Kobe Bryant

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Posted by kaori 02/25/2009 @ 13:47

Tags : kobe bryant, basketball players, basketball, sports

News headlines
Kobe Bryant All-NBA again - Los Angeles Times
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts to a first-half play during his team's 118-78 victory over the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday. Bryant has been selected to the All-NBA first team for the seventh time....
INSIDE THE NBA - SI.com
Well, the brave souls assigned to guard Kobe Bryant don't have that option, even though, just as there is no stopping a twister, there's no "stopping" a player like Bryant, especially over the course of a seven-game playoff series....
Spike Lee gets up close and personal with Kobe Bryant - Los Angeles Times
While everyone else was watching the Lakers demolish the undermanned Rockets last night, I saw Kobe Bryant play an entirely different basketball game--a 2008 playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs that is the centerpiece of "Kobe Doin' Work," the...
Game Predicts Kobe Bryant-Vs.-lebron James NBA Finals - MTV.com
"If the Lakers lose this series or the next series, everybody is gonna instantly say lebron is better than Kobe," Game said. "For Kobe's sake, he better not lose no more games in the playoffs. Kobe is better than lebron. lebron even said it on ESPN:...
Kobe Bryant and Lakers show they can take care of business - Los Angeles Times
Kobe Bryant had plenty to smile about Friday night after leading the Lakers to a 108-94 victory, racking up a line of 33 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocked shots. His strong start and aggressive all-around game set the...
lebron's hometown glad over mention in new Nike ad - USA Today
In a new Nike commercial, a puppet version of lebron teases another depicting James' rival, Kobe Bryant. The lebron puppet claps his familiar clouds of chalk into the air and says: "Woo! Chosen One, baby! Ohio ... Akron, Ohio, baby!...
how do u Compare LebronJames(23) and KobeBryant(24) to Michael ... - NBA.com
I believe that Kobe Bryant is the present superstar player that can be compare to the Legendary Michael Jordan bcoz look at his moves, his style, his fade away shots, buzzer beater shots and game winning shots and clutch shots....
Location of shots key for Bryant in Game 2 - NBA.com
Some nights it was Kobe Bryant as the leading scorer. Some nights it was Pau Gasol. One night it was Andrew Bynum dropping 40 on the Clippers. There were games that defense keyed LA to victory. There were games where the Bench Mob led the way....
Bryant says series should decide title - The Japan Times
Bryant has been the only head coach in Apache history. He has guided the franchise to the playoffs in three of the league's four seasons. Yes, he's Kobe Bryant's father, and to this generation of basketball aficionados that's his claim to fame....
Second team All-NBA isn't bad for Chris Paul, but not where he ... - The Times-Picayune - NOLA.com
Each player is as capable as another of swaying them and if what voters want in a first-team All-NBA guard tandem are Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, then that's what they can get. But, again, this is the second time this postseason that the argument...

NBA Courtside 2: Featuring Kobe Bryant

NBA Courtside 2: Featuring Kobe Bryant 64 box art.

NBA Courtside 2: Featuring Kobe Bryant is a sports game developed by Left Field Productions and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. The game was released to North America exclusively on November 8, 1999. It is the second installment to the NBA Courtside series and features NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant on its cover.

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Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside

Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside box art.

Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside is a basketball simulation game for the Nintendo 64. It was released in 1998 and received a Player's Choice designation after selling one-million copies. Bryant was in his second NBA season at the time of the game's release and was the youngest player to have a game to his namesake.

NBA Courtside features 5-on-5 game play. The game also features 1997-1998 rosters and all current (at the time) NBA players (except for Michael Jordan), along with 3 game options: Exhibition, Season, and Playoffs. The game allows you to either simulate Season games or play them to lead into the playoffs, and win the NBA Finals.

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Kobe Bryant sexual assault case

The Kobe Bryant sexual assault case began in the summer of 2003 when the news media reported that the sheriff's office in Eagle, Colorado had arrested NBA superstar Kobe Bryant in connection with an investigation of a sexual assault complaint filed by 19-year old hotel employee Katelyn Faber. Bryant had checked into The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera hotel in Cordillera, Colorado on June 30 in advance of having surgery near there on July 2 under Dr. Richard Steadman. Faber accused Bryant of raping her in his hotel room on July 1, the night before the surgery. Bryant admitted to an adulterous sexual encounter with his accuser, but denied the assault allegation. The case was dropped after Faber refused to testify in the trial, and a civil suit was settled out of court.

Eagle County Sheriff investigators first confronted Bryant with the sexual assault accusation on July 2. During the July 2003 interview with investigators, Bryant stated that the sex was consensual. Bryant said he checked into Room 35 of the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera on June 28, and then accuser gave him a tour of the hotel on July 1. After the tour he claims they went to his room and were kissing. He said Faber showed him a tattoo on her lower back that had music and instruments on it, and told him she wanted to be a singer. He said Faber then gave him oral sex for a few seconds before bending over a chair and pulling up her skirt. Bryant said he stopped having intercourse with her after he asked if he could "cum on her face", and she said no. When the investigator asked him if he always liked to ejaculate on his partner’s face, Bryant sounded embarrassed, stating “That’s my thing, not always, I mean, so I stopped. Jesus Christ man (inaudible).” He said Faber asked him to sign autographs and then left his room once the intercourse ended. He also told investigators that he didn’t ejaculate during the intercourse and instead masturbated in his room after she left. He expressed fear that his wife would leave him if she found out that he cheated on her and suggested that the accuser must be after money.

Law enforcement officials collected evidence from Bryant and got him to agree to submit to a rape test kit and a voluntary lie detector test. On July 4, Sheriff Joe Hoy issued an arrest warrant for Bryant. Bryant flew from Los Angeles back to Eagle Colorado to surrender to police. He was immediately relased on $25,000 bond, and news of the arrest became public two days after that. On July 18, the Eagle County District Attorney's office filed a formal charge against Bryant for sexual assault. If convicted, Bryant faced probation to life in prison.

The case's pre-trial hearings went on through the 2003–2004 NBA season, a number of times causing Bryant to have to be in court in Colorado during the day, then immediately fly to another part of the country to play in the Lakers' game that night. Bryant generally performed well in such games, though the on-going proceedings and the media attention on them served as a continuing distraction, both to Bryant personally, and to the Laker team as a whole.

In her initial interview with police on July 2, Faber claimed Bryant raped her from behind over a love chair in his hotel room at approximately 11 pm on July 1. She said she arrived late to her job at the hotel because of car problems. While in Bryant’s room after giving him a tour of the hotel, she said she became “uncomfortable” because he was being flirtatious. She said she got up to leave and that Bryant asked her for a hug. Then she said he kissed her when she looked up at him. She later said both the hug and kiss were consensual, but she never wanted to have sex with Bryant.

She told investigators that Bryant then asked whether she "liked it if a guy came on face". She said she told Bryant "no". And then she "got a little more aggressive with him and tried to release his hands from neck". After "trying as hard as could to get away" she said Bryant stopped having intercourse with her, and she was able to free herself. She said Bryant made her promise not to tell anyone, and then he forced her to wash her face before she could leave. She told investigators three times that she washed her face in his room before she left the room, but later claimed she never washed her face. Detective Winters asked "are you lying to me right now?" Faber answered "no". While giving the statement, Faber also volunteered to take a lie detector test to prove she was telling the truth.

According to Detective Winters's "Affidavit in Support of Arrest", Faber added something to her story when examined by a nurse on July 2. She told the nurse that she gave Bryant oral sex. Faber later explained to Detective Winters that Bryant made her kiss his penis after the intercourse by pulling her head down with both hands. She stated that there was nothing else that she could recall. Winters noted that Bryant said ejaculating on his partner's face was his "thing". Faber's rape examination revealed "vaginal trauma" and that her g-string had a very small brown mark on the crotch that was identified as dried blood. Detective Winters also noted that Trina McKay, the resort's night auditor, said she didn’t look upset when she came back from Bryant's room, and didn’t believe Faber was telling the truth.

