#DigSportsDesk - The Lede
B's Miscues Give NYR New Life
(Staff and wire service report)
NEW YORK, May 23, 2013 -- -- Chris Kreider's goal 7:03 into overtime gave the New York Rangers a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Brian Boyle also scored for New York. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 37 of 40 shots. Boston leads the best-of-seven series 3-1. Game 5 is a 5:30pm (ET) Saturday afternoon start at TD Garden in Boston.
Nathan Horton, Torey Krug and Tyler Seguin were the goal-scorers for Boston. Goalkeeper Tuukka Rask made 28 saves for the Bruins. Boston had leads of 1-0, 2-0 and 3-2. But New York led when it counted. Horton's power play goal put Boston up 1-0 4:39 into the second period. It was his fifth goal of the playoffs. King scored his third goal of the series 3:02 later. Seguin put Boston up 3-2 with his first goal of the playoffs at 8:06 of the third. Boyle drew New York even 1:54 later.
NOTES: Rangers center Brad Richards announced at Thursday's morning skate he was a healthy scratch for Game 4. "I'm just disappointed," Richards said. The New York center has been relegated to the fourth line since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals. He has averaged 10:47 of ice time in the series against the Bruins. Richards vowed to "work harder and try my best to never let this happen again." ... In his post-game press conference after G4, NY rangers coach John Tortorella defended his tough decision of benching Richards, stating that he "wanted to spend a feew minutes in respect of Richards." Tortorella then went on a 2-minute 100% under control low key "rant" on his tough coaching decision, as he was seeking to bring some "life" and fresh legs to the troubled 4th line of the NYR. ... This is the 10th time the Rangers and the Bruins have met in a Stanley Cup playoff series. The Bruins have a 6-3 series edge, but Boston has never swept New York in a best-of-seven. The Bruins beat the Rangers 2-0 in a two-game semifinal series in 1927 due to aggregate goal differential. Two years later, the Bruins swept the Rangers 2-0 in the Stanley Cup final.
Coach K is Back for the USA
(From Staff and Official Press Release)
The USA Basketball Men's National Team currently enjoys a 50-game winning streak that dates back to the semifinals of the 2006 World Championship and is back-to-back Olympic gold medalists along with the victory at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, Throughout that time, USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo and Hall of Fame basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke University have led every minute of the incredible journey. Today, that continued when Colangelo announced that Krzyzewski will return as head coach of the USA Basketball Men's National Team for the 2013-16 quadrennium.
Colangelo's announcement means that Krzyzewski will be back on the bench as head coach of the USA Basketball Men's National Team program and a journey that began in 2005. Over the course of this four-year span, USA Men's National Teams will conduct a team mini-camp in Las Vegas, Nev., July 22-25, 2013; compete in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup (formerly the FIBA World Championship) Aug. 30-Sept. 14 in Spain; if necessary, participate in the 2015 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD); and if the USA qualifies, compete in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games (Aug. 5-21) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"About four years ago I was asked about Coach K's return and what I said then is still true now - when you have a good thing going you don't mess with it," said Colangelo, who has served as the Managing Director of USA Basketball Men's National Team program since 2005 and seen those teams compile a 62-1 record. "I'm delighted to announce that Coach K has agreed to return as head coach of the USA Basketball Men's National Team for 2013-16, and I really can't be more pleased and excited. He was and still is the right man to coach the USA National Team.
"We've seen the value of continuity and Coach K's return gives our national team program another four years of continuity. Together we have been able to build on the program's successes of each year and again establish the United States as the world's number one basketball country. Repeating our performances from the previous four years, which included winning gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 London Olympics, will be quite a challenge, but it is one we look forward to undertaking."
"It is tough to give up something you've absolutely loved doing for seven years, the people you're doing it with, and most importantly, the country you're doing it for," said Krzyzewski. "As a result of my ongoing desire to coach, I've decided I'd like to continue as head coach of the Men's National Team especially since USA Basketball wanted me to do so. It just seems like the right thing to do.
