Friday, March 31, 2017

J-Speaks: The Architect of the Bulls' TItles Passes

While many people are familiar with the names of the Chicago Bulls two three-peat title teams of the 1990s in Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and head coach Phil Jackson, there is one person that is just as important. It is the General Manager, who was responsible for bringing in Jackson as well as drafting Jordan, Pippen, and many other key players to those title teams. Unlike a lot of GM’s who schmoozed and networked their way to the top of a pro sports organization, this Chicago native was someone who kept to himself. He used what he learned as a scout that got him to the top of not just the National Basketball Association, but in Major League Baseball. That tireless work over five decades is a major reason he is a finalist for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, if Mr. Krause’s name is announced for the 2017 Class in two weeks from Monday, he will not be in person in Springfield, OH to give a speech.
Mr. Krause, who was the Bulls’ GM from 1985-2003 and a two-time recipient of the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award in 1988 and 1996 passed away on Mar. 21 after battling health issues. He was 77 years-old.
Mr. Krause is survived by his wife Thelma and their two children Stacy and David; and his grandchildren Colette, Josh, Mia and Riley.
“The news of Jerry Krause’s death is a sad day for the Chicago Bulls and the entire NBA community,” Jackson, whose is now President of the New York Knicks said in a statement last week.
“He was a man determined to create a winning team in Chicago-his hometown. Jerry was known as “The Sleuth” for his secrecy, but it was no secret that he built the dynasty in Chicago. We, who were part of his vision in that run, remember him today.
Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets echoed those same feelings by stating, “Jerry was a key figure in the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s and meant so much to the Bulls, the White Sox and the entire city of Chicago. My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Thelma, his family and friends.”
While he may have been mostly known as the architect of the Bulls two three-peat title teams of 1991-93 and 1996-98, they are just a small piece of the lengthy resume of Mr. Krause.
At his core, he was a scout who was just as talented at evaluating basketball players, but baseball players as well.
He was as comfortable being in minor league fields for teams like the Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, Chicago White Sox and in recent years the Arizona Diamondbacks, who appointed Mr. Krause as a special assistant in their scouting department on Apr. 1, 2011, to being in the bleachers of collegiate gymnasiums representing the then Baltimore Bullets, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, and Bulls.
To bring this point home, for 12 years Mr. Krause worked as a scout for both the NBA and MLB where he managed to finish his hoops scouting for the NBA draft in just enough time to get his work completed for MLB’s draft.
Nearly five years back in a story in the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Krause acknowledging from an interview he did for the digital media basketball site “The Vertical” that he felt very deserving of enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame for his work as a GM for the Bulls, but as a scout. He had already had the inscription for his tombstone written, which stated: “Here lies the heart and soul of a scout.”
He kept those same principles he learned as a scout to the high-profile job in the front office.
Mr. Krause was somebody who did not like to deal with the media, who worked in direct opposition to scouts as they tried to get insight on players that only had value when those facts were secret.
He was someone that was never comfortable when the spotlight was on him and when former Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers executive Pat Williams dubbed him “The Sleuth.
There is one mystery though that did not take a genius to figure out. That is the fact that Mr. Krause’s job got a lot easier when he inherited “His Airness” when White Sox’s owner Jerry Reinsdorf added the Bulls to Krause’s portfolio in the spring of 1985.
One year earlier in December, Mr. Krause was the advocate behind the trade that brought in shortstop and future manager Ozzie Guillen to the “Windy City,” who led them to a World Series crown back in 2005.
While Mr. Krause did not draft Jordan, who fell to the Bulls and then general manager Rod Thorn at the No. 3 spot overall when the Portland Trail Blazers selected Sam Bowie one spot sooner in the 1984 draft.
Krause did manage to assemble via the draft the other players around Jordan twice that resulted in championships.
He drafted Charles Oakley two years later to watch Jordan’s back in a more physical get after it, take no prisoners if necessary NBA in the middle 1980s.
In the 1987 draft, Mr. Krause and the Bulls acquired the rights to Pippen from the then Seattle Supersonics, who was selected with the No. 6 overall pick out of Central Arkansas and power forward Horace Grant, out of Clemson with the No. 10 overall pick.
“If we had not kept the Scottie Pippen thing as quiet, it never would have happened,” Krause said to “The Vertical.” “That alone is worth keeping secret.”
Mr. Krause hired Phil Jackson to his first NBA coaching job, taking him from the then Continental Basketball Association’s (CBA’s) Albany Patroons to an assistant on head coach Doug Collins’ staff. He would then be promoted to head coach replacing Collins before the 1989-90 season. Also in this time span of two years, Mr. Krause traded Oakley to the New York Knicks for center Bill Cartwright as he was convinced by Jackson and his mentor and assistant coach Tex Winter that Cartwright and his skill set would be a much better fit for their triangle offense.  
Jordan strongly opposed the trade because not only was Oakley his best friend on the team, he was his protector on the court, especially against the hated Detroit Pistons, who the Bulls could not get past in the playoffs. It also did not help the fact that Jordan learned of the trade: via television when he and Oakley headed to Las Vegas, NV to see a Mike Tyson fight.
Jordan’s mood about the deal quickly changed when Cartwright played very well on both ends on the court during the Bulls first three-peat from 1991-93. He was especially effective against opposing centers like Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing of the Knicks, the Bulls’ biggest rival in the Eastern Conference in the 1990s.
The key role players in the Bulls’ first three-peat via the draft, free agency and trades consisted of the likes of B.J. Armstrong, Scott Williams, Stacey King, Cliff Levingston, Will Perdue. John Paxson, Bobby Hansen, Trent Tucker, and Darrell Walker.
Following the Bulls’ 1993 title, Jordan retired and the team did manage to make the playoffs the following season, but lost to the Knicks in seven games in the Semifinals.
During that season that Pippen really emerged, the Bulls had a rookie on the team named Toni Kukoc, a young star that Mr. Krause discovered through his European contacts and began courting him. That did not sit well with some in the organization, especially Jordan.
