NBA rumors: Mavs assistant Jamahl Mosley to interview for Knicks job

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The Knicks plan to speak to at least 8-10 coaches during a head-coaching search that will likely stretch into next month, league sources told SNY. Chicago assistant Chris Fleming is expected to be among those coaches interviewed by New York, SNY has learned.
It's unclear who else New York will interview. Jason Kidd and Mark Jackson both have fans in the organization. There is some support in the organization for Kidd to be among those who get an interview for the opening, per sources. Spurs assistant Becky Hammon was described by a source as a name to keep an eye on, as Newsday first reported. There is also some interest in bringing in former Cavs head coach Mike Brown in for an interview, per sources.
“One, he showed me professionalism, really how to be a student of the game; studying the playbook, studying players…it’s like knowing your enemy better than it knows itself and being prepared. He’s always prepared. He always has a plan A,B,C,D,E,F and G so, that’s one thing that they’re going to get out of Coach Thibbs. Also he expects every player to practice, every player bring their A game and he preaches with defense first; if you play defense you will get offense. So if you want play offense, you got to play defense. I loved that about him and he’s just a hardnosed coach.”
Some league sources have suggested never to count out Calipari when Leon Rose, the new Knicks president, and William Wesley, unofficial team advisor, are involved. Last February, the Kentucky coach raved about Rose but said he wouldn’t be interested in leaving Kentucky to work for him. Calipari signed a 10-year “lifetime’’ contract with Kentucky last June.
Some league sources have suggested never to count out Calipari when Leon Rose, the new Knicks president, and William Wesley, unofficial team advisor, are involved. Last February, the Kentucky coach raved about Rose but said he wouldn’t be interested in leaving Kentucky to work for him. Calipari signed a 10-year “lifetime’’ contract with Kentucky last June.
Former Knicks coach Larry Brown, who bounced back and forth from the NBA to college during a Hall-of-Fame career, is Calipari’s longtime mentor and speaks to Calipari a couple of times a week. Brown doubts the 61-year-old Calipari would throw his hat in the ring at the last minute and upend the Knicks’ coaching search, in which Tom Thibodeau is the heavy favorite.
The Knicks, after all, have a coaching search to conduct, and throwing a disastrous 2019-20 season in the garbage will be easy. Who wants to remember David Fizdale’s stint, or Steve Mills’ or James Dolan’s issues with arena chants and Spike Lee? Moving forward to the Leon Rose era can’t begin in earnest until he hired his coach. To that end, sources say Tom Thibodeau is the heavy favorite to land the job.
Mike Miller, the interim coach who acquitted himself well after taking over for Fizdale, will get a look. Kenny Atkinson will also be interviewed, according to The Athletic. Around the league, people have cautioned to never count out John Calipari, given the Kentucky coach’s strong connection to Rose’s associate, William Wesley. But the belief is that this is Thibodeau’s to lose, and a source said he’s confident about getting the job — to the point that Thibodeau has made calls to assemble a staff.
In raving about Thibodeau in general, Van Gundy touted him as more than a defensive master. The former Bulls and Timberwolves head coach was on Van Gundy’s staffs previously with the Knicks and Rockets. “Tom Thibodeau is a great, great basketball coach – like, great,’’ Van Gundy said on SiriusXM radio. “And I think unfortunately for him the perception of him on the sidelines as this gruff, nasty dude is not even close to who is he personally. Like, he is a great guy. He’s fun to be around. He’s enjoyable to be around, and he loves basketball. He loves NBA basketball and he works at it and he is elite in his profession.”
With the Rockets, Nets and 76ers occupied until late August with the season restart, the Knicks don’t even have competition. “I hope he gets another opportunity to be a head coach because if you look at his body of work he certainly deserves it and any team that may interview him or hire him would be very fortunate to have him as a head coach.,’’ Van Gundy said. “He gets thought of as a defensive coach but if you look at his best teams in Chicago and in Minnesota they were very high level statistically speaking offensive teams and I think it’s been overlooked when people try to evaluate Tom from the outside.”
