Saturday, 22 February 2014

DEREK FISHER Feature-CLUTCH KING FISHER

Clutch This!

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Five Mississippi...

Wearing a championship ring on the finger of his left hand but a stress fracture on his right foot, Derek Fisher has something to prove in 2001. The Laker legend he was drated alongside in the class of '96, Kobe Bryant has started a new dynasty for the three-peat ages with Shaquille O'Neal and Coach Phil Jackson, beating the clutch of Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers for the first NBA champions of the new milleniuum in the brand, new STAPLES Centre. Still between critical injuries and minimal playing time behind the Harper's of Derek or Ron, Fisher wants to show his storied L.A. Lakers and the Larry O'Brien round his finger that he can truly earn this elite, Hall Of Fame company. With everyone checking for Robert Horry and his clutch legendary greatness nobody saw the number 2. So taking off his ring like an adultering husband on the road and strapping his ankle, the ever loyal Derek wrapped a head band round his shaved dome and went to work. Swish, swish, shwish. That was all San Antonio and the rest of the swept Western Conference heard as Derek Fisher stepped up to every shot he knocked down in perfect twine, time off the pine and into the prime. Robert Horry may have finished the games, but Derek Fisher's hot microwave play started them like Vinnie Johnson in 60 seconds. Even in the Allen Iverson dominated finals-as L.A. beat the one man Boston Celtic, Laker killing show in Philadelphia-Fish's headband even caught a dunk over those cornrows. Sure this was the Kobe or Shaq show as the trophies where rasied, but it was the Fisher dagger that truly went down and sank into the heart of the opposition and everyone who ever doubted him or wrote him off. Forgettable? Add an un-before that. With a finger to his lips it wasn't just the Philly crowd that Derek Fisher told to be quiet. Everyone was silent.

Four Mississippi...

It was all good just a second ago thought Tim Duncan until it became darker than two days in November when the red lights illuminated. Today the Robot doesn't just take over the Admiral as the greatest San Antonio Spur of all-time. One of the two towers is also one of the greatest Basketball players the National Basketball Association or the world has ever seen. He's top ten and he's your all-time Power Forward in your starting five. His legacy is just that legendary. He almost crushed the Lakers like he did with David Robinson, along with those "boring" criticisms with a clutch 18 feet fadeway over the mountain of meat that was the 7 foot 1, 330 pound Shaquille O'Neal. Jordan would have been proud, still Timmy was heartbroken by the Lakers and one particular player all over again. As they said 'one great shot deserves another' and life can change in a blink of a second. Even 0.4 tenths of one. That's when Derek Fisher changed it all. Changed those 'yet-again' criticism that he was done, a one hit wonder or a band wagoner, riding on his draft-mates 'fro-tails. That's when Derek Fisher proved his Point over brought in Hall Of Fame legend Gary Payton. That's when he proved down the line his glove clutched on to more lasting shots and he could deliver like Malone, Karl 'Mailman'. That's when he proved he was truly a winner. Truly one for the last seconds or front pages, Robert Horry or not. Like Vlade Divac you better "check a paper or something". 'The Fish That Saved L.A.', with one of the greatest shots and moments in NBA history from one of its greatest players. You can for sure put him in the Hall Of Fame with Big Shot Rob no debate. L.A. had two of the greatest playoff legends in their Shaq and Kobe dynasty and we're not talking about O'Neal and Bryant right now. We're talking about Horry and Fisher. Miracles do happen and they usually come from working class everyman you didn't realise where so special until their own movie moments. Isn't that right Rick Fox? This was real however. You better check the history books or something. File it under '0.4'.

Three Mississippi...

With a dynasty DEAD! O'Neal winning championships in Miami and Horry soon to be in San Antonio (of all places), the young prince Kobe was driving his purple reighn little red corvette into brick walls with no one in the passenger seat. Not even his day one ally, who after some Warrior wars in Golden State made his way to Salt Lake City. The new Malone/Stockton era of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer needed that big-game playoff experience for Jerry Sloan. Still, with his daughter ill with cancer in a critical game for the Jazz, Derek was where he should have been with the Fisher family in New York at his daughters bedside. Then after a miracle at the hospital, another one happened again as Derek was cleared for take-off in more ways than one. Flying to Utah and then escorted by the flashing blue and red lights of the police service, Fisher made it to his prom-night on time. He shall have the ball in his possession when it mattered in this cinderella series story. When Deron was down in foul trouble, and back-up Dee Brown was backed up with injury, the "Fish that saved" was there. Arriving to a standing ovation in the third quarter and against his former team Golden State Warriors and their lead by lead talent Baron Davis, marking up it was time to go deeper and reach for something higher. Pointing his fingers to heaven and thanking the Lord for this moment and all that happened before, he knew what was going to happen next. Defensive stops and all the electric spark-plug charges he took that are part and parcel of his legendary role playing game, even if you don't see it wrapped up on the box-score-Fisher made the big plays for the big comeback. Then with another big shot, BOOM came the big win. Then the tears of all sorts of emotions and exhaustion. Joy rained through the Delta Centre from clutch shots to ticker tape and celebrations that made their way all the way to the television set in a New York Hospital where Tatum Fisher was watching over proud of daddy like he unspeakably was of her. That was for you little one.

Two Mississippi...

Tatum Fisher's retinoblastoma, was a rare form of eye-cancer that was incredible enough to survive but also needed the help of specialists to truly recover. Specialists fittingly found in the City of Angels. With the Jazz's blessing Derek Fisher returned to his home alongside Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, reunited with the great Zen master Phil Jackson too. There was a parade plan in process. It began with Kobe and Phil building bridges and then a true team with Sixth Man Legend Lamar Odom and next, great big-man Andrew Bynum. The blockbuster trade for European great and true second-option Pau Gasol and the clutching of valuable veteran and playoff punch legend Derek Fisher sealed the deal with the Basketball God's for the Larry O'Brien engraving. Add some World Peace in Ron Artest later and we had a double dynasty. After some Celtic heartbreak that the storied, second-in-line Lakers are all too unfondly familair with, balloons would never fall on an empty floor again. After beating Dwight Howard and his Orlando Magic, Fishers clutch buckets in overtime and beyond helped give Kobe and the Lakers their one-more than Shaq championship of Kobe's revolution. Still it was the Celtic redemption in Boston that brought the real clutch heart and tears. Big play after big bucket came pouring out of the soul of this role playing superstar as Derek Fisher did more than just hit his trademark threes. His barely six-feet stature overcame a triple-team of Hall Of Famers in that Garnett, Pierce, Allen era on the lay-up line. In true Fisher history he drew the foul and then turned that play into a three from the line. It was the driven character like his autobiography that took him that deep into the color of the Celtic paint. On the canvas of his Basketball career there was no more doubt or critics, just more unbelievable bulletts in the gun. Even though it was no surprise as a tearful embrace with Bynum in the visiting locker room showed like the unthinkable seven game triumph over the leaders of hoops, this was one of Derek's personal and greatest moments.

One Mississippi...

