Category Archives: NBA Jerseys

Toni Kukoc Jersey Signed

Here’s your random, surprising and somewhat meaningless thing of the day: Kevin Durant wore a Bulls Toni Kukoc jersey in a gym.

This isn’t reason to start “KD to the Bulls” speculation, but it is a weird, cool thing that came out of nowhere.

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KD back in the gym taking shots in the vintage Kukoc uni

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Kukoc was 6-foot-11 and primarily made his living on the perimeter as a sharpshooter. He shot 40.3% from 3-point range during the Bulls’ 72-win season in 1995-96.

Durant, 31, would have been young and impressionable just as Kukoc was entering his prime with the Bulls during those years. He also has grown into having a similar profile as a big man playing on the perimeter. From that perspective, it’s reasonable to think Durant looked up to Kukoc from a young age. Durant will also wear No. 7, Kukoc’s number with the Bulls, when he eventually comes back from injury and suits up for the Nets.

It’s still a bit jarring to see one of the best players in the NBA repping someone from a previous era who never made an All-Star team.

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Gary Bergen Jersey Signed

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Maryland and Rutgers have much in common. The two newest members of the Big Ten suffered embarrassing shutouts to Top 25 conference teams in their last games, putting them either near or in the basement in the league standings.

Maryland (2-2, 0-1) will travel to SHI Stadium on Saturday to face a changed Rutgers (1-3, 0-2), which fired coach Chris Ash last weekend after he posted eight wins in three-plus seasons.

Scarlet Knights interim coach Nunzio Campanile is changing quarterbacks for the upcoming game.

Johnny Langan, who played for Campanile at Bergen Catholic in New Jersey, will get his first college start. Sophomore quarterback Art Sitkowski asked not to play this week so he could contemplate a redshirt season.

Maryland, which opened the season with big wins over Howard and Syracuse, lost to Temple 20-17. Then the Terps were routed 59-0 by No. 12 Penn State.

”Those are all part of the growing pains of managing success but also being able to come back from adversity and that’s my job to coach and be a leader to make sure that our guys understand that we are able to do both of those things,” Maryland’s first-year coach Mike Locksley said.

After beating Massachusetts in its opener, Rutgers has lost to now-No. 14 Iowa 30-0 and Boston College 30-16. Ash’s final game was a 52-0 loss to now No. 19 Michigan.

”As I told the kids (Sunday), everybody in the room, including me, is here because of Chris,” Campanile said of Ash. ”Obviously, we all have relationships with him. So that’s a big part of it. We have eight games to go and we have a lot of great opportunities in front of us.”

Langan will be the third quarterback for Rutgers. Graduate transfer McLane Carter opened the season and has been sidelined by a concussion in the Iowa game. Sitkowski, who lost his job to Carter in training camp, started the last two.

Langan led Bergen Catholic to its first state championship in more than a decade in 2017. The redshirt freshman joined the program in the spring after transferring from Boston College. The NCAA ruled him eligible for the season.

”I equate this game a lot to playing the opening game where you don’t necessarily know what you’re going to get,” Locksley said. ”You anticipate some things, I mean obviously there are very few things you can’t just wholesale change and go from a pro-style system to run a wishbone. At least I don’t think you can within a three-day period. So, the expectation is that they’ll be similar to what they are.”

B10 RIVALRY?

In 2014, the Big Ten added Maryland (from the ACC) and Rutgers (from the Big East). Members of the Big Ten East, the two have played each year, with the Terrapins holding a 3-2 advantage in conference play and 8-6 overall.

COACHING DEBUT

The 42-year-old Campanile is relatively new to college coaching. He came to Rutgers as Ash’s running backs coach in February 2018 after making Bergen Catholic a New Jersey parochial football power from 2010-2017. Before that, he was the athletic director and offensive coordinator at rival Don Bosco Prep, helping build the school into a national football power, coaching future Rutgers quarterbacks Mike Teel and Gary Nova.

SITKOWSKI PONDERS

The NCAA has a four-game limit in determining a redshirt season. Once a player appears in a fourth game, he can no longer redshirt the season. That’s why Sitkowski asked not to play. The sophomore completed 64.7% of passes for 439 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions this season.

SACKS

Rutgers’ offensive line has been inconsistent. Maryland’s pass rush has 13 sacks through four games, 17th in the country. Linebacker Keandre Jones leads the Terps with 3 1/2 sacks, third in the Big Ten.

