Memphis BTW hoops standout Ethan Jones figures to have breakthrough senior season

aaassIt is a foregone conclusion that Leslie Jones wants what’s best for her son, Memphis Booker T. Washington basketball standout Ethan Andrew Jones.

Every so often, in fact, she makes it a point to remind him of such.

In all likelihood, she doesn’t plan to let up anytime soon.

“I need him to get an education because I never got that far,” Leslie Jones told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Monday. “And I would be proud to watch him graduate from college.”

As Ethan Jones continues what has been a brutally hectic, but productive summer — particularly on the AAU hoops circuit — his mother yet again is reminding him that she’s undoubtedly his grandest cheerleader.

Fortunately for the 18-year-old rising senior, his mother’s unyielding support couldn’t have come at a better time.

MOM KNOWS BEST --- As Memphis Booker T. Washington basketball standout Ethan Jones continues what has been a brutally hectic, but productive summer --- particularly on the AAU hoops circuit --- his mother, Leslie Jones, yet again is reminding him that she’s undoubtedly his grandest cheerleader.

MOM KNOWS BESTAs Memphis Booker T. Washington basketball standout Ethan Jones continues what has been a brutally hectic, but productive summer — particularly on the AAU hoops circuit — his mother, Leslie Jones, yet again is reminding him that she’s undoubtedly his grandest cheerleader.

For starters, Ethan Jones has yet to generate any official college offers, although while in Orlando, Florida this week for the AAU Nationals, that could all change.

Add to the fact that the 6-foot-6 swingman enjoyed a remarkable junior season in which he helped propel perennial power BTW to the TSSAA Class A state championship game, and it’s no wonder the possibility exists that Ethan Jones could very well garner interests from college scouts and recruiters in the foreseeable future.

“I believe I played the perfect games (all season long) for a big man all around,” said Ethan Jones, assessing his play this past season.

Still, arguably the biggest mystery is whether college scout will at some take notice his overall body of work on the court, most notably his ability to run the floor for a big man, as well as his keen ability to rebound on  both ends of the floor and continue to have an effective presence in the post.

By and large, these are just the key mechanics about which Ethan Jones is determined to upgrade this offseason.

UNDER THE RADAR --- Ethan Jones has yet to generate any official college offers, although while in Orlando, Florida this week for the AAU Nationals, that could all change. Add to the fact that the 6-foot-6 swingman enjoyed a remarkable junior season in which he helped propel perennial power BTW to the TSSAA Class A state championship game, and it’s no wonder the possibility exists that Ethan Jones could very well garner interests from college scouts and recruiters in the foreseeable future.

UNDER THE RADAREthan Jones has yet to generate any official college offers, although while in Orlando, Florida this week for the AAU Nationals, that could all change.
Add to the fact that the 6-foot-6 swingman enjoyed a remarkable junior season in which he helped propel perennial power BTW to the TSSAA Class A state championship game, and it’s no wonder the possibility exists that Ethan Jones could very well garner interests from college scouts and recruiters in the foreseeable future.

After all, he’s months away from the start of his senior prep season, meaning there is no time to let up.

“I am not a regular big man because I can shoot and push the ball down the court,” said Ethan Jones, sounding like the assertive, poised student athlete for which he is widely known. “I work out every day.”

To his credit, it is because of his efficient workouts and conditioning sessions, coupled with his lofty expectations of progressing that he figures to make a solid case that he possess the skills to plat at the collegiate level.

PAW PAW --- Ethan Jones is the grandson of Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones

PAW PAWEthan Jones is the grandson of Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones.

Ethan Jones, who helped BTW to a 25-6 finish this past season, is the grandson of Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones.

“(He’s been playing basketball) since he was about nine years old,” Leslie Jones said. “He played for a summer league. But I wasn’t really surprised because of how tall he was and how he loved to play with his cousins. When I watched him play in the State Championship (last season), it was pure pandemonium. I tend to yell a lot…as much as I love watching them be victorious in close games but, at the same time, it is utterly nerve wrecking.”

As he readies for what figures to be a breakthrough senior campaign for the Antonio Harris-coached Warriors team that is expected to vie for a state crown, Leslie Jones says she’s confident her son will acquire the necessary exposure to lure the attention of college colleges.

