Marc J. Spears
Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago
OAKLAND, Calif. – When the Golden State Warriors walk into their practice gym they are greeted by a large, old banner that reads, "1974-75 NBA World Champions." Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry believes his team's record season will be a bust if a new title banner isn't finally added to the practice gym this year.
"For the players, it is," Curry told Yahoo Sports. "No one will be happy for anything less. If we don't win our last game this season it's going to be a disappointing feeling, one where we felt like we fell short."
The Warriors enter the postseason with a league-high and franchise-record 67 wins, as well as home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Golden State is led by Curry, the 3-point champion and a Most Valuable Player candidate. None of the Warriors was born when Rick Barry, Jamaal Wilkes and coach Al Attles led the franchise to the last title.
Now with high expectations, Curry and the Warriors are in unfamiliar territory. This postseason they're being hunted.
"If we get that opportunity I think we will be ready. We won't shy away from it. But until someone knocks them off, they are the champs."
Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard recalls as a teen noticing a taller-than-normal kid playing sports across the street from his home in Oakland, Calif. That kid was Ivan Rabb, who kept growing, is now one of the nation's top high school players and is projected to eventually join his old neighbor from 106th Ave. in East Oakland in the NBA.
"It just goes to show you that you never know who's around you and what they might be capable of in the future," Rabb told Yahoo Sports. "I know everything [Lillard] has, he has from hard work.
"I'm just happy for him. He's doing great things. One day I plan on being on his level."
Oakland, which has a population of more than 400,000, has a long and storied basketball history that few major American cities can match.
"Most of us from that area come with a lot of dog," Rabb said. "We play hard. We just love a challenge. For the most part, anyone that came out of Oakland plays with an attitude."
"He chose the home team," Lillard said. "He's trying to start something. That's pretty cool."
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Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago
1. Golden State Warriors (Record: 65-15; last week: 1): Talk about home, sweet home: The Warriors will have been at home for two weeks before going on the road for the first time for the playoffs.
2. San Antonio Spurs (Record: 55-26; last week: 4): No one is playing better basketball heading into the postseason than the defending NBA champions, who have won 11 straight.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record: 51-29; last week: 2): LeBron James will enter the playoffs with perhaps the most talented Cavs team ever and a legitimate chance of winning the title.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (Record: 54-26; last week: 5): The Clippers are rounding into shape, having won five straight and nine of 10.
5. Memphis Grizzlies (Record: 54-26; last week: 6) It could be tough for Memphis to return to the West’s second seed with the unclear statuses of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen.
6. Houston Rockets (Record: 54-26; last week: 3): James Harden has had an MVP-worthy season, but his award bid could take a hit if the Rockets don’t land a top-four playoff seed.
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Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago
PORTLAND, Ore. – With LSU-bound Ben Simmons leading the way on the court, the 125 credentialed NBA personnel had good reason to be excited about future prospects while watching the 18th annual Hoop Summit game and practices last week.
"There were two to three NBA starters, then there is a drop-off that will be determined by development," an NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. "A lot of the wings were good players, but don't have the prototypical size now. There are a few sleepers, too."
The following is Yahoo Sports' top 10 high school players the NBA has its eyes on in the Class of 2015:
1. Ben Simmons, Australia, 6-9, forward, LSU Scout's comment: "He can play multiple positions. He can guard multiple positions. Super passer. His jump shot is a little shaky, but it will get better. He is going to be a special player."
Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago
Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio will have arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle early next week, a league source told Yahoo Sports.
Rubio missed 43 games after badly spraining his left ankle on Nov. 7 against the Orlando Magic. The source said the surgery is considered to be a "minor cleanup" after the Spaniard had his "good and bad days" after returning to play. Rubio is expected to be ready for the T'wolves training camp next season, but the source said it is "highly unlikely" he will play for Spain this summer during the European championships.
Minnesota signed Rubio to a four-year contract extension worth $55 million in November. He finishes the season with career lows in field-goal percentage (35.6) and 3-point percentage (25.5) while averaging 10.3 points, 8.8 assists and 1.7 steals in 22 games.
The ankle injury and a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in his rookie year has limited Rubio to playing just 202 of a possible 309 games in his four-year NBA career.
Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago
PORTLAND, Ore. – More than 200,000 people died during the tragic earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Skal Labissiere was one of the lucky ones that survived after his childhood home fell atop him. Nearly five years later, he's headed to the University of Kentucky to help replace the seven Wildcats who declared for the 2015 NBA draft.
And Labissiere credits the aftermath of that devastating earthquake for giving him the opportunity to chase his own NBA dream.
"It was a terrible experience, but …once the earthquake happened, it got easier for me to get [to the United States]," Labissiere told Yahoo Sports.
On Jan. 12, 2010, the 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti just 16 miles away from the capital of Port-au-Prince. Labissiere was inside his home with his mother and brother while his father was outside as the earthquake began. The force was so strong that the home collapsed on everyone but the father.
Another NBA scout saw Labissiere as the second-best prospect on the World team behind Simmons.
Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago
"He can play on any NBA team right now," the NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. "He's big and sees the game like a point guard. He can guard shooting guards, small forwards and power forwards. That's real talent. He looks 7-footers in the eye. Just skip him and go on to evaluate the next guy."
Simmons is the headliner of Saturday's Hoop Summit, which matches the top international teens against a USA squad with the top high school seniors. Three NBA scouts told Yahoo Sports that Simmons could end up becoming the top pick in the 2016 NBA draft. The LSU-bound forward was ranked as the top player of the 2015 class by Rivals.com and led Montverde Academy (Fla.) to three straight titles in the Dick's Sporting Goods High School Nationals tournament.
On projections that he could be the top draft pick next year, Simmons said: "I wouldn't mind that. That would be awesome. There is a long way to go. There are guys coming for that spot. If I keep working I can definitely do it."
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Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago
1. Golden State Warriors (Record: 63-14; last week: 1): Coach Steve Kerr has said he wants the Warriors to have rhythm entering the playoffs, but it is essential to heed the threat of injury.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record: 50-27; last week: 2): Cleveland reached 50 wins for the first time since the 2009-10 season, LeBron James’ last with the Cavs before joining the Heat.
3. Houston Rockets (Record: 53-24; last week: 3): Houston sent out a video book to voters pushing James Harden for the NBA’s MVP award. The Warriors are not promoting Stephen Curry.
4. San Antonio Spurs (Record: 51-26; last week: 5): The Spurs are the only team that has defeated the Warriors twice this season and are probably the team Golden State is most concerned about.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (Record: 52-26; last week: 4): Reserve guard Jamal Crawford has missed 17 straight games with a bruised right calf, but he is expected to be back in action soon.
6. Memphis Grizzlies (Record: 52-25; last week: 8) The Blazers, Clippers and Spurs are on the heels of Memphis for the third playoff seed in the West. It’s possible the Grizzlies could fall to the sixth seed.
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Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago
The Atlanta Hawks are expected to sign forward Austin Daye for the remainder of this season, a source told Yahoo Sports.
The 6-foot-11, 220-pound forward had signed two 10-day contracts with Atlanta and averaged 3.0 points and 1.4 rebounds this season for the Hawks.
The six-year NBA veteran also played in 26 games for the San Antonio Spurs this season before being waived.
Daye was drafted with the 15th pick overall in the 2009 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons.
Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago
For years, Earl Watson's older brother encouraged him to retire from the NBA and pursue a second career in coaching. Watson, a respected veteran guard in the league, knew he wanted to eventually coach, but wasn't quite ready to give up playing. His career would go on to last 13 seasons, taking him from Seattle to Memphis, back to Seattle, to Denver, Oklahoma City, Indiana, Utah and Portland.
Not until the day after burying his brother Dwayne Hooks – who died on Aug. 30, 2014, as the victim of a shooting in Kansas City, Kan. – did Watson take his advice.
Hooks "used to say, 'Earl, if that's what you want to do, do it,' " Watson said. "He said, 'Earl your entire life you've helped the family and took us to a place where we would never be financially.' He said, 'Now it's time for you to do what's best for you. We're good. You don't have to keep playing for us. Do what your heart tells you do.' "
"My brothers kept me in the backyard and corrected life-changing mistakes where you could be at the wrong place at the wrong time," Watson said.
Watson's teammates also saw the makings of a coach.