With that in mind, we reached out to one current NBA coach and one former NBA coach to gauge their thoughts on some Knicks candidates. Below are their thoughts on how Tom Thibodeau would fit in New York... SCHEMES... "He's an elite defensive coach. There's no question. Those guys will be playing hard for him and, if they follow his scheme, they'll defend the pick-and-roll well. They'll take away drives and control the paint. His schemes are excellent, but as we saw in Minnesota, the schemes alone can't offset lack of effort from players or subpar defenders. I think RJ Barrett has the frame and athleticism to be a talented defender. Mitchell Robinson has a ton of upside on that end as a shot-blocker. Tom should be able to get the best out of those two and whoever else they put on the court."
The Knicks’ coaching search won’t officially start until they get binding word that they will not be among the teams invited to Central Florida. Such confirmation, of course, could come as soon as Thursday, when the league’s Board of Governors is scheduled to vote on Silver’s preferred proposal. The expectation in league coaching circles is that the Knicks will move with reasonable swiftness from there, since Tom Thibodeau is regarded as such an overwhelming favorite to replace the interim coach Mike Miller. Leon Rose, the Knicks’ new team president, has a close relationship with Thibodeau from their lengthy stints as agent and client with Creative Artists Agency. Word is that the Knicks, for good measure, have already begun background work on their top target.
If the Knicks decide on Tom Thibodeau as their next head coach, he will have plenty of time to construct a solid staff. But the former Knicks assistant may not need much time. Members of Thibodeau’s past staffs in Chicago and Minnesota are likely eager to join him in New York to revive the dead Knicks, according to sources.
If the Knicks decide on Tom Thibodeau as their next head coach, he will have plenty of time to construct a solid staff. But the former Knicks assistant may not need much time. Members of Thibodeau’s past staffs in Chicago and Minnesota are likely eager to join him in New York to revive the dead Knicks, according to sources.
Moving forward to the Leon Rose era can’t begin in earnest until he hired his coach. To that end, sources say Tom Thibodeau is the heavy favorite to land the job. Mike Miller, the interim coach who acquitted himself well after taking over for Fizdale, will get a look. Kenny Atkinson will also be interviewed, according to The Athletic. Around the league, people have cautioned to never count out John Calipari, given the Kentucky coach’s strong connection to Rose’s associate, William Wesley. But the belief is that this is Thibodeau’s to lose, and a source said he’s confident about getting the job — to the point that Thibodeau has made calls to assemble a staff.
The advantage of Thibodeau wanting a return to New York is the defensive wizard has worked with Rose before as a client of Creative Artists Agency. Some insiders believe Atkinson could be a better fit than Thibodeau because he’s reputedly better suited for a younger roster that is rebuilding.
The Knicks won’t begin any coaching search until they find out whether their season is over, according to sources. That could come as soon as Friday night, should commissioner Adam Silver finalize a format for the season’s restart following a conference call with the team owners.
Former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson likely will also receive an interview, sources said. Atkinson and the Nets parted ways in March with the team at 28-34 and on the way to the postseason during a difficult fourth season at the helm. Atkinson helped turn the franchise around during his tenure, taking it from a 20-win team in 2016-17 to a playoff team last season and one that proved to be an attractive destination for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency. He was a Knicks assistant for four seasons under head coach Mike D’Antoni.
The New York Knicks and president of basketball operations Leon Rose will soon embark on the search process for a new head coach and Tom Thibodeau is atop the list of targets, sources told The Athletic. The Knicks are believed to be targeting a decision in the next few weeks, sources said. Interim coach Mike Miller has left a strong impression throughout the franchise, including in his time since Rose assumed control of the front office. Miller is expected to receive an interview when the Knicks do start formally talking to prospective head coaches, according to league sources, after stabilizing the team following a 4-18 start that led to David Fizdale’s firing.
