Storyline: Zion Williamson Injury

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They not only focused on building strength back up in Williamson’s right knee. They also worked with him to become more flexible so his body could better withstand the incredible force his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame generates every time he jumps. Even the way Williamson lands was a point of emphasis. Williamson ended up missing the first three months of the season, a total of 45 games. The Pelicans took steps to reduce the risk that he will ever again have to miss such an extended stretch of time. And the rehabilitation never stopped — even during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Nobody’s saying how long he’ll play, but Zion Williamson shouldn’t be expected to play beyond the 20-minute range against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. “I think everybody’s gotta understand, he doesn’t have minutes restrictions, but we’re gonna have all eyes on him as far as the energy bursts and how long he can play consecutively,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told Yahoo Sports. “Obviously, it’ll be short minutes for a while. Short, consecutive minutes.”

After seeing how Williamson healed his right knee for the past three months with the Pelicans’ training staff, executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin believes he has the answer. “He’s going to be better than he was before,” Griffin told USA TODAY Sports. “He may not be initially. But once he finds his timing, he’s really going to benefit from this time with everything that has been done. It’s making him a better version of himself.”

Then Griffin shares another story about Williamson — how the Pelicans engaged in a teamwide heavy weightlifting routine for just one week during the offseason. Williamson gained eight pounds of muscle during that span, a degree of weight gain that shocked staffers. “He’s not normal,” Griffin says. “So finding stasis with Zion is the challenge, because he’s 19 years old. He’s still growing. It’s not going to be about a number. It’s going to be about metrics of flexibility and strength and control and all of the different things that we can measure that really are outside of weight.”

Griffin joked that it was “preposterous” to suggest New Orleans is teaching the rookie how to walk again as some have suggested. But he stressed the importance of improving Williamson’s flexibility and strengthening the areas of his body that allow him to be such an explosive athlete. “It’s the whole kinetic chain. You’re addressing everything. You’re addressing ankle flexion and then you’re addressing knees, hips and back and everything else,” Griffin said. “I think what’s happened is his whole kinetic chain is in a much better position now because of this. It starts with the fact that he’s more flexible. Once you make someone more flexible, you have to give them the strength to control that flexibility. That’s been a dance, it really has been. He’s now able to do some things physically he wasn’t able to do before. … He’s in a good space.”

Television ratings are sagging to start the season, and the reasons are hard to pinpoint. It could be the confusing China situation, one the NBA fumbled in the preseason. It could be cyclical. It could be general fatigue from a nearly year-round season. But there’s no denying that Williamson is a big piece of the NBA’s present and future. “I think so. The league does need him,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told Yahoo Sports. “Because he’s a great personality, a great feel for the game. And he’s a different kind of player. Kind of like Luka [Doncic], basically. They bring an element to the game you don’t see in other guys.”

A strong start to the preseason was halted by surgery on his right knee (meniscus) in October, and the Pelicans have been cautious with the timeline surrounding his potential return, preferring to look at the big picture. “He wants to play. In those situations, you have to protect a guy from himself,” Gentry told Yahoo Sports. “This has been his lifelong goal. We understand what it is, but I told him we have your best interests at hand. We’re not gonna do anything [that’s a] risk, put you in harm’s way. We gotta be patient enough to understand that.”

While he’s still a raw talent with plenty of room to grow, Zion is a box-office commodity. “He’s not a max player [yet], but he’s a max entertainer,” an Eastern Conference executive told Yahoo Sports. “As big as he is on the basketball side, with the season tickets they’ve sold, their marketing, their grassroots marketing, he’s bigger on the business side. He changes the perception of the franchise. Between drafting him and hiring David Griffin, they’ve changed their perception. They’re a national franchise now, businesses will be attracted to them.”

Gentry also added that the team does not have a date in mind for when Williamson will play in a game, but they are monitoring his progress in practice to see when the best time for that will be. “I know that’s typical but we really do have to take it a day at a time to see what kind of progress he makes,” Gentry said. “See what happens after he goes through practices and things like that. Like we said and will continue to say, he’ll play when the time is right for him to do that. When that is, I’m not real sure of. But I know he’s making progress, that’s the thing that matters most.”

