Storyline: MVP Race

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Damian Lillard thinks so. He appeared on ESPN’s Jalen and Jacoby Wednesday and cited a somewhat dubious reason for picking James. “This season I think it’s LeBron,” Lillard said. “They’re the No. 1 team in the west, they’ve been consistent all year long, and for him to be at the age he’s at with the amount of miles that he has on his body, how often he’s talked about the pressure that they’ve put on him in every little thing that he does. At the level he’s performing at, in my opinion, I think he’s the MVP.”

Damian Lillard thinks so. He appeared on ESPN’s Jalen and Jacoby Wednesday and cited a somewhat dubious reason for picking James. “This season I think it’s LeBron,” Lillard said. “They’re the No. 1 team in the west, they’ve been consistent all year long, and for him to be at the age he’s at with the amount of miles that he has on his body, how often he’s talked about the pressure that they’ve put on him in every little thing that he does. At the level he’s performing at, in my opinion, I think he’s the MVP.”

“I do my homework and I do my research on things, and I just feel like I’m a guy who, in his media, I don’t ever want to mess up my credibility, so I just speak facts,” Perkins said. “I never want to be biased and I never try to sway one way or just be taking up for my homeboy.” Perkins pointed to, as an example of his avoiding bias, picking Giannis Antetokounmpo as his preseason pick for MVP, over his friend LeBron, with whom he spent a summer playing for the Oakland Soldiers, an AAU team, in high school. “I sent him a text and I said. ‘Look man, I’ve got Giannis ahead of you,’” Perkins said. “And that’s when he texted me back and said, ‘Oh don’t worry, I’m gonna reclaim my throne.’ And I was like, ‘OK, well then do it mothafucka.’ He’s like, ‘I am, mothafucka.’”

“I do my homework and I do my research on things, and I just feel like I’m a guy who, in his media, I don’t ever want to mess up my credibility, so I just speak facts,” Perkins said. “I never want to be biased and I never try to sway one way or just be taking up for my homeboy.” Perkins pointed to, as an example of his avoiding bias, picking Giannis Antetokounmpo as his preseason pick for MVP, over his friend LeBron, with whom he spent a summer playing for the Oakland Soldiers, an AAU team, in high school. “I sent him a text and I said. ‘Look man, I’ve got Giannis ahead of you,’” Perkins said. “And that’s when he texted me back and said, ‘Oh don’t worry, I’m gonna reclaim my throne.’ And I was like, ‘OK, well then do it mothafucka.’ He’s like, ‘I am, mothafucka.’”

Leonard came in fifth with 118 points, having been named on 40 ballots, with a huge gap existing between him and crosstown rival Anthony Davis (61 points, 25 ballots) in sixth. Six other players — Chris Paul (28 points, 10 ballots), Nikola Jokic (18 points, eight ballots), Pascal Siakam (12 points, six ballots) Damian Lillard (four points, four ballots), Jayson Tatum (three points, one ballot) and Bradley Beal (one point, one ballot) — rounded out the voting.

Leonard came in fifth with 118 points, having been named on 40 ballots, with a huge gap existing between him and crosstown rival Anthony Davis (61 points, 25 ballots) in sixth. Six other players — Chris Paul (28 points, 10 ballots), Nikola Jokic (18 points, eight ballots), Pascal Siakam (12 points, six ballots) Damian Lillard (four points, four ballots), Jayson Tatum (three points, one ballot) and Bradley Beal (one point, one ballot) — rounded out the voting.

Amid all the tumult that has defined the 2019-20 season so far, there remains at least one constant: Giannis Antetokounmpo. Last season’s Most Valuable Player is the early favorite to win the award for a second straight year. ESPN asked 101 media members to participate in an informal straw poll of where the league’s MVP race stands as the season moves into its second quarter. It was Antetokounmpo who stood above the rest. The Milwaukee Bucks forward received 48 first-place votes and was the only player to appear on all 101 ballots.

