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  • Dublin boy Burke waits journey's next stop
    I should go to the NBA Following an early flourish there have been disappointments The Magic tipped by some to challenge for the title thanks to the brilliance of their superstar guard Tracy McGrady were instead inhibited by an injury to his talented sidekick Grant Hill Likewise Burke s impression receded in tandem with his playing time an average of 4 3 points per contest hinging largely on unexpected prosperity in the first half of the campaign I wouldn t say it s been all as you would imagine Burke outlines Everyone dreams about the NBA and says that it s all so exciting but it s a lot of hard work There s a lot of stress involved After waiting so long it s nice to finally come here and do it It s been largely enjoyable and now that I ve done it and made it through a whole year I can do other things without wondering from the outside what it would have been like Despite ever narrowing gulf between American basketball and the best of the rest of the world there remains a huge contrast in the way in which the sport is run on each side of the Atlantic The game itself with contradictory rules The level of play The atmosphere Plus the way business is handled differs immensely between Europe and the NBA Burke adds The way players are received and the status they have in the city in which they play There are pros and cons between both situations I probably enjoy the interaction between the coaches and players more over here because the treatment of players is a lot better There s more give and take rather than it being a case of coaches saying you will do this That s a much more enjoyable situation because to an extent you are given latitude to express your thoughts There was little of such liberty to be had growing up the Burke household Having spent the first three years of his life in Tullamore also the abode of Susan Moran Ireland s representative of last year in the Women s NBA he and his five siblings joined the Diaspora and set sail for a new life in Cleveland There he played ice hockey not hurling Watched Disney not Bosco Still though native treats were omnipresent My parents were always involved in Irish heritage clubs and societies he recalls I remember them taking me to dances numerous times We had no choice When I was in junior high me and my friends were organising an American style party and my Dad yanked me by the ear and shouted you re not going there we have an Irish event to go to Looking back I m glad he did it It means though that my memories of Ireland are more of going back on vacations In my mind as a child everyone seemed to be always celebrating because when you were visiting relatives They were

    Original URL path: http://www.britball.com/features/patburke0309.html (2016-05-02)
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  • NBA: Arch over the pond
    Eton rather than Compton Even now as the Scot takes a breather before preparations begin for his second season in the world s best league even the mention of the R word brings instant and close attention I look for bags to pick up and carry he smiles supping refreshments in the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh his abode for the duration of his mini tour It wasn t so terrible to have to do stuff like that because you knew when you were getting out of line because someone would just tell you off straight away They ll say be quiet Rook and get me a towel or a Gatorade And you have to go along with it There were times when I had to go and get the older guys donuts first thing in the morning And they had to be Krispy Kremes fresh from the Krispy Kreme store Once I picked them up at the supermarket and they told me to go back and get the right ones There was the odd prank too Except in the playground of millionaires the jokes are more elaborate They filled my car with Styrofoam once Archibald recounts I have a big SUV which was filled right up to the top of the seats I came out saw someone else s and laughed Then I saw mine opened the door and it all poured out By the end of a season in which the Grizzlies extended their record as the only franchise never to reach the NBA s play offs the japes died out You know them all pretty well and you know they re just messing with you he adds On the court he had more reason to smile by the spring time After an early injury scuppered his chances of making an immediate impact he was gradually eased into service and given a chance to impress his coach Hubie Brown and the club s legendary manager Jerry West His averages of 1 6 points and 1 4 rebounds per game were nothing to shout about Yet he made enough noise he hopes for Memphis to pick up the option on a second year of his contract I had very positive feedback at the end of the season Archibald states The date is June 30 for them to tell me either way but I do feel confident that I ll be there next year I m excited about what my role would be that I d get a chance to contribute I was fortunate that at the end of the year I had a chance to play some meaningful games not just a few minutes at the end of a game that was already over That bodes well It was frustrating because I got injured early and it took me a long while to get back in the rotation But for the guys who don t play major minutes there is a situation to take advantage of where you can work

