Forrest City High’s Timothy Pendleton adjusting nicely to major prep basketball

Pen3FORREST CITY, Arkansas — Timothy Pendleton was asked recently how often does he works out and spends time upgrading his mechanics and fundamentals.

“I work out every day after school and on weekdays,” the Forrest City (Ark.) High freshman athlete said.

Aside from his immense workout and conditioning sessions, it doesn’t take much to get Pendleton to talk about his love for basketball, alone his lofty ambitions for why he plays.

Said Pendleton when asked about to reveal his strengths: “I can get to the basket with ease and finish the shot.”

Said Pendleton when asked to assess his weaknesses: “My biggest weakness is thinking too much when I get the ball.”

Said Pendleton when asked how he will spend his offseason: “I will be in the gym as much as possible working on my skills and playing against tough competition.”

By and large, squaring off against stiff competition is nothing new to the 6-foot, 15-year-old Pendleton who, to his credit, wasted little time making his presence felt.

In quickly finding his niche for the Mustangs, Pendleton provided masterful contributions, particularly from an offensive standpoint.

QUICK LEARNER --- In quickly finding his niche for a Forrest City (Ark.) High squad that finished 136th nationally by Maxpreps.com and is expected to vie for a state crown next season, Timothy Pendleton provided masterful contributions, particularly from an offensive standpoint. He averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds per game for Forrest City coach Dwight Lofton’s team, and spent a major of his freshman campaign having played multiple positions.

FAST LEARNERIn quickly finding his niche, Timothy Pendleton provided masterful contributions, particularly from an offensive standpoint.
He averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds per game for Forrest City coach Chris Williams’ team, and spent a major of his freshman campaign having played multiple positions.

He averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds per game for Forrest City coach Chris Williams’ ninth-grade team, and spent a major of his freshman campaign having played multiple positions.

Truth be told, for a newcomer who appeared destined to make a favorable impression on his coaches and teammates, Pendleton would be the first tell you that his primary focus was to get in where he fit it.

SIBLING LOVE --- Timothy is extremely close to is sister, Tamia Pendleton, who's a student at the University of Arkansas at Conway.

SIBLING LOVETimothy is extremely close to is sister, Tamia Pendleton, who’s a student at the University of Arkansas at Conway.

Fortunately for him, he managed to fit in superbly while preparing to play varsity ball nextseason.

“Timothy has been playing ball ever since he could walk,” said Teisha Lee, Pendleton’s mother. “His grandfather was a ball player and city league coach; his uncles and aunt were also ball players. He couldn’t get away from it. I am a proud mama. I look at basketball as a mean to help further his education so he can get his degree and be a productive, young, black man.”

Interesting enough, attending her son’s game is adventure, of sorts, for Lee.

MOM KNOWS BEST --- “Timothy has been playing ball ever since he could walk,” said Teisha Lee, Pendleton’s mother. “His grandfather was a ball player and city league coach; his uncles and aunt were also ball players. He couldn't get away from it. I am a proud mama. I look at basketball as a mean to help further his education so he can get his degree and be a productive, young, black man.”

MOM KNOWS BEST“Timothy has been playing ball ever since he could walk,” said Teisha Lee, Pendleton’s mother. “His grandfather was a ball player and city league coach; his uncles and aunt were also ball players. He couldn’t get away from it. I am a proud mama. I look at basketball as a mean to help further his education so he can get his degree and be a productive, young, black man.”

“When I watch Timothy play, that proud and loud mother comes out,” Lee explained. “Everyone knows who I am. I am the loudest in the bleachers.”

And in what figures to be a busy offseason on the AAU circuit for Jonesboro’s JB Fireballs, coupled with regular workouts, Pendleton is clinging to hopes that his progress on the court will ring loud and clear before college scouts and recruiters.

“It’s been my dream since I was little (to play college basketball) and I just have a great passion for the game,” said Pendleton, who is scheduled to attend the Future 150 Underclassmen Camp in Antioch, Tennessee in June. “I’d love to do what I love in college.”

If he keeps at this dazzling pace, chances are his long-awaited dream will become a reality.



 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

 

 

The Tony Harris Basketball Academy becoming a West Coast fixture in Los Angeles

TH6Tony Harris earlier this week was asked if he could put a number on how many major Division I colleges extended to him scholarship offers during his playing days at Memphis East High.

“Man…how can I say this without trying to be cocky?” Harris told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Wednesday during a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “Just about every major Division I school in the country.”

So what figure did Harris come up with?

“First, I’d have to see how many schools are in each conference,” Harris jokingly said.

By and large, it is because of Harris’ remarkable resume as a product of the hoops-crazed city that is Memphis that essentially prompted a slew of big name college coaches to hasten to his Binghamton residence in hopes of landing the then-Tennessee Mr. Basketball and McDonald’s All-American — from then-Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson to then-Kansas coach Roy Williams.

THAnd so on and so forth.

“When I came out (of East), the top two point guards (in the country) were me and Baron Davis,” Harris said.

Davis ultimately took his talents to UCLA in Los Angeles, the exact same establishment to where Harris and his wife, Alena Kelley-Harris, moved recently.

That is also where Harris has taken his vision of ensuring that his business venture, the Tony Harris Basketball Academy, is a constant success.

An up-and-coming institution that is a little more than two years removed since its inception, the THBA offers a variety of entities to better help young athletes excel and compete at the highest level.

Who better to run such a business than Harris?

