Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan was asked which streak is tougher to accomplish as a player – and didn’t miss the opportunity to point out his own greatness. “I’m very proud of how both guys have done because they’re making their mark for the league, and I think it really helps grow the league. Which is harder from a player’s perspective? Six championships, by all means.”
To which O'Neal raises an indignant objection. "I find it quite disrespectful that they don't bring Kobe's name up," he says of his onetime teammate and rival. "That kind of pisses me off how they just skip over him and say, 'LeBron.' I don't understand that. Because I was there with him, and he was a bad motherfucker, too."
Sirius XM NBA: LeBron just liked a Kobe highlight and a Jordan highlight on Instagram. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/7HDJJSx7UW
Jordan's infamous competitive drive made him the GOAT then—and would do the same in today's LeBron James- and Steph Curry-dominated NBA. "He would somehow find a way to beat you—somehow," Perdue says. "I'm not sure how. He's not sure how, but he would stay up weeks to figure it out."
Perdue says MJ's persistence seems to be the differentiating factor between him and LeBron—the latest, and perhaps most promising yet, challenger to Jordan's GOAT throne. "You see LeBron say: 'I'm playing hard, I averaged a triple-double, I'll sleep well tonight,'" Perdue says. "I don't think you would ever hear those words come out of MJ's mouth. "Even if he had 60, [if] he lost and thought somebody had got the best of him, he would be pissed."
Where do you think this team ranks all-time? JaVale McGee: It’s a whole different era and a whole different type of basketball nowadays. You get there’s not a lot of physicality as there was back then. But still, I’ve seen the work that Steph [Curry] put in behind the scenes. The way he has to get open in games and the way teams guard him in games, he still gets points…it’s amazing. And being there seeing KD working and him lying to people, telling people he’s 6’9” when he’s 7’.
Connor Letourneau: Kerr on all the comparisons between the Warriors and past great teams: "It's just part of it. We're kind of used to it."
Adam Lauridsen: Kerr on chatter about Warriors' place in history: "We're just trying to beat the Cavs. They're a great team. We know that."
Another Warriors victory no doubt would put Mychal Thompson at ease. It would also leave him convinced that Golden State would go down as the NBA’s best team because of a 16-0 record in the playoffs. “That’s hard to get. It’s not guaranteed they will get to 16,” Thompson said. “But if they are able to pull that off…”
“I’ve seen all the teams from Bill Russell’s teams to now,” Thompson said. “If they go 16-0, with the season they have and the personnel they have, to me, they would be the greatest team in history.” In other words, Thompson will not represent one of many former NBA luminaries to boast superiority about their past teams over the current Warriors. “I better say we’d win because Magic [Johnson] would have me exiled from L.A.,” Thompson said, laughing. “But this Warriors team is legit. They can beat anybody.”
For all those former greats turned hot takers, Steve Kerr has your back: The Warriors would have no chance against any of the great teams of the past. “They’re all right,” Kerr said at Friday’s shootaround in advance of Game 4 of the NBA Finals. “They would all kill us. The game gets worse as time goes on. Players are less talented than they used to be. The guys in the 50s would’ve destroyed everybody. It’s weird how human evolution goes in reverse in sports. Players get weaker, smaller, less skilled. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.” Kerr is, of course, talking with his usual healthy dose of sarcasm.
“It’s kind of comedy to me,” Curry said Friday. “The hypothetical game is never one I’ve played. I don’t want to be in that situation where you’re having to argue that. “Every team that talked about it was great in their era, great in their time. It was great for the league, inspiration for up-and-coming hoopers like myself watching that type of competition. It’s our time to do that now too.
Do you see any comparisons between the 2004 Pistons and teams today? Sheed: “Oh, we’d run through them. Not even close. We play defense.” Mike Brown compared the defense of today’s Warriors and that Pistons team. Do you agree? Sheed: “I’d agree to a certain point. But I think the Warriors’ defensive strategy is, I’ma put up more shots than you. And if you try to match that, then you assed out because they got exceptional shooters. “So that’s their whole defensive thing. I don’t call it good defense if the man came down and he shot a jump shot or shot a three and missed it, and the Warriors went back down to the other end and scored it.
