Marc J. Spears

  • Grizzlies' 'Masked Assassin' stuns Warriors and upstages MVP Stephen Curry

    Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 20 hrs ago

    OAKLAND, Calif. – The Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry was given the NBA's Most Valuable Player award by league commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday night before Game 2 of their playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies. For the Grizzlies, however, the true MVP of the night was the man in the mask standing across from Curry for much of the game: point guard Mike Conley.

    "What I had to endure the past week, I don't think people really understand what I was going through physically," Conley told Yahoo Sports after he scored 22 points in a 97-90 Game 2 victory that evened the second-round series. "And then mentally with the pressure of playing and knowing that the team needed me to just find a way. And that was the biggest … finding a way regardless to how I was feeling."

    Conley's teammates told him he should play in Game 2. His parents, however, wanted him to rest another game.

    Then the game started.

    Said Grizzlies guard Tony Allen: "He came out there and surprised me."

  • The story of how Stephen Curry's agent and dad didn't want the Warriors to draft him

    Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    OAKLAND, Calif. – As Stephen Curry took snapshots with the NBA Most Valuable Player trophy on Monday, the man who tried to keep him from the Golden State Warriors shook the hand of the man who refused to let that happen.

    "I didn't see him until Steph called him out [in his acceptance speech]," Curry's agent Jeff Austin said of former Warriors general manager Larry Riley, "and I was glad that he was here."

    Said Riley: "It's been fun to sit back and watch this whole thing develop."

    Curry was regarded as a top-10 NBA draft prospect after averaging 28.6 points per game his junior year at Davidson College during the 2008-09 season. The Los Angeles Clippers were set on drafting then-Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin with the top pick. Austin's hope was that his client would land with the New York Knicks with the eighth overall pick. Curry and his father, former NBA player Dell Curry, were on board with the plan as well.

    Still, Austin knew the Warriors had strong interest a pick before the Knicks.

    "I thought they would take Rubio and see Steph as a [shooting guard]," Riley said.

  • Warriors roll to Game 1 victory as Grizzlies hope for Mike Conley's return

    Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    OAKLAND, Calif. – The bright lights of Oracle Arena, the screaming by the Golden State Warriors fans, even the sound of the buzzer – all of it was bothersome for Mike Conley Jr. What was even more painful for the injured point guard was seeing his Memphis Grizzlies struggle without him.

    Conley missed his third straight playoff game during the Grizzlies' 101-88 loss to the Warriors in Game 1 of the second-round series on Sunday. This much was evident: If the Grizzlies hope to make this a series, they're going to need Conley back on the floor.

    Conley has not played since suffering a facial injury in Game 3 of Memphis' first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 25, but he sat on the bench on Sunday. Memphis has lost two of its past three playoff games without him and it's uncertain when he will return.

    "Today was a big step being able to go in front of the crowd and the loud noise," Conley told Yahoo Sports. "I did all right. All the horns and stuff really aggravated it. But it was all right.

  • Why Chris Paul was so emotional after knocking off Spurs with memorable one-legged shot

    Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    LOS ANGELES – In between hugging actor Billy Crystal and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, Chris Paul gave the longest congratulatory hug Saturday night to his brother C.J., repeating one word of joy over and over.

    "Finally," Chris Paul said. "Finally."

    The "finally" was in respect to the San Antonio Spurs. Paul finally took down the reigning NBA champions during a memorable 111-109 Game 7 victory in a thrilling end to a classic first-round series.

    The Spurs have been the dominant NBA team during Paul's 10 seasons thanks to a battle-tested core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and coach Gregg Popovich. San Antonio swept Paul and the Clippers in the second round of the playoffs in 2012. The Spurs also beat Paul and the New Orleans Hornets in seven games during a second-round series in 2008.

    Paul was set to go toe-to-toe with the Spurs once again on Saturday only to have a hamstring injury initially limit him. But when the Clippers needed Paul most, he nailed a game-winning 9-foot shot on one leg over two much taller Spurs with one second left.

    No Clipper, however, had to fight harder or made a bigger play than the injured Paul.

  • Future of Spurs in question after Game 7 loss to Clippers

    Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    LOS ANGELES – The heartache and frustration of having their championship reign end in a last-second Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers had barely begun to hang over the San Antonio Spurs when attention quickly turned to a pertinent question about the franchise's future.

    Was this the last game for Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili? And maybe even coach Gregg Popovich?

    From the sound of Duncan and Ginobili, they aren't rushing into a decision.

    "I'm not making any statements," Duncan said after the season-ending 111-109 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

    Said Ginobili: "It's not a topic to talk about. It's too soon."