It was a small thing like that which made Jordan nickname Mr. Krause “Crumbs,” referring to his obese and slovenly stature.
In the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Jordan, and Pippen for Team USA in the gold medal game, guarded Kukoc to the point that they wanted to send a message as if the fact that you were even on the mind of the Mr. Krause was considered an insult to them.
Jordan Biographer David Halberstam once said that Jordan and Pippen, “seemed to play against Kukoc as if they had a vendetta,” and that “in the end, it was as if they had been playing not against Kukoc, but against Krause.
Jordan later would be quoted as saying: “The trade of Oakley was good, and the best thing he did was to get Pippen and Grant. That’s it. His claim to fame is that he drafted Earl “The Pearl” Monroe for the [Washington] Bullets. And I say to him, ‘What pick was that?’ He says, ‘Two.’ And I say, ‘Hell! Earl Monroe was a real secret, huh? A real secret? If you hadn’t taken him, he’d have gone third!”
As with the first key acquisition in the Bulls first three-peat, Kukoc would end up being a major contributor the Bulls in their second three-peat from 1996-98, as would another addition to the team back in the 1994-95 season in Ron Harper, who at first did not fit in because the Bulls wanted him to be the scorer he was in the early part of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers.
Both player would fit their role with the Bulls with Harper becoming a lock down perimeter defender and Kukoc a Sixth Man that can score and play make for others.
Other key additions during the second three-peat included Steve Kerr, Bill Wennington, John Salley, Jud Buechler, Randy Brown, Jason Caffey, Luc Longley, Robert “The Chief” Parrish, the late Bison Dele, who was then Brian Williams and Scott Burrell.
The biggest move that Mr. Krause made during this second three-peat was the signing of Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman.
If there was any deal that had the potential to blow up right in the face of Mr. Krause and the Bulls, it was this one. While Rodman was one of the best rebounders and defenders in the league and made a major name with the Detroit Pistons, especially on their back-to-back title teams of 1989 and 1990, he became more known for his antics and Type A personality while he was with the San Antonio Spurs the two season prior to him coming to the Bulls.
Mr. Krause had all the confidence in the world though that the strong personalities of Jordan, Pippen and Jackson and their culture of winning and knowing your role and playing it to the fullest would keep Rodman in check enough to where he would grab rebounds and play tenacious defense, which for the most part he did.
Through all the squabbles with salaries and the clashing of egos and Jordan’s 15-month retirement after the first three-peat, the Bulls under Mr. Krause manage to win six titles in eight seasons, which had not happened in the NBA at that time since the Boston Celtics’ wave of titles in the 1960s.
Unfortunately, it was comments like this from Mr. Krause when he once said, “Players and coaches alone don’t win championships, organizations win championships,” that did not sit well with Jordan, Jackson, and many others.
It created an atmosphere to where Mr. Krause would be isolated from the entire organization despite all the winning that was taking place.
While it might have broken many, Mr. Krause made it work for him and even once said to the Chicago Reader 27 years ago, before the Bulls began winning their six titles, “I’m a loner.”
“All those years on the road, I stayed to myself and didn’t make a lot of friends. I had a job to do. I can’t worry about what people say. People are fickle. When we’re winning, I’m skinny. People come up to me and say, ‘Jerry, you look good, you’re losing weight.’ But when we’re losing, I’m the ‘fat little s---’ You know something? I weigh the same. I haven’t gone up or down six pounds in years. That’s just the way people are. I can’t let it distract me from my goal, which is to win a ring. It would mean something special to me to win a championship ring in this town.”
For the high of winning six titles in the early and the middle of the 1990s both when the Bulls were at the old Chicago Stadium and the early years of the United Center, Mr. Krause failed to remake the Bulls into a title team again in the late 1990s and early 2000s around Elton Brand, Jamal Crawford and then head coach Tim Floyd, who came from the college game. It did not get better when the team decided to build the team around high schoolers Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler and a young big guard in current ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose. On top of that, a young Jason “Jay” Williams never got his career off the ground, when a motorcycle accident on June, 19, 2003 nearly ended his life, but ended his NBA career in the blink of an eye.
“I obviously made a poor decision that hindered my career, but the one person who constantly stayed in my corner was Jerry Krause,” Williams, a college basketball analyst for ESPN said on the Mar. 21st edition of “Pardon the Interruption.”
“You’re not going to be defined by your mistake. You’re going to be defined by how you get up and you combat that mistake. The world lost a great one today. A great person.”
While Mr. Krause may not have had a lot of friends inside the Bulls’ organization and outside of it, he did have one person in his corner was Mr. Reinsdorf, who said at his introduction into the Hall of Fame last year that he should have been inducted into the Hall before him.
He did not make a lot of friends in his time as a scout in the NBA and MLB or as a GM with the Bulls. At the height of the Bulls’ success of winning titles, the fans sided with Jordan, Pippen, Jackson, and the other visible heroes of the team during any dispute that went public when Mr. Krause was involved. However, when Mr. Krause left this Earth a last week all the sports shows and media outlets in the “Windy City” voiced and expressed their appreciation for what he did. Fans going forward will fully see the banner that bears his name and tenure in the rafters of the United Center right next to the ones that represent the titles won by the team in the 1990s and the jersey of all the great players that played for Chi-town.
To illustrate the mentality of Mr. Krause after he stepped down from the Bulls in 2003, he went right back to scouting for the New York Yankees and Mets, White Sox, and the previously mentioned Diamondbacks at various points until his health took him down.
The hope is that he is elected this weekend to the Hall of Fame at the Final Four in Arizona so the entire basketball world could know and learn about the self-describe “scout at heart” and someone who became one of the best behind-the-scenes guys in professional sports. Who found talent and had a way of getting that talent drafted to the organization he worked for before anyone else had a chance.
Information and quotations are courtesy of 3/21/17 5:30 p.m. edition of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” presented by Guinness Irish Wheat with Tony Kornheiser and Jay Williams; 3/22/17 2 a.m. edition of NBATV’s “Gametime,” with Rick Kamla, Caron Butler and Sam Mitchell; 3/22/17 article, “Scouting Roots Fueled Jerry Krause as He Built Chicago Bulls’ Championship Roster,” by Steve Aschburner; “Sporting News Official 2006-07 NBA Guide;”; and