Still much to Kobe Bryant and the Laker faithfuls disdain, Fisher wouldn't close out his his career with the Lake Show. Still, you best believe they'll put his number 2 jersey up their with the Worthy and Magic greats. Marshon Brooks may as well give it up now. Traded for the inside damaging dreads of Jordan Hill and replaced by the brief Sessions of Ramon playing Derek deserved better and then he found it via Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the West best, Laker beating and Miami Heat championship chasing Oklahoma City Thunder. A team he still plays to these last days of his career, albeit with a brief Dallas Mavericks interlude that saw the wrong sort of headlines with Mark Cuban who was left madder than a waitress working a double with no tips. He didn't want him, but LeBron James and his Miami Heat dynasty did, knowing full well he could even shoot down Jesus Ray Allen in the clutch. You best believe Kobe still does too, as much as he wants to play himself. Still the clutch king that is Fisher seems to have found a home in OKC (its no coincidence this teams colours are kingfisher blue and orange) as more than just a bench pick-up of experience that can take the charge and lead the coaching from the playbooks to the play huddles. You may aswell give the former President Of The Playing Association the dry-erase now because he'll make the perfect coach when his sneakers are finally hung after what will either be him and his friend Kevin or LeBron's parade. You can tell from the words of advice he gives to his teammates or on his offical websites eloquent, signature farewell blog of basketball beauty that it's all about the X's and O's for this guy that leaves the heart and soul of his bicep honed basketball frame on the Wooden hardwood every night. Still, with every new Thunder strike, proving it can happen more than once, Fisher shows there's still some clutch to add to the legacy of his legend down the halls of Basketball history. With the playoffs primed and his experience weathered ready for the Thunder who knows how many more big shots we'll see fished? The leader is far from finished there's still many more precious seconds that last a lifetime in the lifeblood of his classic career and what a better way to finish it then with one more shot, ring and wink to the opposition? Now enjoy it while it lasts and he's still here. To the new Mr. Clutch this side of the West we salute. Five, four, three, two, one. This is your time. Seconds out...

0.00

Monday, 17 February 2014

STEVE NASH Feature-THE WINTER SOLDIER

#SuperheroSeason

Captain Canada.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Can you feel that? Cold isn't it? The ice hangs off his knees like it does off your cars right now. It's been one hell of a freezing fall to February, but no one has had a winter as cold as the Los Angeles Lakers. Who knew the polar vortex would hit Southern California too freezing over everything this side of downtown STAPLES not named Clippers? This is Lob City right now as the purple and gold banners give way to the faces of the players their sister team have now taken starting with the nixing of Chris Paul. If that wasn't bad enough the face of L.A. and the league Kobe Bryant has given way and months of the last years of his career away to two infuriating injuries, while his sidekick Pau Gasol has faced his own physical and critical injuries. Things are looking Lamar Odom bad for the rest of the franchise as even their fresh new stars like Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Jodie Meeks and especially Xavier Henry have faced the rawness of the tough leather of the medics table. Thank God for guys like Manny Harris and Shawne Williams. Got the point or do you need Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake to miss time at the P.G. spot too? A Point Guard spot that was supposed to be led by Steve Nash, the last member of the Lakers big three. Still, even Nash has been battling a roster list of injuries that will see his 40 year frame most likely retire at seasons end and he's been battling through the most pain. It's colder than Sochi right now. Will we ever see the end of this bleak Winter?

Hold the front page! Steve Nash isn't frozen up in a Steve Rodgers block of ice just yet. The cold never bothered him anyway. Coming back it's time to thaw the first Avenger. Besides Captain Canada has risen from the cold before like a Phoenix as a double MVP Sun. His time under the yellow ball with the orange one isn't set yet. We want to see 'The Winter Soldier' throw the ball up to Kobe Bryant as he flies to the rim like The Falcon. This may not be Lob City, but it's still the town that Magic Johnson built right? The Showtime must go on, World Peace or not. No Rocket take off should ground the team Dwight Howard dumped. Jim Buss playing poker up there with Jim Murray and Chick Hearn needs to be able to bet on his Lakers. It's time for Steve Nash to take the shield and lead the way for L.A. like he carried the torch in more ways than one for Canadian Basketball, way before the Anthony Bennett's, Corey Joesph's and Justin Jackson's. Way before the 2016 All-Star Game or 'Drake Night'. Right there at the start like the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies. Starting the new era of up North hoops like Basketball Buzz. Don't just wait for the Nash documentary witness Steve in all his old glory before its too raised rafters late.

You're going to want to see this. Like the skateboard player hair or the soccer skill dribbling. The pinpoint, pure Point passes. The mid-range shot as automatic as a free throw. He may aswell have a robotic arm. The three pointer you didn't realise was so pure. The pace even at his age. The mastermind Magic vision on court. Serving the game like Samprass. As classic as a Jay-Z reference. The best to ever do it since Pistol Pete. Bang goes a Mavarich Marvel. The Basketball sixth sense that turns former All-Stars into veteran scientists of hardwood. The professors of the game. It's an education for those rookies...take note! Ever since the kid born in Johannesburg, South Africa and raised in Canada with a dual British nationality (that's where the soccer skills come from, he's a Spurs fan and we aren't talking about San Antonio) headed due South to the National Basketball Association of America (and a little bit Canada), Nash has bridged the gap and opened up a world of possibility to this sport. His game...and today he's still in it.

The Santa Clara grad has still got one more year in California and he's hoping to reignite his big three with Kobe and Gasol like the 'Nellie Ball' fun he had with Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley in Dallas or the STAT, Matrix dunking one he had with Ama're Stoudemire and Shawn Marion in Phoenix. The perfect 10 may be bringing his former number 13 jersey luck to the Lakers, but the eight time All-Star, five time assists leader has a lot more with him to carry on his 6,3, 178 pound, giving out back as well as his depleted team and sick note status. You can't even begin to understand the pain he's going through, like you can't even under stand the power he has to make it through. Basketball doctors are giving his career just weeks to live, yet the Maverick legend is defying all medical odds like the Dallas Buyers Club. I got a newsflash for you, there aint nothing that can take Stephen John Nash out in 30 days. They just don't understand. In this sport almost nobody does, expect maybe that number 24 who tried to push his torn achillie back into place. That's hardcore. That's greek God stuff. If Kobe's one of them then Nash is a gladiator. Thumbs up? Are you not entertained?

From the corridors of his classic high school career with British Colombia to showing he is a dead cert for the hall during his MVP, quarterback run with the Suns in Arizona Nasty Nash causing mass area hysteria has been a legend in this game like 'Illmatic'. 'Stillmatic' to this day he is still on top of his game, it's just the cruel hand of injury and ignorance that's putting him to critical shame. He can count the likes of both Barack Obama and Bobbito Garcia as devout fans and followers. With a playground skill set and the demeanour and manner to be player president it may all be about Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving and whether Derrick Rose comes back, but in his day, no one was messing with Nash. His week isn't over yet either. It's just a shame the Lakers have this legend in the glove hold Gary Payton phase of his Hall Of Fame career. Still since Magic, even between Nick Van Exel, Derek Fisher, Ramon Sessions and the Harpers (Derek and Ron) the Lakers haven't made a better Point. Quite simply he's not only one of the best Point Guards in Basketball of all-time, but one of the sports best players ever too. The nerve or root damage aside, this guy strikes a chord, all the way down to the heart. That's why he's still got the soul to survive and play ball. Just to think Suns fans used to waste their breath booing him in his rookie year after being taken with the 15th pick. Now he's beind named in the same exhales as Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, and LeBron James. That's most valuable.

