Sunday, May 17, 2009

Former player Tisdale dies at age 44 after bout with cancer

(AP) -- Wherever Wayman Tisdale went, whatever he was doing, chances were he was smiling.

Tisdale was a three-time All-American at Oklahoma in the mid-1980s before playing a dozen years in the NBA and later becoming an accomplished jazz musician.

But those who knew Tisdale, who died Friday at a hospital in his hometown of Tulsa, Okla., recalled not only his professional gifts but a perpetually sunny outlook, even in the face of a two-year battle with cancer that took his life at 44.


Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

"I don't know of any athlete at Oklahoma or any place else who was more loved by the fans who knew him than Wayman Tisdale," said Billy Tubbs, who coached Tisdale with the Sooners. "He was obviously, a great, great player, but Wayman as a person overshadowed that. He just lit up a room and was so positive."

Jeff Capel, the current Oklahoma coach, noted Tisdale's "incredible gift of making the people who came in contact with him feel incredibly special."

After three years at Oklahoma, Tisdale played in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. The 6-foot-9 forward, with a soft left-handed touch on the court, averaged 15.3 points for his career. He was on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.

Gov. Brad Henry attended Oklahoma at the same time Tisdale did and later appointed him to the state's Tourism Commission.

"Oklahoma has lost one of its most beloved sons," Henry said. "Wayman Tisdale was a hero both on and off the basketball court. ... Even in the most challenging of times, he had a smile for people, and he had the rare ability to make everyone around him smile. He was one of the most inspirational people I have ever known."

State senators paused and prayed Friday morning after learning of his death.

Tisdale learned he had a cancerous cyst below his right knee after breaking his leg in a fall at his home in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2007. He said then he was fortunate to have discovered the cancer early.

"Nothing can change me," Tisdale told The Associated Press last June. "You go through things. You don't change because things come in your life. You get better because things come in your life."

His leg was amputated last August and a prosthetic leg that he wore was crimson, one of Oklahoma's colors. He attended an Oklahoma City Thunder game April 7 and later that month was honored at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa. During the ceremony, he spoke about his cancer, saying "In my mind, I've beaten it."

He recently told Tulsa television station KTUL he had acute esophagitis, which prevented him from eating for about five weeks and led to significant weight loss. Among the causes of that condition are infections, medications, radiation therapy and systemic disease.

Last month, Tisdale was chosen for induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

He was the first freshman to be a first-team All-American since freshmen were allowed to play again in the 1971-72 season. He was also one of 10 three-time All-Americans. Patrick Ewing and Tisdale were the last to accomplish the feat, from 1983-85.

"On the court, he was an offensive machine that could score with the best of them," said Dallas Mavericks president Donnie Nelson, an assistant on Tisdale's Suns teams. "Off the court, he was grounded in faith and family."

Tisdale played on an Olympic team that sailed to the gold medal in Los Angeles. The squad was coached by Bob Knight and featured the likes of Ewing, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Chris Mullin.

"Wayman was kind of a catalyst for people accepting roles," said C.M. Newton, the manager of the '84 team and now chairman of the NIT selection committee. "Michael was the leader of the team but Wayman was special in that way."

Perkins and Tisdale shared a love of music and became friends during the Olympics. Perkins later was the best man at Tisdale's wedding.

"That's a real friend who's got your back and would do just about anything for you," Perkins said. "That smile just gets you."

As a musician, Tisdale recorded eight albums. A bass guitarist who often wrote his own material, his most recent album, "Rebound," was inspired by his fight with cancer and included guest appearances by several artists, including saxophonist Dave Koz and country star and fellow Oklahoma native Toby Keith.

His "Way Up!" release debuted in July 2006 and spent four weeks as the No. 1 contemporary jazz album. His hits included "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," "Can't Hide Love" and "Don't Take Your Love Away."

"He was truly an inspiration to me, paving the way for an athlete like myself to pursue a passion for writing and performing music," said Bernie Williams, the former New York Yankees star turned jazz musician. "I had the honor and privilege of having Wayman perform on the title track of my new album, and was looking forward to collaborating with him again."

Tisdale averaged 25.6 points and 10.1 rebounds during his three seasons with the Sooners, earning Big Eight Conference player of the year each season.

He still holds Oklahoma's career records for points and rebounds. Tisdale also owns the school's single-game scoring mark -- 61 points against Texas-San Antonio as a sophomore -- and career marks for points per game, field goals and free throws made and attempts.

In 1997, Tisdale became the first Oklahoma player in any sport to have his jersey number retired. Two years ago, then-freshman Blake Griffin asked Tisdale for permission to wear No. 23, which Tisdale granted. Griffin went on to become the consensus national player of the year this past season as a sophomore.

"I spoke with him pretty frequently this past season and he helped me in ways he probably doesn't even know," Griffin said.

Tisdale is survived by his wife, Regina, and four children.

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Jackson: 'I Couldn't Bear to Leave' Storm Star Explains Decision in Exclusive Interview

Even over the phone from nearly 8,000 miles away, the emotion in Lauren Jackson's voice was palpable as she described her decision to re-sign with the Seattle Storm on Monday. Having spent the last several months considering her options before reaching a final verdict after sitting down with her family back at home in Albury, Australia, Jackson came to realize that she simply could not leave Seattle.

