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Why a $500,000 fine means nothing to the Lakers or Pacers

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Thursday the NBA announced the Los Angeles Lakers have been fined $500,000 for tampering with a player under contract with the Indiana Pacers by the name of Paul George who had informed the latter he would be leaving for Los Angeles when his contract expires next summer.

The Pacers had a right to be upset and filed a complaint with the league.

What value are contracts to anyone if the next destination is only a whisper or a season away?

Coming up on free agency next summer, George apparently prepicked his destination the way the Pacers brought him to Indiana from Fresno State. He had no choice where he began his career but now he will get to choose his next stop.

The only problem is the Lakers can’t indicate their interest, that’s called tampering. They know it. George knows it.

As is often the case the team did more for player than player for team. Paul George flourished in his initial seasons in blue and gold but eventually it became a question whether a) he cared b) he was going to play all out c) was defense going to be optional. Additionally, there were questions if he was ever going to be the guy a team could build around or would he be a supporting cast member to a megastar.

We may get that answer as George suits up as Robin next to Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City for at least one season in ’17-’18.

$500,000 is a token gesture but it will not affect a Lakers franchise adversely. The Lakers are worth $3 billion according to Forbes and bring in revenues around $350 million a season.

It’s a guilty verdict but it probably does nothing to prevent teams from communicating with players under contract be it go betweens such as player to player or agent to GM.

On the surface we have a large market, perhaps only rivaled by New York, attempting to pluck a small market’s best player.

If the NBA wanted to send a message, and they clearly do not, they would have dinged a first-round pick. Alas, George is not actually in a Laker uniform yet so perhaps the league felt it could only do so much to the Lakers.

NBA free-agency drives fan engagement and the offseason chatter but tampering also undermines the business model. The NBA’s biggest Achilles heel right now is the concentration of talent. Keeping things on a level playing field will go a long way to counteract that.

Warriors-Thunder: Much ado about nothing

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It’s the lull in the NBA season. March Madness grabbed the basketball spotlight and the playoff race seems even less interesting as the division between contenders and pretenders is clear.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are not contenders. The Golden State Warriors are yet. It was a simple story on a Sunday afternoon when the NBA was in the background to the NCAA tournament that kept the league abuzz this week.

ESPN reported that the Warriors were unhappy with Kevin Durant’s treatment upon his return to Oklahoma City a few months back.

The next day Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that was hogwash.

Kerr said, per ESPN:

“I don’t agree,” Kerr said. “[Thunder general manager] Sam Presti’s a friend of mine. I know [Thunder chairman] Clay Bennett, it’s a class organization all the way. So I don’t really pay any attention to a story like that unless there’s an actual name that’s put on, so, I assume it’s just sources? Sources? So I don’t know who that is. It’s nobody with the Warriors. So, we have great respect for the Thunder. Sam’s been a friend of mine forever. They’re first class, so I don’t know where that comes from.”

Stephen Curry was asked about the alleged mistreatment of Durant and he commented “Certain stories that don’t need to see the light of day, don’t need to have any kind of life breathed into them, are somehow the most popular. ”

Yes, the assembled NBA media and bloggers and NBA twitter is dying for a decent story line to fill the gap between March and May and it’s really meager out there.

The Knicks tragedy will fill only so many pixels.

Dear NBA we need something to talk about.



Tom Izzo is exactly right about social media

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Social media is a cancer to our society.

Tuesday night following Michigan State’s win over Ohio State in East Lansing, MI, Spartan head coach Tom Izzo took a moment in his introductory comments to say what many have been thinking, many have voiced, but it bears great weight on current sports and society.

Social media is making sports all the more popular but it’s also causing major problems.

No one probably believes the ill effects more than Tom Izzo. Who has in the past voiced his displeasure with the platform as a masquerade of real communication and a safe haven for so-called fans to take cheap shots and or harass his players.

Tuesday night Izzo made a deafening statement at least in college basketball circles. He let it be publically known that one Dan Dakich of ESPN had gone too far. Dakich who is an ESPN college basketball commentator also hosts a radio show in Indianapolis and is quite active on Twitter.  His style on both platforms is confrontational at best, insane at worst.

As Izzo pointed out, it’s not that people dislike Dan Dakich, but the former player and coach tends to take it too far.