    Whenever he decides to retire, Duncan will leave as the greatest Spurs player of all time and also the greatest power forward the NBA has ever known. He is now 39 and admitted this week he sees "the light at the end of the tunnel." But he's also still playing at an elite level: He totaled 27 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes in Game 7, his fourth game of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the series.

    "It's a little too early to think about that," Duncan said of the possibility he might retire.

  • As the Clippers and Spurs head to Game 7, Doc Rivers urges playoff reform

    Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    SAN ANTONIO – Before tipoff of the opening game of what now seems destined to go down as one of the better first-round matchups in NBA playoff history, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich grumbled to one another with the same complaint.

    Why are we playing each other … now ?

    "It's ridiculous that it's a first-round series," Rivers told Yahoo Sports late Thursday. "That was the first thing Pop said to me before Game 1, and I said the same thing. But we both decided, 'What the hell, it is what it is.' But this is ridiculous."

    Across nearly two weeks, the Clippers-Spurs series has delivered everything as predicted: torture for its two elite coaches, entertainment for everyone else – and now a decisive Game 7 to settle it all on Saturday night at Los Angeles' Staples Center. The Clippers created the winner-take-all event with a 102-96 victory in Game 6 that left Popovich fuming about the Spurs' toughness.

    "We should be embarrassed at the way we came out for a closeout game in every regard," said Popovich, who called his team's performance "soft."

  • Source: Andrew Wiggins wins NBA Rookie of the Year award

    Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Andrew Wiggins will be named the NBA's Rookie of the Year during a news conference on Thursday, a source told Yahoo Sports.

    Wiggins was the top overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he was dealt to the T'wolves in a trade for Kevin Love before the season. The four-time Western Conference Rookie of the Month averaged 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 36.2 minutes while playing in all 82 games this season.

    Wiggins appeared to be the frontrunner for the award from the start, with his competition in the injury-plagued rookie class limited to Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic and Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton.

    The news conference to honor the former University of Kansas star will be on the main floor of the Target Center in Minneapolis and open to the public.

    More NBA coverage:

  • Tim Duncan: 'I know my time is winding down, so I'm enjoying it more'

    Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    LOS ANGELES – A few days removed from his 39th birthday, flecks of grey now in his hair and beard, Tim Duncan sat on the Staples Center scorer's table late Tuesday, watching the chaotic scene unfold in front of him in the final seconds of the 239th playoff game of his storied NBA career. The game hung in the balance, the atmosphere thick with tension, and yet in that small moment Duncan looked utterly comfortable – happy, even – at what awaited him and his San Antonio Spurs.

    "It's just a realization of mortality, I guess," Duncan told Yahoo Sports late Tuesday. "I know my time is winding down so I'm enjoying it more."

    After all these 18 seasons, Duncan's old-school game still looked as timeless as ever for one more night. He totaled 21 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals and one game-changing block, playing all but 10 minutes in a 111-107 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers that left the Spurs with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and needing one more victory to reach the second round.

    "He was coming dead at me and my choice was either to go contest the shot or give up a dunk," Duncan said.

    More NBA coverage:

  • Monty Williams: 'I don't want my wife and kids' hearing boos from Pelicans fans

    Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams continued to express appreciation for the franchise’s fans at the end of the season despite hearing boos during introductions at the two home playoff games. But when the boos and heckling were a concern in the regular season, Williams actually told his wife, Ingrid, that it was best that she and their five children stay home.

    “It’s weird because I’ve never seen that done in a rebuild,” Williams told Yahoo Sports after a season-ending 109-98 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of a first-round series on Saturday night. “I always try to focus on the people that come every day, the people that support us. I hear that stuff. My biggest worry is my family sits behind me. I don’t want my wife and kids hearing that.

    “There have been times where I told her to stay home. And that bothered me that I had to tell my wife and kids to stay home because our fans were booing me and we were winning games. That’s the only time that bothered me.”

    “It was an amazing year,” Williams said.


  • What Warriors can take away from opening-round sweep of Pelicans

    Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    NEW ORLEANS – The 1975 NBA champion Golden State Warriors were a hunted team in 1976 – one that failed to repeat as they were upset by the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference finals.

    No one on the Warriors' current roster was even close to being born then.

    But now, 39 years later, today's Warriors are fighting in new territory as the NBA's most hunted team after winning a league-best 67 games. While Golden State passed its first test by completing a sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round on Saturday, they believe the tougher-than-it-looked first-round series offered some lessons that will help them to deal with the unfamiliar bull's-eye.

    "We learned about just feeling the pressure both at home and on the road," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We had the best record. This team has playoff experiences the past two years as an underdog. I think it's easier as an underdog because you just come out and play loose. The favorite is a little different feeling."

    Kerr believes the Warriors gained valuable experience about the pressure of playing at Oracle Arena in the postseason after being so dominant in the regular-season.