In her letter to Gerry Sandberg, Faber would apologize for "mix-ups" in her initial statement to police.

As the hearings began, the prosecution accused Bryant's defense team of attacking Kate Faber's credibility. It was revealed that she wore underpants containing another man's semen and pubic hair to her rape exam the day after the alleged incident. Detective Doug Winters stated that the yellow underwear she wore to her rape exam contained sperm from another man, along with Caucasian pubic hair. Bryant's defense stated that the exam results showed "compelling evidence of innocence" because the accuser must have had another sexual encounter immediately after the incident. Faber told investigators that she grabbed dirty underwear by mistake from her laundry basket when she left her home for the examination. On the day Faber was examined, she said she hadn’t showered since the morning of the incident. The examination found evidence of vaginal trauma, which Bryant’s defense team claimed was consistent with having sex with multiple partners in two days.

The evidence recovered by police included the T-shirt that Bryant wore the night of the incident, which had three small stains of the accuser's blood on it. The smudge was verified to be Faber's blood by DNA testing, and probably wasn't menstrual blood because Faber said she had her period two weeks earlier. It was revealed that Bryant leaned Faber over a chair to have sex with her, which allegedly caused the bleeding. This became the sex act in question, as Faber claims she told Bryant to stop but he would not, and Bryant claims he stopped after asking if he could cum on her face.

I know that none of these things change what happened, but I wanted you to know. Please call me if you have any questions.

Bryant's defense lawyer Pamela Mackey asserted that Faber was taking an anti-psychotic drug for the treatment of schizophrenia at the time of the incident. Faber was hospitalized as a "danger to herself" four months before the alleged sexual assault. Lindsey McKinney, who lived with the accuser, said the woman twice tried to kill herself at school by overdosing on sleeping pills. Before the alleged incident, Faber, an aspiring singer, tried out for the television show American Idol with the song "Forgive" by Rebecca Lynn Howard, but failed to advance.

On September 1, 2004 Eagle County District Judge Terry Ruckriegle dismissed the charges against Bryant, after prosecutors spent more than $200,000 preparing for trial, because Faber informed them that she was unwilling to testify.

I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman. She has agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case. Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.

I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado.

In the aftermath of the sexual assault allegation, the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera renumbered all the rooms in the hotel so no one can request the infamous Room 35, where the incident allegedly took place.

Kobe Bryant regained several of his endorsements from Nike, Spalding, and Coca-Cola. He remains married to his wife Vanessa Laine , and was awarded the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2008.

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Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns logo

The Phoenix Suns are a professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Their home arena is the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.

The Suns have been generally successful since they began play as an expansion team in 1968. In forty years of play they have posted seventeen fifty-win seasons, and made eight trips to the Western Conference Finals, advancing to the NBA Finals in 1976 and 1993. Despite their successes they have yet to win an NBA title. Currently, the team's starting lineup consists of Grant Hill, Shaquille O'Neal, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Richardson, and Steve Nash.

In the late '70s and early '80s, the Suns enjoyed several successful seasons, making the playoffs for 8 seasons in a row. Problems arose however, on and off court, in the mid '80s. In 1987 the Maricopa County Attorney's Office indicted 13 people on drug-related charges, three of whom were active Suns players (James Edwards, Jay Humphries and Grant Gondrezick). These indictments were partially based on testimony from star player Walter Davis, who was given immunity. No defendants ever went to trial: two of the players went into a prosecution diversion program, while another received probation. Nevertheless, the scandal, although now perceived in many respects to be a witchhunt, tarnished the reputation of the franchise both nationally and within the community. The scandal did provide an opening for general manager Jerry Colangelo to lead a group that bought the team from its owners for $44 million, a record at that time.

With a drug scandal and the loss of promising young center Nick Vanos, who was killed in the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 255 after taking off from Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the franchise was in turmoil on and off the court. The Suns' luck began to turn around in 1987, however, with the acquisition from the Cleveland Cavaliers of Kevin Johnson, Mark West, and Tyrone Corbin for popular power forward Larry Nance. In 1988, Tom Chambers came over from the Seattle SuperSonics as the first unrestricted free agent in NBA history, Jeff Hornacek a 1986 second round pick continued to develop, "Thunder" Dan Majerle was drafted with the 14th pick in the draft, which they obtained from Cleveland in the Kevin Johnson trade, and the team began a 13-year playoff streak. Kurt Rambis was added from the Charlotte Hornets in 1989, and the team (coached by Fitzsimmons), in a shocking upset, beat the Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games that season before falling to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. In 1991, The Suns stormed to a 55-27 record, however they lost in the first round to the Utah Jazz 3-1. In 1992, the Suns cruised to a 53-29 record during the regular season. While having sent four players to the all-star game in the last two years (Chambers, Johnson, Hornacek and Majerle), the Suns were poised to make a serious run at the NBA Finals. They showed their poise by sweeping the San Antonio Spurs in 3 games in the first round of the 1992 NBA Playoffs. But once again the Suns fell in five games to the Trail Blazers in the conference semifinals, however the series was punctuated by an electrifying game 4, in which the Suns lost in double overtime 153-151 (the highest scoring game in NBA Playoff history to date). That game would end up being the last game ever played at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Suns were yet again denied a shot at a title, but in subsequent seasons enjoyed even greater success than ever before.

In 1992, the Suns moved into their new arena in downtown Phoenix, the America West Arena (now US Airways Center). The arena was not the only new arrival into Phoenix though, as flamboyant all-star power forward Charles Barkley was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang, and Tim Perry. Barkley would go on to win his first and only MVP his first year with Phoenix in 1993.

In addition to Barkley, the Suns added some key players to their roster including former Boston Celtic Danny Ainge and drafted players in University of Arkansas center Oliver Miller and forward Richard Dumas (who was actually drafted in 1991 but was suspended for his rookie year for violating the NBA drug policy).

Under rookie head coach Paul Westphal (a former Suns assistant and, as a player, member of the 1976 Suns squad that went to the NBA Finals), the Suns squad consisting mostly of Barkley, Majerle, Johnson and Ainge won 62 games that year. In the first round of the playoffs, they defeated the eighth-seeded Lakers, coming back from an 0-2 deficit in the five game series. The Suns went on to eliminate the Spurs and Sonics, advancing to the Finals for the second time in franchise history. They eventually lost to the Bulls, led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. This series included a triple-overtime game (Game 3) that along with game 4 of the 1976 series are the only triple overtime games in the history of the NBA finals. Approximately 300,000 fans braved the 105 degree heat to celebrate the memorable season in the streets of Phoenix.

The Suns continued to be successful in the regular season, going 178-68 during the 1992-93, 1993-94, and 1994-95 seasons. They continued to bolster their roster adding players such as A.C. Green, Danny Manning, Wesley Person, Wayman Tisdale, and Elliot Perry. Despite a Pacific Division title in 1995, the Suns ended up being eliminated in consecutive Western Conference Semifinal rounds by the Houston Rockets.One of the big reasons the Suns lost to Houston in 1995 was the fact that Danny Manning injured his Anterior Cruciate Ligament right before the All-Star Break. In both years the Suns led the series by two games at one point (2-0 in 1994, 3-1 in 1995) only to see the Rockets come back to win each series in seven games.

At the end of the 1994–95 season, Phoenix Suns general manager, Bryan Colangelo (son of Jerry) initiated what proved to be a very costly trade, sending all star guard/forward Dan Majerle and a first round draft pick, to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for John "Hot Rod" Williams. Majerle was a favorite amongst the fans in Phoenix as well as the Suns locker room. The trade was made to address the Suns' desperate need of a shot blocking center, but proved frustrating as Majerle's presence was sorely missed, and Williams's production never met expectations.