"Frustrating" may be how Nash has described his recent suit and tie prone play but the purists still love the performance. If this game is poetry then he is the motion and his 19 point season high in Philly on his 40th birthday show he can still play amongst the grey. If this is his twilight in his time in the lime then some may be disappointed they didn't see a Canadian homecoming with the Toronto Raptors. Still its his Pacific Division reunion with Coach D'Antoni that is special even if the "run and gun" has given way to lactic acid and shell fragments. Besides Nash isn't ready to fade to the black of a 'Hollywood Nights' jersey just yet. There's still some maple in this old leaf...save the syrup. Even if there's no playoffs, let alone finals there's still a season to play and for Steve Nash it may not end in a championship but it will still conclude with a celebration. This is his time and this is still his game. The legend and the legacy may not end in a ring, but some with 'chips to shoulder could never circle around what this guys done for the Basketball world. Give him a couple more rotations and he'll show you like instant replay all the history that is he. There's more then ice rinks floating round Canada. There are hoops all over he country to. These are the courts that Steve Nash built. This is his foundation and its only just the beginning.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

INDIANA PACERS Feature-INDY 5.00

An Indiana Basketball Jones.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

"Spike who?!" jokes Reggie Miller while breaking the Mecca heart of the legendary 'He Got Game' director and Madison Square Garden devoted attendee along with the core heart of the rest of New York City after scoring a point a second in the last 8 to clutch crucify the Knicks, not even a full playoff calender year after scoring 25 in the final, Finals fourth quarter alone to make M.S.G. his home. Still the greatest villain of all time never quite reached the heroes home of champions. After their back and forth legendary golden, 90's era battles with the Knicks, the Indiana Pacers finally made it to the promised land in the first year of the new millennium as another clutch, three-point king led the way. With Larry Bird as head coach and Reggie Miller still shooting like it was his prime in his final swan song it looked like it was there time. Still, two guys named Shaq and Kobe with the Zen master Phil Jackson began their first year of a trilogy dynasty by bringing the other Larry Legend back to Los Angeles for the world champion Lakers. A valiant villain, come hero Reggie walked off the court and into the Hall Of Fame, while Bird walked away from the bench and up into the head office. It's clear with Miller time over, rebuilding was in the works from guys like Jermaine O'Neal to Jamal Tinsley. Over a bricks and mortar decade and change after their finals heartbreak however it's a new day in Indinapolis with a starting five that's so good they could (or should) all make the All-Star team. Isn't that right Lance? Sure right now it's LeBron's league with his hot Miami Heat team shimmying and simmering towards a dynasty, but in a league where the former best West of the Lakers and Spurs are giving way to the beast of the East, theres more than just Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder stading in the way of the Kings throne. It all starts with the 5.

1.00: George Hill-A native son of Indiana who best to lead this Indianapolis 5.00 then this P.G. and we're not talking about Paul George, but THE Point Guard. The former member of Indy's 'Magnificent Seven' of Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Jr., Josh McRoberts, Rodney Carney, Eric Gordon, and Courtney Lee is arguably having the best career of the pack save best, rising P.G. Conley. After impressing in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League by holding the garnishing of O.J. Mayo, George got a big-league education by becoming a rookie with the veteran San Antonio Spurs and actually being given the chance by Coach Pop to make some big games and big plays with the big, old boys, even though he was a wet, behind the ears kid in relation to the true Texas triangle of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginoboili. With big playoff experience and an extension on his three-point shot taught by Spurs defensive legend Bruce Bowen, Hill gives the Pacers more than just his name on paper that doesn't shine as bright as some of his breakout superstar teammates. It's more than the clutch shots and key plays that this kid brings to the table and it's all about to be set in the engraving of a trophy.

2.00: Lance Stephenson-How is Lance Stephenson not an All-Star? He's not the only one that's mad this is crazy. Sure in such an elite unit like the Pacers starting five sometimes just how great a player actually is can be overlooked (see above), but come on this is the new digital age of the NBA where it doesn't take a quick statistical, scroll down scouting report to step your knowledge game up. If you don't know Stephenson, then you just don't know Basketball. This is more than just how Lance armstrong's dunks, this is how he makes former franchise leader (and All-Star please note) ride the pine. The cycles of this guys career has made Abraham Lincoln take taller note in the high-school's of Brooklyn, before being emancipated in Cincinnati for quite the college career. Now the SLAM cover and feature star is more than the next, hip big thing. Far from the 'Punks' section he used to grace he's now on the pages of every pro's playbook. He's just that much of a problem. If this team wasn't led by another somewhat underrated star then he would step it up even more to be this teams leader. In fact he still might do that...he did take Granger's spot after all. Now it's time to see why he should take his all-star one.

3.00: Paul George- Ladies and gentelmen I give you the next great superstar in the NBA and Indiana's leading P.G that isn't his Point last fistnamesake, but the one who needs more than just parental guidance for his offence. The guy with the regular Joe first and last (first) name is anything but gracing magazine covers and the court with a Tracy McGrady sort of look and presence, but about to swing even bigger like T-Mac trying out his Jordan baseball skills. Watch out LeBron, there's more than fans in Cleveland throwing rocks at your billboard and throne. You said you know there's someone gunning for your spot and "he plays in Oklahoma", well there's one that balls in Indiana too. Balling so hard, Jay-Z's Brooklyn Nets would love to find him. Or any team for that matter. Remember when Kevin Garnett was in his Minnesota Timberwolves prime? Well you might want to clone George too as he could play all five positions too. He's more than the massive dunks and highlight reel point outbursts. Just check the rebound, block, steals and assists categories to go along with those perfect percentiles. Last years 'Most Improved Player' and All-Star recentely said he wants to be an MVP, Scoring Champ, Gold medalist and of course NBA champion too. Right now we can certainly see one of those things happen if not more. What was it again 'Bron, "not one, not two..."

4.00: David West-It all started with West for this Eastern Conference powerhouse. The former New Orleans Hornet may currently be stung by star exposure being shone on his teammates but isn't that such the look for this whole team? Besides West has always been the quite, game talking team player, which makes him the perfect inception for this superb squad that is all about 'W' and not 'I'. The former professor star of Xavier has quietly been the best Power Forward in the league for longer than you think (think Elton Brand) and now he is the 33 year old veteran still not past his best years and therefore exactly what Indiana need to keep up pace. An experienced "true" leader who not only knows this game, but the league too. He's illustrated this sport by being part of the 'Basketball Book' (see S.I.). With an Xavier X tattoed on his arm with 'My Life, My Way' inked either side you would think this guy was all out for himself, but you know with this guys reputation it's all about team. This is why the double, double machine can pass out his first triple-double by actually showing like Shaquille O'Neal that big mean can pass. Now it won't only be the ex-player pundits that recognise this guy but the people witnessing him on the next downtown parade that takes its talents away from South Beach.

5.00: Roy Hibbert-We are living in a digital day and age where fundamentals are often forgotten and defensive players fade away as much as big men on the block. Still in a time where Dwight Howard has a new home each season and former 'other' great centre Andrew Bynum gest thrown off teams for not caring about the game (coincidentally 'Drew is now a Pacer which could make him (if he plays like he should) the best back-up giving the Pacers the best frontcourt rotation in the L) there is still on centre who is getting everybodies attention from All-Star to defensive player MVP's. Roy Hibbert may just be the best big-man in the league right now. More fundamentally strong then Howard's swats to the stands (Roy can do better to keep the ball in perfect play) and the man to lead and bring Bynum back to the block. It's Roy's post now and Hibbert is the big Georgetown Hoya to make the legendary alumni of Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mouring and Dikembe Mutombo proud. Best believe that this tough New Yorker is the next great in this legendary line of paint scrimmage. Again like West or George (of the Hill variety) Hibbert won't be the top jersey seller amongst his wing wonders, still in the paint this guy seals the deal for this team. Without him this doesn't all dry, with him you may as well get the banner ready. His tough frontcourt fellow warrior West may have 'X' on his arm but the fact is, Roy Hibbert is THE X-factor.

