Brook Lopez is the best center on the Team USA roster by roughly 500 miles. And coach Mike Krzyzewski would walk 500 miles and then would walk 500 more just to be the man who had a real low post presence on his team.
But in the white vs. blue Team USA scrimmage Saturday Lopez was, well, unimpressive. Two points, not one board. The biggest man on the floor was invisible.
The reason? He’s still playing his way back into shape after a bout with mononucleosis.
You remember when you had mono in college, the disease that gave you an excuse to sleep all day and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns, when that’s all you wanted to do anyway? It just wipes out your energy.
Team USA officials get that and are expected to invite Lopez to be part of the 15 coming to New York next month. However, if he continues to be this lackluster he may not be part of the final 12 heading to Turkey.
The real question Team USA officials face is do they make JaVale McGee — the third center who has looked pretty good — in camp an invite to the final 15 just as a precaution? A healthy Lopez is a far superior choice to McGee, but will Lopez be ready next month? The answer on McGee will come later today with cut downs.
John Wall is one of the hardest players to guard in the NBA. J.R. Smith found that out the hard way on Tuesday night when Wall sent him flying with a behind-the-back dribble before making an easy layup.
The Wizards beat the Cavs, who are now 13-5 on the season.
Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.
There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?
Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:
Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game — but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.
In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.
Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.
That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.