Thibodeau added that he’s learned from his mistakes and talked around some of them that occurred during his stints with the Bulls and Timberwolves. Often criticized for working his players too hard — especially in Chicago — Thibodeau said he spent this season touring the NBA and picked up training habits.
“The way everyone’s managing with load management and where your team is, sports scientists, so it’s different. And if your team is young and you’re in a rebuild, you’re probably practicing more than an older veteran team,” Thibodeau said. “In some cases where the team is mixed, there’s almost two practices going on in one, where your young guys are getting the work they need, and the older vets are in the weight room getting strength and conditioning.”
If you follow the NBA, you know that one of the criticisms of Tom Thibodeau is something like this: his intensity and his approach to practices/playing time wear players out. Whether that's true or not depends on who you talk to and what their perspective is on the matter. Thibodeau, a strong candidate for the Knicks' head coaching job if interim head coach Mike Miller isn't retained, addressed those criticisms in an interview on ESPN's First Take earlier this week.
Here's what he said: "I think we all have questions to answer as coaches. The big thing is oftentimes there's things that are being said where there's no validity to them, they're being painted by people that have never even been around you," Thibodeau said when asked by Max Kellerman about the criticism that his players are fatigued in the playoffs. "And then I would say to all those people, the facts are what the facts are. To look into the facts, to do your research, to look into the numbers and to also talk to former players, the guys who have played for me. I think if you did that, you would find what the truth is. There are certain things that I do believe in. But as we all know, our league is always changing. It never stays the same and it never has, nor will it ever. So you have to keep adapting as time goes on.
During the First Take interview this week, Thibodeau essentially declined to comment on the reports stating other teams are interested in hiring him. "They're just rumors an that's what it is. And this time of year, everything is on hold," he said. "Normally you would have some openings and right now there aren't any openings. So you don't want to speculate on what jobs could open. That's what you have an agent for. He'll certainly, at some point, look at if there is an opportunity, whether it be a good match or not. I'm still under contract with Minnesota so I feel like I'm in a position where I can be patient."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aE6cgYVMNrM
During an appearance earlier this week on the “Knicks Fan TV” podcast, in which he said Dolan is “scared” of him, Oakley was asked if he thought Van Gundy would be a good selection as the next Knicks head coach. “With these guys, a Jeff-type coach?,’’ Oakley said. “If I know Jeff correctly — and I played for him and know how he coached — I think it would be tough to come back and coach young guys. What he believes in for his offense and defense in this day and age, it’s totally different.’’
Oakley doesn’t think Van Gundy would have the patience for the millennial NBAer. “You can make three, four turnovers and miss four free throws in the first few minutes and take bad shots,’’ Oakley said. “You look at these teams. Out of 80 shots, 30 shots are bad. “Basketball has changed. You’re not getting the 1990s back. The game has a totally different atmosphere. You got to build a team with leadership and players willing to sacrifice. These kids don’t care about basketball. All they care about is getting the check, playing video games and the social media.”
Asked if he can envision Jackson coming back home to coach the Knicks, Kleiman said: “There’a few things in life that like would check certain boxes for me. If he ever had a chance to coach the Knicks, obviously I’d be over the moon. But more importantly he’d be a tremendous coach. Somebody who brings a certain amount of credibility to any room he walks into. He can’t help but infuse positivity into a culture. I’ve seen it.’’
Frank Isola: Leon Rose has been close with Tom Thibodeau for two decades. If a coaching change is made Thibodeau would be among the favorites. Thibs is 106 games over .500 in his NBA head coaching career. By comparison, the Knicks have won a total of 144 games over the last six seasons.
Frank Isola: Leon Rose has been close with Tom Thibodeau for two decades. If a coaching change is made Thibodeau would be among the favorites. Thibs is 106 games over .500 in his NBA head coaching career. By comparison, the Knicks have won a total of 144 games over the last six seasons.
