A new road for Rhodes

"The Franchise"

Diehard Rockets fans are familiar with the name Rodrick Rhodes. Rodrick was the 24th pick of the 1997 draft of the Rockets; a prospect so tantalizing broadcaster Calvin Murphy nickamed him “The Franchise.”

As a Rocket, I remember him as an athletic guard who could play either backcourt position; a solid defensive player and passer who was not the best of outside shooters. Rhodes played in 61 games as a Rocket and averaged 5.7 points and less than two assists and two rebounds per game. He shot 36 percent from the field and attempted just eight 3-pointers (making two) during his time in H-Town.

Rhodes enjoyed a five-year NBA career with the Rockets, Vancouver Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks from 1997-2002, and also played professionally overseas in Greece, Cyprus, the Philippines, France and Puerto Rico, before embarking on a coaching career, which has now taken him not far from my location, to Edinburg as an assistant coach with the University of Texas Pan-American.

Here is Rhodes’ bio: http://www.utpabroncs.com/coaches.aspx?rc=150&path=mbball

I have requested an interview with Rodrick, just to get his thoughts on his pro career and his new career in coaching.  Of course, I shall update you should Mr. Rhodes get back to me.

 

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Nelson stands alone

Coach Don Nelson celebrates with his players after breaking the all-time record for NBA games won.

Two posts ago, we detailed how Warriors coach Don Nelson tied Lenny Wilkens for the NBA’s all-time record in coaching wins.

Now, Nelson stands alone, thanks to a 116-107 at Minnesota on Wednesday night, Nelson’s 1,333rd.

We’ve already gone over Nelson’s impact on the game of professional basketball – and it is both significant and illustrative – but I will say it is an absolute SHAME if this man does not end up in the Hall of Fame. (There is, indeed, great question about whether he deserves it).

As of now, Nelson is the only coach with 1,000 wins to not be in the HOF. In 31 years of coaching, he  is 1,333-1,061.

He won five titles as a player, has been named coach of the year three times, but has never made an NBA Finals as a coach.

If he doesn’t have a HOF resume, I don’t know who does. I do know this, though: Today’s game of pro basketball would not have advanced as far and as quickly as it has had it not been Nelson, arguably the most innovative offensive basketball mind to ever roam the sidelines.

Congrats to Coach Nelson.

Here’s the Associated Press report from Nelson’s record-breaking win against the Wolves:

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Don Nelson emerged from the Golden State Warriors locker room all disheveled from a wild celebration after finally overtaking Lenny Wilkens as the NBA’s winningest coach.

His gray hair was soaked to the scalp not with Dom Perignon, but a concoction of fizzy soft drinks after a 116-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night gave Nelson win No. 1,333 for his career.

“We didn’t have any champagne bottles, so we took some Sprite and some Mountain Dew and some water and sprayed it all over him,” said Anthony Tolliver, who scored a career-high 34 points.

How appropriate, because the road to this record has been anything but smooth and easy for one of the league’s true mavericks.

“It’s just such a neat feeling,” Nelson said. “This is probably why we end up coaching, for moments like this.”

In 31 seasons on the bench, Nelson is 1,333-1,061 in a career that has made stops in Milwaukee, Golden State (twice), New York and Dallas. He won five titles as a player, has been named coach of the year three times, but has never made an NBA Finals as a coach.

Through it all, Nelson has always done it his way. He’s clashed with players, management and ownership at various stops along the way and is the only coach with at least 1,000 career victories who has yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Nelson has built a reputation as a “mad scientist,” experimenting with lineups and offensive sets to cater to teams that were not always the biggest, strongest or most talented. In his first stint with Golden State in the late 1980s, he employed the famous “Run T-M-C” lineup of guards Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin to make the Warriors one of the more entertaining teams in the league.

And now “Nelly Ball” has its own special place in history.

“This is a tremendous honor for a great coach and we are all thankful for the memories that he has provided us over the years,” Warriors president Robert Rowell said in a statement. “Don’s creativity and innovative style have proven effective for over 30-plus years in the NBA, including this season, when the team has consistently played hard and has been extremely competitive despite a short-handed roster the entire year.”

This has been a long season for the Warriors (24-54), who have been ravaged by injuries and are a lock to finish with their fewest wins since 2001-02. But in some ways, this was the perfect team to take Nelson to the top of the record books.

The Warriors played their sixth straight game without Monta Ellis (flu) and also were again without Anthony Randolph (ankle) and Kelenna Azubuike (knee). Center Andris Biedrins (sports hernia) and forward Brandan Wright (shoulder) have missed big chunks of time this season too.

The Warriors have called up five players from the Development League this season, which is tied with the 2007-08 Spurs for the most in one season. Tolliver and Chris Hunter — who both played big roles in the record-setting win — are former D-Leaguers and C.J. Watson and Azubuike also have played there in past seasons.

“I told the team that I loved them dearly, that they were very special to me,” Nelson said. “But sometimes they don’t play like I want them to.”

Stephen Curry had 27 points, 14 assists, eight rebounds and a career-high seven steals, but the Warriors let a 27-point lead dwindle to four with 43.6 seconds left. Anthony Morrow closed the game out at the free throw line, and the players mobbed their 69-year-old coach when the final buzzer sounded.

“For us to get the record is a big accomplishment for us,” Curry said. “We call it our championship game.”

It was extra special for Nelson to do it in Minnesota. He has a daughter who lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka and had 20 family and friends at the game, including his wife. He also said Wilkens has been in contact with him recently as Nelson has neared the mark.

“Lenny’s been an idol of mine for a long time,” he said.

Among active coaches, Utah’s Jerry Sloan (1,188) and the Lakers’ Phil Jackson (1,095) are closest to Nelson on the list.

