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Moving Day

movingtruck_71_1

I knew this day was coming – the day the blog would relocate. WordPress was the perfect starter home. But as of today I’m making moves to a new look and feel at http://www.beyondthebeat.net/ .

Cruise on over when you have the chance.

And as always, thanks for reading.

W

 

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I should be 10 dollars richer by now. “5 bucks the Blazers drop this one,” my text flashed to two other Portland media row writers about three minutes into the Blazers versus the Philadelphia 76ers game.

No takers.

We all agreed Portland had plenty of chances to win though. Even after the overtime results, no one could have predicted that kind of ending.

Chances are if you missed the game, then you have plenty in common with Steve Javie’s officiating crew.

But before I get into it here, just know this young Blazers team has to expect anything and everything on their way to the playoffs – even poor officiating.

It may be about as close to the “Montreal Screwjob” as you’re going to get – a bevy of close calls and near falls until the shaft in a matter of seconds. That’s one train of thought. Still, I’m not willing to bet – despite my earlier $5 gamble – that Portland can put this loss entirely on Javie, Leon Wood and Mark Lindsay.

You can easily go there. You can blame the refs. Plenty of blogs and chatrooms full of Blazers die hards on Tuesday morning will. Or you can assume these kinds of growing pains to casually occur over the next couple of months, perhaps not to this extent. If the Blazers are making postseason plans – and I believe we can all agree they are – then shoddy officiating is going to happen as often as a team going 10-34 from behind the three-point line.

Nate McMillan put it perfectly.

“Either they missed some calls or they are getting ready for playoff basketball.”

McMillan’s beginning of the quote is accurate enough. But if officials are really beginning to get into the postseason mood here in late March, Portland should too.

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The Latest: In the comings days I’ll be plugging this post from Monday every now and again. It’s a chance to gather some reader feedback for the upcoming re-launch of Beyond The Beat. Details inside….

piv via: daylife

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The New Old School

Knicks President Walsh

There is old school and then there is Donnie Walsh. But it’s that old school styling that earns him so much respect around the league, even in this new school NBA.

He’s a New Yorker to the fullest – straight from the Bronx – who practiced Tar Heel traditions at North Carolina, before being selected by the Philadelphia Warriors but never playing. Walsh opted for coaching at UNC instead, then South Carolina, then as an assistant coach for Larry Brown with the Denver Nuggets.

A storied career with the Indiana Pacers soon followed, where he rebuilt the team through Reggie Miller. And man, was Miller ever a Knicks killer.

Now Walsh aims to do the same with New York (minus Miller).

It’s only fitting – after talking to Walsh and getting to know his thoughts on the state of the Knicks – that his first change in New York was eliminating the strict and paranoid media policy that had been no doubt hurting the franchise.

Had that policy remained in place, I’m not sure Walsh would have signed-on to help reform the Knicks in the first place. Under the old regime, we certainly wouldn’t have been able to chat courtside without a team representative present, that’s for sure.

He knows the press isn’t the enemy.

Walsh may be getting up there, but he’s as new school as he is old school.

At 68-years-old, he stays up late to watch games on NBA TV, is attached at the hip to his BlackBerry – even if he would rather not be at times – and makes the cross country treks and long road trips to keep tabs on the team and staff.

Is he a miracle worker though?

We’ll find out in the summer of 2010.

pic via: cbc

 

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will1Well, that was fun for Portland while it lasted. The five-game win streak is over after losing to Dallas. So why is closing the book on a win-streak actually a good thing?

That’s easy.

It puts life out West in perspective for the Blazers.

The last thing Portland needs right now is to rattle off 10-straight like the Boston Celtics, then have everyone gunning for them to fall on their faces. Forget that. The Blazers are better off flying under the radar and sneaking up on teams. That’s why they are sitting fourth out West in the first place.

It’s not that Portland has to win every game. Certainly helps, but it isn’t a must. Because right now, the Blazers are sitting right where they want to be while teams around them are beginning to hit the skids.

Tt’s more important to get and stay healthy than it is to win six, seven or eight games in a row. Wins will soon follow.

Steve Blake is preparing to return after Portland’s current road trip – hopefully Martell Webster before too long. New Orleans has lost four-straight and will be without Chris Paul. Utah is banged up missing both Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko. The Los Angeles Lakers – while not immediately fazed by the loss of Andrew Bynum – is missing a cog in their machine.

Houston is always a team with an injury waiting to happen.

Tis the season.

Forget the streak.

It’s too early for Portland to peak.

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The Latest: Hard too not think about the upcoming trade deadline these days. And what better way to get a debate going then talk about some players who should be on a general manager’s shortlist…..or at least a topic of converstation between a few front offices.

Check out “10 Players GM’s Should Call About” over at HOOPSWORLD too see who made the cut.

pic via: photobucket

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Speak Up

oldmicsAs the youngest of eleven children, a lot of things went unsaid when I was growing up. My Dad – a workaholic and at times very stern man – wasn’t big on touchy feely communication. All these years later I’m starting to realize that upbringing comes in handy covering the NBA.

There was no such thing as an “allowance” in my family. The roof over your head, food on the table and clothes on you back – many times hand-me-downs – was the stipend.