You spoke to a radio station in Houston recently about the MVP race, and how you feel like the media usually goes into the season with an MVP candidate in mind, a narrative, that helps them win that award. Do you think a narrative has already taken form for 2019-2020? James Harden: Nah, it hasn’t happened yet, it’s too early. Wait until the preseason and when the regular season starts up again. But they [the media] for sure got some teams they locked in on. We all know. That’s just what it is. You can’t tell me that a guy whose team was a 14-seed at one point last year, and ended up a four-seed with everything that was going on—so many injuries—and who went on a 32-game 30-point streak, eight 50-point games, two 60-point games in one season…and all the talk was about [Giannis Antetokounmpo]? There’s no way.

John Wall doesn’t have a vote for MVP. If the Washington Wizards’ injured point guard did, though, his justification for picking Giannis Antetokounmpo over James Harden is one that would no doubt be shared by many of his fellow voters. In a sit down with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Wall explained that Antetokounmpo’s status as the best player on the league’s best team makes him the most worthy choice for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, especially considering precedent set by Harden’s most recent finishes in the MVP race. “To me, I mean, James is my guy, but I’ll go Giannis just because he has the best record in the league,” he said. “I just feel like not last year, but the year before, everyone thinks James should have won it then, but he didn’t win enough. Last year, he got first in the West, overall best record in the league — that’s why he finally cracked that safe to get [MVP]. “The numbers he’s put up this year have been historic,” Wall continued. “Never seen it before since, what, Jordan averaging 37 was the last time we’ve seen it? Those numbers and all that speak for itself. He’s like unguardable — you can’t do nothing with it. But I’m just like if you’re going off wins, I’ll go Giannis.”

But for the bulk of the players B/R spoke with, that person is Harden. Not only for what he is, but for what Antetokounmpo isn’t quite yet. It’s not that Antetokounmpo isn’t a formidable opponent. His speed, length, hops and handle make him capable of maneuvering over or around almost anyone, often culminating with a ferocious dunk. All of that, combined with his work ethic, makes him a defensive riddle to solve as well. But players know defense requires a team effort to succeed, and offensive proficiency can be as much of a reflection of a team’s system. They place the most value on the ability to score whenever and however a team needs to win. For all of Antetokounmpo’s talent, that’s where they see him falling short. “Late game, Giannis doesn’t have the ball in his hands to win,” Magic guard Evan Fournier said. “For an MVP, that’s kind of hard.”

Detroit Pistons big man Jon Leuer didn’t see a tiebreaker as necessary, either. Harden’s heroics, surrounded by a roster churned both by the acquisition and then release of 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony as well as a slew of injuries, was enough. Nor did he discount Harden’s league-leading point production because head coach Mike D’Antoni gives him the greenest of lights to shoot. “To me, it’s Harden,” Leuer said. “People say his numbers are inflated because of D’Antoni’s system, and he dribbles the air out of the ball, but carrying his team every night no matter who is out there, you can’t go against that. The team thing does factor in, which is why Giannis has to be considered. But the knock was the Rockets were a lower seed, and now they’re one of the top four in the West. I just don’t see how it’s not James.”

Well, let’s talk then. So I always love it when we have a story that changes so drastically within the context of a season, when we think one thing in November and December and then it’s completely different by the end. It’s insane how you guys have turned this around. Mike D’Antoni: “It was teetering. It was teetering. I mean you’re 11-14 (on Dec. 8), and at 25 games everybody usually says you can tell what kind of team you have – and we’re 11-14. And we hadn’t sustained Clint (Capela) missing 15 (games from mid-January to mid-February) and CP missing (17 from mid-December to late January) after that, so for me – and you can write it – that’s why James is the MVP. I’m telling you, he took that, and without CP, without Clint, with us changing almost half the roster, and took us where we have a chance to be third. Nobody else could do that. I’m telling you right now. Nobody.”

