It's finally here, the NBA season is upon us. We've seen some teams get off to a hot start (6-0 Memphis Grizzlies & Houston Rockets), some teams struggling to find an identity (2-3 Cleveland Cavaliers), and some teams that are just plan lost (1-5 Oklahoma City Thunder & 0-5 Los Angeles Lakers). But this is just the beginning of the season, there's still yet more basketball to be played. Here are some of the things that happened during this week of basketball.
Too Early to Panic
Well we've barely crossed the first week threshold of the season and already ‘controversy’ is popping up over in Cleveland with the Cavaliers. In the off-season, the team made a big splash by signing SF LeBron James back and then going out to trade for PF/C Kevin Love to join with PG Kyrie Irving for a ‘Big 3’ in Cleveland. Not to mention they brought in a new head coach David Blatt from the Israeli Basketball League, whose résumé included 4 coaches of the year and 5 league championships. Many experts and odd makers picked the Cavaliers to not only be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference but Conference Champions as well as winning the NBA Title this year.
After 5 games in, the Cavaliers sit at a pedestrian 2-3 record. They have averaged 99.2 points per game (17th overall) while allowing 101.4 points per game (20th overall). They’re second to last in assists per game (17.8), third worst in both assists allowed per game (24.8) and opposing field goal percentage (49.0 %).
It’s easy for people to immediately start labeling the Cavaliers a failure, LeBron a failure, and we can all laugh and say ‘Serves him right for jumping ship yet again!’ But the NBA season is not even 10 games. There are still 77 more games left to be played. It’s going to take time for each star to adapt to the other’s playing style and for Coach David Blatt to adapt to the American-style of basketball of the NBA. There will be growing pains in the early goings but because the spotlight is on the Cavaliers, any sign of weakness or poor play will spark debates of whether or not the team is a failure.
Injury Bug Attack
As stated in the previous paragraph, the 2014-15 NBA season has not reach the 10-game mark. However this week, there were teams that ended getting attacked by a foe not even the greatest of players could defeat: the injury bug.
This past Monday, in a game against the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks forward Al-Farouq Aminu left in the second quarter with a left knee injury. Luckily for him, he did not miss any playing time. Others weren't so fortunate.
On Tuesday, Indiana Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey aggravated a strained tendon in his left foot against the Milwaukee Bucks. Already dealing with a foot problem in the first couple games, Stuckey now will be out the next 3 games while dealing with his new injury. Then in a Wednesday contest with the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors forward/center David Lee hurt his hamstring after playing just seven minutes in the first half. Lee already missed the first three games of the season with a strained hamstring and now he’ll be out 2 weeks with the same type of injury.
Then on Friday night, Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio sprained his left ankle against the Orlando Magic. Just before halftime of that game, Rubio was fouled during a drive the basket. He then landed awkwardly on his left ankle before collapsing to the ground in pain. He did not return afterwards and his status is unknown. On the same night, in a home game against the Indiana Pacers, Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart suffered a lower leg injury. In the early goings of the fourth quarter, Smart got tangled up with Pacers’ guard A.J. price on the way to the basket and went down hard. After struggling to get up, the Celtics’ medical staff had to call for a gurney to take Smart off the court.
Though you never want to see a player go down, regardless of who they play for or during any time of the season. The only ‘comforting’ thing for each of those teams is that these injuries happened early on, giving them the chance to find a player and give that player time to get acclimated to said team’s offensive and defensive schemes/styles.
Trading Cars for NBA Stars
If there was one team that had a lot of luggage going into the 2014-15 season, it was none other than the Los Angeles Clippers due to the whole ‘Donald Sterling’ saga. Now this past Wednesday, the Clippers can officially move on and begin things anew with the hiring of Gillian Zucker as President of Business Operations. Zucker is taking over the position vacated by Andy Roeser, who took an indefinite leave of absence during the ‘Donald Sterling’ saga after he upset team employees when he released a statement question the legitimacy of the recordings of Sterling’s remarks.
Prior to taking her new position with the Los Angeles Clippers, Zucker spent from 2005-2014 as the President of the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Zucker was in charge of all aspects of business, including operations, ticketing, finance, communications, and marketing. She also served on the International Speedway Corporation executive management team and oversaw both Chicagoland and Kansas Speedways. Zucker also served as Daytona’s International Speedway’s vice president of business and development, director of business development (and then was promoted to vice president of operational development) for Kansas Speedway.
Now with the Clippers, Zucker has become the second woman to be in an executive position with an NBA team (the other is Jeanie Buss, who is the Los Angeles Lakers’ team president). Clippers owner, Steve Balmer was very enthusiastic with the hiring of Zucker:
"I am extremely happy to add a leader like Gillian to our team. Her clear and creative business vision, innovative approach to marketing and experience working in the Los Angeles sports market make her the perfect fit to lead the Clippers during this transcendent time."
When asked about her hiring with the Clippers, Zucker had this to say:
"What an exciting time to be part of the L.A. Clippers. There's something special happening in this organization that has captured the attention of Los Angeles, the NBA and the nation. Steve Ballmer's energy and enthusiasm is contagious and inspiring. We are just getting started."
It seem like good times are ahead with the Clippers organization after they had to endure a giant black mark earlier this year. Hopefully the good times and good attitude can remain for many years to come.
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