In the 1996 NBA Draft, the Suns used their 15th pick for guard Steve Nash, of Santa Clara University. Upon hearing the draft announcement, Suns fans booed in disapproval of the relatively unknown player, due to the fact that he had not played in one of the major college conferences. During his first two seasons in the NBA, he played a supporting role behind NBA star point guards Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson. On June 25, 1998, Nash was traded from the Suns to the Mavericks in exchange for Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells, the draft rights to Pat Garrity, and a first-round draft pick which was later used to select Shawn Marion.

After the Barkley trade, the Suns began the 1996–97 season miserably, starting 0–13 which was a franchise record for the worst start. During the 13-game losing streak Fitzsimmons stepped down as coach and was replaced by former player Danny Ainge.

After an on-the-court altercation between Ainge and Horry, Horry was traded to the Lakers for former Sun and NBA all-star Cedric Ceballos. Cassell was later traded to Dallas for all-star guard Jason Kidd. With a mostly small lineup, the Suns put together an 11-game win streak that put them in the playoffs, in a series that almost upset the highly favored Sonics.

In the off-season prior to the 2000 NBA season the Suns traded for perennial All-Star Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway stirring a large amount of hype by creating the tandem of Kidd and Hardaway, which was called "Backcourt 2000". However, the combination of Hardaway and Kidd was never fully realized as Hardaway would miss a number of games during the middle of the 1999–2000 season and Kidd would break his ankle going into the playoffs just as Hardaway began his return to the court. As the Suns, now led by the returned Hardaway, entered the 2000 playoffs, they shocked the favored San Antonio Spurs by ousting them from the playoffs 3–1 in the best-of-five series. However, even with the return of Kidd at Hardaway's side in the next round, the Suns fell to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in a 4–1 series.

The Suns continued to make the playoffs until the 2001–02 campaign, when they fell short for the first time in 14 years. That season marked the trade of Jason Kidd, partly due to a publicized domestic violence episode, to the New Jersey Nets for Stephon Marbury. Lottery-bound, however, the Suns were able to draft Amar'e Stoudemire.

The 2002–03 campaign saw the emergence of Stoudemire, a graduate from Cypress Creek High School (Orlando, Florida). He became the first ever high school player to win the NBA Rookie of the Year in the 2002–03 season, during which the Suns posted a record of 44–38 and returned to the playoffs. Marbury had a stellar individual season, making the All-NBA Third Team and being selected as a reserve for the 2003 NBA All-Star Game while averaging 22.3 ppg and 8.1 apg. The Suns were eliminated in the first round once again by the San Antonio Spurs, but only after a six-game series with the eventual NBA champions.

In the 2003–04 season, the Suns found themselves out of the playoffs. The Suns made a blockbuster mid-season trade sending Marbury and Hardaway to the New York Knicks.

The beginning of 2004 saw the departure of the face of Suns management since the team's inception, when Jerry Colangelo announced that the Phoenix Suns were to be sold to an investment group headed by San Diego-based business executive (and Tucson native) Robert Sarver for $401 million. However, the 2004-05 season marked the Suns' return to the NBA's elite, with the Suns finishing with the best record in the NBA at 62–20, tying their franchise record that was set by the 1992–93 team. This feat was made possible by the off-season unrestricted FA signing of All-Star point guard Steve Nash from Dallas. Nash would go on to win the MVP award that season. Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion were named All-Stars that year and first year coach, Mike D'Antoni, was named NBA Coach of the Year.

In the 2005 NBA Playoffs, Phoenix was the first seed in the Western Conference, and because it owned the NBA's best record, it was guaranteed home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Suns swept the Memphis Grizzlies 4-0 and defeated the fourth-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the second round 4-2, Nash forcing Game 6 into OT with a 3-pointer in the dying seconds. In the Western Conference Finals, the Suns played the San Antonio Spurs who won the series 4-1, ending Phoenix's outstanding season, partly due to Joe Johnson missing the first two games of the series. Joe Johnson went on to start the remaining games where he averaged 40 minutes per game and 18.3 PPG. The Suns lost the first 2 at home, fell behind 3-0 in the series but escaped with a win in Game 4 at San Antonio 111-106 but were eliminated at home 101-95. Stoudemire averaged a staggering 37.0 ppg, the highest ever by a player in their first Conference Finals.

The 2005-06 NBA season began with Stoudemire undergoing microfracture surgery in his knee on October 18, 2005. He missed all but three games that year. Along with that, promising shooting guard Joe Johnson demanded a trade to the Atlanta Hawks, in which the Suns got Boris Diaw along with two future first round picks. Other acquisitions this year included Raja Bell and Kurt Thomas. Despite the turnover in players, the Suns were once again able to win the Pacific going 54-28 and capturing the second seed in the Western Conference. Nash was awarded his second consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player Award, becoming the second point-guard (Magic Johnson was the first) to win the award multiple times. Also, Diaw was named NBA Most Improved Player.

The Suns began the 2006 Western Conference Playoffs as favorites against the Los Angeles Lakers. After winning Game 1 in Phoenix, they found themselves trailing in the series 3-1 after impressive performances by Laker shooting guard Kobe Bryant. However, the Suns went on to win three straight games. They won Game 5 easily at home. With 7:33 left in the game, Suns guard Raja Bell grabbed Kobe Bryant around the neck and threw him down as the Lakers star drove to the basket. Bell earned a technical foul, his second of the game, and an automatic ejection. The Suns took game 6 in OT, their first OT win all season despite 50 points from Bryant and Bell out serving a one-game suspension (for a flagrant foul against Bryant in Game 5) with last second help from mid-season acquisition Tim Thomas. On their home court, the Suns won Game 7 121-90, eliminating the Lakers for the first time since 1993. The Suns became only the eighth team in NBA history to win a playoff series after being behind 3-1.

In the second round, the Suns faced the Los Angeles Clippers. The series was played closely, with both teams trading games on each others' courts. The series was 2-2 and The Suns faced a huge deficit in Game 5 but fought back and won in double OT and after a Game 6 loss finally won the series in the decisive seventh game on their home court at US Airways Center, winning by a margin of 20 with an NBA record 15 3-point FG's May 22, 2006.

They went on to play the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals. Underdogs this time, The Suns took Game 1 in Dallas by a single point and their May 30 victory in Game 4 marked the most wins thus far for the franchise in a Conference Finals series since the 1993 season. Many credit this success (despite losing Stoudemire) to the emergence of Diaw, Bell (out for two games of the series due to injury), and Barbosa as clutch playoff performers; and an overall team depth they did not possess at all last season. The Suns fought hard in Games 5 and 6 but clearly were no match as they were blown out by a combined 25 points and eliminated from the series on June 3, 2006 in Game 6. It was yet another disappointing end for the Suns.

In the 2006 off-season, the Suns signed Minnesota Timberwolves PG Marcus Banks to a five-year contract worth $21.3 million. Also, the Suns signed G Leandro Barbosa to a five-year contract extension beginning in the 2007-08 season worth approximately $33 million. Diaw was also extended to a five year deal worth approximately $45 million.

The Phoenix Suns finished second in the Western Conference. They defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, but lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Semi-Finals.

On June 6, former TNT analyst and NBA three-point specialist, Steve Kerr, was appointed Suns' General Manager and President of Basketball Operations. Kerr is close to team owner Robert Sarver, and is also a part of the Sarver-led investment group that purchased the franchise from Jerry Colangelo.

On June 28, 2007, Spanish SG Rudy Fernández was taken 24th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Suns, who subsequently traded the rights to the pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for cash. SF Alando Tucker of Wisconsin was taken with the 29th pick.

