Storyline: Hall of Fame Selections

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To keep the list short this time, the direct-elect categories that send one person each straight to the Hall – no finalist round for them – have been suspended. That includes the men’s and women’s veterans committees, the early African-American committee and the contributor committee. The exception this year is the international committee, which still will select a Hall of Famer to be announced with the actual Class of 2020 at the NCAA men’s Final Four April 4 in Atlanta. Said Colangelo: “Because of the enormity, even before Kobe’s death, we think Kobe and Duncan and Garnett bring to [this] … we’ve never had a class that strong at the top. And then with Kobe’s death, it added more focus.”

The upside of waiting? Not to get “lost in the shuffle,” as Colangelo described it. “Sad as it all is, we have to deal with that,” Colangelo said. “And life does go on in the world of basketball and the Hall of Fame. We don’t want to take away from the people here who are prospective inductees.” Asked if the 2020 ceremony in Springfield might be different as well from recent editions, the Hall chairman said: “Let’s put it this way: There’s a great sensitivity as a result, and so that leads to probably a little bit different than in the past. But it’s going to be done the right way.”

In one of the most anticipated Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame classes in years, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan headline the finalists up for induction in August. The finalists were announced on Friday at NBA All-Star Weekend, and Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said they kept the class small this year because of the magnitude of the players who are expected to reach the Hall. Colangelo said that was the plan before Kobe Bryant’s death.

Metta, who made the NBA all-defensive team 4 times and was an All-American in college, said it’s not just him who believe he’s one of the best ever … some of the best ever believe it too. “When you get Reggie Miller saying, ‘He’s the best defender ever.’ You get Kobe saying, ‘He’s the best defender ever on the wing.’ Michael Jordan [praised me] early on in my career, it’s documented.” Despite all that love, Metta says people don’t want him enshrined … and he knows why. “A lot of people don’t wanna see me in that Hall of Fame. I never really was afraid to speak my mind. I never submitted to being that corporate person. I never gave a f*ck. So, It’s gonna be hard to get in.”

TMZ Sports spoke with future Hall of Famer Lou Williams on Tuesday night … and yeah, you read that correctly … ’cause the L.A. Clippers star says he’s deserving of a spot in Springfield!!! We spoke with the 2-time Sixth Man of the Year award winner at the Ethika pop-up shop in L.A. on Tuesday night … and asked if he’s done enough to join the game’s best players in the Hall if he’s named the league’s best bench player again. “Yeah, I’ve seen guys in the Hall of Fame with less. I’ve put the work in,” the 14-year NBA veteran tells us.

Scottie Pippen: Toni Kukoc deserves to be a Hall of Famer

Vlade Divac got the Hall call Saturday as the international committee’s selection for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019. Is it only a matter of time for Toni Kukoc? “I definitely think he deserves it,” longtime teammate and Class of 2010 Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen said. “He was a huge piece for us. You look at the game today, teams have the Big Three now. Toni was a part of that puzzle for us. He was productive and deserves a lot of credit for our success.”

Kukoc, who was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2017, has been a finalist for enshrinement in Springfield, Mass., twice. “I’ve seen some things go on in the Hall of Fame that really have been a little bit shocking,” Pippen said. “I’ve seen some guys get in where I think Toni and Ron (Harper) definitely had a lot better career than those guys. I think they’re getting a little bit of a knock-back because they were part of a team with me and Michael (Jordan). But those guys are winners. “It was a great journey to play my career alongside Toni, even though he came over as one of the enemies. We grew together and had a lot of success and a lot of fun.”

The 2019 Hall of Fame class will be announced at the upcoming NCAA Men’s Final Four in Minneapolis. “Sidney was the epitome of a professional basketball player, in all aspects,’’ Buckner said. “He was skilled, intelligent, courteous, respectful, played at a high level and played every night at a high level. I don’t think there’s any question he was as good a two-way player that I’ve played with. Sidney was a basketball player – period. “I really hope Sidney does get into the Hall. He was really great for the game and he’s a terrific human being.’’

