FIGHT! Midway through the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game between the Pacers and Heat, with Miami up 23 and the contest looking one-sided, Jimmy Butler and TJ Warren got tangled up on a random play and seemingly nearly came to blows before being separated by teammates and the officials.
On the next play, Butler threw a shoulder into Warren, drawing an offensive foul call and leading to Warren clapping at Butler as he the four-time All-Star walked away. That action got Warren ejected, and as he walked off the court, he made an obscene gesture at Butler who was blowing him kisses in return. After the game, Butler hopped on Instagram and posted a lovely message for Warren, basically telling him he can’t wait for the two teams to match up again in March. He also told local media what he thinks of Warren’s defensive prowess. (Spoiler alert: not much.)
In the process of this petty scuffle between the two talented players, Butler and Warren actually sort of taught us a lesson: That mid-season NBA games, usually known for low effort, particularly the outings that come just ahead of the All-Star break, can still be exciting! On a night with so many games yet with so little actually at stake, Butler and Warren became the talk of the basketball collective, and will likely lead every sports talk show this morning.
Maybe giving something players something to fight for (not literally) at this point in the season could prove to be good business by the NBA. And maybe, just maybe, that mid-season tournament could give the league a little excitement for what are typically those quiet nights in January. It’d be better than waiting on players to fight to spice things up at this point in the season, at least.
THE DRAGON: Goran Dragic missed a lot of last season due to knee troubles, but has bounced back this year to average 15.9 points off the bench for the Heat, turning himself into an early Sixth Man of the Year candidate in the process. Dragic says he feels great, and thinks his newfound health will allow him to play for at least another three or four seasons.
KUZMA WATCH: Although previous reports stated that the Lakers were open to hear offers for Kyle Kuzma and not initiating anything themselves, the latest scuttle says Lakers GM Rob Pelinka actually called the Kings himself to gauge their interest in the third-year forward. It certainly does not seem like Kuzma is long for L.A.
SWAGGY P BACK? Nick Young says he hopes to return to the NBA this season. He also said D’Angelo Russell is not invited to his upcoming wedding for… obvious reasons.
IMPORTANT RETURN SET: Victor Oladipo told Shams he’s targeting Jan. 29 as his return date. Oladipo’s comeback could be a game-changer in the East, as the Pacers are already a good team without their All-Star guard; his addition will only make them better.
UNFORTUNATE MISSPEAK: It’s been a rough go so far for first-year Cavs head coach John Beilein. And things only appear to be getting worse for the 66-year-old, who reportedly accidentally called his players ‘thugs’ instead of ‘slugs’ in a meeting, and had to apologize to his team individually yesterday. Yikes.
NO HARD FEELINGS: In his first appearance since being fired from the Knicks’ head coaching job and hired by ESPN, David Fizdale said he has no ill will towards his former employer, and said he misses his old team.
BANG! Mike Breen discusses some of his favorite three-point calls from his career, including the Kyrie Irving game-sealing triple over Steph Curry in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals.
BULLOCK’S BURDEN: Reggie Bullock talks about his comeback, not from surgery but from losing two sisters in a five-year span. He says his pink hair is a tribute he’s dedicating to his sister this season.
FROM PLAYER TO ANALYST: Jalen Rose played in the NBA for 13 seasons, and has now spent 12 working for ESPN, turning himself into one of the most entertaining voices in sports media. He discusses what that transition was like, how he’s been so successful and his political aspirations.
TRASH-TALKING THREES: Often, when a player spots up for a corner three, you can see the opposing bench players and even some assistant coaches yelling in the shooter’s ear to get him to miss. Here are some stories from players who have been on both sides of that phenomenon.
SUPER CARUSO: Alex Caruso explains why he wears a headband now. He says it’s because the headband has superpowers. It seems Caruso’s been spending a lot of time with JaVale McGee, clearly.
PHILANTHROPY: Trae Young is helping clear up over $1 million in medical debts for struggling families in Atlanta by donating $10,000 through his foundation. Amazing gesture by the future All-Star point guard.
SALARY QUIZ: WHO’S THIS NBA PLAYER? 🤔
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