On July 11, 2007, the Suns signed former Orlando Magic SF Grant Hill on a 1-year $1.8 million deal with a player option for a second season at $2 million.

On July 20, 2007, the Suns traded power forward/center Kurt Thomas and two future first-round picks (2008 and 2010) to the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for a trade exception of $8 million and a conditional second-round pick.

On August 27, 2007, Maryland guard D. J. Strawberry signed a two-year contract with the Suns that includes a guaranteed first year and a team option for the second season. Strawberry was drafted with the 59th selection in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft; in the 2007 NBA Summer League, he averaged a league-best 6.4 assists.

On October 1, 2007, the Suns signed free agent center Brian Skinner to a one-year deal.

On February 6, 2008, the Suns traded four-time All-Star forward Shawn Marion, along with Marcus Banks, to the Miami Heat for Shaquille O'Neal.

On March 4, 2008, the Suns signed guard Gordan Giricek.

On May 11, 2008, after the Suns lost to the San Antonio Spurs 4-1 in the first round of the 2008 Western Conference Playoffs, Suns Head Coach Mike D'Antoni signed with the New York Knicks, replacing ousted Head Coach Isiah Thomas, who went 56-108 in two seasons with the Knicks.

On June 9, 2008, Terry Porter was named Head Coach of the Phoenix Suns, succeeding Mike D'Antoni. Porter was an Assistant Coach of the Detroit Pistons when he was let go after the Pistons were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, losing 4 games to 2 and Pistons Head Coach Flip Saunders was fired June 3, 2008.

During the offseason, the Suns had difficulties signing free agents because of being over the luxury tax. They made attempts to sign a back up point guard, Tyronn Lue, however, he decided to sign with the Bucks for more money. The Suns selected Robin Lopez (15th overall pick out of Stanford University) in the 2008 NBA Draft and acquired Goran Dragic, who was originally picked by the rival San Antonio Spurs.

On December 10, the Suns traded Boris Diaw and Raja Bell to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for high-scoring swingman, Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley, and a second-round pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

On February 18, Alvin Gentry began his head coaching tenure with a 140-100 blowout over the Clippers at home on Tuesday. Six Suns players scored in double digits, led by Leandro Barbosa's 24 points. The Suns led as much as 50 points during the game and were without their explosive swingman Jason Richardson who was serving a one game suspension.

The Phoenix Suns have three primary rivals in the NBA. The San Antonio Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

For the 2000-01 season, the Phoenix Suns introduced three new logos. Two of these were merely updates to existing logos, modernizing the themes and adding the gray color. The logo pictured here incorporates the mythical phoenix bird into the existing Suns' theme. It illustrates the team's hometown by picturing the bird it was named after rising out a ball with an abbreviation for Phoenix. Of the team's three logos, this is the one that adorns the hardwood at center court. There is a media dispute over the usage of the logo, as many TV networks use the new one (right), but many video games and websites still use a secondary logo that had been the team's main logo of the 1990s.

Since the 2000-2001 season, the Suns have used the same white home and purple road uniforms. On October 20, 2003, an alternate uniform was introduced that was to be used at a minimum, five games a year. This orange uniform is used both at home and on the road and always used in selected consecutive games on the road and in the playoffs. It is the only uniform in the NBA that has an abbreviated version of the city name, PHX, across the front chest. For the 2006–2007 season the Suns removed the uniform number from the side of the shorts, replacing it with the same sun logo that is found on the other side.

For the first eleven seasons of their existence in the NBA, the Suns had no official mascot. An early attempt was made involving a sunflower costume, but it never caught on. In the winter of 1980, a singing telegram named Henry Rojas from Eastern Onion Telegram service was sent to the arena in a gorilla costume. Security saw him and suggested to him to stay for a while to entertain the fans during the breaks. He kept coming to games until officially invited to be the Suns' mascot.

Since then, the gorilla, named Go, has been known for his slapstick humor during the games such as his routine push-ups and stadium stairs all to the sound of the Rocky Theme, and the fantastic dunks that are performed before each 4th quarter. Also, one of his more beloved skits was at a Knicks home game where he came out to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” wearing a hat, with several pieces of garbage stuck to his leg. Halfway through the song, a group of “muggers” attacked him, and he staggered off the court afterwards. The gorilla was honored in 2005 when he was selected to be one of three inaugural members of the Mascots Hall of Fame.

In 2002, an inflatable gorilla named Hairy was introduced as a new Suns mascot. Standing at 9'1", Hairy entertains the crowd during breaks by dancing with Hairyson who was introduced in 2004 and stands at about half the size.

The first play by play announcer for the Suns was Bob Vache of KTAR radio, who died in an automobile accident midway through the 1969-70 season. Vache was replaced by the Suns' color commentator, Rodney "Hot Rod" Hundley, who would later go on to be the longtime voice of the Utah Jazz.

Legendary broadcaster Al McCoy has covered the team ever since the 1971-72 season. McCoy has broadcast Suns games on radio for the 37th consecutive season on KTAR Phoenix (which has carried Suns games for 38 seasons) as of 2006-07. McCoy's unique, folksy style of calling the games, including his signature catchphrases such as "Shazam!" for a three-point shot, endeared him to thousands of Suns fans across Arizona, the Southwest, and nationwide. McCoy was honored in March 2007 by the Suns, who named their soon-to-be renovated media center at US Airways Center in his honor. McCoy was partnered for many years with legendary coach Cotton Fitzsimmons. In recent years, former NBA players Vinny Del Negro and Tim Kempton served as color commentators on the radio side, with Del Negro working most regular-season home games and all of the playoffs with McCoy (Del Negro later served as an executive in the Suns' front office and is currently the head coach of the Chicago Bulls).

Until 2003-2004, Al McCoy's radio broadcast was simulcast on most television broadcasts. Former NBA on CBS broadcaster Gary Bender has handled the cable Fox Sports Net (FSN-Arizona) telecasts since the early 1990s that were not simulcast. Beginning with the 2003-04 season, Tom Leander assumed the reins on over-the-air TV; the games air on MyNetworkTV affiliate KUTP. Former Suns star Dan Majerle, a member of the team's Ring-of-Honor, became a commentator on television broadcasts in 2004, splitting the color commentator duties with former Suns star Eddie Johnson before joining the Suns coaching staff in 2008.

The FSN Arizona broadcasts have been different from those of NBA teams on other affiliate networks, because the time-and-score graphic does not include an embedded shot clock. Instead, it has only been shown when the clock reaches eight seconds or less, is shown in large print, and is sponsored. Among the sponsors of the clock's appearances have been Henkel and the Arizona Department of Health Services (under the slogan "Inhale Life"). However, for the 2006-07 season, an embedded clock was added to the KUTP telecasts. On January 19, 2007, an embedded clock was part of the graphic during the FSN Arizona telecast of the team's victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, but the sponsored shot clock was still also on-screen when the time was expiring. It is unknown if the embedded clock was only a one-night change or will be a permanent feature of Suns broadcasts.

The 40th Anniversary Suns Team – selected by the vote of the fans through the Internet - was unveiled on January 3, 2008, when the Suns defeated the Seattle SuperSonics, 104-96, to celebrate the team's 40th season. The Suns' inaugural game in 1968 was against the Sonics.

In October 2008, the Phoenix Suns organization, along with partnered advertising agencies, were honored with 12 Emmy awards by the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

The team won an award in the Advanced Media category for a video on Suns.com during the 2007 NBA Playoffs, Raja Bell Reunion with Teammates, produced by Steven J. Koek. An Emmy was also awarded in 2008 for PlanetOrange.net, the team's official online fan community. The site was produced by Suns VP of Interactive Services Jeramie McPeek and powered by technology from social media application developer KickApps. McPeek was also awarded for the writing and producing of the virtual locker room site, SunsLockerRoom.com along with Daniel Banks.

