Jordan rules don’t apply for Portis; Simmons truly something special

New York
My highlight of this young season occurred moments after the Cavaliers beat the Celtics in the opener. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving embraced and exchanged insincerities. While doing so, Kyrie, demonstrating he considering himself LeBron’s equal, rubbed the head of James, well-known for rubbing the heads of students and young players he’d just schooled. LeBron got the message five-by-five, and, in turn, rubbed Kyrie’s head. Before they disengaged, Kyrie rubbed LeBron’s head one last time.
I find it fascinating the Bulls suspended Bobby Portis eight games for punching Nikola Mirotic during their practice conflict. Funny, I don’t recall Michael Jordan getting so much as being sentenced to Phil Jackson’s Time Out chair for blackening Steve Kerr’s right eye during a practice skirmish.
Column castigator Frank Drucker decided Sunday and Monday were the Knick franchise’s two best back-to-back days since the two before Charles Dolan said to Gulf & Western, “Hey, my kid needs something to do.”
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Double teaming Porzingis a wise move; Refs giving Antetokounmpo star treatment

New York

Rather than risk being accused of copying Brad Stevens’ impeccable game plan, Kenny Atkinson seldom double-teamed Kristaps Porzingis, who went for 30 in Friday night’s blowout of the Nets. KP showed up in Boston flaunting two games of 32 and 31, and was held to two in the first half against double coverage. He notched another 10 after the undisputed verdict had been decided. I’m guessing Atkinson decided to hold off attacking KP with two bodies in case they meet in the playoffs.

Former Suns employees, Rick Welts (team president), Steve Kerr (GM), and Steve Nash (2-time MVP) all now work for the Warriors. That says it all about what it’s like having owner Robert Sarver as your boss.

I’m faced with a moral dilemma. If I came into 100-large, would I buy 200 pairs of Lonzo Ball sneakers or one mayor of New York City?

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Time to do right by veteran ABA players; Slick Rick looks a beaten man

New York
What do Markelle Fultz (76ers, 2017) and Anthony Bennett (Cavaliers, 2013) have in common? They’re the most recent No. 1 overall draft choices not to start at the start of a season.
Prior to them, as best I can tell, the last pick of the litter to come off the bench was center Billy ‘The Hill’ McGill … through no fault of his own; Walt Bellamy already had established himself as the Chicago Zephyrs’ centerfold.
McGill was fresh in my mind when I began this column. I’d just read his depressing story in ‘Hard Labor’… authored by Sam Smith (The Jordan Rules). Starring Oscar Robertson and 13 other litigants who sued the NBA in 1970 to prevent the league from merging with the ABA, it’s exceptionally resourced and entrancingly educational.
Full column available at: patreon.com/petervecsey

Warriors, Rockets, Thunder class of the West

New York
After careful deliberation, Eddie Gottlieb and I decried the only way to keep the Warriors from galloping out of the West is to boomerang them back to Philly.
WARRIORS: Think about this: During the off-season, the NBA’s superior ensemble added three productive players — long range catch-and-sting marksman Nick Young (six treys v Houston), Jordan Bell and Omri Casppi.
Now think about this: champions in two of the last three seasons, the league’s superior ensemble corralled the 30th selection in the 2015 draft, Kevon Looney, and then back-to-back second round choices, Bell and Patrick McCaw. All three were in Steve Kerr’s 12-man rotation during last night’s 1-point loss to the Rockets.
Full column available at: patreon.com/petervecsey

Source says haymaker by Portis no cheap shot

New York

Contrary to counterfeit reports by ESPN and Yahoo, Bobby Portis did not “cheap shot” Nikola Mirotic at Bulls’ practice this afternoon, a source attests.

Nonetheless, there is no denying it was a damaging one-punch knockdown. The Montenegro forward was taken to the hospital with a concussion and facial fractures that will require surgery, and is out indefinitely.

Mirotic initiated the skirmish. “He was the aggressor, not Portis,”  I am informed.