"There is no greater honor than to coach your country's team and to be afforded the unique opportunity to be the National Team coach three times is incredible," Coach K continued. "I do not take that responsibility lightly. Working with the people at USA Basketball, particularly Jerry Colangelo, has been remarkable. All of those people are still in place and I would have been the only person who wouldn't have been back. So, we should go forward with that same team since we have done well and hopefully we will continue to do well."
I think Jerry had a vision for these next four years, that he wanted as much continuity as possible,"said Coach K. "That's his decision. Jerry and I discussed the situation and I discussed it with my wife, my family and the people at Duke. I'm honored to have this decision process and for Jerry to give me time and the effort to see what was for the best. Hopefully, this will turn out to be the best."
USA Basketball initiated its historic men's national team program in 2005 and capped the 2005-2008 quad competitions with a magnificent gold medal run at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Under Krzyzewski's coaching, the USA Basketball National Team program during the three-year period between 2006 and 2008 compiled a striking 36-1 overall win-loss record, and just as importantly reestablished the USA National Team and its members as positive ambassadors for the United States and the sport.
The USA squad culminated the 2005-08 quadrennium by finishing 8-0 to reclaim the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the USA's first gold in a major international competition since 2000. The USA National Team also won gold at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship with a 10-0 record to qualify the U.S. men for the 2008 Olympic Games. In the program's first year, the U.S. captured the bronze medal with an 8-1 record at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.
With Colangelo and Krzyzewski returning to lead the USA Basketball National Team for 2009-12, the national program compiled a perfect 26-0 win-loss record and won gold medals at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and 2012 London Olympics.
All together, since Colangelo and Krzyzewski teamed up in 2006, USA National Teams have compiled a spectacular 62-1 record over the seven years, and claimed top honors in four of five FIBA or FIBA Americas competitions.
Since first fielding in 1992 a team of legendary NBA stars, USA Basketball National Teams comprised of NBA players have claimed gold medals in 12 of 15 major international basketball competitions, while compiling an impressive 117-7 overall record (.944 winning percentage) in those competitions, and posting a record of 42-1 (.977 winning percentage) in exhibition games.
Earl "The Pearl" Monroe: Tells, "My Story"
By Terry Lyons (Special to Digital Sports Desk)
The rivalry was intense and it grew from yearly meetings in the NBA Playoffs when only eight teams qualified for postseason play. It made Chicago (Michel Jordan) vs. New York (Patrick Ewing), or New York (Spike Lee et al) vs. Indiana (Reggie Miller) look like a day at Saratoga Raceway.
In 1969, it was a 4-game sweep by New York over Baltimore. In 1970, the New Yorkers won a tough seven game series. In 1971, Baltimore reversed the decision and triumphed in the seventh game. In 1972, the Knickerbockers were back on top, 4-games-to-2 winners.
The match-ups were so good, many an NBA fan can recite them without the need to look up the rosters or the archived boxscores.
At center - two under-sized behemoths - Baltimore's Wes Unseld against New York's Willis Reed.
At power forward - the two best power forwards of the time - Baltimore's Gus Johnson against New York's Dave DeBusschere.
At small forward - two of the best scorers/shooters of the day, both relentless - Baltimore's Jack Marin against New York's Bill Bradley.
At the guard positions - in that era, there was no clear distinction of point guard or shooting guard, as most good backcourts had skilled ballhandlers and shooters, all the same. For Baltimore, the "one" slot had some interchangeable parts whether it was Kevin Loughery, Fred Carter or reserve Eddie Miles. Fred "Mad Dog" Carter stands out in my mind as the man who teamed-up with one of the greatest ballhandlers, shooters and scorers of all-time - and that was Earl "The Pearl" Monroe.
In New York, Dick Barnett, a jump-shooting marvel who double-kicked both legs when he popped off the dribble, played the shooting guard role alongside Walt "Clyde" Frazier, one of the best combo point-defensive-scoring guards in the history of the game. The Frazier vs. Monroe match-up was the key factor and one of the all-time best with Frazier's "best defensive player" status versus Monroe's "Earl the Pearl reverse spin" and "one-on-one" barrage of offense.
