Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

This week's update on former Tar Heel hoopsters ... Pictured -- Shammond Williams.


* The excitement of reaching the 2006 Euroleague Final Four turned to disappointment late Friday in Prague for Shammond Williams and Ed Cota, the point guards for Winterthur FC Barcelona of Spain. Even with a game-high 24 points by Williams, Barcelona could not overcome CSKA Moscow of Russia down the stretch and lost 84-75.

Along with 24 points (8-16 FG, 4-9 3PT FG, 4-5 FT) in 32 minutes Williams added four boards and four assists. Cota, the backup to Williams at point guard for Barcelona, played just three minutes with one rebound and two assists.

Barcelona also lost the third-place game on Sunday, falling to Spanish League rival TAU Ceramica, 87-82. Williams played 18 minutes and scored eight points. Cota contributed six points (2-3 FG, 2-2 FT) and two steals in 15 minutes.

"Our intensity wasn't there. It's hard to come out here for a game like this when you feel you should be in the final," Cota told the press following the third-place game. "We were still dwelling on our loss. We could say maybe this [Final Four] is disappointing, but [getting here] is also a big accomplishment. I hope we'll feed off of this and win the Spanish League."

CSKA Moscow won the 2006 Euroleague championship over Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv of Israel on Sunday, 73-69. Clemson's Will Solomon led Maccabi in scoring with 20 points. Trajan Langdon (Duke) helped CSKA to the title with 11 points and hitting two free throws with 5.8 seconds to play on his way to going 8-8 from the free-throw line.


* Minnesota Timberwolves guard Rashad McCants recently concluded his up-and-down rookie season. NBA.com's Rookie Report "really liked what McCants did over the last month or so" in his first season and considered him as "a very talented offensive player who knows how to put the ball in the basket" with a lot to look forward to next season in Minnesota.

McCants' rookie stats: 79 games (12 starts), 17.2 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.6 SPG, 241-535 (.450) FG, 67-180 (.372) 3PT FG, 78-106 (.736) FT, 23 blocks and highs of 28 points (vs. Atl., 4/9/06), 7 rebounds (vs. G.S., 4/2/06) and 5 assists (vs. Atl., 4/9/06)

According to twincities.com last week, McCants is expected to play in the local Howard Pulley Pro-Am Summer League that starts on June 19 with night games played Monday through Thursday at the Salvation Army gym in St. Paul, Minnesota.


* "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." -- from the National Basketball Association's profile of Jordan posted on nba.com

The Denver Post recently touched on a common practice that validates greatness in almost any field with a metaphorical reference to former Tar Heel great and Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan. Estee Portnoy, Jordan's publicist, looks through newspaper articles for fresh mentions of her boss on a daily basis. What Portnoy finds though are comments about a bass fisherman, a heart surgeon, a poet and even a surfer, among stories about a wide variety of other athletes and occupations, the article noted.

"There are so many hits on his name, and usually half are not referencing Michael Jordan the person," Portnoy told the Post. "They are using him as an adjective."

Writers and speakers so regularly use Jordan as a context for greatness that it has surpassed Babe Ruth for that purpose. The Post's Google search of the phrase "the Michael Jordan of" showed about 76,600 links. Katie Couric (morning news), Dr. Gary Becker (economics) and Jeffrey Arnstein (furniture restoration) were among those noted as the Michael Jordan of their particular field.

It was also noted that Google found 32,600 matches for the phrase "the Babe Ruth of." There were 750 for the claim that someone was "the Muhammad Ali of" something, 705 for a search on "the Lance Armstrong of" with "the Tiger Woods of" phrase showing significant popularity with 39,300 references to the golf and endorsement superstar.

Another recent Google search on the name "Michael Jordan" alone provided about 9,960,000 hits. A check on "Babe Ruth" at Google garnered 6,460,000 results. Although, "Ruthian" was located 31,700 times while "Jordanesque" (a much more recent term) was found on the Internet 24,800 times by Google.

A search request at Google limited to news items on a Friday afternoon at the office yielded 79 entries for "the Michael Jordan of" term. Samples from that request included the following:

"He was seen by the Michael Jordan of foot doctors today," said Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon.

"Tom Cruise is like the Michael Jordan of acting. He looks like he has everything - and he does," explained actor, singer, big Tom Cruise fan and comedian Jamie Foxx.

Basketball player Charlie Bell of Michigan State and now with the Milwaukee Bucks recalling his time as a star player in Europe: "People would point out when I walked down the street. It was exciting being the Michael Jordan of Spain."

"If the linebackers are the Michael Jordan of Penn State's 2006 squad, then the wideouts are LeBron James," noted the spring football preview by the Carlisle (Pa.) Sentinel.

"We often call Kazushige Goto the 'Michael Jordan' of high-performance linear algebra kernels, to his great embarrassment," said Robert Van De Geijn, Professor of Computer Sciences at the University of Texas. "He combines scientific insight into the interaction between architectures and algorithms with an extraordinary ability to engineer the fastest implementations."

So for now, Jordan, 43, dominates contemporary references to high level accomplishments and greatness the way he once dominated the basketball courts of the NBA.

"Michael Jordan became the universal measuring device for appraising greatness. Jordan the athlete, as well as cultural icon, had such an effect on global society that descriptions of standout athletes in other sports, as well as top artists, business executives and elite achievers in any field, began with: 'He/she is the Michael Jordan of ...'" --- from the Official NBA Encyclopedia


* The WNBA's Indiana Fever are currently in training camp with four former Tar Heels on the roster. Coretta Brown is back for her fourth season in Indiana. Charlotte Smith, a seven-year WNBA veteran, was added as a free agent. Nikita Bell was also signed after playing a season in Israel. And first-round draft pick La'Tangela Atkinson is expected to help Indiana's perimeter defense in her rookie season.

The four Tar Heels on the Fever return to the state of North Carolina on Saturday for a preseason game against the Sting in Charlotte.

The only other team in the women's pro league with a player from North Carolina is the Washington Mystics. They acquired point guard Nikki Teasley from the Los Angeles Sparks in an offseason trade. Teasley returns to her hometown of Washington, D.C. for her fifth year in the WNBA. Teasley played pro ball in 2005-06 in Sopron, Hungary.

The 10th season of the WNBA begins on May 20th.


* A check of the calendar finds these Tar Heels with a birthday in May:

  • May 8: Joy Hairston (24) and Marcus Ginyard (19)

  • May 10: Jenni Laaksonen (25) *now playing pro ball in Finland

  • May 12: George Karl (55)

  • May 17: Buzz Peterson (43), Dave Popson (42) and Hubert Davis (36)

  • May 19: Ed Cota (30)

  • May 22: David May (39)

  • May 24: Mitch Kupchak (52) and Elizabeth Coughran (26)

  • May 28: Ronald Curry (27)

  • May 30: Vasco Evtimov (29)

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