In the 2009 playoffs, Rafer Alston played a key role in helping the Magic upset the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Less than one calendar year later, his NBA career was on life support. Alston struggled mightily while playing for the Nets, shooting well under 40% during his time with the team. After the Nets waived him at mid-season, Alston was picked up by the Heat, who suspended the point guard for a full season after Alston missed games and practice time for personal reasons.
With one of the worst years in his career behind him and retirement possibly coming in the near future, Alston is back where everything began for him: the playgrounds of New York City, where Alston first gained notoriety as “Skip to My Lou”:
Rafer Alston has to fight the familiar feeling every time he steps into a park with a game going on in New York City. The former Cardozo star, nicknamed Skip 2 My Lou, got his start and legendary status on the streetball circuit before getting his break in the NBA.
“It hard to fight the temptation not to play again,” Alston said watching from the sidelines at the Tri-State Classic in Harlem Saturday. “Every time I come I have the urge.”
Alston still isn’t sure where people will be watching him next season. He is still a free agent, but acknowledged during the game that the Knicks didn’t have any interest in him, much to the verbal dismay of Tri-State announcer 40 Cal…
…”You built your legacy to where you are always going to teams to help them become a contender, now you are going to teams that are rebuilding. That’s the most difficult thing,” said Alston, who coaches with the NY Panthers AAU team.
Even if Alston never plays another NBA game, he’ll always be remembered as a legend of the playgrounds and one of the first modern players to go from being a streetball celebrity to a productive NBA player. All that remains to be seen is whether any NBA team is willing to give “Skip” one more chance to use his playground-honed moves against the best players in the world.
LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry
“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”
“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”
LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.
Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)
But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:
Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.
That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.
The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.
Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to the league:
Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.
But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.
Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.
Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)
Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.
The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.
It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.