“There’s plenty of guys close to that if they want to coach a couple of years,” Nelson said. “There’s coaches out there that win 50 at a time, 60 at a time. Not like me, winning 20 at a time, it’s a little harder.”

Nelson got his first head coaching job with Milwaukee in 1976 when he replaced Larry Costello 19 games into the season.

“I didn’t even have an assistant,” he said. “That’s how long ago that was.”

In an industry where service time is measured in months, not years, the achievement was not lost on Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis.

“The success he’s had, the longevity he’s had, it’s tough to be a coach in this league and to stick around as long as he has,” Rambis said. “To have the success that he’s had, the numerous situations he’s been in. He’s done a great job.”

Curry, who was passed over by the Timberwolves in favor of Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio in June’s draft, was sensational. He made 12 of 22 shots and ran the team like a veteran, finding Tolliver and Hunter for easy baskets in the paint all game long.

With leading scorer Al Jefferson out because of personal reasons, the Timberwolves didn’t have near enough offense to keep up.

“He hasn’t had a championship yet, so this is kind of like his championship,” Tolliver said. “We wanted to make it as special as possible.”

A pathetic gimmick

Flip Saunders (left) and the Wizards are desperate.

The Washington Wizards are desperate. Very.

According to an ESPN.com report,the Wizards, who are 7-16 following Wednesday’s defeat to Sacreamento, readers are being asked to submit a diagram of an inbounds play that the site says the “Wizards will try to use during a game.”

Deadline for submissions is Dec. 23.

According to an Associated Press report, Wizards forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler said they hadn’t heard about the contest, but Jamison said it was a fun way for fans to get involved.

“If we run the play and it works, good. If it doesn’t work, I’m going to be looking at Coach and seeing his reaction. I don’t think (Wiz head coach) Flip (Saunders) will be too happy,” Jamison said before the Wizards’ game at Sacramento on Wednesday. “I’m sure it’s something we will run in the first quarter, not something we’ll be doing with the game on the line.”

Wow. I can honestly say, I’ve never heard of anything like this before.

For an offensive guru like Saunders, isn’t this the ultimate insult? To have a fan come up with an inbounds play? I mean, let’s be real here … what exactly does this serve?

The Wizards must be relying upon the ol’ adage, “Any publicity is good publicity.”

Whatever.

This is embarrassing, and I can’t believe the players are actually content with this. Where is the pride? Where is the dignity?

And what if the play actually ends up being successful? Do they hire the fan? Does he become their “offensive coordinator”?

Ridiculous. So glad I’m not a Wizards fan. I feel sorry for them.

Gettin’ some love

Everyone has heard me rave about Memphis head coach Josh Pastner.

No, you haven’t? Well, take a gander at this before moving on: https://hoopscribe.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/hes-no-1/

Pastner has already made a name nationally, after his team took No. 1 Kansas to the wire last week.

There’s a great read on him at SI.com. I’m a fan of precocious workaholics who know what they want out of life, and that fits Pastner to a T.

Plus, he’s from Houston.  So you KNOW he’s a winner.

Enjoy: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/alexander_wolff/11/18/pastner/index.html

A move finally made

p1_byronscottByron Scott is done in New Orleans.

Like he had in his prior stop in New Jersey, Scott apparently wore out on the team a long time ago, and frankly, I’m surprised his dismissal wasn’t done much sooner.

The Hornets were 3-6 this season following last night’s lackluster loss to Phoenix. This was a team with no identity and full of apathy and a lack of passion.

Just two years ago, Scott was the NBA’s Coach of the Year. He finished with a 203-216 record in New Orleans, but he has been known to be difficult for point guards.

Reportedly, Jason Kidd wanted him gone in New Jersey, and it appeared that Scott lost Chris Paul’s trust and attention a while ago, though it’s noted the two had a strong relationship.

Either way, there’s no doubting the frustration and seemingly lack of passion that Paul had played with since the second half of last season and beyond. Paul who was allowed to do whatever he wanted and whenever he wanted, eventually saw that he was directing a club that lacked discipline, attention to detail and was playing like a chicken with its head cut off.

Many, many times, coaches are made to be the scapegoat for underachieving teams. That’s just the nature of the beast in sports.

But, in this case, it’s a move that should have happened following last season, after the Hornets’ pathetic performance in their first-round ouster to the Mavericks, when Dallas outscored New Orleans by an average of 24 points per game.

Scott, particularly, is suited to coach a veteran club, but the Hornets don’t really fit that mold. They have a lot of young talent that needs nurturing (Julian Wright, Darren Collinson, Hilton Armstrong, Bobby Brown, et cetera) but Scott has never been successful with player development.

Mind you, I’m not sure who could succeed with this group anyway. The Hornets faced a rough early schedule, but that’s not the point.

Scott wasn’t fired because he wasn’t winning. He was fired because he let players like Chris Andersen, J.R Smith and Brandon Bass up and leave and be success stories for other clubs, and he was also fired because he can’t coach young talent.

Scott should be hired again, somewhere else. He has two NBA Finals appearances and a Coach of the Year under his belt, so he will likely pop up somewhere.

But it will have to be for a veteran-laden club with a solid nucleus that can lead itself and motivate itself for bigger and better things.

EDIT: By the way, here’s a piece from Yahoo! Sport’s account of the Scott firing:

Hornets forward David West(notes) told reporters in New Orleans there were “philosophical differences” between Scott and some players, and hinted that Scott might have become stubborn in his beliefs.

“Pride is a dangerous thing,” West said. “Amongst the team there was a sense of a few guys not trusting what we had in terms of our system and our ability to know what we were going to get every single night from our system.”

“We were way too predictable,” West said. “We worked way too hard to get simple stuff accomplished.

“What we had wasn’t working – the philosophy, the way we approached things just wasn’t working.”