FREE NATE ROBINSON!!

Despite the Knicks’ winning ways as of late, it still ticks me off that Nate Robinson isn’t in the lineup. Why is Mike D’Antoni Marbury-ing this man? Let him play or trade him…it’s simple!

The game against the Detroit Pistons on December 29, 2009 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, marked his 13th-straight game on the DNP list. Although he hasn’t been playing, Robinson continued to keep a positive attitude all throughout the night as he cheered on his teammates while entertaining them as well. In the visitor’s locker room, I had a word with Nate. I had to see how he remains so strong.

SLAM: How are you staying positive throughout this whole situation right now?
Nate Robinson: Uh… God! That’s it.

SLAM: I see you got a lot of strength man and I admire that because a lot of players wouldn’t be able to stay so positive about that…
NR: Uh yeah, I imagine I’m gonna play one day. I mean if it’s not now then it’s definitely gonna be again. I don’t know for who but hopefully one day.

SLAM: How are you staying in shape?
NR: I workout two times a day every game day, run the bleachers, and shoot my same shots. I do abs and if I don’t do that, I ride the bike for like 20-30 minutes.

SLAM: Just keep a positive attitude..
NR: Thanks man! I appreciate it.

FREE NATE ROBINSON!!!!!

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    Walking into the locker room as the Detroit Pistons prepared to take on the New York Knicks on December 29, 2009, Pistons guard Will Bynum stands by the training room in conversation with a Pistons employee. Dressed in full practice gear, without any socks, I was shocked at how small he was. Of course, I’ve seen him before but usually it’s just a “Hey, what’s up?” kind of thing and I’m gone.

    Not trying to interrupt his convo, I simply tap him and ask him could I have a word with him when he was done and he said, “Sure! I will come back there as soon as I’m done.”

    As I waited for Bynum in the locker room, a few of the players (Austin Daye, Jason Maxiell and Jonas Jerebko) all studied film on the Knicks. The “We Are Young Money” album also blasted through the speakers giving me some sort of entertainment as I waited.

    After about three minutes, Rodney Stuckey strolled through holding a pair of dapper red, white and blue adidas singing along to “Bedrock” as I caught up with him for a quick second…

    Eric Woodyard: You’ve been putting up numbers this year. Do you think you have been shining so much because of all the injuries?
    Rodney Stuckey: Uh, yeah. I know that once all those guys stepped out and got hurt that I just had to step my game up. We went on like a five-game winning streak but we’re kinda in a slump right now but once we get everybody healthy, we’ll be alright. I think if we go on a five-game winning streak then we’re right back in the fifth or sixth spot so we’re right there.

    EW: I see that your jumper is looking a lot better, have you been putting more emphasis just on improving your jumper and do you think your numbers have improved because of that?
    Stuckey: Yeah. I think hitting a couple of more jump shots is getting me a couple more points. (laughs as Will Bynum steps in the locker room)

    EW: So everybody has been talking about yall two (Stuckey and Bynum) but how much do yall enjoy playing together?
    Stuckey: Aw, I love this man. He’s cool and we just chill.

    EW: The streets always debating on who’s better but we’re just happy to have yall both here…
    Stuckey: I like his game, he’s a quick point guard, can get up, got boosties. He’s good!

    Eric Woodyard: Thanks man! (transitions to Bynum)…First of all, I read a story on you in the Bounce Magazine and before that I didnt know that you were a streetball legend like that. So talk about playing in Chicago and how it used to be down there…
    Will Bynum: You know I grew up in the city and kind of all around the city so everybody pretty much know me from basketball and I’ve been in like every neighborhood playing against the best player and whoever was their top player. I mean just all the time, just playing since I was five years old.

    EW: So why do you think you have been able to bring that streetball game into the big stage?
    Bynum: I think everybody got a little streetball in them and if they tell you dont than they probably lying. The top players definitely do. No matter if they from overseas or no matter where they from, they got it in their game. They’ve watched somebody who had it in their game, tried to imitate them or something like that and it’s the same with me.

    EW: When you’re playing against the Knicks tonight…
    Bynum: Nah, I aint playing (smiles)

    EW: You aint playing tonight?
    Bynum: Naw, I’m hurt…

    EW: Aw, I thought you was playing tonight?
    Bynum: Naw, I’m hurt…

    EW: Oh, for real…
    Bynum: Yeah…

    EW: So what’s wrong with you now?
    Bynum: For the past like three weeks, I been playing with a sprained right ankle and I sprained my left ankle in Philadelphia and now I got a bad bone bruise on the bottom of my left foot and I’m just trying to heal it and get back 100%.

    EW: Is it pretty tough, because you was in your zone, to kind of get back in the groove that you was in earlier in the year?
    Bynum: Yeah, it’s been tough playing hurt because people try to judge you while you’re hurt taking it not that you’re hurt because of the way you’re moving sometimes but it’s been a learning process. I’m definitely learning about it and now I gotta get myself healthy and get back to the way that I’m capable of playing.

    Game Notes: Knicks at Pistons

    December 31, 2009

    If it aint one thing it’s another!

    Injuries have hampered the Detroit Pistons all season long. Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Gordon, and Will Bynum have all been hit with the injury bug at one point this season. It’s been so many injuries that fans are not really sure what the REAL Pistons will look like when they are all on the roster at one time.

