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Metta World Peace Jersey Signed

Metta World Peace certainly had one of the more colorful careers in the NBA. While the player formerly known as Ron Artest will likely always be remembered for his role in the “Malice at the Palace” brawl in 2004, his story is one of redemption. World Peace actually befriended the fan that threw a water bottle at him and later won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010. After retiring, he appeared in Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball challenge and works with the Lakers as a player development coach.

Now, World Peace is setting his sights on a new challenge: being an entrepreneur through his Artest Management Group company. His first product is XvsX Sports, which can best be described as the Airbnb of pickup basketball games. World Peace created the platform alongside a slew of tech entrepreneurs and fellow NBA players Al Harrington, Nick Young, Chris Copeland, Jermaine O’Neal, and Stephen Jackson.

Using a subscription model, XvsX Sports offers on-demand, competitive open runs for all levels of players, including professionals, semi-pros, competitive, and recreational players. That last demographic may prove to be the most important of all — with 23 million Americans fitting the “recreational” bill, it’s a great opportunity for growth.

The initial early access beta launch will roll out in the Los Angeles area, with additional cities throughout the United States joining the game after that. Players can meet others at their skill level, build up points, and participate in showcase games.

“There’s so many ways to get basketball to the consumer. Playing in the NBA for so many years, I’m used to playing a certain way — in front of people, getting paid, branding, endorsing,” World Peace says. “When the NBA’s gone, you don’t have that system, the people, or the machine in place. You become irrelevant. With XvsX Sports, I’m trying to revolutionize the game for people like myself. We love basketball and still want to play at a high level.”

It’s not World Peace’s first foray into business; he’s also an adviser for Butter Cloth, a men’s clothing company. In six months, the brand did $500,000 in sales. After an appearance on Shark Tank last October, which saw the company secure a deal with Robert Herjavec, Butter Cloth has now made more than $4.5 million.

As he moves into his second career, World Peace has learned three key lessons along the way.

Build a strong team and culture

The need to develop a strong culture is paramount for World Peace. He acknowledges building that culture can take time, and it can be frustrating to invest so much in overhead, particularly if you don’t have a lot of excess capital. But getting that foundation in place — especially when that team knows how the business should operate because they’re so heavily invested — will pay off in the long run.

“Culture and teamwork are the biggest things. You need to have a place where you trust your co-founders. Some people try to do everything on their own,” he says. “There are so many different types of entrepreneurs. Some have the background to operate or design, others are more focused on business. Building that team around you is super important.”

NBA player Metta World Peace speaks at the BET NEWS CONVERSATION: Mental Health in the Black Community panel
Jerod Harris/BET/Getty Images for BET

Creating XvsX Sports has presented several challenges, too. World Peace and his team have worked on obstacles like gaining market share, the logistics of setting up games across gyms, and developing customer personas while identifying which ones to target first.

“It’s a lot. I’ve been doing this for about four years, and you need a lot,” he says. “You need data scientists, chief revenue officers to figure out where the best locations will be at. You need digital marketing, you need to acquire players — you have to tell them why they should play on your platform. It’s not as easy as you would think it is to find games for people. There’s a lot that goes into it. It’s challenging but it’s also fun.”

World Peace credits the strength of his team with keeping things running smoothly. And developing a basketball product is the right move for him, as he’s following his passion.

Invest in what you know and believe in

With a pro career spanning nearly 20 years, World Peace knows the game of basketball inside and out. He’s identified a problem area within the sport — an overabundance of players and unused courts, plus a strong desire for people to find quality competition. World Peace believes XvsX Sports can change how we view and play basketball.

“This will be like how fantasy sports revolutionized things,” he says. “We’re hoping to create a marketplace in the next year or two that will offer people a new type of playing experience. Whether you want to just have fun, or in case you’ve never played in college or professionally, we want to be the platform.”

Similarly, World Peace’s involvement with Butter Cloth stemmed from a chance fashion show while he was studying new trends in the advertising space. And once again, the passion for the product shone through.

“I was at (Los Angeles ad agency) MuteSix, learning about integrated and programmatic marketing,” World Peace says. “They told me, ‘Hey, put this shirt on.’ I put the shirt on and I melted from the love.”

It was love at first sight (or wear, in this case). And World Peace saw an opportunity because of how the shirt fit into his day-to-day schedule. He believes in products that he can actually use and benefit from.

“Business attire is not comfortable. I’d be at an investment meeting and be too hot, sweating under my armpits. This shirt made me feel different because I could actually add a business suit and be very comfortable.”

World Peace’s involvement with Butter Cloth has also enlightened him on running his own business.

