Bernucca: Who Is On Your Team’s Mount Rushmore?

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rushmoreThis past week, NBA TV released excerpts of an extended interview with LeBron James (airing in its entirety Monday night) in which Steve Smith asked “The King” to name his Mount Rushmore of basketball.

James offered a quartet of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. But it’s really an unfair question, because in addition to those four players, there are at least three more – centers Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell – who are in the “best ever” conversation. And that group doesn’t include active players who eventually will join the conversation as well, like Kobe Bryant and James himself.

A better exercise might be establishing a Mount Rushmore for each team.

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Bernucca: Clippers Captain is Back, But the Ship Ran Just Fine Without CP3

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ChrisPaulSH1Chris Paul returned to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

We don’t want to be party-poopers, but it probably should be pointed out that the Clippers were better without him.

This does not mean that GM Gary Sacks should start exploring trade possibilities for a top-five player. And it doesn’t mean that coach Doc Rivers should go with the hot hand at point guard at the end of games.

But it does mean that if the Clippers want to win a championship this season – which is entirely within the realm of possibility – Paul has to reacclimate himself with his teammates more than they do to him.

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Bernucca: After slow start, the tank is rolling in Philly

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tankRemember back in October, when the handicappers in Vegas said the Philadelphia 76ers would win about 16 or 17 games?

And remember in November, when the 76ers started their season with three straight wins, beating the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls with Derrick Rose?

How are those 17 wins looking now?

Without the Hubble telescope, the Sixers can’t see them.

The small sample size of the season’s first week – three surprising wins, a rookie as Player of the Week – is a distant memory. All it did was momentarily delay Philadelphia’s inevitable descent to the bottom of the NBA standings.

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Bernucca: Despite split, Spurs may be in trouble

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duncanThe San Antonio Spurs might be in trouble.

On the surface, things appear to be OK. The Spurs have executed their defensive game plan, which is to turn LeBron James into a passer. They have prevented the Miami Heat from turning either game into an extended relay race. And most important, they secured a split of the first two games as the road team, which is practically mandatory in the 2-3-2 format of the NBA Finals.

Beneath the surface, however, the Spurs are one spectacular clutch shot from being in an 0-2 hole and facing the specter of a must-win Game 3. And unless they want to be facing a must-win Game 4, the Spurs have to find quick fixes for a number of issues.

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Bernucca: Small Market Dilemma is the NBA’s Big Lie

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220px-JoeMaloofByPhilKonstantinThis summer, when your favorite team’s owner or GM tells you a certain player is financially out of reach, here’s how you know he is lying.

His lips are moving.

NBA business is booming, folks. And not just for the so-called big markets. Take a quick look at the conference finals, which feature four teams from middle to small markets collecting millions for every home playoff game.

Take a look at the Sacramento Kings, who were just sold for a record $525 million even though they haven’t been in the playoffs in seven years and play in an outdated arena in a small market.

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