Ben Wallace didn’t expect to take a call Friday that he was one of the finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “I’m still trying to soak it all in, take it all in,” Wallace said Saturday, a day after the announcement. “It’s definitely nerve-wracking, exciting, not really knowing. There are a lot of players still on that waiting list who haven’t had that opportunity to get this far. So, I’m just thankful and grateful and just enjoying this moment right now.”

John Stockton, Karl Malone and Jerry Sloan could get some Utah Jazz company in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame if the stars and votes align correctly. Jazz greats Ron Boone and Mark Eaton have both been honored as eligible candidates for Hall of Fame recognition for the first time. Boone and Eaton are among a group that includes a few other local ties. Utah native and legendary coach Dick Motta, ex-Utah Stars player Willie Wise, who was on the 1971 ABA championship team, and Jennifer Azzi, formerly of the Utah Starzz in the WNBA, are also on the ballot.

Among the other notable nominees: Sloan’s old friend Johnny “Red” Kerr, Del Harris, Curt Gowdy, Marv Albert, Jim Valvano, Billy Packer, Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc, the 1936 U.S. Olympic team, Chris Webber, Tim Hardaway, Rip Hamilton, Dale Ellis, Marcus Camby, Muggsy Bogues, Chauncey Billups, Mark Aguirre, Jack Sikma, Ben Wallace, Sidney Moncrief, Bobby Jones, Kevin Johnson, Rudy Tomjanovich, George Karl, Bob Huggins, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Bill Fitch, Rick Adelman, Rollie Massimino and Gene Keady.

Stephon Marbury is serious about attempting a comeback to the NBA at the age of 40. But even though he’s stil playing, he firmly believes he has solidified his Hall of Fame credentials because of his career in China and the United States. “My numbers are Hall of Fame. That’s it,” Marbury told SI Now. “That’s what it comes down to and what you’ve done,” he added. “My mark on basketball globally is beyond – it’s never been done before. Something that’s never been done before obviously, you have to show homage to that.”
2 years ago via ESPN

Once reluctant to accept that he deserved a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Tracy McGrady stood on stage at Springfield’s Symphony Hall on Friday night and firmly declared that he belongs alongside the game’s greatest players. “Yes, I deserve to be here,” said McGrady, the headliner of this year’s 11-person class, near the end of a powerful nine-minute induction speech that balanced a sense of vindication with an appreciation for all those who delivered him to this point. Upon arriving at the podium after an introduction video that offered an emphatic reminder of McGrady’s on-court excellence, he exulted by repeatedly screaming, “Yes!”
2 years ago via ESPN

McGrady became emotional while recalling the story of attending an Adidas basketball camp in 1996 as an unknown high schooler. He was given jersey No. 175, reflecting his recruiting status, and then dominated a camp headlined by Lamar Odom. “The last guy to enter this camp and you give me that jersey: 175,” said McGrady, who then turned away from the crowd while quickly collecting himself. “Nobody had a clue who Tracy McGrady was. [Adidas executive Sonny Vaccaro] gave me that platform and I played against the best players in the world at that time. I left that camp the No. 1 player in the nation, 175 to No. 1.”

