Tag:Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Posted on: September 30, 2011 11:54 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 12:03 pm

Report: Miami Heat C Zydrunas Ilgauskas to retire

Posted by Ben Golliverzydrunas-ilgauskas-retire

If Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James ever wins a title, a long-time teammate reportedly won't be along for the ride.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that Lithuanian center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who followed James from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Heat in 2010, has decided to retire.

Ilgauskas, 36, played 13 seasons in the NBA, the first 12 with Cleveland, and was twice selected as an All-Star. A 7-foot-3 giant known as "Big Z," Ilgauskas averaged 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds for his career.

"Enough is enough," Ilgauskas told the paper. "My body is beat up and I'm tired physically. There is no age limit, but everyone knows when it's time. I want to spend more time with my family. I have spent the last 15 years living out of a suitcase.""

A fan favorite in Cleveland, Ilgauskas, unlike James, was cheered when the Heat made their return to Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena last season. He appeared in 72 games in 2010-2011 despite dealing with an infection that reportedly caused his foot to double in size.

Ilgauskas picked up the $1.4 million player option on his contract in June and was entering the final year of his deal. He will forego that money by retiring. His departure would leave Miami even more thin in the middle. The only other centers expected to be on the Heat roster at the moment are Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman.
Posted on: June 26, 2011 3:53 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2011 3:56 pm

Reports: Miami Heat to work out Eddy Curry again

The Miami Heat will reportedly work out free agent center Eddy Curry. Posted by Ben Golliver. eddy-curry

Back in April, much to everyone's surprise, the Miami Heat reportedly considered signing free agent Eddy Curry.

The massive center -- who reportedly weighs well above 300 pounds and has dealt with financial problems off the court -- has played in just 10 games combined since the 2007-2008 season. He's a giant red flag in every sense of the word.

Nevertheless, on Sunday, HoopsWorld.com reported and the Sun-Sentinel confirmed that the Heat will give Curry another look in a workout this week.
A source familiar with the situation confirmed Sunday to the Sun Sentinel that veteran center Eddy Curry has been working with the Miami Heat in recent days, as the Heat look at free-agent options.

By league rules, teams cannot currently work out free agents who finished the season on an NBA roster. Workouts of those types of free agents cannot begin until July 1, when a lockout is expected to be imposed, shutting down all league activity. 
Given the expected turnover on their roster, the Heat, despite coming within two wins of the 2011 NBA title, are beggars when it comes to the center position and can't be choosers. They must explore all options -- including Curry -- as they look to address a frontline that was filled with aging vets last season.

Aside from Joel Anthony, who was solid once he took on the starting role in the postseason, the Heat have 36-year-old Zydrunas Ilgauskas and rookie Dexter Pittman on the roster for next season. Ilgauskas recently exercised his option to return next season but is closing in on retirement quickly. Pittman played just 11 minutes for Miami this season, although his role is sure to increase, at least to some degree, next season.  

Complicating matters is the uncertain nature of the NBA's labor situation. If Miami knew for sure that there will be a mid-level exception in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, they could be reasonably certain of acquiring a solid center in free agency. Those details are up in the air, though, and with so much money committed to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat are left to explore every possible veteran's minimum option in the even the league does move towards more of a hard cap system.

That's where Curry comes in. A cast-off and laughingstock for years now, it would be nice to see him add another chapter to his NBA career. More importantly, he would be a great new character in the South Beach sitcom/soap opera.
Posted on: June 14, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2011 3:20 pm

Heat partied with Mavericks after Game 6?

Posted by Matt Moore

See, when people question their will to win? This is what they're talking about.

Reports surfaced Monday on 790 The Ticket in Miami that some Heat players joined the Mavericks on Sunday night while the new NBA champs partied on South Beach (photos!) after their Game 6 win. One trusted member of Mavs media confirmed that Erick Dampier was one of the Miami members in attendance, along with unnamed others. 