"I don't make those decisions, but from my personal standpoint, dealing with him on a daily basis has been absolutely amazing while he interacts with us, how he coaches the game -- everything.," Randle said. "We've responded really well to him and he's done a great job." Since he replaced Fizdale with Dec. 7's 104-103 loss to the Pacers, Miller is 13-20 through his first 33 games in charge of the Knicks. Over that span, Randle has been an instant beneficiary of Miller's tweaks.
"I think, just knowing him and his personality, he doesn't pay attention to it -- he's focused on us every day, preparing us the best way he can and I really think that's, honestly, his focus," Randle said of the possibility that the Knicks replace Miller. "I know, for me, as a competitor and as a player, we deal with it in a different aspect of free agency and trade rumors and all that type of stuff and I don't focus on it, man. Just focus on the task at hand and NBA is kind of one of those things -- you just go with the flow and when something happens, you adjust to it. But he's been amazing every day, just as far as his focus and what he's doing."
As the Knicks (17-38) get back into the swing of things with the 2019-20 season's second half set to begin in Friday's 7:30 p.m. game against the Indiana Pacers (32-23) at Madison Square Garden, Randle opened up on Miller's impact Wednesday. "I don't make those decisions, but from my personal standpoint, dealing with him on a daily basis has been absolutely amazing while he interacts with us, how he coaches the game -- everything.," Randle said. "We've responded really well to him and he's done a great job."
Since he replaced Fizdale with Dec. 7's 104-103 loss to the Pacers, Miller is 13-20 through his first 33 games in charge of the Knicks. Over that span, Randle has been an instant beneficiary of Miller's tweaks. Randle averaged 16.5 points on 44.2-percent shooting with 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists over 31.9 minutes in his first 22 games under Fizdale. Since Miller took over Dec. 7, Randle has 21.1 points on 46.2-percent shooting, 10.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists over 33.5 minutes in the past 33 games. "He just made some adjustments, so what he feels is best, as far as playing to guys' strengths and stuff like that," Randle said. "It's just the adjustments and all that type of stuff. So he's done a great job."

http://twitter.com/Rachel__Nichols/status/1230259261780963333
“Rose has always been known as much more ethical than most agents, and if he can deliver players and let a strong coach coach, this could work out,” the Thibodeau confidant said. “It’s never a sure thing because of ownership, but Thibs knows he can work with Rose and also knows he’d be able to bring in his people as well.”
“Rose has always been known as much more ethical than most agents, and if he can deliver players and let a strong coach coach, this could work out,” the Thibodeau confidant said. “It’s never a sure thing because of ownership, but Thibs knows he can work with Rose and also knows he’d be able to bring in his people as well.”
We're still a couple of months away from the Knicks earnestly engaging in a coaching search. So it's a bit too early to say who is -- and isn't -- a significant candidate for the job. But if the Knicks want to make another run at Villanova head coach Jay Wright this offseason, they'll need to make an extremely strong pitch to lure him out of Philadelphia.
An NCAA source said Tuesday that Wright would need to be "overwhelmed by the opportunity" to even consider leaving Villanova for another job. This echoes a report from The Athletic's Dana O'Neil, who noted Monday, "source told me Jay Wright is not going anywhere. Not to the Knicks. Not to the Sixers. Not to Oz. His house is for sale. He's not."
Forbes reported that the Knicks landing Wright is a "strong possibility." But the NCAA source on Tuesday downplayed the chances of a Wright-Knicks pairing.