Saturday, March 25, 2017

J-Speaks: A Historic Performance by Devin Booker At The Celtics

For any young player in the very early stages of their professional sports career, you want to prove to the organization you play for, your teammates and coaches and the fans that you belong and that you will put your best foot forward to become one of the very best in your profession. On Friday night in one of the very best sport’s city’s in North America, 20-year-old Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns announced his arrival to all that watched him in person and those that watched on television.
In the Suns (22-51) 130-120 loss at the Boston Celtics (47-26) on Friday night, their seventh defeat in a row and ninth setback in their last 10 games, second-year guard Devin Booker scored a career-high and a Suns’ record 70 points.
It is the highest scoring night by an individual player since future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant’s 81-point performance versus the Toronto Raptors back in 2006. It also represented an NBA high for the 2016-17 campaign. The previous high was 60 points by Klay Thompson of the back-to-back Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors in their 142-106 defeat versus the Indiana Pacers (36-36) back on Dec. 5, 2016.

Booker became the sixth player in NBA history to register 70 points or more in a regular season game.

The highest total was the 100-point performance by the late Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlin. Second is the previously mentioned 81-point game by Bryant back in 2006. That is followed by Hall of Famers David Thompson, who scored 73 in a game; Elgin Baylor and David Robinson who each had 71 and the 70 points of Booker.   
Booker, the No. 13 overall pick in 2015 out of University of Kentucky was 21 for 40 from the field, including 4 for 11 from three-point range and 24 for 26 from the free throw line.
After scoring 19 points in the opening half, Booker had 23 points in the third quarter, going 10 for 10 from the charity stripe and then scored 28 of the Suns’ 40 points in the fourth quarter. In total, Booker had 51 of the Suns’ 77 points in the second half.
“If you played basketball, you’ve been in that zone before,” Booker said to NBATV’s Casey Stern, former Kentucky Wildcat Rex Chapman, and Vinny Del Negro via Cisco Telepresence after the game on Friday night.
“It may not be the extent of 70 points, but you got in that zone when you’ve gotten hot and you think everything going in. Going against a really good Boston Celtics team, with a really good defense, I knew I was going have to lock in tonight. Once I got it going, my teammates kept finding me. Kept setting screens for me and once I got past 50 [points], then there’s just going to me every possession.”
During his out-of-body 28-point output in the final stanza, Suns’ head coach Earl Watson used a couple of timeouts in the closing moments to get Booker some extra touches.
With his point total climbing and even some of the faithful in the TD Garden audience began to cheer the more Booker scored, which kind of irked some of the Celtics players.
“It was weird what they were doing,” Celtics’ All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who had 34 points on the night to lead the C’s to their third win in a row said after the game. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It is what it is… But I mean it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him the most points possible. Hats off to him. He played a hell of a game.”
This was not just the best scoring night in the NBA this season with Booker scoring a NBA season-high of 70 points, he became the youngest player in NBA history to score 60 points or more at 20-years and 145 days old and scored the most points in a game against the Celtics.
Baylor held the previous scoring record against the 17-time World Champion C’s with 64 points when he played for the Minneapolis Lakers on Nov. 8, 1959.
Chamberlin, who had six 70-point performances in his career scored 62 points on Jan. 14, 1962, which was the most points in a regular-season contest in Boston at the time.
“Utmost respect to the Boston Celtics. Utmost respect to my teammates and tonight is a special night for me and my family,” Booker said to Stern, Chapman and Del Negro after the game.
He also set a new Suns’ scoring record that was previously held by current Suns’ pregame and postgame analyst for FOX Sports Arizona Tom Chambers, who registered 60 points on Mar. 24, 1990. It was an exceptional performance and despite the fact it rubbed some of the Celtics the wrong way, coach Watson made no apologies for it, especially what he did in the final moments.
“I’m not coming into any arena just happy to be there, trying to be liked. I don’t care about being liked. I really don’t care to be honest with you,” he said after the game. “We’re trying to build something with this young group. If people don’t like us while we build it, so what? Do something about it.”
Prior to this record setting performance, Booker’s previous career-high in points scored was 39, which he first did in the Suns’ 119-108 win at the Los Angeles Lakers (21-51) on Nov. 6, 2016. He had 39 points in back-to-back contest with the first coming in a 113-108 loss versus the Dallas Mavericks (31-40) in Mexico City on Jan. 12, where Booker went 14 for 20 from the field, including 6 for 7 from three-point range and 5 for 7 from the foul line. The second came two days later in a 108-105 win versus the San Antonio Spurs (55-16), in Mexico City where he went 12 for 22 from the field, including 3 for 5 from three-point range and 12 for 12 from the charity stripe.
This performance by Booker on Friday night and throughout this season sent a clear message that he is an up and comer that will be one of the bright stars in the league for a long time, provided he stays healthy and that he will be a major part of the Suns’ future as they are rebuilding their team back into one that consistently wins and is a perennial playoff participant.
One area that Booker said that he needs to work on is his leadership skills and he has veterans like Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley to learn from. Booker said that the two have taken him under their wing and showed him the kind of player and leader he needs to be as one of the main cornerstones of the Suns future along with the likes of guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, center Alex Len, forward Marquese Chriss, his former teammate at Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis, forward Dragan Bender, forward/center Alan Williams, and forward TJ Warren.
“They let me know that this is going to be your team in the future and you are going to have to start leading people by example and lead by actions,” Booker said. “It’s tough sometimes being so young, because sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing, but we have a really good young core and we’re fighters. We’re competitors and I see a really special future here in Phoenix.”
It is one thing to earn respect from your peers in terms of your teammates and the opponent, but it is something else to earn the appreciation from the opposing fans, which Booker did one the game was over as he received a standing ovation from the Celtic faithful at TD Garden near the end of the game.
“That means the most,” Booker said. “Not only was my team cheering me on tonight, but like I said, the utmost respect for the Boston Celtics fans. That surprised me the most. They started cheering a little bit. Knowing how hectic they are against some teams, that meant a lot.”
On Friday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA, Devin Booker put every great skill in his offensive arsenal on display on Friday night. He made open shots from the perimeter. He attacked the basket and got to the foul line and converted all but two of his 26 attempts. More than anything else, Devin Booker on a night when the Suns had nothing to play for but pride put his best foot forward and made sure that when this night concluded, the entire basketball world knew who he was and that he will be someone that we will all be talking about going forward, provided again he stays injury free the remainder of his career.
Information, statistics, and quotations are courtesy of 3/25/17 2 a.m. edition of NBATV’s “Gametime,” presented by State Farm with Casey Stern, Rex Chapman and Vinny Del Negro; 3/25/17;;; and  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

J-Speaks: The Passing of The Iconic "Johnny Hoops"

