Good luck prying the NBA title out of the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss was in Vegas to watch some Summer League ball (and play in the World Series of Poker; and probably not in that order) when Sam Amick from FanHouse asked him if LeBron James in Miami scared him at all.
You’re going to have to do better than that.
“Somebody in the East will come out, and our job is to beat them, whoever it is,” he said. “There are a lot of good teams over there. I don’t automatically hand them the title. I think Orlando is very good. I think Chicago is going to be better. Boston, certainly, is tough. We know about that. So let’s wait until things get going.”
With the Lakers, the core of the roster is set. Will be for a few more years. The only real big question is if Derek Fisher will join newly acquired Steve Blake in the backcourt. Fisher is meeting with Miami as well.
“We’re working on Fisher now and I think we’ll probably have him back in the fold soon,” Buss said.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was optimistic as well.
“I just continue to have a dialogue with (Fisher’s) representative,” he said. “Both sides are motivated, so we think it will work out. We hope so.”
Think about the Lakers/Heat matchup for a second. It could be fun. Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade matched up. Ron Artest defending LeBron James. Pau Gasol and Chris Bosh.
But here’s why the Lakers feel confident: Who matches up with Andrew Bynum? Who off the Heat bench can match up with Lamar Odom? Even if the Heat land Fisher, Blake is better than him right now.
And good luck prying the trophy out of Kobe Bryant’s hands. Jerry Buss should feel confident.
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.