Fri May 24 02:05pm EDT
The NBA’s newest set of Finals promos is based around legendary Finals moments from current players. This is a nice idea, but also one that severely limits the league’s choices, especially in regard to the four active teams fighting for the right to make it to the final round.
Thumbing their nose at convention, in the wake of highlighting a Dirk Nowitzki one-legged jumper from the 2011 Finals, the league went Kobe Bryant this time around, dunking on Todd MacCulloch during the 2002 Finals:
Sweet dunk, Kobe.
Fri May 24 01:30pm EDT
Chicago Bulls head athletic trainer Fred Tedeschi has won the 2012-13 Joe O’Toole NBA Athletic Trainer of the Year Award. The honor was revealed by the team’s website on Friday.
Fred Tedeschi is the trainer for a team that cleared former Bulls center Omer Asik to play in the 2011 NBA playoffs with a broken leg.
Tedeschi is on the staff of a team that presided over the mishandling of Luol Deng’s infamous absence in the 2013 playoffs, when the Bulls announced Deng’s severe reaction to a spinal tap procedure (one that Deng himself had to personally disclose on Twitter, after the Bulls denied a procedure took place) as “flu-like symptoms.”
Deng also played through the last two months of the season with a fractured thumb, when he was cleared as game-workable, alongside torn ligaments in the same hand.
Fred was also on the staff when center Joakim Noah – who has a history of falling prey to plantar fasciitis due to overuse – averaged 40 minutes a game for the first three months of the season. The Bulls staff also has an Internet connection, which would reveal that Noah runs more during those particular minutes than any other player in the NBA.
Fri May 24 12:10pm EDT
No, for real — that headline is true. Check out this game story (and accompanying photo) from the Milwaukee Bucks' win over the Seattle Supersonics on Jan. 25, 1972, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's third year in the league (click the image for a larger version):
For those who don't feel quite like reading the fine newsprint, here's Milwaukee Journal scribe Bob Wolf's account:
As far as the visiting Seattle Supersonics were concerned, the only amusing thing about the basketball game at the Arena Tuesday night was that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore his trunks backwards.
Aside from that one little slipup, the Milwaukee Bucks were a fearsome lot as they dismembered one of the better teams in the National Basketball Association, 123-91. [...]
Fri May 24 11:35am EDT
You're not going to believe this, but Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert thinks that Miami Heat forward Shane Battier planting a surging right knee square into his giblets on a first-quarter drive during Wednesday's Game 1 win wasn't an accident. The Pacers' primary shot-blocker and layup deterrent shared his opinion of the Duke product's deviousness with his Twitter followers on Thursday:
U can knee or kick me every time u drive 2the rim. Ill be there 2protect the rim. That wasn't inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing
— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) May 23, 2013
Well, you won't always be there to protect the rim. But generally speaking, yes, we get what you're saying — "Come at me, bro."
So, what led Hibbert to speak out? The big man explained at Indiana's Friday morning practice:
Fri May 24 10:45am EDT
In the aftermath of the devastating tornado that tore through Oklahoma City and Moore, Okla., on Monday, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant was one of the first high-profile celebrities to lend a major hand, donating $1 million to regional Red Cross relief efforts in the hope of not only providing immediate aid of his own, but also sparking an outpouring of charitable contributions from others. Durant's leadership spurred responses from the Thunder, which matched his $1 million donation; the NBA and National Basketball Players Association, which combined to do the same; and many other citizens, who had combined to kick in "about $7.5 million as a result of Mr. Durant's gift," according to Emmanuel Bailey, president of the board of the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation.
But, as we noted in Thursday's 10-man rotation, Durant's involvement didn't end with his own checkbook. He toured Moore on Wednesday afternoon, surveying the destruction, meeting with residents still sorting through the rubble of their homes, and doing what little he could — an autograph here, a picture there, a few moments of conversation shot through with apologies and kind words — to brighten the spirits of those affected. As Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman wrote, after speaking with one woman, Durant, "in that moment, turned and walked away as if he wanted to give $1 million more."
So on Thursday, by reaching out to one of his main endorsers, he did.