In this Indy 5.00 race to the postseason it doesn't end there. Like we said the promise of Bynum joins an elite and again somewhat underrated bench for this teams dangerous and dominating, definitive dynamic. You've got the toughness of Luis Scola to go with the skilled experience of well-travelled vet Rasual Butler. Still young veterans these guys join the recognisable names and games and likes of C.J. Watson and more all lead by your new Head Coach of the year Frank Vogel. Then of course at number 6.00 is your new 'Sixth Man Of The Year' Danny Granger. Coming back from his critical injury, Granger is still a superstar, team-captain and presence of this team and not a Pau Gasol like trade-bait. Sure he gives the Pacers more wing options but he gives the team exactly that MORE wing options. In a unit where all bases are covered what's wrong with that? Especially as its still up for grabs whether he or Lance in the long run will start or finish games. It makes for healthy competiiton and another pure point power when other guys need that kind of form. It all makes for the perfect team looking out for each other instead of themselves. A true All-Star unit. They said that Ben and Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and Rip hamilton Detroit Pistons unit that shocked the Shaq, Kobe, Payton, Malone Lakers had no All-Stars but they where wrong and they'd be wrong if they don't think this unit that are capable of doing the same to the James, Wade, Bosh, Allen, Oden, Battier et al does either. Even Reggie can see Paul George and the Pacers legacy are taking on and over his legend as Larry Bird watches from upstairs proudly. He knows what it's taken and what it takes. Weclome to your new NBA Champion, the 2013/2014 Indiana Pacers.

Monday, 3 February 2014

WHO'S COOKING?-THE TOP 60 "MICROWAVE" PLAYERS OF ALL TIME

60 For 60 Seconds.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Gone in 60 Seconds, 6 seconds, 0.6. It only takes a minute, a second or even a tenth of one to make a difference in this game. So think for one and tell me, what makes a player hot? Is it the statistics? The sneakers? The status? The All-Stars? Or is it just in any given moment when the games on the line those players who can be charged to come in and step it up to light the scoreboard up? You see for every LeBron and Kobe there's a guy on the bench whose name you don't know, but will do when his streaking surge of plays clutch on to the highlight reel of every household. The type of plays that spark-plug lulls in dull quarters and pay off by illuminating the final buzzer beating box score with a win. The type of individuals that show this game isn't just about the superstars, its all about the team. The good guy of the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons Vinnie Johnson was that type of player. A guy who could come in cold off the bench in pressure cooker situations and get hot quick. So much they nicknamed him 'The Microwave'. It's about to get real radioactive because it only takes a minute or less to be done in this game. So shut the door and push the button because here's 60 seconds of the 60 greatest "microwave" players of all-time to rotate with. Is Vinnie the truest to his name or does someone else rule these moments in the game? Seconds out...

60. Nick Young-It really is frustrating out there in La, La Laker land, when the point production of a team lacking an injured Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and on and off Pau Gasol relies on the streaking (at times super and others slumping) of a guy who calls himself Swaggy P. Still, there's more to Nick Young than big hair and bright sneakers. A 'Sixth Man Of The Year' award this year may show that but more likely the maturing of Young over the seasons will. Despite those off target shots and those ones that rattle all around world of the rim before going in when Nick's on time it looks like he could hit anything fading as far as his back'fro. Besides Kobe shot air balls in his first year.

59. Troy Hudson-In the dominant decade of the wild west in the new millennium it was all about which King or Trail Blazer could keep up with the Spurs or Lakers until Kevin Garnett overcame all that playoff, Tracy McGrady like heartbreak and got the team he deserved before bolting for Boston. Before Pierce and Ray Allen, one of the best big threes of the 'Big Ticket', Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell was seemingly all Minnesota needed to almost best the Lakers and them all. Still, it was a great bench featuring the underrated spark-plug Hudson and the new Steve Kerr Fred Hoidberg (who deserves an honourable mention) that kept them going. On stormy waters Hudson played like a God send and that's what made Troy such a blessing.

58. Chris Anderson-Sometimes being a microwave spark-plug bench player isn't always about cooking up some offence, even though this guy can dunk to the bird call. This same vertical makes this leaper one of the best blockers in the game. Chris Anderson's swats into the stands are as bold and colourful as his tattoos and as big and crazy as the parrot hair gelled on his head and the big beard hair on his chinny, chin, chin. His huffing and puffing celebrations come with him blowing his opponents house down as his house and its crowd roars.

57. Kerry Kittles-This guy could pop points like Skittles. His offensive range was just that sweet and colourful. Taste the rainbow of the arc of his shot at your underrating peril as the kid Kerry showed his almost champion New Jersey Net team where more than Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd and his twin alley catches of Richard Jefferson and Kenyon Martin's dominating dunks (let's give an honourable facetime mention to the phantom scoring of Lucious Harris in that face-mask) . With high socks and even higher hops he may have been skinny but he ran the break off the bench like a gazelle.

56. Byron Russell-Byron Russell isn't just the guy that Michael Jordan hit his "last" shot over, he was also a key contributor to the Karl Malone pick and John Stockton roll of a Utah Jazz team that at least deserved a championship. A much greater defender then that shot proved, Byron played out his career behind Jordan in Washington and with Kobe as a Laker but the swingman still proved he could come off the bench and play with the best, somewhat like them.

55. Jeremy Lin-Okay so the worldwide Linsanity of his 15 minutes and four quarters of fame may be over and all those tourist stores in New York may have sold off all that merchandise in a clear out way before he left the Knicks but that's not it. Now in Houston he brings more to the rising history of the Rockets than the Asian market exposure that the Yao Ming dynasty did. The 'Sixth Man Of The Year' potential frontrunner brings dominant scoring off the bench when the beard of Harden or the smile of Howard can't get it done.

54. Tyreke Evans-Who knows if the first guy to be dubbed the next LeBron in this, the era of the king will live up to his 'Rookie Of The Year' hype as a King in Sacramento. If not the injury-riddled talent who now gives the spotlight to DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay will still make it as one of the best Sixth Men this game has today. Expect more awards with his name on to come.

53. Dana Barros-Meeting Dana Barros at a recent pregame autograph signing in Boston was something else. The former Celtic and Boston born, college raised Sonic draftee was honestly humble but also couldn't help flash his gold bling ring. Who could blame him though? He earned it! There was just something about the way he played. Savvy yet slick, skillful and sick, you had to love it! Detroit and Philly also used the services of both a 'Most Improved Player' and All-Star, but his two stints in his native Boston defined him. Still his 50 point career high and 89 consecutive game record made threes (broken only recently by Kyle Korver) showed he could have been more of a full cooked player than a quick microwave meal ticket.

52. Rafer Alston-One of the best playground players of all time and a Basketball legend in modern times may not have been that big in the NBA (maybe the referees didn't like all those playground game antics) but between contracts, free agency 'and 1' he still survived and thrived as a revived veteran. Now that change up of the game shows there was more skill to this guys set then through the legs and behind the back. He had more tricks coming off the bench too. In the NBA his next basket won.

51. Leandro Barbosa-In his prime there wasn't many guys out there as quick as Leandro. Rising the Suns out of the burnt ashes of a Steve Nash injury like a true Phoenix. When it was Barbosas ship this guy looked like a John Wall cheetah out there. With Brazilian soccer skill fans are just glad he plays with the palm of his hands and not the soles of his feet.