Butter Cloth

Learn from your experiences

When Butter Cloth founder Danh Tran appeared on Shark Tank to pitch his company, he had an assist from World Peace, who made a cameo as the “in-house long-fiber cotton scientist.” A dunk while wearing a Butter Cloth shirt may have been a selling point for investor Robert Herjavec, but World Peace took the whole experience as a learning opportunity.

“The whole process taught me a lot about business and running a company. There’s a lot of number crunching, a lot that goes into it,” he says. “We went on the show and got a lot of returning customers. They don’t buy just one shirt. They buy 15 different shirts, which is amazing.”

Perhaps World Peace sees some of himself in Tran, as well. The Butter Cloth founder has also had a colorful career, with an ultimate tale of perseverance.

Tran grew up working in his family’s small tailor shop in Vietnam and was designing clothes by age 10. His family emigrated to the U.S., where he took fashion classes at a California college and landed a job at Mattel, designing clothes for Barbie.

He eventually enrolled at the Otis College of Art and Design, his dream school. Tran was recruited by several companies, landing at Affliction Clothing. He served as the company’s head designer for ten years before making a huge decision: He quit his job, sold his house, and cashed in his 401(k) to start Butter Cloth, going all-in on following his dream.

Tran’s story was instrumental for World Peace and is part of the reason he’s involved with the company. If World Peace has his way, his business book will follow a similar arc of success.

“Danh built Butter Cloth up from nothing, and it shows the confidence he has in his abilities. I want to be somebody like that as an entrepreneur.”

Aaron McKie Jersey Signed

Aaron McKie still enjoys a good pickup game. He finds time one October morning between a team practice and his afternoon meetings to head to the basketball courts at Temple University’s McGonigle Hall, where he finds a familiar group of undergraduates hooping. He tries to make time to play at least once a week, but it’s getting harder these days. Temple’s season begins in less than two weeks, and McKie is preparing for his first season as the Owls’ head men’s basketball coach.

Standing near the sideline, McKie calls his own number and steps on to the court. Gone is the Caesar cut of his youth, replaced by a depilated dome and a grizzled goatee. The 47-year-old is more than two decades removed from his playing days at Temple under Hall of Fame coach John Chaney, and he retired from the NBA in 2007, but his game has aged well, and he’s not about to take it easy on his opponents.

McKie calls an isolation play and nets a midrange jumper, sticking his tongue out at the hapless undergraduate guarding him. At 6-foot-5, he’s a towering presence on the court, and while his movement has grown robotic, his instincts remain. He doesn’t miss a single jumper in an hour. He yells at his teammates for missing defensive assignments and protests when he doesn’t get to run the point. He shouts “HELL NAWLLL” when his opponents miss a shot. At one point, McKie steals a pass, crosses his defender over with a left-handed, behind-the-back dribble, drops another with an inside-out dribble, pushes the ball the length of the court, and draws in three defenders at the rim before finding a teammate open for a corner 3. He smiles, slaps his right hip, and gallops back down the court as if riding a bronco. “I still got it!” he says as he walks off the court. “Those good kids, man. That’s my crew, and I play with them all the time. But I be talking shit to them. Those motherfuckers ain’t beat me in a month!” he says with a laugh.

Kenny Sears Jersey Signed

We are inside of one month until the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, when the league’s many new superstar pairings will finally be unveiled. What better way to pass the time than to count down the final 55 days by arguing over who wore each jersey number best until we reach No. 00.

There are currently 12 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 12 best?

Shoutouts
Dick Barnett, aka Skull, a 1968 All-Star, two-time champ and fadeaway pioneer. His No. 12 is retired by the New York Knicks.

Ralph Beard, All-NBA in each of his first two seasons; banned for life as part of the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal.

Vince Boryla, aka Moose, who wore No. 12 for the New York Knicks in the NBA’s first All-Star Game in 1951.

Bruce Bowen, maybe the most annoying defender in NBA history, to put it kindly, wore No. 12 for all eight of his All-Defensive campaigns, including a trio of championship seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, who retired his jersey.

Don Chaney, a two-time champion and five-time All-Defensive selection, is the only player to have played with both Bill Russell and Larry Bird, wearing No. 12 during both tours of duty with the Boston Celtics and bookending a 12-year career.

Howie Dallmar, who led Stanford to an NCAA title as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player before winning a Basketball Association of America title as an All-BAA selection in a No. 12 Philadelphia Warriors jersey.

