Dan Gilbert thinks Tom Izzo would have been perfect for LeBron

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Thumbnail image for dgilbert.jpgThe job falls to Erik Spoelstra, but the question still hangs over the situation: Who is the best coach for LeBron James? Who can connect with him, who can get more out of his game?

Dan Gilbert was convinced that man was Tom Izzo, something he said in his Sports Illustrated interview (from which we discussed some of his other comments).

“You asked about LeBron and what it would take for him to get to that [championship] level — I think it has to come from the inside,” Gilbert said. “[Izzo] is one of these guys who is extremely passionate and emotional, and I think that’s what LeBron needs. Mike Brown [who was recently fired as coach], as great as he was, he wasn’t going to have that one-on-one relationship like Phil [Jackson] had with Jordan. [Izzo] had that right stuff without having the NBA experience, and so we probably would have wanted to bring him some extremely experienced assistants.

“But then LeBron wouldn’t even talk to [Izzo]. Wouldn’t even talk to him. Those are the things we let him get away with.”

Izzo is a very well respected and loved coach by all Michigan State alums, like Gilbert. He is a fantastic, legendary college coach. So pardon my skepticism that he was going to reach LeBron.

To really get players to buy in you have to get their respect. Nobody could get Kobe and Shaq to play nice together until Phil Jackson and him Michael Jordan rings and pull walked in the room. You have to have that kind of presence, through precedence or earned in the gym with the team.

Pat Riley has that. He transfers it to Spoelstra (at least for now). Izzo is a college coach who has gotten good talent to play like great talent. But can he reach great talent? That is a very different question all together.

Gilbert, however, was in a position where he needed to take some risks, he needed to make big moves. Izzo would have been that.

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.