Kundla was praised for his ability to adjust to the ebb and flow of a game.

“I was lucky to have Mikan, Pollard, Mikkelsen, all the different ball players. Every one of them was a team man,” Kundla said in 2014. “I didn’t have to motivate these players. They wanted to win.”

In 11 seasons as the Lakers coach, Kundla guided the team to the playoffs 10 times with five division titles. The Lakers again reached the NBA Finals in his final season, but lost to Red Auerbach’s Celtics in four games.

Kundla was born in Star Junction, Penn., but grew up in Minneapolis. Prior to coaching the Lakers, he spent one season leading the basketball program for the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Instead of moving with the Lakers to Los Angeles, Kundla stayed in the Twin Cities and took over the University of Minnesota basketball program in 1959. Kundla was a standout basketball player for the Gophers and coached his alma mater for nine seasons, but had just three winning seasons and failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

Remembered as a humble coach with an attention to detail, Kundla was praised for his ability to adjust to the ebb and flow of a game. He coached through the widening of the court and the implementation of the shot clock.

Both questioned the overall effort and commitment level. Wade gave a few more clues than Butler as to the targets:

Given those statements, let’s try to do some sleuthing as to who’s getting the heat.

If young guys are to blame, then you’d have to eliminate veterans Rajon Rondo (30), Taj Gibson (31) and Robin Lopez (28). That still leaves a lot of suspects, because the rest of the Bulls’ roster is young.rangers_569-115x115

LeBron James’ ascent one of three reasons why Cavs are coasting

By the time the Eastern Conference finals begin next week, the Cavaliers will have to pry themselves out of their hammocks, put down their glasses of sweet tea and get back to work. They will have been on-duty just eight times in the previous 31 days, the kind of schedule usually reserved for surgeons and French mail carriers.

In the 26 games after the trade, Jokic averaged 1.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists more in 3.5 additional minutes. He became the centerpiece in what was the league’s second-best offense by adjusted efficiency rating after the All-Star break.

With a core so young, this team is already becoming his, something almost no one saw that coming from a player who was viewed much differently in the NBA Draft than high picks like the Sixers’ Joel Embiid and the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns were.

“They were top picks, and he was the 41st pick (in 2014),” Miller said. “Us being in Denver doesn’t help, Minnesota doesn’t help Karl, but Philadelphia is a pretty big market, they love basketball. Eyes aren’t on guys when they’re the 41st pick. He had a lot to prove.”

Before the media surrounded Jokic after his sixth triple-double of the season, Miller dapped him up and told him to call him later as he headed to the first team bus. It’s an improbable friendship between two men a generation apart.

Obviously, no one could match Isaiah Thomas’s magic Tuesday, but here’s a shout out to Wizards guard John Wall (40 points, 13 assists). Without Wall, Washington probably doesn’t force the Celtics into overtime.

Draymond Green is still the premium Swiss army knife of the Golden State Warriors, doing everything it takes to win. He scored 17 points, corraled eight rebounds, handed out six assists and had a couple of blocks and steals in the Warriors’ easy win in the Western Conference semifinals opener against the Jazz.


the consensus has been that the Bulls would rush to let Rondo go this offseason

The Bulls are not so certain. It was five months ago that Rondo was suspended for a game by the team following an incident in which he threw a towel at assistant coach Jim Boylan during a game. He was subsequently benched for five games in late December and early January. The Bulls were considering waiving Rondo then, but kept him around in case an opportunity to trade him arose.

Despite that, the consensus has been that the Bulls would rush to let Rondo go this offseason. But that was before Rondo pulled himself together in the final month of the season and played like the point guard the Bulls they thought they were getting. He averaged 12.0 points, 8.0 assists and 6.2 rebounds in his final 13 games (he missed three games with a back injury), shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 48.7 percent from the 3-point line.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has done a tremendous job throughout the season of configuring his lineups and designing sets that create scoring opportunities for Thomas, even with opposing teams knowing he is the No. 1 option. In the fourth quarter of Game 2, Stevens used Al Horford as a screener to give Thomas a couple open off-the-catch looks. One benefit of using a small-ball lineup (aside from the spacing provided by multiple shooters) is having ball handlers like Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier on the floor. In the following play, Rozier played point, allowing Thomas to flare off the Horford screen for a wide open 3-pointer.

Rozier also handled point responsibilities on a key Thomas 3 with 2:30 left in regulation. Horford faked a ball screen for Rozier before leaking out to hit Thomas’ defender, John Wall. Marcin Gortat, who was guarding Horford, is so far out helping on a ball screen that doesn’t exist he has no time to recover back to Thomas. Shot up, too late.

NBA Finals 2017: Cavs appear ready to change up rotation to save series

The Cavaliers may be poised to pull out all the stops Friday night during Game 4, as they try to save the series.