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) May 24, 2013
Thu May 23 08:40pm EDT
NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson is something of an authority on what it takes to win championships, but he typically hasn't weighed in on the more contentious basketball topics about which players are best or give their teams the best chance to win. In promoting his new book "Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success," Jackson has switched up his approach and made some stronger statements on these debates. For instance, he's directly compared Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant for the first time ever, adding to an argument that probably won't stop even after science allows us to pit their clones against each other in hand-to-hand combat.
However, that does not mean Jackson believes that Jordan is the best player ever to serve as the centerpiece of a championship team. In a new interview with Time.com, Jackson gives that edge to Boston Celtics great Bill Russell. The discussion begins at about the 2:30 mark of the video above; here's Jackson's answer, as transcribed by Ben Golliver of The Point Forward:
Thu May 23 07:05pm EDT
In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday night's bonkers Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, discussion has focused on the failings of Pacers head coach for not having center Roy Hibbert in the game to protect the rim on LeBron James's game-winning, buzzer-beating lay-up. Analysis has covered how LeBron was able to finish so easily, various alternate realities in which Vogel did put Hibbert on the floor, and the Pacers' own reaction to the situation. Even those who have provided some explanation of Vogel's decision-making process — or at least argued that he was choosing between a bunch of insufficient options — have discussed the issue in terms of how Indiana was to contend with the Heat in this scenario.
This approach makes a great deal of sense, because Hibbert is one of the NBA's top defenders and just recently stonewalled Carmelo Anthony on a dunk attempt. Yet, while digging into the Pacers' side of the play is eminently reasonable, it also ignores the most readily apparent fact of the game-winner, which is that LeBron James did something really incredible.
Thankfully, we have the NBA's Phantom Cam to help us focus on LeBron's exploits. The clip is bereft of context — it's entirely LeBron making his move. The lack of perspective communicates the visceral experience: James catches, turns, dribbles, explodes, and finishes. No Pacers can stop him, because he is a unique basketball force.
Thu May 23 04:55pm EDT
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C: The Point Forward, 8 Points, 9 Seconds and SB Nation. Rob Mahoney, Brett Koremenos and Mike Prada all come to the defense of Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel — or, at least, explain the reasoning for his decision-making for removing Roy Hibbert for the Miami Heat's last two offensive possessions of Game 1, including LeBron James' game-winner.
PF: TrueHoop. Kevin Arnovitz considers several other options Vogel had that would have kept Hibbert on the floor for those fateful final 2.2 seconds.
SF: Miami Herald and SB Nation. Amid all the parsing, picking and probing of the Pacers coach and his choice, Dan LeBatard and Paul Flannery would like us to stop second-guessing for a second and just appreciate how remarkable and ridiculous LeBron's game-winning finish really was.
Thu May 23 03:40pm EDT
You’re going to see a whole heck of a lot of this over the next few weeks, leading up to the NBA draft on June 27. The Dallas Mavericks did not plan to be and are not happy to be in the lower 14 picks of the draft, due to their first playoff absence in 12 years, and though the team has a fantastic front office and scouting staff (complete with myriad analytic plans they don’t let anyone in on), this is a thin draft and the Mavericks have their eyes set on bigger and better things than their 13th pick in next month’s draft.
Like Dwight Howard, the free agent center that is looking to embark on a tour of suitors this summer that we’re all already annoyed with. In order to clear up more cap space (the 13th pick is set to make $1.7 million next year) to sign Dwight, the Mavericks are reportedly considering shopping their first rounder. From Eddie Sefko at the Dallas Morning News discussed one option on Thursday:
[Dallas owes] the Oklahoma City Thunder a first-round pick before 2018. That pick is protected through the first 20 picks of the draft. But if the Mavericks don’t convey it by 2017, the Thunder gets the pick no matter when it is in the 2018 draft.
Thu May 23 02:50pm EDT
With news jumping out of the bag about the Charlotte Bobcats officially deciding to lose their original team name and glom onto the suddenly available “Hornets” nickname for their franchise in 2014-15, Ben Eagle at Sports Illustrated’s The Point Forward took the next natural step and mused aloud as to whether or not Michael Jordan-owned franchise will go for the full teal reveal.
Then Ben found a video along those revealing lines. It features former Hornets forward Kelly Tripucka modeling the old Charlotte Hornets’ (and now New Orleans Pelicans, because this is all very confusing) team colors and uniform at a 1988 press conference that is, well, somewhat horrifying. Watch: