House of 'Zards: Bazemore Returns

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Old 08-29-2020, 12:48 PM   #1
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House of 'Zards: Bazemore Returns

System/Game: PC/NBA 2K20
Thunder Shaqs 2010 Roster
Shady Mike’s with slight adjustments to progression and major adjustment to contracts (I prefer a sane contract level in the league, circa 2015/16 or so) -- injury frequency set to 34, severity to 35. Will adjust as needed.

Quarter Length: 10 Minutes
Sim Quarter Length: 12 Minutes
Draft Class:

Classic draft classes, some downloaded, some based on edits I make to the (somewhat lackluster) historic classes. As we go on, the draft classes will get more accurate — I’ll be editing the injury ratings of some guys as well (both within roster and in draft class).

Season Length: 82 Games
Regular Season Rules: 20-24 user gamplay limit, rest simmed.
Playoff Rules: 2 playoff games (randomly determined by number generator, one must be in first four games) per series.
2 games allowed in NBA Finals (randomly determined by number generator, one must be in first four games)

Playoff Format: 7-7-7-7
Progressive Fatigue: Off (seems to be too much this year, so I've taken it off -- with chemistry and injuries still on, I anticipate the league will be fine, but will adjust accordingly as we go).
Team Chemistry: On

Chemistry effects, for both the team and player morale, are turned WAY down.

CPU Trades: Off
CPU Trade Approval: Off
Trade Override: Off
Control: 30 Teams, CPU automation for lineup/coaching tasks on every team but my primary; total control otherwise (roster moves, drafting, free agency, etc). No on goes to the G-League, as that place ups the the overalls of players far too fast.

Welcome to my newest dynasty thread! My last one, NBA2K Remix: Retro Stars in the Modern Era was fun, but I ended up losing my interest in it. Life happened (I bought a house, moved to a new state, moved in with my GF … things got crazy the last few months, but in a good way!) and as I was packing up my stuff, thinking about all the things that had happened over the years, I came across some notes from one of older dynasty threads — Defiance: The Odyssey of Ronald Bazemore.

Bazemore’s story also took place during a great life change for me too and it remains one of my favorite dynasties I’ve done. It had a lot of meaning, a lot of good writing, and more than anything it had characters I liked. The world I created there remains one of my favorites and as I was packing up my stuff, I began to think, “What’s happened since we last saw Coach Bazemore?”

And that’s why this story exists. I wanted to return to Bazemore and that cast of characters, I wanted to see where life had taken them and the NBA as a whole. So we’re going to pick up some years down the line, in the summer of 2010, as the NBA is about to undergo a massive change and one old coach gets the chance to take his place back on the sidelines with a challenge unlike any other.

As always, any and all comments are welcome. I hope you guys enjoy.

Now, with all that out of the way ... let's begin.

(Disclaimer -- all this is FICTION so don't assume any of it is real in any way, other than the game results anyway.)

The Many-Worlds Theory of quantum mechanics states that any action that has more than one possible result produces a split in the universe, producing a whole new reality that coexists with all the others.

In the summer of 1995 the NBA engaged in a brief lockout that lasted from July to September of that year. It ended just as it began; quietly and with much of the status quo retained.

But, what if the players had decided to fight the owners harder in that lockout? What if, the NBA, coming off two back to back-years of Jordan-less Finals, wasn't about to let the players push back?

What if the lockout had lasted longer ... ?

In this reality, it did. The NBA engaged in a season long lockout, wiping out the 1995-96 season and throwing the league into chaos. On May 19th, 1996, the NBA agreed to end the lockout between the players and owners, putting a set of rules in place that fundamentally altered the league. Changes from this singular event rippled through the timeline, altering everything that came after … and even some of what came before.

In the summer of 1996, the Miami Heat — then just a young expansion franchise, not even ten years old — hired a little known coach from overseas in Ronald Bazemore. In two years, marked by high risk, high reward moves, Coach Bazemore, Dikembe Mutombo, Dominique Wilkens, and a young Kobe Bryant led the Miami Heat to back-to-back titles.

But the world for Coach Bazemore changed when he found out he had fathered a young son and he left the NBA to care for him and the boy’s mother after the 1998 Finals. The league, however, continued on …

Summer 1998— the owners initiated another lockout of the players, resulting in no basketball until January of 1999. Pat Riley was hired as HC and GM of the Heat to replace Bazemore, but came into conflict with young star Kobe Bryant; Bryant demanded a trade and a three team deal was worked out between the Heat, Lakers, and Magic, resulting in Kobe and Shaq being on the Lakers, Alonzo Mourning and Reggie Miller on the Heat, and multiple young players and draft picks on the Magic.