Cleveland is in a seemingly inescapable 3-0 hole after blowing Game 3 of the NBA Finals at home Wednesday night. Now, they will have to win four straight games against the mighty Warriors to reclaim the trophy.

“I always say I want to handle [sports decisions] like my parents did: It was always open and up to me to make that decision,” Nowitzki said. “I think the only thing, the only sport I don’t want them to play is football. And I know we all love our football here, but that’s a little rough for me with the head injuries. I know it’s a little soft, but that’s something I probably won’t allow.”

Oddly, Nowitzki said he also wouldn’t push his kids to take up basketball. Instead he hopes they take a liking to tennis.

“I do want to start them out early with tennis, see if they like it, because to me it’s a great sport: You can start it young, you can play when you’re old and it’s great for the footwork. I think that’s something we’re going to start with them,” he said.

As long as they don’t inherit daddy Dirk’s soccer skills the little Nowitzkis should be just fine.

The Cavs scored the most points in any individual quarter in NBA Finals history in the first. Curry, Thompson, Green and Iguodala all have two fouls. Cleveland shot 14 of 22 as a team from the free-throw line. That was a bizarre quarter all the way around.

The Texans keep being a quarterback away from contending for the Super Bowl

Hoyer was OBriens choice. Much like Osweiler, by all accounts, was OBriens guy this year. That resulted in three interceptions and eight total by the two quarterbacks in two postseason exit’s.

The Texans keep being a quarterback away from contending for the Super Bowl. OBrien has won the division two years in a row and finished the regular season 9-7 all three years he’s been in Houston. The Texans play in a weak division just like the Patriots, by the way which shouldnt hurt.

And each year theyve hit the playoffs looking a little scary, like something of a threat but with half of the team scaring absolutely no one.

The Seahawks have patched together a line and crossed their fingers all year. Wilsons blind side is protected by George Fant, whose tale of being a converted basketball player is entertaining, but not always helpful. The rest of the line has been shuffled and replaced and reworked over and over.

Their big investment was one they made just this year, with first-round pick Germain Ifedi, drafted as a tackle and now playing guard.

Those kind of position changes, especially with players drafted low or signed from elsewhere, have worked in other places at other times. It hasnt worked at all in Seattle.

That’s inexcusable, especially with a franchise quarterback entering his prime years this was Wilsons fifth season, and he’s 28 and enough skill position talent to complement him. Theyre still uncovering potential stars out of nowhere, the latest being acrobatic wide receiver Paul Richardson. They’re still a 10-win, division-champion team. steelers_040

Ben McAdoo takes responsibility for hole Odell Beckham Jr. punched in Lambeau wall

Ben McAdoo has Odell Beckham Jr.’s back, at least somewhat, following another emotional outburst from the Giants receiver.

There’s a hole in the wall at Lambeau Field. We take full responsibility. I take full responsibility, McAdoo told reporters Monday, via MMQB.

Yeah, that hole it came from Beckham, who allegedly made it by throwing a tantrum after the Giants’ 38-13 loss to Green Bay.

Others in the Giants organization partially defended Beckham on Monday.

Tanaka is owed $22 million in 2018 and ’19, and $23 million in 2020, before he enters free agency after the 2020 season. 2017’s best-case, most realistic scenario for the Yankees isn’t exactly playing out: Tanaka would have pitched lights-out in 2017 and looked to opt out after this year, freeing the team of the money and potential future elbow issues.

Just a reminder: Tanaka was diagnosed with a partial UCL tear in 2014, his first year in the majors, rehabbed the injury, and has pitched since.

The Yankees have largely avoided bad contracts the past few seasons, and are even poised to shed some of them: Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia come off the books this year, after Mark Teixeira and others came off last season.

But truthfully, Tanaka has been as ineffective as infomercial diet pills, and it’s probably too late for him to turn this season completely around. Meaning he’ll stay in his contract, meaning he’ll be a Yankee for the next three years, meaning he’ll be owed a lot of money to be average to bad if he doesn’t improve.rams_087

Merchant said there is only one person whose opinion matters.

“I would, if the kids ask me,” he said. “I’m just so much older than them. I think it’s been so long, not many people remember me.”

Whenike_cardinals_1604t said there is only one person whose opinion matters.

“My first-year manager Woody Huyke, whatever he said about me, I would take to the grave,” Merchant said. “No other manager saw me at the best of my abilities.”

Huyke gave his take in an interview with the Post-Gazette in August 1987.

“If Ken Griffey (Jr.) has more ability, he must be one hell of a player,” he said. “(Merchant is) a front-line prospect, one of the better ones I’ve ever seen. I didn’t see Mickey Mantle when he was 18 years old, but Mark has all the tools to play in the big leagues.”

So about those comparisons? Merchant has heard them.