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Cavs, Celtics, Wizards studs of the East

New York
After an exhausting, transaction-logged summer, the NBA begins its 72nd season tonight aflutter with a searing question: Can the Warriors thwart LeBron James’ shot at another J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award?
As you might’ve heard, any number of districts spent the summer re-upping, recruiting and re-routing work forces with the sole purpose of breathlessly being mentioned in the same minted breath as the Warriors.
The sole suspense surrounding the defending champs will be whether they turn down a visit to the White House again or get disinvited.
Full column available at: patreon.com/petervecsey

Phyllis Albeck was the good woman behind the good man (husband Stan)

New York
In mid-June, 2005 I visited Stan Albeck at his San Antonio home on an off day of the Finals, won by the Spurs over the Pistons in seven games.
A dozen years later, and I’m still insulted at where the national media was stashed. My seat near the top of AT&T Center wasn’t exactly at the end of the world, but I could see it from there. I skipped Game 2 and went to Auburn Hills to pick up the series at The Palace … where I introduced myself to Eminem a row behind midcourt as a bigger fan of his than Stan, and I don’t mean Albeck.
It had been almost 4½ years since Albeck, the Raptors’ assistant coach at the time, suffered a partially paralyzing stroke in Toronto’s locker room. We’d known each other since our small fry days in the ABA when everybody — players, coaches, referees, trainers, wives, girlfriends, cheerleaders and, yes, even beat writers — hung together after games in clubs, restaurants, hotel lobbies and rooms playing cards.
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Hawk’s complex tale leaves us wondering what might have been

New York
During Julius Erving’s first few weeks playing at Rucker Park in the summer of 1971, having signed with the ABA Virginia Squires following his junior year at the University of Massachusetts, the ‘D.J.’ on the courtside mike, Plucky Morris, alternated calling him “The Doctor’, “The Claw” (hands big enough to Palm Sunday, I authored at the time … and time and time again, and again now) and “Little Hawk.”
It wasn’t just Plucky; we were all guilty as charged of likening Erving’s splendor, extension cord appendages and 1-handed stretch-limo swoops to The Almighty Hawk, Connie Hawkins.
One sweltering afternoon, Connie, an ascendant hand-me-up from the ABL, Globetrotters, and ABA, whose surgically repaired right knee declined to work or play outdoors a day longer, appeared at 155th Street and Eighth Avenue, off the Harlem River Drive, to scope the new kid above the halo.
Full column available at: patreon.com/petervecsey
hawk

Barnes hasn’t forgotten Draymond’s disrespect

New York
“Went to Tom Petty’s last show. Hit me that the difference with athletes and musicians is the rock stars don’t stop scoring 30 a night. Very sad.”
— Barry Werner, longtime column collaborator
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Mere minutes after the Cavaliers overcame a 1-3 deficit in the 2016 Finals and dethroned the champion Warriors, Draymond Green called Kevin Durant and overtly recruited the Thunder’s rising unrestricted free agent, something he’d covertly been doing for months.
For some reason, I’m unsure exactly how long afterward, Green felt the need to applaud himself by divulging his involvement in Durant’s enlistment … which led to Harrison Barnes’ exodus.
Naturally, Barnes felt dreadfully disrespected, because he was, undeniably.
Full column available at: patreon.com/petervecsey

Success rate of high schoolers going straight to pros much greater than many believe

New York
This column is easily 10-15 years overdue.
Think about it; during that span, much longer, probably, how many times have you heard someone profess with authority, or read unswerving testimony from a witness impersonating an expert, that for every high school player who fruitfully transitioned to the NBA and ABA there was an abject flop?
I am a long time, big time fan of Philadelphia columnist Bob Ford. Let’s establish that from the jump. He is always an enjoyable, passionate, creative read, as evidenced by last week’s take on the stench emanating from the latest college basketball scandal.
However, like hundreds of past imperfect observers of the sport, with hundreds guaranteed to follow, no matter what proof I present below to the contrary, Ford flagrantly falsified some effortlessly obtainable facts. Well, not all are overt, as you’ll come to understand.
Full column available at: patreon.com/petervecsey