Everywhere you turn in New Orleans, someone is asking when rookie Zion Williamson will make his NBA debut. Things are becoming a bit clearer because the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft went through his first full practice since he had surgery on the meniscus in his right knee on Oct. 21. New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was in Wal-Mart when a lady on a motorized scooter stopped him to ask about Williamson’s return. Williamson himself said little kids are coming up asking him about getting back on the floor because they see him on the court in their video games.

Zion Williamson back in January?

Stadium: “I’m told both sides are hopeful of a January season debut for (Zion) Williamson.” As the calendar shifts to 2020, NBA Insider @ShamsCharania shares the latest on the Pelicans No. 1 pick.

During the Pelicans’ last road trip, Williamson was only doing shooting drills before games. He did more off-the-dribble work with assistant coaches before Saturday’s game and with that added freedom he decided to put on a show for the people who were in the building a few hours early. For the first time since his injury, Zion was seen throwing down a few of his signature rim-rattling dunks, showing that he’s inching even closer to his long-awaited NBA debut with New Orleans.

If it were up to Zion Williamson, he already would have made his debut for the New Orleans Pelicans. That’s what the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft told ESPN’s Jorge Sedano before the Pelicans’ 112-100 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Williamson told Sedano that he “trusts the organization” in its decision-making and said that his rehab process has been about more than just the recovery from surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee.

Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin went on the Pelicans in-game broadcast recently to talk about the return of Williamson and the team. There he said Williamson is progressing and added the obvious — that there will be some load management of Williamson upon his return. As there should be. “Yes, he very likely will not be asked to take the pounding of back-to-backs initially,” Griffin said on the team’s television broadcast. “There will be a sort of ramp-up for him to getting back to where you would call him full strength, but he’s certainly going to be playing, and we’re trying to win basketball games. And quite frankly, we’ve done a horrible job of that.”

Glen “Big Baby” Davis says Zion Williamson needs to lose weight ASAP … ’cause he tells TMZ Sports being the same size as the Pelicans star cost him his NBA career! “That’s one of the reasons why I stopped playing was because of my weight,” Glen says. New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram was not listed on the injury report Sunday evening and will be cleared to play Monday night against the Brooklyn Nets. Ingram left Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a head injury and did not play in the second half.

Enter Salley … who says Zion can turn the ship around if he turns his diet around. “My message to Zion? Go vegan, bro. Drink a bunch of water and find out the best way to heal your body, meaning … not just ultrasounds, not just a hot tub, don’t take pills.” The 4-time NBA champ says Zion was destined to become teammates with Jahlil Okafor, who recently made the switch to “mostly” veganism and lost 20 pounds … and Salley wants Williamson to listen to the vet. “Jahlil Okafor will put you on the whole path on losing that weight, getting your knee back in position and playing.”

Unfortunately for Griffin and the Pelicans, No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson was not in attendance following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on Monday. Williamson is expected to miss six to eight weeks. “I would have loved for Zion to be there,” Griffin told The Undefeated. “But the way the surgery took place, you just weren’t able to move him. You don’t want to travel right afterwards. And you certainly didn’t want to wait to get the process done. There is no sense having him come up here and answer a whole bunch of questions when we knew what was going to happen. “We just wanted to take care of him as soon as possible. But absolutely, we would have liked him to see this.”

Finding Greg Oden’s name trending on Twitter on October 21 isn’t what the NBA had in mind just one day before Zion Williamson’s expected regular-season debut against the defending champions. But that’s where the NBA finds itself after the New Orleans Pelicans revealed the No. 1 overall pick underwent surgery to remove debris from a torn meniscus. “The term ‘debridement’ suggests Williamson was able to undergo a meniscectomy in which the damaged tissue was removed,” Jeff Stotts of InStreetClothes.com told me.

The Pelicans do not believe Williamson’s frame contributed to his torn meniscus, nor do they believe it will be an issue moving forward, sources have told The Athletic. He was drafted with everyone involved knowing how special he is at his size and frame. Now, Williamson’s rehabilitation could mean less weight-lifting and more strategic planning, but the Pelicans plan to figure out the best method while letting Zion be Zion, and that does not include managing his weight.

