Cowbell Kingdom Podcast Ep 21: Israeli League Scout A.J. Mitnick on J.J. Hickson

Photo: Bnei HaSharon

J.J. Hickson's overseas experiment didn't work out so well and lasted only one game.  What happened?  We caught up with A.J. Mitnick, who is a scout for Rishon LeZion and runs his own basketball blog, Mindless Dribble, to find out.  He's also a contributor at Sheridan Hoops and he explained why Hickson's Israeli move failed in a recent piece.  Here's an excerpt:
Bnei Herzliya plays in one of the nicest cities in Israel, in close proximity to the beach and to a great night life, with Tel-Aviv only a fifteen minute drive away. I’ve seen the apartments Bnei gives to its players, having worked for the team last season, and while they may not be the most luxurious pads in the whole city, they are apartments that would typically be reserved for those with upper-middle class salaries. Hickson simply couldn’t handle the daunting prospect of living an upper-middle class lifestyle. As with many players who were McDonalds All-Americans who went on to be first-round picks as teenagers, Hickson only knows a lifestyle of luxury. It is difficult for a player who has been praised and coddled his whole life to travel across the world to play in a gym that may be the size of a high school gym, for a team with less than ten men working on the basketball staff, and with a per diem that consists of a bottle of water and a chicken sandwich. There is no one to get your rebounds during a shoot around (unless you ask me nicely!), no one to carry your bags to the bus, and no state-of-the-art practice facility.
Follow A.J. on Twitter. Listen after the jump... ... More

Actor Colin Hanks worries about Kings contraction

Actor Colin Hanks is a native Sacramentan, who grew up a Kings fan.  The newest addition to the cast of "Dexter" joined the Kamentzky Brothers on their ESPN LA podcast this weekend and expressed some concern over the future of his favorite NBA team: What effect would it have on Sacramento if ... More

Filmmaker opens up on the making of The Wayman Tisdale Story

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to talk to filmmaker Brian Schodorf, who produced a soon-to-be released documentary on the life of former Sacramento Kings great Wayman Tisdale.  Here a few excerpts from the Q&A, which you can read in its entirety over at SLAM. Schodorf on what ... More

Cowbell Kingdom Podcast Ep 20: CBA Chat with Larry Coon and Tim Donahue

Apologies for the hiatus, but we're back with a new episode of the CK Podcast.  And today, we focus on the CBA.  The NBA and Players Union let fans down again, as labor negotiations ended Tuesday with no new labor agreement.  But is a resolution really in sight?  Larry Coon, author of the NBA Salary Cap FAQ, and Tim Donahue of fellow TrueHoop network blog Eight Points, Nine Seconds, join us for a panel discussion.

An excerpt from Coon's latest, saying it's "gut-check time" for the players:
It's now soul-searching time for the players. For now they have drawn a line in the sand at 53 percent. Players like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett are leading the charge to hold firm and not give another inch. But Bryant and Garnett don't necessarily represent the interests of the rank-and-file players.
And Donahue on how these negotiations are framed:
One of the big traps that we consistently fall into is viewing the sides as two monoliths. It makes the math easier. But it also muddies the waters. The “players” are 400-plus individuals at different points in their careers with different financial positions, personal concerns and general outlooks on life.
Listen after the jump... ... More

NBA 2K12 Q&A: Producer on the inclusion of the 2001-02 Kings, the game’s historical focus and more

Yesterday was a bittersweet day for some NBA fans.  The league and players union didn't reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the start of the 2011-12 season is in jeopardy.  But, it also marked the release of NBA 2K12, the 13th edition of 2K Sports' long-running basketball franchise. With the league locked out and the city still fighting to build a new arena, the mood around Cowbell this offseason has often been serious.  So I decided to lighten things up a bit by catching up yesterday with Erick Boenisch, a producer of NBA 2K12.

