NBA finals, Lakers Celtics: Hey look, Doc can nudge the refs in the press, too

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While there are plenty of coaches around the league that don’t quite enjoy the mandatory media relations part of the gig, Phil Jackson isn’t really one of them. Not only does Phil throw on a happy face for the media every once in awhile, but he, better than any coach in the league, understands how to use the media as a weapon.

The impact of Phil’s comments through the media have perhaps dulled a bit as his players, other players, and officials have grown wise to his act, but Jackson continues to poke and prod at various aspects of the game, from effort to officiating.

Doc Rivers is taking a page from his book after Game 3, when discussing Derek Fisher’s defense. From Kevin Ding of the OC Register:

“I thought he got away with a lot last night,” Rivers said. “I
thought there was a lot of holding going on and a lot of flopping going
on, and finally he showed that last one…But he’s good at it. He’s always been good at it. We knew that
going into the series. He’s one of the best charge-takers in the game.
He’s always been that. And some of them are charges and then some of
them are flops, but all of them are tough to call. It is a brutal call
to make. It really is a tough one.

“But as far as the off-the-ball action, single-double action, you
are not allowed to hold. You’re not allowed to bump, and you’re not
allowed to impede progress. I read that this morning, and I’m positive
of it. So you know, when that happens, then that has to be called.”

Rivers also again speculated about Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s
rather mild complaints about the officiating after Game 2 as having
swayed the calls in Game 3, saying Jackson’s commentary “carries weight.” Said Rivers about the results in Game 3: “It’s funny, I thought they
got away with more with all the moving screens. I didn’t think it was
all our fouls. I just think it was a ton of moving screens they got
away with.”

Doc’s perception of Phil’s influence makes these comments even more transparent. As usual, NBA coaches aren’t willingly trying to help us understand the nuances of the game, but rather use their media sessions as open lobbying to officials and the league office.

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.