    When they squared off against the New York Knicks on December 29, 2009 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in one of their last home games of the year, it would be no different.

    Charlie Villanueva was a game-time decision as he suffered from the stomach flu and Will Bynum, as I would find out later, was out with bilateral ankle soreness.

    Villanueva even updated his twitter page prior to the game. It popped on my page as: “CV31: Game time decision for me. Gonna see how I feel during warm-ups. Heading to the gym.”

    Pre-Game

    Walking into the locker room, Pistons guard Will Bynum stands by the training room in conversation with a Pistons employee. Dressed in full practice gear, without any socks, I was shocked at how small he was. Of course, I’ve seen him before but usually it’s just a “Hey, what’s up?” kind of thing and I’m gone.

    Not trying to interrupt his convo, I simply tap him and ask him could I have a word with him when he was done and he said “Sure! I will come back there as soon as I’m done.”

    As I waited for Bynum in the locker room, a few of the players (Austin Daye, Jason Maxiell, and Jonas Jerebko) all studied film on the Knicks. The “We Are Young Money” album also blasted through the speakers giving me some sort of entertainment as I waited.

    After about three minutes, Rodney Stuckey strolled through holding a pair of dapper red, white, and blue Adidas singing along to “Bedrock” as I caught up with him for a quick second…

    SLAM: You’ve been putting up numbers this year. Do you think you have been shining so much because of all the injuries?
    Stuckey: Uh, yeah. I know that once all those guys stepped out and got hurt that I just had to step my game up. We went on like a five-game winning streak but we’re kinda in a slump right now but once we get everybody healthy, we’ll be alright. I think if we go on a five-game winning streak then we’re right back in the fifth or sixth spot so we’re right there.

    SLAM: I see that your jumper is looking a lot better, have you been putting more emphasis just on improving your jumper and do you think your numbers have improved because of that?
    Stuckey: Yeah. I think hitting a couple of more jump shots is getting me a couple more points. (laughs as Will Bynum steps in the locker room)

    SLAM: So everybody has been talking about y’all two (Stuckey and Bynum) but how much do y’all enjoy playing together?
    Stuckey: Aw, I love this man. He’s cool and we just chill.

    SLAM: The streets always debating on who’s better but we’re just happy to have y’all both here…
    Stuckey: I like his game, he’s a quick point guard, can get up, got boosties. He’s good!

    SLAM: Thanks man! (transitions to Bynum)…First of all, I read a story on you in the Bounce Magazine and before that I didn’t know that you were a streetball legend like that. So talk about playing in Chicago and how it used to be down there…
    Bynum: You know I grew up in the city and kind of all around the city so everybody pretty much know me from basketball and I’ve been in like every neighborhood playing against the best player and whoever was their top player. I mean just all the time, just playing since I was five years old.

    SLAM: So why do you think you have been able to bring that streetball game into the big stage?
    Bynum: I think everybody got a little streetball in them and if they tell you don’t than they probably lying. The top players definitely do. No matter if they from overseas or no matter where they from, they got it in their game. They’ve watched somebody who had it in their game, tried to imitate them or something like that and it’s the same with me.

    SLAM: When you’re playing against the Knicks tonight…
    Bynum: Nah, I aint playing (smiles)

    SLAM: You aint playing tonight?
    Bynum: Naw, I’m hurt…

    SLAM: Aw, I thought you was playing tonight?
    Bynum: Naw, I’m hurt…

    SLAM: Oh, for real…
    Bynum: Yeah…

    SLAM: So what’s wrong with you now?
    Bynum: For the past like three weeks, I been playing with a sprained right ankle and I sprained my left ankle in Philadelphia and now I got a bad bone bruise on the bottom of my left foot and I’m just trying to heal it and get back 100%.

    SLAM: Is it pretty tough, because you was in your zone, to kind of get back in the groove that you was in earlier in the year?
    Bynum: Yeah, it’s been tough playing hurt because people try to judge you while you’re hurt taking it not that you’re hurt because of the way you’re moving sometimes but it’s been a learning process. I’m definitely learning about it and now I gotta get myself healthy and get back to the way that I’m capable of playing. 

    Game

    With matching 11-19 overall records, it surprised me that 22, 076 fans showed up to see the game in what was listed as a sellout! It couldn’t have been because of the Ben Wallace poster night so it had to be because of Benton Harbor, Michigan native, Wilson Chandler’s return home. He even had his own little section in the lower level (Shout out to my boy Justin from Detroit, who came with Wil’s fam and showed him some love).

    Chandler didn’t disappoint as he chipped in 23 points in just under 38 minutes of action on 10 of 20 shooting. He also grabbed 9 boards and 3 steals. David Lee led the for the Knicks with 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. Sitting next to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, I had a very entertaining night as we chatted all the way through.

    New York was definitely in the building!

    While Villanueva did end up playing, he wasn’t much of a factor as he only played 12 minutes and didn’t score a bucket. The Pistons were led by Ben Gordon with 17 points, Rodney Stuckey with 15 points, and Rip Hamilton with 16 points on a nasty 5 of 21 shooting night.