    Original URL path: http://www.britball.com/features/archibald0306.html (2016-05-02)
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  • Bronx boy Singleton out for Brum steer
    with Lloyd Daniels He was just gifted From the age of 14 everyone knew he was talented and some people have that God given ability Everyone has some of it He has a lot more He had a lot of trouble It s how you grow up and sometimes you have problems in your family life Personally I love him as a guy He was a super team mate and even though he was from Brooklyn and I was from the Bronx we played together throughout high school on summer teams and All Star teams He was cool The ultimate mecca of the Big Apple is Madison Square Garden of course and while at St John s University Singleton called it home court You have to realise there s been a lot of great players go through there so to follow in their steps onto the Garden floor is just a privilege You have to be grateful but also to seize the moment and do the best while you re there he observes In terms of colleges St John s is like Man United in New York Going there is a big deal and it was a big step for me personally for my career and my education there Winning the NIT in my sophomore year at the Garden was incredible And then we went on to reach the Elite Eight the next year when we lost to Duke Those two years were huge highlights It is an attitude which has served him well over nearly a decade of plying his trade around Europe Most of that spell has been spent in the British League apart from year long stints in Israel Cyprus and an eye opening initial excursion to Belfast playing for Queen s where the sight of tanks

    Original URL path: http://www.britball.com/features/singleton0305.html (2016-05-02)
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  • CATCHING SOME Z
    voodoo doll Ilgauskas has returned uglier and stronger than before Nevertheless the fear that his foot will once again snap beneath him is never far away from his waking thoughts I think about it almost every day It s out there no question he confirms Once you start playing and you re in the game you forget about it You have to act and react without thinking about it Afterwards when I m icing my feet it comes back Or if I feel something even a minor pain it can prey on my mind But I just have to take the approach that if it happens it happens I can t do anything about it Quitting would have been the easy way out but few would have blamed him for cashing in I thought about it the last time I broke my foot It was the third time it had happened so you do begin to wonder if it s all worth it I took my time thought about and decided to give it one last shot I figured I was too young at the time at 25 years old I knew one day I would regret it if I don t give it another go I had nothing else to do I didn t want to sit around all day and watch TV Having come so far the frustration of guiding an inexperienced and sometimes reckless Cavs line up through loss after loss must surely hurt Was there a deliberate strategy to maximise the ping pong balls Who knows By design or by woeful luck Cleveland has sunk into a pitiful mire yet Ilgauskas defiantly is prepared to take a defensive stance We have a lot of young guys he offers We re the youngest team in the league and it s going to be hard next year It s going to take two three years and then you have to re sign your own guys who are coming up then on the last years of their contracts But the talent is there He is an admirer of Dajuan Wagner He s pretty good He can score in bunches He s got talent But he s also been struggling lately Once rookies get past the 60 games mark that s when they usually hit the wall but when he s been on there have not been many people who can stop him And of Darius Miles so often painted as the under achieving villain He s only 21 and it s still only his third year in the league He s struggled with knee problems and he hasn t had the explosiveness which he had last year That s a big part of his game But he knows what he needs to do to become a better basketball player He adds I think we ve been playing a little better lately At least we re not getting blown out and going into fourth quarters sometimes with a chance to

    Original URL path: http://www.britball.com/features/ilgauskas0304.html (2016-05-02)
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  • Special K
    the house They wanted him to assimilate to go into teaching That he did Just that instead of conducting lessons in the classroom he instead holds chalk talk on court My goal was to be a high school teacher but then I went to the United States Military Academy and that knocked that off he recalls But in the military you re also a teacher and leader At West Point I played for one of the great teachers and leaders in Bob Knight I learned the game but I also learned the passion of preparation and execution which comes through teaching He taught me to change my limits and take them to a different extreme In the Army he was Captain K It cultivated he says an appreciation of discipline and working with others And also the understanding of failure being part of the growth process As a cadet you learned to get up find out why you failed and then get appropriate instruction on how you can be successful And that s really what we do here I ve told the players that they re not going to do it alone Ask for help Find out what you re doing right and wrong Being wrong doesn t make you a bad person sometimes you re going to lose and look bad but you get through it Maintain a positive attitude Don t lose your team Don t lose the people around who can help make you better That s called maturity In Durham there is no solace for the campus king Krzyzewskiville reads the sign just outside Cameron Indoor Stadium an old fashioned gymnasium which has become a cauldron to all who visit The coach s office two storeys high lots of glass is a fortress too A palm reader rather than a key secures entry designed to keep any keg fuelled student pranksters at bay The university however benefits hugely from its most famous coach s handiwork It reaps vast sums from the television rights to its basketball programme which is in turn used as a lure to attract donations from wealthy alumni To the delight and gratitude of the Cameron Crazies budding stars have passed through en route to the pros at an astonishing rate Christian Laettner Bobby Hurley Grant Hill Jason Williams Mike Dunleavy Do we need to carry on All great names All proud Dookies Yet for Krzyzewski coaching and improving raw ingredients is only part part of the job To teach commitment when you have an example of it within your programme is another he adds If you have Shane Battier at the locker next to you working hard and you can see that it helps a lot People will always look at their stars That s been one of the keys to our programme Our upperclassmen have been great role models for our underclassmen Not good great We ve had six National Players of the Year and Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley weren