50. Aaron McKie-The almost champion 2001 Philadelphia 76ers was more than just Allen Iverson or the offensive answer of Dikeme Mutombo. Off the bench 'Sixth Man' of that year Aaron Mckie did more than let it rain. He let it snow like his teammate Eric. A points machine he may have lost to the Lakers and eventually retire with them while barely logging a quarter worth of minutes, but when it came to each period of the game and his career not even the best could keep up with his point production.

49. Nate Robinson-'Dyno-Nate', Mr. Robinson started his career with many years in New York as a Knick, but over the last half decade has become a journeyman who recently joked (we think) that he'd like to play for all 30 teams. A fair few to go, but for the record if he leaves Denver anyone who gets him will receive anything but 'Kryptonate'. A great locker room presence and Mark Madsen/Rony Turaif like bench celebratory passion is even more loud off the pine. The consecutive record breaking dunk champ can leap and block like the son of Spud Webb (he can jump over him...and Superman Dwight too), don't forget about those shots too that streak and heat on any given moment.

48. Earl Boykins-Like small starting Point Guard's Muggsy Bouges and Spudd Webb before him, Boykins played so much higher than his 5 feet and spare change. Most P.G's look like kids when playing alongside the Shaq's and Ming's of the league, but this tiny Archibald like skillful point made it all child's play. Never to be underestimated he could bench press with the Ben Wallace's of them and in this league they thought size did matter.

47. J.R. Smith-Despite the troubles last years 'Sixth Man Of The Year' can heat up his unlucky Knicks team and hard-pressed New York City crowd like a legend of the Rucker. More than his no contest dunks like his Josh second namesake, the new Stephen Jackson shows more passion behind those problems. A part of the Knicks tape with a "whoo" like sound and following, D.J's and coaches alike want to spin him again.

46. B.J. Armstrong-Not to be confused with Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, it was a great day when this B.J. was the small, dynamic Point Guard off the bench hitting threes for Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls dynasty before the great Steve Kerr. Backing up John Paxson in Jordan's early days, his strong arm from way downtown made Benjamin Joe a first three-peat champ and an All-Star, as well as part of Golden State, Charlotte and Orlando before closing out his career with Chicago again before becoming a G.M, only to be subbed in and replaced by...John Paxson.

45. Tracy Murray-How this guy wasn't an All-Star is crazy, because in the golden era of the league he was one of the best scorers, especially when he came off the bench and into his own. The underestimated usually become the underrated and that was something Murray could use to his offensive advantage for the journey worth of teams this man hit the road with. Up North in Toronto Tracy even hit career highs, leading the team like McGrady never got to. Those who freeze this Canadian side out are just cold to the game and how hot this guy was not only off the bench but as a star in his own right and record.

44. Mike Miller-Former 'Rookie Of The Year' and 'Sixth Man Of The Year', the kid with the buck-teeth may look different these days with all that hair and tattoos but behind the headband is a reputation inked over the years for coming in and being automatic from three. Like a Swiss watch always on Reggie Miller like time this guy has been clutch from Orlando to Miami, even when Kings taking the crown weren't.

43. Ben Gordon-Now he's been a starter people are more used to just what he could do, but remember that clutch baby-hook in the mecca of Madison Square Garden before he was a Knick? He was guarding the post-Jordan baby Bulls before the blooming of Derrick Rose and in the clutch this playground concrete player never cracked.

42. Rodney Rodgers-Before tragedy struck Rodney Rogers so cruelly this star NBA player worked hard for his community despite his millions. Millions he earned beforehand in the Association of National Basketball by playing so brilliantly for the NBA teams he came in for and heated up the points part of the box score for. Before the big three Pierce, Garnett and Allen years as a Celtic behind the duo of the truth and Antoine Walker he shimmied alongside other hot bench players like Walt McCarty to shoot down an upset Allen Iverson Philadelphia 76ers team in the new Boston Garden. Just one game on a national spotlight blowout that showed just what he did every night in his hard-working career. Now paralysed from the neck down, this warrior Rodney not only deserved more from the league, he deserves more from life.

41. Danny Manning-Manning the role of the first Clippers all-star, the other side of L.A. owes a lot to this man. It may be all good and even better in Lakertown for the Clippers now but through all those bad luck and joked about years there was old Danny boy. Watching Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan dunk the lob city passes off Chris Paul is the man who did it all by himself back in the bad ole days.

40. Anthony Mason-Mase was as New York as they came and this B.I.G. big man did more than just provide the muscle that could throw people out of LL Cool J's parties. Mama said change the game and 'Tone knocked them out by revolutionising the point forward position. A guy that could muscle up with Charles Oakley in practice and still flow down the floor like Starks. Only in the Mecca could someone show the blacktop grit and grind and playground flair and finesse of N.Y.C. all at the same time. Fresh, but able to fight you to the rotten core all at the same time. That's what the Big Apple is like when it takes a bite out of you.

39. Cliff Robinson-Even though he looked like an ageing big-man substitute this Power Forward moved like a young guard all the way to the three point line and all the way to the end of his career. His jersey may not be in the rafters but his name is in the Sixth Man history books and those who know this game, know he revolutionised big men extending their range beyond the paint before everyone thought it came from Europe and belonged to guys with names like Dirk and Pau.

38. Dell Curry-Currently in the Curry house Dell couldn't be prouder of his sons. There's Seth Curry who this year inked his first year contract in the NBA and then there's this big brother called Stephen whose apparently got a pretty good shot on him?! It must be the genes not the shoes however as Dell was so hot from the three-point line all the teams he played for could guarantee pure point production off the bench. Sure the son will best the father here, but its clear Dell paved the way for this kid of the iPad generation in more ways than one.

37. Chuck Person-Back in the later days of his career Chuck was signed by the Lakers as an extra person on their roster, but he never made it to training camp. Now he works for the Lake Show as a coach and who else but to teach the likes of this great three point shooting team exactly how to do it? In his prime during prime time only his brother Wesley (honourable mention maybe the siblings should share this spot) was more accurate from around the arc. When it came to threes there was no need for good luck with this Chuck.

36. Darrell Armstrong-The skinny on this lithe player was more than just spark-plug shots for an Orlando Magic team that seriously needed to lick their wounds of an injured Grant Hill and his potentially game changing duo with Tracy McGrady. The guy was barely six foot but could touch the rim way into his later playing years, which meant he could catch the odd dunk but more than his fair share of his opponents. He was a blocking machine. A microwave for his team that could burn his opponents overcooked food.

35. Jimmy Jackson-Jimmy Jackson could score with the best of them and like a Jalen Rose, Chris Webber and Juwan Howard 'Fab Five' out of Michigan he formed the three J's with Jamal Mashburn and Jason Kidd who he could share the ball, but not Toni Braxton with. If more didn't happen more could have happened there and the somewhat outside star faded to the bench in his later career where he became a different type of Kendall Gill like contributor who could score.

34. Cedric Ceballos-In one Slam Dunk Contest Ced Ceballos sensationally strapped a blindfold over his eyes and dunked his way to victory. In games the Phoenix/Lakers star could see his fair share of dunks and plenty of points too. Like 'NBA Live' he was the perfect video game player who could light the scoreboard up like the best of them in the golden era. He was also part of that '96 Vlade Divac, Eddie Jones, Elden Campbell and Nick Van Exel forum of Lakers players who were about to meet one big guy and some high school kid.

33. Corliss Williamson-Corliss was another big guy who could run and score anybody out of the gym. Sure he couldn't really guard guys like Shaq...but who could? Williamson could fill the lane a different way and his Detroit Pistons beat Shaq's Lakers in the NBA Finals anyway.