Vlade Divac, the Hall of Famer and Team Yugoslavia legend, wore No. 12 for the first nine years of his career, sandwiching his trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Charlotte Hornets that sent Kobe Bryant to L.A. He made his only All-Star appearance for the Sacramento Kings, who retired the No. 21 jersey he wore for them in the early 2000s.

Mike Gale, a 1974 ABA champion and two-time All-Defensive selection who had a glorious Afro.

Derek Harper, a two-time All-Defensive selection who once pulled a J.R. Smith in the playoffs, has his No. 12 retired in Dallas.

Chris Herren, the inspirational motivational speaker, donned No. 12 for a lone addiction-plagued season with the Celtics.

Warren Jabali, a legend in Hall of Famer Rick Barry’s eyes, wore No. 12 for two of his four ABA All-Star seasons.

Fat Lever, a two-time All-Star and triple-double artist who once posted a playoff 19-16-18, has his No. 12 retired in Denver.

Press Maravich, the father of Hall of Famer Pete Maravich.

Pat Riley, the Hall of Fame coach, sported No. 12 in his six-year run as a player with the Lakers.

Kenny Sears, a two-time All-Star with the Knicks and the first basketball player to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Evan Turner, quote machine.

Caveats
Michael Jordan, the GOAT, wore a nameless No. 12 jersey for a single game against the Orlando Magic on Feb. 14, 1990, when somebody stole his traditional No. 23 jersey. He scored 49 points in defeat.

Jo Jo White, a Hall of Famer, U.S. Marine and Dallas Cowboys draft pick, wore No. 12 for 13 games with the Kansas City Kings, two stops after making seven All-Star appearances and winning a pair of championships in a No. 10 Celtics jersey.

Dominique Wilkins, the Hall of Famer and dunk contest god, sported No. 12 for his lone season with the Celtics, a campaign that spelled the end of his string of nine-straight All-Star appearances and represented the start of his steep decline.

Currently
LaMarcus Aldridge, the self-proclaimed boring All-Star, has donned No. 12 for the entirety of his 13-year career, which makes him the choice for best active player to wear the number — ahead of guys like Steven Adams, Joe Harris and Terry Rozier.

Challengers
Dwight Howard, simultaneously a future Hall of Famer and massive disappointment, sported No. 12 for 13 of his first 15 seasons, including his eight All-Star appearances, three Defensive Player of the Year campaigns and 2008 slam dunk title.

Maurice Stokes, an All-Star in each of his first three seasons before a fall in the final game of the 1957-58 regular season paralyzed him, has his No. 12 retired by the Sacramento Kings. Supported by fellow Cincinnati Royal Jack Twyman for the remainder of his life, Stokes joins Twyman as both halves of the namesake for the NBA’s Teammate of the Year award.

Jim Farmer Jersey Signed

Former NBA player Jim Farmer has human trafficking charges dropped
Former NBA player Jim Farmer will not face human trafficking charges following his arrest last month, a Tennessee judge ruled Tuesday.

The decision came during a preliminary hearing for the University of Alabama standout, who was among 16 men arrested on suspicion of seeking sex with minors during a two-day police sting, the Dothan Eagle reported.

CARMELO ANTHONY MAKES DEBUT WITH PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS AFTER MORE THAN YEAR OFF COURT

Former NBA player Jim Farmer had human trafficking charges against him dropped on Tuesday.
Former NBA player Jim Farmer had human trafficking charges against him dropped on Tuesday. (Rutherford County Jail)

Farmer, 55, who lives in Franklin, Tenn., allegedly communicated with a female undercover police officer posing as a 16-year-old girl.

Police took him into custody when he showed up to meet the fictitious teen.

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Farmer was a leading scorer at Alabama before embarking on a career in the NBA in 1987. He played for several teams over six seasons, including the Denver Nuggets, the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz.

Bobby Rascoe Jersey Signed

Rick Stansbury’s message to the Owensboro youth was simple Wednesday night: making the right decisions and working hard can lead to great success later in life.

Stansbury, the men’s basketball head coach at Western Kentucky University, was the keynote speaker at the 37th Annual Steak and Burger Dinner hosted by the Cliff Hagan Boys and Girls Club.

His coaching career dates back to 1981, with the most notable stint coming from 1998-2012 at Mississippi State University. There, he was the SEC Coach of the Year in 2004 after the Bulldogs won the conference in the regular season. He also led the team to two SEC tournament championships and five SEC Western Division titles.

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Other special guests were Bobby Rascoe and Owen Lawson, who both spent time in the NBA after standout careers at WKU. Rascoe was an all-American at Western Kentucky, while Lawson earned all-conference honors for the Hilltoppers.

After spending time talking about his excitement for the upcoming season, Stansbury sent a message specifically for the children scattered among the crowd.