Dakich called Michigan State whiners, and the like, via social media last week. Dakich has since deleted the Tweets.

Michigan State’s student section dubbed “The Izzone” responded by chanting “we hate Dakich” during Tuesday’s game against Ohio State. Izzo responded after the game.

Per the Detroit Free Press and here are Izzo’s comments:

“I’ve got to be honest with you,” Izzo said. “I was kind of getting upset with the chants of Dakich until  I got in the locker room, and I asked what was that all about? Somebody read me his tweets. Social media. And if I would have known that before the game, I would have embarrassed myself almost as much as he embarrassed himself and I would have led the chants because calling us whiners and all that is kind of unprofessional.”

“Because calling us whiners and that is kind of unprofessional. Classy broadcasters, like George Blaha and everybody else, wouldn’t have even thought to do something like that on TV. But saying our students couldn’t get in there? And he’s doing games for Michigan when his son is there? That is a disappointment, and that is ridiculous.

“And I think it’s funny because I got no respect for him for that. And I am going to publicly say it – you can tweet it, you can read it, you can do whatever you want with it – but Twitter got him in trouble, and he earned it. I am surprised ESPN would let somebody say something like that, that works for them.”



A battle of eras

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The war of words between 90’s superstars and the present day basketball elite rages on.

Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob stated he was genuinely hurt that during a recent dinner where many NBA owners attended, Michael Jordan said the Golden State Warriors 73-win record breaking season didn’t mean anything.

Last week an M.J. buddy, Charles Barkley, took LeBron James to task for allegedly pushing Cleveland management for more star power more players to further stack his NBA title winning Cavs.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson appear to have taken the high road, as it was none other than M.J. in the 90’s who crashed their high-flying must-see act in the 80s.

Larry Bird, growing up in a world in French Lick, Indiana that in many ways stayed in the past, and endured personal heartbreak is one who will never allow himself to get stuck in yesteryear.

Last June he told ESPN the guys who play now are just as good as they were in when he played. Perhaps the most honest assessment.

At the time he said,  “everybody that plays, no matter if it was ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, they think their era’s the best. Well, prove it to me. Like I said earlier, I think we have more stars than they do now. On every team, they had at least one, maybe two. I’m talking about Dominique Wilkins — you just go down the line. But in saying that, I don’t think our era’s any better than anyone else’s, when it comes right down to it.”

Bird may have a point. The truly dominant appear to have clustered together.

You have Kevin Durant and Steph Curry on the same team. And that’s what kicked this conversation into the same gear. Because in that era, there was not a lot of player movement for superstars in the prime of their career.

Larry stayed with Boston. Magic stayed with Los Angeles. Jordan stayed with Chicago. Dominique left for Boston well after his prime. Reggie Miller stayed at home. Patrick Ewing stayed in one place. David Robinson stayed in San Antonio. Chris Mullin spent his most productive years in Golden State. Karl Malone spent his most productive years in Utah. John Stockton never left Utah. Charles Barkley got traded.

LeBron has had an affair with Miami, now back home with Cleveland. Durant is in Golden State. Carmelo might be headed for his third team.

When speaking to ESPN back in June, one thing that Bird astutely noted was the money has changed.

Larry Bird’s highest salary per year came in 1991-92 season when he was paid $7.1 million per season. LeBron James is making $30.1 million this season and as it would follow, his endorsement money is higher.

The one constant in sports debate is that one can never correctly compare eras.

The one constant in the LeBron vs M.J. debate is that the eras seem to be so distinct. The era beginning with either Kobe Bryant or LeBron James began their NBA careers and the period either when Magic and Bird were doing their thing or the period when Jordan won his first championship to his last.

In the minds of those who debate such things, no other meaningful basketball has been played.

We wouldn’t trade Love for anything

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If you ask LeBron James, the Cavs are happy with Kevin Love.

Of course, the fact that repeated published reports that the Cavs would in fact trade Kevin Love keeps getting reaction from LeBron fuels the fire.

Monday my good friend (he DM’ed me once on Twitter) Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, and of ESPN and of Sirius XM NBA Radio fame, reported that LeBron James is pushing for Carmelo Anthony for Kevin Love.