Do you think (the MVP race) is close at all? Mike D’Antoni: “No, I don’t. I don’t.” It’s a two-man race… Mike D’Antoni: “And I’ve got to tell you, (Giannis) is really good – reaaallyy good. And they’ve got the best record in the league, and that’s all good. So I’m not knocking him. I’m making the case for my guy, but take that and put it away. Your (Rockets) record is not quite as good as (the Bucks’, but) we’re right there. And (Harden) has done it with a complete change of roster. And again, his other carrying partner (Paul) was hurt for (17) games. Clint, his other guy, was out for 15 games. I don’t know. And he played every night. It’s hard for him to miss a game. He’s playing (36.4) minutes a game. He’s doing it all. I don’t know, I just don’t see the other argument. I do because of the record, and I do because of how good he is – and he’s really good.”

It also should be noted that while Antetokonmpo has improved in some statistical categories from last season, he has slipped in several as well. He’s shooting an anemic 24 percent from 3-point range, down from 30 percent a season ago; his free throw percentage is 72, down from 76, and his turnovers are up, 3.9 a game this season compared to 3.0 last season. Yet, nobody questions whether Antetokounmpo is a certifiable MP candidate. He and Harden are clearly in a two-player race for the coveted award. “It’s either Giannis or Harden,’’ said a longtime NBA scout, who has seen both players perform up close on numerous occasions this season. “I hate Harden’s game; I just hate it. But, as much as I don’t want to say this, Harden deserves to be MVP again. He’s just had one hell of a season.’’

Giannis​ Antetokounmpo doesn’t​ like​ it.​ He​ doesn’t want to talk about it.​ Unfortunately, for​ him,​ it’s the​ only​ thing​​ people want to discuss with him at the moment. Who is the 2018-19 NBA Most Valuable Player? Is it him? Or is it Houston Rockets guard and 2017-18 MVP James Harden? For months, Antetokounmpo has stressed that he tries not to think about the award and has repeatedly declined the opportunity to discuss it, but he wanted to make a few things clear in a recent chat with The Athletic.

As Antetokounmpo has argued the entire season, if he does his job — playing his best basketball and leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the league’s best record, something he’s currently doing — it’s going to take care of itself. “Obviously, we have eight games left. We have 55 wins. We might be able to finish the season with 63 wins, if we play the right way,” Antetokounmpo said. “Because OK, the regular season’s over. Even though I’m the MVP or I’m not the MVP or whatever, I don’t care, there’s going to be playoffs.” “I want to get out of the first round. I want to go to the Eastern Conference Finals. I want to go to the Finals. There’s more to this than just the MVP.”


Curry’s 28.6 points per game and 44 percent shooting from 3-point range are his highest marks since his unanimous MVP campaign in 2016. “Everybody can come up with certain narratives,” he says on the topic of the MVP award. “It’s clear who the best guys in the league are, who’s helping the team win. Comparing numbers and styles … beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t know why I can’t [win again], but I feel confident in knowing what type of player I am. I’m sure KD would say the same thing.”
1 year ago via ESPN

While players acknowledge Harden’s mastery, some are put off by the style: both the way the Rockets play and the way Harden expertly uses the current rules to his advantage. The enforcement of freedom of movement rules and the relaxing of travel calls on his step-back — and to be clear, most of the time he executes the devastating move within the rules — have helped supercharge Harden’s season in a way that can irritate his opponents. “Guys can say he gets away with travels on the step-back or he flings his body into people to get fouls, but honestly, a lot of us get away with stuff like that,” said one All-Star who didn’t want his name used because he wasn’t trying to court controversy. “Just speaking for myself, and I don’t know how others feel, but what he does isn’t always team basketball. If you look at how Giannis plays, that’s more the way I was raised in the game. Just my opinion,” he said.