Given his outstanding track record as a basketball player, it’s a foregone conclusion that this widely-regarded #BALLIN4CHRIST personality exemplifies the smarts patience that will catapult youngsters to what he describes as the “next level.”

“The purpose is to develop the youth…not just the youth athletes, but for college and professional athletes to enhance their skills set,” Harris said in revealing the mission for THBA. “The game is also mental. There are so many athletes who play the game who are not mentally tough. You can go to camps and academies all day, but are you mentally strong?”

MEMPHIS HOOPS LEGEND --- By and large, it is because of Memphian Tony Harris’ remarkable resume as a product of the hoops-crazed city that is Memphis that essentially prompted a slew of big name college coaches to hasten to his Binghamton residence in hopes of landing the then-Tennessee Mr. Basketball and McDonald’s All-American --- names such as then-Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson to then-Kansas coach Roy Williams. And so on and so forth.

MEMPHIS HOOPS LEGENDBy and large, it is because of Tony Harris’ remarkable resume as a product of the hoops-crazed city that is Memphis that essentially prompted a slew of big name college coaches to hasten to his Binghamton residence in hopes of landing the then-Tennessee Mr. Basketball and McDonald’s All-American — names such as then-Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson to then-Kansas coach Roy Williams.
And so on and so forth.

ENROLL NOW IN THE TONY HARRIS BASKETBALL ACADEMY: https://www.coachup.com/coaches/tonyh-15

Generally, because a number of athletes often struggle with the mental aspects of sports, Harris believes that is where his notable attributes as a licensed minister will come into play.

In a nutshell, THBA isn’t designed solely to teach young athletes the mental aspects of the game but, more than anything, Harris’ objective is to often encourage them to become good spiritual stewards long after the sport has passed them by.

Just as he had done when he organized his academy in Memphis, Harris said plans are currently in the works to conduct classes for his athletes that would be geared largely toward learning the pros and cons on how to handle and interact with the media. In addition, he plans to erect a chapel, where they could become spiritually enhanced much like NBA players meeting with chaplains prior to their games.

A little more than seven years removed having a earned his degree, Harris starred at point guard for East High from 1994-97 before ultimately signing a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Tennessee.

To his credit, the Vols re-emerged as a national standout, having appeared in the NCAA Tournament in each of Harris’ four seasons, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2000.

Following his collegiate stint, Harris played professionally overseas for seven years before returning to the states to coach high school ball and eventually starting his academy, which opened for operation a little more than two years ago and was held at STAR Academy Charter School in Northeast Memphis.

Now that he’s on the West Coast, Harris conducts his sessions at the Next Level Sports Complex in Garden Grove, Calif.

HUGE ASSIST --- In moving his academy to L.A., Harris acknowledges much of his success wouldn’t have been possible if not for the unyielding support of his wife who, like him, is a native Memphian. “She’s been very instrumental,” Harris said. “She’s been doing all of the work that you don’t physically see in terms of finding clients. She’s been really innovative in enhancing the process.”

HUGE ASSISTIn moving his academy to L.A., Harris acknowledges much of his success wouldn’t have been possible if not for the unyielding support of his wife who, like him, is a native Memphian.
“She’s been very instrumental,” Harris said. “She’s been doing all of the work that you don’t physically see in terms of finding clients. She’s been really innovative in enhancing the process.”

MORE ABOUT TONY HARRIS: https://www.coachup.com/curry

Hours of operations are typically from 3 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Harris said that will change during the summer months.

As usual, THBA offers a variety of entities, most notably teaching youths various fundamentals and mechanics as they prepare for competitive play.

“How my drills are set up, they’re game-like situation drills,” Harris said. “You’ve got a lot of trainers who use cones for skill work. You know, that’s okay and all. But you’ve got to put the athlete in a game-like setting. That’s what separates me from other trainers. It enhances the player IQ. But if you’ve got them drilling through cones, that’s not going to help them.”

In moving his academy to L.A., Harris acknowledges much of his success wouldn’t have been possible if not for the unyielding support of his wife who, like him, is a native Memphian.

“She’s been very instrumental,” Harris said. “She’s been doing all of the work that you don’t physically see in terms of finding clients. She’s been really innovative in enhancing the process.”

Not to mention grasping a feel for how much the athletes progress days or, perhaps, weeks upon enrolling in THBA.

“He takes phone calls from kids’ parents and reach out to college coaches in an attempt to help the kids build a rapport with them,” Alena said. “He’s putting them in front of the recruiters.”

As a result, the results have undoubtedly been favorable, which is to be expected from a former local basketball star, who admittedly still has his boatloads of scholarship letters tucked away back in Memphis.

Nowadays, his primary ambition, his wife said, is to help others’ dream come true.

TH2Notable past clients include former Memphians Nick King, Cory Bradford, and Alex Anderson, all of whom went on play major college basketball.

“When (parents) bring them to the academy, we’re thinking long terms,” Alena said. “The goal in mind is to enhance their fundamentals and turn them into five-star players.”

Much like her husband was nearly two decades ago.



AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an athlete, entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Stephen Curry isn’t focused on MVP, wants champs to eclipse Bulls’ 72-win mark

SIZZLIN' STEPH ---  In a year in which Curry, the league’s leading scorer at 30.3 points per game, has been nothing short of remarkable in having engineered Golden State to the best start in NBA history when the Warriors reeled off 24 consecutive wins to begin the season, it would be hard-pressed to find anyone capable of surpassing him as the conjectural favorite for MVP. (Brandon Wade/AP Photos)

SIZZLIN’ STEPHIn a year in which Curry, the league’s leading scorer at 30.3 points per game, has been nothing short of remarkable in having engineered Golden State to the best start in NBA history when the Warriors reeled off 24 consecutive wins to begin the season, it would be hard-pressed to find anyone capable of surpassing him as the conjectural favorite for MVP. (Brandon Wade/AP Photos)

DALLAS — Last year, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry seized the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in rather impressive fashion, having garnered 100 of the 130 first-place votes while compiling 1,198 total points from a nationwide panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

This year, with the three-time All-Star being dubbed the presumptive front-runner to capture the NBA’s most covenant individual award in consecutive seasons, Curry quickly acknowledged that isn’t his primary focus.

“I’m not worried about that,” Curry, a seven-year veteran, told MemphiSport following Friday’s shoot around session in Dallas’ American Airlines Center. “There’ll come a time where that decision will happen. I go out every night playing as if I want to help my team get wins and do my part of being consistent and efficient as I can be. And that’s my focus.”

In a year in which Curry, the league’s scoring leader at 30.3 points per game, has been nothing short of remarkable in having engineered Golden State to the best start in NBA history when the Warriors reeled off 24 consecutive wins to begin the season, it would be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s capable of surpassing him as the conjectural MVP favorite.

Besides being the league’s top scorer, Curry is second in free throw percentage and third in three-point field goal efficiency, having made 45.7 percent of his shots from long range.

Add to the fact that the high-powered Warriors, who improved to an NBA’s best 63-7 with Monday night’s win at Minnesota — the team that’s responsible for ending their 24-game undefeated streak to start the season — and are on pace to eclipse the Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 record they amassed during their 1995-96 championship season, and it’s no wonder Curry in all likelihood will continue to field questions as to whether he thinks he’s well on his way to walking away with more MVP hardware.

“Obviously, team success leads to accolades and that’s our mission right now,” said Curry who, last year, led Golden State to its first world championship in 30 years when the Warriors upended the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games of their NBA Finals best-of-7 series.

STAYING FOCUSED --- When asked if failing to surpass the Bulls’ historic 72-win plateau serve as motivation heading into the postseason, Curry, who turned 28 March 14, paused briefly then said, “I would hope we have that same motivation either way. Winning a championship is the ultimate goal, and a regular season regular record, whether we have 73 wins, 69 wins, or 68, it doesn’t bear any difference on how we’re going to do in the playoffs.”

STAYING FOCUSEDWhen asked if failing to surpass the Bulls’ historic 72-win plateau serve as motivation heading into the postseason, Curry, who turned 28 March 14, paused briefly then said, “I would hope we have that same motivation either way. Winning a championship is the ultimate goal, and a regular season regular record, whether we have 73 wins, 69 wins, or 68, it doesn’t bear any difference on how we’re going to do in the playoffs.”

As far as this year’s league MVP talks go, Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Friday was quick to say that there is Curry, and then there is everyone else, although he doesn’t believe the former Davidson College star will be the unanimous favorite to win the award.

“I’d be shocked if he doesn’t win it with the kind of season he’s had and we’ve had,” said Kerr, when asked if Curry is the front-runner. “But there are always several great candidates. But it’ll be tough imagining Steph not winning it.”

A little more than a week removed from having clinched the Pacific Division and their fourth consecutive postseason berth, Curry reiterated that individual awards are the least of the Warriors’ concerns, considering they undoubtedly are everyone’s biggest game and have yet to clinch home court advantage throughout the postseason for a second consecutive year.

Golden State leads second-place San Antonio (59-11) by four games in the West with 12 regular season games remaining.

When asked if failing to surpass the Bulls’ historic 72-win plateau serve as motivation heading into the postseason, Curry, who turned 28 March 14, paused briefly then said, “I would hope we have that same motivation either way. Winning a championship is the ultimate goal, and a regular season record, whether we have 73 wins, 69 wins, or 68, it doesn’t bear any difference on how we’re going to do in the playoffs.”

Then without hesitation, Curry offered this notable suggestion:

JUST BEING BLUNT --- As far as this year’s league MVP talks go, Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Friday was quick to say that there is Curry and then everyone else, although he doesn’t believe the former Davidson College star will be the unanimous favorite to win the award. “I’d be shocked if he doesn’t win it with the kind of season he’s had and we’ve had,” said Kerr, when asked if Curry is the frontrunner. “But there are always several great candidates. But it’ll be tough imagining Steph not winning it.”

JUST BEING BLUNTAs far as this year’s league MVP talks go, Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Friday was quick to say that there is Curry and then everyone else, although he doesn’t believe the former Davidson College star will be the unanimous favorite to win the award.
“I’d be shocked if he doesn’t win it with the kind of season he’s had and we’ve had,” said Kerr, when asked if Curry is the frontrunner. “But there are always several great candidates. But it’ll be tough imagining Steph not winning it.”

“But I know we don’t want to be the team that gets the record and doesn’t win (a championship),” Curry said. “That’s what the Bulls did. They finished the job, obviously. Whatever our record is, that’s great. But playoff success is a totally different animal. Your record is zero and zero once you get into that first round.”

When asked, “Deep down inside, do you want to get this record?” Curry paused again then said, “There’s a reason you’re still talking about the 95-96 Bulls team, so yes, that would be a huge accomplishment. I’ve always said we want to do it with the big picture in mind. I think we can accomplish both if we stay true to who we are and not get distracted by playing for the record as opposed to playing for the bigger goal.”

Spoken like a player in postseason form.