"I love the Storm - I love playing there," Jackson said late Monday night in her only interview between signing her new contract and leaving for a vacation with her parents. "For different reasons, the opportunity came up to play somewhere else. It came down basically to me loving it in Seattle. I've said for a long time it's my home there in America. I couldn't bear to leave. I just wanted to come home and make the decision and be with my parents and my friends here and do it that way. It was easier for me."

Jackson also referred to potentially leaving the Storm as probably "The biggest mistake that I'd ever made," and reiterated what a special place Seattle has become for her.

"It came down basically to me loving it in Seattle. I've said for a long time it's my home there in America. I couldn't bear to leave."
Aaron Last/Storm Photos
"I'm really fortunate and I'm glad that I had this time to think about it and really put what I love about Seattle in perspective and how I would feel if I left," she said. "I think that I would have lost a huge part of me if I had gone from Seattle, so I'm just glad that I got this opportunity to have this time and realize how important it is."

Timing played a factor in Jackson's thought process. Entering the Storm's 10th Anniversary season, she thought back on the start of her own career, and her development as a player and a person that has in many ways been intertwined with the Storm's growth as a franchise.

"There's definitely a lot of nostalgia when I think about it, like when I first came over to Seattle and I was so scared and I just didn't know what to expect being away from home," Jackson recalled. "Looking back on it, I don't know how I've lasted this long overseas, but I guess that's just a part of growing up and loving what you do. Seattle definitely has been my home, and the 10th season coming up obviously was something that made me want to be there even more, because I feel like I've been part of that program and helped it grow for a long time."

If Jackson ever wavered in that thought, the Storm was there with timely reminders. "They pulled all the right strings," Jackson said in describing the Storm's recruiting efforts, from a video that was shot at the Kangaroo and Kiwi Aussie pub that helps her feel at home in Seattle to a video retrospective of her Storm career and culminating in the e-mails from Storm Season Ticket Holders that Head Coach Brian Agler brought with him when he visited with Jackson in Spain during the Euroleague Final Four.

"I was reading them the night before we played our final game in the Final Four," she said. "I was showing Diana (Taurasi) and Sue (Bird). It made me upset because I really care about being there so much and I never thought that people felt that way back.

"Getting those e-mails, I really had no idea how passionate people were about the Storm and me coming back. When I saw that, I think that was pretty much the clincher right there. It's hard to make a decision like that based on personal feelings, but when you've got the fans out there and people that really want you back and you can put things into perspective, it definitely changes things for you."

Specifically, Jackson was struck by the loyalty of Storm fans, and those who wrote that no matter her ultimate decision, they wanted her to be happy. She was also touched by the understanding shown by the Storm organization.

"Everyone's just been so supportive, which I couldn't believe really initially," said Jackson. "Just to be a part of that, it is like a family, you know? I think that's probably what made the most difference to me is all the support and understanding I had from everybody. It was great."

Jackson's relationship with Agler was also a factor. He made staying in contact with Jackson throughout the offseason a priority, visiting her in Europe on three different occasions. Agler had already won Jackson's loyalty with his support when she had to undergo ankle surgery following the Olympics. Agler stood up for his star in the face of misguided criticism that Jackson should have played through the debilitating injury.

"He was great," she said. "I had a huge amount of trust and respect for him then. I don't think a lot of people understood what was happening, but he was so supportive. I think since then I've been pretty much on his side. Then, of course he's a great coach and everything like that. He's definitely someone I would like to play under for a long time."

Her decision made and official, Jackson's thoughts have turned to excitement about the upcoming season. She feels healthy in the wake of the surgery she underwent last August, noting that the fact that she played fewer minutes for Spartak this season has left her feeling fresh and ready to go. Now, Jackson wants to continue to develop her game, and believes the Storm is the ideal situation to do that.

"I don't feel like I've played my best basketball since before the Olympics," she explained. "I'd love to get back there and get back to my peak performance and get back to myself. I'm really looking forward to that. It's great because I've got the right people around me and people who I know can help me get better and make me get better."

Jackson watched with great interest as Agler built the Storm's roster this offseason, strengthening the frontcourt by getting Jackson's best friend Suzy Batkovic to return to the WNBA - "I'm so stoked" to play with her, said Jackson - and bringing back center Janell Burse after a one-year absence. With Shannon Johnson adding a veteran presence to the Storm's backcourt, Jackson feels strongly that good things are ahead for the team.

"I think it's going to be a great year for us," she said. "Special things can happen this year. We have all the right pieces. I think we're going to have a strong, more confident lineup in terms of how good are bigs are. Having Sue and Shannon Johnson, it's going to be amazing. I think we've got a lot to look forward to this year. I can't wait to be a part of it."

One telling answer came when Jackson was asked what she is most looking forward to from the upcoming season. "Everything, I guess," she answered.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Jackson added. "Yeah, I can't wait. It's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be an exciting season for sure, and I'm happy that I'm going to be in Seattle. I'm really glad. "

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Sky Sign Chinese National Team Center Chen Nan Through 2010 Season

CHICAGO, April 28, 2009 – Chicago Sky Head Coach and General Manager Steven Key announced today that the team has signed 2009 Women’s Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA) Most Valuable Player, Chen Nan, through the 2010 season. Per team policy, terms of the contracts have not been released. Chen, a 6’5” center, will add even more height to an already big Sky lineup that includes 6’6” center Sylvia Fowles and 6’2” forward Candice Dupree.