For over 40 years, he was the astute, precise and pro of pros of National Basketball Association (NBA) color analyst, whose is best known for co-piloting both on radio and television broadcast of New York Knicks games for a little over three decades alongside one of the greatest play-by-play analyst in pro sports who most popular catch phrase when a player scored a basket while getting fouled is, “YES AND IT COUNTS!!!” He was a star on the college hardwood and then became a legendary broadcaster both locally in the “Big Apple” and nationally for Turner Broadcasting Station (TBS) and many years later talked shop on of NBATV’s first main programs in its infancy. For a decade, he called college basketball for NBC. He was one of the rare broadcasters in the NBA that never played or coached in the NBA. At the start of this week, the basketball world and the New York said goodbye to his treasured voice.
Longtime radio and television color analyst of the New York Knicks John Andariese, whose nickname was “Johnny Hoops” passed away on Monday at his home in West Palm Beach FL. He was 78 years old.
He is survived by his wife, the former Maureen Hayden. His three daughters, Amy McLaughlin, Julie Collins, and Emily Wright; four grandchildren and a sister Janet Cianci.
The New York Post had reported a week prior that Andariese, a native New Yorker, who was born in Brooklyn on Aug. 19, 1938 had been suffering from advanced dementia.
The New York Times had reported four days back that Mrs. Andariese said that the cause of her husband’s passing was complications of primary progressive aphasia.  
He received get well wishes during the nationally televised contest between the Golden State Warriors and the Knicks on ABC on Mar. 5 from current Knicks’ play-by-play commentator Mike Breen, former Knicks’ assistant coach and head coach Jeff Van Gundy and former Knicks’ lead guard, who also played his collegiate ball at St. John’s University Mark Jackson.
The Post also reported that Breen, whose first season as the Knicks’ main play-by-play analyst was Andariese last as a color analyst visited him at his home in Florida just 24 hours later.
The Madison Square Garden Network said in a statement: “We are very saddened by the news of John Andariese passing. John was a beloved broadcaster and New York icon whose love for the ‘City Game’ was second to none. He spent 34 years at MSG doing what he loved-calling Knicks games on radio and MSG Network0 and his voice will live on with Knicks fans forever.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver echoed those same sentiments in his own statement by, saying that, “John. ‘Johnny Hoops’ Andariese was a New York basketball legend who devoted his life to the game…His reassuring voice and extensive basketball knowledge endeared him to generations of New Yorkers. I knew John for over 25 years, and he was a dear friend and a mentor. He was incredibly kind with his time and taught me so much about the game and sports television…The NBA family mourns his passing.”
Mr. Andariese was a color analyst who combined a sense of humor with a knowledge of basketball that he could take you right into the action from the start of a telecast right on to the final horn.
One of the best examples of that was his call of the John Starks left hand dunk off a left right baseline drive in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Chicago Bulls at MSG, “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
“So, big and look who’s at the top. None other than Michael Jordan and he couldn’t do anything about it. What a spectacular move,” Mr. Andariese said of game-clinching play that gave the Knicks a 2-0 series lead, but lost the series to the eventual NBA champions.
That was one of many descriptions of Knicks basketball that fans heard both on the radio and on the small screen and as mentioned earlier many of those calls from Mr. Andariese were alongside Marv Albert, who now is the main play-by-play analyst for the NBA on TNT.
“He was all basketball,” Albert said of his broadcast partner of 34 years on radio and television once in an interview. “He was in very good shape for a long time, and he was always looking for a game. One of his thrills was on game day at Madison Square Garden-he’d play on the court with Garden employees.”
To put into perspective Mr. Andariese’s love for the game of basketball, for decades he would make his own portable record of the NBA each season when he would meticulously cut out the box scores of each game and tape them into a schoolboy notebooks. Some of those books he would tote to games for his own reference.
“I have cases of them,” Mrs. Andariese said to The New York Times. “I’d get up at 2 a.m., and he’d be cutting out box scores and highlighting articles.”
Mrs. Andariese said to The Times that for one of her husband’s birthdays she built him a regulation NBA court in their Montgomery, NY property.
“It had old-fashioned glass backboards, and he had a ball-retrieving thing that kept the balls from going into the cornfield,” she said. “He loved it. His friends would go out and shoot with him.”
This incredible love, joy, and respect for the game of basketball began for Mr. Andariese when he played collegiately at the Fordham University Rams under coach Johnny Bach, the longtime assistant to current Knicks president Phil Jackson when they were with the Chicago Bulls in the early 1990s.
In his four seasons at Fordham from 1956 to 1960, Mr. Andariese was a three-time All-City player, who led the Rams to two National Invitational Tournaments (NIT) and as team captain in his senior season averaged 13.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest.
Over the years when they attended dinner events and other appearances, Mr. Albert would always jokingly introduce Mr. Andariese as the “53rd leading rebounder in the history of Fordham.”
Upon graduation, Mr. Andariese would serve the United States in the Army and played basketball professionally for the Allentown Jets of the Eastern Professional Basketball League, which would later be named in the Continental Basketball Association.
Mr. Andariese broadcasting journey began with calling collegiate games for NBC Sports and was one of the first to do for ESPN beginning in the 1968-69 season.
Four years later, Mr. Andariese was hired by the Knicks organization as a radio analyst for the 1972-73 season, the Knicks second title in franchise history. He would team up with Mr. Albert, who had been the play-by-play announcer since 1967.
Mr. Albert recalled that one of their best memories was when they traveled to Los Angeles, CA for Game 1 of the 1973 NBA Finals between the Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers was when he and Mr. Andariese was go to the famed Pauley Pavilion, home of the then powerhouse UCLA Bruins, who led by the legendary head coach John Wooden.
During Game 1 of The Finals, Mr. Albert said that Mr. Andariese had one of best moments of his career when he had the opportunity to interview actor Peter Falk at intermission.
“Any time we were in L.A. or New York, Falk would come over to us to look at the halftime stat sheet,” Mr. Albert said.
The dynamic duo would co-pilot Knicks games on the airwaves for WNBC-FM from 1972-74; for WNEW from 1974-76 and from 1982-84; for WPAT for the 1984-85 campaign and for WNBC for the 1985-86 campaign.
Mr. Albert and Mr. Andariese would bring their great chemistry to the small screen for MSG from 1986 to 1997 and would go down as one of the very best and most memorable in the eyes of all Knicks fans.
“When I think of all the years. All the broadcast that I worked with John. His love for the game. His knowledge of the game. The unique ability to be able to break it down for the fan and his sense of humor come to mind to me,” Mr. Albert once said of Mr. Andariese.
In the early part of his broadcast career with the Knicks, Mr. Andariese also did color commentary for the NBA on TBS from 1984-86. He and play-by-play analyst Skip Caray, who son Harry Christopher “Chip” Caray III served as the play-by-play man for the Orlando Magic from 1989-96 and currently in that same role for the Atlanta Braves of MLB did the broadcast of the 1985 between the Philadelphia 76ers versus the Boston Celtics and 1986 Eastern Conference Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks versus the Celtics for TBS. He would later co-host a show called NBA2Night with current play-by-play analyst for the NFL on CBS Greg Gumbel.
Mr. Andariese as mentioned earlier would be the television color analyst for one more season for the Knicks on MSG working alongside Breen in the 1997-98 NBA campaign.
After being replaced by Knicks legend and Hall of Famer and two-time champion with the Knicks Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Mr. Andariese would go back to calling Knicks games on the radio for the next 14 years, rejoining Mr. Albert, as well as working alongside the likes of Mike Crispino, Gus Johnson and Spero Dedes for WFAN, WEPN and WEPN-FM, before retiring in 2012.
“After what seems like a lifetime behind the microphone and having the good fortune and privilege to be part of nearly 40 years of Knicks’ history, I’ve decided it’s time to step away to spend more time with my wonderful wife Maureen, my three beautiful daughters and my four grandchildren,” Mr. Andariese said then.
“I’ve been blessed to be able to cover one of the greatest sports teams on the planet, one of the most knowledgeable and passionate fans. It’s now time to shift focus to my family and my position as CEO of TVI Media. I’m grateful to MSG Networks and the Knicks for giving me this wonderful opportunity and for all the love and affection shown to me by our New York basketball savvy fans, who have been such an important part of my life. I’m pleased beyond words to have been able to share my enthusiasm and passion for Knicks basketball with them. I’ll miss you all.”  
In 2014, Mr. Andariese was given one of the greatest honors an NBA broadcaster could get when the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted him as the Curt Gowdy Electronic Media Award for Outstanding Lifetime Coverage of Basketball.
When Mr. Andariese received this great honor four years ago, he was joined by Albert and Breen, the two men who sat alongside him in front of the camera and on the airwaves calling Knicks games.
Along with working as the CEO and founder of TViMedia, an advertising sales company in Manhattan, NY, Andariese, he also hosted one of the first main shows on NBATV called, “NBA Legends with Johnny Hoops,” which was broadcast from the NBA Store on Fifth Ave. in New York, NY.
On the show, Mr. Andariese would sit down with some of the true legends that have made the NBA what it is today from Hall of Famer of and five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers Earvin “Magic” Johnson to Knicks’ Hall of Famer Willis Reed.
It was on this show that you learned a great deal about certain key moments in the career of these great legends like from Reed when he said to Mr. Andariese of that famed walk from the locker room onto the court at MSG during warmups of Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals on May 8 of that year, which had the crowd going crazy, “That was a scary moment John. That’s not a thrilling moment.”
Reed, who missed Game 6 because of a severe thigh injury and torn muscle hit the first two shots, which would be his only points of the game and the Knicks would go on to win and capture their first ever title.
On Monday, the NBA and Knicks fans said goodbye a true voice of basketball. A man who knew the game inside and out. Who co-piloted many of Knicks broadcast with two of the best play-by-play men in sports in Marv Albert and Mike Breen. A man who brought to life what you heard or saw on the NBA hardwood and brought to life for all fans to see and hear. He was a wonderful, husband, father, and gentleman to whoever he met, like this proud blogger who got a chance to meet him 11 years ago, when I got a chance to cover a Knicks versus Indiana Pacers matchup at MSG.
Having a chance to converse with “Johnny Hoops,” who was a rare analyst that never played or coached in the NBA was an amazing experience and I learned a lot from him a short quick conversation that most people will never get in their lifetime.
John Kenneth Andariese was a New York treasure who could commentate and analyze a game in such a way that you thought you were hearing poetry in motion and it was a beautiful experience each time you heard him speak. That if anything is what will be missed.
Information and quotations are courtesy of 3/15/17 5:30 p.m. edition of NBATV’s “Gametime,” presented by Kia Motors with Rick Kamla, Caron Butler and Sam Mitchell, with commentary by Jeff Greenberg; 3/14/17 Newsday article, “John Andariese, Longtime Knicks TV-Radio Analyst, Dies at 78,” by Neil Best; 3/14/17 New York Times article, “John Andariese, Knicks Broadcaster Known as ‘Johnny Hoops,’ Dies at 78,” by Richard Sandomir;;;; and 