The Knicks as they’re built will never win, according to Dennis Rodman. And the man they call “The Worm” said part of the reason is because Carmelo Anthony — and the rest of today’s millennial players — can’t handle team president Phil Jackson.
“People always say, ‘Phil Jackson’s a [expletive deleted]. No, he’s not,’’ Rodman said. “The people’s mind-age now can’t handle the Phil Jacksons, or people like him, that mentally thing, man. Because Phil Jackson lets you be a man first; that’s the first thing he’ll let you do.’’
Dennis Rodman: “And people like Anthony and all you guys, stuff like that, that’s called pressure, man.’ That’s pressure. Especially in New York. They want to win in New York; they will never win in New York. They’ll never win in New York. I’m just saying. Even though he’s a great athlete, great player, he’ll never win in New York. And it’s a great city, though.”
Before the Warriors’ Wednesday night game in Phoenix, Steve Kerr, who was teammates with Rodman in Chicago, could only laugh at the comment. “I saw Dennis Rodman was complaining about it,” Kerr said. “I got a kick out of that because Dennis was suspended for 15 games a year anyway. He’d have plenty of rest. (Went to) Vegas or Wrestlemania. He took a night off whenever he wanted so he can’t complain.”
Durant then shared the following story: "We played in Vancouver, first game in a Warriors uniform. And I see James Worthy walking out as I was leaving the game ... it's a legend here. 'Big Game James.' I didn't get to see him play but I just know all about him ... I'm a little skeptical at this point to even talk to anybody from the generation before because I don't even know how they feel about me as a person, as a player because these dudes -- they look at me as like, 'Oh you switching teams, you chasing this, you chasing that.' So I'm just gonna keep it moving. "But he was like, 'Man. Don't worry about that stuff. People change jobs every single year, every single day. Don't worry about that. Just go out there and keep working and go win.' So I'm like, 'Man that's nice.'
"So I came back home that night and my boy Randy -- I was like, 'Man. James worthy was cool. He showed me so much love. I appreciate that.' He (Randy) was like, 'Huh? He was talking so bad about you on TV. He was saying Magic wouldn't have done that. I wouldn't have done that...' "Yo, stop selling out. Stop selling your brothers out. This is a fraternity. Stop selling us out ... stop doing that man, and then come in my face talking that nonsense. I was really fooled with him."
For those players, today’s game isn’t so much a game as it is a scrimmage. Or, as Isiah Thomas recently called it: “Straight summer league.” Thomas was talking about how many points he would average if he played in today’s league. “Crazy numbers,” he said, modestly. “When you come down on a 3-on-1 fast break and pull up from the three-point line, it’s like straight summer league,” he said. “I was good in summer league. If you saw some of our barnstorming games, we would be doing that type of stuff in the NBA right now.”
So they deflect. Say it’s all about numbers, as Thomas did last week when he was in town to commemorate the Palace’s final season. “Winning is now secondary,” he said. “When they lead the newscasts now, it’s, ‘Oh, this guy got a triple double … and by the way (he) lost.’ Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right.”
“This game is global, man. Do these people know where this game started? I’m from the 70s and 80s and we weren’t worldwide,” Gervin told USA TODAY Sports. “My playoff games were tape delayed. To say that this league is not where it should be, to me, being a part of the league, is insane. We’re all over the world, man. The only game that was really all over the world was soccer. Now we’re all over the world competing against soccer. So that tells you a lot, man. We’ve got guys in this league that are from all over the world. When I played, I don’t know if we had anybody from any (other) country.”
“People have their opinions, man, but I pretty much deal with facts. Factually, this game is the best that it’s been. We look at sponsorship, we look at branding, we look at the television, we look at the new collective bargaining agreement. Come on, man — we’ve come an unbelievable way with this game.”
Charles Barkley: "If you look at the NBA now, it’s the worst it’s ever been, in my opinion. Everybody want to use analytics, everybody want to shoot threes. Threes are great if you have a Steph Curry, a Klay Thompson, guys like that … But now, if you look around the NBA, everybody is trying to go small. We got a bunch of guys shooting threes who are not good shooters. Now we’re trying to to relegate the big man out of the game."
Charles Barkley: "If you look at the big picture — and this ain’t no ‘old guy hating on the young guys’ — the NBA is the worst it’s ever been, top to bottom. We got one or two, three or four good teams, and the rest of the teams stink."