Twenty-six-year-old Chen, began playing for the Chinese National Team at age 16, and became a WCBA rookie at age 18. Chen currently plays for team BaYi Stationery of the WCBA, and was named 2009 WCBA MVP averaging 23.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game. Chen a four-time WCBA Champion was named 2003 All-WCBA Center of the Year.

Chen has represented the Chinese Women’s National Basketball team for 10 years, appearing in the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, 2006 World Championship in Brazil, and most recently in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing where she averaged 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. The dynamic and versatile play of Chen Nan helped lead the Women’s Chinese National team to its best Olympic finish-ever, placing fourth overall.

“It was my dream to play in the WNBA and now as a member of the Chicago Sky my dream has come true,” said center Chen Nan. “The WNBA is the top league for women’s basketball, and hosts the best players in the world. I know it will be a challenge, but I am glad to be playing for the Sky. I am committed to assisting the Sky in any way possible to become a championship team. I’m excited to be on the same team as Sylvia , during the 2008 Beijing Olympics I learned she is an extremely aggressive and dominant player in the paint, I am a lucky dog playing aside her. The Sky to me has been something that I’ve liked since I was young, to me it represents having no limits – the Sky has no limits! ”

“The addition of Nan is a bold and exciting move,” said Head Coach and General Manager Steven Key. “Nan has incredible experience in playing for both the Chinese National Team and in the WBCA, she is prepared, skilled, and ready to compete with the best in the world, which is why we are excited to have her as a member of the Sky. At 6’5” her addition will add to the overall height and size of our front court, which we need to challenge the best in the WNBA. Her ability to shoot from the outside as well as drive to the basket is exceptional for a player of her size. There’s no doubt that Nan dramatically adds to our athleticism and versatility which we must have to build a championship team.”

Nan is the second international player for the Sky, and will arrive in Chicago in early May in time to report to Sky training camp, which begins on May 17, with media day on May 18. The Sky season opens on June 6 at Minnesota. The Sky’s home opener is on June 12 against the Atlanta Dream at 7:30pm at the UIC Pavilion.

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Three-time WNBA All-Star and one of the league's all-time leading scorers, Tamecka Dixon has signed a free agent contract with the Indiana Fever. Dixon, who has played in the WNBA since its inception in 1997, is 21st on the league's career scoring list with 3,368 points. She has played the last three seasons with the Houston Comets. Per team policy, terms of the contract are not disclosed.

Dixon spent her first nine years in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks, winning championships with that team in 2001 and 2002. She was on the Western Conference All-Star team in 2001, 2002 and 2003. She was selected to start for the West in 2003, replacing the injured Cynthia Cooper. Dixon is among the WNBA's career top 10 in assists (eighth) with 924 and is 20th in league history in steals with 342.

The Indiana Fever celebrates its 10th anniversary season in 2009, opening the summer season at Atlanta on Saturday, June 6 (7:00 p.m.), and hosting the Minnesota Lynx on June 7 (7:00 p.m.) – exactly 10 years after the franchise was founded (June 7, 1999). Led by Griffith, two-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings, Olympic silver medalist Tully Bevilaqua, 2008 WNBA Most Improved Player Ebony Hoffman and two-time WNBA All-Stars Katie Douglas and Tammy Sutton-Brown, the Fever bids for its fifth consecutive playoff appearance in 2009. Season tickets are available at, or by calling (317) 917-2500.

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More Farmar on Sunday?

Farmar has outperformed Fisher in the series.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Derek Fisher was able to pull a full 82-game season out of his 34-year-old body this year, but the Playoffs have made the Lakers co-captain age like Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin in the seance scene in Beetlejuice.

After averaging 9.9 points on 42.4 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from three to go with 2.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in the regular season, Fisher's production dipped to 9.4 points on 43.8 and 31.3 with 2.0 boards and 3.0 dimes against Utah and then flopped to 5.2 points on 29.4 percent from the field, seven percent from three with 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists.

In the mean time, Houston's starting point guard, 24-year-old Aaron Brooks, is averaging 18.8 points on 48.1 percent shooting and 37.5 percent from deep to go with 2.3 boards and 2.5 assists.

Before Fisher served a suspension for Game 3 for leveling Luis Scola in Game 2, we wondered if the Lakers were better off without Fisher.

Now, two days before Sunday's win-or-go-home Game 7, it appears Phil Jackson might be wondering that too.

"We really liked some of our matchups that we’ve had out there," Jackson said, referring to Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown. "They’re working well with us.

"Fish has had a little bit of a problem with Brooks, but we like his direction out there to start a game. He didn’t have a feel for it in this last game, he didn’t shoot the ball the way we wanted it or he can shoot the ball. Jordan got us going, we liked the other matchups we had on their other guards."

Then came the kicker that Jackson snuck in before jumping to the next question and left reporters wondering if they really just heard him say it:

"We’re going to have to play guys on Sunday that earn the minutes rather than just our regular rotation, so there may be a change."

Ever since starting in Fisher's absence in Game 3, Farmar is averaging 11 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 45.2 percent from the field.

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Sam Smith: Rooting for Kobe vs. LeBron in the FInals

LeBron and Kobe
Who doesn't want to see LeBron and Kobe square off in the NBA FInals?
(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)

I confess I've been rooting for a Lakers/Kobe-Cavs/LeBron Finals for one of these rare times in NBA history when you truly get the two best in the game going at one another in the Finals.

