Court Vision: Holiday wishes for all 30 NBA teams
By Ben Golliver
• Ian Levy at Hickory-High continues an annual tradition by assembling dozens of NBA-related holiday wishes for the league's 30 teams from writers and bloggers around the web. Lots of laughs, insights and thought-provoking analysis.
• High school sensation Jabari Parker, expected to be a lottery pick when the time comes, has chosen to play his college basketball at Duke. Jeff Benedict explains why here at SI.com.
JCF: Sounds like something you should write about. Speaking of which, I heard you mention in New Orleans a couple weeks ago that when you retire you’ll create your own blog. I know you were probably joking, but what would the name of your blog be?
DJS: Yes, I was just joking. You won’t find my Twitter feed, my Facebook page or my blog because they won’t exist in any way that you’ll be able to identify.
JCF: Why aren’t you on twitter anyway?
DJS: I didn’t say I’m not. I just said you wouldn’t be able to identify it.
JCF: Would you think about putting yourself out there publicly?
DJS: No, no, no.
JCF: Just because it’s a recipe for disaster?
DJS: Yeah, I think so. I think the world has enough tweets. I don’t have anything that I think would be valuable as an addition.
• Nike is set to release black/red versions of the Air Jordan 11 on Friday. Last year's release of the Air Jordan 11 "Concords" led to violence around the country.
Matt Powell, an analyst with SportsOneSource who tracks licensed apparel sales, told me he's confident that team-branded apparel sales are rising back to the top.
“I really think we’re on the cusp of a revival of licensed apparel as streetwear,” said Powell. “It won’t be the same as it was in the ‘90s. We won’t see Starter jackets again. I just think the timing is right.”
Lisa Piken, the NBA's vice president of licensing, told me that even with a lockout-shortened season last year, sales of Adidas NBA products broke new records. So far this year, sales are up double-digits from last year, she said.
Powell broke it down into specifics, saying NBA apparel sales are up 60 percent. The biggest contributor to this growth is the emergence of the Brooklyn Nets. The franchise moved from New Jersey and rebranded with a stark black-and-white logo and uniform set designed with the help of hip-hop mogul and part team-owner Jay-Z.
Piken said the Nets now rank fourth in team apparel sales. Powell contends the Nets own at least a 30 percent share of all NBA apparel sales.
“We’ve never seen numbers like this for a new franchise,” Powell said. “Maybe the closest thing would have been way back when the San Jose Sharks first came out and had the teal color.”
• Kurt Helin at ProBasketballTalk writes that Kobe Bryant isn't to blame for the Lakers' problems.
• Justice B. Hill has a longform look at former Harlem Globetrotter Ernest Wagner Jr. at SB Nation.
• Kings blog Cowbell Kingdom landed an interview with rapper Rick Ross, who was in attendance at Wednesday night's Kings/Warriors game.
• Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie gives Pistons coach Lawrence Frank plenty of respect and space but still wonders whether he should reconsider the playing time given to rookie center Andre Drummond.
It’s good to respect what Lawrence Frank is doing. There’s obviously something going on behind the scenes with the Pistons, a terrible team that he’s been handed, and Frank has been adroit and tactful in all of his comments about Drummond -- up to and including this recent admission. He truly is in an impossible situation, left with gifting his young center minutes even after what could be a day’s worth of practice and/or off-court misdeeds. And that guesswork isn’t a shot at Drummond, because most of us weren’t exactly giving our all at 101 classes and/or entry-level jobs at the age of 19, either.
Even after this short and seven-week sample size, though, it might be time to take a different approach. It’s certainly best to hope for the finest possible solution sometime late in 2012-13 or a few more years into Drummond’s career, which is to see the man respond to Frank’s minutes ceiling with respect and admiration and give the Pistons’ fan base a needed return to glory.
“I’m getting a slice of what it’s like to be retired,” Frye said, “and I’m not ready to go yet.”• Hornets guard Eric Gordon is heading back to New Orleans after working to improve his ailing knee in Los Angeles, according to the Times-Picayune. The 5-20 Hornets sure could use him.