“Nowadays, it’s not easy doing the right thing,” he said. “As a matter of fact, it’s a lot easier to do the wrong thing.”

Stansbury said he gives the same message to the young men each year on his college roster.

“I preach to our players that it’s not about what happens between the lines,” he said. “What happens outside those lines will determine what happens between them. We tell them to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it, and with the best effort and attitude possible.”

Stansbury said there’s no secret or magic dust that allows people to succeed. Instead, it’s all about focus and creating an atmosphere that promotes positive growth.

“You guys are facing a lot of bad situations,” he said. “When I grew up, we didn’t have all these distractions. You guys know right from wrong. Surround yourselves with people that will help you, people that want to do something with their lives.”

He also encouraged everyone to reach for their dreams — whether it was sports, college or a technical career — and not settle for anything less than their best.

“If you believe in something enough, have a love for it, have a passion for it, you can do it,” Stansbury said. “Sometimes college isn’t for everybody, and that’s ok. Go get a good skill. Whatever you decide to do in life, just be the best at it, no matter what it is.”

Kevin Brooks Jersey Signed

As part of NBA Australia’s new feature series, ‘NBA Passport’, former Denver Nuggets forward Kevin Brooks spoke one-on-one with NBA Australia about dunking on Michael Jordan, winning NBL titles with the Adelaide 36ers and his adulation for LeBron James.

After finishing at University of Southwestern Louisiana, how special was it to hear your name called out at #18 in the 1991 draft, which also included your soon-to-be Denver team-mate Dikembe Mutombo and Australia’s Luc Longley?

It was an awesome feeling. To be drafted from anywhere is a great accomplishment, but to do it from White Castle, Louisiana, a town of 2000 people, you’re seen as a small-town hero to get out of the hood. My agent, Bill Strickland, went to New York (for the draft) but I decided not to attend. I didn’t want to be sitting there in a nice suit that I might not be able to pay for!

You played 126 NBA games in three seasons with the early-90s Nuggets under Paul Westhead, then Dan Issel. Your reflections?

My experience was awesome. I only got three seasons when I initially wanted a minimum 10, but I have nothing but fond memories. Paul’s system was fun because he wanted to run and gun a lot. Dan slowed things down and worked around Mutombo, who was the league’s best shot-blocker.

What was Mutombo like?

A great guy and such a character. He’s very intelligent and had a helluva career. We’d tease him constantly that of the seven different languages he speaks, English was the worst one (laughs)! Mutombo would talk trash all the time with that deep, thick accent, but he also taught you how to get your shot off against a big shot-blocker because you had to go up against him every day at training. If he swatted you, he’d let you know about it all the way down the court.

Can you confirm that you once dunked on the legendary Michael Jordan in a match at Chicago Stadium?

I did, but I didn’t realise at the time. It was my rookie year and we were getting hammered pretty good. The Bulls missed a free throw and I turned, hit the left lane. Our point guard Winnie Garland kicked it out to me on the run. I grabbed it, left-hand speed-dribbled and took off for a two-handed dunk. After the game, (team-mate) Joe Wolf, who played with Mike at North Carolina, said ‘nice dunk rook, Jordan almost took your head off when he swung, trying to block you’. That’s my dunk on Michael Jordan, even though I didn’t know he was there. He’s the greatest player ever, so you gotta mention you dunked on him. That’s your moment!

Another highlight was when your eighth-seeded Nuggets came from 2-0 down to stun the top-seeded Seattle Supersonics 3-2 in the first round of the 1994 Western Conference playoffs. What are your memories from that shock win?

No-one gave us a chance. Our goal was to simply make the playoffs. We squeaked in and Seattle thrashed us those first two games. They led the league in wins under coach George Karl with stars like Reign Man (Shawn Kemp), Glove (Gary Payton), Detlef Schrempf and Kendall Gill. But we didn’t fear them simply because we were young and didn’t know any better.
When they came to McNichols (Denver), it was a different ballgame and we won Games 3 and 4. Then it’s like ‘why not?’. We didn’t have anything to lose and when you think like that, you can be pretty dog-gone dangerous. All the pressure was on Seattle and we played an unbelievable Game 5. Mutombo turned that series around. He got in Kemp’s head man – had him in his pocket!

Unfortunately, two members of that Nuggets squad would later suffer severe misfortune, Brian Williams, aka Bison Dele (presumed murdered), and Rodney Rogers (paralysed after a dirt bike accident).