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Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz logo

The Utah Jazz is a professional basketball team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They are currently members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The franchise began in 1974 in New Orleans, but the team moved to Utah in 1979 after just five seasons.

The Jazz were one of the most unsuccessful teams in the league in their early years, and it would be 10 years before they made a playoff appearance (in 1984). They would not miss the playoffs again until 2003. During the late 1980s, John Stockton and Karl Malone arose as the franchise players for the team, and formed one of the most famed point guard/power forward duos in NBA history. Led by coach Jerry Sloan, who took over for Frank Layden in 1988, they became one of the powerhouse teams of the 1990s, culminating in two NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998, where they lost both times to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Both Stockton and Malone moved on in 2003 and after missing the playoffs for 3 seasons, they have returned to prominence under the on-court leadership of the franchise duo of point guard Deron Williams and power forward Carlos Boozer, seen by many to have taken over the mantle left by Stockton and Malone.

In 1974 the Jazz franchise began in New Orleans, Louisiana. The team's first major move was to trade for star player Pete Maravich from the Atlanta Hawks for 2 first-round draft picks, 3 second-round picks, and 1 third-round pick over the next 3 years. Although he was considered one of the most entertaining players in the league and won the scoring championship in 1977 with 31.1 points per game, the Jazz's best record while in New Orleans was 39-43 in the 1977-78 season. Maravich struggled with knee injuries from that season onward.

Venue issues were a continual problem for the team while in New Orleans. In the Jazz's first season, when they played in the Loyola University Fieldhouse, the basketball court was raised so high that the players' association made the team put a net around the court so that players wouldn't fall off of the court and into the stands. They played their later seasons in the Superdome, but things were no better due to high demand for the stadium, Maravich's knee problems and onerous lease terms. For instance, during the 1977-78 season, the Jazz were in the midst of a playoff drive when Mardi Gras festivities forced the team on a month-long road trip. Even if they had made the playoffs that year, they would have been forced to find another place to play in the event of a conflict.

By 1979, the Jazz were sinking under the weight of $5 million in losses over five years. Original owner Sam Battisone decided to move to Salt Lake City, even though it was a smaller market than New Orleans at the time. However, Salt Lake City had proven it could support a pro basketball team when it played host to the American Basketball Association's Utah Stars from 1970 to 1976. The Stars had been extremely popular in the city, but their financial picture inexplicably collapsed in their last two seasons, and they folded in December 1975 after playing only 16 games of the ABA's final season. Although Salt Lake City was not known for its jazz culture, the team decided to keep the name, as well as the team's original colors of green, purple and gold (the colors of Mardi Gras).

The Jazz's attendance actually declined slightly after the team's move from New Orleans to Utah, due to a late approval for the move (June 1978) and poor marketing in the Salt Lake City area. They continued to struggle for six seasons, in part due to a move to the tougher Midwest Division.

In 1984, the Jazz drafted point guard John Stockton from Gonzaga University and the next year added the second half of one of the NBA's greatest pairings in power forward Karl Malone from Louisiana Tech. In both the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons, the Jazz barely scraped into the playoffs. In 1986, the Jazz traded Adrian Dantley to Detroit. During the next few seasons, the Jazz began to establish themselves as a respectable team in their own right. Center Mark Eaton was, perhaps, one of the more notable defensive players of the era. And for their part, Stockton and Malone soon became superstars. Stockton and Malone developed into a very effective combo, running pick-and-roll plays with great success. "Stockton to Malone" became a common phrase, as Stockton regularly found ways to pass the ball to Malone in good scoring position. Despite the regular season successes, however, the Jazz were never able to advance past the second round of the NBA Playoffs during the 1980s. During the 1988-89 season, Frank Layden stepped down as head coach to become president of the Utah Jazz. Assistant coach Jerry Sloan took over head coaching duties. Sloan guided the Jazz to their first 50-win season ever with a 51–31 record, also winning the Midwest Division. Once again, however, the Jazz flopped in the postseason, losing to the Golden State Warriors in the first round.

Throughout the early 90's the Jazz playoff woes continued, with the Jazz losing in the first round in 1990 to the Phoenix Suns and in the second round in 1991 to the Portland Trail Blazers. In 1990-91, the Jazz acquired Jeff Malone, and after the 1991-92 season they waived veteran Darrell Griffith. In 1991 the Jazz also moved out of the old Salt Palace and into the new Delta Center. In 1992, the Jazz finally made it to the conference finals, losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in six games. In 1993, the Jazz had a disappointing run in the playoffs again, losing to the Seattle SuperSonics in the first round. During the 1993-94 season, the Jazz traded Jeff Malone to the Philadelphia 76ers for shooting guard Jeff Hornacek, who provided high three-point and free throw shot percentage. The Jazz made the playoffs with a 53–29 record, shutting down NBA scoring leader David Robinson and San Antonio 3–1, then fought off a determined, upstart Denver Nuggets team 4–3 in the Conference semi-finals (almost blowing a 3-0 series lead), and advanced to the Conference finals, where they lost to the eventual NBA champion Houston Rockets 4–1.

In the 1994-95 season, the Jazz had significant depth and talent at their disposal and were expected to make a serious run for the championship. The Jazz finished with a 60–22 record during the regular season. Despite this, however, the Jazz lost to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs in five games. Big man Greg Ostertag was added to the team for the 1995-96 season, and the Jazz reached the conference finals for the third time in history, almost overcoming a 3–1 deficit and narrowly losing to the Seattle SuperSonics 4–3.

In the next two seasons, the Jazz were finally able to capitalize on their regular season success. In 1996-97, The Jazz had their best record in franchise history at 64–18, with such players as Stockton, Malone, Hornacek, Russell, Ostertag, Antoine Carr, Howard Eisley, and Shandon Anderson. They finally reached the NBA Finals for the first time ever after beating the Los Angeles Clippers 3–0, Los Angeles Lakers 4–1, and Houston Rockets 4-2 to meet Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals. A three-pointer at the buzzer by John Stockton in Game 6 of the 1997 Western Conference Championship sent the Jazz to the finals. This shot remains one of the highlight shots of the Jazz franchise. In the 1997 NBA Finals, the Jazz lost to the Bulls 4–2, after losing the last two in the final seconds of the games (90–88 and 90–86). Malone won the MVP for the regular season for the first time ever.

During the offseason, the Jazz made no significant changes to their roster. During the 1996-97 season, expectations were high for another championship run. However, Stockton suffered a serious knee injury before the season began and missed the first 18 games. Despite the setback, the Jazz were still able to finish at 62–20. In the playoffs they beat the Rockets 3–2, the Spurs 4–1, and the Los Angeles Lakers 4–0 to advance to their second NBA Finals appearance in a row. Utah, an aged core made up of veterans Stockton, Malone and Hornacek, were facing a Lakers squad comprised of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, two young superstars of the NBA at the time. Though the Jazz were favored to beat the Lakers, since they owned home court advantage, there were doubters. Many felt the Lakers were far too talented and athletic and that the Jazz's age would show. Yet all thoughts of this were dispelled in game one, where the Jazz dominated the Lakers to a 112–77 victory. It was the worst playoff loss in franchise history for the Lakers and set the tone for the series. Though games were far closer than what occurred in game one, Utah would go on to sweep the Lakers and return to the NBA Finals for the second straight year. In the 1998 NBA Championship, the Jazz took Game 1 at home 88–85. However, the Bulls overcame a slow start to win Game 2 93–88, easily took Game 3 96–54 and won a closer Game 4 86–82 to lead 3–1 in the series. The Jazz fought back to win Game 5 83–81 at the United Center and the series returned to Salt Lake City, where the Jazz had always been dominant. The Jazz held a lead in most of Game 6, but the Bulls rallied, and in the last seconds of the game, Michael Jordan made a jump shot to win the game, 87–86. This loss highlights the Jazz's struggles in the postseason, despite their overall, consistent success. Former referee Mike Mathis, an adament critic of current NBA officiating, did not cite the supposed offensive foul on Jordan and stated it was the correct no call in an article denouncing NBA officials following the Tim Donaghy incident. The game was also controversial because of two incidents early in the game. In the second quarter Howard Eisley made a three pointer, but the officials incorrectly ruled that the shot was taken after the shot clock expired. Later in the game, Ron Harper made a two-pointer after the shot clock expired, but this time the officials allowed it. Many Jazz fans also feel that these "phantom five" points also cost them the game, since the final margin was only one point.