League sources say Villanova coach Jay Wright could become the next head coach of the Knicks. “There is a strong possibility that Jay Wright in New York could happen,” one league source said. With his Hall of Fame coaching résumé, charismatic personality and easygoing manner with fans and the press, Wright has always seemed like a potential strong fit for the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
Interim coach Mike Miller has won his share of Knicks’ fans by stabilizing the Knicks defense. He’s posted a three-game winning streak and a four-game winning streak that ended Sunday when the Knicks blew an eight-point overtime lead in Atlanta. Miller carries a 13-19 record entering the final game before the All-Star break Wednesday versus Orlando. If team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry were coming back next season, Miller had a shot to return if his record got to be around .500. But Mills is gone, Perry may be demoted or fired and incoming president Leon Rose is prepared to make a flashy coaching hire after the season.
According to NBA insiders, ex-Knicks assistant Tom Thibodeau and former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy are expected on Rose’s short list. Neither Thibodeau nor Van Gundy have gained so much as an interview across the years. Owner James Dolan was said to hold a grudge against Van Gundy for quitting during the 2001-02 campaign.
Thibodeau is a Creative Artist Agency client and has worked with Rose, who will leave his position as head of CAA’s basketball department. According to a source, Van Gundy likes Rose and the feeling is mutual. Van Gundy and Thibodeau are still tight. Thibodeau was Van Gundy’s assistant during their Knicks days. “If Leon ever hired Jeff, the fans would love him,’’ one insider said.
LaVar says he not only stands by his decisions to take LaMelo Ball out of high school in the United States (he went to Lithuania and Australia) ... but says he's convinced Melo will be the #1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Ball says his dream would be for the NY Knicks to hire Mark Jackson as the next head coach -- who would then take Melo with their first pick. In fact, Ball says he sees a world in which all 3 of his sons sign with the Knicks and play in Madison Square Garden. He thinks his fam can save the franchise.
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July 7, 2020 | 9:37 pm EDT Update

July 7, 2020 | 8:13 pm EDT Update
The Los Angeles Lakers plan to reward guard Avery Bradley, who opted out of the NBA’s restart, with a championship ring this season if the franchise is able to capture its 17th NBA title. “Yes, [Lakers general manager] Rob Pelinka made me aware of the Lakers offering me a ring if they win the championship,” Bradley told Yahoo Sports via phone Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a very kind gesture on their part.”
Alex English is certainly not one to tip-toe around tough topics. Since retiring from the NBA as an 8-time All Star in 1991, he has stood up for his legacy with the Denver Nuggets and for players as a crucial member of the NBA Players Association. He has now turned his attention to fighting for WNBA equality as a member of the WNBA PA Board of Advocates. “I want to see them get the respect they deserve,” explained English, the NBA’s leading scorer for the 1980s. “I know that there’s always gonna be those naysayers that say ‘well you know, they don’t make the kind of money in advertising and TV rights as the NBA Guys do.’ Yeah, but that took decades of the NBA to get to that level and the WNBA has done a great job with the PA of building that same type of support.”
English has gravitated towards the women’s game more in recent years because of how pure the basketball is. “The purity of the game and the quality of the game is what drew me to [the WNBA]. In some instances, their game is even more pure to me than what you see from the men,” said the 8-time NBA All-Star. “[WNBA players] have picked up on the technical part of the game that the NBA used to have. And, now as the game has progressed, you see a lot of guys that aren’t as true to form or true to techniques as the women are.”
The WNBA’s plan is largely unknown, but we do know that it will be very different from the NBA’s. Players will earn their full salaries and some will be able to bring family or caretakers with them. But, they will also have to share rooms, travel off-site for games, and have only some meals provided. English believes the inequality in player experience is simply illogical. “You’re asking the same thing from [WNBA players as you are from NBA players]: to risk their lives to give you a product that’s going to be that you sell on TV and radio and merchandise,” said English. “You are asking the same thing from the two then why not treat them the same?”
July 7, 2020 | 7:28 pm EDT Update
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we’re planning on life without Jonathan,’’ Jeff Weltman said. “Jonathan is with the team because it benefits him to be with the team and he wants to be with the team. The same could be said with (Aminu), but Jonathan is at a different stage of his rehab and most of the work that he needs to get done it would benefit him to be around our performance staff. Obviously, he’s at the stage where he can do a little light court stuff. Beyond that, we want to keep him attached to the team and he wants to support his teammates, but I wouldn’t read anything into that.’’
