MISC

Features for Game Point Magazine:

At Home on the Court (5.22.17):
There is a hoop, tall and sturdy. A net, white-grey, with two holes stretched out. Above that, a backboard, grey-black, with trails of original white poking through. Hovering above a driveway, with a slight dip on one side, an advantage or disadvantage depending on who’s on offense and who’s on defense. “We’ve had some good battles on this court,” said Ken Kikkawa, 52, wearing navy Air Jordans. He grew up here, in Pasadena, California, playing in local Japanese-American leagues. He now plays in a Master’s division for players over 40 years old. “I can still outshoot him,” Ken said, pointing to his 18-year-old son Kendall, who plays in the leagues and aspires to play college ball. “I don’t know about that,” said Kendall, who, in addition to his basketball prowess, is also a football player and once scored eight touchdowns in a game for Flintridge Prep. The one who can out-shoot them both walks over: Robert Kikkawa, 85, a founding member of the Pasadena Bruins organization in 1972. The hoop community calls him Lefty: “I used to shoot marbles left-handed,” he said, clutching a ball next to his son and grandson. Hoops has bound the Kikkawas and countless other SoCal Japanese-American families together. Unwelcome in mainstream leagues, Japanese Americans sustained their own through internment during World War II and discrimination faced in its aftermath. (READ FULL STORY HERE).

Features for Teen Vogue:

This Teenage Soccer Player is Being Called “The Next Mia Hamm” (11.28.16):
The U.S. women’s soccer team inched closer to the goal. With the score knotted at 1-1 against Colombia at the Rio Olympic Games on Aug. 9, the ball landed at the feet of 18-year-old forward Mallory Pugh. Pugh, the second youngest women’s soccer Olympian in U.S. history, bolted toward the goal. She wasn’t going to be denied. “She doesn’t shy away from anything,” said Pugh’s soon-to-be college coach, UCLA’s Amanda Cromwell. “She wants to be a go-to player.” She zoomed past one defender, then a second, then a third, to the center of the box, creating a sliver of space for herself to power a left-footed shot. The ball whirled into the back of the net in the 60th minute, giving the U.S. a 2-1 lead. Pugh, bear-hugged by her teammates, became the youngest American soccer player to score in the Games. “She’s cold-blooded,” said Lorne Donaldson, president and director of coaching of Real Colorado, Pugh’s former club team. “Once she crosses the line, she turns on that switch.” She doesn’t panic. “That’s the kind of poise she brings,” said soccer legend Julie Foudy. “We need more players like Mallory who have that calm, and who have that poise, and who can be a game-changer. (READ FULL STORY HERE).

Features for Clippers.com:

NBA Brothers: Caron Butler and Lamar Odom Have Career-Long Connection(10.23.12):

Caron Butler received the ball on the block while posting up on one play in a team scrimmage during the first day of training camp at the Clippers’ Playa Vista Training Center. Securing the ball across his chest with his elbows out, he peered to his left, feeling new Clipper Lamar Odom’s arm bar up, not backing down on defense and ready to block the shot. Butler then drop-stepped to his other side, almost dunking on Odom, who couldn’t help but joke and trash talk in the excitement of being reunited with his long-time friend and former teammate. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Willie Green Proving to be a Reliable Shooter Next to Chris Paul (11.21.12):
You can usually find Willie Green in the game hanging out in the corner behind the 3-point line with his knees bent and hands ready to receive the ball, patiently waiting for guards Chris Paul or Eric Bledsoe to pull the defense in with their penetration and kick the ball out to him for an open shot. Knocking down 39.1% of them from beyond the arc and averaging 6.3 points a night, Green is coming into his role as a reliable shooter while filling in at shooting guard in the starting lineup while Chauncey Billups continues rehabilitation on his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Ryan Hollins Comes Home (11.4.12):
When Ryan Hollins left the Boston Celtics to sign with his hometown Clippers as a free agent in July, he immediately knew who to call first: The man who challenged him to one-on-one duels as a teen in their Pasadena backyard court, and who spent hours talking X’s and O’s with him as he got older. Hollins dialed none other than his father, Denier Hollins, who had not been able to watch him play in person more than a few times a year since he graduated from UCLA in 2006. “He almost lost his mind,” Hollins laughed. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Bob Thate: Former Occidental College Star is Clippers Shooting Coach (12.2.12):
Bob Thate stood on the sideline with his hands folded against his chest an hour and a half before tipoff of the Los Angeles Clippers and defending champion Miami Heat game at STAPLES Center Nov. 14. He was eyeing the cornerstone of the Clippers offense, 6-foot-10 All-NBA forward Blake Griffin, shooting jumper after jumper, stepping back further out of his comfort zone, the paint. Make. Miss. Make. Make. Griffin looked over at Thate, the team’s new shooting coach, to see if he caught the last one. Thate nodded back as if to say, “Good. Keep holding that follow-through. Extend.” (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Grant Hill Looks to Take “Next Step” with Clippers (10.19.12):
What does Clippers forward Grant Hill have in common with John Stockton and Elgin Baylor? First, he’s an amalgamation of the two Hall of Famers’ positions: a point guard and a small forward, someone who can run the offense and still create his own shot. Hill has epitomized the hybrid “point forward” position since he entered the league as the No. 3 overall pick for the Pistons in 1994. But the most striking similarity is that like Stockton and Baylor before him, Hill has never won an NBA championship. Yet unlike the two long-retired players, Hill has not hung up his high-tops just yet. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Features for WNBA.com (Los Angeles Sparks):