It was the one thing missing from Michael Jordan's resume, though no fault of his. There was no true star for him to conquer then. Magic Johnson in 1991 was past his prime. We didn't know how far with his HIV diagnosis four months away. Clyde Drexler? Hardly, yet Jordan tried to make it something with the threes in the opener. Barkley? Nah. Karl Malone?

Magic had Bird, which was probably the greatest rivalry in the mid-80s. And Russell had Wilt in the 60s. Wilt was headed out when Kareem came and Walton wasn't there long enough.

There's no dispute now. Kobe and LeBron are one/two in some order, best in the East and best in the West. LeBron's going to get there. But I don't know about Kobe and the Lakers.

And not just because it's 2-2 now between the Lakers and Rockets.

It's the way the Lakers have played, and been beaten by the Rockets. I can see the Nuggets taking out the Lakers as long as George Karl doesn't freeze up, which he's done in big playoff series before. The Nuggets have physical play up front in Kenyon Martin and Nene, that Birdman guy off the bench, Carmelo Anthony to offset Bryant's scoring on some level, and Chauncey Billups, who dominates any Lakers' point guard combo.

It's also where the Rockets without Yao Ming Sunday embarrassed the Lakers. Phil Jackson has done a terrific job realizing he doesn't have a defensive team, particularly with penetration from the perimeter, and taking the offensive way out and succeeding. But the Rockets exploited that with small guards Aaron Brooks and reserve Kyle Lowery, often playing both. Derek Fisher has been a liability defensively (the Lakers best game was with him suspended) and the Lakers bench isn't much help. Pau Gasol has come up marshmallow again against smaller tough guys like Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry and Andrew Bynum, the so called missing piece for the dynasty, has been benched and so out of it even he admits he's having mental issues. And it seems the Lakers have become somewhat distracted trying to erase the reputation they are a soft, Western Conference finesse team.

"I think last year they got punked by the Celtics and they don't want that to happen again," said the Rockets' Ron Artest. "That was the word on the street, that they got punked by the Celtics, so this year they came out tough. I kind of respect them elbows."

Bryant was brilliant in winning Game 3 with big shot after big shot, and if the Lakers are to win the series he'll have to do it twice more. The Lakers seem even more a one man team now than do the Cavs.

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Lakers 80, Rockets 95: Postgame 6

Kobe Bryant
At halftime of Game 4’s 99-87 loss in Houston, the Lakers trailed by 18 points after a horribly flat 24-minute performance.

At halftime of Game 6, the Lakers trailed by 16 points after a half that really wasn’t that bad despite a 21-3 start for Houston. In fact, it wasn’t a lack of energy that was killing the Lakers, but instead, an inability to stick a jumper. Particularly in the first, the Lakers just couldn’t buy a bucket, going 6-for-20 (30 percent) while Houston made twice that many shots (12-of-21).

Generally, those kind of numbers begin to even out in a basketball game, and sure enough, the Lakers stormed out of the halftime gates on a 16-2 run to cut the lead down to just two and seemingly change the tenor of the game, spurred by Andrew Bynum’s interior defense and Trevor Ariza’s activity on the perimeter.

But if L.A.’d learned anything about the Rockets, it’s that they won’t give up, and true to form, Houston pushed its lead back up to nine heading into the final quarter.

With a raucous Toyota Center living and dying with each possession, Houston got seven points in the first eight minutes of the period from Carl Landry to keep the Lakers at bay until 4:20 remained on the clock, holding onto a 84-75 lead that they’d protect all the way to a Game-7 forcing victory.

Luis Scola was fantastic for Houston in the first three quarters, scoring 24 points with 11 boards to pace the home team, while Aaron Brooks again served as a barometer for Houston in scoring 26 points, including two big jumpers in the lane late in the fourth.

For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant went for 32 points on 27 shots, while Pau Gasol managed just 14 points on 15 shots as both players grew increasingly frustrated by the physical play in the lane that was allowed throughout the contest.

Lamar Odom contributed 14 rebounds in 28 painful minutes, while Bynum failed to score (0-for-3) but did grab seven boards in 19 minutes, none of which came in the fourth quarter despite his effective third period.

Derek Fisher struggled once again for the purple and gold, connecting on only 1-of-7 attempts from the field (0-of-5 from three) in 21 minutes, while Jordan Farmar was a bright spot with 13 points in the same number of minutes.

The good news for the Lakers was that Game 7 would take place in STAPLES Center, where they’d beaten Houston by 40 just two nights earlier.

Until then, some numbers:

Times the Lakers led.

Point for the Lakers with 6:35 left in the first quarter. Houston had 17.

Offensive rebounds for the Lakers, which inexplicably led to only 12 second chance points. This stat exhibits L.A.’s poor shooting night as well as how physical the refs allowed the game to get in the paint, as many second shots came with a body.

Missed threes by the Lakers, who hit 5-of-23 (21.7 percent).

L.A.’s shooting percentage for the game, as the Lakers struggled to hit both open and contested looks throughout the contest.

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Rockets Force Game 7 With Stirring Win

Luis Scola got the Rockets off and running with a red-hot

start before finishing with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

Houston - There are two ways to view the incredible, amazing, too good to be true story that is the Houston Rockets right now.


1.) They have more lives than a cat, are harder to kill than a cockroach and stem from the same family tree as Lazarus.


2.) Maybe, just maybe, everyone needs to put aside the tombstones, stop penning eulogies and open their eyes to the fact that, yes, this team is in fact very good and never should have been written off in the first place.

