-for-6 from three point range and going 20-for-20 from the free throw line in the Lakers 126-117 win over the New York Knicks. His 61 points were the most points scored at MSG. That beat out the 60-point output former Knick great Bernard King had on Christmas Day in 1984 in a 120-114 loss to the New Jersey Nets. It also beat out famed “double nickels” performance Michael Jordan on Mar. 28, 1995, wearing No. 45 and his famous Air Jordan sneakers in his first game back at MSG when he came back to the NBA.

Two nights later, LeBron James recorded the third best scoring night for an opponent at MSG, while garnered his fourth triple-double of the season with 52 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 107-102 over the Knicks. He went 17 for 33 from the field and 16 for 19 from the free throw line. His performance also marked the first time Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975 where a player notched a triple-double while scoring 50 points in an NBA game. This is also the second time in less than a year that James has scored 50-plus at “The World Most Famous Arena.” On Mar. 5, 2008 James scored 50 points going 16 of 30 from the floor, which included 7-13 from the three-point line and 11 for 16 from the free throw line and handed out 10 assists, grabbed eight rebounds and had four steals. The Cavs won that game as well over the Knicks 119-105.

Two both James and Bryant, having a performance like this is not unusual, but doing it in the fashion that they did and in front of the most passionate basketball fans in one of the most special sports venues is something that took them back. It especially got to Bryant when he heard the shouts of “MVP!” from the 19,763 members in the stands.

“This place is special because the fans they’ll boo you the whole game, but they appreciate the game,” Bryant said after the game. “I think tonight it felt great to get that reaction from these fans because it’s them saying we love what you do and it was a great performance and for them to celebrate that a that moment felt great.”

“One thing they are going to do, they are going to cheer when they see greatness and you can’t  take that away from them because they are fans, they are fans of the game, they love the game of basketball,” James said on Wednesday.

To both players, performing on stages like this is what they live for. These are moments they dreamed about growing up. With that being said, there is one thing that drives them both to give performances like this. That is winning, particularly this season.

When Monday night had reached its conclusion, Bryant’s performance was great, but on this night he had a lot of help. Center Pau Gasol had 31 points and 14 rebounds and reserve swingman and former Knick Trevor Ariza had 13 points and eight boards to give L.A. their 38 victory of the season to nine defeats. That is the top record in the NBA’s Western Conference.

While James was spectacular, he also had help from his friends as center Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 15 points and eight rebounds and reserve forward Wally Szczerbiak had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Cleveland’s victory over the Knicks on Wednesday brought their record to 39-9, the second best record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

For both players, it is one thing to be great when it matters most, but performing well individually means nothing without getting the victory when the dust settles at the end of the contest. If you do not believe that, just look at the Olympics from this past summer. If you saw it, then you know what winning that gold medal meant to both these Olympians and their teammates.

Along with winning, these two guys who we will see in the 2008 All-Starr Game next Sunday night, respect the history of the game and those that paved the way for them to be who they are on the hardwood.

“This building is special because it’s the last one left,” Bryant says. “You have the Boston Garden, which I never played in. The [Great Western] Forum and then there’s this building. This is the last one that holds all the memories and all the great players and coming up the elevator shaft and thinking about Willis Reed and thinking about Jerry West and all the great rivalries that they had in this building and it makes it very special.”

For two nights, Bryant and the Lakers, James and the Cavs took over the MSG hardwood. They showed us what greatness as the star and leaders of their teams are and why the debate on who the best is at this point of their respective careers continues.

Statistical information and quotations is courtesy of, the Tuesday edition of ESPN’s Sportscenter,; and the Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009 and Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009 editions of Newsday.