Zion Williamson climbed onto the training table inside the New Orleans Pelicans’ practice facility last Wednesday and finally admitted something. That’s when the prized rookie informed the staff that he felt some tightness in his right knee, sources have told The Athletic. This admission came three days after a dominant 22-point, 10-rebound game against the San Antonio Spurs — which had been followed by a day off on Monday and a full participatory day of practice on Tuesday.

Once Williamson informed the Pelicans of how his knee felt, the team took the proactive measure of having him sit out the live practice on Wednesday and undergo an MRI. It was expected to be a precautionary MRI, but results showed a torn meniscus, and on Monday, Williamson underwent arthroscopic surgery and was ruled out six to eight weeks. Sources with knowledge of the situation have told The Athletic that Williamson and the Pelicans cannot pinpoint one specific moment when the injury occurred.

Zion Williamson’s NBA Summer League experience ended after one half of basketball. And his former coach thinks he never should’ve played Summer League to begin with. “No, I thought really he never should’ve played just because he’s been on this circuit of awards, the ESPYs, everything,” Coach K told me at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., where he’s recruiting this week. “I don’t think he’s in the playing shape or the mental shape to play.”

“Yeah, he’s OK,” said Coach K, who remains in touch with both Williamson and Barrett, whom he says will end up being just fine with the Knicks despite his early Summer League struggles. “Zion will move forward from this issue without incident,” said Pelicans executive VP David Griffin. “However, in an abundance of caution, we have made the determination that he will not appear in game action for the remainder of the NBA Summer League. He will continue to take part in training and conditioning with our performance team.”
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May 24, 2020 | 7:24 pm EDT Update
We were able to get our hands on a few minutes of Rivers’ presentation to the Colts team, which you can watch in its entirety above. But here’s what he had to say in full about what he’s learned over the years about championship teams: » “I don’t think people understand that … I think people think champions don’t get hit. Like, you know, I always use boxing, because boxing, for whatever reason, my dad was a big boxing fan, and so I grew up watching boxing matches, and the biggest misnomer is that champions only hit. It’s just not true. Champions get hit all the time. And then it comes to a point — how many times are you willing to get hit and keep moving forward and still punch, so you can win? That’s what it’s gonna come down to: you are going to get hit. You just are. Alright? But you have to be willing to take the punches, you have to be willing to keep moving forward and keep going.”
May 24, 2020 | 5:32 pm EDT Update
After the Warriors moved on from Mark Jackson as head coach in 2014, the search narrowed on two final candidates: former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and then-TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr. Former Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk was part of the team that interviewed both contenders and says the front office at one point wasn’t sure they’d even get a chance to sit down with Kerr during the process.
“Steve was being courted very hard by Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks,” Schlenk said on 95.7 The Game last week. “And at one point during the process, it felt like that’s where he was going to go. And so we didn’t think that we were going to even have an opportunity to really sit down and talk with Steve. And I believe it was while we were meeting with Stan down in Orlando, that Steve called Bob and said he kinda had a change of heart and he wanted to meet with us.”
While most of the responses have been incredibly positive, Michael’s 27-year-old daughter, Jasmine Jordan, exclusively tells ET that her dad “hasn’t paid any attention” to what people are saying about it on social media, including “all the new memes/gifs being created.” In addition to Jasmine, Michael shares two sons, Jeffrey, 31, and Marcus, 29, with ex-wife Juanita Vanoy, and 6-year-old twins Victoria and Isabel with Yvette Prieto, whom he married in 2013.
Storyline: Michael Jordan Documentary
“We are all very happy to see how successful the doc has been and to see athletes, fans, new fans etcetera,” Jasmine says. “Obviously with the coronavirus, we all watched separately versus watching together, but we had a running group text thread.” “We would talk about what was happening, laugh at seeing our younger selves in some of the episodes and ask my dad any questions we might’ve had,” she adds.
One person that was noticeably absent from the 10-part docuseries was Jasmine’s mother, Juanita. Jasmine tells ET that her mom was not in it “simply because she already lived it, of course.” “The doc’s focus was on the team as a whole and their last season,” she said, referencing her dad’s sixth NBA championship with the Bulls in 1998. “My dad is a major focal point, obviously, but it still was about the team as a whole in their final run together, so that’s why she wasn’t in it.”
May 24, 2020 | 4:28 pm EDT Update
Storyline: Season Resuming?
May 24, 2020 | 1:01 pm EDT Update