“He has always been overlooked and some may have doubted his commitment to the game,” Leslie Jones said. “He is a kid that takes directions well and also takes constructive criticism when he knows it will benefit him in the long run.”

NOT LETTING UP --- To his credit, it is because of his efficient workouts and conditioning sessions, coupled with his lofty expectations of progressing that he figures to make a solid case that he possess the skills to plat at the collegiate level. “(He’s been playing basketball) since he was about nine years old,” Leslie Jones said.

NOT LETTING UPTo his credit, it is because of his efficient workouts and conditioning sessions, coupled with his lofty expectations of progressing that he figures to make a solid case that he possess the skills to plat at the collegiate level.
“(He’s been playing basketball) since he was about nine years old,” Leslie Jones said.

Not to mention, catapult him to his long-awaited dream of dressing out in a college uniform.

“Because basketball is what I like to do,” said Ethan Jones, when asked why is playing college basketball a dream of his. “And I want to play college basketball so I can pursue my dream to make it to the NBA.”

As far as his mother is concerned, amongst the observations about which he instills in her son is to keep his focus on education first and playing professionally a distant second.

“I tell his (team) mates that you can use basketball to advance you to the next level and not necessarily the NBA,” Leslie Jones said. “You have to think long term.”

Every so often, in fact, she makes it a point to remind her beloved son of such.



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nEDITOR’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.

 

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.

Memphian Terrica Young having a Texas-size impact as a life coach, motivational speaker

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Terrica Griggs Young was downright ecstatic after reaching what obviously was the pinnacle of her career a few years ago when she earned her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Management.

TerricaAlthough she was left smiling from ear to ear, something transpired shortly thereafter that essentially prompted Young to re-assess the overall landscape of her career as a seasoned, progressive educator.

“I began to notice a huge lack of self-esteem in our girls a few years ago,” Young told longtime journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I remember getting my doctorate and having my mentor come speak at my school.”

As Griggs, a native Memphian recalls, it wasn’t long afterward that one particular engagement at her school eventually turned emotional.

“One of my girls burst into tears saying she would never be able to reach that level of success,” Young explained. “I decided at that moment that I would do all I could to make every child feel special, but particularly work to equip young girls with knowledge, skills, confidence, and the support they need to pursue their dreams.”

TEXAS LOVES TERRICA --- A 1993 Memphis Central High and Tennessee State University graduate, Terrica Griggs Young, 39, has ventured off into yet another prestigious realm in a notable education career that spans nearly two decades. While assuming the role as Educational Director for Ruston, Louisiana-based Cedar Creek School in which she oversees thirteen private schools throughout the western part of the United States, Young has emerged as a life coach/motivational speaker whereby she focuses primarily on the teenage population, most notably geared toward young girls.

TEXAS LOVES TERRICAA 1993 Memphis Central High and Tennessee State University graduate, Terrica Griggs Young, 39, has ventured off into yet another prestigious realm in a notable education career that spans nearly two decades. While assuming the role as Educational Director for San Antonio-based Cedar Creek School in which she oversees thirteen private schools throughout the western part of the United States, Young has emerged as a life coach/motivational speaker whereby she focuses primarily on the teenage population, most notably geared toward young girls.

To her credit, Young steadfastly has made good on her pledge of aiding youngsters to rediscover their passion and purpose for which God created them.

A 1993 Memphis Central High and Tennessee State University graduate, Young, 39, has ventured off into yet another prestigious realm in a notable education career that spans nearly two decades.

While assuming the role as Educational Director for San Antonio-based Cedar Creek School in which she oversees thirteen private schools throughout the western part of the United States, Young has emerged as a life coach/motivational speaker whereby she focuses primarily on the teenage population, most notably geared toward young girls.

FOLLOW TERRICA ON SOCIAL MEDIA: terrica.young@facebook.com

Unlike in years’ past when Young’s availability within the San Antonio community was extremely limited, in large part because of her extensive travel schedule, her increased interest in mentorship has enabled her to become a fixture in the area, a trend she has fully welcomed since starting her mentorship practice.