Monroe was reared in Philadelphia and schooled in Winston-Salem while Frazier's road to fame started in Atlanta, then traveled via Southern Illinois collegiate roots to New York City via a trip to the National Invitational Tournament when that postseason tilt mattered greatly. Monroe was "Black Magic and Black Jesus" while Frazier was the ultra cool, Clyde of "Bonnie and Clyde" silver screen fame.
Somehow, in 1973, they became teammates.
The backbone of the NY Knicks and one of the best two-way guards in history in Frazier, was now attached to his arch rival, the master of the spin and fall-away, the artist of NBA one-on-one, in Earl :The Pearl" Monroe. And, it was mainly Monroe who needed to adapt his game to the "hit the open man philosophy" instilled in all of the Knicks by Coach Red Holzman. To do so, he first met with the legendary Knicks coach in a meeting to formally sign his contract, a two year deal worth $300,000 which, at the time, seemed like livin' large. The figure was a surprise to Monroe, even as he stepped to the table to sign a contract that had been negotiated by the late Larry Fleischer, the first executive director of the NBA Players Association.
"I told Red that I didn't want to start," said Monroe to his biographer, Quincy Troupe. "Instead, I wanted to earn my way into the lineup. Besides, Dick Barnett was the starter and was a very good player, even at this part of his career," noted Monroe. "Coach told me that was okay with him, that he just wanted me to feel comfortable."
Monroe then spoke with the Knicks about what uniform number to wear, being that his Baltimore Bullets #10 was already designated for all-time New York greatness on Frazier's back. Monroe settled for #15, which would later go the rafters of Madison Square Garden in both "The Pearl's" and Dickie McGuire's honor. Then, the interesting side plot was explained by Monroe to Holzman.
"I think I need an operation to fix bone spurs because they've been hurting real bad. They're on the top of my left foot, so when I run or jump, the spurs hit each other and it's very painful."
Damaged goods? Not with Holzman's workmanlike manner as head coach.
"Red said," retold Monroe, "we just made this trade for you because we need you and want you with us. Willis (Reed) is out and we need to have you on the floor. Plus, we don;t want to have any letdown at the guard position. That's why we brought you in. So, you might have to just play through the pain this season," concluded Holzman.
"Well coach," said Monroe, "I'm cool with that."
Monroe and his new coach then went down to the official press conference to announce the trade (Dave Stallworth, Mike Riordan and $450,000 went from New York to Baltimore - the team who would soon become the "Capitol" Bullets, then the Washington Bullets and now are the Washington Wizards. The second question of the press conference was the one you would expect, namely "Can you play with Walt Frazier?"
"I can play with anybody," said Monroe, "but especially someone as good as Clyde."
Then, "how many balls will the Knicks need to keep you two satisfied?"
"One," smiled Earl, "I don't think they play the game with two."
"Who is going to start?"
"The same five players that have been starting (Frazier, Barnett, Reed, DeBusschere and Bradley). I'll be coming off the bench."
With that, Monroe joined the New York Knickerbockers, setting the tone for a complementary role to Frazier and establishing himself with both his new coach and the tough-minded New York media contingent that he was ready to play team basketball and accept the role as a reserve, albeit one of the greatest guards in history.
Monroe's biography, "Earl the Pearl - My Story," plays the rest out, although it often grinds to a halt with tedious play-by-play or game-by-game description and a tone of court-reported transcripts, rather than prose coming from Troupe, an award-winning biographer of Myles David, among others. To that end, Troupe cracked Monroe with a back-court foul and hurt the effort for The Pearl to unearth many a story that would be best read in the context of the bio, not in one man's look into the life and times of one of the most compelling hardcourt entertainers who brought a generation of spinning, palming, travelling guards into the forefront of pro basketball for all-time to come.
Boston 2013: Another End of Innocence
By TERRY LYONS (Editor-in-Chief, Digital Sports Desk)
BOSTON, April 16, 2013 -- I am sick of giving my thoughts and prayers. I am sick of standing for a moment of silence. I am sick of it all. Whether it was the catastrophic events of September 11, 2011 or the lone-wolf criminal acts of Oklahoma City in April of 1995 or bombing of Centennial Park in Atlanta at the 1996 Olympics, or so many, many others, I'm just sick and tired of it all.