Just so we're clear on this. The Mavs trash-talked you all series long, dashed your title hopes, put even more criticism on your squad, celebrated on your floor and then in your city, and you go party with them? Nice chemistry guys. A few assorted thoughts:

  • The Big Three reportedly were not part of the celebration, but would it surprise you in the slightest if they were? Would that shock you in any way? If LeBron James had gone down there to party with JET, it would have been just more delight for the millions of people that took abject glee in the fall of the Heat and James in particular. It's a good thing they didn't head down there as far as we knew.
  • On the flip side of this, I tried explaining to people how much of this entire process is theatrics. Do the Mavs and Heat organizations like each other? No. Do Dirk and Wade get along? Probably not. But it's not personal, and all of these players consider themselves part of a brotherhood of players. Once the buzzer sounds, most of them are friends with one another. We like to think of these as blood rivalries like the one that existed with the Celtics and Lakers of the 80's but things aren't like that. Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant are buds, though they try and keep that one quiet for PR purposes. That said, KG would never celebrate with the team that defeated him.
  • How does one make that decision? "Well, I just lost the NBA Finals. What can I do? I guess I'll go out, since I live in Miami. Hmm. Maybe I should go drink and dance with the guys that just made me look like a group of slugs offensively and shut us down on our own floor. That sounds fun! Surely no one will see me!"
  • There likely won't be repercussions from this for Maimi, but there should be. Players that partake in that kind of behavior shouldn't be allowed to return to the team. Dampier is old enough to where he probably doesn't care, and after so many years in Dallas, you can understand him wanting to see his guys celebrate. But at the same time, one of the Heat's biggest issues this year was chemistry, and having guys who aren't fully committed to the organization is part of that. 
  • It's an insult to Chris Bosh, who was emotionally wrecked after the loss. Say what you want about Bosh, he played his face off in the postseason and wanted to win badly. He cared. 

(HT: BDL via PBT)
Posted on: June 13, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 8:13 pm

Rick Carlisle and strategic believing

Posted by Matt Moore

MIAMI -- The word "believe" is one that pretty much passes through me these days. I mean, it couldn't get more cliche, could it? It's said so often in sports, it has the same impact as "points" or "effort." It's nothing more than an overused phrase that players and coaches use to deflect the conversation into the most bland terms. It doesn't actually mean anything. 


All series long, all  playoffs long, all season long,  Carlisle has preached the word "believe." When asked about their resiliency in coming back from fourth-quarter deficits time and time again, Carlisle would talk about how the team believed. When facing a 2-1 deficit going into Game 4 against the Heat, Carlisle said they needed to believe in themselves. And each time I rolled my eyes. They don't actually think this. It's about strategic adjustments, and about focus.


But then there's Shawn Marion, screaming his face off in a tiny visitor's locker room that reeks of sweat and stale champagne, running his mouth constantly but pausing to talk about Carlisle.

"Coach just told us to keep believing in ourselves," Marion said, "and that's what we did. We believed in this team." 

Then there's Ian Mahinmi, basking in the glow of finally contributing in a meaningful way on his way to a championship, just two years after he left the NBA D-League. I asked him what it was that gave Carlisle the ability to get all these role players, to get every single player to be ready to go full bore and make the right plays at a moment's notice. 

"He just kept telling us to believe in ourselves. Going into a game like this, there's so much pressure, you don't want to be the one to make a mistake, and he just kept telling me how much he believed in what I could do."

The tenth guy on the roster, and he's ready to go because Carlisle had him believing it. Carlisle was asked by a bombastic reporter to talk himself up after Game 4 and simply laughed the question off. He refused to take any credit, even after it was his strategic decisions that helped the Mavericks shut down the best talent in the league, even after it was his motivational work that got a team of players who are quite honestly old to be the first to the ball every time. Carlisle still wouldn't take his bow. 

Carlisle in his post-game comments credited "the collective toughness" of his team, Dirk Nowitkzi, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Ian Mahinmi, Brian Cardinal, ownership, everyone but himself.  The man had just finished off one of the best postseasons of any coach since the turn of the century, and done it with an aging roster and using players like a 5-10 (if that) former D-League player and a throwaway from the Caron Butler trade (oh, yeah, and Butler was injured). And he still wouldn't take credit. 

