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.

MemphiSport Live

OKC rival Memphis Grizzlies respond to Kevin Durant’s latest injury development

DALLAS — In three of their last four playoff appearances, the Memphis Grizzlies went to battle against the Oklahoma City Thunder, including the last two seasons.

THUNDER STORM WARNING --- If the Grizzlies wound up squaring off against the Oklahoma City Thunder for a third consecutive year in the postseason, the possibility exists that they will do so without facing Kevin Durant, the NBA’s reining MVP. That’s because Thunder general manager Sam Presti on Friday announced that Durant has been "removed from basketball activities" and could be shut down for the season. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

THUNDER STORM WARNING — If the Grizzlies wound up squaring off against the Oklahoma City Thunder for a third consecutive year in the postseason, the possibility exists that they will do so without facing Kevin Durant, the NBA’s reining MVP. That’s because Thunder general manager Sam Presti on Friday announced that Durant has been “removed from basketball activities” and could be shut down for the season. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

If the Grizzlies wound up squaring off against the Thunder for a third consecutive year in the postseason, the possibility exists that they will do so without facing the NBA’s reining MVP.

That’s because Thunder general manager Sam Presti on Friday announced that Durant has been “removed from basketball activities” and could be shut down for the season.

The news of Durant’s latest setback surrounding a right foot injury came as a shock to a Thunder team that is clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. According to team officials, Durant’s foot reportedly has caused him more pain after he underwent surgery Feb. 23.

Durant, who traveled with the team to Dallas for Monday’s outing and underwent treatment before that game, told MemphiSport.com, “I’m feeling better. I’ll be re-evaluated in a few days and will be ready to go soon.”

However, as early as Friday, Durant’s injury apparently had taken a turn for the worst, a development team officials believe will likely sideline the seven-year veteran for the remainder of the season.

That OKC will likely be without Durant, its best player, if it clinches a playoff berth for a sixth consecutive year came as a surprise to the Grizzlies, who have faced the Thunder in the postseason in three of the last four years. (Photo by Bill Waugh/Reuters)

That OKC will likely be without Durant, its best player, if it clinches a playoff berth for a sixth consecutive year came as a surprise to the Grizzlies, who have faced the Thunder in the postseason in three of the last four years. (Photo by Bill Waugh/Reuters)

“He’s not making the progress we’d hoped or expected,” Presti said.

That OKC will likely be without its best player if it clinches a playoff berth for a sixth consecutive year came as a surprise to the Grizzlies, who have faced the Thunder in the postseason in three of the last four years.

Memphis made its first Western Conference Finals appearance in franchise history in 2013 after eliminating the Thunder in five games. That year, the Thunder were without point guard Russell Westbrook, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in the playoffs’ opening round.

“I feel bad for him,” Grizzlies center Marc Gasol said of Durant’s injury following Friday morning’s shoot around in American Airlines Center. “Great player. Special guy. Special player. I got to know him a little bit during the All-Star weekend. But I feel bad for him. I know how much he loves the game and how much he wants to be out there. And I feel bad for him.”

Like Gasol, Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley said the news of Durant likely being shut down the rest of the year came as a shock, considering he had been hearing that Durant was recouping comfortably from the foot injury.

Since Durant underwent surgery last month in attempt to alleviate soreness and discomfort in his right foot that was being caused by a screw inserted in October during a procedure to repair a Jones fracture, Russell Westbrook has played arguably the best basketball of his seven-year career. Currently the NBA’s leading scorer, averaging 27.8 points per game, Westbrook has been nothing short of remarkable of late, having recorded a league-best nine triple doubles, his latest of which came in OKC’s 123–115 home win Friday night over Atlanta. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Since Durant underwent surgery last month in attempt to alleviate soreness and discomfort in his right foot that was being caused by a screw inserted in October during a procedure to repair a Jones fracture, Russell Westbrook has played arguably the best basketball of his seven-year career. Currently the NBA’s leading scorer, averaging 27.8 points per game, Westbrook has been nothing short of remarkable of late, having recorded a league-best nine triple doubles, his latest of which came in OKC’s 123–115 home win Friday night over Atlanta. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

“I have not heard about it. That’s news to me right now,” Conley said.

Since Durant underwent surgery last month in attempt to alleviate soreness and discomfort in his right foot that was being caused by a screw inserted in October during a procedure to repair a Jones fracture, Westbrook has played arguably the best basketball of his seven-year career.