(Pauses)I get instantly emotional when those names come up. I considered Brian, or B-Dub, a very good friend. The last time I saw him was in Perth where he was riding dune buggies with Luc Longley. Six months later he was gone. I have a lot of love for Brian, and Rodney likewise. I haven’t spoken to Rodney since the accident but I definitely intend to.

Basketball took you to France, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Poland and New Zealand, but it was in Australia with the Adelaide 36ers where you really made your mark, forming with Denver team-mate Darnell Mee one of the NBL’s best-ever import combinations and winning championships in your first two seasons (1998, 1999).

Darnell and I were thick as thieves; really good friends on and off the court, and still are to this day, even though we’re opposites. He’s introverted and I’m a bit of a show-off!

Darnell, who earlier played with Canberra, told me Australia is a nice country with a good basketball league and nice hotels. We both wanted to get back into the NBA, but we were just one of the guys. We celebrated those titles like they were NBA championships! Winning the grand final MVP (1998) made it extra special and I still feel honoured about it, although at the time I had no idea there was such an award here.

The 36ers coach then was Australian legend Phil Smyth, who was renowned for being a players’ coach. I assume his relaxed, free-flowing method suited your playing style.

Everyone enjoyed it, without question. Phil was a coach who players wanted to play for. He and SJ (long-time assistant Steve Breheny) were opposites but they complemented each other. They didn’t over-coach us or give us too much information. I don’t think they get enough credit for those back-to-back championships. Our style was very fun to play, entertaining to watch and one we could repeat over and over again.

You averaged 18 points and 40 minutes as an inside-outside scoring force in your 158 NBL games, which included a season with the Sydney Kings under current Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown. What was he like?

Brett was fun to play for. He had so much enthusiasm and energy. His preparation is what I took most from him. Brett put in the effort and got to work with Pop (Gregg Popovich) at a great franchise in San Antonio, and he’s gone on from there.

You’ve moved to coaching where you’re in charge of Central District’s women at State League level and working as a 36ers assistant under Joey Wright. You and Joey go way back, don’t you?

Our colleges played against each other and Joey tried out for Denver my second year there. When he got the Adelaide job, he asked if I’d like to help. Joey is similar to Phil in that the guys like playing for him, but Joey is more defensive-minded. And the language is definitely different – Phil didn’t curse, but Joey does a lot (laughs)!

Do you consider Adelaide home?

Yes. My wife and I had our first child here, a son, on September 24th. I’ve got family back in the States, but Adelaide is my home and has been for a while.

Do you still follow the NBA?

I do. I bought League Pass last season and boy, it’s awesome! I don’t know what I’d been waiting for. I just turn it on, punch a few buttons and I can watch all these NBA games, replays, strategies and learn from the best coaching minds in the world. I feel compelled to support LeBron James at Cleveland because I thought he got a raw deal from people hating on him. I was pulling for Miami the past four years and now that he’s back at Cleveland, I’m a Cavs fan. I want to see LeBron win one for this team and when he retires he’ll be the governor or the mayor of Ohio, whatever he wants. I think it’s a great story.

Ray Allen Jersey Signed

Ray Allen is a key part of the NBA’s evolution to what we see today. Alongside Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Allen would form one of the first orchestrated Big Three in the NBA. This would set the stage for LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and others to attempt to replicate the same formula the Boston Celtics provided for the NBA landscape.

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While the Celtics had much success with their Big Three, their ending didn’t go amicably. Ray Allen went down south to their rivals, the Miami Heat and ended up winning a second NBA title in 2013. This entire exchange would drive a wrench between Allen, Garnett and Pierce’s brotherhood.

The wrench is still there, according to Allen. In an interview with WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni, & Fauria show, Allen spoke out on how he felt the Celtics took his lack of being verbal for granted.

“Well, I’ll tell you what. It’s nothing personal, but it was disheartening when I left. I would speak when I needed to speak, but I didn’t speak up enough to where people listened and paid attention to me, and it took me for granted.

I often felt like I was taken for granted in this situation. When I left it was a shame of what was said about me, and it almost seemed like people were speaking out of anger, and I didn’t have any anger or animosity towards anybody.

It seemed like the team didn’t want to continue with the way I was helping and contributing. We’re still brothers let’s move forward from this. But unfortunately those guys had other agendas. The interesting thing about Big Baby and Kendrick Perkins making comments on the show is that they weren’t even on the team in 2011.”

While there will always be three sides to any story, it’s sad that the Celtics Big Three ended the way it did. Maybe one day the three of them can patch up their differences and be cordial.

Tod Murphy Jersey Signed

SALEM — Gordon College senior guard Eric Demers entered Tuesday’s game against Salem State with a scoring average of over 28 points per game.

