They finally culled it down to 6 finalists, one who just cleared legal hurdles, one who has already won the trophy. These are the 2013 Heisman Trophy Finalists
Worked a great intrastate rivalry game last night as Colorado defeated Colorado St at Moby Arena 67-62. Spencer Dinwiddie led the victoroius Buffaloes with 28 points eclipsing 1,000 points in his career. The host Rams were lead by Navy transfer J.J. Avila's 16 points. Terrific atmosphere and really respect both programs that are coming off of back to back NCAA appearances.
KFBK's Bill Herenda attended the Causeway Classic Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 at the Double Tree Hotel in Sacramento.
1. Vivek Ranadive -- One of Silicon Valley's finest, the Savior of Sacramento hoopdom, Ranadive is a visionary who has proven in his career that he simply will not lose. His NBA 3.0, i.e. Global Branding, Technology and Celebrity for Social Change, is looking to propel not only the Kings brand but the entire NBA to India on a true global scale. In addition, plans for a "cashless," indoor/outdoor arena strive to be the best arena in the world. "V" as he's called in his inner circle, takes a back seat to no one and is determined to make Sacramento a true known entity on the global scene.
2. DeMarcus Cousins -- The beneficiary of a max contract extension estimated at 4 years and $62 million during the off season, the enigmatic big man, one of the most skilled in the league, has the opportunity to propel the Kings franchise back to respectability. Entering his fourth NBA season after leaving Kentucky after his freshman campaign, Cousins' is still only 23 years old. He averaged 17.1 points per game and 9.9 rebounding per game last season and clearly Michael Malone's biggest challenge as head coach is going to be his relationship with Cousins. At the end of the day, it's a player's league but even Cousins whose transgressions have occurred on the court, e.g., technical fouls, fines and suspensions has to recognize that a coach like Malone can get the best out of he and his teammates. No contract can supplant the desire that all great players have -- to win. Cousins and how he handles the responsibility of the max contract will be borne out this season. Someone once said, "Sports doesn't develop character, it reveals it." So it will be with DeMarcus this season.
3. Michael Malone -- Not a question of "if" but "when" Malone would land a head coaching job, the scion of NBA lifer Brendan Malone is well respected throughout the NBA. A strong runner up when the Warriors hired Mark Jackson, Malone was recruited to the Kings in clandestine style -- news of his hiring embargoed for weeks before Ranadive made the announcement. If someone's bad in the honeymoon, the marriage is going to be awful and so far Malone is off to a terrific start. He's been able to clearly articulate the culture change starting with inculcating defensive principles that the Sacramento franchise desperately needs. Notorious for being laggard in almost every defensive statistic in the NBA the last few years, e.g., No. 1 in the NBA in fast break points allowed last season, Malone has the players talking about "eliminating break out turnovers" that lead to easy baskets, "limiting opponents to one shot," on ball defense where it all starts, “protecting the paint," etc . . . Now don't get carried away teaching and having the players articulate it doesn't immediately lead to the most important part of coaching -- having the players incorporate it into their game. However, Malone and his staff are on the right track.
NBA players look at coaches and ask two questions: What have you done? (As a player or coach, preferably both) and Can you help me improve and extend my career? If you stumble, mumble and bumble like Ralph Kramden on the $64,000 Answer episode of The Honeymooners -- you're toast as coaches can lose players in a nanosecond. Players are sophisticated and can sniff out posers in a similar fashion to how they've eluded defenders by getting to the hoop with alacrity or sticking a pull up jumper through the AAU ranks, high school and in some cases a quick college career.
Unlike Kramden, the beloved bus driver from Brooklyn, who struggled to achieve his dreams but never stopped trying, and guessed, "Ed Norton," when posed with the initial question in the "Popular Songs" category, "Who wrote Swanny River?" Malone can easily respond, "Steven Foster" and move on to the next hurdle, as he has the necessary the street cred to keep this group engaged even in the dog days of the season. (See six and seven game road trips in January and February, respectively.)
Here's a quick look at Malone's defensive resume, "Last season, the Warriors improved in several categories: rebounding (from 28th to 3rd), defensive rebounding (24th to 1st), opponent field goal percentage (20th to 3rd) and opponent three-point field goal percentage (28th to 7th). Prior to Golden State, Malone served as an assistant coach on the New Orleans Hornets coaching staff as the Hornets were the most improved defense team in the NBA in 2011, allowing a league-best 8.7 fewer points per game than in the previous season. Additionally, the Hornets limited their opponents to a 45.7 field goal percentage in 2010-11 compared to a 48.3 clip the previous season. Malone has his work cut out for him though, as the Kings finished the 2012-13 season ranked 30th in points allowed, 29th in defensive rebounding, 28th in opponent field goal percentage and blocks."
As financial guru Kelly Brothers would certainly point out with any stock, past performance is not an indicator of future earnings, and certainly Malone shares this trait. While the Kings certainly don’t have the talent of some of his past stops including most recently, Golden State, he inherits an unbalanced roster –laden with backcourt players - he’s still the right guy for the job at the right time.
4. Shaq -- Although, he makes it look easy being Shaq, O’Neal a self-described "marketing genius" is smart enough to seek out the right people to make things work. None with a more prodigious effect perhaps than his partnership with social media maven Amy Jo Martin who helped Shaq secure 7,747,189 twitter followers and it’s probably increased since my last key stroke. In similar fashion, Shaq connecting with longtime friend/business associate Mark Mastrov, "V" and the rest of the ownership group is potentially a fortuitous stroke of genius for all involved from the board room to the locker room to the mail room in Sacramento. With Shaq taking on an active role with Cousins not doing the Mikan Drill or post moves but with helping with all of the intangibles that it takes to be successful. Between "V," Malone and Shaq, there is a tremendous support structure in place for Cousins to thrive. Remember the two questions NBA players ask? Well, even if not a marketing genius, Shaq, a Hall of Famer and four time NBA Champion doesn’t need Ralph Kramden’s help to answers those questions.
In summary, let’s enjoy the season. It's simply a treat to have 450 of the world's best athletes passing through town for 41 home games. No doubt it's an exciting time in California's state capital city and as closely as the Kings on ball defenders will be checking the opposition, we'll be tracking the season!