“I hope to offer lessons of empowerment, abundance and purpose to all of my clients by helping them set goals and plan for a future filled with promise,” said Young, explaining the mission for her latest venture. My increased interest in mentorship and coaching have enabled me to be more present in my local community, something I have taken for granted since I travel a great deal with my job.”

In addition, Young customarily volunteers with and serve on a panel of a high school dance team in Cibolo, Texas (which is in the outskirts of San Antonio), and periodically partners with several organizations in and around the San Antonio area to volunteer or assist in various capacities.

“My latest venture is pageantry, which has allowed me to network with beautiful and accomplished women all over Texas who have a common goal to inspire others and enrich their communities,” Young said. “As Mrs. Cibolo, I have attended a number of community events, bringing awareness to my platform and seeking opportunities to serve.”

Terrica4Also, Young has been afforded opportunities to conduct speaking engagements before an array of sizable crowds nationwide during which her primary emphasis remained the same — helping inspire youngsters to believe in themselves, thus broaden their horizon.

“I believe God gifted me with the ability to encourage others to reach their full potential,” Young said. “Through consulting, coaching, and mentoring, it is my personal mission to help others see their value and use their skills to enhance their lives and the lives of others.”

Spoken like a passionate life coach.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, author, life coach, motivational speaker, musician, singer, songwriter, tax preparer, accountant, financial advisor, hair stylist, model, cosmetologist, barber, athlete, 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.

Playing Hurt Podcast: Will The Grizzlies Win the NBA Finals

beleivememphis-113908431-630_0Join 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

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

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.

MSL’s Playing Hurt Podcast: Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview Edition

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Join MSL 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 MSL‘s Playing Hurt Podcast.

MemphiSport Live

Tyson Chandler thrilled to be back in Dallas after title run three years ago

NBA SOUTHWEST DIVISION REPORT 

DALLAS — As far as Tyson Chandler is concerned, it’s the “little things” that matter.

Such was the case when Chandler in June was traded back to the Dallas Mavericks after a three-year absence from the team.

Within hours after news spread of his return to the organization, Chandler fielded text messages and emails from close acquaintances with whom he established close-knit bonds during his lone season with the team in 2010-11.

HAPPY RETURN --- During the Dallas Mavericks' Media Day session Monday at American Airlines Center, veteran center Tyson Chandler said he's happy to have reunited with the team he helped capture its first NBA championship three years ago. A 13-year pro, Chandler was traded back to the Mavs in June. (Photo by Andrew Jackson, Jr.)

HAPPY RETURN — During the Dallas Mavericks’ Media Day session Monday at American Airlines Center, veteran center Tyson Chandler said he’s happy to have reunited with the team he helped capture its first NBA championship three years ago. A 13-year pro, Chandler was traded back to the Mavs in June. (Photo by Andrew Jackson, Jr.)

It was, in fact, a memorable campaign for Chandler, considering the 13-year-veteran helped propel Dallas to its first world championship in franchise history when the Mavericks upset the heavy-favorite Miami Heat in six games in the NBA Finals.

So it was no surprise that within days upon his return to the Mavericks, the city of Dallas showed their appreciation to the All-Star center by posting a picture of Chandler wearing a Mavs jersey on an electronic billboard near American Airlines Center that reads: WELCOME BACK, TYSON!

A career that includes stints with Chicago, New Orleans, Charlottle, and New York, Chandler said returning to Dallas has brought about a feeling he describes as “surreal.”

“It feels great to be back,” Chandler said during Monday’s Media Day session at American Airlines Center. “At first, it was surreal. I was a visitor for the last three years. But it’s great to be back and see familiar guys.”

While addressing reporters, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said virtually everywhere he’s gone of late, Chandler emerged as the center of conversation.

“He’s the most popular one-year player of any franchise in the history of professional sports,” Carlisle jokingly said of Chandler. “In fact, at a couple of speaking engagements I’ve had over the past couple of weeks, I said, ‘Tyson Chandler’s back.’ And folks go crazy. He’s the kind of guy that you can’t help but love to watch because of his approach and enthusiasm. You know, he’s winner.”

Not to mention a fan favorite, given the courtesies he’s acquired since his unexpected return to Big D.