    The Knicks defeated the Pistons 104-87 handing them their eighth straight loss.

    Post-Game

    Despite the Knicks winning ways as of late, it still ticks me off that Nate Robinson isn’t in the lineup. Why is Mike D’Antoni Marbury-ing this man? Let him play or trade him…it’s simple!

    This game marked his 13th straight game on the DNP list. Although he hasn’t been playing, Robinson continued to keep a positive attitude all throughout the night as he cheered on his teammates while entertaining them as well. In the visitor’s locker room, I had a word with Nate. I had to see how he remains so strong.

    SLAM: How are you staying positive throughout this whole situation right now?

    Robinson: Uh, God! That’s it.

    SLAM: I see you got a lot of strength man and I admire that because a lot of players wouldn’t be able to stay so positive about that…

    Robinson: Uh yeah, I imagine I’m gonna play one day. I mean if it’s not now than it’s definitely gonna be again. I don’t know for who but hopefully one day.

    SLAM: How are you staying in shape?

    Robinson: I workout two times a day every game day, run the bleachers, and shoot my same shots. I do abs and if I don’t do that, I ride the bike for like 20-30 minutes.

    SLAM: Just keep a positive attitude..

    Robinson: Thanks man! I appreciate it.

    FREE NATE ROBINSON!!!!

    *This post can also be viewed at Slamonline.com!

    With 18,997 fans in the Staples Center erupting as time begins to expire, Los Angeles Lakers guard, Kobe Bryant, walks off of the court to find his seat on the bench with one finger in the air.

    As the Lakers lead the Toronto Raptors, 122-104 with only 4.2 seconds remaining, his work is certainly done. 

    “Ladies and gentleman, you have witnessed the second greatest scoring performance in NBA History!” FSN West Sportscaster Bill Macdonald utters.
     
    When Macdonald woke up on the morning of January 22, 2006, I’m sure he thought it would be a normal day. He was simply asked to fill in for Lakers play-by-play announcer Joel Meyers, who had another broadcasting commitment that day while the team squared off against the lowly Toronto Raptors, who had an overall record of 14-26 at the time.

    Never in a million years would he have dreamed that he would be witnessing Kobe Bryant score 81 points in the individual performance of the decade. Just one month earlier, Bryant had posted a season-low 11 points in the Lakers’ 102-91 victory over the Raptors in the T-Dot. What would be so different about this game?

    At 27-years-old and in his prime, The Black Mamba had been on a tear in the 2005-2006 season. His old coach Phil Jackson had returned to La La Land, he was determined to lead his team back to the playoffs after missing them just one year earlier, he squashed his beef with Shaq, and he was leading the league in scoring.

    Kobe Bryant couldn’t be stopped! In fact, On December 20th, 2005, he had just lit the Dallas Mavericks up for his career-high of 62 points despite playing only three-quarters. Entering the fourth quarter Bryant had, by himself, outscored the entire Mavericks team 62-61, the only time a player has done this through three-quarters since the 24-second shot clock had been in effect.

    By taking him out of that game early, Phil Jackson was only setting us up for the inevitable explosion of one of the game’s greatest players of all time.

    Bryant entered the game versus the Toronto Raptors on that epic January of 2006 with his grandmother in the audience.

    “What a lot of people don’t know about that particular night (is that) it was my grandma’s first time watching me play in person,” he said in an interview a few years later. “She’s never seen me play. Even in high school, she’s never seen me play and we flew her out here from Philadelphia and she was at that game sitting with my wife and our daughter and she watched me play and it was also my grandfather’s birthday who passed away the year before that so a lot of people don’t know that and that night was made even more special because of that.”  

    Rocking the No. 8, wearing a pair of black, white, and purple Nike Zoom Kobe 1’s, and a white wristband to match his white Lakers home uni, he was dressed to handle business. Although his team started the game slow, Kobe Bryant started out fast as he wasn’t faced with any double teams.

    The Raptors entered half time with a 63-49 lead with Bryant dropping in 26 of those Lakers buckets. The second half started no different as the Raps went up by as many as 18 points early in the quarter, which only angered the legend.

    Fueled by his team’s lack of effort, Bryant started dropping buckets faster than Twista’s lyrics. Pouring in pull-up jumper after pull-up jumper, deep three after deep three, and one lay-up after another, Bryant piled up 27 points in the third quarter and 28 in the fourth. He finished the half with 55 points and challenged Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point record as he finished with 81 points on the night.

    He gave Michigan fans (and the world for that matter) a night to remember as he torched Flint’s Morris Peterson and Detroit’s Jalen Rose, who were his primary defenders. After the final buzzer sounded, Bryant approached FSN sports reporter Patrick O’Neal for his post game interview still in awe of his performance with a towel around his neck. Responding to O’Neal’s question of what could he say about the 81 point game, Bryant responded with a boyish smile on his face and said: “Well you know, we wanted to win this game so bad and they jumped out to us on an early lead and my ankle was hurting me and I was a little tired but we needed to get this W so I had to push through it and I had a great performance.”

    Bryant also added that: “I couldn’t have dreamed of this when I was a kid. It’s no way possible. It’s just a blessing from above to be able to play this game and more importantly get outta here with this W and that’s what really matters.”