    Original URL path: http://www.britball.com/features/coachk03.html (2016-05-02)
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  • Beasley cheats death to win Raiders' hand
    NBL Conference title before they crashed to a 118 99 defeat at reigning champions Teesside Mohawks but has now set his sights on the play offs On top of his commitments with Raiders Beasley is also keen to pass on his message of hope to other cancer sufferers in Plymouth and is willing to speak to any groups who wish to hear his story He said It was tough and I hate to say I m glad it happened to me but I think it made me a stronger person and a much better person after going through it I think everything happens for a reason and I think one of the main reasons I did make it where so many others don t was that I wanted to be a walking testimony to help others work hard and know that if you believe in yourself you can get through pretty much anything Beasley pointed to his love of basketball and the support of a loving family as the motivating factors for his remarkable fightback But he pointed to his professional contract with Plymouth Raiders as the crowning moment of his recovery He said Once someone tells you that you have cancer the first thing you think is that I may die and you start to take notice of things around you and take a whole new perspective on life It was just people in around me keeping my spirits up and wanting to play basketball so badly that motivated me and helped me to fight my way through it He added One thing I said to myself was that I wasn t going to vomit so the whole time I was going through chemotherapy I didn t vomit once Just to have those little goals to focus and help

    Original URL path: http://www.britball.com/features/beasley0303.html (2016-05-02)
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  • No sleep 'til All Star
    most famous athletes in the USA plus Brad Miller attracts every name into town the expensive seats crawling with the A list of hip hop and Hollywood as everyone aims to see and be seen That s the thing about such mammoth productions The centrepiece the game itself is almost secondary It s about the chat the hustle the chase and the love Each player hosting his own gathering each fan desperately searching a ticket It helps of course when you have a big yellow media pass dangling from your neck You line up wave it around the face of some 150 kilo security goliath and hope that they wave you on by More so though it s about who you can call who has the inside tickets the finger on the pulse Scoop Jackson you are the man Without sleep All Star Weekend just rolls into one long excursion You soak it up see the sights but only when the numbness of insomnia subsides do you really appreciate the full panorama The most memorable bits Most absurd Fat Freddie M erstwhile friend of this publication claiming fatigue and threatening to go home and miss overtime in Michael Jordan s final All Star Game We kid you not but he soldiered on bravely Phat Most cringe worthy Chinese journalist in the middle of a locker room scrum asking Kobe Bryant to autograph a cap Oxygen should have been on hand as all of us in the vicinity stopped breathing in disbelief You just can t do that stuff Credit to Kobe for handling it with his usual class Most delightful Sue Bird Seattle Storm goddess Is it the done thing to ask an interviewee to marry you Most jammy The posse from FHM scoring an invite to hang out with

    Original URL path: http://www.britball.com/features/nballstar03diary.html (2016-05-02)
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  • Stars still central to NBA showpiece
    answering every question no matter how inane from the throng of American Chinese and even the odd British scribe in attendance Yao s voice to the masses is still heard through his ever present translator Colin the 7 6 giant not yet confident enough with his grasp of English It will take me two years Yao said or was it Colin who will be out of a job when that day arrives Reaching the All Star level however has not taken so long Perhaps it was inevitable Yet even Yao never expected that his arrival into the NBA with the Houston Rockets would lead to a fast track into such elite company Here he has joined the club of giants The only player other than Michael Jordan who granted a thoughtful audience on Saturday to merit his own press conference in the bowels of the vast Georgia Congress Center he looks somewhat weary of the constant attention and a punishing schedule which has put him in the faces of America s consumer through a series of television adverts The other players watch on occasionally bemused Even when Shaquille O Neal bounded off the practice court to exchange hugs with Yao s parents you wondered who was the celebrity and who the nippy fan begging for a photo All Star Games thrive on hype of course That s why they exist It s not about the game until the fourth quarter at least It s about the sell about showcasing the NBA s image in soft lighting with skimmy outfits Things have changed My learned colleague Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune has done 17 of these things They used to be much smaller and more intimate he laments Now All Star Game is a mammoth week long event exhibition and

    Original URL path: http://www.britball.com/features/nballstar03.html (2016-05-02)
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