There were no two better teams ever assembled than the two teams going into the Hall of Fame Friday. Two very competitive teams. And they are not done competing.
When Charles Barkley went up to meet 1960 Olympian Bob Boozer and shake his hand, Boozer told FanHouse this is what he said:
“I said, ‘We would have kicked your butts,”’ was how Boozer said he greeted Sir Charles.
And it has been going on like that all week — all in good fun.
The 1960 USA team featured Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Jerry Lucas, Terry Dischinger, Walter Bellamy, and more. It was a real team — five players on the team averaged double-digit points through the tournament.
The 1992 Dream Team featured Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone — 10 players from the 50 greatest NBA players of all time on one team.
Two groups of very competitive guys.
At a roundtable discussion at a Hall of Fame dinner Thursday night, the two teams went at each other. Jerry Lucas… turned to Barkley and said, “I’m sitting next to a player who played on the second-best Olympic team.”’
That got Barkley going.
“First of all, nobody wearing Chuck Taylors can guard me,” Barkley responded. “They always talk about breaking ankles. We would definitely be breaking ankles (of the 1960 Olympic team).’…’
“We were amateurs and we played against many of the older European teams,” Boozer said. “They beat everybody by 43 or something points and we beat everybody by 42 but we were shooting with a soccer ball (which is how Boozer described the then-smaller international basketball) and we didn’t have the three-point line. When you shot a long jumper, it would change directions.”
“Are you kidding me?” Malone said when asked who would win if the 1960 and 1992 teams played in their primes. “We know about Oscar and Jerry (West). We would have double-teamed them. And Lucas … I’m like Charles. I don’t know if you’re going to guard me in Chuck Taylors. They were great but I’m bias. I respect what they did… (But) we would have beaten them by 20. We might feel sorry for them (by not winning by more).”
Well played Stephen Curry, well played.
He was joking around with Justin Timberlake at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe this weekend (you can watch it on NBC, check your local listings) when Curry poked a little fun at himself by throwing his mouthguard.
Last time he did that he got a $25,000 fine. This time he got some laughs.
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and a number of Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets players wore “I can’t breathe” T-shirts in warmups after the death of Eric Garner in New York. LeBron and his then Heat teammates wore hoodies for a photo shoot after the Travon Martin shooting. NBA players have made other protest fashion statements, with no repercussions from the league.
But when WNBA players wore black warmup shirts in support of Black Lives Matter and other anti-violence protests, the WNBA came down with fines for the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury ($5,000) and players involved ($500) for uniform violations. That led to a lot of backlash — including among WNBA players. Some refused to answer basketball questions with the media after recent games.
Saturday, the WNBA rescinded the fines. As they should have.
The women’s players’ union supported the move, via a statement from the director of operations Terri Jackson.
“We are pleased that the WNBA has made the decision to rescind the fines the league handed down to the players on the Fever, Liberty, and Mercury. We look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with the league to ensure that the players’ desire to express themselves will continue to be supported.”
I want a league — for men or women — where player’s individuality and statements can be made — I don’t want the NBA to be the button-down, cookie cutter NFL. Let the players be themselves. And if players want to weigh in on the biggest social issue of our time, they should. Without fear of repercussion.
Good on the WNBA for coming around to that.
Meyers Leonard could be poised for a big season in Portland. His minutes jumped last season because he provided spacing. With Portland adding Evan Turner on the wing to go with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, any big who can stretch the floor is going to get run, and Leonard has turned himself into a stretch four.
Leonard just hopes he can show what he can do at the start of the season — he’s still recovering from shoulder surgery. Here is what he told the Associated Press.
“My hope is to be ready right around the start of the season,” he said. “It’s a progression, first introducing rebounding, grabbing stuff overhead, then one-on-one, three-on-three, extending to the full court. We’ll see. You just never know.”
Leonard had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in April (they could have used him in the playoffs), and the timeline then was to have him back around the start of the season. Before he was shut down, he proved enough to get a four-year, $41 million contract extension with the Trail Blazers this summer.
The Trail Blazers will start Al-Farouq Aminu at the four, and Moe Harkless can certainly play there too (I’m far less sold on the future of Noah Vonleh). Leonard wants to get back before someone starts to steal any of his minutes.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Pelicans say they have signed free-agent forward Terrence Jones and re-signed guard Tim Frazier.
A person familiar with the negotiations says Jones, a four-year veteran, signed a one-year deal Friday for the NBA minimum of about $1.14 million, while Frazier has signed a two-year deal worth about $4.1 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Pelicans have not released contract terms.
The 6-foot-9 Jones, who was Anthony Davis‘ teammates on Kentucky’s 2012 national championship team, has spent his first four NBA seasons with Houston, posting career averages of 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Frazier played in 16 games for New Orleans late last season, averaging 13.1 points, 7.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 29.3 minutes per game.