    Despite all of the attention that he did receive from this magical performance, he did get quite a bit of flack from several peers. The knock on his magical evening was that he only grabbed 6 boards, handed out 2 assists, 3 steals and one block, only cementing his everlasting hateration from the sports community (Cough cough, including my friend Meat from Western Michigan University, who is hands down the biggest Kobe hater…I’m sure there’s one in every town).

    Besides my friend Meat, Vince Carter stated that he didn’t think  Kobe “is setting the right example for kids out there.” The great Michael Jordan also said that he wouldn’t have allowed Kobe’s 81 points to happen without fouling out.

    Through all the hate, Kobe reached a zone that no has come close to reaching in this decade. Shooting 60.9 percent, he connected on 28 of his 46 field goal attempts in 42 minutes of action. He also dropped 7 of his 13 three-point attempts and 18 of his 20 free throws.

    When the NBA produced a short documentary on the night for an episode of “Real NBA,” he spoke in descriptive fashion on how that night felt.

    “When you get in that zone, it’s just a supreme confidence that you know it’s going in. Things just slow down, everything just slows down and you just have supreme confidence,” Bryant added. “When that happens, you really do not try to focus on what’s going on because you can lose it in a second. Everything becomes one noise, you don’t hear this or that. Everything is just one going thing.”

    I am proud to say that I can tell my kids one day that I witnessed Kobe Bryant pour in 81 points!

    *Here is the three minutes of greatness. Enjoy.

    **This post can also be viewed at Slamonline.com

    Dominique Wilkins Interview

    December 22, 2009

    Since his playing days that stemmed from the early 80’s to the mid-90’s, a lot has changed with Dominique Wilkins.

    The hops are nearly extinct. The flat-top is chopped. The belly is a little bit pudgier.

    But one thing remains constant about the Human Highlight Film, he’s still involved with the game of basketball and he’s still working in Hotlanta with the Atlanta Hawks. Wilkins is the same man that was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 after leaving the NBA ranked seventh on the all-time scoring list with 26,534 points and 10th in career scoring average at 25.3 points per game.

    On top of these superb accomplishments ‘Nique also won the NBA scoring title in 1986 title by averaging 30.3 points per game and set an NBA record by sinking 23 free throws in a game without a miss in 1992. He’s easily the Atlanta Hawks’ all-time franchise leader in both scoring and steals and was a joy to watch.

    Wilkins was originally drafted to the Utah Jazz with the third overall pick in 1982 but had his rights almost immediately traded to Atlanta where he played from 1982-1994. During his tenure in the 404, he led the Hawks to four consecutive 50-win seasons during the decade, which still hasn’t been replicated. In 1994, he was eventually traded to L.A. Clippers, then signed with Boston later that year, played with San Antonio Spurs in 1996, and finished his career out with Orlando in 1999 where he only played 27 games.

    With that being said, I don’t think the younger generation is aware of his prowess and his skills have, in a sense, went under-the-radar. Wilkins is the same guy that was snubbed from the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list in which he showed his dissatisfaction with the ordeal by stating that “The 50 greatest players don’t matter when you’re in the Hall of Fame. We all know that I was not one of the 50 greatest, I was one of the 25 greatest – in my mind.”

    Not only was he robbed of a spot on this elusive list for the NBA’s elite, ‘Nique was also involved in a very “questionable” Slam Dunk Contest back in 1988 in the Windy City where the crown was awarded to the city’s basketball darling in Michael Jordan. Jordan was allowed to receive a 50 after completing the same dunk twice while Wilkins clearly completed the more powerful and aggressive dunks that should have easily won, but that’s my own personal opinion.

    While Wilkins’ statement is up for debate he does have a valid point. They guy’s resume is astounding!

    During a mid-November game against the Detroit Pistons, I caught up with Wilkins to talk basketball…

    EW: Are you surprised with how good the Atlanta Hawks have been doing this year? (Ed note: 12-4 at the time…)

    DW: Well, I’m not really surprised but we didn’t think we would be out of the gate this early, playing as well as we’re playing but we knew the potential was definitely there because we’ve got good chemistry in the last three years. So being able to keep those guys together has really given us the chance to know each other so to say I thought we’d be this good this early? No but its not surprising.

    EW: Is this reminding you of how good you guys were back in the day with your Hawks teams?

    DW: Definitely, Definitely. It’s really about getting back to that level and these guys have shown that they are a team to be reckoned with and to continue to grow like we’re growing, we’re a contending team.

    EW: Stepping into the Palace (of Auburn Hills) you have to get reminded of some of those old battles with Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn and those guys…

    DW: Yeah, but the fortunate thing is that we were playing in an era where there were so many great teams in the East in particular and playing in that Silverdome where it was cold as hell. But it was a fun time to play basketball.

    EW: Are there any games that stood out in particular from when you were playing those Pistons?

    DW: Well it was the rivalry that we had. The Hawks and Pistons, they were big rivals and I remember the game that we beat them in the Playoffs at home. That really stands out more than the other things I could remember because that was a great series and that was a great team. They went on after that to win big.

    *This post can also be viewed at It’s Just Sports!

    Ron Artest Interview!

    December 22, 2009

    The first time I met Ron Artest, it was after the “Malice at the Palace.” 