Don't be mistaken, Carlisle's tactical adjustments were the key to this series. Starting J.J. Barea and providing that initial burst of speed allowing Stevenson to guard James late as a backup to Marion and putting together a pick and roll defense strategy against one of the best combinations of talent this league has ever seen, those are the strategic elements that brought the Mavs the title. They were always going to get an amazing performance from Dirk Nowitzki

There was a possession in the second quarter of Game 6. After Tyson Chandler beat his man once again to the offensive rebound and the possession reset, Jason Kidd went around a wing pick, and when the double came, immediately slung the ball to J.J. Barea. For the Heat, or most teams, really, this is either a contested three from Barea, a dribble probe, or some other individual effort with the clock winding down. Barea instantly slung a sidearm pass to a cutting Shawn Marion who went right to the basket, his defender back screened by Chandler. It was cohesive, it was flawless, it was the type of play you need veterans for. But more importantly, that play requires a coach to drill consistency and an understanding of teammates in. There was no improvisation, it was a practiced set that worked to perfection, performed by players that understand the sacrifice and devotion to the team concept that can lead to real success.

After the play, Carlisle merely nodded his head, acknowledging the good work, then turned his attention to the defensive end.

After so many years of good work in Indiana and Detroit, it finally came home for Carlisle Sunday night. He adds his second ring, his first as a coach, and even in the presser, he didn't bask in the warm glow of his greatness like so many coaches at the top of the Western Conference outside of Texas would. He just credited his players and sat back amazed at what this incredible group of players had accomplished, in his mind, for him. Hopefully somewhere he knows just how much of a hand he had in it. There's talk today of the Mavericks' future with aging players and what tomorrow brings. But with Carlisle at the helm, the Mavericks will always know what they're getting, what they got this year that rewarded them with a championship: a winning coach that understands the way the game should be played.  

And a guy who made believers out of everyone.
Posted on: June 13, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 2:45 pm

Governor Kasich: Mavericks are 'Honorary Ohioans'

John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, declared the Dallas Mavericks "Honorary Ohioans" after their 2011 NBA title. Posted by Ben Golliver. john-kasich

Revenge for "The Decision" now bears an executive seal.

John Kasich, Governor of the state of Ohio, took the unusual step of honoring a team with no geographical ties to his jurisdiction. On Monday, one day after the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals, Kasich's office released a press release noting that the governor had issued a resolution that declared that the Mavericks, their friends, family and fans are now officially "Honorary Ohioans."

Why would he do this? Retribution, of course.

The Heat were led by Ohio native former Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, who opted to take his talents to South Beach last summer rather than return to play for the Cavaliers. In return, fans in Ohio booed him mercilessly during his two return visits to Cleveland and openly rooted for the Heat to get bounced from the playoffs.

The resolution specifically praises Dallas' "loyalty, integrity and teamwork" and specifically praises Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki for choosing to re-sign with the Mavericks last summer. Kasich's resolution bears the official seal of Ohio, bestows upon the Mavericks "all privileges and honors" that goes with the title "Honorary Ohioans" and is signed at the bottom.

You know who definitely finds this hilarious and awesome? Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who issued his own decree on Sunday night. 

Below is a small version of the official resolution. Click here to read the whole thing.

Hat tip: IAmAGM.com.

Posted on: June 13, 2011 1:37 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:44 pm

DeShawn's shirt: 'LeBron, How's my Dirk taste?'

DeShawn Stevenson wears a shirt that says, "Hey LeBron! How's my dirk taste?" Posted by Ben Golliver. stevenson-shirt-small

After poking and prodding Miami Heat forward LeBron James throughout the 2011 NBA Finals, Dallas Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson got in one final shot following Dallas' NBA title. 

The Mavericks closed out the series on Sunday night with a 105-95 win in Game 6 before taking to South Beach club LIV to celebrate with the Larry O'Brien trophy.  

On Monday, the Mavericks flew home to Dallas, where Stevenson was spotted wearing a Mavericks blue and white t-shirt with lettering that read: "Hey LeBron! How's my Dirk taste?"

That slogan is an obvious reference to a Shaquille O'Neal freestyle rap. O'Neal used the line, "Hey Kobe, tell me how my a** taste" to mock his former teammate with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant.

To add a play on teammate Dirk Nowitzki's name here is incredibly inspired work from Stevenson, who may well have created a legacy for himself as "The Guy Who Got Into LeBron's Head Completely" in these 2011 NBA Finals.

The most underrated part of this shirt is that it bears the sponsorship of HDNet, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's television station. It's almost like Cuban is personally endorsing the joke.

Picture via BallinWithBryan on YFrog.
Posted on: June 13, 2011 12:36 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 12:42 pm

Miami Herald runs ad congratulating the Heat

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- Nothing like a little "Dewey defeats Truman!" situation to wrap up this NBA season.

