Great news: West's season has been quiet

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Delonte West is completely unique in every conceivable way. Beyond his personality, though, West’s life has some equally unique — at least by NBA standards — challenges; West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a fact which became public in the aftermath of a pretty bizarre incident involving West, a motorcycle, and three guns.

The memory of that event is easy to recall. After all, West was arrested just prior to this season, and the details are certainly memorable. His arrest and his diagnosis, though, have slipped out of NBA consciousness without incident. There hasn’t been a series of Pullitzer-winning pieces about West’s struggle with his disorder and daily victories in spite of it. It’s not because those victories and struggles aren’t there, but because West and the Cleveland Cavaliers have handled West’s specific case perfectly.

From Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The Cavs, who look to continue their eight-game winning streak when they close their trip against the San Antonio Spurs tonight, have enjoyed plenty of successes during this season. But perhaps a major, if overlooked, accomplishment is the team effort that has helped West become more balanced emotionally. That includes work West has done himself.

…The team has constantly protected West, who has declined all interviews since media day in September. There is little or no talk of his ongoing battle with a mood disorder, which West has said is bi-polar disorder. There is no mention of West’s pending court case in Maryland on gun charges. Just a quiet but diligent following of a process that West’s teammates, West’s doctors and West himself follow on a daily basis.

…West still has rough days and there almost certainly with be more to come. But getting West mostly stabilized and playing well again has so far been a remarkable accomplishment by a wide range of team officials and doctors.

That includes the management done by general manager Danny Ferry, head coach Mike Brown and his assistant coaches, athletic trainer Max Benton, director of team security Marvin Cross and several other doctors and therapists who have worked with West privately on an intense level.

“He’s got a nice support staff around him,” Brown said. “Including some other people behind the scenes. There’s a lot of support there for him and there will continue to be. He’s a part of our family and we take a lot of pride in trying to take care of everybody.”

There have been plenty of situations where NBA teams appear to mishandle atypical situations, but the Cavs not only appear to be reacting appropriately in terms of giving West the support he needs, but also in protecting him from extended media coverage. There will eventually be a day for West’s story to be documented, and to an extent it already is. But the additional probing and questioning that comes with significant media coverage probably isn’t something West needs to be dealing with right now. Thanks to the Cavs’ understanding of the situation, he doesn’t have to.  

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.