Currently the NBA’s leading scorer, averaging 27.8 points per game, Westbrook has been nothing short of remarkable of late, having recorded a league-best nine triple doubles, his latest of which came in OKC’s 123–115 home win Friday night over the Atlanta Hawks (36 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds).

So resilient Westbrook has been after what was an injury-ridden season last year for the former UCLA star that he has emerged as a legitimate candidate for league’s Most Valuable Player.

However, earlier this week, Westbrook reiterated that individual accolades are the least of his concerns, especially considering the Thunder are battling for their playoff lives during the season’s stretch run. At 39-30, OKC owns a two-game lead over ninth-place New Orleans for the pivotal eighth spot in the West.

“I don’t know,” said Westbrook, when asked if he’s playing the best basketball of his career. I take it one day at a time, man, and keep doing what I’m doing. I have no take (on the MVP race). My job is to come out and play at a high level every single night.”

But whether Westbrook and Co. will have Durant back for what figures to be an intense postseason in the always rugged Western Conference remains unclear.

As of Friday, team officials hinted that a Thunder playoff run this year likely will take place without arguably their best player.

“You know, it sucks to have any kind of injury,” Conley said. “And the situation (Durant) is going through, I know he wants to be back on the court. So that’s tough for him and the organization. But I’m sure they’re doing whatever’s best for him and the team.”

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.

 

Quincy Pondexter on recent trade from Memphis Grizzlies: ‘I’ll never forget it’

NBA SOUTHWEST DIVISION REPORT

DALLAS — Quincy Pondexter on Monday was asked if he has any hard feelings toward the Memphis Grizzlies after the organization dealt him to the New Orleans Pelicans in early January.

CALLING HIM OUT? When asked on Monday night's game at Dallas whom he sensed were among those within the Grizzlies organization who felt it was best to part ways with him, New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard Quincy Pondexter went as far as to hint that Memphis coach Dave Joerger initiated the trade.  “That’s the way it seems, right?” Pondexter said. (Photos by Steve Mitchell/Getty Images NBAE)

CALLING HIM OUT? When asked on Monday night’s game at Dallas whom he sensed were among those within the Grizzlies organization who felt it was best to part ways with him, New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard Quincy Pondexter went as far as to hint that Memphis coach Dave Joerger initiated the trade.
“That’s the way it seems, right?” Pondexter said. (Photos by Steve Mitchell/Getty Images NBAE)

“I can’t answer that,” Pondexter told MemphiSport.com prior to the Pelicans’ game at the Dallas Mavericks.

Given his unorthodox body language as he sat in front of his locker in the visitors’ locker room in American Airlines Center, coupled with the notion that Pondexter admittedly anticipated a lengthy tenure with a Memphis team that boasts NBA championship aspirations, it’s safe to assume that the recently-acquired New Orleans small forward is indeed harboring ill-feelings over how his stint with the Grizzlies ended.

Now in his fourth NBA seasons, the 26-year-old Pondexter appeared in 168 games for the Grizzlies before he was involved in a three-team trade on January 12. The Pelicans announced that they traded guard Austin Rivers to the Boston Celtics and rookie Russ Smith to the Grizzlies in exchange for Pondexter and a future second round pick.

The move reunited Pondexter with the team to which he was traded moments after he was drafted 26th overall by Oklahoma City in 2010.

“It was extremely hurtful,” Pondexter said of the Grizzlies electing to trade him before the season’s halfway point. “You know, it’s somewhere I thought would be home for me. But it’s a couple of people in the organization who didn’t feel the same way and I’ll never forget it.”

When asked whom he sensed were among those within the Grizzlies organization who felt it was best to part ways with him, Pondexter went as far as to hint that Memphis coach Dave Joerger initiated the trade.

“That’s the way it seems, right?” Pondexter said.

Surely, Pondexter and Joerger have had their share of disagreements, most notably last year during a Grizzlies home game against the Brooklyn Nets.

A game in which Pondexter was seen staring down Joerger several times after making a number of key second-half shots before finishing with 22 points, Pondexter was ultimately disciplined for his unprofessional gestures. During timeouts, Pondexter could be seen uttering profanity as a way of showing his displeasure with Joerger’s decision to bench him.

Having recently been installed as a starter for a Pelicans, who trail Oklahoma City by just one game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, Pondexter has wasted little time making his presence felt. Arguably his best outing since being dealt to New Orleans came February 25 against visiting Brooklyn during which he scored a career-high 25 points.

