Tag Archives: Basketball

PAT RILEY, GREATEST COACH EVER?

                                                             Kallas Remarks By Steve Kallas       

Pat Riley’s time to retire not only is here, but was actually here two years ago right after he stole an NBA Championship from the Dallas Mavericks (and it looks like the Mavericks won’t get another chance).  Rather than go out on top, he chose to struggle along for two more years before he saw the light.

But it says here that Pat Riley is one of the greatest coaches ever, maybe the greatest coach ever.  Preposterous, you say?  Wait just a minute.    

Riley enters the conversation because of his four titles with the Lakers.  Of course, many believe that anybody could have coached the Magic-Kareem-Worthy Lakers and, while that’s a decent argument, the reality is that to be a great coach and win NBA titles, you need great players (Red Auerbach – Russell, Cousy and the rest; Phil Jackson – Jordan and Pippen, Shaq and Kobe, to name two great coaches).    

But Riley’s ability goes way beyond four titles with the Lakers (plus a fifth with the Heat).  What he did, which puts him in the conversation for greatest coach ever, is CHANGE THE WAY THE GAME IS PLAYED IN THE NBA.      

Now, we may not have liked it, but when Riley coached first the Knicks and then the Heat, he changed the league from the up tempo “Showtime” Lakers to the defensive “let’s make the game a rugby scrum” New York Knicks.  People still actually believe there was a “rivalry” between the Bulls of Jordan and Pippen and the Knicks of Patrick Ewing and … well, not that much else.  There really wasn’t, yet Riley made everybody in the league, including the Bulls, scratch and claw for every basket.  If he had coached the Knicks the way he coached the Lakers, the Knicks would have been non-contenders.  But he did great things with the Knicks during the regular season and at least made the Bulls sweat during the Jordan years.  He even got the Knicks to a Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Rockets (in a Jordan-retired year, of course).    

He then worked similar magic with a Miami Heat team that also wasn’t really that good.  When Tim Hardaway could play on two legs, Alonzo Mourning wasn’t quite yet ALONZO MOURNING.  By the time Mourning became a star, Tim Hardaway was essentially playing on one leg.  The only time the Heat could beat the Jeff Van Gundy-coached Knicks was when half the Knicks got suspended in 1997.  Again, a “great” rivalry that really wasn’t as great as it was cracked up to be.    

So, the reason that Riley is in the conversation as greatest coach is because he’s the most diverse NBA coach ever (Showtime Lakers v. Scrum Knicks) and, the icing on the cake, his delivery, as promised, of a title to Miami, another franchise he turned from pretenders to contenders.    

Does Riley have his downside?  You betcha.  Faxing in his Knicks resignation was bush league, to say the least.  Cutting the legs out from under Stan Van Gundy to replace him as coach (right when Shaq was coming back from injury) during Miami’s title season in 2005-06 was nauseating, especially to those of us who always thought Stan Van Gundy would be an excellent NBA coach (he’s showing that now with Orlando).  But in the big picture, this guy won five titles and did even better work with two franchises that simply didn’t have a talent level high enough to realistically compete for an NBA title.    

To stay for this final 15-67 disaster in Miami was another mistake.  But I don’t think you can find another coach with Pat Riley’s success who made teams that he coached better and literally changed (for better or worse) the way the game was played in the NBA in the 1990s.    

Pat Riley, greatest coach ever?  You can certainly make a case for him.       

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved. 

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THE QUOTE OF THE YEAR (TO DATE); CBS NEEDS HELP IN NCAA COVERAGE; THE KNICKS JUST NEED HELP

                                               Kallas Remarks  By Steve Kallas

  

THE QUOTE OF THE YEAR (TO DATE):  Seth Davis of CBS Sports is on WFAN on Monday to discuss the NCAA tournament.  The subject of sweet-shooting Stephen Curry of Davidson comes up:  Why wasn’t he recruited by the major schools?  After correctly explaining that recruiting is more art than science, here’s what Seth Davis said:  “The one thing that you never know in recruiting is what’s inside a guy’s head, what’s inside a guy’s heart and what’s inside a guy’s shorts.  Stephen Curry is three for three in that regard.”   You can’t make this stuff up.  