32. Walter McCarty-Now a coach of the same Boston Celtics he changed games and plays for this R&B singer took the town up the charts when he hit the high notes in this jazz like game. Utah, the team in New Orleans, or anyone could hear the cheers when he let his big game James/big shot Horry like plays sink through the nets and the hearts of those who underestimated him.

31. Antawn Jamison-The current Clipper may have not had as great a time on the other side of L.A. as he did when he was leading the Cleveland Cavalier, but the current reserve has tweened between being a franchise player and a point producer off the bench. Either way the ever underrated one of the greats has been a star and a scorer no matter the time or shine.

30. Jamal Crawford-To begin is career Jamal Crawford was given the ball to lead. Now he follows off the bench to be an even better player than he ever was. A veteran in his prime he becomes a whole new other weapon off the bench these days. A guy who could and should start but elects not to so he can be the closer. Like Robert Horry and others once said (and I'm paraphrasing somewhat but it all means the same) "its not who starts games, but who finishes them".

29. Lamar Odom-It may be hard for fans to keep up with the Kardashian tabloid drama of Lamar these days but the Los Angeles son who has been cursed as a Clipper gifted the Lakers with their most productive player in their most recent championship years...a team led by a certain guy called Kobe..

28. Glen Rice-Forget what they said about his wife or Sarah Pailin, the father of one of the latest crop of Rookies past something down a generation to Glen Rice Jr, like Tim Hardaway has to his junior namesake. From Miami to New York he was hot from downtown like South Beach still past ten or Manhattan in the A.M. in July but the purity became more potent under the sun of a solo stint in Los Angeles. As a third option off the bench between the Shaq and Kobe Laker duo he hit the big threes before Horry's closers on the way to the first chip of the champions three-peat.

27. Ron Harper-Those who never saw this guy before he blew out his knee wouldn't believe he was a former Slam Dunk champ and next Jordan like player leading the orange of Cleveland (damn that 'Kenan & Kel' soda...I don't love it) decades before they saw wine and gold again with the 23 of LeBron James. Still Phil Jackson knew what he was dealing with when coaching the guy who successfully changed and revolutionised his own game post-injury before Grant Hill to the more defensive dominant side. Still able to rack up a three and even the odd dunk alongside all those rings he backed up Michael Jordan and was credited at mentoring Kobe Bryant by the air apparent himself. Bridging the gap there's the connection that needs no more introduction or conviction.

26. Jason Terry-Kenny Smith may have been the original 'Jet', but even the postgame retired broadcasters know J.T continues this flightplan for every team that's cleared him for take-off off the pine to the hardwood.

25. Norm Nixon-When Magic Johnson joined the Lakers it practically ended the show for their one-time leading point Norm Nixon in a Nikon like camera flash. I guess that's just the norm when it comes to the greatest playmaker of all time. Still this all lead to N.N. being a brilliant back-up for some time. The great player however deserved more from NBA Point Guard legend and Lakers lore, but sometimes people are just blinded by Magic.

24. Sam Cassell-"And y'all scared I can tell and I'ma get bucks like Milwaukee/'Cause like Sam I can sell". Some cruelly said he looked like an alien, but he was cool enough for a Jadakiss lyric so 'F that', 'Put Your Hands Up'! He came in off the bench for Kenny 'The Jet' Smith and clutched rings with Robert Horry off the bench in Houston. He then formed a big three in Milwaukee with Glen Robinson and Ray Allen, before teaming up for another one with Allen's big three partner Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. Then in his twilight years he reunited with both of them in Boston for some off the bench championship pedigree. Now 'Kiss The Game Goodbye'.

23. Cazzie Russell-You know this guys good when Pulitzer Prize winning legendary Times columnist and word of L.A. to Chick Hearn's voice, Jim Murray wrote about him. 'Mr. Two-Two-Two Points' as Murray dubbed was gold off the bench like the M.J. necklace he wore around his neck. When it came down to the clutch throat of games Cazzie would never choke. Russell collected up points like Celtic rival Bill did rings. I hope that does the late writer and his muse justice.

22. Byron Scott-Magic Johnson threw the no look passes and Byron Scott finished them when everyone in Hollywood was watching him sub in and finish the Showtime break like James Worthy and A.C. Green. Like those two maybe he would have been a bigger star if not surrounded by names like Earvin and Lew Alcindor who became Magic and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I'm sure the Shannon Brown type Laker player who was dunking when that kid was in diapers is settled with all those championship rings though.

21. Steve Kerr-This TNT broadcaster looks like hasn't aged a day since his Chicago Bulls days, even if he did look like someone's dad. No joke here however as Steve Kerr wasn't picking up his kids from elementary but instead taking everyone to school with his behind the arc class. The type of pure shots that made him stand out even playing alongside the greatest and the rest of the Rodman like stars in Chicago. Put it this way in the 90's you could get his number 25 Bulls jersey in England, a country who then didn't care enough to televise NBA games in its golden era. Even pushing 40, he was still fresh from the microwave for three for a champion San Antonio known for their veteran presence. The best photobomber right now (look it up) used to drop dome shot bombs back when the cameras where actually on him...when he bombed the odd one from Mike that is.

20. John Starks-Unfairly Starks is known for choking in the playoffs, but did you see that dunk over Michael Jordan, defensive stopper Horace Grant and the rest of the Chicago Bulls. Starks was still one of N.Y.'S finest from the three and to the rim he could rack up the points. He lost to Chicago and ended up playing for them and Utah to close his career, but like the Jazz cafe he's New York through and through. Not only did he watch the game from the sidelines with the celebrities, he became a star in their eyes when he came off it to come into play.

19. James Harden-He may be a rising Rocket star now but before the beard grew and the Oklahoma Thunder stupidly let him go he was a 'Sixth Man Of The Year' who would score at his coaches will. At least Houston don't have a problem.

18. Bobby Jackson-He was the 'Sixth Man Of The Year' when being the first man off the bench was the new, cool thing. A Sacramento King who could take the throne by royal appointment, this game of thrones was a new battle with a guy who could take off his enemies heads with just one shot.

17. Eddie Johnson-Which Eddie Johnson of NBA history you say like some Jason Williams confusion! Well both Eddie's where some of the best players this league has ever seen but we're not talking about the 'Fast' Eddie of the Atlanta team of Hawks not falcons but the one born into a great career just four years later. Off the bench he took the Kings from Kansas City to Sacramento and promise and prosperity. He may not have been drafted as high as his 3rd pick namesake, but the NBA awarded this sharpshooting Johnson the 'Sixth Man Of The Year' and kicked the drug abusing other Eddie out the association...fast.

16. Fred (Downtown) Brown-With an Andre 3000 'Semi-Pro' ABA name like 'Downtown' Brown what do you think Fred was able to do when he came in off the bench? In those classic Seattle Sonic jerseys with those short shorts and big afro he couldn't look more like an ABA player if he tried, but still in the NBA he was such a great long range shooter when you gave him the ball it may as well have been blue, red and white.

15. Ricky Pierce-From Seattle to Milwaukee this Sonic Buck kepy every team he played for in greener pastures with his piercing plays. San Diego, Detroit, Indiana, Charlotte, Denver, Golden State all these teams where better off...when Ricky was playing for them of course.

14. Roy Tarpley-A true Maverick of Dallas, who spark-plugged the hole in the middle of the lane when both the Mavs power forwards and centres took a break from the four and five. He spent the majority of the end of his career between the USBL and the past prime NBA player wasteland of Greece. It was drug and alcohol abuse that gave him a one way ticket there and then the actual great talent level of Europe that was sobering for both him and the National Basketball Association.