One year after sweeping four games with the Thunder, the Blazers this season have lost the first three to Oklahoma City, the latest 120-111 on Monday at Chesapeake Arena in a game in which George had 47 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and two steals. “Everybody in the whole arena can see that,” Lillard said of George’s play being the difference. “He’s at a different level. I mean, after watching him over the last 10 games or so — I catch a lot of their games — and seeing him tonight … that dude, he MVP. If they keep this up, he MVP.”
1 year ago via ESPN

A dominant all-around performance in the Milwaukee Bucks’ 116-109 road win over reigning MVP James Harden’s Houston Rockets on Wednesday could have provided Giannis Antetokounmpo a massive platform to begin campaigning for the NBA’s most prestigious individual honor. Antetokounmpo, however, dismissed the early MVP discussion like he so often sidesteps defenders with his long-legged Euro step. “All I care about is winning, to be honest with you,” Antetokounmpo said after scoring 27 points, grabbing a career-high 21 rebounds and dishing out five assists for the East-leading Bucks in the win. “I know by winning — doing whatever it takes out there, helping your teammates and just leaving it everything on the floor — everything will take care of itself.”

Morey made a rare appearance in the visitor’s locker room in Oakland. Before leaving, he and Harden had a conversation by the doorway, with the pair exchanging jokes. Morey has joined a growing congregation that believes the MVP race is all but confirmed, even with a good chunk of the season left. It’s Harden, followed by the others. “Race? There’s no race,” he said. “He should be first. We gotta prove that on the court over time, but I don’t see it as a race, really.”
2 years ago via ESPN

A quick look at Harden’s recent play will back that up. During this nine-game stretch, his stats across the board are remarkable: 39.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game to go with shooting 44.7 percent overall, 40.7 percent from 3-point range and 87.8 percent from the foul line. He has had eight straight 30-point games and has eclipsed 40 points three times in his past six. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, the 388 points Harden has scored in his past 10 games are the most by any NBA player in a 10-game stretch since Kobe Bryant scored 396 from March 22 to April 8, 2007. “I think he’s just wanted to pick it up and take it to another level,” Rockets forward PJ Tucker said. “I don’t think he was playing at the level he wanted to early on. He’s got his body in such great shape now, being able to push through the times when he gets tired, teams throwing double teams, different kinds of looks, and his determination to still score and get to his spots is pretty remarkable. “It’s just what he does.”
2 years ago via ESPN

But then he was asked if his recent play, and his team’s recent success, merited his return to the MVP conversation. It quickly became clear that the idea that he was a one-and-done MVP winner is something Harden simply wouldn’t accept. “I mean, yeah. Of course I should be in that conversation,” he said, followed by a laugh and a shake of his head. “I mean, I receive a lot of hate, but it won’t stop me from going out there and killing every single night, being that dog that I am. You can name a few other people that should be in the conversation.

Harden had 45 points and six assists, Clint Capela added 24 points and 18 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets beat the Boston Celtics 127-113 for their eighth win in nine games. “Of course, I should be in that conversation,” Harden, the reigning MVP, said. “I received a lot of hate, but it won’t stop me from going out there and killing it every single night and being the dog that I am. You can name a few other people that can be in that conversation, but realistically, it’s coming back.”