Friday, March 10, 2017

J-Speaks: The Second Act of a Trail Blazer

The average career for an NBA player, whether you are drafted or not is around five seasons. The lucky few are blessed to play the game for 20 seasons and more common players have a cup of coffee in the league. It is rare for a player to go from being drafted to becoming a star in a short period and then have it all end before age 30. That is the precise situation that happened for the No. 6 overall pick in 2006 draft.
In June of 2006, the Portland Trail Blazers selected guard Brandon Roy, who went from being the 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year, a three-time All-Star (2008-2010) and in the blink of an eye his career on the hardwood concluded.
Degenerated arthritis in both knees was quickly taking its toll on the Roy. So much so that the former University of Washington Huskie needed treatment on those knees for up to eight hours just to be able to play. Unfortunately, the condition in both of his knees was rapidly deteriorating. All of this was happening at a time when the Portland Trail Blazers were a rising team in the West going from just 32 wins in his first season to 41, 54, 50 and 48 wins, including three straight appearances in the postseason.
After surgery to both knees, Roy was shelved for 35 games during the 2010-11 regular season. With the clock ticking on his career, the 2006 consensus First-Team All-American, then Pac-10 Player of the Year and 2006 First-Team All-Pac-10 selection made a remarkable last stand in Game 4 of the Trail Blazers First-Round series versus Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.
Before the start of the final stanza, Roy said that then head coach Nate McMillan pulled him to the side and asked him what was on his mind. Roy basically said that he did not know how much longer that he will be able to play basketball, let alone play in the postseason. He wanted to get out on the and give everything that he had and that so-called last stand was an 18-point output in the fourth quarter that led the Trail Blazers to an 84-82 win that tied the series at 2-2.
“You don’t plan for a night like that to happen,” Roy, who team would lose that first-round series in six games said. “It was just an unbelievable night.”
After the game, Roy said to TNT’s Marty Snider that there were times he thought that he would never play basketball again.
While Roy’s career on the hardwood did not conclude at that point, it would be the last 20-plus point performance of his career.
He would hang up his sneakers for a season before a brief comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that return would last just five games and just like that the basketball career of Brandon Roy concluded at the age of 28, finishing with career averages of 18.8 points, 4.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds on 45.9 percent from the field and 34.8 from three-point range. Roy averaged 16.3 points per game in the postseason.
“I always wondered how good I could have been if I never had the knee pains,” Roy said. “There were games where I think I had 42 points and my knee was killing me. I had got it drained and I still went out there and I was able to perform. I just knew my body couldn’t do it and it was really hard. I didn’t want to watch basketball.”
Roy couldn’t watch the sport where he was one of young rising stars because when he did watch games with people that he was around, they would say nice and positive things, but it was a reminder to him that he was no longer an NBA player.
A couple of years ago, Roy made a return to Garfield High School in Seattle, WA, where he stared at and began the transition from star player to a part-time coach.
It was there that Roy found a new passion, to coach a game that had given so much back to him. While the opportunity to that at his alma mater was not available, the position at Nathan Hale High School was, which Roy found out from a close acquaintance of his.
When Roy reached out to the school to find out about the opening, no one was more shocked than the school’s Athletic Director Darby Haskins.
“It wasn’t so much that we had to convince him to come here,” Haskins said. “This was the position that he wanted. So, were glad to have him.”
Ten of the players on this year’s Raider team said the same thing that they were very happy to have a former NBA player as their head coach.
That of all things brought a smile to Roy’s face when he went home after practice one time and embracing being a coach.
What Roy, who is 32 years of age now has also put a major emphasis on in his second act in his basketball journey is to stay in the moment and to enjoy it. What he has also parted onto his team is to expect to be great and not to fight it. That when your expectations change, that means you are growing and you expect more of yourself and those around you.
Roy used a line he said to Snider in the previously mentioned final 20-point game of his career in that Game 4 playoff win versus the Mavericks to his team in that victory over Garfield High when he said, “You guys need to start playing with nothing to lose. And stop being scared. We’re fighting against expectations. Just play.”
That moment quickly bloomed when one of the top players in the nation Michael Porter, Jr., and his younger brother Jontay transferred in from Missouri, and suddenly, the Raider basketball program became a national powerhouse, where a 16-0 record earned them a No. 1 ranking nationally, which led them to having one of their games to be broadcast for the national public, a 69-65 victory at perennial powerhouse Garfield High, Roy’s aforementioned alma mater, where his No. 4 jersey hangs in the rafters.
“He puts no pressure on us. He lets us go out there and play our game. He’s been at the highest level. So, it’s cool to pick his brain. Just about the little stuff. About the league,” Porter, Jr., a senior forward for the Raiders said.
The team finished the season 28-0, including 15-0 record in District play and while this first season was successful for Roy, as his first NBA season winning as mentioned Rookie of the Year, he knows that each year will bring its own set of challenges as well as its own opportunities to rise and be great.
“I try to remind myself every season may not be the No. 1 team in the nation,” Roy said. “It’s just the work we’re putting into it. I hope that I coach long enough to where people don’t remember me as a basketball player,” Roy said of his second act in basketball.
When playing career of a pro athlete concludes, they hope to find another passion that they can put their heart and soul into like they did in the sport they played. That crossroad came sooner than expected for Brandon Roy, who found his new passion that kept him close to the game that made him a star. He hopes though to be more remembered for his second act in his basketball journey than his first.
“I hope that I coach long enough to where people don’t remember me as a player,” Roy said. “You’re playing career will be a short time in your life and I hope the second part of my life will be one that is remembered of as being a good player, who changed his path and became a great head coach and I hope that is something that I can achieve.”
Information, statistics and quotations are courtesy of 2/21/17 edition of NBATV’s “Beyond the Paint,” with Matt Winer;,wa)/basketball/schedule; and