Caboclo admits he used Fraschila’s quote as motivation for a period, but ESPN’s international basketball guru wasn’t exactly wrong. Caboclo spent most of the next four years developing with Toronto’s D League affiliate, helping that squad win a D League title in ’17 but playing just 25 games for an ascending Raptors team over the course of his rookie contract. “When I got on the Raptors, Coach [Dwane] Casey was playing 7 or 8 players a game. They weren’t looking to me very much,” Caboclo told Sports Illustrated over a recent Zoom call. “They said I was going to play every season, but I really didn’t play most of the time. I could see how it was going.”
After Memphis signed him away from Rio Grande in January, Caboclo played in 34 games (19 starts) and averaged 8.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 36.9% from three-point range in 23.5 minutes per contest—all career-high marks. “They welcomed me from the first day. Marc Gasol was there, he treated me very well before he was traded,” Caboclo said. “The coaches were amazing and always supported players with everything we needed. Memphis was a great place for me.”
“With my journey, not everyone can understand how it’s been,” Caboclo said. “The first time I played in the NBA, I felt good. I felt like I belonged there. But you need to gain respect. They don’t pass to you very much at first. But after you start making some buckets, they start to give it to you more. … In my first Summer League, I was playing maybe 30 minutes and got the ball in my hand four times. The thing I learned was to be patient and not change how I play even if I’m not getting the ball—to always play hard.”
“Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps,” Cuomo said. “I believe sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena, do it! Do it! Work out the economics if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports to the extent people are still staying home. It gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible, and we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.”
May 24, 2020 | 12:47 pm EDT Update
In his “All the Smoke” podcast last week, Barnes revealed (around the 1:09:00 mark) the ring is still sitting in the office of Golden State vice president of communications Raymond Ridder. “I came in when (Kevin Durant) went down, playing a consistent 20-25 minutes. The game KD comes back, I get hurt maybe a week before the playoffs and I’m out of it,” Barnes said. “I got a free ride, I got a free ring.”
Barnes averaged 5.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 20.5 minutes per game in the 20 regular-season games he played with the Warriors that year. But it was a different story in the playoffs. “I didn’t sweat … I didn’t get to guard LeBron (James),” he said. With Durant fully recovered, Barnes played just 61 minutes in 12 playoff games. And for that reason, he concluded: “I don’t count that as a championship.”
When Chucky Atkins retired after 11 seasons in the NBA, he found himself directionless. He was accustomed to the regimented schedule that comes with being a professional athlete, jostling nonstop between games, practices, workouts, flights and other engagements. With more time on his hands than he knew what to do with, he found himself playing golf and drinking every day in retirement. Eventually, his drinking became problematic. “I decided the best thing for me to do at that particular time was to step away from it and get myself together, because at the end of the day I did realize I was a role model, and that I was doing the wrong thing,” Atkins said.
After paying his legal fees, finishing his DUI classes and completing his community service, Atkins landed a new head coaching job in the AAU ranks. Now, he’s hoping to climb the coaching ladder once again. Atkins, who played for the Pistons from 2000-04 and in 2009-10, is one of 14 members in the NBA’s Assistant Coaches Program. Since 1988, the program has assisted former players in developing the tools to enter the NBA, G League and college coaching ranks. His goal is to “go to the top,” and become a head coach.
Atkins played for several coaches who have reputations as being among the best in the NBA — Doc Rivers, Mike Fratello and former Pistons coaches Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown. His goal is to take a little bit from each and mix it with his own style. “Ultimately, a coach is only as good as the guys on his team,” Atkins said. “It would be my job to guide and direct them. But ultimately, each guy would have to be a personal contractor to get themselves as good as they can possibly be, but also put it in a team concept. … I would take a little bit from all of those guys’ style and come up with my own formula that would be successful.”
May 24, 2020 | 11:27 am EDT Update
Hall of Fame CEO John Doleva emphasized they are not just going to roll this class into the 2021 class (which has yet to be elected). “I do want to make it very clear we will have a separate event for the class of 2020 because of the notoriety of that class and, frankly, every class deserves its own recognition,” Doleva said. “There is a potential next calendar year that we could have two enshrinements.”
After eliminating the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 NBA playoffs, the “We Believe” Warriors etched their names into Golden State lore. The underdog band of Warriors could be getting treatment similar to The Last Dance. Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes recently joined The Bill Simmons Podcast to talk about the 2006-07 Warriors. While the rest of the details are still unclear, Barnes mentioned a documentary about the We Believe group could be on the way.
May 24, 2020 | 8:05 am EDT Update