In the 1999 season, shortened to 50 games due to a lockout, the Jazz finished the season 37–13, tied with the Spurs for the best record in the league. They defeated the Sacramento Kings in five games in the first round of the playoffs. However, they lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite yet another disappointment, Malone was awarded his second MVP. During the 1999-00 season, the Jazz finished 55-27 and won the Midwest Division but once again struggled in the postseason, losing to the Portland Trail Blazers, again during the second round. During the offseason, Hornacek retired and Howard Eisley was traded in a four-team deal that brought in Donyell Marshall. They selected promising high school basketball star DeShawn Stevenson in the first round of the NBA Draft. In the 2000-01 season, they went 53–29, but their playoff woes once again struck when they blew a 2–0 series lead in the first round of the playoffs to the Dallas Mavericks, a team that had not made the playoffs since 1990.

In the 2001-02 season, Andrei Kirilenko made his rookie debut, but overall the Jazz began to show their age and dwindling talent. The Jazz finished just 44–38 and lost to the Sacramento Kings 3–1 in the first round of the playoffs. In 2002-03, Marshall and Russell moved on to other teams. Matt Harpring, however, was brought over from the Philadelphia 76ers, contributing to the offense and experiencing his best season. The Jazz approached 50 wins going into the playoffs, ultimately going 47–35 and again losing to the Kings 4–1. After the season, the end of an era came when Stockton retired and Malone moved to the Lakers in the hunt for a championship ring with several other future Hall-of-Famers (The Lakers fell to Detroit in the Finals the following season, after which Malone retired).

In the 2003-04 season, the Jazz finished with a 42-40 record. The team featured several unheralded players who emerged into key contributors, including Kirilenko, Raja Bell, Matt Harpring, and Carlos Arroyo. In particular, Kirilenko demonstrated versatility on both offense and defense and earned a spot in the All-Star Game. Kirilenko helped the team late into the season's playoff hunt, in which the Jazz missed out by just one game to the Denver Nuggets, ending their streak of 20 consecutive seasons in the playoffs. Jerry Sloan finished second in the voting for the NBA Coach of the Year Award, losing to Hubie Brown of the Memphis Grizzlies.

In the 2004 offseason, the Jazz obtained free agents Carlos Boozer (from the Cleveland Cavaliers) and Mehmet Okur (from the Detroit Pistons) and Greg Ostertag left as a free agent to the Sacramento Kings. The franchise was again expected to contend in the West. The season began well for the Jazz, but a series of injuries, first to Arroyo and Raul Lopez, and later to Boozer and Kirilenko, caused the team to fall to the bottom of the division. There were rumors of internal discontent between the younger players and Sloan, leading to the trading away of Arroyo mid-season to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Elden Campbell (who was immediately waived). They ended the 2004-05 season with a record of 26–56, their worst since the 1981–1982 season.

In the summer of 2005, the Jazz continued to shape their roster by dispatching some of their underperforming young players and trading three draft picks in order to acquire the #3 pick overall, with which they selected point guard Deron Williams of the University of Illinois. Raja Bell left the team for the Phoenix Suns, the Jazz re-obtained Greg Ostertag from the Kings, and oft-injured point guard Raul Lopez was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The 2005-06 season was injury-plagued before it even started; Boozer missed the first 49 games and Gordan Giricek and Kirilenko both missed significant time due to injuries. Okur and Kirilenko, however, showed consistently good play, while Williams, despite a midseason slump, did not disappoint. However, rumors of discontent between Jerry Sloan and the young players persisted, while team owner Larry Miller continually expressed his displeasure with the team's effort. They stayed in the playoff race until the third-to-last game, when they lost to the Dallas Mavericks. The Jazz ended the season 41–41 and just 3 games out of the playoffs. Ostertag retired at the end of the season, having spent 10 of his 11 seasons with the team.

In the 2006 NBA Draft, the Jazz selected promising University of Arkansas shooting guard Ronnie Brewer in the first round and in the second round selected point guard Dee Brown and power forward Paul Millsap. Several young players were traded away for Golden State Warriors guard Derek Fisher, giving them a veteran point guard. The Jazz were heralded by several major sports websites for drafting well and making good offseason moves.

The Jazz developed a very deep and well-rounded team during the 2007 season. Boozer mostly avoided injuries (although missed his first All-Star game selection due to a minor leg injury) and Okur, who had developed a reputation as a great clutch shooter, was selected to the All-Star game as well (as an injury replacement). Deron Williams improved considerably, finishing second in the league in assists per game with 9.3 (behind Steve Nash). The team also developed a deep bench; in the 10 games that Boozer and Okur (the two leading scorers) missed, the team went 8-2. Paul Millsap became one of the biggest surprise rookies of the year and became a competent backup to Boozer. Despite the elevated play of the Jazz's budding stars, Kirilenko showed a significant drop in his statistics and had struggles adapting to his reduced role. This eventually led to a well-publicized breakdown early in the first round of the playoffs. The Jazz clinched the playoffs as the #4 seed with a 51-31 record.

The Jazz went on to face the Houston Rockets in the first round. The series was a physical, close-fought one, with each of the first 6 games being won by the home team. The Jazz were able to break this trend in the 7th game, beating the Rockets 103-99 in Houston. The Jazz then went on to face the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors, who were coming off a historic upset of the #1-seeded Dallas Mavericks (who had gone 67-15 in the regular season, one of the best in NBA history). However, the Jazz easily handled the Warriors, winning the series 4-1. The Jazz went on to face the San Antonio Spurs, fresh off a controversial victory over the Phoenix Suns, in the Western Conference Finals, but were eliminated from the playoffs 4-1.

During the offseason, the Jazz gained a hometown D-League affiliate in the Utah Flash (based in Orem), that they share with the Boston Celtics. During the offseason, the Jazz selected shooting guard Morris Almond in the first round, although ultimately they made few lineup changes. The most significant move was in letting Derek Fisher go. Fisher had also become a fan favorite due to his daughter's well-publicized battle with a rare form of eye cancer; he moved to Los Angeles during the offseason to be closer to better care for his daughter (Even though his daughters Doctors were based out of New York), and later signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won 3 championships from 2000-2002. Offseason controversy arose after Kirilenko led his Russian national team to a win in EuroBasket 2007 (the European championship), a tournament in which he was named MVP. After this, Kirilenko posted on a blog that he wished to be traded from the Jazz and would be willing to walk away from his contract. He later reaffirmed this in interviews. However, no trade was made and Kirilenko has since backed off these requests (although he has also not said that he has changed his mind).