The golden sentence went as follows, “According to a league source, LeBron is the one pushing the Cleveland Cavaliers front office to acquire Carmelo even if it potentially means having to include Kevin Love in a deal, which is something Cavs management is opposed to doing.”

No doubt Phil Jackson has identified Anthony as the cancer to the Knicks core, and when Anthony was unresponsive when the Knicks President pushed him, that was that, he must be traded. Carmelo’s response was seeking guidance on how to deal with Phil Jackson. Whereas Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were motivated and achieved greater heights. Anthony and the Knicks have stayed mediocre.

Back to Isola. As it has been duly noted, the New York writer has been floating Kevin Love to the Knicks for some time, and quite likely, Isola himself loves him some Kevin Love.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue basically said there’s no chance they are giving up Kevin Love, LeBron James called the story “trash” and said the reporter who published it, minutes before tip-off against the Wizards Monday night was also “trash”, referring to our friend Frank Isola.




Isola for his part responded Tuesday morning with an appearance on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike.

He said in part, “It’s interesting too because some people who spoke to him afterward said he was mostly upset that the timing of the story and that it somehow done purposely to come out before the game against the Wizards had started, which is absurd.”


A New York Debacle

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The old adage that sports represents the best values of society… well that may be long gone.

Hardwork, perseverance, teamwork, well that’s off the table in today’s professional sports.

Today, more likely sports represents big TV contracts, local marketing deals, apparel merchandising and ticket sales.

Carmelo Anthony has made a lot of money for the franchises he has played basketball for.

Syracuse University for that matter, made a killing off of ‘Melo.

He’s a money making machine, with what appears to be little effort.

He’s an internet star as well, with monthly searches for his name totally about 550,000 according to

Each year, he’s the center of the storm. He casually plays the martyr and rakes in the cash. He does it perfectly.

Of course, the 2016-17 New York Knicks season was doomed from the start. Please cite an example where two injury prone semi-star players (Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah) joined an ageing, also somewhat injury prone unsuccessful star (Anthony) and mashed it all together with a slew of unknown younger players and NBA magic happens?

It doesn’t happen. Especially with an unproven head coach (Jeff Hornacek).

That is the 2016-17 New York Knicks.constants chaos, no structure.

Constants chaos, no structure.

Phil Jackson as architect, and detached remote ringmaster, is not working.

The New York Knick soap opera continues as the biggest story in the N.B.A.  Something to keep January pro hoops interesting.

Word this week is that the Knicks would do anything to trade Carmelo Anthony, but can’t get a deal done. Knicks coach Jeff Hornaceck said that the decision is “his”, meaning Anthony.

Basketball diehards and a few media professionals alike dream of scenarios where Anthony’s talent is put to use, such as in Los Angeles with CP3 and the Clippers. Or headed to Boston for a shot in the east versus LeBron.

More than likely Carmelo isn’t going anywhere simply because no one is dying to have Carmelo on the team. He can score, but playoff series wins are not the legacy of Anthony.

So it appears the Knick drama will continue, as it should be, as it has been.

A real good way to get back to the Knicks of old is the homegrown way. Through the draft, and the Knicks at 21-28 on the year are headed straight for the lottery.

Grayson Allen perpetuates the Duke stereotype one “knee” “jerk” reaction at a time

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Duke guard Grayson Allen is not doing himself any favors. Perhaps playing basketball at the next level isn’t in the works, or simply this won’t have an impact. Perhaps there are no immediate consequences for Allen.

Wednesday night against Elon, Allen clearly tripped an opposing player, clearly as a reaction, clearly out of frustration.

It’s not the first incident from Allen of the tripping nature. Back in February of last season, Allen was “reprimanded” by the ACC for tripping a Florida State player. That was this second tripping incident of his career, this marks his third.

Some are calling for Allen to be suspended by Duke or the ACC. Coach K for his part did not say whether Allen would be suspended but said that his actions are “inexcusable”. 

In actuality, Grayson is totally not the stereotype he is perpetuating.



But the perception is there .


The legacy of Craig Sager: You don’t give up

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You don’t give up, you keep fighting to live.

You give it your absolute best.

That’s the message Craig Sager lived and we saw played out in the final years of his life.

Sager-who has worked as a sports broadcaster for Turner since March of 1981, passed away today at age 65 from cancer. Sager was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014.