After his Fighting Scots dispatched the Vikings, 95-78, that number increased by nearly three full points.

Demers went off for a season-high 41 on an efficient 13-of-23 from the field and 8-for-15 from deep, helping his squad pull away from the hosts in the second half and move above .500 the year.

“Salem’s always really good and they always give us a hard time. I know it wasn’t a pretty win, but we did what we had to do,” said Gordon head coach Tod Murphy, his team now 3-2.

“When you have Eric Demers in there scoring 41 points it makes it a lot easier. He hit shots from everywhere tonight and I know he takes some shots that ordinarily I probably wouldn’t allow other players to take, but he makes them.”

Demers got going early and often, closing out the first half with 20 points as Gordon took a slight 47-41 edge into the locker room. As referenced by his coach, the 6-foot-1 sharpshooter did his damage in a myriad of ways: mid-range pull-ups with defenders draped in his shirt, slithery layups in traffic and of course, 3-point bombs.

Piling up the buckets is nothing new for the fifth-year standout, as he averaged exactly 23.4 points in each of the last two seasons. But without running mate Garrison Duvivier, who graduated following last year’s successful campaign, Demers has taken an even more prominent role in the offense.

In five games thus far, he’s scored 24, 30, 28, 32 and 41, respectively, with a shooting split of .464/.400/.853. He seems to have taken his game to the next level in his farewell collegiate campaign, and Murphy has certainly taken note of that.

“He actually worked out with an NBA trainer this summer and that’s why his release I think has actually gotten quicker,” said Murphy. “Unless you foul him it doesn’t really have much of an effect on his shot. He’s a pretty special player at any level but at the D3 level he’s pretty incredible.”

While Demers was undeniably spectacular Tuesday night, things would have been exponentially more difficult had he had to defend Vikings’ senior guard Sean Bryan on the other end. Bryan — who had been averaging 23.6 points, eight rebounds and four assists over his first five — missed the contest due to an ankle injury, and the Vikings certainly suffered from his absence.

Without a reliable ball handler to run the offense (junior guard Alex de La Rosa was also out with an injury), Salem State were forced to work the ball inside a bit more. Hakeem Animashaun was once again a force on the block, finishing with 27 points and 14 rebounds while going 11-for-18 from the charity stripe, while Gloucester native Evan Mason finished with an efficient 14 points and seven boards.

But the Vikings’ offense looked stagnant and out of sorts at times without two of their top playmakers, and Gordon was able to take full advantage. Salem managed to connect on just three of their 17 3-point attempts on the night. With that being said, Murphy felt his group could’ve done a better job on defense and on the glass, as Salem managed to out-rebound the Scots’, 45-43.

“Without Sean out there I wasn’t real pleased with the effort. They would’ve scored 90-plus easily if Sean was in there so it wasn’t one of our best efforts,” said Murphy. “If we can get the defense in order with the offense that we have then we can beat a lot of teams. It’s just that right now we’re going to end up in a lot of 95-94 type games and that’s going to end my life way too soon if we do that too often.”

Ben North turned in a strong effort for the Scots off the bench, contributing 13 points, six rebounds, three steals and a pair of blocks in 23 minutes. Big man Parker Omslaer went for 14 points and seven boards while Josh Crutchfield also reached double figures with 10 points, six assists and two steals. Aljernod Terry led Gordon with 13 rebounds.

For Salem, Chris MacDonald had 14 points and eight boards while Fern Bernard chipped in nine off the bench.

Brendan McCann Jersey Signed

The NBA Draft is tonight, and, no, there won’t be any St. Bonaventure players taken, but it seems as good a time as any to reflect on the 33 former Bonnies who did hear their names called on draft night.

The Philadelphia 76ers have the No. 1 pick in tonight’s lottery, having traded with Boston for that spot earlier in the week, the first of 30 first round selections being made inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

The Bonnies have had four first-round draft picks in their history: Brendan McCann (No. 5 overall, New York Knicks), Tom Stith (No. 2, New York Knicks), Bob Lanier (No. 1, Detroit Pistons) and Andrew Nicholson (No. 19, Orlando Magic). They’ve had two players taken by the team with tonight’s top pick: Bob Barnek in 1965 and Glenn Hagan, who was taken by the 76ers in the second round (No. 43 overall) in 1978.

Once again, Kentucky is expected to have at least three of its young players taken in the first round. There has been one instance in which Bona had at least that many taken in a single draft: In 1953, when four of its starting five was taken.

One of those four players, Bob Sassone, remembers it well.