    He was hosting a 3 on 3 basketball tournament in Detroit, Michigan back in August of 2006. At the time, I was just 17 years old and playing basketball heavily and I approached him for some defensive advice due to the fact that he won the Defensive Player of the Year Award back in the 2003-2004 season.

    Rather than shunning me, he took me under his wing and gave me some great tips and drills to help improve at this skill and even let me showcase the drills in front of all the attendees. It was one of the happiest days of my life at the time and I always looked him different after that day. This is why when I approached Ron Artest on Sunday, December 21st at the Palace of Auburn Hills when the Pistons hosted the Lakers, I was confident that I would get an interview with him.

    Artest was relatively loose as he chilled in the visitor’s locker room. He was draped in black and purple Lakers practice gear and lacing up his black, white and purple Peak sneakers, clowning with teammates, when I approached him for an interview.

    SLAM: I heard that you were quoted a while ago as saying that you and Ben Wallace should go through a sparring session, can you elaborate on that for me (Laughs)

    Ron Artest: It was just something funny, just something fun. I just think it would be fun, you know? nothing personal and I think it would raise a lot of money too for charity.

    SLAM: So you’re serious about that, you would really wanna do that?

    RA: If it’s fun enough! If it’s like enjoyable enough for the fans and ourselves to raise some money than why not?

    SLAM: Are you a big boxing fan?

    RA: Yeah, definitely.

    SLAM: Who’s your favorite boxer?

    RA: Manny (Pacquiao) and Floyd (Mayweather) right now. That’s everybody’s right now so that’s obvious.

    SLAM: I know everybody’s been asking you about coming back to the Palace and playing against Ben in the Palace for one of the first times…how do you feel about that? Is it gonna be a lot of emotions?

    RA: Oh, I didn’t play against Ben in the Palace yet? (looks in deep thought)

    SLAM: I mean after playing with different teams and then coming back…

    RA: Yeah I did. Hold on, I played in Indiana, came back (pauses)…got traded…then got traded to Sacramento. I missed one game…Ben (pauses)…I don’t know? Is this my first time?

    SLAM: I’m not exactly sure…It should be one of them though…

    RA: I don’t know, it don’t matter.

    SLAM: You don’t really think about that coming back…

    RA: Yeah (laughs)

    SLAM: Do the fans usually heckle you when you come back?

    RA: They used to heckled me a lot before when I came back. Detroit is Detroit, you know?

    SLAM: I know you had to do a lot of community service after that (incident), do you feel like you connected with the fans more by doing those types of things? Do you feel like that made you look better to Detroit?

    RA: I don’t care about looking better to anybody. I don’t care about what people think about me at all!

    SLAM: The final question I have for you is how would you attack if y’all did have that sparring session?

    RA: I don’t know, I would have to call Freddie Roach. I would have to go to Freddie Roach and then ask Freddie what should I do (laughs).

    After this interview, I told Artest about our encounter back in the day and he remembered me after I told him the details. He couldnt believe how much I had grown as he asked me how old was I now, what was I doing, and other personal questions.  

    On this night, he also torched the Pistons with 14 points, 6 steals, 9 nine assists, and 5 rebounds.

    Game Notes: Lakers at Pistons

    December 22, 2009

    The heavyweight division of boxing was once considered to be the most respected division of the sport. When individuals competed for the “Heavyweight  Championship of the World” it was almost as if they were fighting for the most prized possession in all of sports, in a heavyweight championship belt.

    As the years passed, this division has been on a gradual decline as fighters in this weight class have went from some of the most popular athletes in the world to fans not knowing who even fights in the division. By the way, can anyone name me five relevant fighters in the division? I didn’t think so.

    This is why when Los Angeles Lakers’ forward Ron Artest was quoted in an early November interview by Sporting News as saying he would still want to fight Ben Wallace, it got me thinking: “Who would win in a heavyweight boxing match between Ben Wallace and Ron Artest?”

    In the interview, Artest stated that: “I see Ben, I’m on my guard now. I’m always in the mood to fight him. … I’ll get suspended 10 games, 15 games (because) I’ll just fight him right there. It won’t go into the stands.”

    He also revealed his intentions on wanting to become a professional boxer: “I started training two years ago,” he said to SN. “In four years, I’m going to try to have my first fight.”

    After receiving a lot of flack after these comments, Artest later clarified his comments on a Chicago radio station.

    “Ben is cool,” Artest told a Chicago radio station, ESPN.com reported. “I admire how he plays defense.”

    “I don’t want to fight Ben Wallace in no street. I don’t want to fight Ben Wallace on no basketball court. But after our careers are over, I will fight Ben Wallace in the boxing ring. But not out of hatred. But out of it would be a good boxing match. So don’t look forward to me fighting Ben on a basketball court, because that’s not going to happen.”

    In a response to Artest’s challenge, Wallace was quoted from ESPN.com prior to a Pistons-Bulls game as saying: 

    “He said he wants to fight me?” Wallace asked reporters

    Yeah,” a reporter responded.

    “Well, [you] need to test him and see if he’s still drinking,” Wallace said.

    In a game that was billed as the “Lakers at Pistons” on a Sunday afternoon in Auburn Hills, Mich. on December 20, 2009; the marquee matchup should have been “Artest v.s. Wallace” as this game marked their first showdown between the two since Artest’s comments last month.