LEADING TACKLER

Maryland senior defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr. has 28 solo tackles, the most per game in the Big Ten and the fifth highest total nationally. He tallied a career-best 13 tackles, all solo, at Temple.
Gary Bergen Jersey Signed

”Antoine is one of those high energy guys, he’ll make some mistakes here and there and take bad angles, but he makes up for it with his effort,” Locksley said. ”He’s the leader over there on that side of the ball.”

Walter Berry Jersey Signed

I’m enjoying watching the Spurs lose. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Certainly it’s more entertaining to watch a winning team perform over the course of an 82-game season than a team on a seven-game losing streak that appears to be lottery-bound.

For the past 22 years, the post-season has been a staple in San Antonio. Making the playoffs wasn’t the goal. It was the starting spot for the real season.

But for those of us who lived in San Antonio before the run of rings began, there are lessons to be learned from ineptitude. All of them aren’t bad, either.

I date back to the pre-David Robinson era when losing was the norm. HemisFair Arena was a grand place to take in a Spurs game. It was a time when the Baseline Bums actually sat on … wait for it … the baseline.

The arrival of David Robinson signaled the end of an era of Spurs basketball marked by both losses and characters on the roster. (SBG San Antonio)

There was an abundance of great stories and wacky personalities then.

When it’s not all about vying for championships, those stories become the essence of fandom. Only devotees or masochists are on the non-bandwagon when the team’s record is 28-54 or 31-51, which was the case in the 1980s when I covered them as the beat writer for a local newspaper.

One could make the case memories born out of a sub-.500 season are almost as precious as title tours, because to truly appreciate and fully savor success, one has to have endured failure. There was plenty of that in the 80s before the Admiral arrived. But there was inspiration too.

Who can forget Johnny Moore, the courageous former Texas guard who battled back after contracting a form of fungus called Desert Fever that nearly proved fatal?

Throw in Walter Berry, the Carmelo Anthony of that era, then subtract the three percent of Anthony’s game that incorporates defense. That was Berry.

He once got in a fight with another player history has not treated kindly, Alvin Robertson. The two had little in common, starting with work ethic. While Robertson later ran afoul of the law, he was a workhorse on and off the court. Berry wasn’t a big fan of exertion.

On one fateful trip to an exhibition game in Montana of all places, Robertson and Berry tangled in a hotel corridor. The essence of the dispute was Berry’s lack of motivation to play when he wasn’t 100 percent, which once included missing a game due to constipation.

The Robertson-Berry kerfuffle involved a butter knife that was snatched from a leftover dinner tray in the hallway. The players were separated before any sawing began.

Imagine a story like that emanating from the Spurs during the Gregg Popovich era.

Players like Bahamian Mychal Thompson -who may be best known for fathering Golden State sharpshooter Klay Thompson – Jon Sundvold, Tyrone Corbin and the late Kevin Duckworth made that era unforgettable. Not only did they lose enough to earn the right to land Robinson, but they also generated unbelievable tales on a regular basis.

Jon Sundvold played for the Spurs in the 1980s (Courtesy photo)

In that era, teams travelled via commercial airline, with veterans and coaches ensconced in first class. The rookies were relegated to coach, along with the media members.

On one transcontinental flight, veteran Sundvold, all 170 pounds of him, actually gave up his first class spot for rookie Duckworth, who checked in at 275 pounds. It was a simple gesture that struck this reporter as one of the most selfless acts he had ever witnessed. To Sundvold, who had a copy of the Wall Street Journal tucked under his arm, it didn’t matter where he read the day’s financial news. It was more important that the 7-footer had a place to actually put his legs.

Nate Blackwell may be long forgotten by all but the most devoted Spurs fans, but the second-round pick from Temple made a lasting impression on me.

One of the 10 games in Blackwell’s brief NBA career came on a rainy 1987 night in Indianapolis. It was common practice for the players and media to share cabs at that time. Even though the arena was just half a mile from the Spurs’ hotel, Blackwell, a couple other players and this ink-stained wretch piled in together to avoid the elements.

When it came time to pay the cabbie at the end of the $2 ride, the scribe was expected to dip into his wallet. Finding only a $20 bill, which the driver couldn’t break, an awkward moment arose. But there was Blackwell, finding a fiver to cover the cost, and in the process, becoming the only athlete in my four-plus decades as a media member, to ever have an athlete pay a penny on my behalf.