“In 1953, even though we had a 12-12 record, four of those five guys were drafted to the NBA,” the 86-year-old Sassone recalled vividly.

Sassone was taken in the third round by the Philadelphia Warriors, with Bill Kenville going in the same round to the Syracuse Nationals, Mike Bodnar (5th round) to the Fort Wayne Pistons and Bill Edwards (12th) to the Rochester Royals.

What was that like for Brooklyn native?

“It was a thrill,” he said, but …

“In the NBA (in those days), you only lasted two years most of the time. When I came out, I went to Philly and I talked to them. They said, since you’ve gone, we already got other guys to last two years. Even Sam Stith, I think he lasted only two years with the Knicks.”

Ah, the Knicks.

When Eddie Donovan left Bona to coach the Knicks in 1961, he wound up bringing a handful of Bonnies with him. Tom Stith (first round) and Whitey Martin (second round) were taken by New York in ‘61 while Fred Crawford went in the eighth round in ‘63. Sam Stith was selected by the Cincinnati Royals in 1960, but his draft rights eventually went to … the Knicks.

Sassone lamented the bout with tuberculosis that kept the younger Stith from truly pursuing an NBA career, but remembered a story about Tom from his days as an assistant coach.

“When he was a sophomore, he became very friendly with me; more friendly with me than with Eddie,” Sassone said. “And the reason was, we used to throw the ball into Stith, and Stith started throwing it out to Kenny Fairfield, who was a senior from Hinsdale.

“I said, ‘Tom, the whole offense is four guys around you. When the ball comes into you, do you know what you have to do with it? Shoot it.’ You know what he said to me? ‘Coach, I gotta keep the seniors happy, so I throw the ball out to Kenny.’”

The Knicks weren’t done at Crawford, however. Eventually, they’d also take Greg Sanders (8th round, 1978) and Mark Jones (4th round, 1983).

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Aside from the 76ers, the Lakers, Celtics, Suns and Kings all have top five picks tonight. That’s actually the same top four, in order, as last year. The Bonnies have had players drafted by all of those teams except Los Angeles.

The Celtics took Bill Butler in the eighth round of the 1968 draft while Matt Gantt went to the Suns in the fourth round in 1972. Fred Diute (3rd round, 1951) and Edwards went to the Rochester Royals, who’d ultimately become the Kings.

Bona has had players drafted by teams that moved or are no longer in existence: Paul Hoffman (1972), Carl Jackson (‘73), Glenn Price (‘74), Bob Rozyczko (‘76) all went to the Buffalo Braves while Kenville, Mal Duffy (‘55) and Bob McCully (‘62) went to Syracuse. Essie Hollis, a co-captain on the 1977 NIT championship team, went in the second round (No. 44 overall) to the New Orleans Jazz that same year.

Bonnies have gone to the current NBA champion (Greg “Bubba” Gary was taken by Golden State in 1971) and past champions (Earl Belcher was drafted by the Spurs in 1981) and everywhere in between: Leo Corkery and George Carter went to the Pistons in 1952 and 1967, respectively; Jim Satalin was taken by the Bucks in the ninth round in ‘69, Tim Waterman to the Hawks in ‘79 and Barry Mungar to the Wizards in ‘86.

St. Bonaventure’s first ever NBA draft pick? Ken Murray, to the old Chicago Stags in 1950.

As for Sassone? After the conversations he had with Warriors, he was ready to move on with his life; more specifically, into coaching.

“What they wanted me to do was go up to Scranton/Wilkes Barre and play in the weekend leagues,” he said. “There were guys from New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and they played up there.

“I had a job with United Postal, I was married. I was working and making a lot of money. Then, I wanted to drop out of UPS. I put in for law school, figuring that’s where I’d go, and Eddie Donovan called me, and that changed my life.”

Dave Minor Jersey Signed

ORLANDO – For an extended period of the season now, the focus surrounding Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Issac has been on his jump shot, his difference-making defensive abilities and how he has meshed in the starting lineup alongside fellow forward Aaron Gordon.

The focus, however, Dave Minor hasn’t been on Isaac’s ankles – and that’s a very good thing considering the trouble that he had last season as a rookie.

Saturday’s game against the Boston Celtics was Issac’s 28th straight game of the season – one more than he played all of last season because of various ankle sprains. He worked hard all summer to grow his game and strengthen his ankles and it has paid off to the point that after Saturday he will have played in 35 of the team’s 42 games.

“It feels great to string together more games than I played the entire last year,’’ said Isaac, Orlando’s No. 6 pick from the 2017 NBA Draft. “It’s exciting, I’m glad to be healthy and I’m glad to be out on the floor.’’

