Columnist Mike Popovich considers the comeback phenomenon in the NBA in his weekly column.
By Mike Popovich
Gatehouse Ohio Group
Retirement isn’t always permanent, especially if you are a former NBA player.
Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan came back. Reggie Miller gave it some thought.
Allen Houston and Charles Oakley also are seriously thinking about it.
Houston is trying to come back after a knee injury forced him to retire two years ago. The 36-year-old shooting guard who captained the Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals averaged 17.3 points and shot 40.2 percent from 3-point range in 12 seasons. He also was a two-time All-Star.
“I’m going to give it a shot,” Houston told USA Today. “I’m working out every day. I just have to figure out where it’s going to be.
“In my heart, I always felt it wasn’t over. As I started working out, I felt my body was catching up with my heart.”
Oakley, 43, told ESPN.com he still feels he can bring a lot to a team. The Cleveland native thinks he is in better shape than 90 percent of the players who were in the league last year.
He won’t come cheap, though. Oakley said Jordan, his best friend and former Bulls teammate, told him to come back if a team is willing to pay him a good salary.
“You can’t buy me. Money can’t buy me,” Oakley said. “But I’m not coming back for no bull (bleep) money.”
Oakley said he would be looking for a two-year deal worth $9 million to 10 million.
The ‘Houston Rule’
Houston’s chronic knee problems developed after he signed a maximum contract with the Knicks that paid him more than $20 million a year. He played in just 70 games during his final two seasons with New York.
The Knicks chose to not take advantage of an amnesty clause in the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2005. The one-time option would have allowed them to release Houston without having his huge contract push them over the luxury tax limit. The clause became known as the “Allan Houston Rule,” because Houston’s deal had the biggest effect on a team.
Houston later retired, but the final two years of his contract still counted against their luxury tax limit.
Tragic End to Comeback
Rockets Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy told Fox 26 Sports in Houston that he was trying to help Eddie Griffin prepare for a free agent tryout with the Nuggets before Griffin was killed last week.
The 25-year-old Griffin died when his sport utility vehicle crashed with a freight train in Houston. The former Rockets and Timberwolves forward had battled alcohol issues and was suspended for five games in January for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program.
Murphy believed Griffin’s comeback was on track.
“No question,” he said. “If he had stayed clean from the alcohol and all of the problems that he had in his life, based on his workout with me, no question. He would have been back and ready to play ball.
“Eddie was a troubled young man in the past. From what I saw of him the last month, he had gotten his life in order and he was looking for better days.”
Sharpening the Shot
Former Ohio State guard Daequan Cook sharpened his skills at Mark Price’s shooting camp this summer.
“I got an opportunity to work with a professional, someone that’s excellent at shooting the ball,” the Heat rookie told the Dayton Daily News during a recent appearance in his hometown. “He was showing us how to shoot, how much arc to put on the ball. It’s just terrific, because everything we were shooting was going in.”
Cook, a 42 percent 3-point shooter last season with the Buckeyes, attended the camp with Miami teammates Jeremy Richardson, Marcus Slaughter and Devin Green.
Time Warner’s Interest
Time Warner may soon add NBA TV.
The Variety reports that Time Warner is the leading candidate to take over the operation of the channel from the league. The hope is that Time Warner can help influence better deals for NBA TV, which normally is seen on digital cable sports tiers.
Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting owns TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies. Turner recently renewed its contract with the NBA to carry games on TNT for eight more years.
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or e-mail: email@example.com