Another trip that year produced a rather unique first. Nursing a handful of injuries, the Spurs didn’t have enough players to practice. As coach Bob Weiss surveyed his empty bench, he landed on a sportswriter who happened to be wearing shorts and a T-shirt for a planned post-practice jog around the building. Instead, Weiss cajoled the reporter – okay me – into standing on the court for a non-contact drill.

That was a bad decision for a variety of reasons, none the least of which was Corbin’s tactic of letting the reporter know he had crossed a line that should never be crossed. When an errant shot bounced our way, Corbin boxed out the unsuspecting writer and sent him flying into the second row. That was the start and end of my stint as a practice dummy.

These were the same players who would lose money to their coach in free throw shooting contests when Weiss would either swish shots blindfolded or bank them in off the backboard.

If the Spurs were consistent winners, would they have hired Jerry Tarkanian, the former UNLV coach who never met an NCAA rule he couldn’t break?

Immediately upon being hired, Tark reached deals with seven restaurants, so he could dine for free each night of the week. Item No. 2 on his checklist was to find out who these NBA players were, since his entire frame of reference was college basketball. To that end, he “treated” a few sportswriters to dinner at one of his restaurants of choice.

Maybe because the scouting reports he received weren’t exactly up to snuff, Tarkanian lasted just 20 games, or 1,800 less than Popovich.

That was a different time, a period when a lengthy losing streak wasn’t cause for self-immolation, as is the case now.

So enjoy the losing. There will be some great stories for us to savor if the team continues on its path to mediocrity.

William Cunningham Jersey Signed

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) – One Augusta junior varsity basketball coach and special education teacher is touching the hearts of his students every single day.

Augusta-native William Cunningham is a man who stands out among the crowd. But not just because he stands 6’11. Cunningham is a former professional basketball player who has played along with some of the NBA’s most talented players.

“One of my best experiences, I got a chance to meet Kobe Bryant when he was about 17 or 18 years old. Before and after he went in to the NBA. Just having a chance to follow his career and seeing how he started out,” says Cunningham.

But how did he end up coaching and teaching at Laney High School? He says after playing in the NBA, he discovered another passion. Teaching special education. He felt that field of teaching often didn’t have enough teachers for the students.

“Just that we all have limitations as long as we let them be limitations. But the students that I deal with, I’m a moderate teacher, and the students deal with, they don’t let those limitations stop them from doing things,” says Cunningham.

Cunningham also applies this on the court to his players by pushing them and holding them accountable.

“Every action has a consequence. When they do things that are outside of our team rules and our expectations, that there’s going to be a consequence. And I’m going to hold them to it. I’m going to hold them accountable. They have responsibilities on and off the court,” says Cunningham.

Going above what’s required as a coach, he makes sure his players are taken care of even after games.

“I just found out that’s when young men get in trouble. They have that need, they’re actually hungry. So, I just found, why don’t we give them a meal, take that problem away, and then they can go on to the next thing in life,” says Cunningham.

Cunningham says tough love has been one of his biggest teaching methods for his players to help them grow into responsible and intelligent young men. He also says a lot of the players are in their early college program and doing really well.

Copyright 2018 WFXG. All rights reserved.

Jamaal Magloire Jersey Signed

Jamaal Magloire (left) coached the Raptors’ Summer League team in 2017.
And now the Raptors are battling the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors on the highest of stages. The glare is looked upon Toronto rather favorably, given the country-wide support for the Raptors and the heightened awareness created by Kawhi Leonard and teammates.

This makes Jamaal Magloire rather proud. He’s a basketball development consultant and community ambassador for the Raptors, and before this, he played 12 seasons in the NBA, making the 2004 All-Star team as a center on the Charlotte Hornets. But mostly, “Big Cat,” who also played one season with Toronto and retired as a Raptor, was born and raised in Toronto and became one of the first batch of Canadian players to reach the NBA.

In 2004, Jamaal Magloire made the lone All-Star appearance of his career.
Therefore, Magloire has touched all the bases: Canadian native and current resident, NBA player from Canada, second Canadian to be named an All-Star (after Nash), former Raptors assistant coach and now at age 41, a consultant for the home team.

He speaks from rich perspective, then, regarding the growth of the game in Canada and the development of the Raptors since 1995; the franchise was born when he was a senior in high school.

Here’s Magloire addressing his introduction to the game, growing up in the tough neighborhood of Scarborough after being born to Trinidadian immigrants, the influence of basketball among Canadians and the impact of the current team led by Kawhi.