During the 2007-08 season, after a trade that sent disgruntled shooting guard Gordan Gay Giricek to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Kyle Korver, the Jazz ran off a record-tying 19 game home winning streak and improved on the road after a rough December. Despite the offseason controversy and trade talk, Kirilenko elevated his play, improving all stats from the previous season and seeming content with his new role more as a defender and a facilitator as opposed to a scorer. Carlos Boozer again won an All-Star selection, while Deron Williams continued to elevate his play, averaging 13.3 assists per game in March (as opposed to 10.5 for the season as a whole). The Jazz finished the regular season 5th best in the west with a 54-28 record. That included a 37-4 home record, but they did not have a good year on the road going 17-24, which included two defeats against the Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60) and a loss against the league worst Miami Heat (15-67). They also sold out all 41 home games for the first time since the 1997-98 season. They won their division, giving them the no. 4 seed in the playoffs. Once again, they faced 5th seeded Houston in the opening round of the playoffs with the Rockets (55-27) having homecourt advantage over the Jazz (54-28). The Jazz struck first with a 93-82 victory over the host Rockets in Game 1, followed by another victory 90-84 to give them a 2-0 edge returning to Salt Lake City. In Game 3 The Rockets quickly rebounded with a rare win in Salt Lake, but were halted after another Utah win on April 26 to put the Jazz up 3-1 in the series. However, the Jazz suffered a staggering loss in Game 5 in Houston, 95-69. The Jazz countered this embarrassing defeat by dealing the Rockets a 22-point blowout loss to give them the series-clinching victory 113-91, thus eliminating the Rockets for the second time in as many years.

Utah faced the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of The 2008 NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals which began on May 4 at Staples Center. It was the first time these two franchises had competed in a post-season series since the 1998 Western Conference Finals. Four individuals from that series were present in this one: Laker players Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, and Utah Head Coach Jerry Sloan and Assistant Coach Phil Johnson. Conversely, it was also the first playoff series meeting between Coach Sloan, and Lakers' Head Coach Phil Jackson since the Chicago Bulls defeated the Jazz in the NBA Finals that same year, 4 games to 2. Utah lost game 1 and game 2 in Los Angeles. However the Jazz held up their great home winning record by defeating Los Angeles in Games 3 and 4. The Jazz lost game 5 in L.A. and were eventually eliminated in Game 6 at home - a game where they trailed by as much as 19 in the second half, only to come back in the last two minutes. Their season ended with two desperate 3-point attempts by Mehmet Okur and Deron Williams as time expired that would have sent the game to overtime. On November 7, 2008 Jerry Sloan had little to complain about Friday. The unbeaten Jazz raced to a 29-point halftime lead en route to a 104-97 home victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, making Sloan the first NBA coach to win 1,000 games with one team.

The Houston Rockets have been a frequent rival of the Utah Jazz. They continually met in the playoffs during the 1980s and especially the 1990s. They first met 1985, when the Jazz defeated the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. The Jazz and Rockets met each other 4 times in 5 years during the mid-90s. They met in the conference finals in both 1994 and 1997, with the Rockets winning the first time and the Jazz the second time. In 1995 the Rockets beat the Jazz 3 - 2 and 1998, the Jazz defeated the Rockets in the first round, with the Rockets taking the #1-seeded Jazz to the full 5 games in 1998. The rivalry was re-ignited in the 2007 and 2008 playoffs, where the Jazz defeated the Rockets in the first round both times. In the old Western Conference, Utah and Houston were divisional foes; however, the Jazz have since relocated to the Northwest Division, while Houston is now in the Southwest Division.

The Jazz, as one of the dominant team of the 1990s, struck up a rivalry with the Eastern Conference Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls that resulted in the Jazz meeting and losing to them in the 1997 and 1998 NBA championships. The Portland Trail Blazers, who share their division, were a frequent rival throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. More recently, the San Antonio Spurs, who shared the division with the Jazz until 2004, the Denver Nuggets, and the Los Angeles Lakers have become heated rivals. The Jazz have lost 20 consecutive games on San Antonio's home court dating back to 1999.

On Monday, June 23, 2008, it was officially announced that team members Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer were selected for the 2008 U.S. Olympic basketball team that participated in the 2008 Summer Olympics in China. The Jazz were the only team in the NBA with two players on the 2008 U.S. Olympic squad. The Redeem Team was awarded the gold medal.

Williams and Boozer joined former Jazz players John Stockton and Karl Malone as the only Jazzmen to be selected to play for the U.S. team. Stockton and Malone won gold medals at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic games.

Andrei Kirilenko also represented his home country of Russia at the 2008 games.

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Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson 2.jpg

Philip Douglas "Phil" Jackson (born September 17, 1945 in Deer Lodge, Montana) is a former American professional basketball player and the current head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Jackson is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His reputation was established as head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 through 1998; during his tenure, Chicago won six NBA titles. His next team, the Los Angeles Lakers, won three consecutive NBA titles from 2000-2002. In total, Jackson has won 9 NBA titles as a coach, a record shared with Red Auerbach.

Jackson is known for his use of Tex Winter's triangle offense as well as a holistic approach to coaching that is influenced by Eastern philosophy, earning him the nickname "Zen Master". (Jackson cites Robert Pirsig's book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as one of the major guiding forces in his life. His fond admiration for the book is the source of his nickname "Zen Master.") He also applies Native American spiritual practices as documented in his book "Sacred Hoops." He is the author of several candid books about his teams and his basketball strategies. Jackson is also a recipient of the state of North Dakota's Roughrider Award. Jackson leads the 2007 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Jackson regularly attempts to alter his appearance so the media cannot use old photos of him for recent news, and, true to his word, as of September 2008, he was no longer sporting his illustrious, white mustache, which saw 9 NBA titles.

Both of Jackson's parents, Charles and Elisabeth Jackson, were Assemblies of God ministers. In the churches they served, his father generally preached on Sunday mornings and his mother on Sunday evenings. Eventually, his father would become a ministerial supervisor. Phil, his two brothers, and his half-sister grew up in an extremely austere environment, in which no movies, dancing, or television (once there was a TV station where they lived) were allowed. He did not see his first movie until he was a senior in high school, and went to a dance for the first time in college.

Phil Jackson attended high school in Williston, North Dakota where he played varsity basketball and led the team to two state titles. He also played football, was a pitcher in baseball, and threw the discus. His older brother Chuck speculated years later that the three Jackson sons, including Phil, threw themselves passionately into athletics because it was the only time they were allowed to do what other children were doing. Phil attracted the attention of several baseball scouts. Their notes found their way to future NBA coach Bill Fitch, who had previously coached baseball, and had been doing some scouting for the Atlanta Braves. Fitch took over as head basketball coach at The University of North Dakota in the spring of 1962, during Jackson's junior year of high school.

Fitch successfully recruited him to UND, after dinner and a movie over a glass of wine, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Jackson did well there, helping the Fighting Sioux to third- and fourth-place finishes in the NCAA Division II tournament in his sophomore and junior years (1965 and 1966). Both years, they would be beaten by Southern Illinois. This was the era in which Jackson's future Knicks teammate Walt Frazier was the Salukis' biggest star, but the two only faced off in 1965, as Frazier was academically ineligible in 1966. In college, Phil majored in Religion, Philosophy, and Psychology.

In Williston, North Dakota, where Jackson attended high school, a sports complex is named after him.

In 1967, Jackson was drafted in the second round by the New York Knicks. While he was a good all-around athlete, with unusually long arms, he was very limited offensively. He compensated for his offensive limitations with sheer intelligence and hard work, especially on defense, and eventually established himself as a fan favorite and one of the NBA's leading substitutes. He was a top reserve on the Knicks team that won the NBA title in 1973 (Jackson missed being part of New York's 1970 championship season due to spinal fusion surgery, however, he authored a book entitled "Take It All" which was a photo diary of the Knicks' 1970 Championship run). Soon after the second title, several key starters of the championship teams retired, eventually forcing Jackson into the starting lineup. He lived in Leonia, New Jersey. After going across the Hudson to the New Jersey Nets in 1978 and playing there for two seasons, he retired from play in 1980.

In the 1974-75 NBA season, the Knicks' Phil Jackson and the Milwaukee Bucks' Bob Dandridge shared the lead for total personal fouls, with 330 each.

