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masai-ujiri-smile

Brrrrraaaaawwwwwww! (That is an airhorn noise.) It’s award alert time again. From the Denver Post:

The passionate Ujiri will be rewarded for his work Thursday, when he is named the NBA executive of the year, a source told The Denver Post on Wednesday night. Ujiri, the first African-born general manager in major American sports, put together the Nuggets’ roster, a squad that won 57 games — the most in Denver’s NBA history.

As always, it’s important to remember that this is a single season award that is given to a person who has been making personnel moves for several years and hoping they all pan out eventually. Which is to say, always take Executive of the Year with a grain of seasoned salt. I mean, if the Lakers miraculously win the next three NBA titles with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash around, are we going to retroactively give this trophy to Mitch Kupchak because he pulled off some huge trades in the summer of 2012? It’s weird.

But it’s still a nice award to receive and it’s hard to argue that Ujiri isn’t deserving. Sure, the main trade he pulled off that left the Nuggets with an incredibly deep team — Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks for several of their rotation players — took place two seasons ago, but he also ended up snagging Andre Iguodala for a couple of guys who were expendable (Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington), stuck with reigning Coach of the Year George Karl, and continuously added players who Karl could use in his frenetic system. He built this team in a very smart way, and save for a few injuries, they could have made some noise in the postseason.

This is the Nuggets’ second award of the season, after getting nothing since 2006-07. That’s probably small consolation after a first round update, but it’s better than not getting trophies, I guess. At the very least, with the NBA’s best coach and best executive, according to some voters at least, they’re sitting pretty for the future. Let’s hear what you think in the comments.

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Award notice service … activate. From Nuggets.com:

After leading the Denver Nuggets to a team-record 57 wins, George Karl is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year, the league announced today.

Karl, who guided the Nuggets to the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, joins Doug Moe as the only coaches in franchise history to win the award. It also is the first time Karl has received the honor in his 25 NBA seasons.

Karl totaled 404 points, including 62 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. The award was tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP.

“I am honored and energized to represent coaching and be their ambassador as coach of the year and continue to symbolize the great coaching there is in the NBA,” Karl said. “There are probably seven or eight guys who are deserving of it and another 10 or 15 other coaches who have done a great job and aren’t getting any recognition.”

That last sentence is pretty much the definition of the Coach of the Year award — seven or eight guys could have won it and there are a bunch more who also did great jobs. And that’s why complaining about the choice is usually pretty futile. Yeah, maybe George Karl isn’t your choice for Coach of the Year, but the Nuggets did set a franchise record for wins, rattled off a 15-game winning streak and looked the part of a serious dark horse title contender for a good part of the season before suffering injuries to three of their most important players. Not to mention, George Karl is the active leader in career wins and had never won Coach of the Year, which counts for a lot more than you’d think.

This is the first award for any Denver Nugget since Marcus Camby’s 2006-07 Defensive Player of the Year, so that’s a pretty cool thing for Denver fans, who I am sure will love seeing their team’s coach accept this award at a press conference because the Nuggets have already been eliminated from the playoffs in a series where many people think Karl was outcoached. That stuff obviously doesn’t matter for a regular season award, but it’s still going to be kind of awkward. But at least Denver fans can take solace in knowing that the last time something like this happened — when Dirk Nowitzki accepted his 2007 MVP after the Mavericks were upset by the Warriors — that team ended up winning a title a few seasons later.

So basically, Nuggets in 2017. You heard it here first.

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Over the course of the playoffs, Andrew Unterberger will be taking a deeper look at some of the more interesting characters at the center of the drama of the second season. First up: Denver Nuggets point guard Andre Miller.

You’d be forgiven as an NBA fan, especially before this weekend, for not knowing that Andre Miller had never won a playoff series. It’s an 0-fer that hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as that of, say, Tracy McGrady, or of either Grant Hill or Miller’s old teammate Carmelo Anthony before they finally got to the second round. But indeed, the 37-year-old Denver Nuggets point guard has made it to the postseason eight times before this season, with three different teams (four if you count his two stints in Denver separately), and thusfar he’s 0-8 — though for what it’s worth, he’s been inching ever closer to second-round survival, lasting five games in his first three postseasons, six games in his next four, and seven games in his eighth, last year’s showdown with the Lakers.

This year might very well be his year. Dre himself had a good deal of say in that during the Nuggets’ playoff opener on Saturday, where he scored a season-high 28 points, including the game-winning layup in the final seconds, to propel the Nuggets to a dramatic 97-95 victory over the Golden State Warriors in what was easily the best finish of any game this weekend. The Nuggets now lead 1-0 in a series that they were heavy favorites in even before the Warriors’ lone All-Star, David Lee, was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn hip flexor. After the game, the veteran point guard called his last-second layup the first game-winner of his career on any level, which while slightly unbelievable (depending on your definition of “game-winner,” anyway), would be sort of fitting for Andre Miller.

Like few other players in the league, Miller has had a standout career of never really standing out. In addition to never winning a playoff series, he’s never made an All-Star team, never received an MVP vote, never been named anything besides an All-Rookie first-teamer. Casual NBA fans might only have passing recognition of his name and face, and if you’re not a fan at all, there’s basically no chance that you’ve even heard of him. If you watched him for a few minutes in an average game, you might be stunned by how unimpressive he looks, with his set-shot jumper, stilted drive to the basket, and ugly overhead release. When he eventually retires in 2029, there’ll be little more than the minimum of discussion about his Hall of Fame chances, and after perhaps a couple of courtesy appearances on the ballot, his name and his game will be lost to the ravages of time.