“Comparing Mark Merchant to Ken Griffey Jr. is like comparing the newspaper guy at your local high school to a Pulitzer Prize winner,” he said.

But as Merchant sees it, it’s not that simple. That’s why he defends himself.

“It’s bulls—,” he said. “There were things I could do on a baseball field that I didn’t see anyone else do. I wouldn’t trade my ability with anyone I saw.

“I can’t compare to someone with over 600 home runs. When I had my ability at 18, we were comparable. I only played a half season where I was injury free. It’s something I really don’t talk to anybody about.”

Gisele Bündchen celebrates like crazy after Patriots win the Super Bowl

With his legendary physical and mental conditioning along with his emphasis on proper nutrition, Brady’s stated goal of playing until he’s 45 may actually be achievable. And that can create an opportunity for Belichick to trade his fine No. 2 quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, for a first-round pick and possibly more in order to bring additional talent to a championship team.

With all of these factors at work, the Patriots are the model franchise in the NFL, if not in all of sports.

I understand how hard it is to win consistently in the NFL after being in the playoffs 18 times during my career, including two Super Bowl appearances. I thought that was a pretty good record, but New England’s success in the Kraft-Belichick-Brady era is in another stratosphere.

“Dynasty” can be an overused term, but this Patriots franchise definitely qualifies with 14 playoff appearances in the last 16 years, eight straight AFC East championships and now five Super Bowl titles.

And likely more to come, very possibly as soon as next season.

Tom Brady led the Patriots to an epic rally to win his fifth Super Bowl title on Sunday night.

Perhaps no one was more excited than Brady’s wife, Gisele Bündchen.

It’s low-hanging fruit, but Switzer takes it in stride.

The punch line, of course, is rooted in the fact that New England recently has fielded shorter, quick, white wide receivers. Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola come to mind, while guys like Austin Collie and Griff Whalen got temporary looks from the Pats.

It’s low-hanging fruit, but Switzer takes it in stride.

“Those guys are Super Bowl champions and making millions of dollars in the NFL, so if you wanna compare me to someone that’s got rings and got money, then by all means, go ahead,” Switzer said. “They’re at the pinnacle. I don’t take the comparisons negatively or positively.”

The nightmare scenario would be Trubisky playing early and being overmatched. That would send him down the same path as Blaine Gabbert, who never recovered from the shellshock of being thrust into action prematurely by the Jaguars in his 2011 rookie season.

The best case is that Trubisky becomes this year’s version of the Eagles’ Carson Wentz even though the former tried to downplay any comparison.

“We’re in two totally different situations,” Trubisky said.

True. Even with Trubisky’s background as a novice, Wentz was an even longer shot to play as a rookie. Philadelphia was so unsure of how long it would take for Wentz to develop coming out of a non-FBS program (North Dakota State) that Sam Bradford was re-signed and fellow veteran Chase Daniel added as a high-priced backup.

The plan to keep Wentz in mothballs was scrapped by the end of the preseason. Bradford was traded to the Vikings and Wentz leapfrogged Daniel into the starting lineup.nike_steelers_1203

Cutler being rewarded with this gig is a sad commentary on the state of TV.

Why was Fox inspired to bring Cutler aboard when there are so many former players with much more star power and pizzazz; good guys who treat people right? He’s nowhere close to fellow rookie analyst Tony Romo in personality or Q Score.

Cutler being rewarded with this gig is a sad commentary on the state of TV. I think it’s the train wreck mentality — Fox execs believe viewers will tune in to see whether Cutler is as unlikable in the broadcast booth as he was on the field. The network will hope people are pleasantly surprised by his phony new persona.

So I’ll plan to turn down the TV sound and listen to the radio broadcasts of any game Cutler is on this fall.

Because I know who the real Jay Cutler is, and that leopard cannot change his spots no matter how hard he and Fox try to convince us otherwise.

The first name that popped up Friday was Jim Overdorf, the team’s senior vice president of football operations whose main focus is the salary cap. Plenty coaches and GMs have gone through Buffalo over the years, but Overdorf has remained in place since he came to the Bills in 1986.

Pegula said Beane will decide Overdorf’s future, as well as that of other executives, for that matter.

“I’m coming in eyes wide open with everybody,” Beane said. “So it shouldn’t be about Jim. I’ve known Jim for a long time and have a lot of respect for him. Great man. I’ve never got to work with Jim. I’m going to jump in. Just spoke to Jim a few minutes ago and said a hello. I’m looking forward to getting to know this process, how he does things. I’m going to influence him with how I do things. We’ll see how this works and go from there.”

Beane said all the right things Friday, as most GMs and coaches do during their opening pressers. Whether Beane and McDermott will be successful as a pair remains to be seen. As the Bills learned with Rex Ryan, talk is cheap. But, for once, the Bills have their two most important team-builders on the same page.nike_steelers_1193