13. Detlef Schrempf-When everyone was talking about the Windy Cities Toni Kukoc in the 90's foreign imported NBA there was one guy letting it rain in a city known for that type of weather. When Seattle where talking about Basketball they may have been shouting about the alley oops of the glove and the reignman but it wasn't just about Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. In Frasier Crane's town people where still listening to the one who kind of appeared like the younger brother. Besides dig deep enough and you can find footage of Niles Crane in a Sonics jersey draining a shot from halfcourt.

12. Toni Kuko─Ź-The 90's may have been about M.J., the king of pop or the king of hoops. Still Chicago basketball was more than just the greatest player to ever play the game in Michael Jordan. Or the sidekick that was Scottie Pippern or the sideshow that was the dyed hair and tattooed antics of Dennis Rodman. In this Bull ring there was more than just the Zen Master Phil Jackson, the threes of Steve Kerr and that guy in the middle Luc Longley too. Toni Kukoc could flat out play and score like a star too and the worldwide evolution of the game still mourning the loss of Drazen Petrovic the closest to Michael had a new hero who was literally even closer to him.

11. Billy Cunningham-'The Kangaroo Kid' came in off the bench in leaps and bounds for the Sixers before Sixth Man award was even invented and taken by a fellow Sixer great in the eighties. In fact as head coach of the Sixers in the 70's he brought that very player and the likes of Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks to the first dynasty in Philly since the one where he was able to jump high enough to snare some rebounds from his stilt of a teammate Wilt Chamberlain.

10. Frank Ramsey-Decades before the Sixth Man award was created in the eighties, the ultimate X and O's guy Red Auerbach birthed the idea with his utilisation of star player Frank Ramsey. You can begin to light the cigar on that one.

9. Bobby Jones-'Sports Illustrated' magazine said it best the first guy to win 'Sixth Man Of The Year' was a Sixer. You can't illustrate it better than that. When more was at stake in Philly when the good Doctor, Moses or the mound was in need of another name to back up their jerseys.

8. Bill Walton-The same father of Luke Walton you see and hear broadcasting was something else in his playing days. He looked like punk rocker with a hippy bandanna in his hair but was a million miles from Woodstock when he was on the court. He was a true Trailblazer in this league until injury cut down the Portland hipster. The blue jeans and checked shirt Springsteen American dream of this kid born in the U.S.A. was rebirthed in the eighties under Red Auerbach's legendary Celtics where Bill proved his Boston Irish roots laid further than his ginger locks. Off the bench he helped take his career and the Celtics to places they both thought where just about beyond them.

7. Kevin McHale-Even though Sam Malone wouldn't go in for him, raise a glass in 'Cheers' to the one guy who would go in for every Celtic in Boston's storied 80's times. It was just the norm. In the league of NBA is where everybody knows his name.

6. John Havlicek-"Who caught it"? Need we say anymore?

5. Michael Cooper-Behind every scene of Showtime was the show-stopper who did the best boy dirty work. A key grip on the Lakers D who could even stop Larry's legend. Now that's true magic in the Johnson/Bird era. Oh and he could dunk too...matter of fact, at almost 60 he still can.

4. Manu Ginobili-He may be getting as old as the bald patch on his head but the game still feels spring-loaded young, especially moved to the bench where he can still make the biggest plays on the biggest stage. Charles Barkley will still be screaming "GINOBILIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII" for years to come.

3. Derek Fisher-Who is the one Laker in history who could clutch on to almost more game winning shots then Big Shot Bob? Kobe? Jerry West? A running Magic hook? Nope but the Fish that saved L.A. in less than 0.4 seconds. From the head-band years to silencing a Philadelphia crowd with one finger this guy did more than sweat the small hustle play stuff. Through all his heroic shots though none was greater than returning from his daughters hospital bedside to lifting the Jazz to the same heavens he pointed to after checking into the second half.

2. Vinnie Johnson-Number 15 and Detroit's number 6 should really be number one. The man who personified the "microwave" name...literally birthing this trend heated up when the bruised 'Bad Boys' put him in off the shelf of the bench. A true piston to Detroit's Motown motoring.

1. Robert Horry-Just read the license plate of his car. Who else but the ultimate last second, clutch game-winner not named Jordan, or ring bearer not called Russell? Even if he didn't show up in the first or third, every Vlade Divac critic should read a paper or something. Even Kobe and Phil Jackson knows no one can't touch big shot Bob in the clutch of championships. The quick draw Texas champion from Houston to San An, by way of L.A. leaving everyone of his opponents in the rear-view...'7RINGS'!

Ding...We're done!

THE COACHING CLASS-An Interview With Kristin Cole

Coach K.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Coaching...that's the dream right there for a kid who picked up the writers pen because he couldn't pick up his shot. Anyone who follows this man with no game knows he'd one day like to trade writing articles into scribbling on the dry-erase. As a hoops purist too who stays connected and inspired through the written word I'm passionate about the human side and one of the games most purest and motivational aspects...coaching. So with that in mind, if our features, player series' and 'Courtside Column' weren't enough we give you 'The Coaching Class'. A new feature that takes an in-depth look at the sidelines from interviews and tips from real coaches, to diary entries and columns for coaches to express themselves in their own word. Maybe they can help with the shot too. To begin our new series we start with one of the classiest coaches. Kristin Cole played for the 'Fighting Irish' of Notre Dame before logging some Olympic time and experience in Sweden during her younger years. Now as the assistant coach of the orange and blue UT Arlington Mavericks she backs up great head coach Krista Gerlich. K.C. brings a wealth of experience from Auburn to Xavier University that includes many prolific winning records, tournament appearances and the responsibility and honor of signing the best recruiting class in New Hampshire history. It's a real resume like this that makes this Santa Barbra, California native and high-school rebound record holder (second in points too) so sought after and in demand. We where lucky enough to have this devoted mother kindly sit down with us and chat about her career and take us through the finer points of the game. Here's how the one-on-one played out.

24/48/82: Happy Holidays Coach how are you?

I'm doing great. I am enjoying being here at UTA and I'm excited about this journey I am on!

24/48/82: How's the team? How are you feeling about this season at UTA?

This has been a very difficult season and a very humbling experience. We have struggled so far (1-18), but our kids continue to get better and improve every day and that has been our main focus. We are trying to build a championship program here at UTA and that takes time. We are staying focused on the big picture.

24/48/82: Which Maverick players do you feel are having a great year and who do you feel has the potential to breakout this season?

DeDe Nwanguma who is our senior center. From the moment I got to UTA I believed DeDe would have her best year yet and so far she has. In her last four games she had 3 double-doubles and barely missed her fourth double-double on Wednesday night.

24/48/82: Since working for this team in May how has this experience been for you overall?

It's been awesome! Our record doesn't reflect the growth of these young women, nor does it reflect the drastic improvement they have made since we took over.

24/48/82: How is it working alongside Coach Krista Gerlich from West Texas to here in Arlington with her incredible winning record over these 7 seasons?

Working alongside Coach Gerlich is an honor and a privilege for me. She is a great Coach, but she is an even better person and friend. She's a coach that truly cares and invests in the lives of her players! Her record speaks for itself and I have enjoyed every minute of working with her.

24/48/82: Your resume includes an Atlantic 10 appearance for George Washington University, how great a memory was that and what experience does it give you for this team?

My time at GW was short, but very good! I also spent 5 years at Xavier University, which was also in the Atlantic 10. We won championships and played in post season every year at Xavier so I am able to use those experiences to help motivate and inspire our players here at UTA.