Kristi Toliver: A Re-Evaluation of the WNBA Point Guard (9.5.12):
Kristi Toliver leaves practice wearing a yellow Lakers snapback hat with a purple brim, and a “basketball never stops” Nike tee that was popularized by NBA players during last fall’s lockout. Three hours earlier, in a gym with ten other Sparks players wearing mostly black or navy sneakers, Toliver was the only one to wear Kevin Durant’s highly touted “Aunt Pearl” neon pink Nikes for practice. Her three-point jump shot is as in-your-face bright as her shoes, though her laidback persona is as calm as her expression after making game winning buzzer-beaters: confident yet understated— she’s done this before. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Alana Beard: Giving it All to the Game (8.18.12):
Two years ago, Alana Beard wasn’t thinking about basketball for the first time in her life. She wondered whether she’d be able to walk again. At the peak of her six seasons with the Washington Mystics as a four-time WNBA All-Star, Beard’s left ankle nearly shattered, as did her world in which for so long she held inside of an orange leather ball. Basketball was more than just a game, or even a job, to Beard—it was who she was, who she had always been. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

DeLisha Milton-Jones Looks Back On Her Olympic Experiences (8.7.12):
It’s the year 2000 in Sydney, Australia. Three years after the WNBA’s inaugural season, and three years after DeLisha Milton-Jones led Florida to the Elite Eight her senior year, averaging 20 points a contest as a Wade Trophy recipient. An energetic Milton-Jones springs onto the podium alongside the 11 best women’s basketball players in the country, some of which she’d idolized for years. She looks to her left, and then to her right, as each woman begins to bow her head to have a gold medal draped over them. It’s her turn. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Nneka Ogwumike: Poised and Confident Rookie Grateful to Contribute to Sparks (7.4.12):
When yet another reporter mispronounces her name in a post-game interview, Nnemkadi Ogwumike lets it roll off her shoulders. She knows the drill. She laughs with the quiet confidence of a veteran and humbly sounds out each syllable, understanding that her name and the double-doubles she posts are secondary to the numbers on the scoreboard when the final buzzer sounds. This summer is different for Ogwumike. She isn’t in Palo Alto training to bring a national championship to Stanford. She’s the number one draft pick for a Sparks team with high expectations after missing the playoffs last year. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Sandy Brondello Loved Playing for Australia (8.9.12):
As Tuesday’s practice winds down, Sandy Brondello pulls up a chair and sits down on the sidelines as chatter breaks out about how well Candace Parker played for Team USA in the 2012 Olympics in London earlier that morning. The forward scored 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in the U.S. 91-48 quarterfinal rout of Canada. Brondello isn’t surprised. The second-year Sparks Assistant Coach then hears that the undefeated U.S. will face Australia in this Thursday’s semifinal game. She smiles, even less surprised because she anticipated the matchup. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Features for Dime Magazine:

The Last Shot: Jacki Gemelos, Dime Magazine Issue No. 72 (3.2.13):
Jacki Gemelos sat in her apartment by herself, hands clasped on her lap in front of the T.V., hearing the faint clack of her shoe nervously tapping the ground as she watched the first and second rounds of the 2012 WNBA draft go by last April. Selected were women who as girls Jacki remembered lighting up in high school games. Some were the recipients of her spectacular no-look passes and some could never catch them. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

After Breaking Records, All Eyes Are Still On Jameer Nelson (1.30.13):
Bold capital letters displaying Tupac‘s “All Eyes On Me” stretch across the top of Jameer Nelson‘s back, slightly grazing his shoulders and the bottom of his neck. It’s been there since he was a junior at Saint Joseph’s. You can’t see the ink under his Orlando pinstriped jersey, but he has always felt the criticism of others whenever he comes down the court, breaking his defender off and getting to the rim. Not a true point guard. Too small. Shoots too much. Pass the ball. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Ryan Anderson: The Not-So-Secret Weapon of the New-Look Pelicans (7.5.13):
Over 17 points and six rebounds a game… and nearly 40 percent from three-point range. That’s not your typical power forward stat line. But then again, Ryan Anderson isn’t your typical big man. He puts in threes more than he posts up. His foot speed is quicker than it should be at 6-10 and 240 pounds. He’s soft. Not really a power forward. Talk when you get some rebounds. Some call that stuff criticism. Anderson calls it noise. (READ FULL STORY HERE)

Tony Snell: The Biggest Sleeper in the 2013 NBA Draft (6.13.13):
Just two weeks after tournament favorite New Mexico’s 68-62 loss to Harvard in the second round, Tony Snell hopped on a plane to Los Angeles to prepare for June 27’s NBA Draft. Not only fleeing the sting of an embarrassing upset, Snell vowed to leave behind the NCAA scouting report that had branded him for the past four years at UNM: a “potential guy,” someone who has “it” — the jumper, the size, the athleticism, but hasn’t fully developed his gifts.  (READ FULL STORY HERE)

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