 

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: Is prep hoops standout Jordan Reed Chicago-area’s best kept secret?

STAR WATCH ---- Jordan Reed, who is rated as a four-start prospect by various recruiting analysts, is a rising senior point guard for Plainfield (Ill.) East High School. (Photos submitted by R. Reed)

STAR WATCH —- Jordan Reed, who is rated as a four-start prospect by various recruiting analysts, is a rising senior point guard for Plainfield (Ill.) East High School. (Photos submitted by R. Reed)

Robert Reed, the father of Chicago-area high school basketball standout Jordan Reed, describes himself as a self-proclaimed “basketball enthusiast.”

Surely, he has valid reasons for doing so.

Amongst the grandest reasons Robert Reed is one who possesses a rather high basketball IQ is that he has worked diligently throughout the years to help steer his son in the right direction — on and off the court.

Nowadays, it seems, the tireless contributions and support of Robert Reed and his wife, Mona, have benefited their son mightily, considering he has flourished immensely on Chicago’s tradition-rich basketball circuit in recent years.

Jordan Reed, who is rated as a four-start prospect by various recruiting analysts, is a rising senior point guard for Plainfield (Ill.) East High School.

BORN TO PLAY --- Robert and Mona Reed first handed their son a basketball when he was in the second grade and, according to the couple, the rest is history.

BORN TO PLAY — Robert and Mona Reed first handed their son a basketball when he was in the second grade and, according to the couple, the rest is history.

A speedy, slim 165-pounder who has the ability to create his own shot, thus emerge as a game-changer, or sorts, Jordan has quickly come under the radar by a slew of mid-major Division 1 schools in recent years as the featured player for Plainfield coach Braden Adkins’ squad.

“I always tell him to keep working hard and don’t let anything get in the way of his success,” Adkins told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “We’ve seen a maturation process since he’s been around the program a few years now. He knows what the coaches expect of our team. I just expect him to lead those younger guys.”

To get a thorough understanding of how much Jordan Reed has jelled considerably in the recent years, look further than how his parents has steadfastly gone about helping put his dazzling skills on display over the years.

WATCH JORDAN VIA YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkmEfLFkhf8&feature=em-share_video_user

For starters, Robert and Mona Reed first handed their son a basketball when he was in the second grade and, according to the couple, the rest is history.

“Jordan hasn’t looked back since,” Robert Reed said.

Jordan3If nothing else, it seems this vibrant, enthusiastic athlete has made a strong case in recent years that he’s destined to fulfill his lofty dream of playing major college basketball.

And whatever lies beyond that.

Take, for instance, how Jordan, has gone about evolving as a fixture on the AAU circuit in recent years, having played in a number of national tournaments — most notably one run by LeBron James — in several major cities while earning well over 100 medals as a result.

MORE JORDAN IN ACTION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKxNyXt_a3U&feature=em-share_video_user

Jordan also played AAU ball for Evan Turner’s Buckeyes in which he averages 21 points, five assists, and five steals per game. In addition, he made 89 percent of his free throws and shot an impressive 47 percent from beyond the arc — numbers that ultimately gave way to him being named a member of the “5-Star All Star Game” in 2014.

Add to the fact that Jordan Reed has trained several times a week with former University of Wisconsin All-American and current Charlotte Hornets rookie Frank Kimisky and local trainer Lamont White, and it’s no wonder this kid has become one of the Chicago area high school’s most sought-after recruits for the Class of 2016.

In assessing Jordan’s overall display in recent years, Robert Reed acknowledges that about which he’s intrigued the most is his son’s increase in confidence.

To his credit, he has a tear-jerking story as more valid proof to complement that high basketball IQ.

FOLLOW JORDAN VIA TWITTER: @ItsJReed; @pehsathletics; @PEHSOrangeCrush.

“The memorable story I’d like to share is last year he played in the Pekin Holiday tournament, when our big gun — who is presently playing for the Illinois Fighting Illini, Aaron Jordan — was looking to take the last shot,” Robert Reed explained. “As he drove (to the basket), the entire team collapsed on him and the ball floated over the rim. Jordan caught it and put it up at the buzzer, sending us to the championship and beating top recruit Nojel Eastern of Evanston Township. That did wonders for his confidence.”

Indeed it did.

Jordan Reed with Jabari Parker

Jordan Reed with Jabari Parker

Nowadays, it seems that Jordan, armed with a slew confidence that only he can contain, figures to enjoy what is expected to be a memorable final prep season for a Bengals team that finished 18-12 last season.

“I work hard in all that I do and as the oldest son of five,” Jordan Reed said. “I have a “can-do” attitude and now learning how to persevere. I have been through a lot during my short time here on earth. I’ve lived through a good friend passing away suddenly while he played the game of basketball he loved so well, to watching my mom be deployed twice to Iraq…keeping the faith that she’d come back in one piece and of sound mind.”

Fortunately for Jordan, even in the wake of his off-the-court challenges in recent years, the basketball court has always been his sanctuary, of sorts.

“I’ve been the back bone for our basketball organization and I am always positive and up-beat even in the midst of trials in my life,” Jordan Reed explains. “My friends tease me sometimes about that military brat aspect, but it’s made me who I am and has helped shaped my existence.

Jordan Reed with Penny Hardaway

Jordan Reed with Penny Hardaway

“What I love most about basketball is dunking on someone,” Jordan Reed said with a grin. “But I do love dunking the ball. What I really love is the freedom I have out there when I’m playing.”