 

CBS NEEDS HELP IN NCAA COVERAGE:  You could never (and never will) properly cover 32 NCAA games in two days on one TV channel.  You can’t even cover eight games in one day if CBS insists on starting them at similar times (at least stagger the starts 20 minutes apart, not five or ten).  The absurdity of it all came home to roost on Sunday as CBS didn’t know what to do with the amazingly exciting Butler-Tennessee game, which went into overtime, while at the same time 10 seed Davidson was stunning 2 seed Georgetown.  First CBS essentially ignored the Georgetown game but once Butler-Tennessee went OT, they had no choice and proceeded to switch back and forth so many times as to give one a headache.  During all of this time, a very close, exciting (I think, we never saw it) game between 12 seed Western Kentucky and 13 seed San Diego was never shown down the stretch by CBS.

  

What can CBS do?  Well, there are a few things.  Besides staggering the start times in a more intelligent way, CBS should really consider using a second channel to show the tournament (imagine what ESPN could do – you’d have to think they’d have the ability to get to every big part of every game on one station or another (or another, or another)).  If necessary, as it clearly was on Sunday, CBS could have gone with a split-screen, showing both the Tennessee overtime and the end of Georgetown.  Personally, I don’t like split-screens (Direct TV’s four-in-one screen, offered for $19.95 a day, was poor because approximately one-third of the screen was devoted to other scores and, of course, commercials), but, in this instance, someone at CBS with a brain and some power should have been bold and put up both at once.

  

THE KNICKS JUST NEED HELP:  If you’re a Knick fan, it’s very sad what’s happened at and to the Garden.  I went to the Grizzlies-Knicks game last Friday (I promised to take my son at least once a season – stupid me) and it’s like a morgue.  Sitting downstairs, they give you those stupid thunder sticks at half-time to distract the opposition – disappointing that a New York crowd would stoop to that.  But that’s how it is nowadays at the Garden.  The on-the-court problems are much worse:  this is an Elias Sports Bureau question, but the Knicks have to be one of the only (maybe the only) teams in the history of the NBA to score 18 points in a row and STILL be losing (69-50 at the half, 69-68 after 18 in a row).  Worse than that, the Knicks went “young” at the end of the game (translation: no chance of winning).  Here’s who they put on the floor in the fourth quarter: Mardy Collins, Wilson Chandler, Renaldo Balkman, Jared Jeffries and Randolph Morris.  Who, of this group, can throw the ball in the ocean, let alone the basket?  If they’re really “watching” the young guys, as opposed to trying to improve their lottery position, they can’t like what they are seeing from this group.  Hard to believe there was a good NBA player on the floor for the Knicks during that time.  For sure, there were no future NBA All-Stars.  Donnie Walsh (if it is Donnie Walsh) has a virtually impossible task. 

  

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

 

 

WHO DID ISIAH FOOL? DID JEFF GREEN WALK LAST YEAR?

                               Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

1)      Who did Isiah Thomas fool?  We’ve just passed the one-year anniversary of the most inexplicable extension in the history of sports:  Isiah Thomas’s four-year extension during his continuous destruction of the New York Knick franchise.  The reality is this:  Isiah only had to fool one man to get his extension.  Oddly enough, Isiah only fooled one man (no other Knick fan alive was fooled).  But the real strange thing is: What were the odds that that man in both instances would be the same person (the owner)?  One in a million?  I say one in 10 million.  You get the point.

  

2)      Did Jeff Green walk last year?  If you’re a college basketball fan, you’ll remember last year’s Georgetown-Vanderbilt Sweet 16 game where, with a few seconds left and Vandy up 1, Georgetown’s Jeff Green clearly switched his pivot foot and walked.  He made the shot (no call) and won the game, catapulting Georgetown to a Final Four appearance.  The only people on the planet who didn’t think it was a walk were Jim Nantz, Billy Packer and the officials.  In fact, you’ll recall, when CBS went back to the studio, everyone told us what a “big story” was brewing, the fact that Georgetown won on a missed call.  Clearly, the guys in the studio were right.  That is, until Billy Packer decided they were wrong.  Unable to see his obvious mistake, Packer started a national spitting contest, insisting that two plus two equals five.  Some people (John Thompson, for one) ignored the tape and agreed with him.

  

Fast forward to the Big East Final this past weekend.  Georgetown-Pitt, about 15 minutes left, the ball goes down to Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert in the same spot on the court that Jeff Green was last year.  On a virtual identical move to that of Green last year, Hibbert switches his pivot foot, an obvious (again) walk.  But this time, two officials call it, the announcers laugh (it was so clear) and even Hibbert, who knows he walked, runs back to play defense.  Since there was no big-time announcer there trying to cover his own mistake, play just continued with Pitt eventually winning the game.  It’s just another example of what generally good announcers can do to mess up game coverage when they make an obvious mistake and won’t admit it.

         

Of course, none of this makes Vanderbilt (2007 team) any happier.  Again, you get the point. 

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.