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.

LeBron James finishes left-handed alley-oop with head behind backboard

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We have reached the point with LeBron James and his legendary career that the incredible almost seems ordinary — he has made our jaws drop so many times it’s hard for him to clear the bar of amazing anymore.

He did Saturday night against Utah.

In transition, LeBron gave up the ball to Jeff Green, who returned the favor with an alley-oop pass. Just not a particularly good one, it was behind James.

So he reaches back with his left hand and throws it down as he ducks his head under the backboard. Then LeBron stops and stares at his left hand, like he can’t believe what he just did.

We can’t either.

Carmelo Anthony standing ovation in return to Madison Square Garden

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Knicks fans may have had their frustrations with Carmelo Anthony, but they know how much he has meant to the franchise over the years. He pushed to be a Knick and chose to stay, he carried the franchise for years.

Saturday night he returned to Madison Square Garden in an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform after a trade this summer, and he was welcomed with a retrospective video followed by a standing ovation from the crowd (you can see all of it above).

Well done Knicks fans. Well done.

Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not travel with team for 25 days due to legal issue

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The Lakers’Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his new team’s first two games this season due to a suspension for a DUI case in Michigan.

But that was not all. Caldwell-Pope’s came with probation, and to get out of it early the Lakers’ forward has to go through an intensive rehab program — one that does not allow him to leave California with the team for 25 days. He did not play against the Cavaliers and that is just the first of multiple games he will miss, a story broken by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Caldwell-Pope was originally cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded guilty in May to the lesser charge of allowing someone to operate his vehicle while under the influence, which carried a 12-month probation.

On Thursday, Caldwell-Pope had to return to California to begin an intensive program over the next 25 days that will result in some travel restrictions and could cause him to miss additional games but will end his probation early.

The Lakers are in a home heavy part of their schedule, and by my calculations KCP would only miss one or two games (for sure against Houston Dec. 20, then maybe against Golden State Dec. 22, but that is in California). The Lakers next road game after that is Dec. 31 in Houston again.

Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Lakers last offseason, and he has gone on to become one of the few reliable three-point shooters on the team, hitting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, taking 6.1 shots from there a game. He’s been solid on defense and a player the Lakers’ need, although his overall efficiency is closer to average.

If the Lakers are successful with their big game hunting during free agency next summer, Caldwell-Pope will not return to the team. In a tight free agent market, he may once again not see offers near what he sees himself worth next summer. That said, his play in Los Angeles has been good. And now he will not have this legal issue hanging over his head during free agency.

LeBron James is good with televising All-Star team selections

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From the moment the NBA announced changes to the All-Star Game team selection format for this season, most NBA fans — as well as most media members I know — have wanted a live team selection show.

As a reminder, this year (as in past years) fans will vote for their favorite All-Stars, and those votes will be combined with media and player votes to name the five starters from each conference. Then the coaches will vote to select the teams.

What’s different is the top vote-getters from each conference — let’s be honest, it will be LeBron James in the East and Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant in the West — will be named captains and they will then pick their teams from the pool of other selected players. No East vs. West. If LeBron gets to choose first and he picks James Harden, then Harden is on that team. Curry can go second and select Giannis Antetokounmpo or whoever he wants from the starters pool, then the captains move into the reserves pool. Old-school playground style team picking.

Who wouldn’t tune it to watch that selection show?

The NBA officially has not decided yet if the selection process will be broadcast, but it probably won’t be. The reason is some player is not going to like being picked last (or next to last) and his agent will like it less. It gets political (would Curry have to choose Durant or Draymond Green first to keep his teammates happy?).

LeBron basically said Saturday why not televise it? From Nick Friedell of ESPN, when LeBron was asked if it would bother him to go against teammates in the All-Star Game:

“I hope not,” James said after Saturday’s shootaround. “We’re all grown men. It doesn’t stop their paycheck from coming. It won’t stop you from playing time once the season starts.”

And is he good with the pick order being made public or done live.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” James said. “It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, if I’m rewarded to be a part of the All-Star Game again, that’s cool for me. It doesn’t matter. All that other stuff is extracurricular.”

That’s the right attitude, and whoever got picked last would say that publicly. But privately… who knows? Depends on the guy.

That selection show would be must-watch television. The NBA needs to broadcast this. But it won’t. Politics will win out.