1999 Finals— The stacked New York Knicks, led by Jordan and Ewing, advance to the Finals and bested the 8th seed San Antonio Spurs (who amazingly made it into the postseason and upset multiple contenders, including the new-look Lakers). The Knicks win in 5 games, giving Ewing and Jordan the title.

2000 Finals— The Knicks (after a brutal battle with the Heat in the ECF) face the Kobe and Shaq Lakers in the Finals; the series goes to seven games, but Jordan hits the game winner in Game 7 (over the outreached hand of poor Glen Rice).

Summer 2000— Tim Duncan, drafted by the Cavaliers, is a free agent and decamps from Cleveland — his decision comes down to two teams, the Spurs (who made a lucrative pitch and had an intriguing roster) or the Magic (who were signing Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill). Duncan opted for the Spurs.

2001 Finals— The Knicks once more make the Finals and face the Spurs once again, but this time with Tim Duncan; it’s a completely different series as New York, aging and battling injuries to Ewing and their bench, lose in five. After the series, Michael Jordan announces his retirement and will become President of Basketball Operations of the Wizards later that summer. Ewing will traded to the Magic before the end of the offseason and HC Phil Jackson will leave New York for LA.

2002 Finals— The Lakers are back in the Finals with HC Phil Jackson, as Kobe and Shaq have bested a gauntlet of West contenders — the Jazz, the Kings, then the Spurs, before reaching the Finals to face the Scottie Pippen led Bulls. Chicago, a 5th seed, went on an all-time run to drag their roster to the Finals but it’s not meant to be as the Lakers sweep. Pippen retires afterwards.

2003 Finals— The Spurs are back in the Finals and beat the Pistons in seven hard fought, ugly games.

Summer 2003— the vaunted NBA draft of 2003 plays out exactly as it did in our timeline. But Michael Jordan, two years removed from playing, decides he’s not done with basketball; with the talk that LeBron James and others in the draft class could approach him, he resigns his position as President of Basketball Operations with the Washington Wizards and suits up with the team to prove to everyone that he can still ball.

2003-04 Regular Season— the NBA welcomes its most hyped draft class plus the legendary Jordan into the league. Ratings are through the roof, but Jordan’s time with the Wizards is not good; Michael starts off the season rusty, plays himself into shape, and seems to have the Wizards right as they sit just barely above .500 at the all-star break. But Jordan’s knees can’t handle the load and he has to miss multiple games after the break with knee issues; the Wizards finish 10 games under .500 without him as Jordan’s frustration —with his aging body, with the front office, with the ownership — reaches a boiling point and he announces his retirement again, effective immediately at the end of the season.

For young NBA fans everywhere who never saw Jordan live, in his prime, it is a devastating loss — they only caught a glimpse of his greatness. Jordan retires and assumes he’ll get his previous job back, but the the owner of the Wizards will not offer it to him, further marring the experience for Jordan. He will call his comeback attempt, “A mistake” as the years go on.

2004 Finals— The Lakers make it back to the Finals and face the Pistons, who loaded up over the summer by acquiring Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups; Detroit beat the star-studded Lakers in five.

Summer 2004— Pat Riley trades for Shaq, after Kobe declares he wants out of LAunless Shaq is gone. Shaq happily agrees to a trade, tired of Bryant, and ends up in Kobe’s old stomping ground, promising the people of Miami that he’ll “win a title and not leave you in the dead of night”, referencing Bryant’s flight from Miami to LA over the 1998 lockout.

2005 Finals— The Spurs make it back and face the Miami Heat; Shaq loses to Duncan in 6 games, much to his chagrin and Miami’s.

2006 Finals— The Heat are back in the Finals and face the Mavericks, besting them in 6 because of Wade’s heroics.

2007 Finals— The Spurs are back, yet again, and this time face the LeBron-led Cavs. LeBron’s team, far less talented than the Spurs, is bested in a sweep. Duncan tells LeBron “this league will be yours soon” as the Spurs celebrate another title.