So if I wanted some spending money, my mother typically told me to “ask your father.”

Great. I knew a “no” was on the way before even thinking of asking. Why even bother? Money was not a topic I approached my Dad with. After working a graveyard shift, sometimes picking up an overtime shift on top of that to help ends meet, all he wanted to do was rest…..or work around the house.

I grew up afraid to ask him for anything, let alone money.

So I kept to myself, learning quickly to unwant.

You can’t get away with that in this league.

Front offices, coaches, players, agents, scouts and “sources” are the heart of your information, regardless if it is a life feature story to tell or emerging news to report. Without that, this job is irrelevant. If you want to know, you have to go ask.

Sitting on your hands isn’t an option.

It’s a death sentence.

No one else is going to ask your questions, write your story or build a relationship for you. That’s on you. Regardless what someone tells everyone else, all you can really truthfully bank on is what you hear first hand from the person you are conversing with.

In this case Kevin Pritchard.

Yesterday afternoon I ran a story over at HOOPSWORLD discussing Pritchard’s thoughts on the Blazers and the upcoming NBA trade deadline – and more specifically, Portland’s place in making moves. A good hour or so later, I received comments and emails about the story, refuting Portland’s decision to make a trade in the coming weeks.

All I can say is this: if I want to know something, I don’t have a problem inquiring. What I can’t control however is what “said person” tells someone else. It happens. The last thing any GM is going to do right now is show their hand, regardless if they have a full house or are bluffing.

It’s all about the poker face.

So what do you do? You take the person for their word.

All I can do is speak up and ask.

pic via: sme-blog.net

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eddyClick-click-click-click-click. That’s the sound of a New York Knicks media relations lackey typing your conversation with a player or coach into their BlackBerry, only to send it on to upper management. Maybe it’s not that way right now. But that was the reality not too long ago.

You may think these shenanigans about a certain Memphis Grizzlies forward (told you I wasn’t going to use his name again), is a flashback to a Bob Whitsett era in Portland, and they may easily be. But I’m not sure it is nearly as bad as the never ending circus that is the New York Knicks.

Now with Eddy Curry making ugly headlines, I dove into this today over at HOOPSWORLD in a story titled, “When Can The Knicks Move On?”. I wonder if the Knicks will ever get back to basketball instead of dealing with these typical distractions. 

(As a side note, it’s really hard to believe these Curry allegations. It’s just unfortunate when bad things happen to really good people. I smell a rat on this one.)

What I saw, read and wrote about in my three seasons covering the Knicks will forever be branded into my memory. Let me count the ways. I need only mention the usual suspects – James Dolan, Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury – and the story starts to tell itself.

I’ve got stories. Man, I’ve got stories. Stories too long to detail in this simply blog post. I’ll save it for the book one day.

Know this though: it got so bad between the team and media – a tangible paranoia that trickled down from Dolan from day one – that some writers couldn’t do a single interview without a team media relations representative present and transcribing the entire conversation into their handheld device.

This happened everyday. Everyday.

It could even be as simple as, “Hey bro, nice game last night. How are the wife and kids?”

Click-click-click-click-click.

Such Gestapo tactics at the Garden led one beat writer to seriously joke he’d better look under his car or check the breaks in his ride on his way home from the arena.

Only in New York.

pic via: newsday

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aldridgeI wasn’t buying it then and I’m not buying it now. Just last week a local sportswriter in Portland refuted the fact LaMarcus Aldridge is as good as he really is. I’m sure that writer changed his tune after Portland beat Detroit on Wednesday night thanks to Aldridge.

Yes, Travis Outlaw flexed bigger than his 6’9, 207 pound frame displays with regained confidence and shooting touch late in the fourth quarter. Yes, rookie Jerryd Bayless howled at the moon and for one night maybe showed he could see minutes once Brandon Roy eventually returns.

But without Aldridge, the Blazers bandwagon might be a little lighter today. Sure it took him 21 shots to get his 26 points – essentially mirroring Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince (13 for 21, 26 points) – but you have to pick your poison.

Do you want an Aldridge – who took a nasty shot to the ear in the win – outing like he had against the Pistons? Or do you want the LaMarcus who looked lost against New Orleans last week when he made a whole five shots in 18 attempts?

He may not be “the man” – we know who owns that title in Portland. Folks may not obsess over him the way they do Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez and Bayless. You know who you are. But we all know who runs the floor and finishes better than anyone on the Blazers. And we all know that if Portland is going to get where they want to go that L.A. will have to help get them there.

Sorry, but right now LaMarcus Aldridge is that good.

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Shameless Plug:  That’s not the outing I thought Allen Iverson was going to have. He finished with 14 points. Thought for sure he’d put up more than 19 shots too, especially after he had Steve Blake and Sergio Rodriguez matched-up against him.

Think Detroit missed the boat there.

But come playoff time you just know the Pistons will be clicking on all cylinders. As I found out, the whole “Detroit and Iverson won’t be able to adjust to each other” argument simply doesn’t hold weight. You can read more about that today over at HOOPSWORLD.

pic via: o-live.com

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