NBA 2K11 was centered around Michael Jordan and most video game critics were calling it the greatest basketball simulation ever.  So with such a high standard set, how did the development crew think about topping last year's edition? Well exactly one year ago today (October 4th), I was on this call with someone else and they were asking me "2K11 - greatest game ever.   Jordan Challenges - love it.  How will you ever top yourselves?"  And here we are fast forward one year, and we have NBA 2K12 with the NBA's Greatest featuring who we think are the 15 greatest and most influential players in NBA history. It's a credit to this team, the development team we have here, and just what kind of creative minds we have and really tapping into the NBA and the NBA's history in regards to just developing a product that our consumers are really interested in.  I think with NBA 2K12 over 2K11, we've really improved the game in just about every area possible from adding this NBA's Greatest to My Player Mode improvements to gameplay improvements.  It's spreads all boundaries of the game.  2K12 is a pretty phenomenal accomplishment here. Last year and this year's editions of the NBA 2K have revolved around the league's rich history.  Why that approach? I think historical players in the NBA, and this may just be me being a huge NBA fan - more so than any other sport, but I feel like today's youth can relate to them better than perhaps stars in other sports.  I think when you think of guys like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and on down the line, those players still have a lot of cultural relevance in today's NBA.  But when you start looking at baseball and you start looking back to the Hank Aarons and the Reggie Jacksons - the Jim Browns in football, I don't feel there's that connection between today's youth and those older players.  And I think their relevance is a stark contrast in the NBA where people are still hungry for the content of these classic players and we really struck on delivering that to our fans. It's not so much about just getting them in the game - it's about positioning them in a way that's fun and educational for our users.  And that's kind of what we did with the NBA's Greatest this year in regards to having very specific commentary about the players where we tell their histories and stories, to presentational elements where we have, like that Bill Russell game (which is played) in black and white.  Just a really unique way we can kind of bring basically the NBA's history.  It's so rich.  Just in the last 45 years, it's gone from pretty much nothing to the number two sport in America.  And it's a great opportunity for us to tell that history of the NBA and tell our younger audience kind of where basketball came from and they can kind of see obviously where it is today.  It's been educational for even us as well. ... More

Cowbell Kingdom Podcast Ep 19: KFBK Report Rob McAllister on Nexus Report

KFBK reporter Rob McAllister joins us on this week's podcast and discusses Think Big Sacramento's unveiling of the Nexus Report. Highlights
  • Parking may play a major factor in paying for the proposed entertainment-and-sports complex. McAllister:  "It'll be interesting to see what kind of rate will be negotiated and what kind of company would want to take that on, knowing that they would have put up a big chunk of money up front.  And these days, are there are lot of parking operating companies that have that kind of cash?  I just don't know.  I think we'll have to wait and see who's in line to do that."
  • EB-5 is a creative and little-known option Think Big has put on the table.  But it's also controversial.  Why?  "During the late 90s and early 2000s, it was just a way for basically (immigrant) investors to get in (the country), they could kind of bypass a lot of things and these projects would fall apart.  They weren't managed correctly.  It was just really a lack of oversight."  McAllister adds "It's not a perfect system, but I think they've (the feds) gotten a little bit better handle on it in the last few years than the previous 20 that it was operating."
  • Out of all the funding options presented, McAllister thinks parking and land sales could be the top moneymakers.  But he also adds "...hopefully the (real estate) market rebounds.  Sacramento's real estate is very poor.  It's one of the worst in the state and the country.  This is not the time you want to be selling property.  This is the time you'd want to buy."
Listen after the jump... ... More

Cowbell Kingdom Podcast Ep 18: Writers Roundtable with Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated and Aaron Bruski of NBC Sports

As the summer drags on, the NBA Lockout continues to sap the energy and joy from the game of basketball.  But hope appears to be on the horizon, for Sacramento fans at least, with the unveiling of financing options for a new Sacramento arena less than a week away.  Along with Cowbell's own, James Ham, we welcomed  Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated and Aaron Bruski of NBC Sports to discuss those matters and more on today's podcast. Highlights
  •  Playing overseas: would European teams be willing to accommodate NBA players with desires to join teams later in their respective seasons?  The three panellists weigh-in.
  • Their takes on what a new labor agreement will look like when it's reached.
  • Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has promoted the idea of transparency.  Each panellist shares their view on the city's approach this time around toward building a new arena.
Listen after the jump... ... More