2008 Finals— The Lakers and Celtics are back at it. LA swung a trade for Pau Gasol in the offseason, giving Kobe his first superstar teammate since Shaq. The Celtics trade for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to form a super squad of their own with Paul Pierce. The classic NBA series goes seven games, as the Celtics win.

2009 Finals— The Lakers are back again and this time face the Magic, led by Dwight Howard. The two teams engage in a six game series but the Lakers win, getting Kobe his 4th ring.

2010 Finals— The Lakers face the Celtics again and the series goes seven games, a classic slugfest that ends with an offensive explosion as Kobe, playing in LA, goes off for a 35-7-9 night and LA walks out with a big win, giving Kobe his 5th ring (tying Jordan in this universe) and sending the rival Celtics home with nothing.

Summer 2010— the starting point of our story

Last edited by trekfan; 10-01-2020 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 08-29-2020, 12:51 PM   #2
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Re: House of 'Zards: Bazemore Returns

Grantland Update: 2009-10 Recap
By Helena Ramirez


Final Standings:


The NBA bids farewell to a two notable players in this ongoing drama, as Shaq and Rasheed — both chasing after one more ring — say goodbye to the league. Shaq had an abysmal, awful, no good, very out of shape season with Cleveland and his lasting legacy may be the infamous “Hack a Shaq” strategy, his battles with Kobe, or helping drive LeBron out of Cleveland.

Win a ring for the king” quickly became “Coach, I can’t play, my thumb hurts” and then became “Coaching staff don’t know nothin’ about rotations.” Shaq’s season in Cleveland will go down as one of the all-time “old-dog center seasons” in NBA history, joining such past greats as Patrick Ewing in Orlando (ew) and Hakeem in Toronto (Canada’s greatest win in their passive-aggressive war between them and the USA).

Rasheed will be remembered for his amazing ability to throw out catch phrases “Ball don’t lie” and “CTC” are ingrained in the the basketball culture, though I have to say he’s probably not the first to say either, but he definitely gets some credit for how often it’s repeated on playgrounds/driveways/schoolyards across the nation. His quest for a final ring ended just short as Boston was beaten by the Lakers in seven.

We also bid farewell to Grant Hill, the consummate professional who had some of the worst injury luck in the NBA over the last ten years; it will always be a big “What If” question how his career could have gone had his ankles held up, but at least we got to see a few healthy years for Hill in Phoenix, whose medical staff is among the league’s best for taking injury-prone players and putting them back together (like Humpty Dumpty, except not as eggy).

The Lottery:

The T’Wolves, Kings, and Knicks all had equal shots at the first overall pick, but it was the Wizards who grabbed the honor as the Kings and Knicks both got jumped in the lottery results by multiple teams, none more so than the Washington Wizards.

The new Wizards owner, Ted Leonis — who just took over this calender year — removed most of the front office (most notably Ernie Grunfeld) and almost all of the coaching staff after DC went from 6th to 1st in the draft lottery. League insiders are reporting that Leonis is hiring a big name to come in and establish a new Wizards culture (minus bonehead mistakes and questionable draft decisions) after the dismal finish to this season.

Sacramento gets the 2nd overall pick, and landing there will give them their picking of anyone left on the board after DC picks. The Kings are perpetually in the lottery it feels, as the era of Sacramento being contenders has passed into the ether and the franchise barely resembles the passing deathstar it was during the C-Webb heyday.

The Raptors also benefit here, as Toronto — likely to see Chris Bosh leave in FA — is looking for a new franchise cornerstone and this draft will be key in that search. The Pacers also leapt up high in the lottery and many around the league have them penciled in to take hometown Indiana product Gordon Hayward, barring anyone before them picking Hayward up; Indiana may also try to convince Hayward’s college coach, Brad Stevens, to follow his prized player to the pros and Stevens is reportedly open to the idea.

Minnesota got stuck at five, while New York once more fails to crack the top three and sits at sixth — many around the league believe the Knicks are dangling that pick to other teams for their established superstars and reports are the Knicks are targeting Carmelo in Denver, CP3 in NOLA, and Deron Williams in Utah; one of those three stars is their preferred choice, though there’s still the question of what major free agent this summer may consider them and those implications. If New York gets solid information that a major free agent wants to play with a certain star, expect the Knicks to make the deal — regardless of fit or finances.

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Old 08-29-2020, 12:54 PM   #3
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Re: House of 'Zards: Bazemore Returns

Ch. 1

The old grandfather clock ticked and ticked loudly, as it seemingly had always done, as he opened the front door and let in some fresh air. May had finally arrived and the weather in Virginia was pleasant, around 75. He wasn’t about to waste it.

Leo, be careful shooting that ball — don’t hit your mom’s car,” he warned his son, 13 now, who was shooting hoops.

Leo nodded his head, his thick, dark hair seemingly a second behind the rest of him as it bobbed up and down. “I know, I know. You got mail in the mailbox.” He took a dribble, and hit a stepback shot.

Ronald Bazemore gave his son a little clap. “Nice shot.” He flashed a smirk. “But, if I got mail, why didn’t you bring it in?”

Leo paused his dribbling and made a face. “Yeah, that was dumb.”

Ron waved it off with a teasing smile. “Don’t worry about it, keep practicing. You still need to master the post fadeaway.” Ron made his way to mailbox — easier today than it was earlier to the week, thanks to the weather not being so cold and his leg not reacting like someone had a vice around it — and popped it open. He took a minute to look around their medium sized estate.

It wasn’t fancy, but it was big enough to have a full outdoor court — though it was placed too close to the house, but he wanted to have easy access to it from the house without having to walk too far on his bad leg — and close enough to the community that they were only a few minutes drive from anywhere they really wanted to be.

He looked up at the sky and basked in the Saturday sunlight.

After a minute, he stuck his hand in the mailbox to find a thick envelope. Did I order something from Amazon? He pulled out the envelope and the return address made it know that this was no package from Amazon.

*uck,” he exclaimed, louder than he wanted to, and Leo was instantly making his way beside him, bouncy young legs and all.

What? What is it?” Leo tried to peek at the envelope, but Ron turned his back towards him.

Ron held up his finger towards his son and double-checked what he saw. The return address was absolutely, 100%, from the one man he never thought in a million years he’d get anything from again. Not with the standing orders Ron had left him.

He took a breath and turned back around, holding the envelope towards his son. “You see who this is from?”

Leo leaned in, brown eyes reading the return address. “Someone in New York?”

Ron smiled. “Good to see that expensive private school has taught you basic geography.”

Leo smirked. “They taught me how to shoot better than you.” He took the ball and launched it towards the hoop. Flying through the air, the orange orb arced towards the rim — one of those shots Ron had seen hundreds of time as a coach in the NBA, seemingly a lifetime ago, always taken at the end of the quarter with no real hope of going in but everyone on the edge of their seat at the very chance that it could.

This ball looked good but caught the backrim, bounced off high, careened off the bottom of the second-floor deck, and bounced inside — through the front door Ron had left open — and the next thing that was heard was a loud crash, something like glass breaking.

Oh *hit,” father and son both said in unison.

A second later, the woman of the house was heard.

Leonard David Bazemore!”

Leo cringed at the use of his full name and Ron just shook his head. “I think you were better off learning how to shoot from me.”

Dad, come on,” Leo pleaded.

Cynthia Bazemore — still as pretty as ever, if a bit more mature and a bit thinner than she was when Ron and she first met — came storming out of the house, basketball in hand. “Was it you or your father who shot that?”

Ron thumbed his son without a moment’s hesitation.

He left the door open, it was a total fluke shot!” Leo said, hands up like he was pleading a foul call.

Cynthia angrily set the ball on the ground and pointed her son inside. “You have a mess to clean up; you didn’t break anything I can’t replace — lucky for you.”

Leo made a face.

Cynthia’s eyes narrowed. “Go. Now.”

Ron nodded at his son. “You heard her.”

Leo rolled his eyes but trudged inside. This was a dance he was all too familiar with, he had a bad habit of breaking things with that basketball.

After he went inside, Cynthia turned her attention to Ron, hands on her hips. “We have a screen door that you decided to fling wide open, defeating the whole purpose of the screen door, Ron.

I was only going to be out here a minute to get the mail,” he countered, holding up the thick envelope. “And I got sidetracked by this.”

Cynthia’s face went from angry to grudgingly curious. “That’s not a package?”

No.” He made his way over to her and showed her the return address. “It’s from New York.”

New York …” Her eyes lit up. “Your agent’s office?!”

Ron nodded.

She looked at the envelope with new understanding. “*uck, Ron. It’s been … years.”

I left standing orders for Quinn not to send anything my way unless it met a very specific, very narrow, set of circumstances.” Ron thumbed the thick envelope. “And he’s abided by that for … over ten years now, since he became an agent.”

