Big-name college players can be hit or miss in the NBA. In the case of the SuperSonics' two big-name, Round 1 draft picks, one looks like a hit, the other at least a short-term miss.
The hit appears to be guard Luke Ridnour of Oregon. In a recent exhibition game vs. the Warriors, Ridnour had nine assists in his first 10 minutes on the floor, and finished with 12 assists, 12 points and four steals. He throws behind-the-back, no-look, lob passes from halfcourt that are on the button.
Over the summer, Dave Pendergraft, the Sonics' director of player personnel said Ridnour is the best passer he has seen since Pistol Pete Maravich.
Said center Jerome James, "You better be ready for the ball, because if you're not he is going to hit you upside the head with it."
Said coach Nate McMillan, "People I'm sure will be talking about we should start him, or when will you start him? I think you allow the guy to play. That time will come. I want him to come off the bench and see how it goes."
On the downside, power forward Nick Collison of Kansas will miss the season because of surgery needed to repair a dislocated left shoulder. As it turns out, Collison had shoulder problems all through college — which he called slips and strains — and nobody in Sonics-land knew about it. He had an MRI in the summer of ’02, and the Sonics did not know.
To save face, this is what Sonics general manager Rick Sund had to say: "Injuries occur. You can't control that. Injuries are a part of professional sports." So, the Sonics would have paid a guy $1.6 million bucks to sit on the sideline for an entire season and provide nothing because his talent is so much better than anybody else?
Collison, by the way, is going to have surgery on his uninjured right shoulder because it shows the same tendencies as the left.
"It's a little scary," Collison said. "You wonder if it is unnecessary. But rather than the worst possible case, miss this year, then have it happen to the other shoulder and miss two straight years, I would rather just get it done."
Jason Terry must not have majored in business at the University of Arizona.
During the offseason, he passed up the Hawks' staggering seven-year, $50 million contract offer. He ended up signing a three-year, $22.5 million offer sheet with the Jazz, which was subsequently matched by the Hawks' new owners.
To make up the difference, he'll need to make $27.5 million in the four seasons after his current contract expires.
WHAT'S IN A NAME
The NBA recently advised reporters to pick up its new pronunciation guide, or else they won't know how to say the name of the Suns' Zarko Cabarkapa (pronounced by the NBA as cha-bar-KAH-pah. But he and the Suns pronounce the name Cha-BAR-kah-pah. Broadcaster Al McCoy has said he's not going to mess with any last name, that he'll just call him "Zarko."
Spurs staff members said their recent White House visit was a little more personal than the one they made in 1999. Back then, former president Bill Clinton shook the hand of each player then looked at his watch and said he had to hurry to another appointment.
After a White House staff member volunteered to take the team to the Oval Office, the Spurs looked out the window and saw Clinton standing on the lawn with a 9-iron in his hands chipping golf balls.