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USA Basketball picks Grant Hill to replace Jerry Colangelo as managing director

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Grant Hill helped the U.S. win Olympic gold in 1996. He would have been on the team again in 2000 if not for injury. And he was among the college kids who famously beat the first “Dream Team” in a scrimmage before the 1992 Olympics.

Now USA Basketball is bringing him back.

Hill will become the men’s national team managing director after the Tokyo Olympics, USA Basketball said Saturday. He’ll replace the retiring Jerry Colangelo, in a move where one Basketball Hall of Famer takes over for another in the critical role of assembling teams that will compete for gold.

“It’s just an incredible opportunity, also an incredible challenge,” Hill said Saturday. “I had the good fortune of participating in international play — the Pan American Games, of course the Olympic team — and I have been a fan of Team USA going back to the 1984 Olympic team when I first started to fall in love with basketball. The more I thought about it, the more intrigued, excited and the more willing I was to roll up my sleeves and move forward with this awesome responsibility.”

Hill’s résumé is elite. He played 19 NBA seasons, was an All-Star seven times — which likely would have been more if not for the ankle problems that derailed his career — and made five All-NBA teams. At Duke, he helped the Blue Devils win national championships in 1991 and 1992.

Hill went into the Hall of Fame in 2018 and has worked as an NBA and college basketball analyst for Turner Sports for nearly a decade. And he’s part of the broadcast team for the men’s Final Four this weekend in Indianapolis, the sixth straight year he’s been on that crew.

He will remain in broadcasting after assuming his USA Basketball job.

“Grant is a proven leader of consequence and character who will continue to help us achieve on our twin goals of winning international competitions and representing our country with honor,” said Martin Dempsey, USA Basketball board of directors chair and a retired general. “In making this announcement, I also want to emphasize how much everyone associated with USA Basketball appreciates Jerry Colangelo for everything he did for USA Basketball over the past 15 years.”

And Colangelo did plenty.

The managing director role was created for him in 2005, after the Americans lost three games in the 2004 Athens Olympics and returned with an extremely disappointing bronze medal. Colangelo has since overseen the process of selecting players and coaches, bringing in Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski — who led the U.S. to Olympic golds in 2008, 2012 and 2016 — and now San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich to serve as head coaches.

In major competitions with Colangelo as managing director, the U.S. men have gone 97-4. Colangelo’s departure was not unexpected; the 80-year-old made no secret of his plans to retire after the Tokyo Games, which were delayed one year to this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I intend to spend an incredible amount of time with Jerry, shadow him some this summer, and I think that experience will certainly help as we move forward,” Hill said. “He’s just an invaluable resource and has done a remarkable job, so you can’t help but learn from someone like Jerry.”

No matter what happens in Tokyo, Hill will take over at a hectic time. The delay of these Olympics compresses everything; the next Basketball World Cup is only two years away, and the Paris Games are just three years out.

Hill knows the rest of the world is catching — or has caught — up to USA Basketball. He predicted that would happen in 1996, when he was part of Dream Team II that won the gold in Atlanta, and he isn’t alone in the belief that the game found a new gear internationally because of the success of the first Dream Team four years before that.

Hill was a 19-year-old college sophomore when he was brought in along with Bobby Hurley, Chris Webber and others to scrimmage the U.S. team that featured Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing and more. The college kids won 62-54 in that first scrimmage; debate has raged ever since about whether U.S. coach Chuck Daly threw the game to make a point that no team was unbeatable, but there is no debate about how that day in California helped the NBA stars come together.

“We had a good moment,” Hill said. “That experience — having a chance to practice with, learn from, spend time with arguably the greatest team ever assembled — it wasn’t a formal event with a medal ceremony and the like, but it certainly was a pivotal moment for me and my development and my growth as a player.”

Hill’s job that day was to beat USA Basketball’s best. His job going forward will be to make sure that doesn’t happen.

He’s already starting to plan.

“The brain is working,” Hill said.

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Gains sizable in NBA Finals ratings from last year, but fourth-lowest average since 1997

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NEW YORK — Television ratings for the NBA Finals and playoffs posted sizable increases over last year. But that was the only good news for the NBA as far as viewer numbers.