* * *

Shaun Powell: Canada didn’t have an NBA team when you were a kid. How did the game find you?

Jamaal Magloire: Well, we didn’t have any money, and it was a sport more for the inner city because it didn’t cost a lot for equipment. Resources were always a problem; there weren’t any open gyms so we played outside in the rain and snow. A good experience, good times. I know that doesn’t sound like fun, because Toronto’s winters are harsh, and we sometimes played without coats, but it was fun. When you’re a kid, you don’t know how hard you have it. You just play and have fun.

Jamaal Magloire enjoyed spending the final season of his career with Toronto.
SP: The most popular sport here was and remains hockey and yet as you grew to 6-10 and brought toughness, somehow nobody saw you as being a future defenseman, I take it.

JM: I never played hockey. I played every other sport. Actually, we played road hockey but I never got on the ice. The equipment would be too expensive. So there was no future in hockey for me.

SP: Are Canadian inner-cities just as tough as those in the States?

JM: Well, let’s just say there’s a lot of challenges. We didn’t have it easy. We had no facilities like recreation centers or anything like that. From that standpoint, being a kid who was into sports, it was a challenging time to say the least.

SP: Since you never attended an NBA game until the one you played in as a rookie, how did you get exposure to the top level?

JM: Everybody played in the States so we watched the “NBA on NBC” and I got to see some of the prime time games. I admired Chris Webber, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, most of the centers.

I was teased all the time by my teammates but I was proud. I didn’t care. I’d wear my Team Canada gear every day to let them know where I was from. They got the message.”
JAMAAL MAGLOIRE, ON BEING A CANADIAN PLAYING COLLEGE BASKETBALL

SP: How does a Canadian teenager get the attention of major college scouts?

JM: I was able to go to ABCD camp and play in a few AAU tournaments in the summer in Las Vegas. Coaches started coming up to Canada to my high school to recruit.

SP: You wound up at Kentucky so the word must’ve gotten out.

Jamaal Magloire and Baron Davis were part of a solid Hornets core in the early 2000s.
JM: Back when I was being recruited I was getting letters and lots of them. Just the fact that I went to Kentucky boosted my profile and basketball’s profile in Toronto and gave kids around here the motivation to challenge themselves to get to the next level. It was a lot different back then, no social media or anything like that, but we made it work and I’m very happy for the young guys today.

SP: As a rare Canadian in America playing college basketball, at least back then, how were you received on campus?

JM: I was teased all the time by my teammates but I was proud. I didn’t care. I’d wear my Team Canada gear every day to let them know where I was from. They got the message.

SP: When you look at the growth of the game in this country, it must draw a positive response from you.

JM: When I was in the NBA we had three guys: Steve Nash, myself and Todd MacCulloch. Now, there’s the second-most players in terms of foreign players in the NBA and it continues to grow. I see the evolution based on what Steve Nash started, and now with the Raptors.

SP: But certainly you consider yourself a pioneer as well, correct?

JM: Absolutely. It really hit home when I signed to play for the Raptors in my final year in the NBA. To be the first Canadian to play on home soil was something I dreamed of. I followed this team my whole career and was so humbled to have the chance to come home and finish where I started.

SP: Are you surprised by the level of support for the Raptors? Their attendance consistently ranks among the top five or 10 in the NBA.

JM: What is surprising to me is the volume of people. “Jurassic Park” has always been going on outside of the arena, but now it’s going for blocks and blocks, stretching far away from the arena. There are Jurassic Parks all over Toronto. That has surprised me.

SP: What are your thoughts on Masai Ujiri, the team president who created this roster?

JM: Masai is a pioneer in his own right. He has brought a new and innovative look throughout the entire franchise, a G League team, having the All-Star Game here and obviously the moves that he made to create this team. He gets credit for Drake as well. That’s a big plus for us as an organization. He’s stared a lot of new things here and improving the game. All of what you see, both on the court and away from it, has been influenced in some way by Masai.

SP: Now that you mentioned Drake, he gets grief outside of Toronto for his court-side behavior, but in the 416 he’s admired, correct?

Vladimir Stepania Jersey Signed

In the first edition of New York Knicks Trade History, a look at the deal that sent Patrick Ewing out of the Big Apple for the first time in his NBA career.
For better or worse, trades have often represented the New York Knicks. Their draft success is quieter and inconsistent, and, especially over the past 20 years, they have focused on working with other teams to improve their roster.