Then again…

On second thought, forget it. Go ahead and proceed with the funeral talk, columnists. Keep chanting, ‘Beat LA!’, Denver fans. Do everything possible to bury, ignore and utterly disregard the Rockets. They don’t mind. Really, they don’t. For they have no witty retort; no clever comeback at the ready. In fact, they have only one response to those with shovel in hand. As it turns out, it’s the only response that matters.

They simply keep winning.

It should come as absolutely no surprise then that the Rockets reprised their resurrection routine once more Thursday night before a capacity crowd of raucous, euphoric witnesses at Toyota Center. Written off and left for dead by seemingly everyone, Houston went wire-to-wire in a convincing 95-80 Game 6 win over the Lakers, forcing the series back to Los Angeles for a decisive seventh game. It was the sort of virtuoso performance which perhaps came as a shock to many around the country, though not to those who had seen the way this club has responded to adversity all season.

“For the last two days all I've heard is that we weren't going back to L.A.,” said Rockets’ head coach Rick Adelman. “Guys in our locker room didn't believe that.

“This team, the way they listened and the way they went about the game plan and the way they executed it was really fun to see because they’ve grown during these last 30 games of the season and the playoffs. They just keep growing. This team has so much heart and they don’t care what people say. Yao went down and we haven’t blinked an eye. We’re just playing to see how far we can take it and you’ve got to give them credit.”

First among those deserving to take a bow Thursday night was Luis Scola, whose scorching start propelled the Rockets to a 17-1 lead right out of the gate. The second-year forward from Argentina finished with terrific numbers - 24 points and 12 rebounds – but just as important were the energy and confidence he instilled in his teammates with the passion, hustle and desire he displayed right from the opening tip.

“Luis has played a lot of big games in his career,” said Shane Battier. “More than most people know. He set the tone tonight and he was awesome.”

source from : NBA.COM

As ping pong balls bounce, fates of 14 teams hang in balance


Tuesday at 8 p.m. (ESPN), the annual NBA Draft lottery will be conducted in Secaucus, N.J. All 14 teams will send a representative -- some their General Manager (Larry Riley, John Hammond), others their coach (Alvin Gentry, Scott Brooks), others a star player (Kevin Love) -- to watch the excruciatingly painful process of seeing their team's future being decided by a bunch of ping pong balls.

In a Draft such as this, where there appears to be a huge dropoff between the second and third picks, there is that much more on the line.

Here's what will actually happen behind the scenes, from the official NBA press release:

"Fourteen ping-pong balls numbered 1 through 14 will be placed in a drum. There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to their order of selection. Prior to the Lottery, 1,000 combinations will be assigned to the 14 participating Lottery teams by a computer.

The Sacramento Kings finished the season with the NBA's worst record (17-65), so they will be assigned 250 combinations. The Phoenix Suns, the best team in the lottery at 46-36, will have five combinations out of 1,000.

Four balls will be drawn to the top to determine a four-digit combination. The team that has been assigned that combination will receive the number one pick. The four balls are placed back in the drum and the process is repeated to determine the number two and three picks. (Note: If the one unassigned combination is drawn, the balls are drawn to the top again.)

The order of selection for the teams that do not win one of the top three picks will be determined by inverse order of their regular season record. Thus, Sacramento can pick no lower than fourth, Washington (19-63) no lower than fifth and the L.A. Clippers (19-63) no lower than sixth.

The actual Lottery procedure will take place in a separate room prior to the national broadcast with NBA officials and representatives of the participating teams and the accounting firm of Ernst & Young in attendance.

Following the drawing, team logo cards will be inserted into envelopes marked 1 through 14 by an Ernst & Young representative. These envelopes then will be sealed and brought on-stage, where the announcement of the Lottery results will be made by NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. A second representative from each participating team will be seated on-stage. Neither the Deputy Commissioner nor the team representatives will be informed of the Lottery results prior to the opening of the envelopes.

The team whose logo is in the last envelope opened will pick first in NBA Draft 2009, to be held on Thursday, June 25, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City."

Here's what's at stake for all 14 teams participating in the lottery, as well as their odds of coming away with the first, second or third pick.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Top-seeded Lakers aim to make T-Mac's prediction come true


Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Not too long ago, a debate raged on whether Tracy McGrady or Kobe Bryant was the better player. Too bad that this season has made that thought seem like ancient history. Bryant backed up his MVP campaign by leading the Lakers on a 65-win regular-season romp. McGrady averaged just 15.6 points on 38.8 percent shooting in 35 games for the Rockets before a knee injury caused him to shut it down.

While Bryant averaged 27.4 points in dismissing the Jazz in the first round of the Playoffs, the only points McGrady has scored this postseason have been in the candor department. In a radio interview, he predicted the Lakers would win the championship. It's bad enough that for the first time in T-Mac's 12-year career his team made it to the second round with him in street clothes. It's even worse that he already publicly picked his team to lose.


Ron Artest's Game vs. Ron Artest's Mouth: The 6-foot-7, 260-pound forward averaged 15.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and a steal a game in the first round and scored 27 points in the clinching Game 6, but it was the comment he made after Game 5 that could have lasting impact on Houston's series with Los Angeles.

"[Brandon] Roy is the best player I've played against," Artest told TNT's Craig Sager. When Sager asked Artest to clarify his statement, reminding him that he has gone up against the likes of Bryant and LeBron James, Artest only reiterated his claim.