24/48/82: In New Hampshire you where responsible for signing the best recruiting class in UNH women's basketball history. We're going to call you the 'Casting Director' from now on. How do you recognize such great talent and what is it that you look for first and foremost?

Haha I don't know if I'm the 'Casting Director' but thank you for such a generous title. I believe that finding the talent is often times the easiest part of the process. What I look for first and most importantly is what type of person is she? Is she a good student? Is she a team player? Is she coachable? Does she have a great work ethic? Does she have a great attitude? And has she reached her potential or does she still have great upside? All these things are very important to me and I believe will help to decide whether or not she will be successful in our program.

24/48/82: From your Auburn beginnings to many years at Xavier you have been a part of many great programs. What have been among your favorite and do you feel being experienced in many different college programs offers insight and a competitive advantage?

I have been very blessed to be a part of some great programs, as well as work for some great coaches and I think all of my experiences have helped me become the coach I am today. Among my favorite are winning the SEC tournament in 1997 as the #10 seed, beating GW in 4-overtimes in 2004 and winning the Atlantic 10 tournament in 2007. But what is most rewarding and what sticks out the most for me is watching our players become young women who are ready to make a difference in the world; seeing players graduate and move on to the next phases of their lives is what I love the most about my job!

24/48/82: Can you share with us some of your favorite memories while playing for the prestigious Notre Dame?

Being able to attend Notre Dame and play for Coach McGraw was such an honor for me! We came in to take the program to another level and I believe our class accomplished that. We were apart of the first team to play in the NCAA tournament in 1992 and we hosted the first ever women's NCAA tournament game at Notre Dame in 1994. I'm proud of what our class accomplished!

24/48/82: How proud do you feel to be a 'Fighting Irish' alumni?

It's awesome! I am very proud to be a Domer and a part of the Notre Dame family. By the way, a Domer is what you are called once you graduate.

24/48/82: As part of your high-school Santa Barbara's 'Round Table Hall Of Fame' and it's leading rebounder and second scorer you certainly know how to get onto the box-score. How did it feel to be a player that was a leader and do you feel this confidence is what makes you such a great coach?

My time at SBHS was very memorable and I am honored to be among it's elite. We had great teams when I played (2 nationally ranked) and I played along side 4 other all-Americans and 7 Division I players. I know my experiences as a Lady Don have helped me tremendously as a coach and fueled my desire to get into coaching.

24/48/82: Winning Bronze with the Olympic Festival team and then playing in Sweden has given you a wide range of experience, what has this wealth of overseas Basketball service given both to your understanding and teaching of the game?

I think it allowed me to experience different styles of play not only nationally, but also globally. I was surrounded by great players who challenged me to be better. I try to use those experiences and those different styles to teach the game to my current players.

24/48/82: What have these memories and experiences brought to your coaching and what you offer to the young players who are going through things you went through as a student on and off the court?

I think the most important things I can offer my players are love, compassion and empathy. It's hard to be a college student-athlete and I truly believe that if our players know that I love them and care about them, then they will be successful.

24/48/82: From college to the WNBA how do you feel the woman's game is developing from more than just something that is competing with the men's but to something that is standing proud in it's own right in this sport?

I have seen the women's game evolve over the last 20-25 years and I think we have our own fan base now. People appreciate the fundamental aspect of our game and the fact that we keep getting better. Adding the dunking (aka Brittney Griner) has helped expand our audience, but we have had a loyal fan base for awhile now, both collegiately and professionally.

24/48/82: How do you feel great players like Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker and more have helped with this and from college to the pros who do you see as the next great Basketball players?

I believe all of these women and many more have been great advocates for women's basketball, but even more importantly for young girls to feel confident in who they are and to excel at what it is they love to do! Brittney Griner, Ellena Della-Done and Skylar Diggins are the new faces of women's basketball.

24/48/82: We where introduce via NBA great Tracy Murray. What can you tell us about this legend and your other personal favorite Basketball players or sports personalities that inspire your work?

My dad was the boys basketball coach at SBHS and my brother played for him, so I went to a lot of high school games as a child. I remember watching Tracy when he was in high school. He was a phenomenal player and I have followed his career ever since. He probably doesn't remember this, but he and I were on the CIF program cover during the playoffs one year. My favorite player growing up was Charles Barkley. I loved his ability to rebound and I was always in awe of how he was able to lead in the league in rebounding at his size. He was passionate, played hard and was a competitor!

24/48/82: Outside of sports who are your inspirations that you look up to?

My parents and my brother, Jon; they have supported me and pushed me to be the very best I can be. They have instilled in me the work ethic that has helped me be successful. As long as I can remember, they have told me I could be anything I wanted to be and to follow my dreams!

24/48/82: Do you feel your faith influences how you coach and mentor these young athletes and if so how do you apply this?

Absolutely, I think my faith is essential to what I do and how I coach. And I have come to realize that even more in the last 3 years. My love for my Savior Jesus Christ is the most important thing in my life and I want everyone to know that. It's why I love my players, it's the reason I do what I do. I want to impact the kingdom of heaven more than I want to win a basketball game. I truly believe that if I can capture the heart of a player, then I have succeeded!

24/48/82: As a mother do you find that this helps with coaching in terms of looking after and encouraging individuals and having a level of care for them, not in a mothering way but in a way that looks out for them?

Most definitely! I see our players as someone else's child and I often ask myself, "if this was my son how would I want his coach to handle it?" I do my best to love them and care for them. College is a significant time in a young woman's life and I take the care for them very seriously! I also hope that they are learning from me that you can be a mother and in my case, a single mother to a 7 year old son, and accomplish whatever it is you want and still be a great mom!

24/48/82: How do you find new ways to inspire your players both physically and mentally and on the court and off it as young women?

I don't know if so much as new ways, but more about finding what way works for each player. Everyone of our players are different; therefore they are inspired and motivated differently. It is my job to find out what each player needs to help them reach their full potential as a student, as an athlete and as a women.

24/48/82: Can you share with us your core coaching philosophies and principles?

As I said earlier, I think it is essential that as a coach I can capture the heart of our players. If I can do that then I believe our players will do anything for the greater good of the team. It is very important that every member of the team, including student-assistants and support staff, feel valued and appreciated. If everyone knows their value and knows they are loved then we will succeed!

24/48/82: What do you feel are the more overlooked, ignored and crucial, x-factor parts of the game that need to be taught and honed?

Ball handling and passing is by far the most ignored part of our game right now. I also think shooting the ball at game speed and in game situations. Everyone goes to the gym to shoot, but the question is how hard are they going and are they simulating game situations.

24/48/82: What do you feel makes both a true winner and team player?

I believe it's the heart of the kid, their work ethic and their desire to succeed! Their willingness to go above and beyond for the greater cause, their desire to be a part of something truly special that can only be achieved by a group that acts as one.

24/48/82: With the New Year upon us 'March Madness' is just around the corner, with even NBA & WNBA heads turning what is it about the NCAA that makes this sports so special from the players passions to the classic competitiveness?

It's the Cinderella stories, the teams that beat the odds and pull out the unbelievable upsets. I also still believe that most college kids play for one thing...the love of the game! And it's that love that we enjoy watching in March.

24/48/82: What are your dreams and goals for the new year as a coach and for your team?

My dream, my goal is to help Coach Gerlich turn UTA around and make it a contender. We want to win championships and hang banners here at UTA. I believe we will...we are on an awesome journey!

24/48/82: Coach, we thank you so much for your time it is greatly appreciated. We wish you and your team all the best for the New Year and Happy Holidays! Go Mavs!