The significance of being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame isn’t lost on former NBA star Tracy McGrady “Social media can give a lot of people voices these days, and the first thing they say is ‘No rings, no rings,'” McGrady said on Friday, in an appearance at the Hall of Fame’s 60 Days of Summer Program. “You have to have a great team and some luck to get a ring, right? Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with that. But I go back at them with this: Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can’t get in the Hall of Fame.”
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February 21, 2020 | 4:49 am EST Update
Harris, who scored 12 points Thursday, will be a restricted free agent this summer, and due to make a raise on his team-friendly $7.6 million deal. The sweet-shooting wing played alongside Irving in Cleveland as a rookie, but he essentially grew up in Brooklyn. He blossomed into a starter and won the 3-point title last season. He’s hoping to re-sign with the Nets, with the lure of playing a full season alongside the likes of Irving and Durant on a contender a strong one. And if he has a disappointment from this season, it’s that both stars, along with LeVert and others, have been in and out of an injury-riddled Nets lineup.
Every year during that stretch, Smart has been to the playoffs, and he played in the Eastern Conference Finals twice. But in his opinion, this Celtics team has the best shot at a title since he arrived. “(Other teams were) potential contenders, but not as much of a contender as this team is,” Smart told MassLive on Wednesday. “I’ve had some where we thought, ‘Maybe we can go.’ That run that we had with Isaiah Thomas, we thought we were a pretty good team, even the two years ago team where we made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but this year is just a different feeling. We really got that sense of ‘We really, really, really, really have a chance this year,’ and it’s very evident to us. I think it’s starting to be evident to people around the league, and it’s evident to fans around the league.”
Isaiah Thomas: But the biggest memory for me was when Kobe and I sat down after every game of my series against the Chicago Bulls in 2017 and watched film together. I had my people send the film to him and he’d look it over. Then, we’d be on speaker phone and he’d be telling me everything that he saw, breaking the game down the way he would if he was in the series. I think that’s why he started doing that Detail show with ESPN because it was basically just like that, but it was just me and him. I was going through one of the toughest times in my life with the passing of my sister and he took the time out of his day to help me. We were on the phone for about an hour-and-a-half to two hours the day after every game, looking over the film and seeing how I’d adjust for the next playoff game. It was so surreal. It didn’t seem real that Kobe Bryant was really on the phone with me, helping through playoff situations. That was probably my biggest memory of Kobe, taking the time to really be there and help me. He saw what kind of path I was going on and he saw something special in me. For him to nickname me “Mighty IT” and help me so much and to have Player-Edition Kobe shoes, it was a dream come true. I’ve always dreamed of that and it actually came true.
DeMarcus Cousins knows now that he shouldn’t have played for the Warriors in last year’s NBA Finals, but the center said Thursday that he doesn’t regret his decision to rush back from a torn left quadriceps. “I was terrible in the Finals. I was a one-legged bandit on the floor, but I wanted to be a part of it,” Cousins said on Showtime’s “All the Smoke” podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. “In the Finals, you play hurt. If you can go, you can go. That’s when you lay your body on the line. I went out there and gave it what I had. The results were unfortunate. … I wasn’t supposed to be on the floor.”
Storyline: DeMarcus Cousins Injury
Although he averaged just 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in the championship series, Cousins said he doesn’t regret his decision. “I had no business on the floor. None, whatsoever,” he said. “… I just kept telling myself: ‘This is what I’ve played for my entire life: to be on this stage and have this opportunity. Whatever I’ve got to do to be a part of that, I’m going to do it.’ I don’t even know how I did it, honestly.”
“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.”
Storyline: Knicks Coaching Search
It’s permanent, as much as the Cavs’ head coaching job is permanent. Much like with John, it’s hard to find anyone who will say a bad word about J.B. He has an impeccable reputation around the league. His dad works for the Cavs. He’s been around the NBA for 15 years. He gets it. I wish him all the best, but he has an uphill battle with this organization.
Did you see that Drummond said he never wanted out if Beilein stayed? Jason Lloyd: I did. And I can appreciate and respect Andre defending himself. However, we stand by every word of our reporting and retract nothing. I’m not getting into a social media fight with a player. That serves no one well. I’d be happy to talk to him privately about our reporting when the opportunity presents itself.
Storyline: Andre Drummond Free Agency
NBA star Carmelo Anthony just listed his luxury Manhattan property overlooking New York City’s High Line park. The former New York Knicks player, 35 — who left the team to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder, briefly the Houston Rockets, and now, the Portland Trail Blazers — is asking for $12.85 million for the five-bedroom, four-bathroom condo located in the Chelsea neighborhood. Kevin Mallen and Michael Graves of Compass hold the listing.