Cowbell Kingdom Podcast Ep 16: Jason Thompson on lockout living and more

After catching up with Tyreke Evans last week, we're happy to continue that theme by touching base with another member of the Sacramento Kings. Today, we welcomed Kings big man Jason Thompson to the program. Highlights
  • During a workout session at the Kings practice facility in June, Thompson broke a toe in his right foot.  With no access to Kings training staff during the lockout, JT has rehabbed on his own with a little help from the NFL.  "Since I'm living in Philly in the offseason, I went through with the Eagles and used their doctors and facilities and had my agency get that done."
  • Thompson on his third NBA season: "Every year I look at it as trying to have high expectations.  I just think last year that I didn't have the opportunity that I thought I would have coming into the season.  Not saying that as an excuse or anything like that.  But I just know I learned different things, knowing that you could control only what you could control.  I was happy that even though that there were bumpy times in the season, I know that I felt like I took it in the right matter - didn't put my head down or anything like that.  And then I finished on a good note."
  • On the emotional last home game at ARCO: "The fans still stayed after.  They were cheering and I was just like 'man I can't go out like this.'  So after I showered and stuff, just came out and gave my respect.  And who knew if that was the last time I could see Kings fans in this arena.  You know, i f you can't take 10, 15, 20 minutes out of your time, especially since that was the last game of the season to give your respects, then you really don't have a respect for the game or the fans."
One more additional note.  Thompson has started a foundation with the goal of serving underprivileged youth.  The L.I.V.E. Like JT (Learn, Imagine, Voice, Educate) campaign is just getting under way and a website is in the works.  But if you'd like to learn more or find out how you can help, visit Thompson's official website. Listen after the jump... ... More

Cowbell Kingdom Podcast Ep 15: Tyreke Evans talks offseason workouts, overseas travels and more

Photo: Steven Chea/CK

  • On working out with Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook: "When we work out together, we always do different things.  There’s things that I do better than them and there’s things they do better than me.  So it’s always good to work out with them and try to learn new things from their games."
  • Tyreke is no stranger to the game of new teammate JJ Hickson.  He says he's known the Kings newest addition for "a long time", having battled against Hickson in high school.
  • Amar'e Stoudemire hopes to round up teammates for an unofficial Knicks training camp.  Zach Randolph has expressed doing the same with his Grizzlies .  Is Tyreke planning something similar for the Kings? "I was thinking about that, calling some of the players up, trying to get them to Sacramento early.  I know it's going to be pretty hard for the rookies because they haven't set up yet with (homes).  But I mean, the guys that have been playing, the veterans and the guys who have been playing a couple years on our team...I was definitely thinking of calling them up and (trying) to get a local gym in Sacramento and having a training camp."
  • Tyreke has been keeping busy this offseason also through his work with VSP Vision Care.  We highlighted one of two videos he starred in from a four-part webisode series, which offers vision health tips.  Check the rest on the Eyefiles tab of VSP's Facebook Page.
Tune-in after the jump. ... More

Cowbell Kingdom Podcast Ep 14 – Paul Maslin of FM3 Research on Sacramento region’s attitude toward new arena

Findings from a recent survey suggest broad-based support for a new entertainment-and-sports complex in Sacramento.  Paul Maslin of Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin, Metz & Associates, the company that conducted the survey, joined us to discuss the results. Highlights
  • FM3 has conducted 20 or more surveys through the years in a variety of locations on public opinion regarding sports venues.  Recently, they've done work in Los Angeles amidst the city's effort to build a new football stadium.
  • More than ever, political agendas are met with public skepticism.  So is it surprising to find such support for a project with political backing?  "In that context, to have this kind of support for this arena is striking.  I said last night striking is the word I used and I'll repeat it.  It is significant, it is striking, it the midst of what has been a tougher climate in general..."
  • On Think Big Sacramento's execution so far: "I give them credit because they have created the notion of a balanced approach, which people want.  They have clearly gotten people interested and aware of the entire issue, 90 percent.  The fundamentals of the site they've picked and what it means economically clearly have tremendous support.  And they're exploring, with the understanding the Maloofs and other private developers and private interests are going to be part of this deal and part of where the funding is coming from, some interesting ways to solve the public piece.  People get it that this can't be all public and can't be all private."
Tune-in after the jump. ... More