J-Speaks: Nurkic Fever in "Rip City"

In the middle of February, the Portland Trail Blazers were in a serious rut and their playoff hopes were dwindling. It was around this time that they made a trade with the Denver Nuggets sending starting center Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-round pick and cash considerations and acquired reserve center Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round pick. Little did anyone know that Nurkic’s addition would make the kind of impact that he has and not only has been a major addition, he has given stability and a presence on both ends of the court. That was especially true in the Trail Blazers latest victory on Thursday night and the Trail Blazers’ starting lead guard also made history as well.
Behind the career-highs of 28 points, 20 rebounds, eight assists and six blocks of Nurkic, native of Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Portland Trail Blazers (28-35) defeated the Philadelphia 76ers (23-14) 114-108 in overtime. He was 9 for 18 from the field and 10 for 13 from the free throw line and had two steals as well.
Starting lead guard Damian Lillard had 24 points, going 12 for 12 from the charity stripe, despite going 6 for 21 from the field, including 0 for 6 from three-point range.
Lillard strong scoring night, courtesy of his perfect performance from the foul line put him at a total of 1,504 points on the season, which made him the 17th player in NBA history with 1,500-plus points in his first five seasons and just the second player in NBA history to accomplish this.
Among those who recently scored 1,500 points in their first five seasons include Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors, who did it as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder; four-time MVP of the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James; Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks, who accomplished that with the Denver Nuggets and Hall of Famers David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Another club that Lillard join is he became the 10th player in league history to score better than 8,000 points and dish out 2,000 assists in their first five seasons.
“When you are mentioned with those names, you’re doing a whole lot things right. All-Star or not,” Portland Trail Blazers color analyst for Comcast SportsNet Northwest Lamar Hurd said during the broadcast.
Even with the great night by Lillard, the Trail Blazers would not have won this game against the Sixers or perhaps be in the position of being just a half a game behind the Nuggets (29-35) for the No. 8 and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Since his arrival of Nurkic, the Trail Blazers have gone 5-3, which included four consecutive wins and he averaged 16.5 points, 9.6 boards, 4.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.9 blocks as a Trail Blazers so far.
It is not just the numbers that Nurkic has put up that has the Trail Blazers where they are at now. It is the fact that he has given the Trail Blazers something that they have been lacking for much of this season before he came.
“I’m not worried about the stats. I just want to win and I think we should’ve won easier in this one, but I’ll take any win,” Nurkic, who became the 8th Trail Blazer all-time to have registered a 20- plus point, 20-plus rebound performance said to sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam after the game, while being serenaded by cheers from the remaining 19,240 fans left in attendance at the Moda Center on Thursday night.  
An offensive presence who can score down low. Has a solid touch from the perimeter with his ability to shoot the ball as well as his ability to find the open man. Defensively, Nurkic has provided rim protection that has made opponent’s think twice before driving the ball inside the paint.
This trade gave Nurkic got an opportunity to go to a team that needed his services and he has taken the opportunity, ran with it, and gained the respect and admiration of his new teammates and Trail Blazers coaching staff as well as the fans of “Rip City.”
Against the Sixers on Thursday night, he made numerous plays that made the difference in the outcome. He had two key offensive put backs that kept the either tied the game or gave the Trail Blazers the lead in overtime.
The biggest play of the game occurred with about 40 seconds left in the extra stanza when he deflected a Sixers inbounds pass to Richaun Holmes that Nurkic deflected off him and gave the Trail Blazers the ball back and received a huge ovation from the Moda Center crowd.   
Anybody can put up numbers, but it is the plays that do not end up in the box score that make all the difference and those are the kinds of plays that Nurkic has been making for the Trail Blazers since his arrival.
“Nothing, because I just played minutes for the first in my life, so I’m cool. I just want to go have fun and win the games,” Nurkic said to Olzendam about the stats he has put up in his brief time with the team.
How popular is Nurkic in the Pacific Northwest, this phenomenon has been dubbed, “Nurkic Fever.” At the close of the broadcast, Hurd had a thermometer in his mouth where he was taking his temperature in representation of how the fans felt about the addition of the No. 16 overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 2014 draft.
While Plumlee may be the most polished player in terms of production and playing experience in the trade that took place back in February between the Nuggets and Trail Blazers, Nurkic in the long term may become the more impactful player. On top of that, the Trail Blazers got a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. Nurkic being just 22 years of age and what he has done so far gives the Trail Blazers a serious third offensive option to go alongside Lillard and his fellow starting backcourt mate C.J. McCollum, who finished the victory with 23 points on 8 for 16 shooting.
Whenever a team makes a trade, the hope is that the newest addition can make an impact and it can be a long lasting one. The acquisition of Jusuf Nurkic by the Trail Blazers has had an impact to where they have a serious chance to make it back to the postseason for a second consecutive season; that they have their starting center for the next few seasons that can score, rebound, pass, and shoot and he has brought an edge and swagger that they have not had all season long.
Information, statistics, and quotations are courtesy of 3/9/17 10:30 p.m. contest Philadelphia 76ers versus Portland Trail Blazers on Comcast SportsNet Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hunt and Brooke Olzendam on the sidelines;;;; and