Q: What about this thing with LeBron throwing the water bottle. Did it bother you, and not necessarily as the Knicks coach but as a former player? Jeff Hornacek: “Yeah, I mean you can have the old-school respect for the game. The guys now are playing the game where they’re having fun, and if that’s something that they’re having fun doing … You know all that would do for me as a player is the next time you play them that should jack you up and get you ready to go. I don’t know if there’s enough of those players in today’s game that take any stock in that, but that’s how we would approach it … Everybody looks at it differently I guess.”
Here is what Barkley said about the Warriors: “Maybe I’m old school, but I’m never going to like that little girly basketball where you have to outscore people. I’m biased against girl’s basketball. I love (UConn women’s coach) Geno Auriemma. I love women’s college basketball. I don’t want it in the NBA.” Kerr was asked his thoughts on the latest Barkley criticism: “We didn’t talk about it. But it’s getting to the point that I feel like if our whole team walked in front of Charles’ house he’d yell ‘Get off my lawn!’ That’s how I feel about it.”
“If you were 0 for 8 five years ago or even seven years ago from the 3-point line, your a– might get cut,” Isiah Thomas said through a lament-filled laugh. The Hall of Fame Detroit Pistons guard added, “They’ve completely twisted the boundaries in terms of what an acceptable shot is in our sport.”
Still, as the latitude for even role players has grown, the “standards for what great shooters are have completely dropped,” said Legler, who when he was with the Washington team in 1995-96 shot .522 from 3-point range, attempting about four 3-pointers a game. “People like Brent Price and me had to lead the league in 3-point shooting to have a green light. Now it’s eight or nine guys per roster,” he said. “You’re considered this gunslinger if you make three of nine now, because that means that guy is worth 250 3-pointers a season. If I shot less than 38 percent from there when I played, I wouldn’t have been on the floor or in the league very long.”
He said the acceptance of the long-distance gunner is less about the evolution of the game and more about team executives and coaches who rely on analytics that say the quick 3-point shot is more effective than the conventional, walk-it-up 2-pointer. “This is the first time in our sport you get no credit for institutional knowledge,” he said. “We live in an age now where we are bombarded by more data than any society that’s ever existed on this earth.”
Van Gundy says Thomas is right about the “lack of variety” in style of play now. But he disagrees with him about the value of analytics. “I think we simply had people that came in and made coaches think on a lot of different levels about a lot of different things. They had strong beliefs, and sometimes it made you go back and re-evaluate. The biggest thing is, it’s a players’ league. And it’s picking the right players. The Warriors get Curry and then get Draymond Green, who can play on the perimeter. Then they get Andrew Bogut for interior defense and more passing. They put the players around Curry that allows him the freedom to become who he is now.”
“Consequently, our game today is not about artistry and origination. It’s about shoot it 20 times from here. It’s been broken down into really a cold science, which takes emotions, feeling, love, passion – all of those things – out of the sport. And when you take those things out of the sport, do you really have a sport?” Told that he sounds like a curmudgeon jealous of the latitude players get today, Thomas laughs again. “Whether you see that as good or bad, again it’s all a matter of taste. “That’s not hate. That’s critique.”
Now that he has delivered Cleveland its first championship in 52 years, James said his chief motivation is catching or eclipsing Jordan as the best player ever: "My motivation is the ghost I'm chasing. The ghost played in Chicago." Armstrong, now a player agent who represents Derrick Rose, has some advice for James. "Chasing a ghost is in make-believe land," Armstrong told ESPN.com in a telephone conversation. "That's far-out, that's unattainable, that's something you can't achieve. This ain't no ghost. If you want to do it, there's a blueprint. It's possible. There's only one way to get there. It's not possible for him to do what Jordan did because the circumstances are different, everything is different. What is possible for him is to be bigger than every situation that's put in front of him, to dominate every situation that's in front of him.''
Jordan told ESPN.com on Tuesday that he had not read the Sports Illustrated article. When shown LeBron's quotes, he said he would not comment because he had not seen the entire article. When asked how James can eliminate the comparisons to other players, Armstrong said he has to be obsessed with dominating every moment he's on the court, whether in practice, games or summer competition.
