Trans. Sep 15 12:51 ET (Sep 15 12:51 ET ) It's not surprising to hear Mario Chalmers tell Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick , "We all just took too much of a back seat in the Finals," since the San Antonio Spurs undressed everyone not named LeBron James and Chris Bosh in their five-game dismantling of the Miami Heat this past June. But the mercurial point guard's reflection on a failed three-peat offers words of warning for the Cleveland Cavaliers: Dynasties aren't easily built and even harder to maintain. Only Scottie Pippen remained on the roster from the first edition of the championship Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan began his pursuit of a second three-peat in 1995. It was an even lonelier road for Kobe Bryant in the seven seasons between Lakers titles last decade. A leading man can carry a production so far, but the show won't go on without an adequate supporting cast, and NBA bit players only take a backseat for so long before seeking bigger roles and paychecks. Taking the analogy a step further, the occasional Alan Arkin or Jared Leto accepts a smaller part for redemption or to stave off retirement, but they seek the spotlight again or aren't long for the stage. Where were we? Ah, yes, Mario Chalmers, a disastrous NBA Finals performance and the mental makeup of a role player living in the shadow of one of the game's brightest stars. "You know, for the first time in my career, I felt like I wasn't ... yeah, my confidence wasn't there," Chalmers said. "Going through that whole San Antonio series, I just felt like in the playoffs I kept getting worse and worse every round. I just couldn't figure it out. ... "Yeah, that's the worst thing, because you never know," Chalmers said. "Everybody in my ear, talking about, 'We need you, we need you to do this, we need you to do that.' And then when it comes to the game, I didn't feel involved. Like, you all talk about how y'all need me, but y'all didn't put me in position to do anything. In previous years, if I was in that position, I would make sure I would go get the ball, I would put myself in position to score. I felt like this year, we all just took too much of a back seat in the Finals. ... "I feel like I've finally got a chance to shine, show my real game," Chalmers said. "Me, CB, D-Wade and the rest of the guys, we're going to pick it up, we're still going to play Miami Heat basketball, and we're still gonna be a competitor." It's a delicate balance between a bit player knowing his role and feeding an inflated sense of self that helped him get a job only a miniscule percentage of people in his profession ever attain. Chalmers has twice declared himself a top-10 NBA point guard, and that kind of ego requires some stroking. This is the road LeBron faces now in Cleveland, the same one he had to pave in Miami before quieting the Thunder for the first of two straight championships. Finding a court comfortable kneeling at the throne of King James isn't easy, but the maturation of Chalmers and the addition of ultimate character actor Shane Battier helped the 2012 Heat dispose of the Celtics in seven games and Oklahoma City in five. Consummate professional Ray Allen helped the sequel prove better than the original, as Miami rattled off 27 straight regular-season victories before surviving the upstart Indiana Pacers and always game Spurs in 2013. But the Heat couldn't pull off the trilogy in 2014, because — if Chalmers is to be believed — the franchise relied too heavily upon its stars. The same thing happened with "The Godfather," I think. San Antonio casts supporting roles best, surrounding Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili with an ever-evolving roster of players willing to fill roles until they aren't. (I see you, Stephen Jackson.) But the Spurs model isn't one easily replicated, so LeBron is taking a different road, trading in a supporting cast that failed him in Miami this past season for one that seems more promising in Cleveland. But that doesn't mean these Cavaliers are ready for the spotlight. The road to sustained Eastern Conference supremacy has long required dethroning a worthy predecessor. The 1980s Celtics gave way to the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, the Pistons to Jordan's Bulls, and so on until the Celtics seized control from the Pistons in the late 2000s and LeBron's Heat staved off Kevin Garnett & Co. in 2012. Only the Cavs won't have that battle-tested champion standing in their way ( except in the eyes of one Almario Chalmers ), and the lack of a worthy adversary — save for perhaps the Bulls — may make unseating the Spurs, Thunder or whoever else emerges from the wild West an even more difficult task. LeBron can get them to the Finals, but how players like Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters perform in their supporting roles will ultimately determine whether they're championship worthy. In the meantime, new Cavs coach David Blatt will have his hands full keeping everyone happy on the set. Just ask Rio. (h/t @talkhoops )
The NBA regular season schedule came out Wednesday, all 1,230 games. Even with live streaming and an empty DVR ready to be filled up, I’m not going to watch all of them. Nobody will watch all of them. That said, there are some great games coming up. Homecomings and rivalries, plus just matchups of great basketball teams. You can’t watch them all but there are some you can’t miss. Here are my 10 can’t miss games of the NBA season. Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers, Oct. 28 There are sub-plots to watch here, Jeremy Lin playing against his old team and Dwight Howard getting booed again by Lakers fans… but that’s not why any of us will be watching. Kobe Bryant will be back on the court for the Los Angeles Lakers and any time he steps on the court we watch. Right now we will be watching because we’re not sure what Kobe we will see, how much he has left in the tank, but we will watch. He is one of the all-time greats. Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls, Oct. 31 You could argue that the first games for these teams are bigger — LeBron James ’ first game at home in Cleveland, Derrick Rose ’s return to the NBA comes in Madison Square Garden — but this is the first of four meetings between the two best teams in the Eastern Conference (on paper) and that is worth seeing. Cleveland has more talent but the Bulls have an identity and players that fit it. To be fair, this game will not mean much if/when these two teams meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it’s our first glimpse into what could be one of the best rivalries of the next five years in the NBA. Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs, Nov. 19 LeBron’s last team got smoked by Tim Duncan , Tony Parker , Kawhi Leonard and the gang in San Antonio, so LeBron went out and got some new teammates like Kyrie Irving and soon Kevin Love . This should be interesting, although the Spurs will play their same system and know exactly how to execute it while it’s going to take the Cavaliers some time to figure it out. Milwaukee Bucks at Minnesota Timberwolves, Nov. 26 Once the Kevin Love trade goes down (and it will), this game becomes the first between No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins and No. 2 pick Jabari Parker . Both rookies are in situations where they should get a lot of minutes and plenty of touches. Both are going to get the chance to grow in the spotlight Cavaliers at Thunder at Oklahoma City, Dec. 11 LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant . The two best players on the planet go head-to-head and the best part about these match ups is they often guard each other. It is a true head-to-head matchup. Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat, Dec. 25 LeBron returns to Miami for the first time in a Cavs uniform (this time around, anyway). You can expect he will get a warmer reception than the vitriol thrown at him four years ago when LeBron in a Heat uniform came to play the Cavaliers. Now all of that is forgotten. Miami is going to be a pretty good team and one that wants to keep playing the space and pace offense. We’ll see how LeBron does against it. Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers, December 25 This is the game to watch on your new 60-inch smart TV you just got for Christmas. This if the final of five games on the Christmas Day slate and it should be a very entertaining one. There will be lobs, dunks and rainbow threes. Stephen Curry vs Chris Paul . David Lee vs. Blake Griffin . Klay Thompson vs. J.J. Redick . This is the game Santa is bringing die hard NBA fans. Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves, Jan. 31 Kevin Love returns home to Minnesota. It will be interesting to see how he is received — it won’t be exactly with open arms and a dozen roses, but I doubt the booing will last all game, either. Also in this game, Andrew Wiggins gets a shot at LeBron. Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs, March 25 Well done by the schedule makers putting these two teams against each other a couple times late in the season (they also face off April 7). These might be your two favorites to win the NBA title (not what the bookmakers say, the actual favorites), they were the two best teams in basketball at the end of last season. The interesting question is who Gregg Popovich sits for both of these games. Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors, March 27 I just hope Steve Nash can play one last game in Canada. Nash is one of the great point guards of all time and the best Canadian player ever, I hope his body lets him play one last game in his home country. -- Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk.com
(Reuters) - Tim Duncan and the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs will host the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 28 as part of a triple-header to launch the 2014-15 season, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced on Wednesday. The Spurs will be presented with their championship rings before tip-off, with Kobe Bryant and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers set to host the Houston Rockets and the Orlando Magic visiting the New Orleans Pelicans in the night's other games.
On Friday, the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., welcomed a star-studded class over a lengthy induction ceremony. The group included one of the top guards of the '90s , one of the best defensive players of his era , a foreign-born trailblazer and various titans of the non-NBA portions of the basketball world. Yet there was no question which individual loomed largest — the final inductee of the night, longtime NBA commissioner David Stern. In a relatively short speech, Stern opted to move the spotlight away from his own accomplishments and instead called attention to those people who helped the NBA achieve great success over his 30-year tenure as commissioner, which officially ended this past February. It was perhaps the most self-effacing speech possible, a testament to the NBA as an organization rather than the leadership of one man. Stern's enshrinement began with a video covering his time as commissioner, with short comments from such luminaries as Bill Russell, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James alongside video clips. It was fairly standard Hall of Fame fare, albeit a well-produced glimpse at the strides the NBA has taken over the past 30 years. Take a look below: Stern was accompanied on stage by five presenters — essentially the Hall of Fame's term for existing members chosen by inductees as a welcoming party — who marked important developments and achievements of his time as commissioner. Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell was Stern's first choice, but he did not speak of the all-time great's 11 championships. Instead, Stern mentioned Russell's accomplishments in the civil rights movement and the importance of bringing him back into the NBA fold over the past few decades. Russell was followed by Magic Johnson, who meant much to the NBA not just as a player but as a public figure when he retired in 1991 after contracting HIV. Stern praised Magic for changing attitudes towards HIV and AIDS, which also allowed Stern to note the NBA's role in other social issues. Next came Russ Granik, who spent 22 years as the league's deputy commissioner. Stern used Granik as a stand-in for every NBA employee and associate who had helped the league to accomplish something over the past 30 years. Stern stressed that he had only been the commissioner, not the primary actor in all these efforts. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson will be intertwined forever for their rivalry and role in increasing the NBA's popularity, but Stern also touched on the former's ability to build upon his stardom to become an executive in the league. Essentially, Stern took pride in the fact that great players can have careers that extend past their time on the court. The fifth and final presenter was Bob Lanier, who served as president of the players' union when the NBA instituted harsh penalties on drug use to curtail a growing problem. Yet Stern gave Lanier the majority of the praise for instituting the policy — he only mentioned his own role in making sure that punished players would have avenues to re-enter the league after being banned for life. You can watch Stern's entire speech here: The most important player of Stern's tenure is notably absent from that list, but his presence also would have been an odd fit for the proceedings. When Michael Jordan was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 2009, he gave one of the most self-involved, resentful speeches imaginable. It's unclear if Stern or the Hall of Fame reached out to Jordan for his involvement, but the mere memory of that moment would have been out of step with Stern's approach to the proceedings. This speech was not about Stern — it was about 30 years of the NBA. In Stern's view, he was merely lucky to bear witness to it all. That's not necessarily an accurate picture of events. As our Kelly Dwyer wrote on Friday, Stern's legacy is complicated , and his induction was (understandably) all about the good stuff. Yet there's no question that he deserves his spot in the Hall of Fame, and it was nice to see him bring attention to the league as a whole rather than willfully turn the event into an extended tribute to his greatness. All things considered, this speech was a nice way to say goodbye to his 30 years as commissioner. It just shouldn't substitute for a full historical consideration of that same period. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric
Even for the most lionhearted of opposing NBA big men, the sight of Shaquille O'Neal barreling his way to the basket was a scary one, but apparently being a teammate of Shaq's was even more frightening. In an interview with TrueHoop's Henry Abbott , former Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry shared a tale of Shaq's passion for pranks, providing a mental image you'll wish you could scrub clean with a wire brush. "The thing that he did that he got to be notorious for is that, every few days or every week or so, he would decided that it was time for this Brazilian naked wrestling contest. You didn't know who the chosen one was, but what would happen when you least expect it, this 7-foot, 310-pound guy would turn the corner, and he would be stark naked and he would run right at you full speed, grab you, he would take you to the floor and then he would do about five rollovers with you. And he would always tell our trainers who it was going to be, so they were always prepared for it, but you never knew who it was going to be." As if a "stark naked" Shaq charging full speed at you isn't terrifying enough, consider O'Neal is also a trained MMA fighter in boxing, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and wrestling. Oh, and remember that the famed Suns training staff made Shaq all the more limber. No thanks. But while this might seem strange to the average Joe, few things that happen in NBA locker rooms would ever occur in your cubicle (a reality that makes Mark Jackson's alleged " not in my locker room " comment about Jason Collins all the more ridiculous). Alvin Gentry counts himself among Shaq's victims — even joking, "I had to go to therapy quite a bit after that" — so it's safe to assume nobody on those 2008 and '09 Suns squad was off limits, including Amar'e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Boris Diaw and Goran Dragic. This story — as relayed by The Arizona Republic this past December — seems even more ominous. It was April 2008. Imagine the Suns environment after a crushing Game 1 loss at San Antonio when Tim Duncan made a game-tying overtime 3-pointer to spur his team to victory. There was an awkward discomfort about the off days in San Antonio and a sense that an ashen Mike D’Antoni was coaching the team for a final time. Who knew just how much he was handling? It turns out O’Neal and Gordan Giricek, who had been with the Suns for all of six weeks, mixed it up verbally during a closed practice to the point that O’Neal auditioned for his WWE future. He put Giricek in a sleeper hold, except it was no fake. Giricek passed out. Giricek played in the remainder of the season, but it was his last NBA season. In a not-so-veiled shot at then Heat coach Pat Riley, Shaq also said somewhat ironically of the Suns in 2008, "I love playing for this coach and I love playing with these guys. We have professionals who know what to do. No one is asking me to play with Chris Quinn or Ricky Davis. I'm actually on a team again." Surely, Shaq found his naked wrestling matches funny — and Adam Sandler might've even enjoyed it — but somebody must've found this decidedly uncool, especially when it's happening "every few days" on a team that wildly underachieved and got coach Terry Porter fired midway through the season. In his interview, Abbott asks the appropriate follow-up question of Gentry, who as an assistant for the first 51 games and head coach for the final 31 was tasked with keeping the locker room under control. Currently a Warriors assistant under then Suns GM and now Golden State coach Steve Kerr, Gentry further joked of Shaq's beyond borderline harassment, "No one prevents Shaq from doing anything." Five years removed from Shaq's semi-regular naked wrestling bouts, Gentry can laugh about it, so there's no reason we can't, too. But let's not forget those Suns traded O'Neal to the Cavaliers following that 2008-09 season — right around the time Shaq was wrestling someone his own size on Monday Night Raw — and Gentry took Phoenix within two games of the NBA Finals the following year. (h/t SB Nation )