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

J-Speaks: Dirk Nowitzki Scores 30K

Back on Jan. 13, 2010 versus the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks forward and 2007 NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki hit a baseline jumper over then forward Lamar Odom with 10:57 left in the fourth quarter in the fourth quarter to score the 20,000th point of his future Hall of Fame career. A little over seven years and two months later, Nowitzki was in the same position against the same team in the confines of the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX and in front of a sellout crowd made history again, while also joining an exclusive club two times over.
With the 10:58 mark of the second quarter, Nowitzki from Wurzburg, West Germany hit a one-legged fade away baseline jumper over Lakers forward Larry Nance, Jr., right in front of the Mavericks bench and became the sixth player in NBA history to score 30,000 points in his career.
“The shot that will always be remembered as associated with Dirk. To be immortalized in statue one day,” were the words from FOX Sports Southwest play-by-play announcer Mark Followill when 13-time All-Star and 12-time All-NBA selection made the shot that put him at 30,000 points on the nose.   
He joined the all-time leading scorer in Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928); future Hall of Famer and former Laker Kobe Bryant (33,643) and Hall of Famers Michael Jordan (32,292) and the late Wilt Chamberlin (31,419) as the only players to score 30,000-plus points in their NBA careers. Nowitzki joined Bryant and Malone as the only players to score over 30,000 points for one franchise and the first international player to reach this milestone.
Chamberlin scored his 30,000th point on Feb. 16, 1972 at the Phoenix Suns on a goaltend in the third quarter for the Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar, scored 30K for the “Purple and Gold,” on Nov. 19, 1983 at the Portland Trail Blazers on a free throw in the third quarter. Malone reached the 30,000-point mark on an offensive put back of his own missed shot on Jan. 29, 2000 at the Minnesota Timberwolves with the Utah Jazz. While playing for the Washington Wizards, Jordan reached 30,000 points on a free throw in the second quarter versus his old team the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 4, 2002 and Bryant hit a short jumper at the then New Orleans Hornets to reach 30K on Dec. 5, 2012. On Nowitzki and Jordan accomplished this at home.  
"The plan was to kind of find my rhythm early and get it out of the way early if I could," Nowitzki said about reaching the 30,000-point mark to NBATV's Matt Winer, Isiah Thomas and Brent Barry on "Gametime" on Tuesday night after the game. "The guys just kept finding me and I said, 'It's time to go for it. It's time to let it ride.' Hit my first shot. Then I hit my first three and as we know as shooters. When you have that confidence. You see the first couple go in and you kind of off to the races."

Just moments later, Nowitzki hit a three-pointer to give him 23 points in the first half. He scored 18 of his 25 points on the night in the opening stanza on 6 for 6 from the field, including 2 for 2 from three-point range and 4 for 4 from the free throw line. Officially, Nowitzki has scored 30,005 points in his career and finished the evening 9 for 13 from the floor taking only one shot in the second half.

It was the kind of shooting exhibition that reminded those in attendance and those watching on television how great of a player Nowitzki has been in his career with the Mavericks and his head coach Rick Carlisle has had a front row seat for the past nine seasons of that.

"For me, this was a 13:02 microcosm of one of the greatest careers in the history of this game,"  Carlisle said after the game. "Meticulous preparation, total commitment, unbelievable competitive spirit and a real flair for the moment. Watching Dirk the last couple of days, there was no doubt this was going to happen tonight." 
To put this into perspective, in the history of the NBA there have been 4,143 players to appear in at least one NBA game.
“It’s sort of surreal,” Nowitzki, who finished the night with 25 points, all coming in the first half to along with 11 rebounds said after the game to FOX Sports Southwest color analyst Jeff “Skin” Wade. “Everybody kept telling me to just be aggressive and try to get it over with and just got hot early. Got some good shots. The guys kept looking for me and to start the second quarter, I was sitting on 18 [points] and I walk out on the court and I see everybody getting up. I got a little nervous there. Hoisted an air ball, but a great feeling to share that with great teammates. With the crowd, tonight. With the coaches, Mark. It’s been a pleasure.”
When a time out was called by the Lakers at the 9:54 mark of the second quarter, Nowitzki was mobbed by his teammates, owner Mark Cuban and received a rousing standing ovation from all those in attendance at the AAC and many of them in tribute to Dirk had on short sleeve gray t-shirts that had the 30K on the front with Nowitzki taking his previously mentioned one-legged signature fall away jump shot. A shot that center Tina Charles of the WNBA's New York Liberty was practicing earlier this week and Thomas, who works for the Liberty was there to witness it.

"It's been an honor that people like that move and think it's a good move to have the your arsenal," Nowitzki said to Thomas about his move being copied by other pro basketball players like Charles. "It's fun to watch how many guys and good players really made that shot their own and its been fun to watch." 
What makes this moment even more special is that Nowitzki normally keeps his distance when it comes to his individual accolades. This is a rare occasion that he welcomed the admiration and bells and whistles that came in the lead up to this moment.
“When he looks back on his career, he’ll remember this night for a long time,” Mavericks color analyst and former Mavericks’, Lakers’, New York Knicks’ and Orlando Magic guard Derek Harper said during the broadcast.

He added to that by saying on "Gametime," "It was done by a special individual coming over from Germany."
On hand to witness this special moment was Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback Andy Dalton, who played college football for Texas Christian University and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Throughout the broadcast, on social media and NBATV's postgame show "Gametime," many of Nowitzki’s former teammates and those that competed against him and the Mavericks expressed their congratulations on him joining the 30,000 club, like one who began their Maverick careers together in future Hall of Famer Steve Nash.
“Dirty. Congratulations man. 30,000 points. How do you say that in German; ‘Black hole,’” Nash, who played with Nowitzki from 1998-2004 with the Mavericks said. “I’m really proud to have witnessed you do it. To have shared in some of it with you and to see you finishing your career in this style It’s just fantastic. Congratulations my friend.”
Another former teammate who saw Dirk score at a high clip in his career was current Milwaukee Bucks’ guard Jason Terry, who played for the Mavericks from 2004-2012 and was a part of their 2011 championship team.
“Playing with Dirk was truly a blessing,” Terry said in a video message. “The second coming of Stockton and Malone, the way we ran that two-man game. But it was all possible because of you.”
Terry also said that Nowitzki showed him how to work hard and be dedicated to his craft and what it meant to be a true professional.
“So, I appreciate you and I appreciate your contributions to the game,” Terry said. “You also made me and NBA champion, which for that I will forever be indebted to you. Dirky, congratulations on 30,000 points. You’re the best.”

Barry, who went against Nowitzki many times when he was with the San Antonio Spurs congratulated Nowitzki on this historic milestone and said to him, "I'm incredibly honored to have a chance to talk to you tonight and if I can say just very proud of you. We were watching it here live and just super excited. It's been great competing against you, but obviously loved your game for a long time. So congrats."

Bryant, who was on the floor when Nowitzki reached 20,000 career points said on his twitter page @kobebyrant, "Congrats @swish41 you are a true great#fadelikedirk."

Reigning back-to-back MVP of the Golden State Warriors and brother of Mavericks' guard Seth Curry said @StephenCurry30, "Hats off to swish41 on 30K tonight. Glad to know I contributed to a few of those buckets."

The younger Curry, who had 18 points on 7 for 12 shooting, including 4 for 7 from three-point range with five assists in the victory on his Instagram page at sdotcurry, "30K is ALOT of buckets!!!! As you say in practice, 'I used to shoot over your pops. I shoot over your brother and now I'm shooting over you!' lol congrats Dirty! @swish41 #Legend."

