The NBA season is just right around the corner as we delve into the first few preseason games. As we gear up for the regular season, here are a few hot topics that have been going on during the past week.
Frank Vogel Stays with Pacers
During the NBA Eastern Conference Finals match between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, it seemed like things were falling apart. You had fights among teammates, players ‘disappearing’ during the game, and unnecessary player antics that drew unwanted attention. This concluded with getting knocked out by the Heat 4-2 as the Pacers were sent into the offseason with many questions.
However one question that has not been asked is who will be coaching the team next season or in the future. This past Wednesday, the Pacers brass announced that they have resigned head coach Frank Vogel to a multiyear extension. Vogel originally took over the head coaching reigns back during the 2010-11 season on an interim basis after the team fired, then head coach, Jim O’Brien. Vogel took over a 17-27 Pacers squad and went 20-18 with them to finish 37-45 for the season, gaining a playoff berth. Ultimately, the team lost to the Chicago Bulls 4 games to 1 in the first round of the playoffs.
Since Vogel officially became head coach in 2012, the Pacers have had 3 consecutive 40+ winning seasons, captured 2 Central Divisional Titles, have had 3 consecutive playoff berths, and been to 2 consecutive Eastern Conference Finals. Vogel’s record with the Pacers is 167-100 (.625) during the regular season and 28-26 during the postseason. His .625 winning percentage is second in franchise history behind former head coach and current team President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird, who went 147-67 from 1997-2000 with a winning percentage of .687.
Now going into the season, Vogel will have to deal with a team who is without their two top scorers from last year (Paul George due to injury and Lance Stephenson via free agency). However there is a reason why the Pacers signed Vogel to that contract extension. They have complete faith in him and how he guides the team. Hopefully Pacers fans feels the same.
Fines and Suspensions
Things were already in high gear in a preseason game this past Monday between the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls. Early in the first quarter, Wizards SF Paul Pierce committed a hard foul on Bulls’ SF Jimmy Butler. Butler’s teammate, C Joakim Noah, stepped in afterwards and exchanged words with Pierce. Shoves were then exchanged, including Pierce pushing off Noah’s forehead with his left index finger as a few players from the Wizards bench got up to go to their teammate’s aide. The situation was diffused when Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau stepped in to separate the two players.
Then this past Wednesday, the league decided to hand down fines and suspensions. The league fined Noah $15,000 for instigating the altercation and pushing Pierce while Pierce was fined $15,000 for pushing Noah in the forehead with his index finger. The league also suspended the Wizards players who left the bench (starting C Nene, reserve SG/PG Xavier Silas, reserve F/C DeJuan Blair, and reserve F/C Daniel Orton) one regular season game for violating league rules.
The four Wizard players will miss the season opener against the Miami Heat on October 29 when the NBA begins the 2014-15 season.
This Date in NBA History: October 11
1980: The Dallas Mavericks franchise began their first season in the NBA with a 103-92 victory at home against their interstate rival San Antonio Spurs. The Mavericks would end up finishing that season 15-67.
2002: The Miami Heat and the Minnesota Timberwolves played a preseason at the Dominican Republic at the Palacio de los Desportes in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. This marked the 19th time an NBA game was played in a Latin American country.
2008: The Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 77-72 in a preseason match up at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. This marked the first time in over 30 years that an NBA game was played outdoors (Last game was back in September 4, 1972, where the Phoenix Suns defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 116-103 in a preseason game in Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan Puerto Rico).
Dreams Do Come True
And now ladies and gentlemen, I present to you perhaps one of the more heartwarming stories coming out of the NBA this weekend.
Earlier on Monday, the Utah Jazz had an inter squad scrimmage in front of their fans at EnergySolutions Arena. However during the day, the Jazz had signed 5-year old JP Gibson to a one-day contract and allowed him to partake in the scrimmage. Gibson, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells), was able to take part through the Millie’s Princess Foundation’s “Anything Can Be” project, which provides hope and support to families with children who have cancer.
Since Gibson’s dream was to play in his favorite sport, basketball, the Jazz were able to fulfill the 5-year old’s dream of playing in an NBA game. Gibson checked into the scrimmage towards the end of the 3rd quarter in what many would describe as just heartwarming and resounding.
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