One trade that brought change, in 2000, the Knicks sent away Patrick Ewing, their face of the franchise for the previous 15 years.

Ewing, who was age 37 at the time and near the end of his career, left in a four-team trade that involved the Seattle SuperSonics, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns. As Newsday noted at the time, the player who had his No. 33 jersey number retired in 2003 wanted a change.

How did this trade work out for the Knicks? Was their return package for Ewing acceptable?

What the Knicks traded
The full trade outlook is large, but the Knicks traded Ewing to the SuperSonics and Chris Dudley and a 2001 first-round pick to the Suns.

Ewing played 79 of 82 games with Seattle, but his numbers tailed off from the 15 points and 9.7 rebounds averaged in the 1999-00 season to 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds. No playoff run resulted from this, either, making this a disappointing one-and-done for the Sonics, who watched him leave for the Orlando Magic in the 2001 offseason.

Dudley, the same one who pegged a basketball at Shaquille O’Neal, lasted just 53 games with Phoenix, averaging 11.6 minutes per contest. He played 46 games over the next two seasons with Portland and fell out of the NBA at age 37.

The first-round pick became Jason Collins, who started on the New Jersey Nets teams that made the NBA Finals in the early 2000s. However, he fell into a veteran backup role for most of his career.

What the Knicks acquired
Ewing may have neared the end of the road, but the Knicks struggled to recoup meaningful value from this trade.

Travis Knight, Glen Rice, and a 2001 first-round pick, which became Jamaal Tinsley, arrived from the Lakers. Rice averaged 12 points in his only season with the Knicks, but it was down by nearly four points from his 1999-00 total. He struggled for the next three years at two destinations and left the NBA at age 36.

Knight actually spent three seasons with the Knicks, but as nothing more than an end-of-the-bench piece.

The first-round pick moved around, and Tinsley landed with the Indiana Pacers. He spent 11 years in the NBA.

Years after playing his best basketball on those title-winning Chicago Bulls teams, Longley joined from Phoenix. He played just 25 games for New York and left the NBA at age 32.

The Sonics’ package featured two draft picks, but neither developed into relevant, long-term pieces. The first-round pick became Kareem Rush, who played 346 games as a role player in the NBA, but none of it happened in New York. Lazaro Borrell, Vernon Maxwell and Vladimir Stepania all never played for the Knicks, either.

NEXT: 25 greatest players in NYK history
The 2000 Ewing trade benefited nobody. It was a wash for all the pieces that moved and either never played for their new team or struggled mightily. This was among the questionable results the New York Knicks had in transactions, in this decade.

Pat Riley Jersey Signed

Pat Riley said he appreciates the Miami Heat are in a good place at the moment. But he said there always could be a better place.

Speaking at the team’s annual community Thanksgiving celebration at the Miami Rescue Mission, the Heat’s president said both the short term and the long view have to be given equal consideration.

“I’m patient,” he said, with the Heat 9-3 going into Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at AmericanAirlines Arena, “but if something happens that can make a huge difference, I’m going for it.

“We need to be mindful of where we are now. And it always will be nothing but trying to get better.”

He also stressed that the Heat’s big move is the one that happened at the start of free agency in July, with the addition of Jimmy Butler to the group coached by Erik Spoelstra.

[Most Read Heat Coverage] Heat roll past Hornets 117-100, remain unbeaten at home »
“When we signed Jimmy Butler,” he said, “I knew we were going to be as good as or maybe better. Now, how much better would be dependent on other factors — the performances of other players, is Meyers Leonard going to fit in, our young players and all that stuff, the development of Bam [Adebayo] and Justise [Winslow]. You just go on and on.

“So, yes, I’m pleased. But I’m also wary of what’s out there. So I’m pleased the team’s playing well. I think [Spoelstra] has done a great job. Right from the summer league, we saw something developing. We saw more with guys getting ready for training camp. We saw more in training camp. We saw a lot in the preseason. We saw a lot getting to the regular season. And we saw a lot so far, so let’s just see what the next 20 games bring. So I’m excited.”

He also cautioned that it is early in the 82-game season.

“They fit until they don’t,” he said of the pieces that have thrived to this stage. “Some nights it looks like nothing fits. Right now, Spo has exactly what he needs for how he wants to play.

“And, so, I think there’s the threat of we have a team that can shoot, we have a team that can score, we have a team that can run, a very versatile team on defense. I’m still cautiously very optimistic.”