She shot him a look. “You have to open it.”

Do I have to?” he forced himself to ask. “I left all that behind for you and Leo twelve years ago … I don’t have to open it. We can just toss it into the shredder and go back to our Saturday. I was going to grill for lunch.

Cynthia’s hazel blue eyes softened, as did her voice. “Ron, open it. Please.”

He reached out, gave her hand a squeeze, and opened the envelope. The first thing he pulled out was another, smaller envelope, this one clearly with a letter in it, and he opened that up.

Dear Ron,

I know you probably think this is a bunch of bull*hit, but I swear to God I’ve vetted this as thoroughly as I could. It’s a real offer and it fits exactly what you wanted — or at least what you wanted when you left me those instructions years ago. You still want that, I hope, because I’ve turned down a lot of offers for you in the years since. This one, though, I couldn’t let go; it’s where you want to be and after the year they had, they’re gonna need someone like you.

Read through this, back to front, and I’ll give you a call Monday at 9AM.

All the best,

Quinn Lowe”
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Old 08-30-2020, 10:54 AM   #4
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Re: House of 'Zards: Bazemore Returns

Ch. 2

The Washington Wizards — that was the team that had made the offer and it boggled Ron’s mind that they would be the ones to call him out of retirement. Across his kitchen table (which, in truth, they barely used anyway) were multiple pages — some pages belonging to the contract itself, but the bulk of the pages scattered across the table were scouting reports from the Wizards chief scout, a man Ron hadn’t been aware DC had hired.

Winfred, you lovely *astard,” Ron said with a shake of his head. The scouting reports of Winfred Hart — or “Winter Fresh” as the players on the old Miami Heat team used to call him — were as detailed and thorough as ever. Actually, that wasn’t even true, they were more detailed and thorough than ever. The changes in technology and scouting practices over the dozen years since Ron had been a head coach had made information far easier to come by.

Arranging that information into something useful — hell, even picking the right information to include in the reports — was where the real skill was. Any scout could dig through the history of a player, but figuring out what to discard, what to keep, what to highlight, and what to outright dismiss took experience. Winfred had that in spades now.

Ron was honestly surprised the man was still just a scout, but when he had last talked to him — two years ago? Three? — Winfred had no interest in the day to day drudgery of being a GM. He had stated unequivocally that the life of a scout “was mine and I love it too much to take a break from it to get chewed out by agents.”

Winfred had included scouting reports on prospects and the current players on the Wizards roster. DC was coming off a losing year after a season where it looked like — maybe — the Wizards might have figured out how to win in the wretched East. They only managed 19 wins in 08-09 and had nearly doubled that this year.

With the 6th best odds in the lottery, they had miraculously jumped up to first overall, only the second time in their history as the Wizards that they had that spot in the draft. The last time they had the pick they had chosen Kwame Brown — and that pick had been heavily influenced by the recently hired (and recently retired) Michael Jordan.

It was a depressing history for the Wizards as it came to the draft — DC had a lot of misses and this pick was so important, so crucial to the franchise, that their owner had virtually wiped the slate clean of the front office (minus Winfred) and coaching staff. DC’s roster was a mishmash of parts.

It started with their star, Gilbert Arenas. Now 30, entering the last year of his current deal, Arenas was a veteran with a big cap hit and someone whom the fans were divided on. He put up big numbers (16-3-7 last year) but the team didn’t win with him anymore — former running mates Antwan Jamison and Caron Butler had been shipped off, so it was just Arenas left; he was still very capable, very proficient, but would he fit with the new culture Ron was going to try and create?

The SG spot was a mess — Randy Foye was pick that hadn’t panned out, Mike Miller was a veteran that was for sure gone, and Nick Young was just 25, but had barely seen the court due to being in Flip Saunders’ dog house for most of the season. There was a lot of work to be done there.

At SF was a mixture of Josh Howard (overpaid former Maverick), Al Thornton (defensively accomplished but offensively inconsistent), and Cartier Martin (buried on the bench). That spot was also a mess, no true starter there really and in need of a big change.

At PF was Andray Blatche, whom had started last season and served better as a bench player than a starting four in Ron’s opinion; Blatche just didn’t have quick enough feet for Ron’s taste on defense at PF but as a center, he was more than competent. The center spot at the moment was manned by young JaVale McGee, but the young player was raw; Ron wasn’t sure if McGee would ever be as good as scouts believed he could be.