    Pre-Fight:

    Artest was relatively loose as he chilled in the visitor’s locker room at the Palace of Auburn Hills. He was draped in black and purple Lakers practice gear and lacing up his black, white and purple Peak sneakers, clowning with teammates, when I approached him for an interview.

    SLAM: I heard that you were quoted a while ago as saying that you and Ben Wallace should go through a sparring session, can you elaborate on that for me (Laughs)

    Ron Artest: It was just something funny, just something fun. I just think it would be fun, you know? nothing personal and I think it would raise a lot of money too for charity.

    SLAM: So you’re serious about that, you would really wanna do that?

    RA: If it’s fun enough! If it’s like enjoyable enough for the fans and ourselves to raise some money than why not?

    SLAM: Are you a big boxing fan?

    RA: Yeah, definitely.

    SLAM: Who’s your favorite boxer?

    RA: Manny (Pacquiao) and Floyd (Mayweather) right now. That’s everybody’s right now so that’s obvious.

    SLAM: I know everybody’s been asking you about coming back to the Palace and playing against Ben in the Palace for one of the first times…how do you feel about that? Is it gonna be a lot of emotions?

    RA: Oh, I didn’t play against Ben in the Palace yet? (looks in deep thought)

    SLAM: I mean after playing with different teams and then coming back…

    RA: Yeah I did. Hold on, I played in Indiana, came back (pauses)…got traded…then got traded to Sacramento. I missed one game…Ben (pauses)…I don’t know? Is this my first time?

    SLAM: I’m not exactly sure…It should be one of them though…

    RA: I don’t know, it don’t matter.

    SLAM: You don’t really think about that coming back…

    RA: Yeah (laughs)

    SLAM: Do the fans usually heckle you when you come back?

    RA: They used to heckled me a lot before when I came back. Detroit is Detroit, you know?

    SLAM: I know you had to do a lot of community service after that (incident), do you feel like you connected with the fans more by doing those types of things? Do you feel like that made you look better to Detroit?

    RA: I don’t care about looking better to anybody. I don’t care about what people think about me at all!

    SLAM: The final question I have for you is how would you attack if y’all did have that sparring session?

    RA: I don’t know, I would have to call Freddie Roach. I would have to go to Freddie Roach and then ask Freddie what should I do (laughs).

    In the Pistons locker room, Ben Wallace chilled in his corner locker as he watched football highlights on the big screen television on ESPN. He declined to offer any comments on the fight but did say this: “I ain’t trying to get caught up in that stuff. I don’t fight or box, but I will smack the sh** outta somebody!”

    Introductions:

    While most fight fans have become accustomed to hearing the sweet sounds of Michael Buffer or Jimmy Lennon Jr. announcing the fighters introductions, for this fight they would have to settle with Pistons P.A. announcer John Mason.

    “Basketball fans from the great state of Mee-sheee-Ghan, we are now here at the premiere sports and entertainment venue, The Palace! On the big stage, under the bright lights, they come to play NBA basketball in Deee-Troit. National City Bank presents…the Deee-Troit Pistons!!”

    “As we now honor America with the singing of the national anthem being performed by the group seen on the hit TV show ‘America’s Got Talent’ this is Mosaic.”

    After the performance from the group, Mason then introduced Ron Artest and the LA Lakers. Saving Artest’s introduction for last, Mason said.

    “From St. John’s, number 37, the 6-7 forward Ron Artest!”

    Artest heard boo’s as he entered the ring. In the other corner, Mason also saved his opponent, Ben Wallace, for last as he was introduced as:

    “At center, Pistons’ six! From Virginia Union at 6-9. Ready to defend! BBBBBB-Ben WWWWWW-Wallace!!” (Bells ring and fire sparks into the air from the backboard.

    Tale of the Tape

    Ron Artest        

    Born: Nov 13, 1979
    Age: 27
    Height: 6-7 
    Weight: 260 lbs. 
    College: St. John’s, N.Y.
    Years Pro: 10
    Nickname: Ron Ron
     
    Ben Wallace
     
    Born: Sep 10, 1974
    Age: 35
    Height: 6-9 
    Weight: 240 lbs. 
    College: Virginia Union
    Years Pro: 13
    Nickname: Big Ben
     
    Fight

    Artest and the Lakers entered the center of the ring (aka court) first as they awaited for the Pistons. As Wallace approached Artest, they simply greeted each other with a slight elbow bump to show their appreciation for one another.

    With the fight set at four rounds with each round lasting at 12 minutes a piece, the fighters both knew that they would have more than enough time to make their mark.

    Round 1

    Artest came out swinging as he poured in 7 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound and 3 steals.

    Wallace was on the counter attack as he chipped in 0 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal.

    Winner: Ron Artest!

    Round 2

    Artest chipped in 3 more points, 2 more assists, 2 extra boards and another steal.

    Wallace scored 1 bucket and grabbed 2 boards.

    Winner: Ron Artest!

    Round 3

    Artest scored 4 points, 1 steal, 2 assists, and grabbed 2 boards.

    Wallace assisted on 2 plays and grabbed 4 rebounds.

