As Our Fearless Leader reminds me, the practice of NBA veteran stars bouncing from also-rans to contenders late in their careers to pursue the championship that eluded them in their heydays goes back a bit. We saw the likes of Bob McAdoo (with the Los Angeles Lakers) do it in the early 1980s, Bill Walton (with the Boston Celtics) do it in the mid-'80s, Mychal Thompson (Lakers) do it in the late '80s, Charles Barkley and Clyde Drexler (Houston Rockets) do it in the mid-'90s, and so on. It feels like we didn't really start regarding "ring-chasing" as a distasteful, wholly unseemly thing, though, until Gary Payton and Karl Malone inked one-year deals to join the Shaquille O'Neal-and-Kobe Bryant-led Lakers before the 2003-04 season.
Gifted, fringier types (Mitch Richmond, J.R. Rider, et. al.) preceded their march to Hollywood, but watching two future Hall of Famers who'd come up short for more than a decade (and in Malone's case, nearly two) hitch their wagons to a proven winner seeking resuscitation rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way. People seemed to enjoy the fact that it didn't work out, thanks (in part) to Malone re-injuring his knee during the Western Conference playoffs and (in larger part) to a really, really good Detroit Pistons team. It didn't stop the practice — Payton wound up winning a title with the 2005-06 Miami Heat, and we now see multiple veterans make the same decision every year — but it solidified the way many fans think and talk about formerly great players who stick around a bit longer for another shot. They're "blatant." They're "undeserving." They "jeopardize their legacy in an attempt to complete it."
Well, after a dozen years in the NBA, Richard Jefferson isn't buying that. During an interview with Kenny Smith and Jason Goff on SiriusXM's "Off the Dribble" on Thursday, the 33-year-old forward — who was traded from the contending Golden State Warriors to the rebuilding Utah Jazz this summer as part of the sign-and-trade that brought Andre Iguodala to the Bay — spoke in no uncertain terms: he's absolutely down for chasing a ring after he becomes a free agent this summer.
Here's the audio:
And here are the relevant quotes, via Jazz beat man Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune :
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Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant needed 7 1/2 arduous months to return from an Achilles tear, seemingly making it back in time to save a Lakers team that was left to battle the elements without injured guard Steve Nash and with Pau Gasol hobbling and inconsistent. The Lakers, faced with a tough road schedule, have dropped four of six with Bryant in the lineup, and they’re likely to be dropping quite a few more from now until February.
Bryant complained of left knee stiffness after an awkward move sent him tumbling during Tuesday’s Laker win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Two days later, we know the final diagnosis: Kobe will be out six weeks with a left knee injury in a move that could doom the Lakers’ postseason hopes.
The team revealed the details of the injury on Thursday afternoon:
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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 : Cowbell Kingdom . James Ham on Isaiah Thomas' triumphant post- trade return to the Sacramento Kings' starting lineup, which has seen him shoot the lights out and average 23 points and 7.3 assists in four games , with Mike Malone's team going 2-2: “I’ve been ready for this moment since I came into this league. That’s what I work so hard for in the summers. I want to be (one of those) guards that I see on each and every team playing 40 minutes a night.”
PF : Bleacher Report . Jared Dubin breaks down the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop attack that's making the Phoenix Suns an incredibly tough cover for the defenses they're facing and arguably the biggest surprise (in a positive way, at least) of the NBA season thus far.
SF : The Point Forward . Rob Mahoney also likes what he's seen from the Suns through the first 23 games, but notes one reason to pump the brakes a bit: "In total, [Eric] Bledsoe — who may be the face of the franchise going forward — has not yet been successful in leading lineups without [Goran] Dragic’s aid. At the same time, he’s both more productive (as one would expect) and more efficient (as one likely wouldn’t) with Dragic out of the game."
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