Bernucca: Rebirth of the Sunday morning NBA column

Several of the dinosaur staffers here at SheridanHoops remember when Sunday mornings used to be spent reading NBA columns.

Some of us are old enough to recall reading them in newspapers – Dan Shaughnessy in the Boston Globe, David Moore in the Dallas Morning News, Dave D’Alessandro in the Newark Star-Ledger and – of course – Mark Heisler in the Los Angeles Times.

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a Sunday NBA column. Newspapers have gone hyperlocal, with more copy on high schools than the NBA. Analytics also reveal that the weekend is when folks spend the least amount of time on the internet.

I don’t entirely buy those premises. Last Sunday, I walked into a Red Robin in central Connecticut, a state where the NBA normally gets in line behind UConn men’s hoops and UConn women’s hoops. But virtually every TV in the place was tuned to Bulls-Heat, and a majority of customers were clearly engaged in the game.

For years, the NBA has filled the Sunday viewing vacancy created by the end of the NFL season, correctly assuming that there is a considerable portion of America that wants to spend their afternoons watching the best basketball in the world.

At Sheridan Hoops, we think those same people would like to read about the best basketball in the world before watching it. So starting today, we are restoring a forgotten staple – the Sunday NBA column. It’s not anything you haven’t read before; it’s just something you haven’t read in a while and probably would like to read again.

Going forward, this brief history lesson will be replaced by a relevant news item and followed by the format below, which used to appear at the bottom of my Thursday column that was getting a bit unwieldy.

Enjoy the Super Bowl.

TRIVIA: Name the four lottery picks from the same draft that currently play for the same team. Answer below.

THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT: In his blog for Slam Online, former NBA player Casey Jacobsen wrote that former teammate Darko Milicic – who has made more than $40 million playing basketball – doesn’t believe in banks. “It’s nearly impossible to explain the weirdness that is Darko,” Jacobsen wrote, “but he told me one time that he did not keep his money in any bank, nor did he invest in stocks or bonds. ‘I just keep it,’ he told me and then turned away. Looking back, I should have asked a follow-up question. I don’t know if I believe him, but he was making over $6 million that season. That’s a lot of cheddar to stash underneath a mattress!”

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, on the Indiana Pacers and their commitment to coach Frank Vogel’s desire to play “smashmouth basketball”:

“They take those pills and they’ve got all that toughness. I don’t know where that comes from. They all think they’re tough guys. I just don’t know where that comes from. That just blows my mind. They’re all tough. And it makes me laugh.”

LINE OF THE WEEK: Paul George, Indiana at Dallas, Feb. 3: 41 minutes, 11-19 FGs, 7-11 3-pointers, 1-1 FTs, nine rebounds, five assists, five steals, one block, 30 points in a 98-87 win. It was the second career high in less than a week for George, who is emerging as the leading candidate for Most Improved Player. On the floor with five former or current All-Stars, he was clearly the best player.

LINE OF THE WEAK: Rudy Gay, Memphis vs. San Antonio, Jan. 30: 35 minutes, 0-7 FGs, 1-2 FTs, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, three turnovers, one point in an 83-73 loss. Gay had as many technical fouls as points as he went without a basket for the first time since April 16, 2007, also against San Antonio.

TRILLION WATCH: The small forward position on the Lakers is officially a vacuum. On Jan. 11 at Utah, Devin Ebanks rang up a 9 trillion, the largest run of zeroes in any boxscore this season. Last weekend, Jason Kapono – one of the handful of players who has tried to fill the position – had a 7 trillion at Milwaukee on Friday and an 8 trillion the very next night in Minnesota. That has to be some sort of unofficial record for biggest consecutive trillions, and the three best impersonations of an invisible man this season have come from the same position on the same team.

GAME OF THE WEEK: LA Lakers at Boston, Feb. 9. Although both teams would be in the bottom half of the bracket if the playoffs started today, rumors of the deaths of these aging rivals have been greatly exaggerated. The Lakers have started to win on the road, while the Celtics appear to have gotten their second wind.

GAME OF THE WEAK: Detroit at New Jersey, Feb. 8. If this clash of the titans isn’t enough for you masochists, the teams meet again two days later in “The D.” Thrilling.