The Miami Herald screwed the pooch on an ad in Monday's edition of the paper. Here, let the Miami New Times explain:
As if reading the Sports section didn't suck enough for Heat fans this morning, Miami Herald readers opened their paper to find a nearly full-page ad reading "Congratulations Miami!" next to photos of Heat championship T-shirts and hats from Macy's. ("Raise Another Banner" -- ughhhhh.)

Maybe Mark Cuban took this out as a extra special Monday morning foot-to-the-balls for Heat fans? He's devious. We won't put it past him.

Just for extra effect, the ad runs directly under a banner headline about how badly the Heat's point guard's sucked and an all-caps header proclaiming: DALLAS WINS BEST OF 7 SERIES 4-2.

Thanks, Miami Herald. You are the fourth-quarter LeBron James of local sports coverage.
What's really odd to me about that is the Heat weren't even the ones that had a chance to win the title last night. It was just Game 6 and they still had to win two more. That's a pretty incredible whoopsy right there.

But man does it ever fit the story of this season's Heat. Celebrating before a title was actually won. Even the DJ last night was yelling in the arena before the game, "Let's get ready to celebrate tonight!" I guess forcing a Game 7 would've been great because it's better than the alternative, but the Heat weren't set up to raise a banner Sunday night.

Also: Nice dig there at the end, Miami New Times.
Posted on: June 13, 2011 3:36 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:55 pm

NBA Finals: Mavericks legacies redefined

Posted by Matt Moore

MIAMI -- The season is over. NBA life (as we know it) is over (shudder). And the NBA Finals have come to a close. The Dallas Mavericks are NBA Champions.

As we sift through the aftermath of the 2011 NBA Finals and one of the best seasons, maybe the best season in NBA history, it's time to examine how the Mavericks' championship shifts the narrative of the careers of their players and staff. There will be time enough to tear the Miami Heat into tiny heart shaped pieces, stomp on them, set them on fire, and then bury the ashes. And it's coming. (Tomorrow, actually, from CBSSports.com's own Gregg Doyel!)

But for now, let's turn our attention to the Dallas Mavericks, and look at how their legacies shifted on Sunday in Miami.

Dirk Nowitzki: He goes from "the Best Seven-Foot Euro Pure-Shooting Power Forward" or "Greatest Scoring Power Forward to Never Win a Ring" to "Elite Championship Power Forward With Toughness, Resliency, and a Jumper You'll Never Forget." Nowitzki had a terrible night, until he didn't, stepping up and delivering "when it mattered." The talk of Nowitzki's lack of mental resolve, of being soft, of not being a player that could play defense or lead a team to a title? All washed away, forever. Nowitzki redefined his entire career arc, reshaping it from lovable loser and guy you feel for into NBA champion and one of the truly greatest players of our time. Of the players in their prime in the post-Shaq-Lakers era, he joins Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Dwyane Wade as guys who led their teams to a title as "The Guy." His resiliency and effort make up the new benchmark for NBA greatness.  

Bryant had the fadeaway, Duncan had the off-glass leaner. Wade the shifting layups. Nowitzki will be remembered for that elbow jumper, and more importantly, for doing what Shawn Marion told Dirk to do in these playoffs. "Take your ass to the rack," Marion told reporters this week he'd said to Dirk in the Portland series. Dallas never looked back. For one of the consumate teammates and most tireless workers in the NBA, there could not be a better ending, a better shift in the career narrative. 

"You start to see [opponents and teammates] watch Dirk on a day-in and day-out basis, how hard he works, how hard he practices," Cuban said with his hand on the trophy Nowitkzi had won him. "Then watching him in a game, guys would start shaking their heads, because you don't really truly appreciate who he is and what he does and how truly hard he works until you see him on a daily basis."  

Nowitzki could have gone star-chasing in the summer of 2010. He re-signed almost immediately with Dallas. And now he's not the same old Dirk.

He's Mr. Champion, Dirk Nowitzki to you.

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Jason Kidd:  For Kidd, this must in part be bittersweet. He came so close in his prime, always outmatched by teams with superior talent. In the back of his mind, he had to have the same concern about this series, especially after Game 1. But he's done it. He's reached the summit. He's home free. He was a Hall of Famer to begin with, but a title clinches it. While he'll be remembered for those years with Phoenix and New Jersey, he gets to cement his legacy in Dallas -- where it all started. Instead of basking in the moment, though, all Kidd could do was focus on deferring credit to the rest of his team. 

