If you’re a fan of athletes handling their marketing well, you have to be impressed with how LeBron James has handled the questions surrounding his future this summer in the Free Agency Summer of Doom. Even if you’re absolutely convinced one way or the other on him leaving or staying, he’s done a fantastic job of keeping the question open while doing the things he should for his team and the Cavs fans.
He releases a series of shoes in Knicks colors.
He attends the Yankees championship parade.
He releases a film about his time in high school in Ohio.
He constantly, and firmly, refuses to comment on his future and free agency.
To that end, it’s interesting that in the latest from Brian Windhorst, Cavs beat writer extraordinaire, LeBron is quoted answering a rare question about the summer from an unnamed member of the press corps. The reporter asked why James won’t just say he’s happy in Cleveland (which would end the speculation), since he seems so happy with the Cavs, laughing and joking and being all silly and cute. His response? Not cute.
“At the end of the day, it is still a business,” James said. “This isn’t
high school basketball anymore. You have to do what is best for your
family and what is best for yourself. I’ve always said I love being in
Cleveland. But for me as a basketball player, no matter what happens, I
love to play the game. I play it with a joy and I love my teammates.”
The line about it being a business is nothing new, and the quote itself isn’t shocking. But it does paint a definitive picture of where James’ head is at. Those that think there’s no way the King could leave his kingdom need to pay hard attention to the “what is best for yourself” part. It’s up to teams with less to offer than the Cavs to make the case of why he should leave. But if they can make the case, he’ll listen.
From there, it’s money plus championships plus all the other million factors to consider.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.