Weltman believes that the strong collective character of the Magic’s roster will help the squad battle through any potential adversity that could come in the days, weeks and months ahead. “We’re always talking about it a lot and I always say it – we’re not just betting on the player; we’re betting on the person and I believe in our guys,’’ Weltman said via a Zoom call from the Disney campus on Tuesday afternoon. “I believe that we have high-character group of players and that spreads down to all of our coaches, our performance staff and all of our support staff. (The players) have worked hard, they’ve stayed together, they’ve communicated, and they’ve remained optimistic at points where there was more uncertainty. As the plans have come into clearer focus, they’ve united, and there’s a feeling of togetherness and comradery.’’
Weltman said he has no concerns about the status of Fultz, who has evolved into one of the true feel-good stories of the season with his triumphant return from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome this season. In 64 games with the Magic (59 starts), Fultz has averaged 12.1 points, 5.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 47.3 percent from the floor. Said Weltman: “I don’t have a timeline (on Fultz’s return), but as I said Markelle just has some personal matters that he is handling. He’s on top of everything and hopefully he’ll be out here (at Disney) shortly. He’s looking very much forward to joining up with his team once he handles his business.’’
Prince’s ability to recover and reach optimum playing shape became a more difficult proposition given the time he would be losing with protocols needed to return to the floor in Orlando. The ramp-up in practice time needed once he had satisfied testing protocols on negative tests, traveled separately to Florida, quarantined for several days and only then resumed workouts made his participation even prohibitive for a July 30 tip-off on a roster already decimated with injuries.
July 7, 2020 | 6:52 pm EDT Update
Nurse knows family time is precious. “It’s really another part of the puzzle, and it’s a big one,” the Raptors coach said on a Zoom call Tuesday from Naples, Fla. “It starts with conversation, when you’re bumping into Fred [VanVleet] or Kyle [Lowry], and you’re asking them how are the wife and kids, and what are they doing, and when was the last time you talked to them. There’s a lot more of that going on than I would say normally would happen… a lot more now because we’re all showing pictures and whatever. It’s another one of those things you’d be more lenient on. We’re getting ready to start a meeting and somebody says ‘Oh, man, my kid’s FaceTiming me,’ and you say ‘Take it, go out in the hall and take it, and we’ll wait for you.”‘
When Nurse left his Toronto house for Florida, his three-year-old son Leo said he’d wait for him by the door. “He didn’t quite understand how long I’m going to be gone,” said Nurse, who has another son Rocky born during last year’s thrilling post-season run. “I told him I’m going to coach some games, and he said ‘Well, I’m going to wait right here for ya.’ I hope he’s moved from that spot because it’s going to be a while.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Nurse said he feels safe with the NBA’s coronavirus protocols. “We are going a long ways out of our way to make it extra safe as we should. We really are in the hotel. We are confined. We are away from everything. There is cleaning all over the place. Everyone is wearing masks. We go to the gym and there’s cleaning and we come back. It feels really safe,” Nurse said. “I think the early stages or days of the Disney thing are critical. Getting a whole bunch of testing done and getting kind of to a point there. I think it will all be done at a really high level and remain fairly safe. I hope I’m right.”
With the NBA season set to resume at the end of July, the Mavericks have a plan. Rather than let their return to play be a distraction from the movement encompassing the nation, they’re working on a unified message. Rather than stay silent on the injustice in the country, they’re using their platform when play resumes at the Walt Disney World Resort to amplify their voices. “I think, first and foremost, as a team, we just have to make sure we’re on the same page to see what we’re going to do when we get to Orlando,” Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said in a Zoom call with reporters Monday. “I’m happy that the season is starting and I’m happy that it’s happening at this time so we can use our platform to express ourselves.”