TWO MINUTES: Jeremy Lin may have saved Mike D’Antoni’s job with his out-of-nowhere 25 points and seven assists Saturday, but only temporarily. Lin may be the best point guard the Knicks have right now, but it doesn’t matter if he can throw a pocket pass through a defender’s legs on the pick-and-roll; he has to be able to put up at least some resistance to the Derrick Roses and Rajon Rondos of the NBA world at the other end. Playing defense is how he will stay on the court – and keep the offense from dying a slow death in Carmelo Anthony’s greedy hands. … Blake Griffin’s punk dunk on Kendrick Perkins quickly went viral on the hoop interwebs and caught the attention of the Denver Nuggets, who next faced Griffin and decided to meet an irresistible force with an immovable object. When Griffin tried to elevate for another of his poster slams on previous target Timofey Mozgov early in the third quarter, the Denver center dumped the Slam Dunk champion on his keister. “He had a lot of dunks on us in the first half,” Nuggets forward Al Harrington said. “Andre Miller said, ‘The next time he tries to dunk the ball, let’s try to put him on his behind.’ He almost still made it, but it was a hard foul and he missed. It was a definitely a statement for us, defensively, and it set a precedent for how we were going to play the rest of the game. Teams try to bully us because we play so fast, so it was good to be on the other end of it for once.” It was not a dirty play, and Griffin did not overreact. But he missed both free throws. “It rattled me a little bit,” admitted Griffin, who had just two points the rest of the way. “It was a good foul, a hard foul.” … Speaking of Perkins, in just one-third of the season, the Thunder center has collected nine technical fouls. Once he gets to 13, he gets a one-game suspension, and another ban for every two techs thereafter. Perkins already is $24,000 in the hole. At his current pace, he would accumulate 27 techs, which would cost him $111,000 in fines and $633,211 in salary for eight one-game suspensions. He might want to zip his lip. … Still trying to determine which performance was more unfathomable from Friday’s Wolves-Nets game – brute Nikola Pekovic’s 27 points and 11 rebounds or Anthony Morrow’s eight 3-pointers and 42 points. … This is how coaches lose their minds: On Wednesday, the Magic led the Wizards by nine points with 54 seconds to go. In seven seconds, Nick Young made a 3-pointer, Larry Hughes threw away a pass under his own basket and Trevor Booker put in a bunny to make it a four-point game with 47 seconds left. Orlando managed to hold on. … The Bobcats are lucky this is a 66-game season, because that means they cannot lose 74 games and break the all-time record. Corey Maggette, who figured to be their go-to guy, remains out with a hamstring injury and there is no timetable for his return. Gerald Henderson, who became the team’s top scorer in Maggette’s absence, is out at least two weeks with his own hamstring injury. D.J. Augustin has a toe injury, leaving the offense in the hands of rookie Kemba Walker. With a roster assembled primarily by owner Michael Jordan, they are 28th in scoring and 29th in defense with a margin of minus-14.0, nearly four points worse than any other team. They have lost 11 in a row and are three games into a six-game trip that started with a 33-point loss to the Lakers and a franchise-record 44-point beatdown in Portland. And Charlotte is lucky it wasn’t worse. “Personally, I wanted to keep going. I didn’t even want to come out of the game,” said Blazers forward Gerald Wallace, Charlotte’s first All-Star who was traded to Portland last season in a cost-cutting move. “It’s one of those things where, like I said last year around this time, I didn’t feel like I was traded, I felt like I was stabbed in the back.” … Greivis Vasquez had some moments for Memphis as a rookie in last year’s playoffs and now is showing similar flashes with New Orleans. In his last five games, Vasquez has averaged 14.2 points and 7.6 assists while shooting 53 percent from the field. On Wednesday, he became the first player in Hornets history to have a 20-10 game off the bench – in a loss, of course. … Anderson Varejao’s 20-20 game vs. Boston on Tuesday was the ninth in the NBA this season. Dwight Howard has five, or one more than everyone else combined. Kevin Love, Andrew Bynum and LaMarcus Aldridge each have one. … On Monday, Wolves coach Rick Adelman was back in Houston, where he coached the last four seasons before a disagreement with owner Leslie Alexander led to his departure. He was planning on taking the high road until reading a Houston Chronicle column that blamed him for the dissolution of the relationship. “I didn’t think anything of it, until I saw the stuff about how I never listened to anything,” Adelman said. “I’m not real smart, but I’m going to listen to my boss. That just kind of turned me the wrong way.” The Wolves pounced on the Rockets for a 120-108 victory, then beat them again Saturday to reach .500 for the first time since Kevin Garnett was traded. … When Warriors rookie Klay Thompson got to the line Saturday in Sacramento, they were his first free throws since Christmas.

Trivia Answer: Houston’s Hasheem Thabeet (No. 2), Jonny Flynn (No. 6), Jordan Hill (No. 8) and Terrence Williams (No. 12) all went in the 2009 draft. … Happy 27th Birthday, Maciej Lampe. … Lookalikes: Nikola Pecovic and General Zod’s henchman in Superman. … When Matt Barnes started yelling at John Kuester on Saturday night, it brought back fond memories of the coach’s days in Detroit.

Chris Bernucca is a regular contributor to His columns appear every Thursday and Sunday. You can follow him on Twitter.



  1. federico buffa says

    you do not know how true that is…especially for us living in Europe. I just told Mark Heisler in my last LA trip that his sunday column was a life companion.
    Thanks for keeping those sunday columns alive


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