With the 1st overall pick in the 2010 draft, DC could take any number of players to solve issues across the roster, or trade back for a bounty and bet on the veteran leadership but Ron wasn’t sure about that bet.

Having fun?” Cynthia asked from kitchen, her face alight in amusement. She cocked her head to the side and pulled a stray blond lock behind her ear. “I haven’t seen you this engrossed in something since we did that all night Monopoly game between Leo and the Henry twins.”

Jarvis and Desmond Henry are two of the most competitive kids I know,” Ron responded with a laugh. “They wouldn’t let me win, they wanted to be beaten to the point they had no money left.”

You were merciless.” Cynthia smirked. “But they literally did ask for it and they seemed to have fun.”

Ron leaned back in his chair and kicked out another one. Cynthia wordlessly moved over and took a seat. He tapped the nearest paper to him. “This stuff is thorough. Winfred went to town, I feel like my brain has been injected with adrenaline.”

Well, don’t explode your brain in this room; I will not be repainting this ever again.

Ron smiled. “It was a pain in the *ss, wasn’t it?” He looked around the room, the walls a shade of blue-gray they both found pleasing — better than the bland eggshell white it had been for years. “We did good work, though.”

We did,” she conceded. “Though it would have been way more helpful if you hadn’t spilled most of the first can.”

He flashed a wide grin. “True.” He looked around the room once more and then back to his wife. “Weekend projects like that will be few and far between if I take this job.”

She laughed at that. “’If’, like there’s a doubt. Ronald Bazemore, I know you and I know how much basketball means to you. Your son does, too — I couldn’t stop him from asking question after question as I tried to get him to go to bed.” She tapped at the papers. “You’re a sports junkie, you always have been.”

Ron remembered very clearly the first time she used that phrase to describe him. It had made him feel like *hit. Here, a dozen years after the first time he heard it, it was merely a fun tease, tinged with a familiar pang of guilt. “I still haven’t decided to take the job.”

She nodded. “I vote you do.”

He couldn’t hide his surprise. “You do?”

Ron, your son isn’t a baby anymore. He’s 13 years-old, and he loves basketball like you.”

He felt another familiar pang of guilt. “I know you didn’t really want him to follow that path.”

She gave a slight shrug. “In the beginning, no. But he’s not a clone of you; he loves basketball, he’s a fabulous musician — I never dreamed in a million years he could play three different instruments. Neither of us can play one.”

Yeah, that was … different. Where do you think he got that from?”

Maybe your parents, maybe mine, maybe neither,” she said with a grin. “It’s unique to him — he thinks of music and basketball in such a similar way.”

He gets lost in it.”

Yes,” she said with a roll of the eyes. “I should count my lucky stars that only the basketball seems to find its way into my house to break things.

Well, if he was a rocker, he’d be breaking electric guitars every other day,” Ron joked.

Cynthia smirked. “The point is, he’s not a clone of you or me. And all he’s heard, all his life, is how good a coach you were. The stories, the championships … he never witnessed any of it. All he has is grainy video from the 90s that we have here or what he can find on the Internet.” She tapped the papers again. “I think you should take this job to show him that all of that wasn’t just a story, Ron. He wants you to have the job, he’s excited for the job, and it’s the Wizards — our local team.” She paused and then narrowed her eyes. “And I don’t think that’s a coincidence that they’re the only ones to meet those ‘conditions’ of yours.”

Ron’s face grew flush. Might as well come clean now.“It’s not a coincidence. I told Quinn they were the only team I’d accept an offer from and only if they gave me full control, top to bottom, of the team. You can imagine he was pretty unhappy at those restrictions.”

She shook her head. “You told me it was a very narrow set of conditions and I didn’t push — it was your career, we had just moved here, we had just been married a year … I guess I didn’t want to get into that.”

I didn’t want to risk any other offer. When we decided to get married and move here, it was with the full understanding — from both of us — that we wanted our life here. We’re near your sisters, it’s a great community, Leo’s had everything we wanted for him here and that was the most important thing. If I was going to take a job, it was going to be with a team that didn’t require us to move anymore, that would let us still have our lives here without wrecking things. I remember what you said before, that you didn’t want Leo to have a father missing because of a damned game.”

She nodded. “I was angry then.”

But you were right,” he made sure to point out. “I would have spent too much time away. With this job, I’ll still be missing for a portion of the year. It’s not a perfect offer, I still have to travel for road games.”

