About four months ago, some NBA people were seriously discussing whether or not Tony Parker could make a legitimate claim to being the league's Most Valuable Player this season. That discussion was mostly bunk , on account of LeBron James existing, but it was an important step up in recognition for the evolution of the San Antonio Spurs point guard's game over the past few years ? the vision, pace and timing he's added to his speed and quickness, the subtle in-and-out moves and slight feints he's mastered to keep even first-rate defenders off-balance, the feel he's developed for when to hunt his own offense and when to facilitate for others to make sure San Antonio's offensive machine is in prime working order.
After skewing a bit toward the former with a team-high 14 shots and a game-high 20 points in the Spurs' Western Conference finals-opening win over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, Parker clearly veered back to the latter in Tuesday's Game 2, keeping Memphis' perimeter defenders at arm's length and dominating the opening three quarters of the game en route to a career-best 18 assists in a 93-89 overtime win that gave San Antonio a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Sure, there might have been a little bit of home-scorer's cooking on a couple of those credited dimes, but Parker's overall control of the game and mastery of a hard-working Grizzlies defense was undeniable.
"He was unbelievable," longtime running buddy Tim Duncan said after the game . "I know he's exhausted. We asked a lot of him. He was controlling the ball every time down the floor and he was making every right play there was. He was finding people, and people knocked down shots for him."
Charlotte's NBA franchise will soon have a new but familiar look. At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan announced that the team will change its name to the Hornets for the 2014-15 season and beyond. The official announcement follows a Friday report from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the Bobcats were beginning the process of formalizing a name change.
The NBA expanded to Charlotte in 1988 with the Hornets and played in the city through the 2001-02 season, when owner George Shinn moved them to New Orleans. The Charlotte Hornets built a brand on the basis of their ultra-'90s teal-heavy color scheme and the allure of young stars Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. The Bobcats have not succeeded in building the same kind of fan base or image, and the New Orleans Hornets' decision to become the more geographically acceptable Pelicans has freed up the name.
Jordan explained the decision on Tuesday. From Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer :
(Reuters) - The Charlotte Bobcats want to take a step back in time and restore an old nickname to the city. The National Basketball Association (NBA) team will ask the league's board of governors in July to approve changing the franchise's name to Charlotte Hornets effective with the 2014-15 season, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan said on Tuesday. Charlotte's original NBA team enjoyed sellout crowds as the Hornets between 1988-2002 before then-owner George Shinn moved the franchise to New Orleans. ...