Earlier in the season, Artest's trash talking came back to bite him when he called Bryant "the worst player in the world" in their March 11 game in which Kobe scored 18 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Lakers to a road win over the Rockets. While McGrady's comment might have supported L.A., don't think for a minute that Bryant will let Artest's slight slide without using it for extra motivation.

Behind the Numbers

82.0 and 42.9 -- Portland's points per game and shooting percentage in Houston's four wins in the first round. The Rockets will have to ratchet up their defensive efforts to that level if they hope to have success in the second round. The Lakers averaged 103.0 points on 48.2 percent shooting in their four-game regular-season series sweep of Houston.

Five Big Questions

1. Will Yao dominate?

Yao finally got out of the first round for the first time in his seven-year career, but he did it by averaging just 15.8 points and 10.3 rebounds and came up particularly small for a 7-foot-6 guy in Games 2 and 3, totaling just 18 points on 5-for-13 shooting as Portland sandwiched him in the post.

Fortunately for the Rockets, their center's struggles were miniscule compared to the ugly effort the Lakers' Andrew Bynum had against Utah. Bynum averaged 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds when he came back from a knee injury for the final four games of the regular season, but in the five games against the Jazz, those numbers dwindled to just 5.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.2 fouls (and an even more abysmal 2.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in just 8.7 minutes in Games 3-5).

Benched for the last two games of the first round, the 7-foot Bynum will return to the starting lineup and says he looks forward to it. "Now we got a big guy out there and I'm going to have to play," Bynum said.

2. Can L.A. protect its leads?

The Lakers won't just be playing the Rockets this series, they'll be playing themselves. After losing double-digit leads against Utah, L.A. must rectify the problem on its own.

"We have to give a better effort," Bryant said. "That second unit comes in there and we have to give a better effort defensively -- running back on defense, not giving up easy baskets, stuff like that. We have to continue and keep up with the hustle."

One thing L.A. has going for it if it does end up relinquishing leads is its closing ability against Houston. The Lakers outscored the Rockets by an average of 11.8 points in the fourth quarter in their four meetings this year.

3. How will the long layoff affect the Lakers?

By the time Game 1 tips off on Monday (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT), the Lakers will have had a full six days without a game, while the Rockets will have had just three. While the time off can be a boon for players trying to heal minor injuries (i.e. Luke Walton's ankle), it's also an invitation for rust to settle in. Theoretically, the last team to clinch a spot in a series -- in this case, Houston -- will be sharper because it doesn't lose the rhythm of playing quite as much. Then again, the Rockets don't get as much time to mend (i.e. Von Wafer's back). "[Our] legs will be renewed, so to speak, but you suffer one way or another in this situation," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

4. Who can stop Aaron Brooks?

Much of the speculation before the Lakers-Jazz series centered on how L.A. planned to stop all-world point guard Deron Williams. The Lakers might face as perplexing of a problem in Houston's Brooks. The 6-foot-1, 161-pound Brooks averaged 15.3 points and 4.3 assists in the first round on 44.7 percent shooting, and 44.8 percent from three. Against Williams, the Lakers spelled 34-year-old Derek Fisher with the strong-bodied Shannon Brown. Don't be shocked if Jackson turns to Jordan Farmar against Brooks to match quickness with quickness, even if Farmar only averaged a point and four minutes in just two games against Utah.

5. What's the more important matchup -- Battier vs. Bryant or Gasol vs. Scola?

Michael Lewis might have made news earlier in the season when he wrote that Shane Battier is a "No-Stats All-Star" for his defense on premier players like Bryant, but the duo that could really sway the series are the "No-Razor All-Stars" in Pau Gasol of the Lakers and Luis Scola of the Rockets. Scola was Houston's leading scorer against Portland, averaging 16.2 points on 56.9 percent shooting to go with 6.7 rebounds per game. Gasol put up 18.4 and 9.0 rebounds on 58.6 percent shooting against Utah, but looked lost against Carlos Boozer at times on defense, never finding the balance between contesting Boozer's midrange shot while battling him down low. Scola plays the same inside-outside game and will have to consistently hit the 15-footer to keep L.A from packing the lane on Yao with Bynum and Gasol.


Lakers in 5. If Los Angeles really can improve with every round like Jackson is challenging his team to do, then Houston shouldn't pose a real threat. Yao knows how hard it is to get out of the first round. It will be even harder for him to get out of the second.

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Get To Know Kristi Toliver

Sky fans, the 2009 Sky season is just around the corner and before you know it your favorite athletes will be back on the court!

Before that happens, we wanted to introduce you to our first round draft pick Kristi Toliver!

Kristi recently sat down for a one-on-one question and answer in the Sky office. Find out how she feels about becoming a member of the Sky, what went through her head when her name was called at the draft, her favorite memory from the University of Maryland and much more!

How does it feel to be a member of the Chicago Sky?

“It feels good. It’ll be better when I get to interact with all my teammates. I feel blessed to be here and to be in the position that I’m in.”

What was the first thing that went through your head when you heard your name called as the third overall pick in the WNBA Draft?

“A sigh of relief! All the anticipation of where I was going to go was driving me nuts, but when I knew I was going to the Sky I knew it would be a good fit for me.”

What is your biggest strength on the court?