Even with having to first banish forward James Johnson from training camp for failing to meet the team’s conditioning standards, and then twice having to suspend guard Dion Waiters for “conduct detrimental to the team,” including the current 10-day suspension.

[Most Read Heat Coverage] Winderman’s view: Heat 117, Hornets 100 »
“It’s always disappointing,” he said. “You’ve got a rear-view mirror and that which has happened is in the rear-view mirror. It’s been transferred to the front mirror.

“There has not been a year, in my career, that there hasn’t been some adversity. You deal with it. So it’s been dealt with and then we move on.”

As for the future, Riley said that will play out in due time.

“We have decisions that we will face this offseason, if certain players do certain things,” he said, with several players holding options or becoming free agents. “But, right now, we’re in the present moment. Right now, I think, we can manage all the flexibility that we need.”

Including while living in the moment.

“I think we have a great blend,” he said.

Harold Fox Jersey Signed

Cleveland Cavaliers play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod died late Monday night at the age of 67, the Cavaliers announced Tuesday.

McLeod, who had a fixture on Detroit television in the 1980s and ’90s, returned to his native Ohio in 2006, as play-by-play announcer for Cavaliers broadcasts on Fox Sports Ohio.

“It is with the most extreme sadness that the Cleveland Cavaliers share that Cavs and Fox Sports Ohio play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod died suddenly Monday evening,” the Cavaliers said in a statement on their website. “The entire Cavaliers organization mourns the loss of their great friend and teammate.”

McLeod, who spent this summer doing TV for Detroit Lions preseason games, had been a fixture on Detroit television in the 1980s and ’90s, where he spent more than two decades as the play-by-play announcer for the Detroit Pistons.

Fred McLeod, the Cleveland Cavaliers TV announcer who spent decades in Detroit sports television and called the 2019 Lions preseason games, died on Sept. 9 at the age of 67.
Fred McLeod, the Cleveland Cavaliers TV announcer who spent decades in Detroit sports television and called the 2019 Lions preseason games, died on Sept. 9 at the age of 67. (Photo: David Richard USA TODAY Sports)

McLeod began his broadcasting career in 1974 and made stops in Missouri, California and Ohio, where he was the play-by-play voice for both Cavaliers and Cleveland Indians broadcasts in 1979, before coming to Michigan.

He worked Lions’ preseason games from 1983-88, with cornerback Lem Barney as the analyst, and this summer partnered with Chris Spielman on TV.

He was a part of the Pistons’ telecasts, first on PASS Sports and then on Fox Sports Detroit, from 1984 until 2006. He also called Tigers games for PASS and FSD from 1995-97.

McLeod is survived by his wife, Beth, a meteorologist at Fox8 in Cleveland, his mother Marilyn, sister Lynn, and three children, Sean, Jenna and Molly.

Danny Young Jersey Signed

“There are two kinds of Canadian basketball fans: Those who understand and appreciate the legacy of Eli Pasquale — the original Steve Nash — and those that should. A giant of the sport passed away Monday but his legacy will remain,” tweeted Sportsnet basketball and Raptors analyst Michael Grange.

Seattle SuperSonics draft pick Pasquale led UVic to five consecutive national championships from 1980 to 1984 and Canada to fourth place at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and sixth place at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. A young fan who grew up in McKinnon Gym inspired by watching Pasquale was basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash, the two-time NBA MVP.

But NBA teams didn’t take Canadian players seriously in the 1980s, or Pasquale might have preceded Nash to the NBA.

“Eli was a great guy and one of the greatest Canadian basketball players of all time, and a very intense competitor, who should have been in the NBA,” said B.C. Sports Hall of Famer Howard Kelsey, who played with Pasquale on the Canadian Olympic teams.

“Eli outplayed Danny Young [the eventual 10-season NBA guard the Sonics kept instead of Pasquale as the last cut in 1984].”

Phil Ohl played with Pasquale at UVic and on the national team and said the impact Pasquale had on his career was meaningful on so many levels.

“We trained many hours together,” said Ohl.

“I was an unrecruited rookie at UVic. Watching Eli showed me what toughness looked like and what discipline and commitment was all about and what it took to be an elite athlete. His legacy carried on at UVic even after he graduated. He made it possible for Canadian basketball kids to dream about greatness and inspired so many and paved the way for Steve Nash to even dare to think about reaching the top.”

