LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I'm not sure if the NBA2LOU group will succeed in its quest to bring a team to town, but on Monday president Dan Issel and chairman Steve Higdon proved they could stuff Audobon Country Club with legends.
Rodney McCray, Tubby Smith, Art and Valerie Still, Joe Jacoby, Mark Clayton, Tim Couch, Chris McCarron, Will Perdue, Artis Gilmore, Louie Dampier, Paul Hornung, Kym Hampton, Bubba Paris, Mike Pratt, Chris Redman, Otis Wilson and Kenny Walker.
I stopped there because it was time to leave the Kentucky Legends Open and write the Monday Muse.
1. Tubby Says Louisville an NBA Natural
Former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith returned to North Carolina, trying to build a winner at his alma mater -- High Point University.
Smith remains connected to the Kentucky area, following what happens at the universities of Kentucky and Louisville. Smith's participation in the Monday event was an endorsement of his warm feelings about his 10 years in the Bluegrass as well as his belief an NBA franchise would thrive in Louisville.
"Absolutely," Smith said. "The infrastructure is in place with the KFC Yum! Center.
"There are so many different businesses with the growth that has taken place here in Louisville and in the region. There is nothing (in the NBA) nearby other than the Pacers.
"Kentuckians would rather go see a Kentucky team. Why not have a Kentucky NBA team? Obviously Seattle and Las Vegas are the cities Louisville is competing with.
"But I think the NBA will expand … I think the NBA would be wise to put a team here."
2. Dampier: Godfather of the Three-Point Shot
There was a time when guys like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard and Kawhi Leonard were not the kings of professional basketball.
The game was controlled in the paint. You had to have a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Artis Gilmore, Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain to make it work.
When Louie Dampier jacked up deep shots, first for the Kentucky Colonels in nine ABA seasons and later for the San Antonio Spurs for three seasons, sneering basketball insiders considered the three-pointer a gimmick.
In fact, the NBA had not added the three-pointer when Dampier played in San Antonio from 1976-79.
Now, it's everywhere.
"I can't believe the way they rely on it now," Dampier said. "Even the big guys are going out and shooting threes with accuracy.
"It's almost reverted to the way the ABA was with being three-point oriented. When I watch Steph Curry, I go 'Wow!' I've never seen anything like it. I've never seen anybody shoot as quick as he does and as accurate from any distance on the floor. It's unbelievable.
Credit Dampier. I do.
In 1969, his second ABA season, Dampier launched a league-leading 552 shots from distance and then took another 548 the next season.
For the record, James Harden attempted 1,028 threes this season in Houston, while Curry took 810 for Golden State.
Is Dampier the Godfather of the Three-Point shot?
"That's what Darrel (Carrier, his former ABA teammate) was talking about, when he said that he and I were kind of the first pair of guards that took advantage of the three-pointer," he said.
"He said we were the ones that got it started the way it is today."
Somebody asked Dampier if he ever wished he played in today's three-point crazy NBA?
"I might not be able to make a team today," he said.
3. Eaves Bound for NBA Draft Combine
Former Louisville player and assistant coach Jerry Eaves will drive to Chicago this week to attend the NBA Draft Combine with former Nets head coach Butch Beard.
Eaves said his primary focus will be U of L forward Jordan Nwora as well as departing Kentucky freshmen Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson.
Eaves said the Draft projections for Nwora remain unsettled. "I've seen him as high as No. 29 and as low as No. 76," he said.
"He's going to have to prove he can shoot the ball well against top competition and also show that he can create his own shot."
Eaves said he would also recommend that Herro and Johnson participate in the scrimmage games in Chicago to ensure their spots among the first 20 selections.
4. Jacoby Happy With U of L Coaching Change
Former U of L offensive tackle Joe Jacoby has three Super Bowl rings that he earned with the Washington Redskins. Jacoby also has a Super Bowl way of going about his business.
There is a right way. And a wrong way. I've always admired Jacoby's for his direct opinions.
That's why I was not surprised by this story Jacoby shared:
He was not a fan of having the Bobby Petrino 2.0 Era at Louisville. During one trip to Louisville several years ago, Jacoby said he visited former U of L athletic director Tom Jurich in his office. He asked why Jurich re-hired Petrino after all the nonsense in the coach's background.
"Because he wins," Jacoby said Jurich told him.
For Jacoby, that was not a good answer. Jacoby said he walked out of Jurich's office.