Having recently been installed as a starter for a Pelicans, who trail Oklahoma City by just one game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, Pondexter (left) has wasted little time making his presence felt alongside star center Anthony Davis. Arguably his best outing since being dealt to New Orleans came February 25 against visiting Brooklyn during which he scored a career-high 25 points.

Prior to that game, Pondexter had played sparingly for the Grizzlies, averaging 18 minutes during what was an injured-ridden season for the former University of Washington star.

Pondexter on Monday reiterated that he has taken ownership of the situation and subsequent fallout with Joerger, saying he’s sorry for such behavior he believes contributed to his recent trade from Memphis.

“You know, I’ll never forget that night,” Pondexter said. “I made a bad decision. I was immature at the time. I’ll never forget the mistake I made, staring him down and showing him up. I felt like I should have been playing. But at the end of the day, he had the last say and I’m not there anymore.”

While Pondexter believes Joerger is mainly responsible for his unceremonious exit out of Memphis, he sensed there were others within the organization who sided with his former coach.

“There was a couple who probably didn’t want me there,” Pondexter said. “And I wanted to end my career there. That’s how much I love the city.”

CHANGE OF HEART --- For a while, it seemed that Pondexter was a right fit for the Grizzlies, who rewarded the Fresno, California native with a four-year extension in just third full season with the team. Prior to that year, Pondexter averaged a career-best 21.1 minutes per game and played a pivotal role for a Grizz team that made its first ever Western Conference Finals appearance. (Getty Images photo)

CHANGE OF HEART — For a while, it seemed that Pondexter was a right fit for the Grizzlies, who rewarded the Fresno, California native with a four-year extension in just third full season with the team. Prior to that year, Pondexter averaged a career-best 21.1 minutes per game and played a pivotal role for a Grizz team that made its first ever Western Conference Finals appearance. (Getty Images photo)

For a while, it seemed that Pondexter was a right fit for the Grizzlies, who rewarded the Fresno, California native with a four-year extension in just his third full season with the team. Prior to that year, Pondexter averaged a career-best 21.1 minutes per game and played a pivotal role for a Grizz team that made its first ever Western Conference Finals appearance.

“I signed a four-year extension because I loved (Memphis) so much,” Pondexter said. “It was painful at first. But, of course, you know you live and learn and I’ve got another opportunity here.”

To his credit, though, it’s an opportunity of which Pondexter has taken full advantage much like his stint in Memphis.

Having recently been installed as a starter for the Pelicans, who trail Oklahoma City by just one game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, Pondexter has wasted little time making his presence felt.

Arguably his best outing since being dealt to New Orleans came February 25 against visiting Brooklyn during which he scored a career-high 25 points.

“He could be a two-way player where he could defend his position and other positions,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said of Pondexter. “He’s shown the ability on certain nights where he could knock down shots and make plays for us. He has shown intangibles, whether it be just know how to guard a guy, using his length to guard or contest shots, and knowing how to guard. But he’s been in a lot of big games in Memphis, so that’s something I can’t give him. He has that experience.”

Among the things about which Pondexter is appreciative are the Pelicans offering him the chance to continue what he started in Memphis. Now that he’s becoming acclimated in New Orleans, he contends his unceremonious departure from Memphis is where it belongs.

Behind him.

“I’m happy here,” Pondexter said.

Fielding the question as if he expected it.

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: Memphis Grizzlies Grades at the All-Star Break

tony-allen4Join 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. MemphiSport Live

Memphis Grizzlies President of Business Operations discusses FedExForum’s non-compete clause (AUDIO)

 

jason wexler
On Saturday,  Memphis Grizzlies President of Business Operations Jason Wexler joined joined Kevin Cerrito on Memphis radio show Cerrito Live  (Sports 56 WHBQ/87.7 FM). During the interview, Wexler discussed FedExForum’s non-compete clause in relation to saving the Mid-South Coliseum.

Start at 5:33 mark for talk about the non-compete clause, the Mid-South Coliseum and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame:

SEE ALSO:


MemphiSport Live

Kevin Cerrito hosts Cerrito Live on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Listen to more podcasts at CerritoLive.com.

