NBA Playoffs Celtics Magic Game 1: Stan Van Gundy believes giving valor to the victor

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svg.jpgOurs is not a very positive society, in terms of the media, in case you haven’t noticed.

So when the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics, the turn from all over, including from this blog, revolved around the failure of LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and James’ legacy. As a side note, oh, yeah, the Boston Celtics managed to dismantle the team with the best record in the league, get all of their weapons going and win in convincing fashion.

But Stan Van Gundy thinks that to gloss over what the Celtics did to crucify James and the Cavs is a flawed design.

From the New York Times:

“It does a disservice to all of them,” Van Gundy said. “I feel bad for
him only in the sense that you’ve taken a team that basically, because
of one guy, made it inevitable that nobody can possibly beat them,
they’re going to win a championship. Then, instead of just going, ‘Wow,
the Celtics are good and they played great.’ Now, it’s, ‘What’s wrong
with LeBron? Why did he play the way he did in Game 5? The talent around
him is not good enough. Mike Brown can’t coach.’ You go through all the
negatives. You can’t say — I can — but I guess you guys just can’t
say, ‘They lost to a damn good team.”

Well, then, Stan, tell us how you really feel. You’re usually so reserved, after all.

Van Gundy’s point is a strong one. Why do we seek to simplify the Cavaliers’ failures into some sort of spiritual vaccum (“They have no heart.”) or a catastrophic X’s and O’s disaster? We gloss over some pretty important facts, like the Celtics working hard for high percentage shots, out-executing consistently, coming up with every loose ball, and playing a brand of defense easily identifiable as the type that puts rings on fingers.

Van Gundy often has difficulty with how things are portrayed, but this is a particularly sound piece of perspective. The Cavs won more games than any other team in the league. They made the second round. The Celtics were simply better.

However, none of this will stop questions about how the Cavs accepted that fact. There were particular points in the final two games of the series where the Cavs and James simply seemed to accept that they were bested. It didn’t come easy, so they took their ball and come home. But pointing that out shouldn’t overshadow the job the Celtics did just because it’s sexier.

And having equated the word “sexier” with something involving Glen Davis, I will not spend the rest of the day vomiting.

Joking with Justin Timberlake at golf tournament, Stephen Curry throws mouthguard. Again.

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Well played Stephen Curry, well played.

He was joking around with Justin Timberlake at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe this weekend (you can watch it on NBC, check your local listings) when Curry poked a little fun at himself by throwing his mouthguard.

Last time he did that he got a $25,000 fine. This time he got some laughs.

WNBA rescinds fines regarding protest shirts

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 13, 2016 file photo, members of the New York Liberty basketball team await the start of a game against the Atlanta Dream in New York. The WNBA is withdrawing its fines for teams and players that showed support of citizens and police involved in recent shootings by wearing black warmup shirts before and during games. WNBA President Lisa Borders said in a statement Saturday, July 23, the league was rescinding penalties given to the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and their players for wearing the shirts–which was a uniform violation. The players started wearing them to show solidarity after shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and a number of Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets players wore “I can’t breathe” T-shirts in warmups after the death of Eric Garner in New York. LeBron and his then Heat teammates wore hoodies for a photo shoot after the Travon Martin shooting. NBA players have made other protest fashion statements, with no repercussions from the league.

But when WNBA players wore black warmup shirts in support of Black Lives Matter and other anti-violence protests, the WNBA came down with fines for the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury ($5,000) and players involved ($500) for uniform violations. That led to a lot of backlash — including among WNBA players. Some refused to answer basketball questions with the media after recent games.

Saturday, the WNBA rescinded the fines. As they should have.

The women’s players’ union supported the move, via a statement from the director of operations Terri Jackson.

“We are pleased that the WNBA has made the decision to rescind the fines the league handed down to the players on the Fever, Liberty, and Mercury. We look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with the league to ensure that the players’ desire to express themselves will continue to be supported.”

I want a league — for men or women — where player’s individuality and statements can be made — I don’t want the NBA to be the button-down, cookie cutter NFL. Let the players be themselves. And if players want to weigh in on the biggest social issue of our time, they should. Without fear of repercussion.

Good on the WNBA for coming around to that.

Meyers Leonard says he hopes to be ready by start of Blazers’ season

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 8: Meyers Leonard #11 of the Portland Trail Blazers takes credit for a foul call during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on December 8, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Meyers Leonard could be poised for a big season in Portland. His minutes jumped last season because he provided spacing. With Portland adding Evan Turner on the wing to go with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, any big who can stretch the floor is going to get run, and Leonard has turned himself into a stretch four.

Leonard just hopes he can show what he can do at the start of the season — he’s still recovering from shoulder surgery. Here is what he told the Associated Press.

“My hope is to be ready right around the start of the season,” he said. “It’s a progression, first introducing rebounding, grabbing stuff overhead, then one-on-one, three-on-three, extending to the full court. We’ll see. You just never know.”

Leonard had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in April (they could have used him in the playoffs), and the timeline then was to have him back around the start of the season. Before he was shut down, he proved enough to get a four-year, $41 million contract extension with the Trail Blazers this summer.

The Trail Blazers will start Al-Farouq Aminu at the four, and Moe Harkless can certainly play there too (I’m far less sold on the future of Noah Vonleh). Leonard wants to get back before someone starts to steal any of his minutes.

Pelicans sign Jones for 1 year, Frazier for 2 years

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 21:  Terrence Jones #6 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a play as Cody Zeller #40 of the Charlotte Hornets looks on during their game at Toyota Center on December 21, 2015 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Pelicans say they have signed free-agent forward Terrence Jones and re-signed guard Tim Frazier.

A person familiar with the negotiations says Jones, a four-year veteran, signed a one-year deal Friday for the NBA minimum of about $1.14 million, while Frazier has signed a two-year deal worth about $4.1 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Pelicans have not released contract terms.

The 6-foot-9 Jones, who was Anthony Davis‘ teammates on Kentucky’s 2012 national championship team, has spent his first four NBA seasons with Houston, posting career averages of 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds.

Frazier played in 16 games for New Orleans late last season, averaging 13.1 points, 7.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 29.3 minutes per game.