Perhaps not a perfect man or perfect dresser but someone who suffered tremendously and still kept fighting and made us laugh-often courtside.

“He’s gone through more stuff, treatment wise, than anyone I’ve ever known,” his colleague Ernie Johnson said recently.

He wasn’t a legend his entire career. It was his dogged determination that got him into our living rooms in the first place.

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Ultimately he showed us that medical conditions, or even impending death, need not dim the light of life.  He had always been a hard worker, self-made, but he physically battled the disease with an incredible effort perhaps unmatched in the public arena.

And so you and I don’t give up because we’re all fighting something.

Sager was a cultural institution in the N.B.A.

Now he’s a cultural institution in the fight against cancer.


LeBron sits and the world reacts

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LeBron James wasn’t the only Cleveland Cavalier to sit out the Cavaliers 93-85 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night.

The Cavs starting lineup was as follows:

Mike Dunleavy F

Channing Frye F

Tristan Thompson C

J.R. Smith G

DeAndre Liggins G

Missing of course besides James was Kyrie Irving  and Kevin Love, two perennial All-Stars.

No one was injured. It was just needed rest, according to Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue.  The Big Three would sit. The fans in Memphis would get the pleasure of watching J.R. Smith hoist up fifteen shots and make four. But the fans in Memphis come to see the Grizz right? Wrong. They come to see the Grizz except for a select group of teams, which include the Warriors, Cavs and Spurs. For those visits, entire mini-season ticket packages are built around. For those games the secondary market on StubHub for example triples in value often.

Now Tim Duncan of the Spurs has been sitting out selectively as he aged. (See Gregg Popovich and five NBA titles.)

Now LeBron is doing it and the world has reacted.

Jason Terry:

Tony Kornheiser of Pardon the Interuption and Washington Post fame, states the fact that LeBron would miss a game while healthy was a “disgrace”.

As reported by Michael McCarthy of the Sporting News Kornheiser said:

“This is a disgrace. There’s only two teams that you buy a season ticket for. You buy it for Golden State. And you buy it for Cleveland,” said Kornheiser. “Cleveland goes into Memphis one time. And none of these players is going to be there?”

LeBron when questioned by reporters prior to Wednesday’s game said the call was his coach and didn’t seem to have an appetite to justify the reason for sitting. (Though many blame LeBron directlly).

“I do whatever my coach asks me to do,” James said per

“My coach wants me to rest, I don’t buck my coach. That’s what he wants and that’s what we gonna do.

“I’ve been in this league 14 years. I shouldn’t have to explain me sitting out a game or not playing games. I’ve played in every arena, including Seattle that’s no longer here. It’s not like it’s my first year. I’ve got 14 years. I’ve paid my dues and more than a lot of guys in this league. But I’ll ride with my coach.”

The night the 3’s rained down at Oracle

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By Travis Duncan

—Oakland, California, double-overtime, the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors combined to shoot 88 three-pointers. Perfectly, symmetrically divided in half, 44-attempts per team.

Golden State, the creme a la creme of modern long distance shooting, made 12, two less than Houston. The Warriors are hard to beat at Oracle, and it took two overtimes for the Rockets to pull off the feat and for one Rockets player to declare post-game “this shows we can compete with anyone.

It became the first time that two NBA teams each attempted 40 or more three-pointers in a single game.

Of course, there’s a philosophical angle.

Charles Barkley said on Inside the NBA on TNT postgame, “The analytics guys will love it.”

The reasoning is not complicated. You shoot more threes you make more threes. You get a chance for offensive rebounds. Also, there’s one fundamental truth: Three is more than two.

There’s also a fundamental debate about what “pretty basketball” is. The grind it out, physical boxing matches, that highlighted the 90s (Think New York Knicks Anthony Mason era) had a certain toughness to them. The modern game (Think Steph Curry and the G’dubs) is so much based on one-on-one and the high-ball screen. The pro game also features at least three to four, if not five players on the floor at all times who will jack of a three point shot. Make no mistake about it though, the three-point shot is dominating all levels of the sport of basketball.

Perhaps one day that thrill will go away, but for now, shooting and making three-pointers is an exciting brand of basketball, even for the NBA.


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