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they get the spotlight for being regarded as the best players on the projected best teams. Add James Harden to that mix. This head start, Curry believes, is vital. If a superstar doesn’t have a storyline to magnetize attention, he must hijack it with something incredible. Does that bother you that you aren’t in the conversation? “I don’t care,” he said, seamlessly executing a shoulder shrug, smirk and eye roll simultaneously. “I just know the narrative isn’t there so I would have to go above and beyond. So, it’s whatever. I’m blessed to have three rings. I’m good.”
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July 5, 2020 | 6:47 pm EDT Update
The Rockets plan to travel to Orlando later this week and will play their first of eight “seeding” games on July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets are assured of one of eight playoff spots in the Western Conference and are tied for fifth place with the Oklahoma City Thunder, with the Mavericks 1½ games behind. “The team that catches a rhythm first, kind of has an advantage overall,” Covington said of his expectations for the abbreviated sprint to the NBA’s finish line this season.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
He recalled that he and his cousin and two other youths were playing football in the street and occasionally running into a neighbor’s yard. The neighbor told the children to stay out of his yard, and Covington said he and his cousin obliged. The other two kids did not, and the man called the police. The officers began to detain all four of the youths, even though the neighbor told police Covington and his cousin had done nothing wrong. “The cop didn’t care; he arrested all of us,” Covington said. “He put is in the back of the car and took us down to the station. I got stuck in the car – I was too tall and my foot was wedged in between (the front seats). I told the officer I couldn’t get out. He said if you don’t get out of this car, I’m going to break your leg to get you out.”
July 5, 2020 | 2:38 pm EDT Update
July 5, 2020 | 1:47 pm EDT Update
As for next month’s challenge, Marlowe is confident that he and his color analyst, Scott Hastings, can interpret and call the games from afar. “It’s certainly a technique on how to do it,” he said. “You can’t always see clearly or hear clearly an official’s decision. You can’t interpret it because you’re not right there, so it takes a little bit of imagination.”
July 5, 2020 | 1:10 pm EDT Update
For the most part, the players are feeling pretty comfortable with the health and safety precautions that the NBA has put in place, and believe that the league is doing every thing within their power to mitigate risk related to the coronavirus. It all looks good in theory and on paper, but how it will all work once the players are actually there is another thing entirely. “I’m sure there will be some changes once we get down there, and they see that some things worked and some things didn’t,” Georges Niang said on Thursday.
As far as the actual games go, the players aren’t worried about playing without fans or how the schedule was decided on. They’re just excited to get to play again. “We miss playing the game of basketball,” Niang said. “We miss our day jobs so I think for the most part we’re excited to get down there and use our platform for social issues and be safe while doing that. The NBA has set up an environment that’s given us the right safety protocols to move in the right direction to be able to play.”
The insinuation was that players would not be able to be away from their sexual partners for such a long time. “Forget three months, they’re gonna struggle with three weeks,” Smith yelled. Do the Jazz think that players will break the rules of the bubble? “If they do, that’s them,” O’Neale said, dismissing the notion. “I’m single, I’m by myself, I ain’t got nothing to worry about. Quarantine life was kind of easy for me. I just played video games and hung out with my dog, so I think it’ll kind of be the same thing. Just without my dog. I’ll be alright.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Rick Carlisle: “On the heels of George Floyd’s death on May 25, the head coaches got together on a Zoom call which was put together very quickly. We talked about the things that are going on in the world. Lloyd Pierce, who is the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, made a very passionate speech to the entire group about his feelings about everything. He was immediately appointed the chair of the NBA coaches committee on racial injustice and reform. That committee met on Zoom calls probably five times and filtered through a lot of different things to the point where now on a national level we’re under the Obama Foundation …”
Rick Carlisle: “In Dallas, I’m partnering with Mothers Against Police Brutality. We’ve met many times on Zoom. We had an in-person meeting with the mayor. We had a virtual meeting with T.C. Broadnax, the city manager. We had another meeting with [Dallas police chief] Renee Hall. So we’ve gotten into good conversations there. Our initiative, the final title of it, is NBA Coaches for Racial Justice. We will have a pin that we wear. A big part of what we’re doing, because we’re coaches, we’re teachers and we’re educators.”
July 5, 2020 | 1:00 pm EDT Update
Perhaps the most difficult injury to return and recover from is a ruptured achilles, but not only has Rodney Hood put in the work off the court, he is also putting a tremendous amount of work on the court. The Portland Trail Blazers tweeted a video of the former Duke basketball player rising up to the rim, albeit in a controlled and cautious way as he works his way back to the court.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith was the one to throw the San Antonio Spurs head coach’s name in the mix, but there’s been no word about the idea since. Not until Nets general manager Sean Marks was asked about the possibility on WFAN’s Joe & Evan on Friday: Pop has a job. So I will say that. And, obviously, we all know he’s an amazing, amazing coach — and to be quite frank, an even better leader. So I’ll let Pop continue to coach for the Spurs. He owes it to them and they owe it to him. I’m sure he’s quite happy there.
When he gets back to the head coaching search, Marks intends to talk to Brooklyn’s “key players” about who will run the show next. And he specifically mentioned Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving when addressing the matter on WFAN: It would be probably, you know, not incredibly smart of us if we did not involve some of these key players in this decision. That only goes to Kevin, I think it’s — you know, Kevin and Kyrie, we’re gonna pick their brains on what they are looking for in a leader, what they want in a coach, what they need. I think these guys have been brutally honest so far.
Storyline: Nets Coaching Job
Jamaal Wilkes said he’s proud to be an American and wants law and order while at the same time seeing the need for change in the wake of demonstrations after the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. “I’m not an activist. I’m not in the guts of the stuff, but we need some kind of reform with the police department (while) recognizing that the majority are good police,” Wilkes said in a recent conversation with the Bay Area News Group’s Wes Goldberg. “And they are probably as sick and embarrassed and disgusted with the Floyd incident as most of the country is.”
The Floyd murder during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jamaal Wilkes: “On one hand, it was very shocking and disturbing. On the other hand, it’s nothing new . . . it was unbelievable. It was horrible and no one could deny it because there was footage. That, along there being no sports, brought it to a head. I think that all lives matter, of course, but it’s only black lives that are being murdered. We can no longer tip-toe or ignore the elephant in the room, which is systemic racism, white privilege.”
July 5, 2020 | 12:42 pm EDT Update