Current Phoenix Suns center and the starting man in the middle on the Mavericks' 2011 title team Tyson Chandler said on his Instagram page tysonchandler,  "Congrats to 1 of the greatest to ever do it! My brother I love you & couldn't be more was a pleasure to lace Em up with you@swish41 #30,000 #Legend#ShouldBeOnEveryList #somebondswillneverbebroken #Champs."

Former teammate Michael Finley, who was there as well as Nash at the start of Nowitzki's NBA journey, said on his twitter page @MichaelFinley, "Who would've ever thought this kid I carried for 1 season would go on to be the player in Mavs history. Proud of you bro @swish41 #30K.
Nowitzki even got a video congrats from actor and comedian Ben Stiller, who in a comedic way said as he took a break from trying to chop wood on his farm, “I really don’t follow basketball, but that’s incredible. I mean in one game. Amazing.”  
Stiller recently attended a Mavericks game with his son, who said he loves Nowitzki and watched the game from the arena baseline.  
One person of the Mavericks organization that has seen Nowitzki from when he started to now is Mavericks’ Player Development Coach Mike Shedd, whose first encounter with him was in the summer after the 1998 NBA Finals.
Shedd said during a halftime interview with color analyst Jeff “Ski” Wade that he came to the then Reunion Arena one night where he thought that he was alone, but Nowitzki and Holger are working out. This was taking place at around 10:30 p.m.
“I was like ‘Wow.’ I’ve heard stories. Never seen it. Saw it in real life and now, I’ve seen it for 11 years,” Shedd said. “I’m just blessed to be able to see it.”   
This moment that those who witnessed it in Texas and those that watched it unfold on television may not had happened if not for former German international basketball player Holger Geschwindner, who spotted at 15-year-old Nowitzki and offered to coach him on an individual basis two to three times per week.
After getting permission from Nowitzki’s parents Helga and Jorg-Werner, Geschwindner put the future Hall of Famer through an unorthodox training regiment, which emphasized shooting and passing exercises and shunning lifting weights and tactical drills. He also encouraged Nowitzki to play a musical instrument and read literature to make his personality more complete.
That training got him a chance to in the summer of 1994 to try out for the DJK Basketball team, which he made and the rest is history.
Geschwindner was on hand for Nowitzki’s entrance into the 30K club and when the moment happened, tears came down his eyes as it was shown during the broadcast and on the main scoreboard in the AAC.

"When he told me basketball was jazz, I thought this old guy is nuts," Nowitzki said about his early interactions with Geschwindner. "We started working together when I was like 15 and I think some of his methods were different and I was kind of the only guy really believing in it and sticking with it and it really worked for me. We built a great relationship together and I kept getting better. So, seeing results and that's why I stuck with it and the rest has been history."

Nowitzki and Geschwindner still work together to this day work out in the summer time adding new things to his game and keeping in tip-top condition. Over the past few days, Nowitzki and Geschwindner had been working on his jump shot.

"He's still a great mentor. Great supporter of mine and it's probably fair to say that I wouldn't be here without him," Nowitzki said.  
After the game, Nowitzki showed his appreciation to those in attendance at the AAC to witness him make some more NBA history by saying, “Thank you guys for coming out in support. It’s been a crazy ride with a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but you guys stuck with me and we hung in there and hopefully a lot more to come.”
When a player like Dirk Nowitzki is drafted by a franchise that is trying to pull itself out of the basement of the NBA where the Mavericks were when he was drafted, the hope is that he has the work ethic and commitment to turn their respective team into a winner.
Nowitzki not only had that amazing work ethic and commitment to his craft and that commitment made him the league MVP in 2007. A perennial All-Star, 13 times as mentioned earlier. A four-time All-NBA First-Team, five-time Second-Team and three-time Third-Team selection. A NBA champion, which he led the Mavericks to in 2011 when the beat the Miami Heat in six games and the sixth all-time leading scorer in NBA history.  
On top of that, he was as durable a player as any that graced the NBA hardwood. Excluding this season, Nowitzki has missed just 114 games in his 19-year career, which averages to just six games missed in those previously mentioned seasons.

Not only that, he made his own path to greatness. For starters he really did not have any particular player before him that he could pattern his game after. He never played high school or college basketball and when he came to the Mavericks, there was question on how good he could even be, especially after less than stellar rookie season. 

He not only made his own path, he made a major statement for all international players in the NBA today that with hard work and dedication you can be just as great as those currently and players from before. 

To put the cherry on this sundae, Nowitzki became great and the carrier of the Mavericks for nearly two decades without the assistance of another Hall of Fame caliber teammate. While he had current Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd for a brief time a few years ago, that was on the final leg of his career when they as mentioned earlier won it all six seasons back. 

Co-host of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" Tony Kornheiser said on Wednesday show of the 38-year-old Nowitzki's accomplishment that he is, "the most underappreciated basketball player of all-time in the entire world." 

"It is amazing how he got to this point. He grew up in Germany. He didn't go to high school her [U.S.]. He didn't go to college here. No body brought him over for the AAU tour. He's growing up in a country where there's nobody he can look at and say, 'I want to be him. I've seen that before.' Not in this country. Dirk Nowitzki is unbelievable."    
The performance that Nowitzki put on Tuesday night and how the rest of the team performed against an inferior opponent was a display of how far the Mavericks have come since his arrival 19 seasons ago and the kind of mark he has made in the NBA.  
As a player he was one of the best, but Dirk Nowitzki was an even better human being and that was also on display when he was mobbed by his teammates and Cuban when he scored point number 30,000.

The hope of more to come this season that Nowitzki was talking about in his postgame thanks to the crowd is the Mavericks (27-36) making the playoffs for the 16th time last 17 years and with their 122-111 victory over the Lakers, their 14th consecutive win over the Conference rivals from California on Tuesday night pulled them to within two games of the No. 8 and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, which is currently occupied by the Denver Nuggets (29-35), who were not scheduled to play. Nowitzki even said that he may even return for season No. 20 next year.

"It's been an incredible ride for almost 19 years," Nowitzki said. "They stuck with me in Dallas when things weren't going so well. My first year we struggling. Playoff year after year we lost and I was down and the fans were down on me at times. But they kept sticking with me and now were here. So, it's been an incredible ride and thank you guys for all the support hopefully there's a couple more baskets to come."
Information, statistics, and quotations are courtesy of 3/7/17 8:30 p.m. game between the Los Angeles Lakers versus Dallas Mavericks on FOX Sports Southwest with Mark Followill, Derek Harper and Jeff “Skin” Wade; 3/8/17 6 a.m. edition of NBATV's "Gametime," presented by Kia Motors with Matt Winer, Isiah Thomas and Brent Barry; 3/8/17 5:30 p.m. edition of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," presented by Guinness Irish Wheat with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon; 3/9/17 2 a.m. edition of NBATV's "Gametime," with Vince Cellini, Dennis Scott and Derek Harper;;; and