* After guiding the Pistons to an NBA championship with a convincing 4-1 margin over the favored Los Angeles Lakers, Larry Brown is enjoying the limelight a little before he begins to get the USA Olympic team ready for Athens.
Brown continued celebrating his first NBA title by making an appearance on "The Late Show With David Letterman" (CBS) last night.
Brown's mention of learning his style of coaching from Dean Smith got a nice round of applause from "The Late Show" audience. He also had some fun with Letterman discussing some problems he's had coaching Pistons rookie Darko Milicic from Serbia & Montenegro.
Apparently Brown is not a stranger to the show business crowd either. Last week, he told reporters he had to get busy and return all the kind messages he got after getting that elusive NBA championship.
"I've heard from Coach Smith twice, Tony LaRussa, Red Auerbach, Jerry West, Sinbad, Andy Reid and one of the first of many messages was from Derrick Coleman," Brown told reporters, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
Yep, he said Sinbad called.
REBUILDING JOB FOR KUPCHAK
* Kobe Bryant is a free agent, Phil Jackson is gone, Karl Malone and Gary Payton will be a year older, and Shaquille O'Neal has let it be known he wants to be traded. Those are just some of things that Lakers G.M. Mitch Kupchak has to deal with to keep the Lakers in contention for another run at an NBA title.
Rudy Tomjanovich appears to be the frontrunner to replace Jackson, but Pat Riley, George Karl and current Laker assistant coaches are also on the candidates list. Kupchak has stated the Lakers intend to re-sign Bryant and that he will work out a trade for O'Neal if necessary and if possible.
The Los Angeles Daily News described the situation Kupchak is facing as "perhaps the most ground-shaking offseason in franchise history."
CALABRIA SIGNS WITH MILANO
* Dante Calabria has signed on to play another season in the Italian League. This time Calabria will play for Olimpia Milano
Last season, Calabria played for Cantu in the Italian League and averaged 13.6 points while shooting 39.7 percent on threes and 90.7 percent from the free throw line.
NO POWDER BLUE FOR THIS J.R.
* High school phenom J.R. Smith won't make it to Chapel Hill in 2004 as he originally intended. Instead, information from an article on the 2004 NBA Draft in Sunday's New York Daily News indicates Smith was well on his way to being a Tar Heel fan:
"Others, like J.R. Smith, who signed with his dream school North Carolina last fall, began to consider the NBA option during the postseason All-Star games. Smith raised some eyebrows when he scored 30 in the EA Sports Classic, then shined in both the McDonald's game and the Hoop Summit.
"I really wanted to go to Carolina," he says. "I was a big Carolina fan, Michael Jordan, Vince Carter. I was going to paint my truck powder blue. That was the biggest thing in the world to me. But this is why I was going to college, to get here, so why not do it now?""
Smith, a 6-6, 220 pound shooting guard, is a likely "middle first-round pick," according to USA TODAY's draft projection. He will learn his NBA fate on Thursday when the NBA Draft is held in New York City. ESPN has the coverage from 7:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
GETH JOINS ABA NIGHTHAWKS
* Former Tar Heel Ed Geth has been added to the coaching staff of the Maryland Nighthawks of the American Basketball Association, according to a press release by the team last week.
Geth will be an assistant coach on the staff of former Harlem Globetrotter Twiggy Sanders. After playing pro ball in Sweden, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, Geth hopes to add "successful winning coach" to his resume. "I am thrilled to be a part of the ABA," Geth said.
The ABA has added several teams for the 2004-05 season and is scheduled to begin in November.
* The Boston Frenzy is another ABA expansion team. According to The Standard-Times, former Tar Heel Neil Fingleton, a recent Holy Cross graduate, is having contract negotiations with the Boston franchise following a recent tryout.
The Frenzy will be coached by Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, former NBA player and Kobe Bryant's father, and will play and practice at the athletic center on the campus of UMass Dartmouth.