But you can be back home on a lot of nights, can’t you? Half the games are in DC, you have multiple others all around the east coast, you guys would probably fly back after you’re done.”

He nodded. “You’re not wrong.” He stared at the papers, and took a deep sigh. “You’ll call me out if I get too deep?”

Always.” She reached over and grabbed his hand, giving it a firm squeeze. “Leo wants this for you. I want this for you. We believe you can do this, Ron. You can achieve that balance, you won’t be consumed.”

He rubbed her hand with his thumb. “You have more confidence in me than I do.”

I have the advantage of objectivity; plus, I’ve watched you grow as a person. You’re not that uber-obsessed basketball coach I met back in 1996. You know there’s a world outside the sport and, more than anything, you know those two worlds can coexist well in your life.

He took a deep breath. “All right. If you’re sure, I’ll let Quinn know tomorrow I’m taking the job.”

She smiled. “I’m sure.” She leaned over, gave him a kiss, and whispered into his ear, “Welcome back, Coach Bazemore.”

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Old 08-31-2020, 09:04 PM   #5
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Re: House of 'Zards: Bazemore Returns

The King has returned.
Regrets Aren't Something You Did, It's Something You Didn't Do

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Old 09-01-2020, 07:13 AM   #6
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Re: House of 'Zards: Bazemore Returns

Bazemore is indeed back and his challenge this time is a thousand fold harder ... but we'll get to that. Being that this is an alternate 2010, that draft class as we know it isn't quite the same.
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Old 09-01-2020, 08:35 AM   #7
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Re: House of 'Zards: Bazemore Returns

Ch. 3

You’re *hitting me!” she exclaimed as she leapt out of her chair. Helena Ramirez couldn’t hide the surprise — or the smile — on her face as she read the headline, plastered at the top of ESPN.com as “Breaking News” that the Wizards had found their new head coach, merely days after wiping out the previous staff like a bad stain.

She had never expected to see the coach they hired back in the league, but then she had never expected Ronald Bazemore to ever be a coach in the NBA. The man had come from overseas with a resume that was, back in 1996, as untraditional as you would find — but he paved the way for so many coaches from the international scene to make their mark in the NBA.

I see you saw the news,” her editor — and friend — Vonny Lee — said as he popped his head out of his office, guitar pick rubber-banded to his glasses. “I thought that name sounded familiar.”

He’s back,” she exclaimed with a laugh. “Oh my god, I thought he’d never be back!”

Vonny waved her in and she followed, shutting the office door behind her. He causally sat on his coach, picked up his acoustic guitar — an office decoration as much as thinking piece for him — took the pick off his glasses and began strumming. “So, this guy; what can you tell me?”

Tell you? He’s a two-time NBA champion, back-to-back, he coached Kobe Bryant his first two years before Riley swooped in and screwed that relationship up.” She still got mad at the damned hubris of Riley — that Heat team could have three-peated with Kobe and the core Bazemore had assembled. Instead, the owners locked out the players in 1998, Riley got hired, and Kobe demanded a trade out as the months of the lockout dragged on.

One of the great “What ifs” of the NBA’s history in her mind.

Yeah, yeah, I read the Wiki entry,” Vonny joked. He looked up from his guitar and tapped the pick against it lightly. “You wrote him about a lot down in Miami, you were the reporter he trusted the most.”

She nodded. “I absolutely had an in with him,” she said with a bit of pride. “Those articles, that coverage, it helped land me here at Grantland. Without all that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

You think you could get an interview with him again?”

She tapped the bottom of her lip with her index finger. “I think so … it’s been two years since we talked. I followed up with in 2008 to cover that 1998 title, the ten year anniversary.”

Vonny nodded happily. “Great piece. All right, let’s call him up and see if he’ll agree to interview. When a two-time champion head coach comes out of a dozen year retirement to take over a team like the Wizards, it’s a story worth following up on.”

Agreed, I’ll give him a ring.” She shook her head. “This is gonna be something, he wouldn’t have come back for just anything. He was one of the most radical coaches of his time, Vonny; he’s been quiet for so long, so far out of the spotlight … if he’s back, it’s going to be good.

