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The amazing rise of Luka Doncic

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At 20 years, 266 days, we might have found our next big star. As if the NBA doesn’t have enough stars.

Luka Doncic’s superior offensive skills have taken the headlines away from a ball-happy James Harde, the return of ‘Melo, Kawhi’s load-management, and LeBron actually playing basketball in November.

So a guy can score? Devin Booker can score and he’s not a star in Phoenix. But Luka Donic seems to have the winning mentality. His points and his domination fit in the flow of the NBA. He’s efficient. He’s on a team coached by Rick Carlise. The same coach who annoyed point guards in years past with his micromanaging.

At 6″7 Luka Doncic is a point guard and he’s good.

Wednesday night against Golden State Doncic put up a state line of 36 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in 26 minutes. It was his seventh triple-double of the season. He broke all kinds of records.

They call him Larry Bird. They want to keep comparing him to Larry Bird. Because of the height, the comparison to a guard would miss the mark.

He’s the offering of 40 to 50 years of hard work and development in international basketball. He’s the most complete player offensively to come from Europe, they say.

He was tutored by the great Dirk Nowitzki in 2018-19 his rookie season. Two players Marvin Bagely and Deandre Ayton were drafted ahead of Doncic in a league weary of misses on the European front. He’s paired with Krispus Porzingis as the future in the Big D.

He has annihilated NBA defenses-if those exist.

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HOOPS

The One Thing Magic Johnson Forgot to Talk About

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Magic Johnson stepped down as the President of the Los Angeles Lakers. He called an abrupt news conference in the bowels of the Staples Center Tuesday night.

The NBA is a reality TV show that never stops providing new scripts. He cited his trepidation of firing Luke Walton who his owner and best bud Jeanie Buss loved very much.

Of course Magic Johnson was instrumental in luring LeBron James into LaLa Land away from Cleveland, although it doesn’t seem like it was a hard sell as LeBron appears to have strategically made his mind up to do so for some time. But how many decisions Magic made day-to-day is hard to tell.

According to some media reports Magic wasn’t around the office a whole lot and was traveling and caring for his other business commitments.

Apparently being the face of the franchise is much, much easier away from a front office role.

Magic’s brief Lakers President tenure will probably be more memorable than his run as a late-night talk show host in the 90s. His biggest get will be LeBron James.

But as the curtains fell on the 2018-19 dumpster fire that was the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night Magic made no mention of LeBron James and the total roster disunity and disruption that his signing brought. He made very little mention of the failed attempt to land Anthony Davis by force from the New Orleans Pelicans.

The biggest question that still needed to be answered by Magic is: What in the world are you going to do with this roster to complement LeBron James in his swan song years?

Magic did say, “We’re half way there, with another star coming in (this summer)”.

Magic talked a lot about how the job had changed him and he wanted to get back to his old life. He talked about being handcuffed as the President of the Lakers, not being able to tweet as freely as he once could.

He never addressed the elephant in the room.

What in the world were you thinking when you put this roster together?

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HOOPS

James Dolan’s PR nightmare in New York

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James Dolan is losing the PR battle. Well, he lost that battle long ago, but now it’s just basically over.

Saturday a video taken from a fan’s cell phone shows the owner walking towards the tunnel after another Knicks loss.

A fan yells “Sell the team”.

Dolan confronts the fans and tells him he might enjoy watching the Knicks on TV instead of coming to MSG. Then tells his macho men to kick the guy out of the arena. After a loss?

Either way, Dolan is losing the battle of public relations, which in turn devalues the franchise which he serves to make quite a bit of money off should he chose to sell his majority stake in the team. Of course, for a guy at his level, it’s not always about just coming on top financially ahead. He’s got money and has always had money. He’d like to be successful one would think but simply but has faired well waging a war with the New York media. No owner or pro sports personality has ever won a war with the New York media.

If he plans on keeping the team fixing the broken relationship with the NY media might be the first step towards success as bad as the franchises personnel decisions have been.

 

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Why Rick Pitino to UCLA will never happen

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There’s been a little talk, mostly in the New York market ironically, that Rick Pitino could possibly end up at UCLA.

Sounds impossible? It really is.

According to reports, certain UCLA boosters were wanting to bring in the former Louisville coach.

There are quite a few reasons why Rick Pitino won’t be the next head coach at UCLA and probably elsewhere in Division-I basketball. Currently, he’s coaching Panathinaikos in Greece Pro Hoops.

Earlier this year when plotting a return to basketball he told ESPN,  “I love teaching basketball and am more passionate than ever.”

Too often it appeared that Pitino grossly lacked good judgment and if you believe certain allegations he reaped the benefits of a partnership with Adidas beyond just a multi-million dollar equipment contract.

At Louisville, there was one incident after another (USA TODAY compiled a list).  Eventually, the list grew too long, and despite pleas from Pitino that he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing in his program, Louisville finally let him go.

To win at UCLA you’ve got to recruit, it’s not just teaching. Steve Alford can teach.  Will 5-star recruits be lining up to play for Pitino at UCLA-just because?

Yet another reason is age. Which is not entirely fair but it’s the reality.  It’s not a knock on his abilities as a teacher and motivator. Big-time athletics is an age-discriminatory field.  At 66 he’s not too old to coach, but UCLA isn’t looking for a three or four-year flyer. They are ready to hire their Coach K, their Bill Self and have been for a while.

The biggest thing stopping a Pitino hire at UCLA or any other institution is a single question:  Can the President, Board, and Atheltic Director honestly feel like the risk would be worth the reward?

Pitino can be a teacher of life lessons both good and bad, that doesn’t mean he’ll be a college basketball coach again.

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