I don’t think the NBA is concerned, but I believe the league and other owners had a lot of questions about the stability of ownership following Dan Gilbert’s stroke. Dan is on the mend and is scheduled to make a speaking appearance Friday in Detroit. That’s wonderful to hear. I’ve been extremely critical of his ownership style over the years, but I’m thrilled to know he’s doing better physically. But he still has a long, LONG way to go.
The 10-year veteran addressed the criminal charges that have since been dropped stemming from an audio recording in which Cousins’ ex-girlfriend alleges he threatened to shoot her in the head when it became apparent their child was not going to be present for Cousins’ wedding. “It’s an unfortunate situation. So, you know, I had a special moment in my life. I wanted all my family to be there. A little piece of happiness going through whatever I’m going through. Things didn’t work out the way I wanted it to for my day. I was little upset. So I said some things I shouldn’t have said but that person knew where it was coming from,” Cousins said on the podcast. “I mean, I’ve seen a lot of things, heard a lot of stuff — don’t get me wrong, I’m 100 percent against domestic violence. Like, 100 percent. I watched my mother go through that as a child. So when it comes to that, I’m the first advocate for that. But with that being said, I said the wrong thing. Heat of the moment. We’ve all done it. … We’ve all done it. … “My mama’s said way worse, you know what I’m saying? But when it comes to your kids, it’s a whole other situation and I’m pretty sure anybody with kids can speak on that. But it was still wrong.”
Storyline: Los Angeles Lakers Turmoil?
A youth org. claims LeBron James straight-up jacked their “More Than An Athlete” slogan for his Uninterrupted brand … and now they want more than $33 MIL to make things right! Game Plan — a Maryland based nonprofit, which guides young athletes to achieve professional success in an out of sports — claims they’ve been using the slogan “I Am More Than an Athlete” since 2016 and they obtained the trademark in 2018.
Ben Gordon: This was right after my last year in the league, and I was living in a brownstone up in Harlem. I had lost my career, my identity, and my family all pretty much simultaneously. I was manic-depressive. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping. And when I say I wasn’t sleeping, it was like a whole different level of insomnia. Every night, I’d wake up at the same time, like clockwork. And that’s when the demons would come out. When you’re up all night and it’s quiet and it’s just you alone with your deepest thoughts — that’s when the darkness really starts to take over your whole psyche.
Ben Gordon: So the only thing left to do was to get out of purgatory. I was obsessed with killing myself. It’s all I researched, all I thought about. One night my panic attacks got so bad that all I could think about was escape. Man, I’m telling you….. you become like an animal. It’s instinctive. Escape, escape, escape, escape. I took one of those heavyweight jump ropes — the thick rubber ones — and I tied it around my neck. Got a chair. And I hung myself, for real.
Ben Gordon: It got so bad that they had me committed to a mental hospital, and the problem was that I didn’t even understand why it was happening. It was like in the movies. I’m in some white room, and I got doctors and nurses strapping me down on a bed. They got the scrubs on and the gloves on, and they’re sticking needles in my arms, and cutting my pants off at the waist. It was terrifying. I just remember begging them not to hurt me, and really believing that this was all happening for no reason. Really believing that this was all some misunderstanding, and they had the wrong person.
Storyline: Mental Health
Ben Gordon: And that’s when I started disassociating myself completely from Ben Gordon. I was convinced that I was a clone. That this body I’m in is not my real body. It can’t be. My spirit is trapped inside this clone body that’s bugging right now. I created a whole different name for this person. I had a different email address and phone number for him. I was emailing people telling them that I had a different name, like, “Yo — it’s really me. Don’t tell nobody!”
At first, I thought it was useless. What’s some older white lady gonna know about what I’m going through? How’s she going to tell me anything? She can’t tell me NOTHING! Well … she didn’t. She barely said a word as a matter of fact. But I got to sit in my chair and just talk my shit. And you know what? It felt pretty good. I ended up doing an extra six months of therapy, all on my own. Not because I had to. But just because I thought, “You know what? I’m actually fucking with this!”
February 20, 2020 | 9:03 pm EST Update
February 20, 2020 | 8:09 pm EST Update

Giannis likely to stay in Milwaukee?

There’s little doubt that Giannis Antetokounmpo, reigning and likely repeat MVP, has every reason to stick around in Milwaukee over the long term. The Bucks have a sparkling new downtown arena and a state-of-the-art practice facility, a long way from the state of play when Antetokounmpo arrived—back then, the Bucks were in the mostly moribund Bradley Center and practiced on the grounds of a Catholic Diocese headquarters in St. Francis, a few miles south of Milwaukee.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 4 more rumors
February 20, 2020 | 7:09 pm EST Update