POSTSEASON FORM --- Having started in each of the Mavs’ 21 postseason games in 2011, Chandler averaged 32.4 minutes, his best game coming in Game 4 of the NBA Finals when he registered 13 points and 16 rebounds to help Dallas even the series. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

POSTSEASON FORM — Having started in each of the Mavs’ 21 postseason games in 2011, Chandler averaged 32.4 minutes, his best game coming in Game 4 of the NBA Finals when he registered 13 points and 16 rebounds to help Dallas even the series. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

Because of the favorable impression Chandler left with the team three years ago, it’s safe to assume both sides were grateful to rekindle after Chandler announced six months after the Mavs’ title run that he had agreed to a four-year deal with the New York Knicks worth a reported $58 million.

Acquired by Dallas on July 13, 2010 in exchange for Matt Carroll, Erick Dampier, and Eduardo Najera, Chandler started 74 regular season games for the Mavs, averaging 10.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 27.8 minutes per game.

He was especially efficient during the team’s title run, particularly as the centerpiece on the defensive end, where he was forced to occupy more minutes because of the injury to backup center Brendan Haywood.

Having started in each of the Mavs’ 21 postseason games, Chandler averaged 32.4 minutes, his best outing coming in Game 4 of the NBA Finals when he registered 13 points and 16 rebounds to help Dallas even the series.

While Chandler admittedly didn’t know what to expect during his first run with the Mavs, he doesn’t shy away from the notion that much is expected of him this time around.

Chandler was especially efficient during the Mavs’ title run, particularly as the centerpiece on the defensive end, considering he was forced to occupy more minutes because of the injury to backup center Brendan Haywood. (Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Chandler was especially efficient during the Mavs’ title run, particularly as the centerpiece on the defensive end, considering he was forced to occupy more minutes because of the injury to backup center Brendan Haywood. (Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP)

“Obviously, having been here and winning a championship, the expectations are a little different,” Chandler said. “There are a bunch of new faces. But the motivation is still the same. And the expectations within me are still the same if not more.”

Among those who appears mostly intrigued by Chandler’s return is Mavs franchise player Dirk Nowitzki. In July, Nowitzki restructured his contract, thus allowing the team to acquire a number of key players, most notably Chandler, Chandler Parsons (from Houston), and Jameer Nelson (from Orlando).

“I’m looking forward to playing with him,” Nowitzki said of Chandler. “Obviously, the chemistry was there a few years ago, so I’m not worried about.”

As the Mavs open training camp Tuesday morning, among the key challenges for Carlisle is to devise ways to distribute minutes for a roster that boasts immense depth. Conversely, Carlisle acknowledges because of the key offseason acquisitions, much of the pressure won’t fall solely on Nowitzki to generate the bulk of the offense and on Chandler to steer the Mavs defensively.

Dallas opens preseason play October 7 when it hosts Houston. The Mavs’ season-opener is October 28 at defending NBA champion San Antonio.

“We’ll make sure (Chandler’s) minutes are reasonable, because we don’t want to overtax anybody too soon,” Carlisle said.

Regardless of how the Mavs choose to utilize Chandler this season, one thing is seemingly for certain: The smile he exhibited Monday while addressing the assembled media was indicative of just how delightful he is to have landed back at his old stomping ground.

“It’s so funny because I only spent one year here and everybody thinks I’ve spent my entire career here,” Chandler said. “You know, everybody thinks I was here four or five or six years. But it was just one, long, really incredible year.”

A year Mavs fans will never forget.

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.

Memphian and avid San Antonio Spurs fan praises organization on female coaching hire

DALLAS — At approximately 12:30 p.m. on January 7, Stella Faye Adams walked inside what was an empty FedExForum.

What she witnessed shortly thereafter is something she admittedly will cherish for the rest of her life.

HISTORIC HIRE --- The San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday hired WNBA veteran point guard Becky Hammon as an assistant coach, making her the first, full-time, paid female assistant on an NBA coaching staff. (Photos by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

HISTORIC HIRE — The San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday hired WNBA veteran point guard Becky Hammon as an assistant coach, making her the first, full-time, paid female assistant on an NBA coaching staff. (Photos by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

An avid San Antonio Spurs fan, Adams got to meet future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, whom she deems her “favorite athlete of all time.”