Magic coach Steve Clifford, who often compares Isaac to former Magic great Rashard Lewis because of his lengthy body and willingness to sacrifice for the team, has averaged 7.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.11 blocks in 24.5 minutes a night. Shooting has been an issue as he’s made just 40.4 percent of his field goals and 28.4 percent from 3-point range. He seemed poised to come out of his shooting slump on Wednesday in Utah by drilling two of his four 3-point attempts.

All of it has been possible thanks to a team effort by Isaac, the Magic’s front office and their medical team to help get his ankles strong and steady again. Other than a minor sprain in the preseason and another one in the first month of the regular season that cost him six games on the sidelines, Isaac has been healthy and growing for the Magic.

“Really, the summer was huge, getting my foot right and I haven’t had many issues,’’ Isaac said. “Other than early in the season with a couple of light sprains I haven’t had any issues because I’ve been focusing on it. Our training staff and our management team are doing their best to make sure I’m taken care of and it’s been great. It allows me to just get my mindset ready to play and not have my ankle in the back of my mind. It’s just about the game now.’’

MAGIC PROTECTING PLAYERS FROM GERMS: For the Magic, defense extends well beyond the parquet floor of the Amway Center when it comes to protecting their players.

The Magic have partnered with Violet Defense, an Orlando-based germ-killing company with patented UV technology, to bring the first-known deployment of hospital-grade UV cleaning to the NBA.

Utilizing the full spectrum of ultraviolet light, Violet Defense’s products deliver germ-free protection throughout the air and onto any contact surface that is exposed to UV light. Their technology, which can be used or installed in a mobile format, has been proven to kill 99.9 percent of key bacteria and viruses, including E. Coli, Salmonella, Norovirus and even superbugs like MRSA.

“The Orlando Magic are committed to winning and the innovations that provide the best opportunities to do that,’’ Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman said. “We are thrilled about what this partnership with Violet Defense could bring to our team, and most importantly, ways to keep a healthy locker room.’’

The Magic will deploy a variety of products Violet Defense’s surface and air germ elimination (S.A.G.E.) UV line in their locker rooms, training rooms, weight rooms, dining areas and medical areas. The Magic also plan to add this technology to their family area to disinfect the nursery, children’s play areas and bathrooms.

“We are always looking for opportunities to keep our players healthy,’’ Magic High Performance Director David Tenney said. “And by keeping our players healthy and on the court, that gives us the best chance to win. With this exclusive partnership, we now have another tool available to help us do that.’’

Added Terrance Berland, Chief Executive Officer of Violet Defense: “The Magic have demonstrated a real commitment to being very innovative in their pursuit of improved player performance. We are excited to have the opportunity to not only help protect our home team’s athletes from infection, but also to work closely with the Magic to identify additional opportunities specific to high performance athletes that will advance the science of infection control in the future.’’

HOME IS WHERE THE SUCCESS IS: Through the first 41 games of the season, the Magic actually played one more game as the home team than they did as the road team. However, it probably doesn’t feel that way considering that two of their games – both of which were stirring victories – were played in Mexico City.

If the Magic are going to make a playoff run over the final 41 games of the season, they are going to have to be significantly better than the 10-11 at home that they came into Saturday with, head coach Steve Clifford said.

Again, taking into account that two of those victories were in Mexico, the Magic came into the weekend just 8-11 at the Amway. For whatever reason, some of Orlando’s most lopsided losses of the season have come at the eight-plus-year-old Amway Center. To put together a second-half run the Magic will have to play more like the squad that has beaten Toronto, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Amway Center, Clifford insisted.

“I’ll say this, and we have to be honest, but we have a frustration that we have try and get rid of,’’ Clifford said of Orlando’s home struggles. “We’ve played some clunkers and more of them in this building (in Orlando). You go back to Clippers here, Portland here, San Antonio here, where we have lacked energy and didn’t give ourselves a chance to win.’’

UP NEXT: After facing the surging Boston Celtics on Saturday, things won’t get any easier on Sunday when the Magic host superstar guard James Harden and the Houston Rockets. It will be the first meeting of the season between the two teams. Tipoff is just after 6 p.m.

Houston smashed Cleveland 141-113 on Friday thanks to a Harden’s 43 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Not only was it his 15th straight 30-point game, but it was the 12th 40-point triple-double of his career. Last season, Harden set the NBA record for most points (60) in a triple-double in a game against the Magic.

“I watched a little bit of (the Houston-Cleveland game) and he’s just on a roll,’’ Clifford said of Harden. “We’ll deal with that (on Sunday).’’
Dave Minor Jersey Signed
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