A favorable trend college scouts and recruiters will almost certainly come to embrace around this time next year.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Dez Bryant’s new deal gives much-needed makeover to Dallas sports landscape

COMMENTARY

AndreDALLAS — Following the Pinkprint Tour concert featuring renowned recording artist Nicki Minaj here Friday night, Dez Bryant is scheduled to host what many have dubbed, “The Official After Party.”

Given the latest developments that have transpired in this city over the past 24 hours, it’s safe to assume that hundreds of local sports fans will undoubtedly have every reason to crash Bryant’s late night gala.

Bryant, the Dallas Cowboys’ prized All-Pro receiver who seemingly had been in a tug-of-war, show-me-the-money slugfest with his employers for some time, on Wednesday reached an agreement with the team on a five-year, $70-million deal.

The deal includes $45 million of guaranteed money accompanied by a $20 million signing bonus.

DEDICATED DEZ --- Dez Bryant’s contract signing, which occurred less than an hour before Wednesday’s franchise tag deadline, served as a colossal makeover for a city whose sports landscape was in dire need of some favorable news, especially considering Dallas emerged as the laughing stock of indignity and discourtesy and stigma just eight days prior. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

DEDICATED DEZ — Dez Bryant’s contract signing, which occurred less than an hour before Wednesday’s franchise tag deadline, served as a colossal makeover for a city whose sports landscape was in dire need of some favorable news, especially considering Dallas emerged as the laughing stock of indignity and discourtesy and stigma just eight days prior. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Such news not only will ensure that Bryant won’t be forced to miss any regular season games amid a threatened holdout via Twitter, but his new deal all but guarantees he will join the rest of his Cowboy teammates when the team heads west to Oxnard, California in late July for their month-long training camp.

Most importantly, Bryant’s contract signing, which occurred less than an hour before Wednesday’s franchise tag deadline, served as a colossal makeover for a city whose sports landscape was in dire need of some favorable news, especially considering Dallas emerged as the laughing stock of indignity and discourtesy and stigma just eight days prior.

After a tumultuous NBA offseason that saw Dallas Mavericks leading scorer Monta Ellis bolt the organization and ink a four-year, $44 million deal with Indiana, and starting center Tyson Chandler accept the Phoenix Suns’ lucrative four-year, $52 million offer, the team unfortunately wound up on the wrong end of arguably the strangest free agency transaction in league history.

That’s when DeAndre Jordan, just five days after verbally agreeing to vacate the Los Angeles Clippers and return home to Texas to sign with Dallas, stood the Mavs up like an unattractive blind date by having second thoughts and electing to re-sign with the Clippers.

What was even more embarrassing for the Mavericks — and the city of Dallas — is that a number of Clippers personnel flew to Houston for a meeting with Jordan to convince him to back out of his deal with the team, all while Mavs owner Mark Cuban was left landloping around town attempting to track down Jordan, all while a plethora of his calls and text messages to the star center were screened in the process.

By the time the clock had struck 12:01 a.m. EST on July 9, the Mavs pursuit of winning the DeAndre Jordan sweepstakes was all but a distant memory.

Jordan, as childish and deplorable and preposterous his actions were with regards to how he had gone about handling business with the Mavs, had made up his mind to return to the Clippers, a team that, upon his re-signing, emerged as a legitimate contender to dethrone the Golden State Warriors.

As for the Mavericks, well, as a consolation prize amid the Jordan fiasco was their ability to lure a struggling, inefficient Deron Williams back to his native hometown to join a team that, given the massive potholes in its starting rotation and bench, could very well wind up on the outside of the playoff picture looking in next season.

Still, despite what has become a rocky offseason for the Mavs, credit Bryant for bringing some renewed enthusiasm, not to mention some much-needed sanguineness and exuberance back to Dallas and its countless die-hard sports fanatics.

YES...NO --- DeAndre Jordan, just five days after verbally agreeing to vacate the Los Angeles Clippers and return home to Texas to sign with Dallas, stood the Mavs up like an unattractive blind date by having second thoughts and electing to re-sign with the Clippers. (Photo by Cliff Murphy/Getty Images)

YES…NO — DeAndre Jordan, just five days after verbally agreeing to vacate the Los Angeles Clippers and return home to Texas to sign with Dallas, stood the Mavs up like an unattractive blind date by having second thoughts and electing to re-sign with the Clippers. (Photo by Cliff Murphy/Getty Images)

The Cowboys, coming off of a memorable campaign that ended with a 12-4 regular season finish, coupled with an exceptional postseason display that ended with Bryant’s controversial catch-no catch play in the waning moments at Green Bay in the divisional round, have locked up their best offensive playmaker for the next five years.

News that came to fruition after Big D was left holding its collective breath days leading to the NFL’s franchise tag deadline.

News that provided this city’s sports landscape with a much-needed makeover after what was a drama-filled offseason for Mavs.

News that’s almost certain to prompt Dallas sports fans to crash Bryant’s official after party Friday night.

The best party in Dallas hosted by the guy who’s responsible for invoking life back into this tradition-rich sports town.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

LeBron James has earned the right to say he’s ‘the best player in the world’

COMMENTARY

AndreDALLAS — Two days after the NBA All-Star break last year, I walked inside of American Airlines Center, where the Miami Heat had just completed their morning shootaround session.

Then-Heat superstar LeBron James had retreated to the opposite end of the arena away from his teammates.

Consequently, I headed toward the area where James sat and, although he didn’t take questions from reporters, he and I partook in a rather brief exchange.

It had nothing to do with basketball.