“I think one of my biggest strengths is my vision, my ability to get my teammates the ball and to make them look better. That’s something I’ve always taken pride in; making my teammates look like all-stars. With the talent we have here at the Sky, it is going to be fun to get all of the players involved.”

What do you feel you need to improve upon most as you transition into the WNBA?

“My overall strength and having to get back into conditioning and weight training. The WNBA game is only going to be quicker and each player will be stronger than college so I have to get my body right again.”

Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Maryland?

“Winning the national championship my freshman year by far is the best memory I’ve had so far. Being on the biggest stage in women’s college basketball is something I’ll never forger. I hope to have a similar experience here at the Sky!”

What sky players are you most excited to get on the floor and play with?

“I’m excited to play with all my teammates. I’ve played against Armintie Price my sophomore year and also against Sylvia Fowles. I know all about Candice Dupree with her being at Temple. I’m excited to get on the floor with all of them.”

Did you ever imagine you’d be playing in the WNBA one day?

“Growing up I imagined playing in the NBA! To be playing in Chicago in a great sports city like this I’m really excited to be here. To be able to continue playing basketball was all I ever thought or dreamed of as a kid.”

Did you have a favorite player growing up?

“Michael Jordan was the man. I would watch him and Kevin Johnson in Phoenix.”

Who inspired you to play basketball?

“I’m not sure anyone really inspired me. I was just passionate about it at a really early age. By the age of two all I wanted to do was play basketball. I think watching guys like Michael, Magic, Larry, and Reggie Miller inspired me because I saw how much fun those guys were having. I knew I wanted to play as long as I could.”

What are your goals that you will set for yourself this year?

“I haven’t really sat down and thought about goals. I know I want this team to contend for a championship. I know it’s very possible to have a winning season and compete for a championship. Those should be the goals when you enter a season.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I’m a movie buff, I love to watch movies. I like to go to concerts. I don’t exactly have a lot of free time which is why I stick to movies; you can watch them anywhere.”

What are you looking forward to about living in Chicago?

“Just going out with my teammates and getting to know the city and the people here. I know there’s a lot to do and a lot of good places to eat. This is my first time living on my own and coming from the DC area this will be a nice change for me. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Do you have any predictions for the 2009 season?

“I definitely see us making the playoffs. I see us having a winning record and I see us making it pretty far. We’ll see how it goes.”

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With a load of time off, Brown busy keeping his Cavs sharp

The NBA season has a rhythm. You play three or four games every week and rarely have more than two days off in a row. But when you enter the postseason, that rhythm can be broken, especially if you win a series in four or five games


David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Such is the dilemma for Mike Brown and the Cavs, the only team to sweep its first round series. Having dispatched the Pistons on Sunday, the Cavs will go at least nine days before they begin the conference semifinals.

When that series begins depends on the result of Friday's Game 6 in Miami. If the Hawks win Friday, they'll be in Cleveland on Sunday for a 1 p.m. ET game on ABC. If the Heat force a Game 7, they would be back in Atlanta on Sunday and Game 1 of the conference semis would likely be Tuesday.

"If you expect to be good and expect to win, you have to deal with things like this," Brown says of the time off. "And this is a good thing to deal with."

After Sunday's win, Brown gave his team the day off on Monday. He's also giving them Thursday off. But in order to stay sharp, the team scrimmaged on Wednesday and will scrimmage again Friday.

"We have to figure out ways to keep them engaged and ways to stay sharp," Brown said. "And they have to do their part too by giving suggestions and so on and so forth, making sure that they stay focused and bring energy every time we step out on the floor."

While the extra time off provides more time to add sets or options to the playbook, Brown says that adding new wrinkles is standard no matter how many days the team has off.

"Just because there's time, we're not doing anything out of character or unusual," he said.

Brown has yet to talk about the Hawks or Heat with his team, but said he may introduce a couple of sets from each team on Friday. And no matter what happens in the next few days, the Cavs' coaching staff is prepared.

Advance scout Bryant Moore has been at every game in the Atlanta-Miami series and has been working with assistant coach Mike Malone in developing game plans for both teams. The coaching staff will watch Game 6 together and will tweak the game plans that Malone has authored.

The staff prepares "playoff books" and video edits for each of the players, as well as video edits for the team to watch together. And all of these are ready to go. Brown says his staff would be ready if the next series started right away.

The Hawks and Heat have some similar characteristics, but each poses distinct challenges.

If the Heat advance, the game plan starts with defending Dwyane Wade. "You've just got to hope that you can make him work for his shots," Brown said. "And if you can do that, you have to make sure that you respect everybody else and know who the different individuals are when it comes time to trying to close out."

It's the other side of the floor that concerns Brown with the Hawks. Atlanta has great length and athleticism and switches on almost every screen.

"Patience is going to be something I really preach to our guys," Brown said, "because [the Hawks] will switch a lot of pick-and-rolls, they'll switch a lot of pin-downs and because of all that switching, they're in front of the basketball quite a bit and they're hard to shoot over."

No matter the opponent, if his team approaches the next series like it did the series against the Pistons, Brown will be happy.

"When I look back at it, I thought we were very business-like with what we were trying to do," Brown said of the first-round sweep. "We did not get over-excited or over-confident at any time throughout the course of a game or the series.

"So our business-like approach to the series, to each game and to each particular possession was something I look back on and I'm very excited about, because this process is so long that you don't want to get too ahead of yourself, nor do you want to get too excited for winning a game or winning the series. It has to be held in the right perspective. I think our guys did do that."