“That’s what being an athlete and being on one of the biggest stages is all about: expressing yourself,” Hardaway said. “I’m happy that we’re going to be able to so that as a team. I’m pretty sure we’ll talk about that as the days go on, but for now, I’m happy that we’re going to start the season around this time. We want to make sure we use that platform to get our voices heard.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
July 7, 2020 | 6:29 pm EDT Update
The Thunder, with CAA Sports, has created the Thunder Fellows Program, a nonprofit organization designed to unlock opportunities in sports, technology and entertainment for Black students in the Tulsa area, the team announced Tuesday. The program, guided by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, will be comprised of two groups of students: Fellows, Black students from regional colleges and universities, and Young Leaders, Black students in the Tulsa area from grades 8 to 12.
The Thunder Fellows Program will be located in Tulsa’s Greenwood District, the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 when white mobs killed hundreds of Black people and destroyed homes and businesses in what was known as Black Wall Street. “Our organization is deeply committed to social justice and the actions that are necessary to create better opportunities for the Black community, now and in the future,” Thunder chairman Clay Bennett said in release. “We will work tirelessly to make this a program that will create change for generations to come.”
Shaquille O’Neal isn’t just one of the best centers to ever play basketball, he’s also a successful businessman, actor and platinum selling DJ. In fact, music was his life before it got hijacked by basketball. “I have been DJing since the eighties,” Shaq tells Maxim. “Music has always been in my blood. I was that guy spinning at frat parties after my basketball games, in the locker room, and making mixtapes.”
Draymond Green said his championship Warriors would beat your Lakers. Any thoughts on that? Shaquille O’Neal: I have a hard time believing that the greatest coach of all time, plus me and Kobe, wouldn’t match up quite nicely against Steve Kerr and his gang. Kobe takes Steph and dominates him. Fisher takes Klay and manhandles him. Fox takes Draymond and makes him foul out in the first half. Horace would do his thing with K.D. But let’s be real, K.D., is a beast, and you can only do so much with him. And then I’d remind Pachulia why I am in the Hall of Fame and he is not.
What is your fondest memory of Kobe Bryant? Shaquille O’Neal: I really cherish the time I had with Kobe. We helped each other win the championship for the first time. That says it all. Without Kobe I would have never maximized my true potential. I like to think the same for him. But if I had to choose one moment it would be Kobe’s final game at the Staples Center. He looked so at peace while on the court. He was a free man with no pressure at all to score or deliver. He dropped 60 that game and I was there courtside to cheer him on.
Storyline: Bryant-Shaq Dynamic
July 7, 2020 | 6:16 pm EDT Update
Peyton Siva is currently back in Florida as well, taking some time off with his family as he celebrates the Basketball Bundesliga League title he and his Alba Berlin teammates won in late June. And while cases have risen lately in the Sunshine State and around the U.S., the top German basketball league reopened the right way last month, Siva said — over the course of three weeks in Munich, none of the players, coaches or hotel staff involved with the 10-team tournament tested positive at any time.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
The stakes were high, Siva said, just like they’ll be high when NBA players return to the court later this month. But a successful restart, he added, can send a message to the world. “This is a chance to show that basketball can survive through this time — whether that’s with spectators or not,” he told The Courier Journal last Thursday, the day after his plane landed back in the U.S.
It was a winning strategy — he came back to the U.S. as a BBL champion, starting at point guard for title-winning Alba Berlin — but he advised NBA players preparing for Orlando to enjoy their time outside the bubble now. Life is different once you’re inside. “I feel like it’s going to be a lot tougher for them, since it’s a lot longer season that they’re going to be playing than we had,” Siva said. “… Try to get out and do stuff as much as you can because you can get cabin fever staying in a place so long. But I feel like they’ll have a lot more things to do with going outside, going golfing, more entertainment — and plus they can have family come later on. I think that’ll help a lot of the guys.”
