Saturday, June 24, 2006

Pat Riley dances on request by Shaquilla Oneal

Pat Riley dancing in center of the stage with Dwyane Wade and Shaquilla O Neal on his right and left.

Miami's newly crowned league champions hoisted the trophy in South Florida
in front of an estimated 250,000 fans, fulfilling an 11-year quest by Riley and
the vow O'Neal made when, as his first formal act as a member of the Heat, he
said, "I will bring a championship to Miami."
That championship was delivered
when the Heat beat Dallas in six games for the title.
Riley, 61, was largely
noncommittal on the subject of whether he will keep coaching.
"Don't ask me
that," Riley said. "Next. Please."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Miami Heat 2006 Draft Preview

Miami Heat 2006 Draft Preview

(Sports Network) - It was a glorious campaign for the Miami Heat, who knocked off the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the NBA Finals to capture their first-ever championship.

All-Stars Dwyane Wade, who was the NBA Finals MVP, and Shaquille O'Neal delivered the crown to Miami in their second season as teammates.

Wade, who scored 36 points in the series-clinching victory against the Mavericks, averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.67 steals per game in the finals. During Miami's magical run in this year's postseason, Wade led the squad in scoring (25.7 ppg) and assists (5.7 apg). He made 49.7 percent of his shots from the field, including 37.8 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Shaq averaged 20.0 points and a team-best 9.2 rebounds in 59 games during the regular season, while Wade led the Heat in scoring (27.2 ppg) and assists (6.7 apg).

Forwards Udonis Haslem, Antoine Walker, swingman James Posey and guard Jason Williams are the main supporting cast, while the futures of veterans Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton are still up in the air.

The Heat don't have a pick in this year's draft. This is a team that is thinking repeat, as Shaq is 34-years-old and there are other veterans on the club who are on the roster to help the team win now.

Miami will do its work in free agency during the offseason. Wade and Shaq will be on a mission next season to capture back-to-back titles.

Key Player(s): Udonis Haslem (Forward), Alonzo Mourning (Center), Shaquille O'Neal (Center), Gary Payton (Guard), James Posey (Forward), Dwyane Wade (Guard), Antoine Walker (Forward), Jason Williams (Guard).

Team Needs: Outside shooting.

Draft picks: NONE.

In New Job, Jordan Helps Conduct Bobcats Workouts

In New Job, Jordan Helps Conduct Bobcats Workouts
Friday, June 23, 2006; Page E02

Michael Jordan went to work for the Charlotte Bobcats yesterday, overseeing a pre-draft workout as part-owner of the team.

Jordan, who's been given decision-making power on personnel decisions, helped conduct on-court drills during most of the workout. He retreated to a balcony overlooking the practice court by the time reporters were allowed in and declined to speak to the media.

NBA Finals
Dwyane Wade is named Finals MVP after 36 points in Game 6 and the Miami Heat win their first championship over the host Mavericks.
Michael Wilbon: The better team comes away with the title - the Miami Heat.
Mike Wise: Remember the Heat's accomplishment in these Finals.
Dallas' unintended timeout costs the Mavericks Game 5.
Notebook: The NBA fines Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for his post-Game 5 comments.
Dwyane Wade talks about a team effort.
Shaquille O'Neal credits Wade.
Dirk Nowitzki describes the disappointment of not winning.
Dallas vs. Miami
Game 1: Mavericks 90, Heat 80
Game 2: Mavericks 99, Heat 85
Game 3: Heat 98, Mavericks 96
Game 4: Heat 98, Mavericks 74
Game 5: Heat 101, Mavericks 100 (OT)
Game 6: Heat 95, Mavericks 92
Miami wins NBA title, 4-2

Eastern Conference Finals
Detroit vs. Miami
Game 1: Heat 91, Pistons 86
Game 2: Pistons 92, Heat 88
Game 3: Heat 98, Pistons 83
Game 4: Heat 89, Pistons 78
Game 5: Pistons 91, Heat 78
Game 6: Heat 95, Pistons 78
Miami wins series, 4-2

Western Conference Finals
Phoenix vs. Dallas
Game 1: Suns 121, Mavericks 118
Game 2: Mavericks 105, Suns 98
Game 3: Mavericks 95, Suns 88
Game 4: Suns 106, Mavericks 86
Game 5: Mavericks 117, Suns 101
Saturday: Mavericks 102, Suns 93
Dallas wins series, 4-2

All times Eastern
* -- if neccessary
Capsules | NBA Scoreboard
Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade wins MVP honors as the Miami Heat win their first NBA Championship, 95-92, in Game 6 over Dallas.
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Michael Lee's NBA Insider