WORLD'S FINEST --- Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, an 11-year veteran continues to register consistently remarkable numbers in a series (36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the NBA Finals while playing 45-plus minutes per contest) many didn’t expect to be this competitive, considering the shorthanded Cavs have lost their second and third-best players (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love) to season-ending injuries. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

WORLD’S FINEST — Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, an 11-year veteran continues to register consistently remarkable numbers in a series (36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the NBA Finals while playing 45-plus minutes per contest) many didn’t expect to be this competitive, considering the shorthanded Cavs have lost their second and third-best players (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love) to season-ending injuries. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Instead, I congratulated James on his recent marriage to the former Savannah Brinson, his longtime girlfriend of 13 years.

Suddenly, I jokingly asked James, “Do you have any marital advice you’d like to pass along to me?”

James, a seemingly ecstatic newlywed, then turned away from his cell phone and, without hesitation, said to me, “Choose your battles, man. Happy wife, happy life.”

It was, in fact, following that intriguing dialogue that I had drawn the conclusion that James isn’t merely the villain many sensed he had become in the aftermath of his infamous “The Decision” prime-time national television special when he unequivocally coined the phrase, “taking my talents to South Beach.”

But rather I had drawn the assessment that James is one who, love him or hate him, doesn’t shy away from the notion of always keeping it real.

In my estimation, he’s kept it real ever since.

Such was the case when after a memorable four-year run in Miami in which James guided the Heat to back-to-back world titles and four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, he revealed in a first-person essay to Sports Illustrated that he intended to rejoin the Cavaliers.

Such was the case when he met last summer behind closed doors with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to mend their well-publicized differences.

Such was the case following Cleveland’s 104-91 loss at the Golden State Warriors in Sunday’s Game 5 of their NBA Finals best-of-7 series.

Even after the Cavs were dealt their second consecutive setback to fall behind in the series three games to two, James, assuming his customary businesslike approach, was forthright and to the point in assessing how his team will devise ways to atone for squandering a 2-1 series lead.

“I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world,” James, after his 40-point, triple-double outburst, said when asked about his team’s chances of rallying to win the series.” It’s that simple.”

While many media pundits sense that Golden State — just like in its previous series against Memphis — has made the necessary adjustments to take control of a series the Warriors are favored to win, James, meanwhile, was only stating the obvious following a loss that now have the Cavs on the brink of witnessing yet another franchise heartbreaker heading into Tuesday night’s Game 6 at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.

That is, he uttered with such fearlessness a dauntless declaration many around the sports world had been professing for some time.

Love him or hate him, James, to his credit, surely has earned the right to say he’s the world’s best player, given his masterful, awe-inspiring display on basketball’s grandest stage.

SWEET HOME OHIO --- Such renewed hope and enthusiasm wouldn’t have come to fruition in Cleveland if not for the much-anticipated return of James who, to his credit, was such an integral part of the Heat organization that after he bolted South Beach and returned to his Ohio stomping ground, Miami failed to clinch a playoff berth for the first time in seven years. All of which is why even with a series loss to the Warriors, James ought to be named Finals MVP. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

SWEET HOME OHIO — Such renewed hope and enthusiasm wouldn’t have come to fruition in Cleveland if not for the much-anticipated return of James who, to his credit, was such an integral part of the Heat organization that after he bolted South Beach and returned to his Ohio stomping ground, Miami failed to clinch a playoff berth for the first time in seven years. All of which is why even with a series loss to the Warriors, James ought to be named Finals MVP. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

For starters, the 11-year veteran continues to register consistently remarkable numbers in a series (36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the NBA Finals while playing 45-plus minutes per contest) many didn’t expect to be this competitive, considering the shorthanded Cavs have lost their second and third-best players (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love) to season-ending injuries.

Not only that, the 30-year-old James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player who finished third in this year’s league MVP race, has virtually done it all on both ends of the floor, most notably as the Cavs’ facilitator in a series showdown against Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the league’s reigning MVP.

How else to explain why Cavs undrafted shooting guard Matthew Dellavedova has filled in superbly for the injured Irving, thus manufactured his pro basketball coming out party?

How else to explain why Clevelanders who, on several occasions, had become accustomed to witnessing their professional sports teams wound up on the wrong side of arguably the most memorable moments in the history of sports — the Browns’ disheartening loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game known as The Drive and Michael Jordan’s game-winning shot over Craig Ehlo two years later, for instance — were ultimately given some renewed hope and enthusiasm when the Cavs surprisingly stole homecourt advantage with a decisive win in Game 2 against the heavily-favored Warriors?

POSITIVE APPROACH --- Even after the Cavs were dealt their second consecutive setback to fall behind in the series three games to two, James, assuming his customary businesslike approach, was forthright and to the point in assessing how his team will devise ways to atone for squandering a 2-1 series lead. “"I feel confident because I'm the best player in the world," said James, when asked about his team’s chances of rallying to win the series.” It's that simple." (Photo by Tony Dejak/AP)

POSITIVE APPROACH — Even after the Cavs were dealt their second consecutive setback to fall behind in the series three games to two, James, assuming his customary businesslike approach, was forthright and to the point in assessing how his team will devise ways to atone for squandering a 2-1 series lead. “”I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world,” said James, when asked about his team’s chances of rallying to win the series.” It’s that simple.” (Photo by Tony Dejak/AP)

Make no mistake, such renewed energy wouldn’t have come to fruition if not for the much-anticipated return of James who, to his credit, was such an integral part of the Heat organization that after he bolted South Beach and went back to his Ohio stomping ground, Miami failed to clinch a playoff berth for the first time in seven years.