When I feel like this, my writing always comes up empty, because I just can't reach for my feelings. It hurts too much.
It hurt too much this past December 14th, as a senseless act took the lives of 20 young children and six brave adults at the Sandy Hook elementary school in nearby Newtown, Connecticut, a town I literally drove through that very morning when returning from my native New York to my new hometown of Boston. That crime hurt so much because of the little children robbed of their lives and taken from this earth in the years of their absolute innocence.
Now, here in Boston, we mourn again. We were enjoying a wonderful holiday in the Commonwealth and we were all celebrating in a day where the Boston Marathon weaves its way from Hopkinton through Wellesley and up the hills of Newton right on through Brookline and into Boston. The day was aptly described by weathermen everywhere as "perfect."
The elites ran off at 9am for the women, leading some 11,000 fellow females on to one of the most challenging marathon courses a runner will ever see. The elite men ran off at 10:00am and they chased the women and the physically challenged runners all the way toward Copley Square, some 26.2 miles away on a glorious spring day when the very best of Boston was on display under a clear blue sky.
Out in Lexington and Concord, tributes were paid to the men and women who fought for the American Revolution. They are the Patriots we hold forth and celebrate each year on Patriots' Day in Massachusetts and even though I'm only a newfound Bostonian, Patriots' Day is in my blood. I wake and I feel it every year. It is part of the fabric of the Boston community and we feel it.
And talk about fabric, like non-other, the Boston Red Sox are this community and the Red Sox toss the ball out at 11:00am on Patriots' Day every year and it is the toughest ticket in town, especially on a glorious spring day when the temperature pushes 55-degrees fahrenheit and the Sox are off to a great start. To be at Fenway on Patriots' Day is as good as it gets, unless you have a front row seat for the Boston Marathon.
And guess what?
We ALL have that!
Whether you make your way out to Hopkinton, as I like to do, or you take your lawn chairs up the block to Commonwealth, as I have done many a time, or you head downtown to take in the sights along Mass Ave or in Brookline, it just doesn't get any better than cheering on the runners. Runners like 66-year old Amby Burfoot who I had the pleasure of working with all this past week as he prepped for the 45th anniversary run of his 1968 Boston Marathon victory. Amby - nobody calls him Burfoot or Mr. Burfoot - was quite the story this year and he made the rounds on all the radio and TV circuits, he spent time with the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe and he was a gracious guest on all of the shows, inviting the average guy, the average runner to join him and his family as they ran the race with two things in mind - to have fun and to finish healthy.
Amby was stopped short of that goal on Mass Avenue in Boston because there was a terrible disturbance in the force, the force that guides all runners and marathoners. The force of sportsmanship, competitiveness and the force of reaching deep into the human spirit was ransacked by a cowardly criminal act. As some of the thousands of runners were crossing the finish line at Copley, two bombs detonated and the world changed again, sadly to the extreme far opposite side of righteousness and into the depths of hell where the cowards will exist in the afterworld.
The terror was extreme and the death toll rose from two to three souls overnight, and the police and authorities worked every waking hour to try their very best to restore order and to track down the criminals responsible for this act, but overnight the worst of the worst of the worst news surfaced.
The face of this criminal act is that of an innocent eight-year old boy and his family.
At this early point in the criminal investigation, we do not know why. We lash out against why, we try to figure out why, but we just don't know why.
Runners and fans, athletes and their families are as far away from political figures as you can get. They compete and they entertain us. They are sportsmen and, ever increasingly, sports women. They are global citizens, especially at a world class marathon where people from all over the world come to celebrate their sport and test their endurance in a race where they must qualify to do so. Boston is history, it's the Wimbledon of running. It is classy and it is beautiful, even on a 96-degree day like last year or a 32-degree day like so many before.