* Second Round Is Short on Drama
* The Best and Brightest of the NBA's Season
* Mediocrity Is the Name of the Game in East
* Not Much Separates MVP Candidates
* Pistons in Need of a Challenge
* More NBA Insider

Latest From the Wires

* Raptors Hire European As Club's VP
* Knicks Fire Larry Brown As Coach
* Postseason NBA Schedule
* Jordan Enjoys New Role With Bobcats
* Knicks fire Brown, name Thomas as coach
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Jordan has yet to publicly speak in his home state since acquiring the largest individual stake in the team behind majority owner Bob Johnson . Jordan hasn't worked in the NBA since he was fired as the Washington Wizards' president of basketball operations in 2003.

? AUTO RACING: Bill Elliott will stand by as a possible replacement for Evernham Motorsports driver Scott Riggs this weekend at Infineon Raceway in Statesville, N.C., following an accident in which the NASCAR Nextel Cup driver suffered cuts to both feet while unloading a jet ski in an oyster bed.

A team release said Riggs was vacationing with his family in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Monday when he was injured. The wounds required 12 stitches in the ball of the left foot and eight stitches in the right big toe.

Riggs, in his third season in NASCAR's top series and first year with the Evernham team, plans to drive in Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350, but former Cup champion Elliott, now semi-retired, will be on call in case Riggs experiences problems.

? PRO FOOTBALL: The New Orleans Saints announced a four-year agreement to hold training camp at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., in an attempt to broaden the team's fan base and help new coach Sean Payton build team unity.

? GOLF: Thomas Bjorn shot an 8-under-par 65 for a two-shot lead over three players in the first round of the Johnnie Walker Championship in Gleneagles, Scotland. U.S. Open runner-up Colin Montgomerie bogeyed the last hole for a 68. . . .

Shi Hyun Ahn opened with a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead over rookie Brittany Lang in the Wegman's LPGA in Pittsford, N.Y.

? OLYMPICS: The International Olympic Committee executive board pared the field to three finalists -- Salzburg, Austria; Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Sochi, Russia -- for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Salzburg finished first in the IOC's technical ratings and is the clear early front-runner.

? TENNIS: Defending champion Kim Clijsters and third-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne won quarterfinal matches in the Hastings Direct grass-court tournament in Eastbourne, England, and will meet for the 21st time in the semifinals.

? WNBA: Cheryl Ford had a career-high 24 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Detroit Shock to its straight win, 86-74 over the host Charlotte Sting.

? SOCCER: Real Salt Lake Coach John Ellinger will miss tomorrow's game against New England because of a one-game suspension for criticizing an MLS official.

The league suspended Ellinger on Wednesday and fined him $1,000 for his comments after a 2-1 loss at Houston last Saturday.

? COURTS: A 45-year-old woman has been charged with stalking Hall of Fame announcer Bob Uecker . Ann E. Ladd was charged with the felony on Tuesday in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

? OBITUARY: Former NFL receiver Theo Bell , who won two Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers before finishing his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, died in Tampa after a long battle with kidney disease and scleroderma. He was 52.

Knicks fire Brown as coach, make Thomas his replacement

Knicks fire Brown as coach, make Thomas his replacement
By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
June 22, 2006

New York Knicks' coach Larry Brown reacts to a call with Eddy Curry on the court during the first quarter or their NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee, in this March 4, 2006 photo. Larry Brown was fired by the New York Knicks on Thursday June 22, 2006 and replaced as coach by president and general manager Isiah Thomas.
AP - Jun 22, 11:11 am EDT
More Photos

NEW YORK (AP) -- Larry Brown is no longer the NBA's dead man walking. His "dream job" as coach of the New York Knicks is over, finally ending what may have been the most drawn-out firing in sports history.

Now Isiah Thomas gets the job of coaching the overpriced, underachieving roster he created.

The Knicks put Brown out of his coaching misery Thursday, ending weeks of uncertainty by firing the Hall of Fame coach and replacing him with Thomas, the team president and general manager.

Brown has four years and a reported $40 million left on his deal, but may have to fight to see all of it. The Knicks are expected to claim they're not obligated to pay the full contract.

"I won't discuss the contract terms with anybody," said Joe Glass, Brown's longtime agent. "The contract stands on its own two feet."

In Brown's lone season in New York, the Knicks stumbled to a 23-59 record -- second worst in the NBA and matching the most losses in club history. But Brown's public feud with Stephon Marbury and criticism of other players may have angered owner James Dolan more than the losing.