    Winner: Despite this being Wallace’s most active round…it still goes to Ron Artest!

    Round 4

    Artest chipped in 3 more assists and one more steal.

    Wallace didn’t do much of anything.

    Winner: Ron Artest!

    Decision

    After tallying up the scores, Artest finished the night with 14 points, 6 steals, 9 nine assists, and 5 rebounds. Wallace scored 1 point, 1 steal, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists.

    By way of unanimous decision, the winner had to be Ron Artest! I’m not sure if this would be decision if this had been a real fight, but based on stats, he easily dominated.

    The Lakers also defeated the Pistons 93-81 with Kobe Bryant chipping in 28 points, 5 steals, and 4 assists improving their overall record to 22-4.

    **And to answer Ron Artest’s question, this meeting was just their first back AT the Palace of Auburn Hills since the “Malice at the Palace” on November 19, 2004.

    *This post can also be viewed at slamonline.com!

    J.R. Smith Interview!

    December 12, 2009

    Prior to the Pistons v. Nuggets game on December 10, 2009, I caught up with the Nuggets high flyer, J.R. Smith for a short interview. Here is what he said…

    Eric Woodyard: How do you feel about coming into the Palace tonight with Chauncey coming back home? Do you feel like you have to do a little extra work tonight?

    JR Smith: Yeah! It’s a little bit more extra emphasis on this game to try to get him his first W coming back so we definitely gotta work harder.

    EW: It’s been an emotional couple of days, yall played Philly and AI and now yall are coming to the Palace, which is Chauncey’s old home, how has that been?

    JS: It’s great! It’s great for the game, it’s great for us and we just keep getting great situations. We won in Philly so hopefully we win tonight.

    EW: I know the Detroit Pistons aren’t the team that they used to be but do you still get a little excited to play here anyway?

    JS: Oh yeah. Since I’ve been in the league I have never won here so I always get a little amped up to play them. Regardless of what they had before they are still a good team.

    Ben Wallace Interview!

    December 12, 2009

    The “Will Robinson Locker Room of Champions” (aka the Pistons locker room) was empty as center Ben Wallace searched for a remote for the huge flat-screen television that projected from the back of the room. Shoes were scattered all over the floors, the lockers were filled with street clothes, and it was actually pretty quiet.

    “Where my remote at?” Wallace said to himself.

    “Can I ask you a few questions?” I asked as I greeted him.

    “Hold on one second,” he said as he searched. “Alright I’m ready.”

    Stepping up to the 6-9, 240-pound, dominating presence I asked him a few questions. Here is what he had to say before the Detroit Pistons hosted the Denver Nuggets on December 10, 2009.

    SLAM: Obviously you’re going against your old teammate Chauncey Billups, is that any extra motivation tonight?
    Ben Wallace: Aw naw, I have played against Chauncey a number of times so I know he’s gonna be motivated and ready to play when he come up in here.

    SLAM: I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to you since you’ve been back in Detroit but I know you have to be so happy coming back to Detroit because you’ve been so productive…Can you talk about how that feels to be home?
    BW: Thanks man. I’m just happy and excited to be healthy for the first time in a long time and I can just actually get out here and do some of the things that I know I can do. In the last two and a half, three years, I just haven’t been healthy, if it ain’t my back, [it’s] my knee you know? I broke my leg! It’s just been a frustrating season year after year but right now I’m back, I’m happy, I’m healthy and I’m glad to be back in the D.

    SLAM: Since you’ve been back in the D, I know you look at the crowd and see how different it is back here. I remember all of the games used to be sold out when I was younger…
    BW: Yeah, I remember we used to lead the League in sellouts here in the D, and like I said before you’ve gotta give this crowd something to cheer about and put that buzz back in the city. Once we do that, people will come back.

    Former Bad Boys, Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace unite!

    by Eric Woodyard

    It’s been well documented about the success that the Detroit Pistons experienced with Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups competing together in the red, white and blue threads. From 2002-2006, the two delighted Pistons fans with one of the most wonderful runs in NBA history including an NBA championship over the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004.

    Billups and Wallace both grew into men during their tenures in the Motor City together.

    Prior to signing as a free agent in June of 2002 with Detroit, Billups had been a journeyman who had already played for the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves in his first five seasons as a pro. In the D, he turned his swag on as he switched from the No. 4 to the No. 1 and became “Mr. Big Shot.” He responded in clutch situations, controlled the offense with poise, and earned the respect from not only the city of Detroit but the entire League as well. In the process, he was able to win a NBA Finals MVP, become an All-Star three times, and make the All-NBA team twice and All-Defensive second team twice.

    Wallace, on the other hand, joined the team in 2000 as he was traded from the Orlando Magic along with Chuckey Atkins for Grant Hill. While he didn’t compete for as many teams as Billups, he was somewhat of a journeyman as he played for two teams in his first four seasons (Orlando Magic and Washington Bullets). While in Detroit, Wallace became one of the most respected players in the League as he intimidated players making them “Fear the Fro.” He won the Defensive Player of the Year award four times, was selected to six All-Defensive teams and four NBA All-Star Games.

    While Billups and Wallace competed against each other since their departures to different teams; December 10, 2009, marked the first time the two competed against each other at the Palace of Auburn Hills since playing together in Motown when the Nuggets took on the Pistons.