Hundreds of innocent people stood in Copley Square, many smiling and celebrating as their loved ones crossed the finish line. Then, like New York in 1993 and 2001, like Atlanta in 1996, like countless other cities and towns - in the USA and worldwide - we experienced the cowardice of crime and terrorism inserted, once again, into our daily lives.
That is the question my little girl looked up and asked of me yesterday afternoon when she didn't know an 8-year old was murdered. Now, with the (even more) terrible news of an 8-year olds fate, that is the question every parent is being asked again today, many by a youngster who will relate to the late Martin Richard.
None of us have an answer and unfortunately, there's a good chance we never will.
There's Larry, Magic and Michael, and MARTY!
In a league defined by one name recognition, the name Marty stood out with the best of them
By TERRY LYONS (Editor-in-Chief)
Today with all the craziness going on in the world of sports - from Louisville's NCAA Championship, to the Boston Red Sox dramatic and impressive victory in their 2013 home opener to the falling out from the firing of Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice to the preparations for The Masters and the Boston Marathon - I thought about Marty Blake.
This morning, I was reaching into my memory for the first time I met Marty.
It was in the days leading up to the 1981 NBA Draft, held on the ballroom floor of the Grand Hyatt in New York. I was with one of my treasured mentors from the NBA league office, Matt Winick, the guy who gave me a chance and who encouraged me everyday of the week for the next 26 years.
I can't remember the exact date or moment because they blend together over the years for those of us lucky enough to have wored closely with Marty. Let's just say, good ole Marty tossed out the one-liner of choice to anyone within earshot, many times his worlds were a little on the rough side of Political Correctness (which nobody thought twice about in 1980-81). My guess is Marty's quip might've been something about his favorite international first-round draft choice, Manual Labor.
That was Marty, and I couldn't believe I was in the same room with him as he rattled off information to NBA GMs the country over. In the midst of taking about 20 calls in less than 30 minutes as GMs prepped for a 10-round NBA Draft, televised by USA Network, poor Marty had to deal with the new college intern kid who was charged with booking a series of radio interviews to publicize the NBA Draft and my page of requests was lengthy.
I had NO IDEA what I was doing, other than calling into the stations, getting the private and confidential studio direct lines so we could have Marty dial in directly, many times doing two or three shows in the same hour.
Keep in mind, this was WAY before mobile phones, way before Sports Radio, and way before frickin' COMPUTERS! I typed the list for him on an old IBM Selectric complete with the one back-up correction tape. That was a big improvement over the first typewriter the NBA provided (no ribbons) and the second typewriter... my personal electric model that my Mom and Dad had purchased for me to do term papers in college.
But, there was Marty, banging out the interviews, no big deal... one at a time, using the same one-liners time and time again and he did it everywhere from Providence to Corvallis. My jaw dropped in amazement.
Later on, we went out to get a quick bite and Marty kept being Marty to the hotel bellman, to the waitresses, to the players to the guys on the street. So, the hell with "Being John Malkovich," I want to see an actor "Being Marty Blake."
I enjoyed countless numbers and HOURS of Marty stories, from the tennis world (his wife is a USTA chair umpire/official) to the European Final Four where he held forth with small handfuls of scouts that dared to venture off the American island, err, continent. I heard more and more about Manual Labor, yes, but Marty also told (and taught) me about Dino Meneghin and a few other dozen legends of international basketball he had his eyes on for years and years.
The phone rings in the Grand Hyatt suite the NBA had reserved. Marty picks it right up.
"Six-nine, Two twenty five or so." The kids from Wisconsin, played a little at Miinnesota but is now at South Dakota State. He can bang a little. Best part of his game is that he had five fouls in college but now he has six fouls. Late second. Good bye."
My jaw dropped again.
Marty passed away last night. It made us all so damn sad, because he was a guy you respected, yes. But, damn, I just LOVED the guy. Honestly LOVED him because he was one of a kind, a character in a world where we need a few more "characters."
I think Steve Lingenfelter owes him a debt of gratitude, by the way, as he was selected by Bob Ferry of the Washington Bullets with the third to last pick of the second round of the 1981 NBA Draft.