According to Nielsen, the NBA and ABC on Wednesday, the six-game series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns averaged 9.91 million viewers, a 32% increase over last year’s series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, which also went six games. However, the average makes it the fourth-lowest since 1997.

The Lakers-Heat series — which was played in October in the Orlando bubble after the coronavirus pandemic pushed the season back five months — averaged only 7.45 million.

San Antonio‘s 2007 four-game sweep of Cleveland (9.29 million) and the Spurs’ six-game victory over New Jersey in 2003 (9.83 million) are the other series to average fewer than 10 million since 1997.

The numbers were also down 34.5% compared to two years ago, when the TorontoGolden State series averaged 15.14 million.

Milwaukee’s 105-98 victory over Phoenix on Tuesday night attracted the most viewers in the series, averaging 12.52 million. The audience peaked between 11:30 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. EDT at 16.54 million. Only two games in the series averaged 10 million or more.

This year’s playoffs averaged 4.25 million, up 35% over last year but down 18% compared to 2019.

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Two shootings leave 3 wounded in Milwaukee during celebration of Bucks’ NBA championship

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MILWAUKEE — Two shootings in downtown Milwaukee early Wednesday as crowds celebrated the Milwaukee Bucks‘ first NBA championship in 50 years left three people wounded, police said.

The shootings both happened about 12:42 a.m. at two locations near Water Street, police said in a statement. TV station WISN had a reporter broadcasting from the scene when multiple shots were heard, prompting people to flee.

The shootings were across the Milwaukee River from Fiserv Forum, where the game was played, and the Deer District plaza, where a crowd of roughly 65,000 had gathered for an outdoor watch party. The area where the shootings took place is on a street heavily populated with bars and restaurants.

During Tuesday night’s game, a police officer was trampled by people trying to get into the Deer District watch party after the area had reached capacity, Milwaukee police Capt. Jesús Ortiz said in an email. The officer didn’t sustain any major injuries but reported being in general pain, Ortiz said.

Following one of the shootings, a 22-year-old man had non-life-threatening injuries, police said, and a suspect was in custody.

In the other shooting, which police said happened simultaneously, a 19-year-old woman and a 32-year-old man had non-life-threatening injuries. One person was in custody and other suspects were being sought, police said.

The two shootings, which were in the immediate area of the celebrations, likely were what was heard during the TV coverage, Ortiz said.

The celebrations came after Giannis Antetokounmpo capped one of the greatest NBA Finals ever with 50 points as Milwaukee beat the Phoenix Suns 105-98 to win the series 4-2.

Fans who packed the streets surrounding the arena had cheered and danced all night as they watched the game on giant video screens, and the massive crowd erupted in jubilation as the game ended. A few fans climbed light poles in the plaza and others jumped off a bridge into the nearby river as fireworks exploded above the arena.

Joy Smith, 50, of Milwaukee, danced after the final buzzer. “Milwaukee is underrated, but we proved to the world we could do it,” she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Another fan, Sabrina Holland, 37, of Milwaukee, called it “epic.” She said: “Everyone who’s anyone is here.“

Before the game, and at the city’s request, Gov. Tony Evers mobilized 150 National Guard members to help in Milwaukee with traffic control and public safety.

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Sports world reacts to Milwaukee Bucks winning first NBA title since 1971

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The Milwaukee Bucks are the 2020-21 NBA champions and have snapped a 49-year title drought, the league’s fifth longest entering this season.

This ring proved to be hard-fought as Milwaukee is just the third team in Finals history to win four straight after trailing 2-0, joining the 2006 Miami Heat and 1977 Portland Trail Blazers. Giannis Antetokounmpo joined Bob Pettit as the only players in NBA history to score 50 points in a finals clincher.

As the franchise and fans celebrate their long-awaited championship, let’s relive some of the best social media moments from the Bucks’ title-clincher.

Antetokounmpo joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in Bucks history to be named Finals MVP. He and his teammates had several notable viewers excited to share their congratulations.




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