Pistons should protect Stuckey at all costs

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stuckey.jpgUPDATE 9:12 pm: Stuckey has been cleared to practice by team doctors. However, no date has been set yet for when he will return to game action

11:54 am: Nobody quite knows what’s ailing Rodney Stuckey physically, and that’s a frightening thing. Professional basketball players, like professional athletes of any kind, put their bodies through a ton of physical stress. It’s enough to injure just about every part of the human body, and while it’s not exactly as contact-dependent as say, football, there’s no question that athletes need to be aware and in tune with their bodies at all times or they could be seriously hurt.

There are some things you just don’t risk. It’s not like Stuckey has a sprained ankle or even a fracture patella; it’s completely unknown what caused Stuck to collapse on the Pistons bench last week, which should put him in the category of “guys you do not put on the court for any reason.”

Chris Iott of MLive thinks differently:

We all agree that Stuckey the person is more important than
Stuckey the basketball player. That the first priority is his health
off the court and not his production on it. That Stuckey and the
Pistons should take every precaution and run every conceivable test
two, three, four, however many times they want to.

But, once every
test and precaution is taken, no one should blame Stuckey for returning
to the court. Sitting out the final 19 games of the current season
serves little purpose.

I’m following along through the first few sentences, but somewhere in that paragraph break I seem to be getting a bit lost. Why are we encouraging Stuckey to hit the court when his health could be seriously at risk? And why are advocating that he rush back to the court to play for the 22-41 Pistons? The only thing that “serves little purpose” is Stuckey logging any floor time whatsoever while his health status is still up in the air.

There is absolutely no need for hurry. If Stuck returns in two weeks’ time with a clean bill of health, that’s absolutely super. But Detroit has little to gain by suiting him up, and I don’t know how they even could do so in good conscience.

Where a lot of the discourse is missing the point is that they follow this same “If nothing is wrong with Stuckey…” chain of thought that drives Iott’s piece. Something is wrong. The guy collapsed during a game, a fact which is just plain irresponsible to ignore, especially after invoking the name of Reggie Lewis.

So you test and you test and you test, and at some point, it may be okay for Rodney to play again. But that’s not a call that anyone makes — not John Kuester, not the Pistons’ medical staff, and not Stuckey himself — until every relevant test is given and then some. There are some things you don’t mess with, no matter what’s at stake. And when all that’s at stake is a season ticket holder or two and a few less ping pong balls? Basketball just isn’t that important.

Russell Westbrook’s no-look, two-hand, behind-his-head pass ignites Thunder break

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Russell Westbrook was just himself — hustling, attacking, and getting his fifth triple-double in a row Sunday night against the Pelicans.

But the play of the night didn’t get him any points or an assist. It was Westbrook hustling, getting to the floor to get a loose ball, then making the showtime pass to start a Globetrotters-like fast break that ended with an Andre Roberson dunk.

Westbrook had an impressive dunk of his own.

NBA VP Kiki VanDeWeghe on “unnaturual acts:” “Our rules are for every player”

draymond green
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The NBA has tried to crack down on “unnatural acts” — players flailing body parts trying to draw a foul call.

At the heart of that is Golden State’s Draymond Green, who picked up a flagrant foul for the unnatural act of getting his leg high enough to kick James Harden in the face Thursday night. Green fired back at the league, saying in part, “It’s funny how you can tell me how I get hit and how my body is supposed to react. I didn’t know the league office was that smart when it came to body movements.” Green’s argument is that he was fouled in the air and the high leg was the natural act of him trying to keep his balance. (Doesn’t matter, it’s a reckless act and if you kick someone in the face you should get a flagrant foul. Also, try explaining the kick on Marquese Chriss on Saturday that way.)

Former All-Star NBA player as well as coach Kiki VanDeWeghe is now an NBA vice president and the guy who is the decision maker on these reviews and fouls. He spoke with Sam Amick of the USA Today about how those unnatural act rules are applied.

“Our rules are for every player,” VanDeWeghe told USA TODAY Sports. “We want each play judged according to the rules, as best possible, and the rules applied fairly across our whole league. That’s very important to us. We don’t make exceptions for players. They are applied to everybody.

“In Draymond’s particular case (against the Houston Rockets on Thursday), he had an arm flail which struck the player (James Harden) in the neck-head area. And then in addition to that, he had a kick up above the head of the defender. As he brought his leg down, his heel hit him in the face. It wouldn’t matter what player we’re talking about (it’s a foul)….

“Most of these are done to draw the attention of the referees. We noticed an uptick in these last year, and they needed to be addressed by the competition committee.”

While Green feels singled out — “marked” is what he tweeted — VanDeWeghe noted that competition committee included owners, coaches, GMs, people from the players union, and a lot of people with playing experience, who all sat down as a group and studied what is and is not an “unnatural act.” As Amick noted, it isn’t just Green who gets hit with these penalties, although he gets the headlines: Boston’s Marcus Smart was given a Flagrant One for his kick to the groin of the Miami’s Hassan Whiteside; Thursday LeBron James was given a technical foul for his blow to the head of the Clippers’ Alan Anderson.

So long as Green continues to make these acts — and the kick to Chriss Saturday suggests they are not slowing down — the crackdown will continue.

Watch Raptors PG Kyle Lowry throw a full-court alley oop to Pascal Siakam

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Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is having an excellent year for the Eastern Conference Finals hopefuls, and part of that is due to his vision. On Saturday, Lowry threw a full-court lob to Pascal Siakam that was mighty impressive.

After a missed shot in the middle of the third quarter by the Atlanta Hawks, Lowry gathered the rebound on the left block and quickly turned his eyes downcourt.

Siakam, the No. 27 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, was streaking toward the Raptors basket and behind the Hawks defense.

Lowry took advantage with a long-distance heave after one dribble at the free-throw line, and Pascal was able to gather and softly lay the ball up at the rim.

Warriors F Draymond Green kicks Marquese Chriss in the hand (VIDEO)

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Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was not punished with an additional fine for kicking Houston Rockets G James Harden in the face on Dec. 1. Perhaps that emboldened him to kick another opponent just two days later in Phoenix Suns rookie Marquese Chriss.

While attempting a rip through move on Chriss in the third quarter of Saturday night’s game, Green could be seen kicking Chriss in the hand.

Chriss, in some obvious pain, immediately ran over to the bench and was replaced by Jared Dudley.

Meanwhile, Green didn’t even draw a foul. On the other end of the floor, P.J. Tucker was trying to fight through a screen and was called for both a personal foul and a technical foul after arguing.

It seems that there’s not much stopping Green from trying to damage opponents. He infamously missed Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals due to his extracurricular activity, his absence perhaps acting as the catalyst to swing a series in which the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There was no fine for kicking the league’s best MVP candidate in Harden, and no reaction from officials for kicking Chriss.

This came just a day after Green complained about how the league was treating him and how he should control his body.

In the last six months, Green has hit or kicked Harden, Chriss, Kyrie Irving, Allen Crabbe, and Steven Adams (twice).