Jared Sullinger wants back in the NBA

On Saturday, The Basketball Tournament kicked off and Jared Sullinger was on the sideline for Carmen’s Crew. He was the coach of the team filled mostly with Ohio State alumni. It’s a role he relishes. Yet it’s not a role he wants to assume permanently. Sullinger, the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2012 who enjoyed four solid seasons with the club, still has aspirations of returning to the NBA. He’s only 28 but hasn’t played in the league in three years. His post-Celtic career lasted just 11 games with the Raptors, and then Sullinger learned about the harsh reality of being injured and considered damaged goods.
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He has recovered fully. Sullinger is married and the father of twins. He reflects on his Celtics years fondly but hopes he’s not done gobbling up rebounds with his burly frame. “I want to play and, of course, the NBA is the ultimate goal,” he said. “The last two years I just felt like I had to find myself. I had to find something that drives me and makes me want to play. In the NBA, you kind of get lost in the shuffle because you have so many games, and when I got out there in [the Chinese Basketball Association] it was kind of a retreat for Jared Sullinger to learn himself and fall in love with the game again.”
Smith aspires to be a general manager, but the NBA has had issues in recent years with diversity in front offices. He hopes that recent events will cause the NBA power structure to closely examine hiring. “To think people don’t gravitate toward people who are like them, look like them, or are like-minded, then you don’t understand the basis of stereotypes and racism, which is two different things,” he said. “If I make my decisions based on race and not having the ability to have the opportunity, then I’m a racist. It’s a simple process. White America is like how do I figure it out? You’re making the decision and you’re taking into account that it will hinder someone based on their race. That’s a racist act, period.”
What bothers Smith and many other former players is that front office candidates who did not play the game but are astute analytically are somehow seen as more qualified than former players. “You mean to tell me LeBron James couldn’t put a team together? He puts it together now. You’re telling me his production and consumption of information is not more valuable than someone who’s never played the game? It’s impossible. It’s an awareness.”
Though Marlowe said he would’ve preferred the NBA scrap the regular-season games and jump straight to the playoffs, he did find an advantage for the Nuggets. Their grueling schedule, featuring games against both Los Angeles teams, the Raptors and the Thunder, is a perfect primer for the postseason, he said. The Nuggets were 15-11 against teams that were .500 or better throughout the season, which was a better record than all but three teams in the NBA. In addition, as Marlowe pointed out, seeding doesn’t really matter since there’s no homecourt advantage. “I think the eight play-in games are interesting because I believe six of the last eight for the Nuggets were going to be played away from Pepsi Center, so the Nuggets don’t have to do that,” he said. “That being said, I don’t think winning is the preeminent goal in these (seeding) games. I don’t think it really matters to the Nuggets to finish third, fourth, fifth or sixth. I think the key is, can coach Malone and the rest of the coaches get this team playing at its zenith in these eight games and going into the playoffs?”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Meanwhile, high atop the Chicago skyline, Bosh was in a conference room receiving a pitch from the Heat — a meeting punctuated by Pat Riley unfurling a small velvet carpet onto the table, followed by the presentation of a small velvet bag. “Oh, yeah, Pat brought his rings out. It looked just like a Crown Royal bag,” Bosh said. “He puts it down, like boom. Big boy talk. When he ended the meeting, Pat gave me a 2006 Heat championship ring.” “Take it. Keep it. Give it back to me when you win one,” Riley said to Bosh. “I still haven’t given it back,” Bosh said. “I wonder if he even remembers that? I think I mentioned it once, like, ‘Yo, do you want that ring back?’ And he said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And I kept it moving.”
A generation ago, it was tough to find any Warriors fans outside of the Bay Area, let alone at some desolate outpost in Southeast Europe. But by now, such encounters no longer count as shocking. After five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, with a roster that features some of the game’s most marketable players, and after a concerted effort to raise their profile abroad, the Warriors emerged as a certifiable global brand. According to the team’s internal tracking, the majority of the Warriors’ social media followers reside outside the United States — that’s 80 percent of their followers on Facebook, 70 percent on Instagram, 52 percent on Twitter.
He recalled over the phone last week that in the late ’80s, growing the NBA meant Stern handing a baffled TV executive from Italy a stack of videocassette recordings in hopes the exec would air them when he got back home. “The victories were getting a game that was played 10 days ago aired at a terrible time on Italian television,’’ Welts said. “That’s the kind of thing we considered a victory back then.” Around that time, league officials also attended an international market show in Cannes. “With pretty much a cardboard table and a bunch of business cards,’’ Welts said. “We just tried to grab any television programmer who was there to try to explain to them what the NBA was and why it would be such a great property for their company to air on television.”
July 5, 2020 | 4:34 am EDT Update