All of which is why even with a series loss to the Warriors, James ought to be named Finals MVP.

All of which is why James, because of his undeniable excellence and astounding body of work in recent years, undoubtedly has earned the right to say he’s the best player in the world.

Love him or hate him.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Sports media types blaming Stephen Curry’s daughter is deplorable on all levels

COMMENTARY

DALLAS — While covering the 2012 NBA best-of-7 opening-round playoff series between the Los Angeles Clippers versus the Memphis Grizzlies, I noticed that Clippers point Chris Paul on several occasions had brought his son, Chris Paul, Jr., to postgame news conferences.

THE REAL MVP --- Although Golden State Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry was named league MVP recently, his two-year-old daughter Riley essentially stole the show during Tuesday night's postgame news conference after the Warriors' 110-106 come-from-behind win against the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of their Western Conference Finals best-of-7 series. (Photos by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

THE REAL MVP — Although Golden State Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry was named league MVP recently, his two-year-old daughter Riley essentially stole the show during Tuesday night’s postgame news conference after the Warriors’ 110-106 come-from-behind win against the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of their Western Conference Finals best-of-7 series. (Photos by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

In addition, while in Houston to cover the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant brought one of his daughters to the Media Day festivities as he addressed a massive gallery of reporters.

Which is to say that in the wake of the Golden State Warriors’ 110-106 come-from-behind win in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets Tuesday night, I deem it downright ridiculous and insulting that several media pundits sounded off negatively about Warriors All-Star point guard Stephen Curry for bringing his beautiful daughter to the postgame news conference.

That several sportswriters had gone as far as to say the presence of the adorable two-year-old Riley, Curry’s daughter — who was allowed to sit on her father’s lap and made disruptive, cute comments terrible twos customarily utter — made it increasingly difficult for them to make their writing deadline is deplorable on all levels.

As a veteran sportswriter who made his professional debut in the print journalism industry some 15 years ago straight out of Journalism School, I am fully aware that one can’t possibly be trusted by his editor to hold such a responsible beat in covering a major college athletic program or professional sports franchise if he or she will often find it difficult meeting brutal reporting deadlines.

SHOW STOPPER --- Several sportswriters had gone as far as to say the presence of the adorable two-year-old Riley, Curry's daughter --- who was allowed to sit on her father's lap and made disruptive, cute comments terrible twos normally utter --- made it increasingly difficult for them to make their writing deadline.

SHOW STOPPER — Several sportswriters had gone as far as to say the presence of the adorable two-year-old Riley, Curry’s daughter — who was allowed to sit on her father’s lap and made disruptive, cute comments terrible twos normally utter — made it increasingly difficult for them to make their writing deadline.

That is, by all accounts, an essential requirement of the job. Reporters, particularly those who are employed by major daily metropolitan newspapers, must be able to gather news under intense pressure, let alone file and submit stories under the tightest and strictest of deadlines.

That several sportswriters had gone as far as to criticize Curry for allowing his precious angel of a daughter to join her league Most Valuable Player father on the postgame platform while he took questions from the media following his 34-point outburst is valid proof that some sports journalists not only are habitual whiners but, most of all, it shows just how soft they are with regards to fulfilling their job responsibilities.

Because, if, by chance, these reporters are routinely faced with stiff deadlines as they harshly suggested after Tuesday’s Rockets-Warriors game, surely they shouldn’t pin blame on Curry, much less blame the presence of his daughter who, to her credit, brought humor and life to what essentially was a boring, dead postgame news conference.

If, by chance, these reporters are routinely faced with stiff deadlines as they harshly suggested after Tuesday game, surely they shouldn't pin blame on Curry, much less blame the presence of his daughter who, to her credit, brought humor and life to what essentially was a boring, dead postgame news conference.

If, by chance, these reporters are routinely faced with stiff deadlines as they harshly suggested after Tuesday game, surely they shouldn’t pin blame on Curry, much less blame the presence of his daughter who, to her credit, brought humor and life to what essentially was a boring, dead postgame news conference.

If nothing else, these journalists ought to blame themselves for their inability to deliver, ought to point fingers at themselves simply because it seems they often have issues in meeting their editor’s lofty expectations while reporting on basketball’s grandest stage.

As for a silver lining to all of this constant postseason murmuring by media members, well, at least they will be afforded the golden opportunity to atone for their lethargic reporting display after Game 1.

Game 2 is Thursday night in Oakland.

Same place.

Same time.

Same tight deadline.

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Playing Hurt Podcast: Greatest Masked Men in Sports

grizzlies mask

Join Cerrito Live producer CJ Hurt and Sports 56 producer and WUMR Sports DESK host Drew Barrett as they take you on a sports odyssey full of twists, turns, and a good time during Playing Hurt Podcast.

