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Carlisle, Holzman, and Productive Pep Talks

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Howard Beck wrote a great piece about Monta Ellis. “The Evolution of Monta Ellis: Mercurial Former ‘Chucker’ Is Thriving In Dallas” examines the ways Ellis has improved this season — his first as a Dallas Maverick — and includes quotes from coach Rick Carlisle, owner Mark Cuban, and the player himself, explaining the process by which Ellis is transforming his image from ballhogging loser to efficient winner.

I found one part of the story especially interesting. Beck described a meeting that took place between Ellis and Carlisle last summer, after he signed with Dallas. In it, Carlisle pulled no punches in explaining to Monta how he was perceived, why he was perceived that way, and how things would be different with the Mavericks.

Beck writes:

Over eight NBA seasons, Ellis had assumed the aura of a prototypical gunner—his shot count high, his accuracy low, his judgment questionable, his conscience undetectable. Selfish. A bad teammate.

That was how fans had come to view Ellis, and that was the stinging image painted by Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle last summer, shortly after Ellis signed a three-year, $25 million free-agent contract.

“He gave me a rundown of what was said about me,” Ellis said in an interview with Bleacher Report last week. “Me being all about offense. Didn’t want to practice. Really wasn’t a vocal leader. Didn’t want to buy into systems.”

There was more.

“And then,” Ellis said, “he told me what he sees for me with this team.”

A partnership with Dirk Nowitzki. A devastating two-man game. Open lanes to attack the basket. A cast of savvy veterans: Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Jose Calderon. The chance to be a playmaker. The chance to win, to change perceptions, to change habits. To evolve.

This year, through 28 games, Monta is playing smarter and scoring more efficiently than he has in years. He is the second leading scorer on a winning team. It seems likely, if not obvious, that Carlisle and environment he has helped create in Dallas deserves some credit for the improvement in Monta Ellis.

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NBA’s Golden Age?

Clyde Frazier and Earl the Pearl

An outgrowth of the sports-fan aging process is the urge to no longer observe in the present, but in historical context where players compete not only against one another but against ghosts that once occupied that field or floor, or others like it.  I fell victim to this — if “victim” is the right word — first with Kobe Bryant; basically, freshman dorm arguments about whether Kobe — a champion at 21 — was better than Michael Jordan at the same age.  These debates drive a great deal of sports interest.  Without narrative, a bunch of strangers running around to throw a sphere through a ring can lose meaning and (gulp) maybe even seem like a waste of time and money.

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Rating the B.S. Report

Bill Simmons works for ESPN.  He’s also called “The Sports Guy.” Apparently he writes a column called “The Sports Column.” He also has a podcast called The B.S. Report, which is a free-flowing conversation that occasionally touches on mature subject matter. You know the drill.

So yesterday Simmons did a two-part podcast: Part 1 featured Kevin Love and Wi-ZARDS superfan, Joe House ( Play Download); Part 2 featured Dirk Nowitzski and Wi-ZARDS superfan Joe House (Play Download). (CAVEAT: Neither of us have had an opportunity to listen to them yet because of these niggling “day jobs” we have to do, but we’re both pretty psyched to hear them because the Simmon-House duo rules and so do Dirk and K-Love.)

In anticipation of listening to these podcasts, and without a Wolves game to discuss, we decided to look back on our favorite BS Report moments and propose who we would pay to hear on future B.S. Reports.

Andy G’s Favorites

  1. Bill Walton (Describes the genius of John Wooden in ways only Walton can.  Also, I believe this podcast holds the BS Report title for ‘most awkward ending’ when Bill S. asks some question about the late-70’s Blazers breaking up and Bill W. abruptly ends interview. Eds. note: I’m not able to find the direct link to the Walton podcast so I’m posting his general ESPN Audio link, which contains links to many sources of Walton goodness.–AG)
  2. 3-Man Weave with Mark Stein & Ric Bucher (Simmons loves the Celtics.  Stein loves the Mavericks.  Bucher loves the Lakers.  They rib each other about these allegiances in funny ways, and all three are in touch with the league.)
  3. Chuck Klosterman (Klosterman could write or speak about tax returns and make them seem interesting.  He also knows hoops (though more NCAA than NBA) and his discussions with Simmons on the BS Report are must-listen.  One that sticks out is from the week that Charlie Sheen went batshit.
  4. Jalen Rose (No surprise that BS hired him for HIS OWN podcast on the Grantland Network. He knocked his BS Report out of the park. Lots of good stuff about 90’s NBA and the Fab Five.)
  5. Steve Kerr (Knows the game, has great stories, and speaks well. He’s a perfect fit for the podcast format.)


Patrick J’s Favorites

  1. David Kahn (Obviously.)
  2. Bob Ryan (Breakdown of Pierce as best Celtics scorer of all time–yes, greater than Legend; discussion of how McHale’s greatness is likely to be forgotten)
  3. Chris Herren (So much Boston here, it warmed my heart just to hear the accent. Also, penetrating discussion of LOYALTY and Rick Pitino. Verification of why Paul Pierce is great.)
  4. Joe House 2011/12 Season Preview, Part I and Part II(The 2011/12 season preview episodes is funny as hell. House says “Anus Kanter” and I believe he was being earnest about it. That NEVER happens.)
  5. Larry Bird (Actually, this one was kind of a yawner given that Legend is my all-time favorite basketball player. Bird opines on Rubio (yes, he’s great) and Kobe vs. LeBron (Both are great, Lebron might be more fun to play with, but you’re more likely to win rings if you’re on Kobe’s squad.

Worst B.S. Report

  1. Blake Griffin (He’s a more stale interview than Derrick Rose. Only sunshine here is that that hearing Simmons pulling teeth to get Griffin to talk was sort of entertaining ‘cause it was almost as hard to listen to as that scene in Swingers where Mikey keeps calling and leaving messages on that chick’s answering machine.)(Eds. note: Who am I forgetting? –PJ)
  2. (Eds. note: You are forgetting BILLY HUNTER: (ALL listeners were pissed off listening to it (an inherent truth when you cross people who care enough about league to listen to a Billy Hunter interview with outrage of same people from LOCKOUT) and Hunter had nothing interesting to add.  I took away no enjoyment from that listen.  At least when David Stern comes on, he’s going to piss you off in interesting ways.–AG)
Let’s up the ante: Who WOULD be a great BS Report guest? (Bill, are you reading?)

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