"Larry has had a long and storied career. We hired him last summer with the expectation that he would be with the Knicks for a long time," Dolan said in a statement. "Sometimes decisions work and sometimes they don't.

"After careful consideration, despite the best intentions from everyone involved, this current structure did not work for us last season and I did not think it was going to improve next season."

The day after the season ended, Thomas said Brown would return next season. But less than a month later, reports surfaced that Dolan was looking to buy out Brown's contract.

Glass had said he wouldn't accept a buyout, so the Knicks began biding their time. That created an awkward situation in which Brown -- who called himself a "dead man walking" because of the uncertainty -- was running the Knicks' workouts of draft prospects without knowing his ultimate role.

He showed up to run another one Thursday at the Knicks' practice facility, where Dolan was already waiting and eventually fired Brown.

"No one in our organization is happy with last season and we all accept responsibility for our performance," Thomas said in the statement. "This has been a difficult time for the entire organization and our fans.

"Larry Brown is a great coach, but for various reasons, bringing him to the Knicks did not turn out the way we had hoped and we wish him the best in the future."

It's the second straight ugly ending for Brown, who was bought out by the Pistons last season despite leading Detroit to the finals in both seasons there, winning the title in 2004.

New York Knicks coach Larry Brown watches his team play against the Indiana Pacers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, in this March 7, 2006 photo. Tuesday, March 7, 2006. The New York Knicks fired Larry Brown as coach and gave general manager Isiah Thomas that job as well, the team announced Thursday June 22, 2006.
AP - Jun 22, 10:47 am EDT
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The Knicks then gave the Brooklyn native what he called his "dream job" with hopes that he could return his hometown team to the playoffs. Instead, New York had one of the most embarrassing seasons in franchise history, and Brown barely surpassed the 21-61 mark he had with the San Antonio Spurs in 1988-89 that is his worst as an NBA coach.

The bickering with Marbury -- a favorite of Thomas and Dolan -- just added to the chaos. Brown and Marbury clashed when Brown coached the U.S. team in the 2004 Olympics, and the relationship was closely watched from the moment Brown arrived in New York.

Their next public feud, played out almost entirely in the media, began in March.

Marbury vowed to shoot more freely next season, saying Brown's team-oriented offense wasn't leading to enough wins. Brown fired back that Marbury already had enough freedom and should do what was best for the team, and the back-and-forth continued for four days before Brown pulled Marbury aside to settle it.

Brown did not return phone messages left Thursday. Marbury also did not immediately return a message left on his cell phone.

And one New York player, who did not want his name used for fear of reprisal, said members of the team were instructed that all comments on the matter were to come through the Knicks' public relations department.

Throughout last season, Knicks players said they were confused about their roles with the team, as Brown used more than 40 different starting lineups, easily the most in the league. Thomas acquired Steve Francis and Jalen Rose during the season, but neither made much impact.

The use of Francis was particularly questionable, because it was expected that he would start alongside Marbury in the backcourt. Instead, he frequently came off the bench while Brown tried to decide if he was better suited to being the point guard or shooting guard.

Still, Thomas said he would try to get Brown the kind of players he wanted to improve the team next season. Instead, the Knicks decided it would be easier to change the coach than overhaul the roster.

That role now falls to Thomas, who has a winning record as an NBA coach but has been ridiculed for his performance since joining the Knicks' front office in December 2003.

Despite a payroll that soared well past $120 million this season, the Knicks missed the playoffs for the second straight year. They haven't won a postseason game since 2001 and don't even have what would have been the No. 2 pick in Wednesday's draft because Thomas included it in the trade with Chicago for center Eddy Curry.

Thomas was coach of the Indiana Pacers for three seasons through 2002-03, compiling a 131-115 record and leading them to the playoffs in each season before he was fired when Larry Bird took control of the basketball decisions.

Thomas becomes the Knicks' fifth coach in the last three years. Don Chaney left during the 2003-04 season, and was followed by Lenny Wilkens and Herb Williams before Brown.

Brown coached the Pistons to the NBA title in the 2003-04 season. He missed 17 games the following year with the Pistons because of hip replacement surgery. That led to a bladder problem that required surgery.

Brown is 1,010-800 in 23 seasons as an NBA coach, making previous stops in Denver, New Jersey, San Antonio, the Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana, Philadelphia and Detroit. He also coached four seasons in the ABA and won a national championship with Kansas in 1988.

It's not known if he will seek another NBA job next season.

"We haven't discussed that," Glass said. "This just happened today. It's been rumored by sources, by the Knicks organization, for 40 days."