Nets to make 'godfather offer' to Gregg Popovich?

In an appearance this week on the “Let’s Get Technical” podcast with retired NBA stars Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, Gerald Brown of SiriusXM NBA Radio noted the presence of rumors linking Popovich to the Brooklyn Nets. The rumors state that Nets owner Joe Tsai is looking to make a “godfather offer” to Popovich for him to come coach the team.

Stone Cold Shea Jackson: It’s mostly trolls I guess. But even homie callin him entitled. Earlier in June and people siding with him. Now they talkin bout him demanding a trade and shit but it ain’t never from him. And that got niggas callin him a bum. And he the realest dude you could find in the league. Damian Lillard: My stance ain’t changed. This is a result of a pandemic and lack of content lol.
Storyline: Damian Lillard Trade?
Add in Nic Claxton’s season-ending injury, and that leaves Jarrett Allen as the only healthy Net taller than 6-foot-9. Expect GM Sean Marks to sign a big man as a substitute player for Jordan. “We have to definitely think about that,” Vaughn said. “Sean and I talked this morning on a call and we talked about addressing our size and not putting extra demand on Jarrett. So that could definitely be a route we take for sure.
From the moment he and his teammates reconvened in Florida last week, Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka said everyone was “locked in” and ready to get to work. “I saw just how everyone is in great shape,” Ibaka said on a conference call with reporters Saturday. “They came here in great shape and as soon as we got here everyone was starting to put in work. “I’ve been in the league for 11 years. You can see when people’s locked in and they are ready mentally, and when they are not. “So I can tell you right now, mentally, everybody is ready. Everybody is ready.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Josh Lewenberg: Serge on COVID-19 numbers in Florida: “Honestly, it’s a little concerning. Hopefully everybody follows the rules when we get into the bubble in Orlando… I have my daughter, who lives here. It’s kinda scary a little bit.” Ibaka on Raptors: “Man, listen, we believe in us. We have the experience, we have the championship mentality already, we’ve got confidence. It’s time to go to work. We’re ready.”