Israel an option for Ante Zizic?

Ante Zizic will be emerging as a candidate for Maccabi Tel Aviv if the player decides to leave the NBA and return to Europe, according to Israeli website One. The Croatian center will hit the upcoming offseason as an unrestricted free agent since the Cleveland Cavaliers have declined the 2020-2021 option in his contract. Another reason why Maccabi is reported to be quite interested in Zizic is the recent departure of center Tarik Black. From the frontline players of the Israeli powerhouse, only center Othello Hunter is bound with a contract for the next season.
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During a recent appearance on ESPN, Johnson had some high praise for James, as he said that the Lakers forward was probably the best “all-around” player of all time. However, Johnson said that when it comes to the greatest player ever, he’s still going with Jordan. “First of all, let’s not take anything away from LeBron James,” Johnson said. “Because LeBron James is a great basketball player, one of the all-time greatest that’s ever played the game. LeBron James to me, when you think about all-around basketball players, he’s probably the best of all time. An all-around basketball player. But when you want to say ‘who’s the greatest ever’ it’s still Michael Jordan.”
While Johnson currently has Jordan ranked ahead of James on his own all-time list, he did leave the door open for James to potentially pass Jordan down the road, as James is still in the midst of his playing days. “LeBron James’ chapter is not closed yet,” Johnson added. “He still has some basketball to play, so maybe he has a chance to catch [Jordan] later on if he can get some more championships under his belt. But at the end of the day, they’re both great and they play they game the right way. They made their teammates better, they won championships, and thank god for LeBron because right now that’s what we’re watching. It’s his time. It’s his era, and he’s dominating his era.”
Storyline: GOAT Debate
On Wireside Chat with Houston Rockets broadcaster Craig Ackerman, seven-time champion Robert Horry said The Last Dance documentary reminded him how much Bryant mimicked His Airness: “It’s so weird, getting a chance to really watch Michael Jordan in The Last Dance and hear the words that he used, it’s almost like Kobe just took everything he said and did — his mannerisms, his language, his lingo — and just copied it. “It’s like watching a ghost now. I hate to use those terms, but to watch Michael Jordan, it’s like ‘Man, how did Kobe learn everything this dude did to a T?’ And then he made it a little better in some areas.”
Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter crash last January was a devastating blow for one of his main business partners, BodyArmor founder Mike Repole, who cites the NBA legend’s early investment and creative vision as critical factors in the sports drink brand’s current success. At the time of his death, Bryant was BodyArmor’s fourth-largest shareholder. Only Repole, Coca-Cola and Keurig Dr. Pepper owned larger equity shares. Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, and his children inherited control over his stake, the BodyArmor founder told FOX Business.
Bryant’s early belief in the BodyArmor brand paid off in 2018, when Repole sold a significant equity stake to Coca-Cola in a deal that valued his company at $2 billion. When the transaction closed, Bryant’s stake was worth $200 million – a massive increase compared to his initial investment. “For me, this has always been a journey, the last seven or eight years, with Kobe, and now I feel like this is a journey for Kobe,” Repole added.