Tacko is the new Zaza
WITH David Joel Stern’s passing on New Year’s Day (January 1) afternoon (U.S. time) at age 77, all four predecessors of current NBA commissioner Adam Silver have crossed the Great Beyond — Maurice Podoloff (the league MVP hardware is named after him), J. Walter Kennedy (the NBA Citizenship Award is named after him), Lawrence O’Brien (the NBA championship trophy is named after him) and Stern.
Stern suffered a brain hemorrhage last December 12 and underwent emergency surgery. He crossed the Great Divide 20 days later.
The New York City-born Stern served as NBA czar from February 1, 1984 to February 1, 2014, stepping down at the age of 71. He held the reins longer than each of his three predecessors and was the longest-tenured commissioner in the history of the four U.S. major pro sports leagues (National Football league, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and NBA).
A lawyer by profession, Stern was succeeded by his deputy, Silver, but he remained associated with the league with the title of commissioner emeritus.
Stern, who was responsible for sending the U.S. Dream Team or the first all-NBA team to play in the Summer Olympics during the 1992 Barcelona Games, received the Olympic Order in 2012. Two years later, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Stern also became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2016.
From a second-rate pro league that telecasted the Finals on a tape-delayed basis during the early 1980s, Stern transformed the NBA into what it is today, a prosperous global brand. Farewell, Commish.
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Is 7-foot-5 Senegalese Tacko Fall, a rookie with the Boston Celtics, the new Zaza Pachulia in the NBA All-Star Game fan voting?
Fall, a two-way contract player with the Celtics and the NBA club’s G League affiliate Maine Red Claws, is ranked sixth among the frontcourters in the Eastern conference with 110,369 votes, trailing only the league’s No. 1 second-running vote-collector Giannis Antetokuonmpo of Milwaukee (Dallas sophomore Luka Doncic from the West is the current No.1 vote-getter), Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Toronto’s Pascal Siakam (currently sidelined by a groin injury), Miami’s Jimmy Butler and Boston’s Jayson Tatum in the first round of balloting.
The top three frontcourters will make it to the starting lineup at the end of the voting process, which concludes on January 23.
The fan voting accounts for 50 percent of the vote for the five starters — two backcourt and three frontcourt players — from each conference. The other 50 percent is split evenly among voting by media members and the players themselves.
The starters — along with the two team captains (the top vote-getter in each conference) will be named on Jan. 24 (Manila time). The 14 reserves — seven from each conference — will be selected by the NBA’s head coaches and named on Jan. 31 (MT).
The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will be held in Chicago on February 17 (MT).
Like Fall, Pachulia, a second-tier 6-foot-11 center, was well-loved by the fans (or at least they took a fancy on him enough to fool the All-Star voting process) during his time with 2017 and 2018 NBA titlist Golden State, so much so he nearly made it to the West All-Star starting lineup a few years ago through fan balloting.
A native of the Republic of Georgia, Pachulia, who turns 36 next month, is now in his first year as a basketball operations consultant with the Warriors.
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History has been made. Four days into Year 2020, Atlanta’s elder statesman Vince Carter became the first player in NBA history to appear in a game in four different decades when the 42-year-old product of the University of north Carolina suited up in the Hawks’ 116-111 home victory over the Indiana Pacers last January 4.
A 6-foot-6 swingman, Carter made his NBA debut during the lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season and earned NBA Rookie of the Year honors with the Toronto Raptors.
Carter, a legendary slam-dunk artist during his heyday, is in his NBA record-setting 22nd season and second year with the Hawks. He previously played with the Raptors, New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings.
Before the ongoing 2019-20 wars, Carter had shared the league record for most seasons played with Robert Parish, Kevin Willis, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki.
Carter will turn 43 on January 26. If he plays on his birthday or past it, he’ll become the first 43-year-old to suit up in the NBA since Willis in 2007.
The oldest NBA player ever is 7-foot Parish, who made his mark with the Boston Celtics alongside Larry Bird and Kevin McHale with three NBA titles (1982, 1984 and 1986). The Chief was just two months short of his 44th birthday when he won a fourth championship ring with the Chicago Bulls in 1997 while riding on the coattails of Michael Jordan.
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