As Adams recalls, meeting Duncan, a 14-time All-Star, for the first time following the team’s shootaround is something she had envisioned for quite some time. A native Memphian who has supported the Grizzlies since their move from Vancouver to Memphis, Adams has had a greater admiration for the Spurs, in large because the team has proven to be what she labels the “model organization of the NBA.”

TRADING PLACES --- Once Hammon, a 16-year veteran point guard, retires from the WNBA at season’s end, she is expected to immediately join Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s staff, working with the longtime San Antonio coach on scouting, game-planning and the day-to-day happenings in practice.

TRADING PLACES — Once Hammon, a 16-year veteran point guard, retires from the WNBA at season’s end, she is expected to immediately join Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s staff, working with the longtime San Antonio coach on scouting, game-planning and the day-to-day happenings in practice.

“When I met Tim Duncan, my favorite player of a time and the Spurs, I felt like I was on top of the world,” Adams told MemphiSport on Wednesday. “I couldn’t wait to show off my pictures. I remember saying to him that it was nice meeting you. Tim said to me that it was nice meeting you also and I couldn’t contain myself. He is such a humble person. I will never forget that moment.”

Adams became an even bigger fan of the NBA world champions when the team on Tuesday announced the hiring of 37-year-old Becky Hammon as an assistant. A veteran point guard for the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars, Hammon has become the first, full-time paid female assistant on an NBA coaching staff.

The news of Hammon’s hiring was inspiring to Adams, a special education teacher at Kate Bond Elementary and cheerleading coach at the nearby middle school. According to Adams, Hammon’s unprecedented hiring has provided her and other women with lofty hopes of working their way through the ranks in their respective fields.

“This is definitely a sign of things to come,” Adams after learning of Hammon’s hiring. “You will see more females stepping out and trying something different whether it be in sports or something that is not expected of a female. She has inspired me to think outside the box. I will be exploring options whether it be in administration or in the community making a difference. I am going to use my education and experience to make myself even more marketable.”

A six-time WNBA All-Star, Hammon currently ranks fourth on the league’s all-time assist list. Once the 16-year veteran point guard retires from the WNBA at season’s end, she is expected to immediately join Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s staff, working with the longtime San Antonio coach on scouting, game-planning and the day-to-day happenings in practice.

Like many women — whether sports fans or not — Adams, 42, will be among those tracking Hammon’s every move as she becomes acclimated in her new endeavor, one she believes undoubtedly has grasped the attention of other professional franchises.

TEAM SPURS --- Memphian Stella Faye Adams has been a fan of the San Antonio Spurs since Tim Duncan entered the NBA ranks. Adams, a cheerleading coach for Kate Bond Middle School, met Duncan for the first in January.

TEAM SPURS — Memphian Stella Faye Adams has been a fan of the San Antonio Spurs since Tim Duncan entered the NBA ranks. Adams, a cheerleading coach for Kate Bond Middle School, met Duncan for the first in January.

“I think that the Spurs as an organization is a trendsetter,” said Adams, when asked what was her initial reaction to Hammon’s hiring. “The things that they have done throughout the years makes them stand out. Allowing a female to come into the organization and share her expertise to males shows that it’s about the ability, not what you look like.”

As the Spurs, who open training camp in late September, look to defend their world title this upcoming season, Adams said the organization once again has given her and others a reason to support it, let alone some newfound enthusiasm, particularly with regards to the support and equality of women in corporate America.

“I was excited that they chose a female,” Adams said. “I believe she will bring some skills that will make the veteran players even better as a team. It’s makes me feel like I can step out and do something as unique as this.”

Having gone undrafted as a rookie following an All-American career at Colorado State, Hammon is in her 16th season and with her second WNBA team. She was signed by the New York Liberty in May 1999, enjoying a stellar rookie campaign while backing up starting point guard Teresa Witherspoon. Hammon spent seven seasons with the Liberty before being traded to the San Antonio Stars in April 2007.

En route to winning their fifth world championship in franchise history, the Spurs produced an NBA -best 60-20 record during the regular season and clinched the top seed in the postseason. San Antonio defeated the Miami Heat in five games in the NBA Finals.

ADreColumnndre 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, call him at 901-690-6587 or send email to andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.