Top 5: Wrestling Night at FedExForum

When Grizzlies Live starts out like this, you know you’re in for a fun night at FedExForum.  As if the big OKC-Memphis rivalry wasn’t enough – Grizzlies tag teamed with pro wrestling to electrify The Grindhouse.  Maria & I were there, along with Kevin Cerrito to witness the action first-hand.

Now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look back at the top five takeaways from the event (in no particular order).

1.  16-time World Heavyweight Champion & 2-time WWE Hall of Famer “Nature Boy” Ric Flair made a surprise appearance with the Nature Bear – Grizz dressed as Flair!  Flair not only mentioned Kevin Durant on mic, but he hugged & rallied with Vince Carter & Z-Bo.

Flair & Grizz

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of @memgrizz

2.  Grizzlies featured live wrestling matches during the evening.  I competed in the pre-game match-up & Jerry “The King” Lawler was in action at half time.  The King successfully defended his newly crowned World Grizzlyweight Championship.

photo (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of @ArtBy_Exelbierd

 

3.  The legendary Memphis Wrestling broadcast team of Lance Russell & Dave Brown hosted segments throughout the evening, building up to the big match at half time.  They provided play-by-play and fans were certainly happy to see the duo back in action.

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Courtesy of @memgrizz

4.  Memphis fans are crazy.  But Memphis wrestling fans are crazier!

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@MarkMcCleskey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  The first 3,000 fans received World Grizzlyweight Championship belts.  Fans began lining up as early as 3PM.  Doors do not open until 5PM… and tip off isn’t until 7PM.  To say this was the best giveaway in Grizzlies history would be an understatement.  (or am I biased?)

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@lbwhit18, MSL’s @MariaGaray & @JDun81

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of @JDun81

 

If you attended Wrestling Night at FedExForum, be sure to share you photos and highlights by tweeting myself or @MemphiSport.  Your next chance to catch live wrestling at FedExForum is February 22nd at WWE’s Fast Lane pay-per-view.  Tickets are on sale now.

Dustin Starr is an active sports entertainer and regular contributor to MemphiSport and MSL. Follow him @DustinStarr.

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Throwback Thursday: Grizz don’t bluff

GrizzamaniaOur Memphis Grizzlies are no strangers to the squared circle.  Being known for arguably the best game operations crew in the NBA, they know all about the rich history of Memphis Wrestling.  Don’t believe me?  Show up on Saturday night (Jan. 31st) and see for yourself.

Memphis Grizzlies present Wrestling Night at FedExForum with the first 3,000 fans receiving their very own World Grizzlyweight Championship belt.  If you want to know just how sweet they really are, just ask The King.

Rumors have been circulating for weeks on what the Grizzlies have planned.  Not only have we heard that there will be a wrestling match, but legendary Memphis Wrestling broadcast team Lance Russell & Dave Brown will be there to call the action.  If that wasn’t enough, The King hinted at an appearance by 16-time World Heavyweight Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

No official word or confirmation has come from the Grizzlies, but I know one person in particular who is fired up – GRIZZ!

What better way to get ready for the big game… and big match then to take a look back at some of my favorite antics from Grizz  himself?

Last season, Grizz paid tribute to several of his favorite professional wrestlers.  He impersonated The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan & even the Ultimate Warrior.  But none were more memorable than this week’s clip!

Memphis Grizzlies vs OKC Thunder tips off at 7:00PM CST inside FedExForum this Saturday night (Jan. 31st).  For more on ticket information, click here.

 

Dustin Starr is an active sports entertainer and regular contributor to MemphiSport and MSL. Follow him @DustinStarr.

SEE ALSO:

Randolph on Conley for All-Star appearance: ‘I want the young fella to get in there’

DALLAS — No one, it seems, is more impressed with Mike Conley’s body of work this season than Zach Randolph.

The Memphis Grizzlies power forward, in fact, has been complimentary of Conley’s display since the early stages of the season.

Tuesday night was no exception.

BOLD PREDICTION --- Following the shorthanded Grizzlies’ decisive 109-90 win against the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night in American Airlines Center, Grizzlies star Zach Randolph hinted that he anticipates point guard Mike Conley to be named to the All-Star team, a milestone he’s been seeking for some time. (LM Otero, Getty Images)

BOLD PREDICTION — Following the shorthanded Grizzlies’ decisive 109-90 win against the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night in American Airlines Center, Grizzlies star Zach Randolph hinted that he anticipates
point guard Mike Conley to be named to the All-Star team, a milestone he’s been seeking for some time. (LM Otero, Getty Images)

Following the shorthanded Grizzlies’ decisive 109-90 win against the Dallas Mavericks in American Airlines Center in which the team was without Conley, Randolph hinted that he anticipates the Grizzlies’ starting point guard to achieve a milestone he’s been seeking for some time.