Saturday, while at the Milwaukee Bucks’ groundbreaking ceremony, I asked Bob Dandridge, a starter on the Bucks’ one and only championship team in 1971, whether the Bucks could beat the Warriors in a hypothetical matchup. “Of course, I think we would beat them,’’ said Dandridge, whose averaged 18.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 13 pro seasons with Milwaukee and Washington. “I mean, you have Kareem in the middle and he could have been the difference. How would they have stopped him? And we had the Big O. And who was going to stop him? I really don’t think they could have beaten our championship team, I really don’t.’’
Diamond Leung: Mychal Thompson on saying LeBron couldn't survive 80s trash talk "I was being unfair. There's no question about it." cbsloc.al/1XXj9Tq
Diamond Leung: Lindsey Hunter on Festus Ezeli vs. James Worthy: "I've worked with him. He would get smoked." http://bit.ly/1talJYy
Diamond Leung: Lindsey Hunter compares Showtime Lakers picking themselves to him believing Mark Jackson staff would have won title http://bit.ly/1talJYy
The Warriors' 73 victories broke the Bulls' 1996 record, but O'Neal said his 2001 Lakers would have beaten them. That team set an NBA record by going 15-1 in the postseason for the second of three straight championships under Jackson, back when O'Neal could be an even bigger physical force before rules changes loosened the game for free-flowing offenses like Golden State's to thrive. "If you're using those rules, we'd win. Now we use these rules these days, we'd still win, because you wouldn't be allowed to touch me, you wouldn't be allowed to touch Kobe," O'Neal said. "So yeah, that's how I always look at it."
Diamond Leung: Byron Scott: "Me and Coop are going to guard Klay and Steph pretty damn good." http://es.pn/1rc6FbB
Diamond Leung: Magic Johnson: "If we can beat somebody like the Celtics, who we feared, now we never feared a jump-shooting team." https://youtu.be/ub40kowVrmI
Diamond Leung: Magic Johnson on Mychal Thompson: "If we were playing in the series & he didn't want to play against his son, you go ahead & sit down." https://youtu.be/ub40kowVrmI
Basketball Hall of Famer Dave Bing has a pretty strong opinion: Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is the best shooter in NBA history. "He is absolutely the best shooter that has played the game," said Bing, who was named one of the Top 50 NBA players of all time. "Nobody's close, except his teammate." Curry's teammate, of course, is Klay Thompson. But Bing gave Curry the nod over Thompson because of everything else he does.
"Curry, he has the ability to get free. I mean, he's a great ball handler," Bing said. "He can play one-on-one and he gets free because he handles the ball so well. Klay Thompson doesn't handle the ball like that, but he's probably got equal depth. He's got the range also, but he can't get free like Curry. Curry can get free on his own and he makes the rest of his teammates, he makes them better."
Mychal Thompson: I agree with Klay, I think they would beat us (Showtime Lakers). We couldn't keep up with them offensively.
“People think us old guys hate when we talk about it,” Barkley told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “It has nothing to do with the Warriors’ greatness, LeBron’s greatness. But I’ve never seen the NBA as bad as it is, and I’ve been saying it the last three or four years. We’ve got too many young players coming out of college that don’t know how to play. It’s frustrating for me because I want to see competitive basketball.
“It’s funny how the game has changed,” Bird continued. “And my thinking about it. I was really worried—back sixteen, seventeen years ago—that the little guy didn’t have a spot in the N.B.A. anymore: it was just going to be the big guards like Magic Johnson. But then players started shooting more threes and spacing the court, and everyone wants small guards now. Watching these kids play now, I’m like everybody else: Wow, man. They can really shoot! They have more freedom to get to the basket. The ball moves a little better. These kids are shooting from farther, with more accuracy. Now some teams shoot up around thirty threes a game. My era, you always think that’s the greatest era. But I’m not so sure anymore.”
Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving says he doesn't care about Tracy McGrady's recent comments that the NBA is "watered down." "It doesn't matter to me," Irving said. "There's always a different era that comes into the game and guys are going to continue to change the game. We just try to make our imprint as best we can."
"The past guys that have been in this league are always going to have an opinion of what they would've been like in this era and this new generation," Irving said. "All you can do is respect what they have given to the game, respect any opinion of the past guys that have given something to this game that I've watched for numerous years. It's all in good respect."
