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Friday, October 8, 2010

Cole Aldrich, Mario Chalmers to collide at Sprint Center for Thunder vs. Heat

Kansas center Cole Aldrich hugs Sherron Collins as Mario Chalmers (15) hoists his fists as the buzzer sounds, signaling the Jayhawks' 59-57 victory over Davidson. Aldrich and Chalmers will face each other tonight in an NBA exhibition game at the Sprint Center.

Kansas center Cole Aldrich hugs Sherron Collins as Mario Chalmers (15) hoists his fists as the buzzer sounds, signaling the Jayhawks' 59-57 victory over Davidson. Aldrich and Chalmers will face each other tonight in an NBA exhibition game at the Sprint Center.

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— Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Cole Aldrich expects to see a lot of Crimson and Blue in the Sprint Center stands tonight.

“I am really looking forward to the fans,” said the 6-foot-11 former Kansas University center, who tonight plays his second game as a professional in the Jayhawks’ home away from home.

Oklahoma City, which also has injured and unavailable former KU forward Nick Collison on the roster, takes on Mario Chalmers’ Miami Heat in an NBA exhibition starting at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s always fun to get back, (but) I’ve only been gone six months,” Aldrich said. “Nick’s been gone a little longer. He played back here four years ago with the Sonics (in preseason game against Chicago in Allen Fieldhouse).”

The 6-foot-10 Collison won’t take the court tonight in a game featuring phenom LeBron James, formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers, now with the Heat. Seven-year veteran Collison is being rested all preseason because of a bone bruise in his left knee.

“The rookies will probably play a lot,” Aldrich said of the preseason — one in which he plans on trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible. “Just to continue to understand the NBA game a little more,” he added of his goals. “It’s a difficult transition. There’s a lot more spacing and guys are bigger and stronger. You have to go out every day and try to learn as much as you can.”

Coach Scott Brooks told the Daily Oklahoman that Aldrich has arrived with strong knowledge of fundamentals.

“He’s going to be a guy who sets screens, who moves the ball, that’s going to give us extra possessions. Those are the most important things,” Brooks said. “Defensively he has to protect the basket and do what he’s done in college — protect it and block shots.

“Scoring, I’m not looking for much out there other than creating opportunities offensively off of rebounds and guys dropping it off. He has great hands. He just has to work on catching and finishing around the rim.”

On the other side of the court, Mario Chalmers, who has fully recovered from a high left ankle sprain he suffered in July, begins his third season in Miami.

“We’ll probably send some texts back and forth, talking a little smack to each other,” Aldrich said of he and Chalmers. “It’s an exhibition game at the Sprint Center. We’re looking forward to having a good time,” he added of the contest that counts in nobody’s record books.

Chalmers this year takes the court with the Big Three — Heat veteran Dwyane Wade, who is injured and won’t play tonight, as well as newcomer phenoms James and Chris Bosh.

“It will be fun,” Chalmers said of tonight’s proceedings. “Last year we played New Orleans and me and Julian (Wright) got to come back (to Sprint Center). With how big the Big 12 is around here, Cole, Nick and myself from Kansas and Kevin Durant (OKC) from Texas ... it’ll be a lot of fun.”

He realizes he’ll be under the radar on a team that boasts three of the NBA’s finest players.

“I think it’s good. It’s kind of different. I’ve been with other guys for two years. It’s like starting all over — a new team and new energy,” the combo guard said. “I know as a young player you look to players like LeBron and Dwyane and Kobe ... to be on their team. To be with two of the three is great.”

Collison on Aldrich: “In the NBA, guys will do whatever they are capable of doing. It’s kind of find your own way as a player. Cole has a pretty good skill set now. He’ll continue to get better.”

Collison to the Oklahoman on his own injury: “There are some things that need to heal. They’re pretty confident (it will), but the decision was made it’s better to rest now and get over it (rather) than to push through it and deal with it all year. It seems to make sense. It’s frustrating to get over the surgery (offseason on the right knee) and feel good about that knee, and then have to sit out.”

Starting slot on line: Chalmers will battle veteran Carlos Arroyo for a starting point guard spot.

“Carlos and ’Rio controlled the game,” LeBron James said of the Heat’s exhibition opening victory over Detroit on Tuesday, a game in which Chalmers hit for 10 points with seven assists in 20 minutes.

“Even though in the box score and the praise it’s LeBron and D-Wade and Chris Bosh and Udonis (Haslem), we all had great games statistically, but those two guys controlled the game and that’s why we were able to get out and do the things that we had to do,” he added in an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Chalmers will seek an NBA title in his third season.

“I don’t have an NBA ring. I need one of those to go with my Jayhawk ring. Hopefully we can get one this year,” he told the Journal-World.

Comments

finestack 10 years, 4 months ago

Here's to LeBron's 2010-2011 re-imaging campaign, heaping praise in every post-win interview on "former University of Kansas star guard, Mario Chalmers"!

Chris Bruning 10 years, 4 months ago

if only chalmers could win a ring without LeBron winning one....go chalmers!

TenaciousD 10 years, 4 months ago

Don't know if Chalmers will start or not, but it would be funny if the fans would give Lebron the newspaper reading treatment and then go crazy when they announce Mario.

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 4 months ago

Just hope the Sprint center has an entrance to accommodate LeBron's head.

Sam Constance 10 years, 4 months ago

I agree with you. However, I have heard that Chalmers has shown "professionalism" issues in his time with the Heat. Clearly, the pot-smoking is well-documented, but it seems that he's begun doing things like showing up late to practices and team meetings and that sort of thing.

I hope he gets his head on straight soon, as he is one of the most beloved Jayhawks of all time, because of The Shot. I would hate to see him tarnish a great legacy by acting like a bonehead.