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Raymond To Take Year Off From WNBA

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (April 21, 2009) – Citing a need to focus on her duties as an assistant coach with the University of Kansas women’s basketball program, Connecticut Sun forward Tamika Raymond announced today she will be taking a year off from the WNBA.

“I really enjoyed last year with the Sun,” Raymond said in a statement Tuesday. “It was great playing in front of the Connecticut fans again, and everything about the organization lived up to my expectations. But while I would love to return for another season with the Sun, my duties as an assistant coach at Kansas will make that impossible. With the WNBA season starting later this year, and the Sun likely to make another trip to the playoffs, I would probably miss a significant amount of time from my job at Kansas, and that is not acceptable. I wish the Sun good luck this season, and will be cheering them on.”

Raymond became a member of the Sun last March 14th, traded from the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for Kristen Rasmussen. The former UConn star appeared in all 34 games for Connecticut, giving the Sun a physical veteran post player who provided valuable minutes off the bench. She was second on the team in offensive rebounds with 48.

“I understand why she’s doing it,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “I wish she was able to play this year, but her coaching career, long-term, has to be looked out for, and she’s in a great situation in Kansas. She’s got a great future ahead of her. We’re going to miss the leadership she brought to our team last year, and we’re going to have to find a way to replace it.”

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Rose, Mayo unanimous picks for All-Rookie team


Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

NEW YORK -- Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies were unanimous selections to the 2008-09 T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced today.

Rounding out the T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie First Team are Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (53 points), New Jersey's Brook Lopez (49 points) and Miami's Michael Beasley (44 points).

The 2008-09 T-Mobile Rookie of the Year, Rose led rookies in assists (6.3 apg), was second in scoring (16.8 ppg), and averaged 3.9 rebounds. A three-time T-Mobile Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month selection (November, December, March), Rose represented Chicago at All-Star Saturday Night in Phoenix, becoming the first rookie to win the PlayStation Skills Challenge with a time of 35.3 seconds.

A two-time T-Mobile Western Conference Rookie of the Month selection (November, April), Mayo led rookies in scoring (18.5 ppg), ranked fifth in assists (3.2 apg), and averaged 3.8 rebounds. Mayo, who shot .438 from the floor and .879 from the free throw line, set a Grizzlies rookie record with 1,516 points this season.

Westbrook, a two-time T-Mobile Western Conference Rookie of the Month selection (December, February) was fourth among first-year players in scoring (15.3 ppg) and second in assists (5.3 apg). Westbrook was the only rookie to record a triple-double this season, posting 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 96-87 win over Dallas on March 2.

Lopez averaged 13.0 points and was second among rookies in rebounds (8.1 rpg) and double-doubles (18). The two-time T-Mobile Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month selection (January, February) led first-year players in blocks (1.8 bpg) and his 151 blocks this season is a Nets rookie record.

Beasley averaged 13.9 points and was eighth among rookies in rebounds (5.4 rpg). The T-Mobile Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in April, Beasley led the Rookie Team in scoring with 29 points at the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge.

The T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie Second Team consists of the Los Angeles Clippers' Eric Gordon (39 points), Minnesota's Kevin Love (34 points), Miami's Mario Chalmers (29 points), Memphis' Marc Gasol (25 points), Charlotte's D.J. Augustin (tie, 17 points) and Portland's Rudy Fernandez (tie, 17 points).

The voting panel consisted of the NBA's 30 head coaches, who were asked to select five players for the first team and five players for the second team, regardless of position. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players on their own team. Two points were awarded for first team votes and one for second team votes.

Building upon its already strong appeal to the nation's youth and as the official wireless partner of the NBA, T-Mobile is showcasing the NBA's youngest players -- the Rookies -- through the T-Mobile Rookie Program. Highlights of the program include the T-Mobile Rookie of the Year, T-Mobile Rookie of the Month Awards, and the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, an All-Star competition between NBA rookies and second-year players. During NBA All-Star 2009, T-Mobile and NBA Cares hosted more than 3,800 local students from five school districts in Phoenix, to sit in the lower bowl of the arena to watch this year's T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam on Friday, February 13.

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Carey Announces Retirement

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (April 13, 2009) — Connecticut Sun point guard Jamie Carey announced her retirement Monday.

“It’s a hard decision any time you come to that crossroad, but it’s a decision that had to be made,” Carey said. “I’m just very appreciative of the opportunity I had in Connecticut, and at the same time, I’m thankful I was able to start and end my professional career in the same place. It doesn’t happen very often. I’m just very appreciative of the organization, and everything everyone did for me the last four years.”

Signed as a free agent in 2005, the 5-foot-6 Carey was a dependable backup to Lindsay Whalen who played in 105 regular season games with three starts. An excellent three-point shooter, Carey shot a league-best .451 percent from beyond the arc in 2007, and was sixth on the all-time franchise list for made threes with 84.

“Jamie has been a huge contributor to our team the last several years,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “I understand her decision, but we will miss her leadership, her competitiveness and her three-point shooting. She’s been a great teammate and a great player to coach. She’s been one of my favorite players to coach here. As a point guard and a coach, she understood what I was looking for as much as anybody.”

Carey works for Triple Crown Sports, a sports event marketing firm, and she recently completed her first season as the head coach of the Legacy High School girls’ basketball team in Broomfield, Colo.

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