"Man, it's a dream come true," Kidd said Sunday, a satisfied smile on his face. "My teammates, their character and their will to come every day and work to get better they deserve all the credit. And I'm so just happy to be at the right place at the right time."

Kidd has always been what his teams needed him to be. Distributor, leader, playmaker, MVP, and now role player and, dare we say it, spot-up shooter. Kidd's improved 3-point shooting, adding it to his game late in his career, only serves as further testament to his adaptability. Kidd hit huge shots in the playoffs, and in the Finals -- in Game 6. He defended LeBron James. He served as a locker room leader. He provided the foundation of what the team wanted to do. 

He got the ring, the icing on the cake of his career. For him it must be like getting home after a long journey.

"To finally finish across the line of the marathon in first place is huge," Kidd said before limping his way to the party. 

Jason Terry: Smack-talking, contested-jumper-taking, enormous-stones partner-in-crime to Dirk Nowitzki to championship supporting player and one of the gutsiest players in the NBA Finals. The man they call Jet goes from just another sidekick for a contending team to a legend in Dallas and in Finals history. Terry's emergence as the series wore on was a huge turning point for the Mavs. As much as they pointed to defense in this series, it was their offense waking up that changed the terrain of the series. Terry started bombing from deep, which opened up his mid-range game. That gave him chances at the rim, in turn making him confident and leading to him being unstoppable. In Game 6 he took over for a struggling Dirk Nowitzki, blistering the notoriously stiff Miami defense with a series of pull-up-jumpers in transition which rendered the Heat's strategy moot. What do you do when a guy is knocking down shots like Terry did in this series? 

You watch him win a title and then pretend to fly around the room. That's what you do.

Tyson Chandler: So, he doesn't really seem like the injury-plagued former-Bull bust he was a few years ago. And we can probably put down that narrative about how he was only good because Chris Paul made him good, too. Oh, and that bit about him being nothing more than a guy with size and no savvy? Yeah, that's out as well.

Tyson Chandler won't be remembered like Dirk, Terry, or even Kidd will. But it was Chandler that changed the Mavericks' defensive attitude, their identity, and put them in a position to win this title. His brilliant work against the Heat's pick and roll while managing to divert cutters from the lane and avoid foul trouble should be the stuff that's taught in basketball academies. It was Chandler who brought the attitude of true toughness, not fake posturing but real, "I will give and take the hard foul, make the hard play, dunk the difficult pass to catch, stop the difficult player to defend." The Mavericks needed that guy for so long, and Chandler's arrival means that he takes his place in the lore of Finals Big Men as "The Man Who Snuffed the Heat."

Shawn Marion: Oh, Matrix. One of the truly funniest storylines of these Finals for the media was Marion's constant bristling at those who said that he redefined himself. Shawn Marion always has been an elite defender, in his estimation. Shawn Marion has always been a championship caliber offensive player, in his estimation. Whether these things are true (and they certainly are to some extent) is irrelevant. Marion said the same thing over and over again in a champagne-soaked locker room.

"Nobody can take this away from me. They can all kiss my ass."

Yup. That's the Matrix. Championship supporting player, offensive savior, defensive stalwart. 

J.J. Barea: Hey, guess who gets to be an NBA trivia question for the next twenty years? Answer: The same guy who is now a national hero to Puerto Rico. Jub Jub did well for himself and gets the distinguished honor of being "that little guy that beat LeBron James off the dribble."

Carlisle: Carlisle walks away as one of the modern era NBA's best coaches. So highly considered by his peers and yet never discussed as one of the best by media or fans, Carlisle changed all that with one of the best coaching runs in NBA history. Carlisle naturally deflected all the praise, crediting his players and the organization. But in the course of a single playoff run, Carlisle helped the Mavericks shed a reputation as choke artists by firmly kicking in the Blazers' teeth, then downed the defending champions in a sweep, crushed the dreams of they idyllic Thunder by devolving them into pure chaos, and then toppled the mighty Heat for the title. This Mavericks team will be remembered for their comebacks, which are a product of its resolve, which is a reflection of its coach. 

More on Carlisle tomorrow, but just know that this title will shift the way we look at Carlisle going forward. He's no longer underrated. He's simply rated. 

He's a winning coach, in every sense now.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com