Basketball News Services
Emeka Okafor was officially named to the Olympic team and apparently has received Charlotte GM/coach Bernie Bickerstaff's blessing. Okafor can now join the ranks of those rare athletes who won both an NCAA title as well as the Olympic gold before playing their first NBA game. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Bobcats keep on winning in summer league, besting the Milwaukee Bucks 74-63last night. Apparently the games are so unfair, Bickerstaff is not bringing his two best players so far -- Gerald Wallace and Tamar Slay -- to the Salt Lake City summer league. No word on whether the rest of the players will play with one hand tied behind their backs. It's just too easy!
Last night, Slay led the Bobcats in scoring 11 points in his 21 minutes of play. He also had six rebounds, all on the defensive end, two assists, and one steal. Gerald Wallace scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe to go with his three rebounds, one of which was on the offensive end, one assist, and one blocked shot. Corey Benjamin also had a nice game with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting, including 1-for-1 from downtown.
The Bobcats have apparently never trailed in all three games so far. They were leading 64-44 to enter the fourth quarter. Their biggest lead was 24 points. It was nice to see that they had a lot of second chance points: 16 compared to just 5 for the Bucks. That means they are not only attacking the offensive boards but they are hitting the follow-up shots. It also means not only are they boxing out on defense but they are also recovering on defense quickly enough to prevent easy second chance points.
Milwaukee's best player is technically a former Bobcat: Zaza Pachulia, picked from Orlando in the expansion draft and traded to Milwaukee for the second round pick that became Bernard Robinson, led all players with 19 points. He also had eight rebounds, with two on the offensive end, as well as two assists. Apparently, there was never any chance he would have been a Bobcat. He was selected with the intent of being traded to Milwaukee all along. Otherwise, according to Rick Bonnell ofThe Charlotte Observer, Bickerstaff was looking to select restricted free agent Britton Johnsen from Orlando.
The Bobcats have just two games left in the inaugural Minnesota Summer League July 6-10 at the Target Center: one today at high noon against Philadelphia, and the final one tomorrow at high noon against Detroit. The complete schedule is as follows:
*CHARLOTTE 69, Toronto 53
*CHARLOTTE 81, Minnesota 76
*CHARLOTTE 74, Milwaukee 63
*Friday, July 9th - Philadelphia - Noon EDT
*Saturday, July 10th - Detroit - Noon EDT
The Bobcats will also participate in the Reebok Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City, Utah from July 16-24. Their first game will be versus the Atlanta Hawks, Friday July 16th at 4:00 p.m. EDT/2:00 p.m. MDT. Other teams participating in the RMR include the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle Sonics, and host Utah Jazz. The remainder of their RMR schedule is as follows:
*Friday, July 16th - Atlanta - 4:00 p.m. EDT
*Saturday, July 17th - San Antonio - 4:00 p.m. EDT
*Sunday, July 18th - Seattle - 8:00 p.m. EDT
*Monday, July 19th - Bye
*Tuesday, July 20th - Indiana - 8:00 p.m. EDT
*Wednesday, July 21st - Dallas - 10:00 p.m. EDT
*Thursday, July 22nd - Chicago - 8:00 p.m. EDT
*Friday, July 23rd - Utah - 10:00 p.m. EDT
*Saturday, July 24th - Bye
According to Rick Bonnell ofThe Charlotte Observer, Charlotte sent Kaniel Dickens and Jeryl Sasser home. Dickens broke his right wrist in the first game. Sasser was cut. Jason Kapono is asking to go to the Salt Lake City summer league because his shot has not been falling in this current league. Primoz Brezec is also likely to join the Bobcats in Utah.
Rick Bonnell ofThe Charlotte Observerwrites: Gerald Wallace and Tamar Slay have played so well here, they'll essentially get the rest of the summer off. Charlotte Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said he won't bring Wallace or Slay -- his two most impressive players so far -- to Salt Lake City for a second summer league.That was the state of things after the Bobcats beat the Milwaukee Bucks 74-63 Thursday. The Bobcats are 3-0 here and never trailed in those three games.
Desmond Conner ofThe Hartford Courantwrites: Emeka Okafor had just finished his second grueling workout of the day. It was mid-afternoon Thursday, and he sounded wiped out."Whew," Okafor said. "Just fine-tuning, fine-tuning, getting my mind right, getting my body right for what's ahead." In the midst of his first workout, he took time out to talk to national media about his place on the U.S. Olympic team, which goes to Athens next month. The selection committee officially named the final five members to the 12-member team, which will start training camp in Jacksonville, Fla., July 26.
Dave Solomon ofThe Journal Registerwrites: Okafor, the second pick overall in the NBA draft by the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, actually caused a mini-tempest in Charlotte when he agreed to play for the Olympic team. Bobcats coach/GM Bernie Bickerstaff suggested that Okafor, given his back troubles during the 2003-04 season, might be better served by not playing in the Olympics. "Coach Bickerstaff didn’t give me too much (grief)," said Okafor on a conference call Thursday."At first he just expressed his concerns as far as me not getting hurt. But after that, he didn’t seem bothered by it at all. Even before I left, he said it would be a good opportunity for me to learn and gain some experience before going to training camp." Okafor also has the opportunity to win a gold medal before his first NBA game. "I’ve thought about that," conceded Okafor. "Coming off a national championship team, I have a chance to get a gold medal without even playing a game (in the NBA). That’s one of the reasons I jumped at this opportunity. It’s a rare one and I’m really looking forward to it." An NCAA title and Olympic gold before playing in the NBA would put him in the same sentence with names like Jordan, Ewing, Jerry Lucas, Walt Hazzard, Isiah Thomas, Sam Perkins and Phil Ford.
Mark Canrobert ofThe Charlotte Observerwrites: Cox went on to declare that he hasn't been too thrilled with the Bobcats' artwork."Most of the Bobcats news spots, TV ads, and on their Web site look canned," he said. "To me, it looks like there is no effort made to be original. Even their icon is canned. I've seen the same icon on high schools and college Web sites, just in another color. So I started making basketball-playing bobcats." Cox named his rendition Bobby Kat, and thinking the team might consider something original, he submitted some of his sketches to the expansion team. "In April, they were turned down," said Cox. "I keep making them because Bobby is fun to make."
Ron Green Jr. ofThe Charlotte Observerwrites: Rose said the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, which will operate the arena, deserve credit for pushing the effort along."There were questions about what was going to happen if they operated the new building, and when this came up, they didn't hesitate," Rose said. The Bobcats were quick to jump in. "There was no question we wanted to be part of it," said Chris Weiller, the team's executive vice president of corporate affairs. "It shows that we're going to be aggressive in pursuing events like this." Charlotte will host first- and second-round games next March in the 2005 men's tournament, its first NCAA games since 1999. The games will be played in the Charlotte Coliseum.
Scott Fowler ofThe Charlotte Observerwrites: Beuerlein could end up as the Panthers' version of Dell Curry, taking on the role of community-oriented, extremely popular former player. Like the Charlotte Bobcats did with Curry, the Panthers would be wise to employ Beuerlein somehow.