Klay Thompson scored 37 points in the third quarter against the Kings on Friday. Could it get any better? Actually, though he didn’t attempt a shot, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski tops the list for the week that was. He became the first coach in men’s NCAA Division I to win 1,000 games. So, with apologies to Klay, let’s start with Coach K.
▪ Duke’s historic victory over St. John’s was played in the basketball mecca known as Madison Square Garden. Appropriate, for sure. Coach K also has captured four NCAA Championships, coached U.S. Olympic teams to gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Games and, while establishing the Blue Devils as one of the country’s elite programs, was an assistant coach on the 1992 original Dream Team. Aside from that, he truly cares about his players. For example: He found time to call DeMarcus Cousins – one of his Team USA players for last summer’s World Cup – after hearing the Kings center had contracted viral meningitis.
▪ Back to Thompson. The Warriors guard broke the NBA record for points in a quarter. It doesn’t matter that he was defended much of the time by Kings rookie Nik Stauskas, which is to say that he usually had plenty of space as he drilled deep three-pointers, dunked off an alley-oop, drove inside for layups and shot more and more deep threes, including a ridiculous off-balance one in front of the visitors bench. He made all nine of his three-point attempts and 13 for 13 overall. Warriors consultant Jerry West – aka The Logo – said Thompson’s performance was the best he had ever witnessed. The closest in-person comparison I can offer is the famous Larry Bird-Dominique Wilkins fourth quarter shootout in Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals. But that was a two-for-one deal, though, so that really shouldn’t count.
▪ An estimated 45,000 fans ignored freezing temperatures and crowded into Ohio State’s stadium to celebrate the Buckeyes’ victory over Oregon in the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship. This has been an eventful few months for the oft-maligned region of the country. LeBron James came home. The Buckeyes made history. And Johnny Manziel … well, never mind.
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▪ The comeback story of the week belongs to Hassan Whiteside. Honestly, who could have predicted this? The former Kings draft choice was waived out of the NBA, spent time playing in Lebanon and China, returned to America and started hanging out at a YMCA in Charlotte, N.C. NBA teams refused to take his calls until, finally, the retooling Miami Heat took a flyer and signed the long-limbed, 7-foot center. Whiteside showed his appreciation by earning the starting job and had a triple-double (14 points, 13 rebounds, 12 blocks) Sunday against the Chicago Bulls.
▪ Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive accompanied President Obama on his weekend trip to India. Just wondering: Do you think Ranadive asked the President – who loves his hoops – what he thinks about the Kings’ coaching situation?
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