In the following years, he mainly coached in lower-level professional leagues, notably the Continental Basketball Association and Puerto Rico's National Superior Basketball (BSN). While in the CBA, he won his first coaching championship, leading the Albany Patroons to their first CBA title. He regularly sought an NBA job, but was invariably turned down; during his playing years, he had acquired a reputation for being sympathetic to the counterculture, which may have scared off potential NBA employers. Most notably, while still playing for the Knicks in 1975, he had detailed his experimentation with LSD in an early autobiography, Maverick.

Jackson was hired as assistant coach for the Bulls in 1987, and promoted to head coach in 1989 where he coached until 1998. It was at this time that he met Tex Winter and became a devotee of Winter's triangle offense. Over 9 seasons, Jackson coached the Bulls to 6 championships in impressive fashion, twice winning three straight championships over separate three year periods. The "three-peat" was the first since the Boston Celtics won eight titles in a row from 1959 through 1966.

Jackson and the Bulls made the playoffs every year, and failed to win the title only three times. Jackson lost in his first season in 1990. Michael Jordan's first retirement after the 1993 season marked the end of the first "three-peat," and although Jordan returned just before the 1995 playoffs, it was not enough to prevent a playoff exit to the rising Orlando Magic.

The chemistry developed between Jackson and the players was one of the best in NBA history. The respect shared between the players and the coach was the key factor in being able to build up a dynasty. While Jordan was already long considered the most dominant player, Jackson was also credited as one of the most important elements in the Bulls' championships and his work earned him league-wide recognition.

After the Bulls' final title of the Jordan era in 1998, Jackson left the team vowing never to coach again. However, after taking a year off, he decided to give it another chance with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1999 to 2004 and again from 2005 to the present.

Jackson took over a talented but troubled Lakers team and immediately produced results. In his first year in L.A., the Lakers went 67-15 during the regular season to top the league. Reaching the conference finals, they dispatched the Portland Trail Blazers in a tough seven-game series and then won the 2000 NBA championship by beating the Indiana Pacers.

Titles in 2001 and 2002 followed, against the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets, adding up to a three-peat. The main serious challenge the Lakers faced was from their conference rival, the Sacramento Kings.

However, injuries, weak bench play, and full-blown public tension between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal slowed the team down, and they were beaten in the second round of the 2003 NBA Playoffs by the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.

Afterward, Jackson clashed frequently with Bryant. While remarkably efficient in Jackson's "triangle offense", Bryant had a personal distaste for Jackson's brand of basketball and subsequently called it "boring." In games, Bryant would often disregard the set offense completely to experiment with his own one-on-one moves, incensing the normally calm Jackson. Bryant managed to test Jackson's patience enough that the "Zen Master" even demanded that Bryant be traded, although Laker management rejected the request.

Prior to the 2003–04 season, the Lakers signed NBA star veterans Karl Malone and Gary Payton, who had been franchise players for the Utah Jazz and the Seattle SuperSonics, respectively, leading to predictions by some that the team would finish with the best record in NBA history. But from the first day of training camp, the Lakers were beset by distractions. Bryant's rape trial, continued public sniping between O'Neal and Bryant, and repeated disputes between Jackson and Bryant all affected the team during the season. Despite these distractions, the Lakers beat the defending champion Spurs en route to advancing to the NBA Final and were heavy favorites to regain the title. However, they were stunned by the Detroit Pistons, who utterly dominated the series and defeated the Lakers four games to one.

On June 18, 2004, three days after Jackson had suffered his first-ever loss in an NBA Finals series, the Lakers announced that Jackson would leave his position as Lakers coach. Many fans attributed Jackson's departure directly to the wishes of Bryant, as Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss reportedly sided with Bryant. Jackson, Bryant and Buss all denied that Bryant had made any explicit demand regarding Jackson. However, O'Neal, upon hearing General Manager Mitch Kupchak's announcement of the team's willingness to trade O'Neal and its intention to keep Bryant, indicated that he felt the franchise was indeed pandering to Bryant's wishes with the departure of Jackson. O'Neal's trade to the Miami Heat was the end of the "Trifecta" that had led the Lakers to three championship titles.

Without Jackson and O'Neal the Lakers were forced to become a faster paced team on the court. Though they achieved some success in the first half of the season, injuries to several players including stars Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom forced the team out of contention, going 34-48 in 2004–05 and missing the playoffs for the first time in eleven years. Jackson's successor as coach, Rudy Tomjanovich, resigned midway through the season, citing health issues, immediately leading to speculation that the Lakers might bring Jackson back.

On June 15, 2005, the Lakers rehired Phil Jackson. Jackson took a Laker squad that was mediocre, aside from superstar Kobe Bryant, and led them to a seventh-seed playoff berth. Once again promoting the notion of selfless team play embodied by the triangle offense, the team achieved substantial results, especially in the last month of the season. Jackson also worked seamlessly with Bryant, who had earlier shown his willingness to bring back Jackson to the bench. Bryant's regular-season performance won him the league scoring title and made him a finalist in MVP voting. However, the Lakers faced a tough 2006 first-round matchup against the second-seeded Phoenix Suns, who were led by eventual MVP winner Steve Nash. It was the first time that Jackson's team had failed to reach the second round of the playoffs. The Lakers jumped out to a 3-1 lead following a dramatic last second shot by Bryant in overtime to win game four, but the Suns recovered to win the last three and take the series. Many consider the seven game contest to be among the greatest first-round series in NBA history.

Jackson's main tactical contribution, both with the Bulls and the Lakers, was the modernization of the triangle offense. He is also noted as a gifted handler of difficult players, notably Dennis Rodman and Kwame Brown. Jackson currently makes $10,000,000 a year, making him the highest paid coach in NBA history.

On January 7, 2007, Jackson won his 900th game, currently placing him 9th on the all-time win list for NBA coaches. With this win, Jackson became the fastest to reach 900 career wins, doing so in only 1,264 games and beating Pat Riley's previous record of 900 in 1,278 games.

On December 12, 2007, after announcing he would return to his position as coach just a few days prior, Phil Jackson inked a 2-year contract extension to continue his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers through the end of the 2009-2010 season.

Jackson has a total of 10 NBA championship rings: one as a player with the New York Knicks, six as coach of the Bulls, and three as coach of the Lakers. Nine NBA championships as a head coach ties him with Red Auerbach for the all-time lead in that category. Phil Jackson also holds the best playoff winning percentage of all-time. As of the end of the 2007–08 NBA season, Jackson's regular season record stands at 976-418.

He coached the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. Boston won the series in game 6 of the NBA finals, beating the Lakers in the final game in Boston.

On Christmas Day of 2008, Jackson became the 6th coach to win 1000 games, with the Lakers defeating the Celtics in their first match up of the 2008-2009 season after losing to them in the 2008 NBA Finals. He was the fastest to win 1000 games surpassing Pat Riley who had taken 11 more games than Jackson.

Along with being called the "Zen Master", Jackson is known as the master of mind games. In the Laker film room before the 2000 playoffs, Jackson displayed images of Edward Norton's character from the movie American History X, who has a bald head and a tattoo of a swastika, alternating with photos with Sacramento's white, shaved-headed and tattooed point guard, Jason Williams. Jackson then displayed pictures of Adolf Hitler alternately appearing with Sacramento coach Rick Adelman. When Rick Adelman learned of this, he openly questioned Jackson's motivational techniques saying Jackson had "crossed the line". Nevertheless, the Lakers went on to win the series and the championship.

In addition, in the 2001 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, Jackson had Tyronn Lue, a player on the Lakers team who was comparable in size and height to Sixers star Allen Iverson, wear a sock on his arm during Lakers practice to simulate Iverson's use of a compression arm sleeve as part of his regular gametime attire. Philadelphia media considered this to be a mind game tactic of Jackson's, but the main idea was to simulate what a game against Iverson is like, right down to the tattoos and cornrows (which Lue also had).

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Source : Wikipedia