“It’s big when you can play like that without your All-Star point guard,” Randolph told reporters after posting a game-high 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting and 10 rebounds against Dallas.

While Randolph doesn’t shy away from the notion that he would like to see Conley, his teammate of six years, earn his first All-Star appearance of his career, the seven-year veteran won’t know for certain until Thursday when the East and West reserves are announced.

Just as it has been in recent years, making the All-Star team undoubtedly will be monumental for Conley, in large part because the Western Conference is loaded with a slew of All-Star-caliber point guards such as Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook, among others — all of whom have played in the NBA’s annual midseason showcase.

The 64th annual All-Star Game is February 15 in Madison Square Garden.

While many media pundits believed Conley should have been named to the All-Star team last year, the 27-year-old Fayetteville, Arkansas native certainly has made a strong case to earn a spot for the West this season.

At 33-12, the Grizzlies currently own the NBA’s third-best record and are second in the Western Conference standings behind Golden State. Add to the fact that Conley, Memphis’ second-leading scorer, has been as assertive on both ends of the floor as he’s ever been since he entered the NBA ranks, and it’s no wonder many believe this year could very well be his to crash the All-Star party along with fellow Grizzlies teammate Marc Gasol.

A 7-foot-1 Spaniard, Gasol will be making his second All-Star appearance and his first as a starter.

“You know, it’ll be nice if it happens,” said Randolph, when asked if making his third All-Star appearance was one of his personal goals in this, his 13th season. “I said the other day in Memphis I prefer it be Mike Conley. He deserves it. You know, I’ve been there before. So it’ll be nice if someone else from our team makes it and hopefully it’s him.”

CASE CLOSED? While many media pundits believed Conley should have been named to the All-Star team last year, the 27-year-old Fayetteville, Arkansas native certainly has made a strong case to earn spot for the West this season.

CASE CLOSED? While many media pundits believed Conley should have been named to the All-Star team last year, the 27-year-old Fayetteville, Arkansas native certainly has made a strong case to earn spot for the West this season.

According to a four-panel of CBSSports.com writers who cover the NBA, neither listed Conley as an All-Star reserve in a story that was released Wednesday afternoon. During a preseason interview with MemphiSport, however, Conley reiterated that making his first All-Star appearance was something about which he would strive for this year and that being left off the roster “would suck.”

“Obviously, I want to make my first All-Star appearance,” Conley said.

However, whether the former Ohio State star will be shown some love Valentine’s Day weekend in the Big Apple as a member of the West roster remains a mystery.

At least until sometime Thursday.

“It’ll be nice,” Randolph said of Conley being christen an All-Star reserve. “It’s a lot of politics in the All-Star Game. But I’m not going to lose any sleep (if I don’t make it). Like I said, I want the young fella to get in there.”

Still, regardless of how things stack up when the All-Star reserves are announced, Randolph said nothing overshadows the bigger aspirations for a team that figures to be a legitimate threat to make its first NBA Finals appearances this year.

“Right now, we’re focusing on winning and that’s our big picture right now…especially mine,” Randolph said. “We’re playing good. Our team is playing good. Our bench is playing good. So that’s our main focus right now.”

Something even the team’s starting point guard would agree with as the season progresses.

All-Star appearance or not.

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

 

Jerry Lawler: ‘I would be on board with any plan whatsoever to save the Coliseum’ (AUDIO)

the king msc


On Saturday,  Jerry “The King” Lawler was a guest on Memphis radio show Cerrito Live (Sports 56 WHBQ/87.7 FM). During the interview, “The King” and host Kevin Cerrito discussed a variety of different topics including the future of the Mid-South Coliseum.

Lawler said he is “on board with any plan whatsoever to save the coliseum” and believes that turning the historic venue into a Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum “could be a massive destination for people to come to if it was done right.”  Lawler also said he would be willing to donate some of his memorabilia to a Hall of Fame in the Mid-South Coliseum.

Start at 12:57 mark for talk about the Mid-South Coliseum and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame:

MemphiSport Live

Kevin Cerrito hosts Cerrito Live on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Listen to more podcasts at CerritoLive.com.