HOOP SCOOP column: Josh Peppers and Michael Parker reaping rewards after years of hard work in Japanese hoop scene | The Japan Times

John Neumann gave the green light to bring American forwards Josh Peppers and Michael Parker to Japan. He had a good reason: He needed good players to make Rizing Fukuoka competitive during the expansion team’s inaugural 2007-08 campaign in the bj-league.

An astute talent evaluator, Neumann’s instincts were spot-on about both players. And really, he should’ve known. Neumann, after all, had been a high school superstar and scoring machine at the University of Mississippi, leading the NCAA in scoring with an astounding 40.1 points per game in 1970-71 before a playing career in the ABA, NBA and overseas that led to an extended global odyssey as a head coach in several countries.

Peppers and Parker helped the Rizing immensely in the team’s early history, and both continue to make important contributions more than a decade later for their respective teams.

Source: Josh Peppers and Michael Parker reaping rewards after years of hard work in Japanese hoop scene | The Japan Times


Basketball commentary – North America’s all-time best NBA players

Here’s a column I wrote for Court-side.com on top North American basketball players across the decades. Join the discussion, participate in a debate by adding your thoughts.


To distill the greatness of North American basketball since the inception of the NBA’s predecessors in 1946 into a single article requires broad brush strokes and a few quick impressions on a metaphorical canvas. A primer on the best NBA players of all time is a worthwhile place to start.

The vast geographic region of North America, stretching from Canada to Panama has invented and reinvented the game with innovations and trend-setting moves. The lineage of stars from the outset of the NBA to the current fan favorite charts a who’s who of accomplished athletes. Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, and Connie Hawkins, for instance, paved the way for Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. And LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

The impressive growth of the NBA — westward expansion, increased media exposure — and the remarkable talent that elevated the league, included the infusion of all-time greats from the ABA in the 1970s.

For the sake of brevity, this rundown of the greatest basketball players from North America features a top five at each position. But a few standouts whose names ought to appear on any reputable list of legends are featured to expand the scope of the discussion — the catalyst for debate — for years to come.


COMMENTARY: Greatest Basketball Players From South America

Here’s the latest column in an ongoing series spanning the globe that I’m writing about basketball standouts:


Remembering a defunct pro basketball team: 3-part column series on Tokyo Apache

This column series on the Tokyo Apache appeared in The Japan Times in 2016, five years after the bj-league team played its final game. Former NBA coach Bob Hill guided the team during its last season, which was cut short by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Ownership pulled the plug on the team. (Former NBA big man Robert Swift starred for the club, and future NBA player Jeremy Tyler did, too.)

I attended the Apache’s final game on March 10, 2011, against the Akita Northern Happinets, and many vivid memories of the team’s last season remain etched in my mind.




FLASHBACK: Magazine cover story on Horacio Llamas

This feature on center Horacio Llamas, the first Mexican player in the NBA, appeared in the Phoenix Suns’ Fastbreak Magazine in the October/November 1997 issue.


B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK: Spotlight on Ryukyu Golden Kings and rookie forward Hassan Martin

Here is the latest B. League Notebook in The Japan Times:



HOOP SCOOP flashback: Keijuro “K.J.” Matsui

This column on then-Columbia University shooting guard Keijuro “K.J.” Matsui appeared in The Japan Times in March 2008:


November 2017 update: Matsui now plays for the SeaHorses Mikawa in Japan’s B. League, who at press time are 16-1 with a 16-game win streak through Nov. 20.