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CASSELL KNOWS HOW TO SELL IT.

Byline: STEVE DILBECK

EL SEGUNDO - Heads shake, eyes roll, words fail, smiles never end.

Ask a teammate: Has anyone in the history of our planet ever talked as much as Sam Cassell?

``Nobody, not even toys where you squeeze their stomach and they talk,'' Elton Brand said. ``He just talks away all the time about everything.''

His Clippers teammates cannot recall a moment he paused to take breath. Cassell is the only man alive who can break the sound barrier with his mouth.

``He don't shut his mouth,'' Chris Kaman said. ``Whether it's about basketball or life or whatever, he just has this constant blow of information coming out of his mouth.''

In the huddle, at the free-throw line, in the middle of the game. To teammates and opponents and officials. At practice and on the bus and at dinner. To coaches and reporters and ball boys.

Cassell has something to say. Something he is certain you need to hear.

``This guy talks 24/7,'' Corey Maggette said.

Fellow starting guard Cuttino Mobley promises you that Cassell does not own a mute button. Suspects that he talks in his sleep. That he cannot stop.

``Nah, never,'' Mobley said. ``Sometimes he just talks to hear himself. I don't think he understands himself sometimes.''

But the Maryland Motormouth has used his, er, effusive style to fuel the Clippers. To give them a touch of swagger. To keep them both loose and focused and confident.

And playing deeper in the playoffs than at anytime in their West Coast history. Has them tied 1-1 with Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals.

Cassell has been everything the Clippers expected when they traded him for the Timberwolves' Marko Jaric last summer and he reluctantly agreed to the deal.

Cassell is 37 years old. He wants to win now. Wants to tell you about it, too. That and a few volumes more.

Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy has been around the NBA for 30 years and strained to think of anyone he ever has seen who talked the way Cassell does.

``I'd have to think about that one,'' Dunleavy said. ``Slick Watts? Maybe. (Larry) Bird talked, but not like that. His was more biting and taunting. Sam's just talking. Half the time he's congratulating guys, talking about whatever. He's not actually trash talking the whole time he's out there. He says a lot to his own teammates, not even to the other team.''

Hey, he has a lot on his mind. So much to share.

Wednesday night as the Suns' Tim Thomas went to the free-throw line, Cassell took out his mouth piece -- an occurrence common as an exhale -- walked right in front of him and shared a few thoughts. Thomas, his former teammate in Milwaukee, grabbed him by his shaved head, pushed him aside and grinned.

``I'd just missed a free throw 30 seconds earlier so I told him, `I gave you one, now give me one,''' Cassell said. ``He said, `You're up 17points.'

``He made both free throws, so evidently I did a bad job of getting into his mind.''

Cassell tells the story and laughs. He laughs a lot. About the only thing he does more than laugh, is talk.

``Sam has a great personality,'' Kaman said. ``Always smiling, always happy. I've yet to see him really get down.''

No one, however, probably hears it from Cassell more than the 7-foot Kaman, the team's lone true center.

``He don't know when to quit sometimes, but he gets the message after I tell him I've had enough,'' Kaman said.

Cassell said he mostly talks to teammates and doesn't do much trash talking, though Brand remembers differently when he was an opponent.

``He talked a lot of trash,'' Brand said. ``He'd say, `This game's over. You guys are too young. You guys are too (something) for words.'''

To Cassell, ``The Sound of Silence'' might as well be written on a subway wall.

``People running their mouths but doing nothing on the basketball court should be quiet,'' Cassell said. ``You know what I'm saying? If you can run your mouth to distract your opponent and also be a success doing it -- that's a helluva deal right there.''

As long as the message gets through.

``I don't even know what he's saying half the time he's talking to me,'' Dunleavy said.

That's OK, there's more still to come.
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Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 12, 2006
Words:729
Previous Article:PRIVATE HELP WHAT STATE REALLY NEEDS.
Next Article:EDITORIAL STRETCHED TOO THIN.



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