"How did that turn out?" Jacoby asked Monday.
It turned out that Scott Satterfield will open his first season at U of L this season.
5. Another Plug for Milt Wagner's Grandson
When coaches from Louisville, Kentucky and other schools visit Camden, N.J. to watch Lance Ware, a Top 50 basketball recruit in the Class of 2020, Milt Wagner has savvy advice:
They should also take a long look at Camden's precocious freshman-to-be point guard. His name is D.J. Wagner.
He is Milt's grandson as well as the son of first-round NBA Draft pick Dajuan Wagner, who played one season for John Calipari at Memphis.
"At this age (14), he's better than me or his Dad," Milt Wagner said.
Wagner said D.J. will play this summer for Team Final, one of the top AAU programs in New Jersey, the one that produced Tyreke Evans, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Dion Waiters.
"He's going to be special," Wagner said.
6. The Beilein Decision
College basketball lost one of its top coaches Monday when John Beilein decided to coach one of the worst teams in the NBA (the Cleveland Cavaliers) over one of the best programs in the Big Ten (Michigan).
Reaction was mixed among former NBA players at the golf event. Put former Vanderbilt and Bulls center Will Perdue in the camp that questioned whether Beilein and Cleveland made the right move.
His skepticism is reasonable. Perdue wondered if a 66-year-old coach with no NBA experience can succeed with a team that had the second-worst record in the league and has never been a free agency hot spot.
"He definitely needs to hire assistants with NBA experience," said Perdue, an NBA studio TV analyst in Chicago. "It's a totally different game."
7. Mark Clayton: Hall of Famer?
Jacoby is not the only former U of L player who has danced on the edge of making the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Former Card Mark Clayton put up big numbers with the Dolphins.
Clayton was Dan Marino's favorite receiver during his early years in Miami, making five Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl. Clayton ranks in the NFL all-time Top 50 in touchdowns (84) and receiving yards (8,974) and still has hopes of getting the call from Canton.
Based in Houston, Clayton works in radio and has raised four children.
"I have three boys and a girl, and none of my kids played sports," he said. "But they're all very good students and I've told them that means more to me than anything that you ever could have played.
"Your brain will take you a lot further than any sports will."
8. McCarron Fine With Saez Suspension
Chris McCarron navigated the traffic, weather and rough-riding tactics to win a pair of Kentucky Derbies. In fact, McCarron said that he and his mount (Alysheba) nearly went down after an incident with Bet Twice in the 1987 Derby.
McCarron said he had no objection to the decision by the Churchill Downs stewards to suspend jockey Luis Saez for 15 days because of the incident that led to the disqualification of Maximum Security in Kentucky Derby 145.
McCarron said that he agreed the horse was spooked by something as he moved into the clubhouse turn but said Saez could have maintained better control over Maximum Security.
"He could have made a better effort," McCarron said. "I mean he almost dropped that kid (on War of Will). He almost dropped (another horse), too."
So McCarron did not have an issue with the first DQ of a Derby winner for an incident on the track?
"Not after I had the opportunity to see all the angles (the stewards) had," he said.
McCarron agreed that the Derby has always been a difficult race to ride -- and win. You'd better be prepared for everything. His ride on Alysheba proved that.
"I got bothered real bad about 100 yards out of the gate in that race," he said. "I had to snatch up. My rear end hit the saddle. That's why he was so far back.
"And the incident in the stretch is famous. Bet Twice ducked out in front of me and I clipped his heels. Alysheba almost went down. And if he was going down, I was going with him."
9. Baseball Top 5
I'm a super-sized baseball fan. It's baseball season. You'll have to indulge me with this item because until the calendar picks up I'm going to rank the top five teams in baseball
1. Cubs -- They took the first week of the season off and already have the best record in the National League.
2. Astros -- The Twins have a better record but the Astros have more experienced talent.
3. Twins -- Cleveland's ownership is pinching pennies which will enable Minnesota to win the Central division by 8-to-10 games.
4. Rays -- The only pitching staff in MLB with an earned run average under 3.00
5. Dodgers -- They can pitch and lead the National League in home runs, too.
10. Rick Pitino Tweet of the Week
Everyone on Ben Simmons about his outside shooting. Magic couldn’t shoot early on. Be patient 76ers fans. He’s a budding superstar!— Rick Pitino (@RealPitino) May 12, 2019
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