Friday’s Layup Drill

Learning the news that Ernie Harwell, 91, has an incurable tumor felt like a kick in the head; hearing him talk about how he's accepted his fate almost brought tears to my eyes.

"We don't know how long this lasts," Harwell said in a phone interview. "It could be a year, it could be much less than a year, much less than a half a year. Who knows?

"Whatever's in store, I'm ready for a new adventure. That's the way I look at it."

On a lighter note, here's some basketball:

  • Revel in the lowlights of Michael Jordan's career with It's Just Sports.
  • Tayshaun Prince's days of international competition may be coming to an end -- or at the very least are no longer guaranteed. From Chris Tomasson, my newest colleague at FanHouse:

    "Let's say everybody wants to come back and we have Kevin now, and Kevin Durant is going to replace somebody," [Jerry] Colangelo said of the roster. "Let's put it this way. If the top seven or eight players from the Olympic team all committed (to the Worlds), you're looking at Tayshaun (Prince) and (Carlos) Boozer... and Michael Redd. Those guys will have competition."

    Assuming Kidd definitely won't return, Prince, Boozer and Redd, none of whom averaged more than 4.3 points in the Olympics, are unquestionably the most vulnerable players. Even though Prince isn't an All-Star, having made the Olympic team primarily for chemistry reasons, Colangelo insisted he will continue to receive full consideration.

  • PistonsNation has a rather fantastic collection of classic Piston editorial cartoons.
  • Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog is still coming to grips with the fact he has to cheer for Rasheed Wallace:

    Of course I'm going into this with my eyes wide open. I know that he'll coast when the stakes aren't high. I know that he'll melt down over a bad call at the most inopportune time possible. I know on offense he'll treat the painted area like it is radioactive. I know these things because I've seen them for years from the other side.

    In fact, maybe the biggest reason why I think this could work is because we all know these things up front. There's been an odd sort of vibe coming from Pistons fans during his departure. They saw the writing on the wall all last year and so did Sheed, which at least partially explains why he sleep-walked through the playoffs. I think Detroit fans weren't exactly happy to see him go, but they were understandably relieved that they didn't have to go through any of that stuff with him anymore.

    Sad to say, the writing has been on the wall the last two years; this past season, it was spray painted on the floor and ceiling. Nevertheless, it's still a little weird to see pictures of him wearing green. Always will, I suspect.

  • Life on Dumars has an amusing prediction contest:

    Which will be greater?
    1- Will Bynum’s min/gm or Ben Gordon’s ppg
    2- Ben Wallace’s free throw % or Chris Wilcox starts
    3- Kwame Brown double-doubles or Ben Wallace starts
    4- DaJuan Summers’ min/gm or Tayshuan Prince’s ppg

    Etc, etc. There are actually prizes for those who guess right, so check it out.

  • Ron Artest + John Green = BFF
  • Tractor Traylor may face prison time.
  • Tom Walsh on the evolving organizational structure of Palace Sports in the wake of Bill Davidson's passing. (via Full Court Press)
  • Bill Laimbeer on working under Kurt Rambis in Minnesota:

    Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn interviewed Laimbeer for the head coaching position that eventually went to Rambis. In a surprising move, Laimbeer decided to take a job working under Rambis after losing out on the position he really wanted.

    "I like the guy," Laimbeer said of Rambis. "He's well prepared and is a lot like me, which surprised me. He speaks his mind, honest, blunt, sarcastic. Ditto. I thought it was a good fit and we're going to zing each other, but it'll be fun. He's very competitive and wants to win, and that's my nature."

  • Last but not least, there's been some chatter about ESPN's "prediction" that the Pistons would finish 10th in the East. Some have written it off as typical MSM hate toward Detroit, but objectively speaking, the collective opinion of their 53 panelists merely predicted that the bottom of the East would be an absolute cluster -- the No. 7, 8, 9 and 10 seeds in their predictions were all separated by a single game.

    If you agree that the top three teams in the East are in a class by themselves and the Hawks are a cut above the rest, that leaves at least six teams with a legitimate shot of competing (Miami, Chicago, Philly, Toronto, Detroit and Washington) vying for four spots.

    Detroit could easily prove to be the best of that bunch (and if everything goes their way, they might even push the Hawks), but by the same token, I'm hardly insulted that someone thinks one of the youngest teams in the league (strange how fast that happened, huh?) might suffer a few growing pains while adjusting to a new coach.

    Either way, embrace the disrespect; the lower the bar, the more likely teams take Detroit for granted and give a few games away -- and one or two extra wins might be the difference between staying at home and locking up the sixth seed.

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