Nash’s former coach at St. Michaels University School, Ian Hyde-Lay, was a graduating senior when Pasquale arrived as a rookie from Sudbury, Ont., on UVic’s first national championship team in 1980.

“He had it all — skill level combined with work ethic and discipline,” said Hyde-Lay.

“Eli was the best example possible for Steve [Nash] to follow and he gave Steve such timely advice as Steve’s career began to emerge.”

Because Pasquale had been through it.

“Eli got robbed twice. He should have stuck with both the SuperSonics and [Chicago] Bulls in the NBA,” said Hyde-Lay.

“And through it all, and despite how good he was, Eli was a very humble guy.”

Former field hockey star Ravi Kahlon, now MLA responsible for sport in the provincial NDP government, also twice played for Canada in the Olympics at 2000 in Sydney and 2008 in Beijing and cited Pasquale as a cross-sport inspiration while growing up in Victoria.

“[Pasquale] was a role model and played an important role in so many young people’s lives. I looked up to him and so did many of my peers,” tweeted Kahlon.

Pasquale might have been a three-time Olympian had he not broken his leg before the Americas qualifier for Barcelona 1992. Without him in the backcourt, Canada fell one game short of going to a third consecutive Olympics.

Pasquale’s play was crucial earlier in the run as Canada upset the U.S. team of Charles Barkley and Karl Malone to win gold at the 1983 World University Games.

Kelsey said Pasquale helped drive the “golden age” in Canadian basketball: “We were perennially ranked in FIBA’s top-five world rankings from 1980 to 1988.”

A big part of that was the Canadian backcourt dynamism created by Pasquale as point guard and Jay Triano as shooting guard.

“It’s a sad day for basketball in our country,” Triano told the Canadian Press.

“We were backcourt mates and travelled the world together for eight years as the starting backcourt for our national team,” added Triano, now lead assistant coach for the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA.

“Today really hurts as I have lost a friend and a teammate.”

Jim Leith was the UVic basketball radio play-by-play announcer on CJVI during the team’s run of seven consecutive national championships and said Pasquale was the key cog in the dynasty.

“Eli was a fiery player,” said Leith. “On the national team, former [Canada] coach Jack Donohue admired that and used Eli’s fire to ignite the whole team.”

Pasquale was recruited out of Sudbury by then UVic Vikes head coach Ken Shields and put down lasting roots in his adopted community. His namesake Eli Pasquale Basketball Camps, through which thousands of young Islanders first learned the game, are now operating under his son, Manny.

Shields was head coach at Laurentian University in Sudbury when Pasquale was emerging as a school boy wonder in the northern Ontario city. Shields invited Pasquale, then still in junior high school, to scrimmage with his Laurentian players. Despite being years younger, Pasquale more than held his own against the older varsity players and often schooled them. That’s when Shields realized how special Pasquale was. When it was announced Shields would move west to take the UVic job, Pasquale said he wanted to play for his mentor no matter where it was. So following his sensational high school success in Sudbury, Pasquale left his hometown to come to the Island and help create a dynasty at UVic with players such as Kelly Dukeshire out of Oak Bay and fellow two-time Olympian Gerald Kazanowski from Nanaimo.

“This is particularly heartbreaking for me since I’ve known Eli the longest, other than his family, and we go back a long way to his school days in Sudbury,” said Shields.

Basketball remained important to both men. They appreciated what a Toronto Raptors NBA championship would mean in Canada for the sport they loved. So despite Pasquale’s prognosis, they made a trip together to Toronto to watch a game in the NBA final in the spring against the Golden State Warriors.

It was the final basketball journey, of many, they took together.

There will be no funeral service. A public tribute, to take place in McKinnon Gym, will be announced. It’s a fitting venue.

“Eli helped pack that gym on game nights for five years — and beyond — because of his legacy there,” said Shields.

Wayman Britt Jersey Signed

Charles Matthews is officially moving on.

Matthews, a redshirt junior, announced on Wednesday that he will forgo his final season of eligibility and stay in the NBA draft.

“Last week, I spoke about my desire to play professional basketball. Reaching that goal has been a driving force as far back as I can remember,” Matthews said in a tweeted statement on the program’s account. “Now is my chance. Now I make it official that I will be departing the University of Michigan.

“Michigan has meant so much to me that words cannot express my gratitude for what it has provided to me. It has helped shape me into a man, and I am so thankful for my time in Ann Arbor.”