Yet he’s put together some of the best counting numbers of his generation, currently ranking in the top 10 among active players in assists (3rd), steals (8th) and games played (9th). And even at age 37, he continues to play at a higher level than nearly anyone in his 1999 draft class – especially the seven players who were drafted above him, five of whom were All-Stars, but only three of whom are still playing in the league, and none of whom played more than 22 minutes a game this year. (Miller averaged 26.2.) He’s had the career of one of those guys who, where 15 years from now, people are going to be playing Sporcle quizzes and being stunned when his name keeps coming up as an answer. “Andre Miller’s in the top 10 all-time in assists? He led the whole league one year? And he actually scored 52 points in a game???”

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And somewhere in the shadows, a young and skinny Nicolas Batum was practicing his nut punches while short-haired Joakim Noah was working on his dance moves. Or at least that’s what I assume it’s happening, since it appears every French basketball player ever has known each other since bowlcuts were cool.

Tony Parker, by the way? Baking some baguettes, uh-huh-huh.

(via BDL)

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“I still want to punch somebody in the face — I don’t know who, but, I still want to punch somebody. Make somebody suffer.”Danilo Gallinari, doing nothing to dissuade those of us who think he looks like a young Robert De Niro

javale-mcgee-kissing-his-mom

I’m just going to get out of the way and hit you with a press release that is sure to make your day. From Oprah:

MILLIONAIRE MAMA’S BOY

The new OWN series “Millionaire Mama’s Boy” explores the dynamic relationship between former WNBA basketball star Pamela McGee and her 25-year-old son, Denver Nuggets center, JaVale McGee.  Famous for being domineering on and off the court, Pamela is not only JaVale’s mom, she’s also his business manager, working to build an empire while trying to keep a tight rein on the glitz and girls that come with the life of an NBA star.  Meanwhile, Pamela’s managing her own life, which consists of her equally fabulous single girlfriends who also have sons coming up in the league.  When Pamela needs someone to laugh with or a shoulder to cry on, she turns to her girls. Like Pamela, they are single mothers raising their sons while dating and chasing their own ambitions.  With her hectic schedule, Pamela relies on her “manny” Jay to get things done.  She trusts him to oversee her mansion, bank accounts and properties.  While her friends think there could be a love connection, Pamela and Jay deny it – but they certainly fight like a married couple.  Like any good mother, Pamela is a force to be reckoned with, and no one is going to stop Mama McGee from taking care of her own.  After all, she is basketball royalty herself.  They may be crazy, loud and a little wild, but family’s what it’s all about for the McGees and their friends. Ultimately, it’s a show about family, love and the unbreakable bond between a mother and her son; all seven feet of him.  The series is executive produced by Pete Tartaglia and Amy Palmer Robertson and distributed by Sony Pictures Television.  Join the conversation on Twitter using #MillionaireMamasBoy.

Shoutout to Pete Tartaglia, Amy Palmer Robertson and Oprah Winfrey* for making this happen. There’s not even a debut date set for “Millionaire Mama’s Boy” but I’m already setting my DVR and choosing “Save until I delete” for every episode of this. As my good friend Bart Scott might say, “CAN’T WAIT.”

Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m most excited for — Pamela’s staredowns, JaVale’s lunacy, Jay the Manny or Pamela sending JaVale to his room every other episode because he did something silly on the court. I feel like it’s Christmas morning and I just woke up.

*Sidenote: Imagine a world where JaVale McGee, his mom and Oprah Winfey are all in a meeting together, talking about reality shows. Then realize that that might have actually happened and we are living in that world. Then throw a party.

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This is how you describe JaVale McGee if you are an author and researcher who specializes in the circus and have just seen clips of his dunks, via the Denver Post:

Duncan Wall knows circuses. The author studied at the famed Ecole Nationale des Arts du Cirque in France, then chronicled the experience in his new book, “The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus, Past and Present.”

Wall did not know of JaVale McGee. But after being e-mailed links to a few videos of the high-flying 7-footer, Wall said in a phone interview, “My thought watching him was that he’s kind of a circus unto himself. He is acrobatic in a creative sense. What distinguishes the circus from gymnastics is this idea of creativity. This dude is just very creative with his physicality. He’s able to move in ways you wouldn’t expect him to move. He has this dynamism, especially for a guy that size. It’s like, ‘Wait a minute, he almost doesn’t know how big he is.’

“And he also has a clownish side to him too. You sent me these acrobatic dunks from weird angles, but when you start Googleing him, there’s also video of him throwing the ball away in weird ways or tripping over himself. And he seems to not take himself too seriously. So he’s kind of the circus unto himself, where he’s the star acrobat and also the star clown.” [...]

“In a clownish sense, he doesn’t seem to have complete control of himself,” said Wall, who teaches at the National Circus School of Montreal, considered the Juilliard of circus schools. “Every once in a while he (tries) something completely beyond him, perhaps something you shouldn’t do if you’re above 5-foot-10, and he’d fail miserably — and it’s just comedic. And he kind of stands up and looks around, almost in a clownish way, and is like, ‘What? What do you mean? Why can’t I do that?’”

And this is how you describe JaVale McGee if you’ve played with him for a year and are one of his best friends, also via the Denver Post:

Or, as teammate Kenneth Faried put it, upon hearing McGee describe his medical condition from across the locker room, “I didn’t know you had ADD. I knew something was wrong with you, but I didn’t know it was that.”

Take your pick — unwitting clown or worse than AD(H)D. Either way, you’re getting the full JaVale McGee experience. Just don’t combine the two, unless you want to deal with a hyperactive clown. And after imagining Chris Andersen in angry clown makeup, no thank you.