Khublai_Juan 10 years, 4 months ago

Why is everybody against LeBron. Would you rather live in Cleveland or Miami? Would you rather live in Miami and play with D-Wade, Bosh, and Chalmers or live in dreary Cleveland and play with Daniel Gibson, Mo Williams, and Antawn Jamison? It seems like a smart move to me.

Jaminrawk 10 years, 4 months ago

The party situation isalso the reason LeBron moved to Miami. He could stay in dreary Cleveland and play with Varejo and Mo Williams or he could hit South Beach with his young, single, best friends in Wade and Bosh. The guy is 25 afterall. Oh and people are against LeBron because he didn't just leave Cleveland, he publically humiliated them on a nationally televised tribute to his own greatness.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 4 months ago

..don't forget the weather, the beach, Cuban cuisine, Disneyworld a hop, skip and a jump away, a more cosmopolitan atmosphere, etc.

Sam Constance 10 years, 4 months ago

Most people (outside of Cleveland) don't fault him for the actual choice to leave Cleveland. In fact, I think the majority of people thought that an exodus was the most likely scenario come year's end.

However, I think the overwhelming negative reaction has come from The Decision and the message it sent to fans. It was clear that the hour-long special on ESPN showed no interest or care for how his choice might affect fans who had been loyal to him and whose ticket sales helped to pay his salary. That is not to say that he should base his choice on fan reaction, but he should at least acknowledge how his choice affects them.

Instead, he came on the show and told everyone he was leaving for "South Beach" and more or less talked about how grateful Cleveland should be for his having played there at all. I don't think fans tend to like it when their star athletes act like they are a blessing to said fans. And other fans react negatively because they can identify with the scorned fans.

I've been saying all along--Maverick Carter is a buffoon and Lebron James is a fool for continuing to employ him as his "business manager". A smart business manager would have advised Lebron to forego the media circus altogether and announce his decision like any other normal free agent--with a press conference. A really smart business manager would have used The Decision as an opportunity for Lebron to express his love for the city of Cleveland and Cavs fans, and explain his decision as being a chance for him to make history by playing with two other stars while all three were in their prime. That it wasn't about leaving Cleveland so much as it was about taking advantage of a rare, first-of-its-kind opportunity. Instead of smacking them in the face, he could have let them down easy, and probably converted many of those Cavs fans to Heat fans.

The way he did it reminded me of a certain South Park episode about Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, with James/Carter playing the part of Lucas/Spielberg and the city of Cleveland playing the part of Indiana Jones.

tulsahawkfan 10 years, 4 months ago

Exactly. Then after all that, playing the race card in reference to the negative reaction hasn't helped.

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 4 months ago

I have been to Cleveland. It is a pretty nice city. I would bet that drug related crime is worse in Miami and then there is the humidity and the humility or lack thereof in the case of LeBron. His ESPN special to announce his decision was pure narcissistic BS. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and MJ all can't be wrong when they said they would not have even thought about what LeBron did. I think LeBron could be French for Le Boob.

James Miller 10 years, 4 months ago

They won't win it all. Truth is, the real Big 3 is in Boston.

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 4 months ago

I find it hysterical that people feel the need to correct anyone that uses the label "Kansas University". I have several hats that have "KU" on them. I see nothing wrong, incorrect, sacrilegious or what ever else you would deem it. I have many alumni friends that use the label "KU". So get a life and drop it already. If you don't have anything to add to the discussion then post when you do.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 4 months ago

If Cole and Mario collide...Mario loses!

FairgroveJayhawk 10 years, 4 months ago

how about if Cole and Arroyo collide... Mario wins.. :)

Scott Smetana 10 years, 4 months ago

Another Championship for the Jayhawk Grad.... Paul Pierce!! Go Boston!

JayCeph 10 years, 4 months ago

They should rename the college championship ring to the 'Jayhawk' ring. It just sounds so universal when Mario says...

“I don’t have an NBA ring. I need one of those to go with my Jayhawk ring. Hopefully we can get one this year,” he told the Journal-World.

slowplay 10 years, 4 months ago

I rarely watch the NBA. It's too much like the WWF, but it should be a fun time to see those 2 on the court again. Exhibition season is the best part of the NBA.

REHawk 10 years, 4 months ago

Cole and Mario were great Jayhawks. Somewhat sad we couldn't have held on to them for 4th seasons. However, so long as professional team owners are offering such ridiculously high salaries, I hope to see them both crack the fifty million mark. Mario, especially, is an unbelievable NBA bargain! This season, both of them are teamed with athletes who rank among the top 5 or 6 of all current NBA players. Terrific opportunity for rings and dollars.

jaybate 10 years, 4 months ago

"Friday in the Garden of Good and Evil in Basketball"

~Good: Collison making the NBA clear to all by saying, “In the NBA, guys will do whatever they are capable of doing. It’s kind of find your own way as a player." Every D1 player thinking about the jump should have this stenciled on his locker: am I ready to find my own way?

~Evil: "He has great hands. He just has to work on catching and finishing around the rim.”--Thunder Coach Scott Brooks. If he has great hands, why does Cole have to work on "catching"? This is what Collison means by having to find one's own way in the NBA. Brooks can't even think clearly about Cole's game before the going gets tough. You're on your own, Cole. He wants rebounding, shot blocking and screens from you and can't think clearly about the rest of your game. Good luck.

~

jaybate 10 years, 4 months ago

Thought for the Day...

"A democracy exists whenever those who are free and are not well off, being in the majority, are in sovereign control of government, an oligarchy when control lies with the rich and better born, these being few."--Aristotle

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