Matthews (6-foot-6, 205 pounds) averaged a team-high 14.3 points and seven rebounds in the NCAA Tournament to help the Wolverines reach the Sweet 16 for the third straight year.

An All-Big Ten honorable mention selection, he also finished the regular season as Michigan’s third-leading scorer (12.2 points) and rebounder (five) in addition to being one of the top wing defenders on one of the nation’s best defensive units.

“He’s been the cornerstone and the rock of our defensive effort for the last two years,” assistant coach Luke Yaklich said after Michigan lost to Texas Tech in the Sweet 16. “X (Zavier Simpson) was the first, but he was the second one to come up to me in the summer when I first got here and just said, ‘Coach, I’m the best wing defender in the country.’ And I just looked at him and I said, ‘I can’t wait to coach you then.’

“I remember that’s how it started, and he’s proven to be just that. He just had a great career.”

Michigan Men’s Basketball

@umichbball
IT’S OFFICIAL! @1CMatthews will head to @NBADraft

In two 〽️ seasons ⤵️
✔️ 63-15 record
✔️ 13-3 postseason record
✔️✌️ B1G Tournament
✔️✌️ straight Sweet 16s
✔️A Final Four & National Title Game

Not too shabby …
THANK YOU Charles
WISHING you nothing but success#GoBlue

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After transferring from Kentucky and sitting out the 2016-17 season due to transfer rules, Matthews played in all but three games over the past two seasons, and the Wolverines went 61-14 with him in the starting lineup.

During his three years in Ann Arbor, Matthews made a lasting impression with everyone he played with as he went from playing on scout team to helping lead the Wolverines to back-to-back 30-win seasons for the first time.

“It’s just the relationship we developed over the year,” freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis said. “We were roommates since the first away game. It means so much to me. He taught me so many things on and off the court, and I feel like we’ve built a lifelong relationship. I feel like we’re going to be brothers for life. It was amazing learning from him and just being around him.”

According to his teammates, Matthews’ departure will leave a void that will be hard to fill on and off the court.

“He’s meant so much,” junior center Jon Teske said. “I could always talk to him and he’s more of a quiet guy and kept to himself, but he’s a very relaxed guy, loves to have fun. His leadership, his experience on both sides of the ball, how talkative he was — if we’re missing that then that’s a key piece. Obviously, a lot of guys will have to step up but that’s what this program does. One guy goes down, everyone is going to step up. We’re going to miss him.”

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Matthews is ranked No. 69 in ESPN’s top 100 prospects for the NBA draft, which will be held June 20, and is projected to be a late second-round pick by Sports Illustrated.

He declared for the draft without an agent last year and went through pre-draft workouts with the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks before he suffered a wrist injury that caused him to cancel the rest of his workouts.

He eventually returned to Michigan with the hopes of evolving his game, developing his 3-point shot and helping the Wolverines reach the national title game for the second straight season.

And while the last part didn’t work out, Matthews will still leave a lasting mark with the two Big Ten tournament title banners and Final Four banner he helped Michigan put in the Crisler Center rafters.

“Look at the impact that he’s made on our program,” coach John Beilein said. “The defense and what he brought to practice every day is incredible. That’s why we were so (successful). Give a lot of credit to Luke, without question, but give a lot of credit to Charles because he was getting it done. He does it every day in practice like that. The loose basketballs he got, all those things, it’s not a coincidence that we won (61) games with him in the lineup. It proves you can win a lot of different ways.

“He certainly wasn’t a volume 3-point guy like many of our leading scorers have been, but he did other things. Really just a great career here for us. I think he’s got a real chance as a three-and-D type of guy because it will give him time and he can do that. He can guard anybody. He can go on an NBA court and guard people.”

2019 Michigan Basketball Awards
►Bill Buntin Most Valuable Player: Zavier Simpson

►Wayman Britt Outstanding Defensive Player: Charles Matthews

►Travis Conlan Sportsmanship Award: Isaiah Livers

►Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player: Jon Teske

►Sixth Man Award: Isaiah Livers

►Steve Grote Hustle Award: Zavier Simpson

►Thad Garner Leadership Award: Charles Matthews

►Iron Man Award: Ignas Brazdeikis

►Award for Outstanding Free Throw Shooting: Jordan Poole

►Morgan/Bodnar Brothers Award for Academic Achievement: Austin Davis & Rico Ozuna-Harrison

►Gary Grant Award for Most Assists: Zavier Simpson

►Loy Vaught Rebounding Award: Jon Teske