Good.” Vonny cracked a smile. “We need the content.”
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Old 09-01-2020, 08:39 AM   #8
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Re: House of 'Zards: Bazemore Returns

One on One: An Interview with Ronald Bazemore
By Helena Ramirez

The NBA’s offseason is about to get wilder than it has been in years as LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade headline a stacked free agency class that could change the face of the league. But one move has already been made that could have a big impact on the Washington Wizards, as new owner Ted Leonis fired most of his front office and coaching staff, and lured Ronald Bazemore out of retirement after 12 years out of the NBA. Bazemore last coached the Miami Heat from 1996-1998, retiring after the Heat won their second straight title in the spring of 1998.

Players on his former team, from top to bottom, have all voiced their confidence in Bazemore’s return.

He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for,” said former Heat star — and current LA Laker — Kobe Bryant. “He’s smart, he’s relentless, he has a work ethic second to none. I wouldn’t be the player I am today if not for some of the lessons he taught me … I hate to hurt his win-loss record, but I’ll enjoy showing him the new things I’ve learned in his absence. He’s going to be good for whatever players he coaches.”

Former member of the Heat, Dominque Wilkins, echoed similar thoughts.

He was the reason I have two rings,” said Wilkins. “He pitched me in a limo, convinced me to give him and the NBA another chance. After my experience with the Clippers, then Boston, I just wasn’t sure if I belonged in the league anymore … but playing for Coach Bazemore, I found my game again. If he hadn’t of retired, I would have kept playing for him till my legs fell off.”

I sat down with Coach Bazemore recently to ask him why, after all these years, he decided to come back.

Coach, let’s start with the obvious: you’ve been out of the NBA for a dozen years. Multiple teams over that timespan have tried to convince you to come back. Why the Wizards?

They’re really the only team I wanted to coach for. After I left the NBA, my life was pretty different … I was a father to a baby, I was involved in a relationship with that child’s mother that eventually saw us marry a year later. I was happy and fulfilled, so getting back into coaching wasn’t even on my mind then. We moved to DC area in 2000 and I left strict instructions with my agent that I would only coach for the local team; I wasn’t going to move my family and I wasn’t going to entertain any offers until my son was at least in school. I had a couple of other things I wanted, mainly control of the roster, but that’s the gist of it. DC offered me all that this offseason and, after long discussions with my wife and my son, we agreed as a family to take on this challenge. This isn’t about just me now and they deserved to have input on this decision. It will affect them as much as me.

Some organizations question your hiring after being out of the game so long. After you left the Heat, the team you helped build seemingly broke up overnight. How do you think your time outside the NBA has prepared you for such a different league?

I believe I have something few coaches get a chance to get: perspective. I’m a two-time title winner, but I worked myself to the bone to get that. I put in many long nights, many hard hours, to study the film and analyze the tape. That was back in the 90s, now we have technology that makes our lives so much easier in that respect. I can study those things on my laptop while at the kitchen table, I can hit pause on a piece of footage and not worry about losing my spot, I can have a digital call with my scouts all around the world without worrying about the call dropping. The evolution in technology and scouting practices has made things a lot simpler than before, and I believe I can bring a balance to my work life that I was lacking before. Ultimately, that balance will benefit the team, myself, and my family.

After you retired and left the NBA, the owners initiated another lockout in 1998. That lockout stopped all play and lasted for months, eventually leading to Kobe Bryant demanding a trade out of Miami once Pat Riley took over. Do you regret how all that played out?

I do. I wish things had happened differently for everyone in the league at that time … the lockout was ill-conceived in my opinion and hurt everyone associated with the league. What happened with Kobe, specifically, is not something I would have imagined but I understood why and he called me up before the news broke to let me know. He’s obviously found great success in LA so I think we can say he made a good choice for himself and his family, but I will always live with that ‘what if’ in the back of my mind.

Final question: the Wizards have the 1st overall pick in the draft and a team that’s missed the playoffs the last two years. Do you feel Gilbert Arenas and other veterans on the team are part of the Wizards future?

I’ve spoken with Gilbert and the other veterans since I took the job and I’ve asked each of them how they feel about things. We’re having an ongoing dialog, we’re discussing a lot of different things right now. I can’t speak for them, there’s nothing to announce as far as decisions, but what I can say is that the Wizards are back on a path to longterm success. This pick we have in this draft will be key, as will other things we do this offseason. To all Wizards fans, I tell you this: we will not be tanking, we will not be stripping things down to the studs. We will compete and play hard every night, there will be growing pains, but we will not quit on you. Please do not quit on us.
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