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Luhm: David Stern’s place in NBA history is well-deserved

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With the help of players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, however, Stern turned a floundering enterprise with an uncertain future into a global business and marketing phenomenon.

His place in NBA history is well-deserved.

At a glance

Dirty dancing costs Nelson $15K

Orlando’s Jameer Nelson was fined $15,000 this week for doing the “Sam Cassell Dance” during a 128-125 triple-overtime loss to Chicago. With 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Nelson tied the game with a jump shot. He celebrated his clutch basket by dropping both hands below his waist and … well … you’ve all seen examples of what he did. For some reason, players have embraced the bizarre celebration, which was first popularized by Cassell. Among those who have also been fined for “dancing” are Caron Butler, Andray Blatche and Marco Belinelli. One question: When did “Sam Cassell Dance” become an accepted substitute for “obscene gesture” among NBA players?

Jefferson, Bobcats on the rise

Charlotte is one of the league’s surprise teams this season. The Bobcats remain in contention for an Eastern Conference playoff berth — it would be the second in franchise history — and Steve Clifford is getting some support for Coach of the Year. Al Jefferson is a major reason for this team’s improvement. He averages 17.6 points and 9.9 rebounds. But Jefferson downplays the suggestion he’s been the difference-maker in Charlotte. “Don’t give me all the credit,” he says. “The coaching staff is doing a wonderful job, trying to give us a new identity. And the young guys we have — with my experience and low-post presence — it’s all working well together.”

Healthy Oden a weapon for Heat

Miami’s Greg Oden, the injury-plagued center who was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, played for the first time in more than five years Wednesday night at Washington. He finished with six points and two rebounds in eight minutes but, more significantly, reported no pain in his knees the day after the Wizards’ 114-97 win. “It felt good, just being back on the court,” Oden told reporters. If he stays healthy, of course, Oden could end up playing a significant role for the Heat as a badly-needed rim-protector and to match up individually against Indiana’s Roy Hibbert in what looks like a certain Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference final.

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