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Mavs coach Rick Carlisle praises each Southwest Division team on making playoffs

SOUTHWEST SUCCESS --- Dallas Mavericks coach Carlisle’s most memorable campaign as an NBA coach came four years ago when he led Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs to their first world championship in franchise history, a six-game upset of the Miami Heat in their best-of-7 NBA Finals series. That year, three teams from the NBA’s Southwest Division (Dallas, San Antonio, and Memphis) had clinched playoff berths. This year, however, each of the division’s five teams have advanced to the postseason, a feat that was effectively decided on the regular season’s final day when the New Orleans Pelicans clinched a berth with a 108-103 win against the Spurs. (Joe Murphy/Getty Images Photo)

SOUTHWEST SUCCESS — Dallas Mavericks coach Carlisle’s most memorable campaign as an NBA coach came four years ago when he led Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs to their first world championship in franchise history, a six-game upset of the Miami Heat in their best-of-7 NBA Finals series. That year, three teams from the NBA’s Southwest Division (Dallas, San Antonio, and Memphis) had clinched playoff berths. This year, however, each of the division’s five teams have advanced to the postseason, a feat that was effectively decided on the regular season’s final day when the New Orleans Pelicans clinched a berth with a 108-103 win against the Spurs. (Joe Murphy/Getty Images Photo)

DALLAS — First team to 16 wins…

“The first one to 16 will have a pretty nice piece for their jewelry cabinet,” Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said while addressing reporters Thursday afternoon at American Airlines Center.

Carlisle was alluding to the 16 teams that have punched tickets to this year’s NBA playoffs, a nearly two-month-long marathon that will culminate with one franchise hoisting the covenant Larry O’Brien trophy.

Now in his seventh season as the Mavericks’ head man, arguably Carlisle’s most memorable campaign as an NBA coach came four years ago when he led Dallas to its first world championship in franchise history, a six-game upset of the Miami Heat in their best-of-7 NBA Finals series.

That year, three teams from the NBA’s Southwest Division (Dallas, San Antonio, and Memphis) had clinched playoff berths.

This year, however, each of the division’s five teams have advanced to the postseason, a feat that was effectively decided on the regular season’s final day when the New Orleans Pelicans clinched a berth with a 108-103 win against the Spurs.

HOT HANDED HARDEN --- The Southwest Division champion Rockets (56-26) are led by NBA Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden, the league’s second-leading scorer. Winners of three straight, the Rockets are in the postseason for a third consecutive year. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

HOT HANDED HARDEN — The Southwest Division champion Rockets (56-26) are led by NBA Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden, the league’s second-leading scorer.
Winners of three straight, the Rockets are in the postseason for a third consecutive year. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

“I think this is the toughest division in all of (professional) sports,” Carlisle said. “It has been for the last several years.”

Among the reasons is the Spurs (55-27) undoubtedly have been the division’s most consistent and dominant team. Making their franchise-best 18 consecutive postseason appearance when they open defense of their NBA title Sunday night at the No. 3 seed Los Angeles Clippers (56-26), the six-seeded Spurs have won five world titles during this stretch.

As for the Mavs, erasing the memory of last year’s seven-game opening-round defeat to San Antonio certainly will be a brutal task, considering seventh-seeded Dallas (50-32) will face the No. 2 seed Houston Rockets Saturday at 8:30 p.m. CST in Game 1 of their best-of-7 opening-round series.

BLOCK PARTY --- Marc Gasol (left) and the fifth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (55-27), whose 9-7 division record was the best among the other four teams, is making their franchise-record fifth consecutive playoff appearance and will open postseason play Sunday night at 7 CST against the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in FedExForum. (Photo by Jerome Miron/Getty Images)

BLOCK PARTY — Marc Gasol (left) and the fifth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (55-27), whose 9-7 division record was the best among the other four teams, is making their franchise-record fifth consecutive playoff appearance and will open postseason play Sunday night at 7 CST against the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in FedExForum. (Photo by Jerome Miron/Getty Images)

The Rockets (56-26) are led by NBA Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden, the league’s second-leading scorer.

Winners of three straight, the Rockets are in the postseason for a third consecutive year. Dallas is making its second straight playoff appearance.

The fifth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (55-27), whose 9-7 division record was the best among the other four teams, is making their franchise-record fifth consecutive playoff appearance and will open postseason play Sunday night at 7 CST against the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers (51-31) in FedExForum.

Memphis’ best postseason outing during this span took place two years ago when the Grizzlies manufactured their highest winning percentage and advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history.

Arguably the surprise Southwest Division team to make the playoffs is New Orleans.

The NBA’s fourth youngest team with an average age of 24.9 years, the Pelicans (45-37) played arguably their most complete game of the season, which couldn’t have come at a better time, considering New Orleans controlled its own destiny.

Led by Anthony Davis’ 31 points and 13 rebounds, the Pelicans withstood a furious late rally by the defending champs to solidify the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot in the regular season finale, thus ending a four-year postseason drought.

Next up for upset-minded Pelicans is an opening-round date with the top-seeded Golden State Warriors, starting with Saturday’s Game 1 at 2:30 p.m. CST.

Led by Stephen Curry, whom many consider the frontrunner for league MVP, the high-octane Warriors enter the postseason with the NBA’s best record at 67-15.

Come Saturday, the race to 16 wins begins.

Which, of course, begs the question: Will the Larry O’Brien trophy remain in the Southwest Division for a second consecutive year?

As far as Carlisle is concerned, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if it does.

“It’s just quality teams from top to bottom,” Carlisle said of the Southwest Division. “During the battles of the division opponents during the year, I mean those were slugfest games. They were extremely meaningful. There’s a lot of wear and tear. (Games) were very physical. They’re emotional. But when you get a division like this, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and it gets everybody primed for this time of year.”

Let the nearly two-month-long marathon begin.

First team to 16 wins…

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Playing Hurt Podcast: NBA Playoff Preview

nba-playoffsJoin Cerrito Live and HardBashin producer CJ Hurt and Sports 56 producer and WUMR Sports DESK host Drew Barrett as they take you on a sports odyssey full of twists, turns, and a good time during  Playing Hurt Podcast.

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