Chris Fedor: #Cavs Kyrie Irving responds to Tracy McGrady's comments about NBA being "watered down" right now: "I really don't care. It doesn't matter to me. There's always a different era that comes into the game and guys are going to continue to change the game. We just try to make our imprint as best we can. The past guys that have been in this league are always going to have an opinion of what they would've been like in this era and this new generation. All you can do is respect what they have given to the game, respect any opinion of the past guys that have given something to this game that I've watched for numerous years. It's all in good respect."
NBA players today are, on average, significantly better at virtually every skill relevant to basketball than ever before. And the gap between modern players and players in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s is enormous, and even since the late 80’s and 90’s there’s been at least some improvement.
Basketball actually throws an interesting variable into the equation because height is an incredibly valued tool. According to David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, in 1983 when the NBA signed its first agreement making the players entitled to a certain percentage of the ticket revenues and television contracts, the proportion of 7-footers in the NBA doubled almost overnight. And for every few inches after 6-foot-2, the odds of making the NBA is increased by an order of magnitude.
Curry has been the most recent victim of this growing trend, with the likes of Oscar Robertson and others marginalizing the historic accomplishments of the Golden State Warriors star and reigning MVP with their self-serving commentary. “Yeah, for me personally in my career I’ve done nothing but big-up the guys who paved the way for us,” James told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m respectful to all the guys who paved the way, the greats, guys who were role players, guys who were part of a championship team or was not. I’ve always been respectful, so it does kind of suck when you’ve got guys who played before us and paved the way for us (and) …they like to talk down on a lot of our players, saying, ‘Well if they played in our era it wouldn’t be the same.’”
“I heard Dennis Rodman say if I played in their era I’d just be an average player – yeah, about me, that I’d be just an average player,” James said. “And they say the same things about Steph, ‘If Steph played in our era, then we’d be more physical with him and we’d go at him.’ And it sucks because we’re just trying to carry the torch for the next group to come behind us. “I just want to be able to leave a mark personally, and be able to leave this game, this beautiful game, when I’m done with it for the next group of guys. I’m never one to talk down on a group of guys. If they can play, they can play.”
“So you hear about (the criticism), but you don’t let it affect you because we understand that they paved the way for us. Then you’ve got (Tim) Duncan, Kobe, KG (Kevin Garnett). They paved the way for us. Now myself, D-Wade, ‘Melo, Chris Bosh, CP3 (Chris Paul), we’re kind of paving the way for Steph, Klay, all those generations, and now they’re doing it for the younger guys. It’s no biggie.”
July 2, 2022 | 3:54 am EDT Update
The Jazz, league sources say, are not amenable to trading Mitchell. They want to build around their star, and they want to do so on the fly. The obvious caveat: If Ainge and Zanik receive an offer from a team that approaches the scale of the Gobert trade, it will be hard to not listen. But, for now, the plan is for Mitchell to be with the Jazz heading into next season.
Also, there are reports that no one on the Nets is safe, that Marks and Tsai willing to do a complete rebuild if necessary. Durant’s deal will likely take place first since Brooklyn will have multiple offers to sift through for him. “I think Kyrie is going to have wait this out because we’re not going to really know what the Nets are going to want to trade him for until we see what Kevin Durant gets traded for,” said ESPN’s Windhorst.
At the same time, the sources say, the Jazz saw Gobert’s super-max contract as a hindrance. Utah’s current core reached its peak as a second-round playoff team, and Ainge thought it needed to move Gobert to break free from that. Other teams were interested, and other packages were available. Once Minnesota’s offer swelled to four firsts, a pick swap, plus Kessler, whom the Timberwolves drafted at No. 22 in the first round of the 2022 draft, the Jazz believed it was time to move, McDaniels or no McDaniels.
July 2, 2022 | 12:32 am EDT Update
The LAPD posted on Twitter that Bridges was arrested for “intimate partner violence with injury,” a felony, on Wednesday following an incident two days earlier in West Los Angeles, and he was booked on a felony domestic violence warrant. He was released on $130,000 bond and has a July 20 court date. The LAPD said it does not release police reports on domestic violence arrests.