NBA champion, Hall of Famer and cannabis entrepreneur Isiah Thomas was recently appointed CEO and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the publicly traded, Colombian hemp and cannabis producer One World Pharma, replacing the company’s founder, Craig Ellins. The basketball legend isn’t new to business or investing. In fact, his holding company, Isiah International Inc., has a diverse portfolio that includes cannabis oil and CBD companies, as well as the legendary Cheurlin Champagne, which he acquired in 2015.
As Thomas explains, a series of tragedies in his own family would enhance his interest in medical cannabis. “I had one of my brothers pass away from cancer, then my mother died, and finally my father died from cancer. And I remember, at the end, all of them were struggling with their appetite,” said Thomas. “And not eating was hurting them terribly.” When his mom got sick, her appetite just wasn’t there and the doctors who were trying to get her to eat wanted to prescribe cannabis. However, as many others in her generation, Mrs. Thomas still thought of the plant as a dangerous drug — and her response was to succinctly decline the prescription. “Well, I’m not smoking no reefer!,” Thomas recalls his mother’s stern response to the doctor’s offer.
In 1994, the NBA entrusted him to essentially start the globalization of the basketball business in Canada with the Toronto Raptors franchise. That, Thomas says, was his first international business experience, and it was game changing. “For someone who had just left the playing floor, for the NBA to really give you that major responsibility of going to Canada and introducing their first franchise outside of the United States… it was a huge responsibility, but it was also a huge compliment.” Today, Thomas is especially proud of being Co-Founder of the Raptors. Twenty-five years later, the Toronto Raptors became the first international franchise to be crowned NBA Champions. “It warms my heart to know that the proper foundation was laid by the work that we did there early on,” said Thomas.
July 7, 2020 | 6:02 pm EDT Update
It was mildly surprising to hear second-year guard Shake Milton take the strongest stance when it came to the NBA’s decision to resume the season. “I don’t really think we should be playing,” Milton said in a video conference call with reporters Tuesday, “but I think the NBA is doing all that they can to make the environment as safe as possible. My teammates want to play so we’re going to go down there and try to win.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
When asked why specifically he thought the league shouldn’t resume play, he provided a poignant response. “I think [the spread of the virus], and then also I feel like there’s a lot of other stuff going on,” Milton said. “There are issues going on right now in the world that are way bigger than a sport, way bigger than the game of basketball. I feel like we’re on the cusp of finally having people tune in and really try to listen and try to understand more about the things that are happening in our country. I feel like the moment is too big right now and I don’t want the game of basketball to overshadow it.”
The sports “bubbles” are also home to experimental new tech and trials of new ways of testing for COVID-19. They might also tell us more about how the virus spreads. “There’s a lot of interest in sports coming back, and they could also be a plan for how we bring back universities, colleges and school safely. It’s the same concept, with a lot of people in close proximity to each other,” says Priya Sampathkumar, an epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic who’s working on an NBA antibody study. “It’s trying it out — if we can’t keep them safe, maybe it’s not safe to open up.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
The closed-off NBA bubble is dedicated to basketball, but it’s also a makeshift COVID-19 research laboratory. The league is helping trial a saliva-based COVID-19 test, and any players who opt in will help the Yale School of Public Health validate their testing method. Players in Orlando will be tested almost every day using the typical method: having a swab shoved deep inside their nose. Players who enroll in the Yale study, though, will also give a saliva sample along with each test. The team will compare the two types of tests and check if the saliva test is as accurate as the nose and throat swab.
The league is putting together a group of experts to think through research approaches to the bubble, Sampathkumar says. “They’re willing to share the data that they come up with, and are asking for input on the type of data they should collect,” she says. The information is important for the league itself because it helps it manage the health and safety of its employees. But learning more about the virus and how it spreads is useful for everyone, not just professional athletes holed up at Disney World. “That could be really valuable information,” Rasmussen says. “And that could be extrapolated to the larger population.”