    PRE-GAME

    The “Will Robinson Locker Room of Champions” (aka the Pistons locker room) was empty as center Ben Wallace searched for a remote for the huge flat-screen television that projected from the back of the room. Shoes were scattered all over the floors, the lockers were filled with street clothes, and it was actually pretty quiet.

    “Where my remote at?” Wallace said to himself.

    “Can I ask you a few questions?” I asked as I greeted him.

    “Hold on one second,” he said as he searched. “Alright I’m ready.”

    Stepping up to the 6-9, 240-pound, dominating presence I asked him a few questions.

    SLAM: Obviously you’re going against your old teammate Chauncey Billups, is that any extra motivation tonight?
    Ben Wallace: Aw naw, I have played against Chauncey a number of times so I know he’s gonna be motivated and ready to play when he come up in here.

    SLAM: I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to you since you’ve been back in Detroit but I know you have to be so happy coming back to Detroit because you’ve been so productive…Can you talk about how that feels to be home?
    BW: Thanks man. I’m just happy and excited to be healthy for the first time in a long time and I can just actually get out here and do some of the things that I know I can do. In the last two and a half, three years, I just haven’t been healthy, if it ain’t my back, [it’s] my knee you know? I broke my leg! It’s just been a frustrating season year after year but right now I’m back, I’m happy, I’m healthy and I’m glad to be back in the D.

    SLAM: Since you’ve been back in the D, I know you look at the crowd and see how different it is back here. I remember all of the games used to be sold out when I was younger…
    BW: Yeah, I remember we used to lead the League in sellouts here in the D, and like I said before you’ve gotta give this crowd something to cheer about and put that buzz back in the city. Once we do that, people will come back.

    Leaving the locker room, I reflected on how much he’s changed. No longer did he have the huge ‘fro, instead a miny fro’ (…Gerald Levert style) in which gray hairs were starting to seep through his scalp. He also wasn’t wearing the No. 3 anymore, instead Rodney Stuckey proudly donned the number (the former DPOY wore the No. 6). I knew this prior to the game, but it didn’t really sink in until after talking to him.

    On the other end of the spectrum, I was able to see Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony stroll into the building together. Melo’s swag was through the roof as normal as he wore dark shades and a green hoody and Billups looked as professional as ever, speaking to everyone in his presence even saying “What’s up?” to me.

    He looked so comfortable, like he’s been here before. Oh wait? He has.

    Despite all of this positivity coming from Billups, I could sense that he was ready to get the game started. In his two games last year against the squad, he averaged 32.0 points but the Pistons swept the series winning both contests.

    IN-GAME

    Wallace and Billups both greeted each other at the tip-off with a big hug but after the ball was tipped the friendship was out the door.

    Billups chipped in 21 points on 6-16 shooting with 2 assists, including a few big shots in the end while Wallace grabbed 16 boards, scored 7 points, and gathered 2 steals. On the final possession, Billups choked on a layup that would have tied the game.

    Stealing the show was the NBA’s scoring leader, Carmelo Anthony, who exploded for 40 points on 16-28 shooting with 6 rebounds. Melo scored in every way possible as he kept a smile on his face throughout much of his 4th quarter run in which he scored 16 points. On one possession at the 4:31 mark, Melo calmly connected on an and one after seeing Ben Wallace switch on him. After the play, Melo smacked the hand of a fan in the audience before proceeding to knock down a free throw for his 35th point of the evening. Classic!

    For the Pistons Rodney Stuckey went to work as he scored 25 points and Charlie Villanueva scored 27 points off the bench. Improving their overall record to 10-12, the Pistons defeated the Nuggets 101-99 despite the absence of Ben Gordon (left ankle sprain), Will Bynum (left ankle sprain), Tayshaun Prince (lower back) and Rip Hamilton (right ankle sprain).

    POST-GAME

    Nuggets head coach George Karl sat outside the visitor’s locker room in a University of Michigan long-sleeved shirt and took questions. With the bright lights flashing in his face, Karl commented on Anthony’s 40-point performance.

    “Carmelo with 40 points on 16-28 shooting, it’s safe to say he was our main energy tonight. He was good, he was very very good,” Karl said. “He’s amazing when he gets in that offensive mode but we didn’t have enough guys to come with him.”

    Inside the locker room Carmelo Anthony sits beside Chauncey Billups slouched in a corner with his head down in black compression shorts looking really frustrated. The media, including myself immediately swarmed Billups as Anthony’s body language made it clear that he wasn’t taking questions at the moment.

    Below are a couple quotes from Billups…

    On coming back: “I mean, it was my first time last year when I came played here and it was crazy and this is really my first time where it really felt like the times when I played against the Pistons when I was in Minnesota and with other teams and I kinda had that feeling but I always just remember my years here but it felt crazy. I’m never gonna let this put a blemish on what I feel about playing here.”

    On Ben Wallace: “Ben is playing great, he rejuvenated himself. He’s all over the place, blocking shots getting rebounds and you’ve got a team where all the bigs know who they are and they do what they do and let the guards do what they do so I take my hats off, they played great.”

    *This post can also be viewed on slamonline.com!